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First and next steps for budding graphic artists and illustrators.

The creator of 3X4 (2018) leads a posse of veteran cartoonists offering advice and techniques for making simple comics.

In a text interspersed with quotes and doodles by artists including Chris Ware, Neal Gaiman, and Pablo Picasso, Brunetti demonstrates how to use simple geometric shapes or even letters and numbers to draw faces and figures, express emotions, and create distinct characters. Switching from monochrome to color partway through, he and fellow contributors move on to more-sophisticated topics such as the uses of “emanata” in comics (that’s those often-squiggly lines indicating emotion, to the unschooled), creating one- and two-point perspective, designing panel sequences, and telling stories. Despite Brunetti’s reminders not to draw on the book’s pages, Art Spiegelman invites budding cartoonists to finish off his mini-tale by adding their own art, and at the end, imprint co-founder Françoise Mouly throws a commercial cast over the whole volume by promoting TOON titles as gateways to both visual and verbal literacy. Still, both newbies and graduates of Ed Emberley’s classic manuals or, more recently, James Sturm and Co.’s Adventures in Cartooning series will find plenty of beneficial insights (“stick people aren’t as easy as they look”) and inspiration.

First and next steps for budding graphic artists and illustrators. (glossary, bibliography, topical index) (Graphic nonfiction. 6-11)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943145-44-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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From the Everything Awesome About… series

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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From the Big Ideas That Changed the World series , Vol. 1

A frank, often funny appreciation of our space program’s high-water mark.

Brown launches the Big Ideas That Changed the World series with a graphic commemoration of the program that put boots on the moon.

Brown assumes the narrative voice of Rodman Law, a wisecracking professional daredevil who attempted to ride a rocket in 1913 (“Yeah, this oughta work”) and beat the odds by surviving the explosion. He opens with a capsule history of rocketry from ancient China to the Mercury and Gemini programs before recapping the Apollo missions. Keeping the tone light and offering nods as he goes to historical figures including Johann Schmidlap (“rhymes with ‘Fmidlap’ ”), “cranky loner” Robert Goddard, and mathematician Katherine Johnson, he focuses on technological advances that made space travel possible and on the awesome, sustained effort that brought President John F. Kennedy’s “Big Idea” to fruition, ending the narrative with our last visit to the moon. Aside from the numerous huge, raw explosions that punctuate his easy-to-follow sequential panels, the author uses restrained colors and loose, fluid modeling to give his mildly cartoonish depictions of figures and (then) cutting-edge technology an engagingly informal air. He doesn’t gloss over Laika’s sad fate or the ugly fact that Wernher von Braun built rockets for the Nazis with “concentration-camp prisoners.” Occasional interjections and a closing author’s note also signal Brown’s awareness that for this story, at least, his cast had to be almost exclusively white and male.

A frank, often funny appreciation of our space program’s high-water mark. (index, endnotes, resource lists) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3404-5

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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