Sunday, February 14, 2010

REVIEW: Adventures in Cartooning

Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles Into ComicsSturm, J., Arnold, A., & Frederick-Frost, A.  (2009).  Adventures in Cartooning.  New York:  First Second


109 Pages

Appetizer:  First Second, one of the leading publishers for graphic novels for children has come out with this guide for making cartoons.

When a princess doesn't believe that she can draw well enough to make a cartoon, the Magic Cartooning Elf poofs onto the scene to prove that is not the case.  The Magic Cartooning Elf accompanies a knight and his horse, Edward, to face a candy-loving dragon that has defeated other knights (by turning them in to vegetables!  How fun is that?!)

This was a fast and fun read.  There's a nice balance between the information and the humorous fantasy story.  While I still have NO art skills, this story made me want to break out the pencil and paper and try to create a comic of my own.  If only I had the time to do that...Do you think my committee will be open to a dissertation that shares the adventures of the mythic stick man?  Probably not.  But I'm willing to give it a go.

*Spoiler* I especially love when the knight reveals her identity to be the princess from the beginning of the story.  Not only does this challenge gender stereotypes, but it also demonstrates the fact that readers/writers/illustrators like to see themselves in the literature they enjoy.

Dinner Conversation:

"Once upon a time...a princess tried to make a comic..."

Magic Elf:  "If you let me tell you about comics and cartooning, I'll help you find the dragon..." (p. 13).

Magic Elf:  "In comics, words are as important as pictures!
                No one but you saw the drawing on the map, so how do we know it was there?"
Knight:  "Because I told you so?"
Magic Elf:  "Right!" (p. 35).

Knight:  "I made it up!  I bet my words created a picture inside your head, Edward!  A picture of a giant donut!!  Ha ha!" (p. 36).

Carrot:  "There is only one way to reverse the curse!!!"
Onion:  "We need to be watered!"
Carrot:  "With the tears of the dragon!"  (pp. 68-69).

Magic Elf:  "I guess she wanted to be a part of the adventure and not just be shown how to do it!" (p. 97).

To Go with the Meal:

The obvious lesson is to use this book to discuss cartooning and creating illustrations.  The book goes into the proper terms for cartoons and graphic novels, including panels, word and thought bubbles, etc.

The story also goes into the proper positioning of word balloons as well as shows how to show emotions like frustration, excitement, tiredness, surprise and movement.  While this helps readers to understand how to incorporate these into their own illustrations, the lessons on these subjects also allows readers to understand and read cartoons and graphic novels more easily.

Since the princess *slight spoiler* draws herself into the story she decides to create, students can do that as well.  They can adapt a cartoon, picturebook or comic they're familiar with and position themselves as the protagonist.  (Wouldn't it be fun if Batman took off his mask and your face was underneath?)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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