Cartooning 101 with Prof. Brunetti: Pt. 5

Categories:  Features

Ivan BrunettiAll good visiting professorships, it seems, must come to an end. And seeing as how we forgot to sell ads this month, and therefore can’t offer Professor Brunetti anything in the way of tenure, beyond good vibes, high fives, and the satisfaction of a job well done, we’ll have to bid adieu to the good to the Haw! cartoonist. Fortunately, this last one’s a doozy, and come on, with a subject like computers, how can it not be?

All that and so, so much more, after the jump.



This is actually quite a complex subject that could fill up another book. Suffice it to say that this course is not dependent on the use of a computer. Some basic tips are included, but since the world of computers changes so fast, I am sure anything I write will probably be outdated by press time. At this juncture in history, pencil and paper are still much cheaper, more portable, more practical, and more accessible than computers.

It is partly for this reason that I would encourage you to teach yourself the art of cartooning via these low-tech, traditional media. Another reason is that the very word “cartoon” is etymologically tied to paper: “cartoon” originally meant not only the preliminary sketch for a painting but also the paper upon which the sketch was drawn (from the Italian term cartone, pasteboard). Cartooning primarily involves composition, and it is best to learn this art on a humble sheet of paper, where we can easily consider the edges and try to create a sense of motion (life, even) within a static space.

It is so easy to incorporate temporal elements such as sound and movement into comics presented via the computer screen, that we are instead veering into the art of animation, and thus film; furthermore, features such as “interactivity” lead us even farther from the cartoon into the realm of video games. Undoubtedly, some entirely new artform will arise from these cross currents, but, again, that will have to be the subject of another book.

I know a couple of great cartoonists that draw directly with the computer, but they use it well precisely because they first learned how to draw and design (really another word for compose) on paper. Alas, students tend to use the computer merely as a shortcut, and often an ill-considered one at that. Most often, they insist on typing their lettering with the computer, oblivious to the overall aesthetic effects of mixing machine typography and hand calligraphy on the composition as a whole. Thus, I am going to have to forbid the use of computer lettering (yes, even a font of your creation) for the first 10 weeks of this course. I would first like the students to become sensitive to the page and all the marks upon it as a holistic entity, the appreciation of which will aid them immensely, even if they do end up using computer lettering. After the first 10 weeks of doing it the “hard way,” the students are free to make their own decision on the final assignment.

Even if a student decides to pursue “webcomics,” that student will benefit by learning to respect and compose within the parameters of the sheet of paper, bringing out its full potential, as this will help them do likewise with the computer screen.

No Comments to “Cartooning 101 with Prof. Brunetti: Pt. 5”

  1. Jim Medway | May 28th, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Ivan, please write a book coverering all your teaching. I’ll buy at least 2 copies.

  2. Alvin Buenaventura | June 11th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    These five parts that have been posted here on the Daily Crosshatch make up the first chapter of Ivan’s 80 page Cartooning, “classroom in a book”. This 80 page booklet will accompany Comic Art 9 which will debut at the San Diego Comic Con in July and hit stores in Aug/Sept ’07.

  3. J.R.R. Blevins | July 12th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Ivan I would also be interested in getting your book. It’s interesting to me to see the different ways of teaching comics. Wish I could have had more time with you in Olympia after the Oly Con party.
    J.R.R. Blevins

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