Thursday, 27 September 2012


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Considering the small amount of space a cartoon occupies in print media, the popoularity of these tedious creations, the number of readers are attracted to them is truly phenominal.


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I often receive inquiries from young people

who wish to become cartoonists or humorous

illustrators. Id love to be able to answer each

inquiry personally but time will not allow for

that. Ive got to earn a living, you know!

So, Ive prepared a list in hopes that it will

answer most of your questions and provide

some guidance in pursuing a career

in this field. Here we go...

10. Draw! Draw! Draw! I cannot stress this

enough. This holds true for anything you

undertake in life. If you want to become

a cartoonist, musician, writer, athlete,

youve got to practice.

. Draw every day. Its the only way to improve.

Try not to get too discouraged when your

sketches dont turn out just right. Ive been at

this awhile and Im still learning!

8. Draw from life. Its fun to draw goofy and

wacky characters but youll be an even better

cartoonist if you sketch the real world around

you. Your family, friends, pets, objects and

natural environment drawn realistically

will give you a sound basis to exaggerate

your cartoony folk.

7. Develop your own look. We all have our

favorite cartoonists whos drawing style we

admire and while were learning, its fine to

emulate them. But after a period of time, you

dont want to continue to copy them exactly.

Your look will always show its influences and

thats OK.

6. Be an information sponge. Observe people

and how they behave. How do they dress?

Whats going on in the news? What are the

current catch phrases? Popular culture?

5. Experiment with different art tools. What

works best for one artist will be different than

what works for another. Try any sort of pen,

pencil, marker, brush, paint or paper you can

get your hands on. The computer can also be

used to draw and color.

4. Network with people who share your

interest. This will keep up your enthusiasm

for drawing and drive you to become better.

Youll be able to compare different techniques

and bounce ideas off of each other.

. Develop your sense of humor. What makes

people laugh? Learn how to set up a joke.

Can you come up with gags? This is vitally

important especially if you want to be a comic

strip artist.

. Work on your writing skills. Again, if you

want to get into the comic strip business,

the most important element is the humor

writing. A well written/poorly drawn strip will

sell before a poorly written/well drawn

one will.

1. Go to a good art school or university. One

that offers a degree in commercial art and

preferably with courses concentrating in

cartooning and animation.

Hope these pointers have been helpful. I wish

you the best of luck.

Topics of interest that may have brought you here to this site sequential art, learn to draw, how to draw comics, comic book artists, drawing books, kids drawing books, illustrate, illustrating, illustration, illustrator, sketch, sketching, doodling, cartoonist, cartoons, cartooning, super hero anatomy, muscles, body building, super heroes, super women, super heroines, action figures, mutants, meta-humans, ultras, ninjas, weapons, tactics, ninja-to, kyujitsu, fudo-ken, shuto, shikan-ken, boshi-ken, nunchakus, bojitsu, sai, torinoko, fukiya, tonki, tetsu-bishi, caltrops, kozutsu, tekagi, shuko, martial arts, shurikens, shadow warriors, cyborgs, androids, robots, mechanoids.

Site Origin Like most fans of the super heroes, I was first attracted to the comics by the depictions of the characters in heroic stances and action poses. Bringing to life a world of incredible super beings. I can think back to all the comic book covers at the newsstands that had me eagerly flipping through the pages to follow the latest epic of my favorite heroes.

These powerful heroes were capable of anything. From deflecting bullets, surviving explosions, to dodging laser blasts; while they battle tirelessly against a horde of villains and their evil henchmen. At the same time, maintaining their high moral standards, ethics and compassion for their fellow man (even they happen to be super villains.) The focus of these books are on the super heroes. Their musculature, stamina, strength, agility, flexibility and resilience in the face of adversity. In other words, how you might picture a super hero who is capable of going out there trying to save the world everyday.

All the poses in these books were inspired by my favorite artists whose works span over thirty years of my life through my love of drawing, reading and collecting. As a dedication to all the fans of the super hero comic genre; to everyone who has ever been inspired by the multitude of amazing illustrators to create or recreate powerful drawings of the super human figures in action. So, from one die hard comic fan to another . . . ENJOY!

If we Assume that cartooning is a graphic attempt to tell a story (Prince Valiant); Make a joke (The Far Side); Or comment on our society-culture (Pat Oliphant); then cartooning is probably as old as mankind. Picture a gathering of the local hunting club in a cave with a smooth wall. There are Charred sticks from the remains of a fire to provide drawing tools. Seems inevitable doesnt it?

This is probably also how art criticism began, not to mention early attempts to censor cartoons. In some times and places cartooning has been a very dangerous occupation.

Mans first attempts to record events, thoughts, or dreams had to be in the form of pictures. We dont know the meaning of the cave painting at the right, except that it involves a group, action, and weapons. This art isnt a language, nor can it really tell a story. At best its an mnemonic, a memory aid, to help in remembering and retelling stories. Nearly every culture has left some record in this form. It could convey the rough sense of a few nouns and fewer verbs, all open to a wide range of interpretation. Adjectives and abstract concepts were beyond its scope. It could be classed as impressionistic art or as cartooning. Naturally I prefer the latter.

The next step in the development of written languages was a formal system of pictures and symbols that represented specific words or concepts, the pictograph. This evolved into the phonographic system where pictographs represented words, syllables and sounds, making it possible to write out words that had no specific pictograph of their own. Some written languages, such as Chinese and Egyptian never went much beyond this stage.

In most cases phonographic pictographs evolved into abstract forms that were easier to write. The Sumarians developed a system called cuniforms from pictographs. It involved writing on clay tablets with a wedge shaped stylus. Three of the stages in the evolution are shown above.

The Egyptians did it differently. They developed two forms of writing. Priests continued to use hieroglyphics (above left) for official and religous uses. Scribes developed a script or abstract form of the same hieroglyphics that were easier to write (The Hieratic script above right was the first of these). Despite the fact that they were just different symbols for the same meaning it became rare for for anyone to be able to read both. It wasnt as if you only had to memorize two alphabets The Egyptian phonographic system with symbols for words, syllables, and sounds had over 700 symbols to memorize.

At this point writing and cartooning cease to have much in common visually, but some things did carry over from hieroglyphics to our alphabet. The M or m is derived from the wavy line for water. Our O is the same symbol the as the hieratic symbol for eye (Shades of Little Oprhan Annie). In the examples below we have the symbol for Wall, that became our B. The symbol for bull was turned by stages until it became the modern A as ot passed from Egypt to Greece to Rome.

All civilizations must have had a sense of humor of some sort, its a part of human nature, but only a few have left us a record of it. Here well concentrate the most obvious, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Whatever taboos the Egyptians had, they didnt seem to have much to do with the usual ones of rank and religion.

F.W. Fairholdt, artist and antiquarian, copied hieroglyphics holding some element of humor for the Book A History of Caricature & Grotesque, 1865. Above on the left is one scene of a series showing a royal wine party where the guests need the aid of servants to stand or even sit up. In the case shown the maid isnt quite quick enough to catch the contents of her mistresses heaving. At the right is a scene from a sequence where young nobles leave on a hunting trip with porters to carry the game home. Theres little hunting done and lots of drinking, and the porters carry back not game but some very hung over young nobles.

The Egyptians seemed fond of humor that destroyed dignity or broke up solemn ocasions. Above is part of a sequence showing a funeral procession crossing the lake of the dead. The large boat hits a bar, backs off, ramming a smaller boat carrying provisions for the journey and the provisions are spilled. At the right we have dog faced apes ferrying a soul found wanting back to earth in the form of a pig.

The dog headed ape was sacred to the Egyptian god Thoth, who was sometimes seen with the head of an Ibis and sometimes the head of the dog headed ape (baboon). The apes are of special interest because they were later used by both Greeks and the Romans for parody. They also contributed to the myths of a monstrous race called Cynocephali, and the werewolf.

Some claim that Aesop borrowed many of his fables from the Egyptians, and that is supported by figures such as these. On the right is a cat herding a group of geese, and on the left is a fox carrying a basket in an Egyptian manner, and playing the double flute.

The Greeks used more satire and parody images than the Egyptians, but not nearly as much has survived. They didnt carve them into their monuments, or bury them in elaborate tombs, and the weather wasnt as effective at preserving things. Their paintings were encaustic (wax) and were too fragile to last long. We only know of many works because they have been described in Greek manuscripts. The name of one comic artist has come down to us who was evidently quite famous, Ctesicles. Most of the examples that have survived are from ceramics such as the jar at the right. It dates from about 540 B.C. and shows Hercules bringing the boar to Eurystheus, who is hiding in a storage jar.

At the left is a drawing by Fairholt of a design found on another Greek vase. Despite speculation all we really know is that we have a lover visiting the object of his affections, who doesnt appear to be thrilled. He wears the standard Greek costume and mask of comedy. He is presenting his love with presents of what are probably apples or coins. That it is a night visit is indicated by the torch carried by his servant, who also wears a comic mask. Both males wear wreaths and the servant carries a third wreath and a basket, evidently more gifts for the lady.

The drawing at the right was taken from a vinegar vessel that was used at meals. It is a rather mild example of how freely the Greeks ridiculed their gods, though they had laws protecting mere mortals from such treatment. It pictures the arrival of Apollo at Delphi, using comic masks to insure everyone knows it is parody, and imitates the Greek theater. The figures on the stairs are, left to right, Apollo, Chiron, and an un-named figure. In the clouds are the nymphs of Parnassus.

The Romans fared only slightly better at preserving their comic art, and much of that was due to an unlikely cause, the 7 A.D. eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy that buried and preserved the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. At the left we have two drawing of a same event, The flight of Aeneas, hero of the Aeneid, from Troy. He is leading his son and and carrying his father and household gods. The first drawing is in a traditional style, and there exist several variations and copies of it. The second drawing is a parody version found in a wall painting in Pompeii. It makes use of the dog headed apes borrowed from the Egyptians.

Like the Greeks, much of the Roman comic art was based on their theater and festivals. They increased the use and variety of masks, until they became popular outside the theater, and inspired many of the Gargoyles of the Medieval period. At the right we have a drawing of the stock comic character, the Buffoon or Sannio. They performed comic dances and made grimaces at festivals and feasts as well as in the theater. They are standard in the plays of Terrence. The trademarks included the so called low shoes shown, and two brass rods to strike together. A variation was the Manducus where the primary difference was that the mask featured a tongue lolling out. They are one of the ancestors of the mime, and out of the title Sannio came zanni, or zany. In later periods they became the stooge, or target of the comics jokes and pranks, evolving into pulcinella and finally the English Punch.

At the left is another comic performer often used in comic art, the Roman Mimus. They performed scenes from everyday life, usually of a scandalous and indecent nature. They were extremely popular and often performed even in funeral processions. They often, but not always performed nude, and wore a mask with a large nose. In the performers right hand is a purse or bag with loose objects that will rattle and make noise when shaken. In his left hand is a crotalum, an early form of castanets or cymbals.

Comic art featuring dwarfs were also very popular with the Romans. This grew out of two roots. One was the natural occurance of birth defects, much more common then than now. The second had to do with an old myth that goes as far back as the Egyptians, and probably farther. Both Homer and Pliny mention it. Somewhere in the east lived a race of pygmies that were in constant warfare with cranes. The animosity grew out of the pygmies habit of leaving the mountains each spring, where they normally resided, and mounted on goats and sheep invading the shorelines where the cranes nested. They stole the eggs of the cranes endangering the species. They were pictured as being armed with bow and arrows as well as spears.

The two sources were combined and the Romans became enamored with the dwarfs. They sought and purchased them from abroad and used them more as household pets than as slaves. They are often pictured in parodies of common activities and are usually nude. It has been suggested that this is where the modern use of small figures with large heads originated. Above they are pictured in the normal activities of farmers. The original painting was found in the temple of Venus at Pompeii.

Above is a drawing taken from a Roman drinking cup that shows the pygmies at war with the cranes.

The last figure is by Fairholdt, and is a rare scene showing a Roman artists studio. At the left is a crane, the traditional enemy of the pygmy. Then we have two spectators, the artist seated at an easel, with a small table that serves as a palette. Next is the artists subject. Just behind him to the right is an apprentice who should be drawing the model to his right, but is watching his master instead. At the extreme right is a servant employed in grinding and mixing pigments over hot coals. The pigments are mixed with heated punic wax and oil. Fairholdt says the drawing was taken from a sketch by Mazois who made it in Pompeii at the time the painting was uncovered. There were originally two cranes, but the edge showing the second one crumbled almost at once, and whole painting soon perished.


In the medieval period comic art in the west wasnt much fun. It was orimarily used as propaganda by individuals, the state and the church. Monsters, demons, and satan himself were common figures. Most of what has survived from this era is in the form carvings in wood or stone. A few illustrations were made on vellum, but vellum was expensive, and often scraped clean and reused. Above is an anti-semitic example from a document drawn on vellum by a clerk of the Kings court in 1. It shows Isaac of Norwich (a rich and powerful Jew) with his supporters and numerous demons. Norwich was a jewish center at the time. Isaac is the three faced figure higher than the rest. Clerks often seemed to amuse themselves by adding little drawings to the documents.

In the castles and churches tapestries provided insulation and prestige. Some were satirical, but few if any have survived. Written descriptions say they usually showed something like the lord of a manor hosting a feast surrounded by riches. There might be hounds shown under the table scavanging for scraps, but they would have the faces of the lords rivals. I havent been able to locate any of these but there is a more dignified and famous work called the Bayeux Tapestry that some claim is an early form of the comic strip. It was created in the 11th century, and is 14 feet long and 0 inches wide. It depicts the events leading up to, and including, the Norman invasion of England by William the Conquerer. The first section is shown above.

Tapestries or carvings could be commissioned by a person ridiculing a rival or enemy, but sooner or later that person would fall from power or die, and be replaced by someone with different views. More often than not the satirical works would then be destroyed and replaced by ones more in line with the new persons views.

Perhaps the same clerk who drew the sketch of Isaac of Norwich drew the sketches of the wild Irish and Welsh males on the margins of other documents. There are a number of sketches like this and the costumes stay the same. The Irish has the upper garment that forms a flat topped hood and extends downward to nearly his waist. His trousers are fastened around his feet, which are always bare. The axe is what the document mentions. It seems that these huge axes were a fearsome weapon and a standard part of every Irishmans costume. It was being suggested that they be outlawed. The Welsh males are shown with bow and arrows or spears. In each case they have one leg and foot that are bare, while on the other side they wear a stocking and a shoe. No explanation is given.

Above to the left we have demons tempting a dieing man by distracting from his prayers by reminding him of his property and that he should worry about providing for his family. Note the use of dialogue balloons in the form of banners. On the right we have the damned being literally thrown into the mouth of Hell. The literal mouth is a frequently repeated image.

The medieval church was nearly as corrupt as the secular rulers. They had an uneasy alliance with the nobility as well as a great deal of rivalry. Even within the church the rivalry between the clergy for advancement and power was often intense. That lead to a good deal of cynicism. At the left two fox ecclesiastics are being given instructions for a mission by a superior, but the geese hidden in their hoods indicate they are thieves, and their sincerity false.

At the right is pictured a fox as a monk who is making off with goods that he has no right to. Both of these drawings are copies made by F.W. Fairholt of carvings existing in a medieval church. The problem was too widespread to deny, and was often remarked on in a joking manner, a bit like later jokes about beat officers helping themselves at fruit stands. The clergy denounced the acts, but it was often a case of the guilty accusing the guilty.

At the left is an example of the nonsense humor that was popular in this era. In this wood carving a goose has taken the place of the horse at the blacksmiths, and ironshoes are being naile to its feet. At the right is a grylli, a creature with only a head and limbs. This type of figure is common as far back as classical Greece, probably further back. However, in earlier times they tended to be rather light and amusing figures. In medieval times they were usually pictured as monsters.

A feudal society wasnt the easiest to live in unless you happened to be one of the nobility. Dreams of reversing the roles was a natural result, but not one you could talk about openly. The popularity of various kinds of turnabout art expressed that safely, as seen in the above work, where the long suffering rabbits have captured the dog and are taking him to the scaffolding to be hung.

Somewhat along the same lines, Ive run across a number of carvings and engravings suggesting that not all the wives of the era were meek and subservient. The drawing at the right was done by Fairholt from a stone carving at a church, and titled, The Breeches Won.

Welcome, knowledge seekers to the slippery halls of the FAL Institute Of Humor and Neurohygenics.

Course 101

Part 1A

Lecture length 1 minutes

A Brief History of Cartooning

The word cartoon comes from cartone, the Italian word for large paper.

The story of the cartoon is the story of mass communication. In ancient times, large murals were decorated with a series of images that told a story... none of which were as drawn out or as pretentious as this folderol youre reading right now.

100 BC In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud theorized that comics have been with us since ancient times.

This Egyptian painting tells of a farmers daily trials in a series of pictures.

In the last panel, as hes beaten to death by the Pharaohs tax collector, the farmer exclaims, I hate Mondays!.

The influence of the printing press had Renaissance artists and thinkers - including Leonardo DaVinci - concerned that this new technology would isolate men from one another. (Sound familiar? Radio? TV? The internet?!). Many worked toward the creation of a new language to combine pictures and narratives in a deliberate sequence for the purpose of preserving literal truth. (This was before the GAF Viewmaster).

Early artists such as William Hogarth used this expicit art form to depict action as if it were a stage play and employed balloons, integrating text with a picture series.

170s Observe the exaggerated expressions of William Hogarths letcherous men.

This elegant piece is titled Hey, Baby!.

The 1th century gave us zincography and photoengraving, and the popularity of picture stories exploded, appearing in newspapers all over the world. The art of displaying cartoon images and icons in a deliberate sequence gave birth to the medium of comics in print and the medium of animation in film.

(Okay. So Im skipping a bit...)

100s Exlpoded panel from Winsor McCays lush and charming Little Nemo In Slumberland.

McCay was known as the Grandfather Of Animation - not because he made one of the first animations ever, Gertie The Dinosaur - but because he often chased young people away screaming, Hey! You kids get outta my yard!

One of the strengths of this medium has been its ability to consolidate the best advances of all other forms of mass communcation in a cheap and readily consumed form. Some have succeeded in using cartoons to combine the worst of all media in a big confusing, expensive, soul-sucking pile of glop! (But enough about Ralph Bakshi!) Even though they are often underestimated or dismissed as simple diversion, cartoons in general have been a vital pulse, conscience and critic in our lives.

Recently, there has been more serious respect for the form since its become a neccessary shorthand in our information age. (I can dream, cant I?)

160s Gasoline Alley characters as seen by Dick Moores. An excellent example of the illusion of time passing through the space of just one panel.

Fun Fact Saying Cheese will help you pass that thyme and prevent irritating colon blockage!

Right now, the future looks bright as the new language of cartoons only continues to grow - technically, to serve the needs of todays electronic media, and creatively, to serve the needs of a more sophisticated and diverse audience So make me proud! Get out there and ruin it for everybody! Confuse em with a big dark cloud of misguided doodling!

10s Jesse Reklaw journals the world of our dreams with his strip, Slow Wave.

No, wait - does he really? Or did I just dream it?...

Instructor Erik Lobo has lectured on the subject of cartooning through the Learning Exchange and other venues.

This is the online supplement to his Cartoonology Course.


Considering the small amount of space a cartoon occupies in print media, the popoularity of these tedious creations, the number of readers are attracted to them is truly phenominal.

Space Junk /

Time Magazine (Asia)

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