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Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  554 ratings  ·  42 reviews
From the editor of Yale's Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, a smart and charming guide to the art of cartooning

Winner of the 2012 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for the Best Academic/Scholarly Work 

"Brunetti has given the cartooning world something very similar to what Strunk & White gave to prose with their Elements of Style. . . . Keep it right
Paperback, 77 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Yale University Press
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  554 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a gorgeous book. Beautiful cover, beautiful typesetting, good binding, wonderful content. Though I didn't get what I was expecting (something more along the lines of Scott McCloud's books) the book was really interesting and, well... short. I would have loved to keep on reading. Thankfully, the book references an abundance of works for further study.
Last but not least, Ivan Brunetti comes across as the nicest person ever.
Thanks to Lynda Barry's wonderful books What It Is and Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, I have started drawing again after a hiatus of about 10 years. I am not a very accomplished artist but I love to draw. It has been great getting back to it. Barry recommends Brunetti's book in her book, Syllabus. (And Brunetti recommends What It Is in Cartooning.)

Both Barry and Brunetti have made me ponder how one approaches the creation of a story. For me, the process of thinking in pictures hel
Greg Allan Holcomb
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an activity book on cartooning. Use it to build your skills or just to keep 'em sharp. Well worth picking up if you want to comic.

This shouldn't be the first book you pick up on doing comics, but it's one of the ones to pick up when you want to get serious.

Just so you know- there's a lot of shitty books on cartooning, this is not one of those.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pretty good for developing storytelling skills, even if cartoons aren't your forte. It makes you think about visual images as well as textual ones, and how they work together, which is a great skill now where storytelling has become more and more cinematic. If your focus is writing screenplays, all the better. ...more
Michael Scott
Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice is Ivan Brunetti's textbook on the basics of drawing comics. Covering a 15-week course, the book guides the student from the simplest doodles to a four-page comoc strip. There's honesty and very little hand-holding in the approach - take it or leave it. Best suited for a starting yet grown-up cartoonist.

You will understand more about the lack of hand-holding approach by considering the author's answer to the eternal student question of 'What tools do I need f
Leslie Ann
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lynda Barry led me to this compact course in a book. Things I will try to remember is that the early exercises can be used to break out of artist's block, and an exercise to blend the style's of two artists, one I love and one I hate. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 would be a good resource for the latter.

Other things I highlighted:
[O]ne can be a good instructor despite not necessarily being a great talent in that field. A good teacher, essentially, brings out good work from the students, or
David Miller
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting discourse on how stories come together, filtered through the weirdness of the individual comics artist. It's straightforward, stressing the fundamentals over pretentiousness. But there's still room enough for ambition and for wonder at what an artist can achieve with limited tools.

As a textbook, it's highly effective as well. A reader interested in learning the craft of comics would do well to gollow its course.
Nicholas Ball
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-inspiration
Developed as a text for a course the author delivered, it's a little dry and feels like it relies on their coursework and feedback. The exercises are well written and progress naturally, but the book is more a condensed zeitgeist of the theory of cartooning than a "Make Cartoons!" style how-to book. ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lynda Barry brought me here. This one is from the library and I am sure we're going to get one for the summer when we can devote time to doing each week's exercise. I enjoyed the references to Catcher in the Rye. ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a perfect, short, and profound encouragement to pick up a pencil and create your own cartoons. This is a lovely, tiny book on cartooning. Lynda Barry recommended it, and I do, too.
Haya Alkhalifa
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book to get you started.

I enjoyed the authors anecdotes and personal input in each chapter. The book was an easy read and a good starting point for budding cartoonists.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was great!
Moon Captain
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good. Heard of this from Lynda Barry's books ...more
Brian Hendricks
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for the aspiring cartoonist. At once a manifesto and a course for self-study, this short volume provides everything one needs to begin their cartooning practice.
Melanie Page
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sjcpl
"Write for yourself, do not concern yourself with pleasing your audience (it is impossible, anyway)" (73).

"It is all right not to know what it is you are tying to communicate, exactly, ahead of time. Part of the creative process is exploring our thoughts, letting our guard down, and laying ourselves on the line, as we try to work through these things" (73).

According to Chris Ware and Seth (pen name of Gregory Gallant), "when you sit down to draw, you should 'dress for work.' Have respect for you
Jenny Montgomery
Beautiful, spare, demanding, applicable to all art forms

A fifteen week cartooning course that might take 150-300 hours. Although there is more emphasis on visual language than writing, it will help the comics writer to be more economical and elegant. It would be fruitful to work through this course with others in a group. Brunetti considers powerful universal principles relevant to writing, music, performance, e.g. spontaneity vs. deliberation, a rough order in which a beginning artist should ac
High Plains Library District
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: peter
This slim book is a full 15-week class on cartooning. The best part? No drawing talent is required. Okay, for those of us who can't draw, who forget basic physiology and draw reversed hands and have no idea about facial proportion, the exercise notebook is a little embarrassing to keep around. There are some cat drawings in mine that would make an outside observer question whether I've ever actually seen a cat outside of a Master And Margarita fever dream. But hey, I don't need practice in somet ...more
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This thoughtful take on comic art by Ivan Brunetti, whose work has appeared in McSweeney’s and The New Yorker , is the condensed version of a course the author teaches on the art of cartooning. He presents a series of assignments designed to help readers express themselves eloquently in words and pictures. One especially clever exercise walks readers through the process of distilling a complete story into a one-panel comic strip using J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye as an example. ...more
Edward O'Neill
Jun 27, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was let down by this.

Brunetti tacitly assumes that the drawing part itself cannot nor need not be taught.

He gives problems for students to solve, but the problems themselves are so challenging, it's difficult to see how the student is helped in any way.

Perhaps this works with Brunetti's tutelage, but this book is very far from giving anyone not already adept the wherewithal to think about problems of pictorial representation and storytelling.

Basically, this is the graphic novel equivalent of t
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Once I had a painting teacher, this old Woody Allen type of guy (from New York and everything), who was insanely neurotic - he told me he HAD to eat a PB&J sandwich for lunch every day, to maintain some stability in his life - and who also worked harder than anyone I know, focusing on content and technique rather than letting us muck around with "style", knowing that style without substance is crap at best. Reading this was like being in his class again, if it had been about cartooning and not a ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Art is somewhat like spit. It does not repulse or even worry us while it is still inside of us, but once it exits our body, it becomes disgusting.” - Ivan Brunetti

This book is really good for anyone interested in cartooning. Brunetti is so precise with his wit, it's cutting. As an aside, the size, typography, graphic design and tactile experience of the book is perfect and very enjoyable to revel in.
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, favorites
Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti was one of the two books I read for a Comics Pedagogy class in my MFA program over the summer. It took me a while to get into Brunetti's sometimes unnecessarily familiar tone but it's a very good outline for a 15 week comics class and by the conclusion it's downright inspirational. Probably one of the best books on teaching and making comics available. Also very short! I'd highly recommend it. ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, nonfiction
Clear, concise, elegant. A really great text about art and creation beyond just cartoons. I read this on the suggestion of Lynda Barry in "Syllabus" for my Humanities 101 course, focusing mostly on the philosophy side, but I'm looking forward to actually taking the course as Brunetti outlines it and working on my own fledgling doodles. ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I find the author-instructor deeply frustrating, and now feel relieved I wasn't selected to take his class in college. That said, his exercises in progressive cartooning interest me, and I may give them a shot/post them on M&W. ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it liked it
A fifteen-week tutorial in drawing cartoon, Brunetti based this book on the classes he has taught both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Along with pragmatic exercises for the sketch book, Brunetti discusses the basics of good visual storytelling.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiftyfiftyme
Ivan Brunetti has the rare ability to articulate the art making experience, its challenges and triumphs, and a series of absolutely fun exercises to get the beginner and the expert both reoriented. Strongly recommended to anyone interested in combining words and images.
Moss Drake
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about honing the craft of cartooning. It is roughly Brunetti's 15-week class on cartooning, so it is enlightening to do the exercises proposed in the book. But, it can also be read cover-to-cover (70 pages) or used as a reference or inspiration. Worth owning ...more
Tena Edlin
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was mentioned in Lynda Barry's Syllabus, and I wanted to read it to add to my background knowledge for my comics, cartoons, and graphic novels unit. I like the basic quality of the drawings. I think they will put some of my students who think they "can't draw" more at ease. ...more
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a library browse through book for me but it was fun and would be worth revisiting if I ever get my cartooning on. It was inspirational for my sketchbook.
Jeremy Hornik
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Delightful set of exercises and essays on cartooning, that is essentially Brunetti's class. I want to do all the exercises in order sometime. ...more
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Known for his dark humor and simple, yet effective drawing style. Brunetti's best known work is his autobiographical comic series Schizo. Four issues have appeared between 1994 and 2006. Schizo #4 won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Comic of the Year in 2006.

He has also done numerous covers of The New Yorker.

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