Federico Fellini, Nick Meglin
Released: 28 June, 2001
This book looks at the work of 14 highly successful cartoonists and illustrators from the 20th century and gives a good insight to their techniques and creative process. Humorous illustration itself is a broad term that can take in many disciplines and this is reflected in the artists chosen. Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer, Arnold Roth, Mort Drucker, Norman Rockwell, Sergio Argones Ö all wildly different styles and all highly regarded as illustrators and cartoonists. Over the course of the book we see many examples of their gag and panel cartoons, advertisements, illustrations for graphic novels and children's books, caricatures and cartoon figures/animals. Each chapter highlights a different artist, discussing their techniques, tools of the trade, influences and is illustrated by excellent artwork throughout. Sergio Aragones has the chapter entitled 'Pantomime on Paper' which wonderfully describes his work: spontaneous sight gags brimming with life. Mort Drucker has the chapter on caricature and explains how, to him There's more to caricature than drawing a humorous portrait. Figure, stance attitude, expression – all add up to the recognition. This is evident in his work of course, as seen in the pages of Mad Magazine. Another Mad artist, Al Jaffee has a chapter entitled The Writer/Artist where he admits nobody told him he was a writer until he already was one, having thought of himself as just a cartoonist. Feelings I'm sure we all echo – indeed writing is such an important part of cartooning – good writing can save a poorly drawn gag, but the best art in the world cannot help a bad idea.
The rest of the chapters feature subjects such as The Decorative Approach by Paul Coker, Style and Individuality by Arnold Roth, Children's Books by Maurice Sendak – all interesting and informative for both professional and amateur alike, or just those who appreciate all forms of illustration.
The book is 160 pages long, featuring 240 b/w illos and is written by Nick Meglin, a co-editor of Mad Magazine (hence the inclusion of so many of their artists). There's also a forward by Frederico Fellini, featuring a few of his cartoons which are proof that he took the right career path.
Is the book worth getting? I think so – it's well written and a book that you can dip into time and again, although at £18 some may feel it's a bit expensive. (Have a look at the Amazon link for some great secondhand bargains)