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Comics Sketchbooks: The Private Worlds of Today's Most Creative Talents

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From cartoons to graphic novels, from humor to superheroes, comics are the worlds most popular form of illustration. And, as in all forms of illustration, artists and designers experiment with visual ideas, image-and-word play, narrative sequencing, and stylistic flourishes through sketching. What we rarely see is the creative thinking--the doodling--that leads to fully fo From cartoons to graphic novels, from humor to superheroes, comics are the worlds most popular form of illustration. And, as in all forms of illustration, artists and designers experiment with visual ideas, image-and-word play, narrative sequencing, and stylistic flourishes through sketching. What we rarely see is the creative thinking--the doodling--that leads to fully formed visual ideas and stories. Comics Sketchbooks presents the private notebooks of eighty-two of the world's most inventive, innovative, and successful artists alongside new talents and emerging illustrators. The artists have been selected by the world's leading critic and most knowledgeable source in the field of graphic design and illustration, Steven Heller, who has had personal access to some of the most private and unseen material. Although there have been several comic-book compilations over the years, none has the visual excitement, insight, and mind-blowing creativity--and fun--of this one.


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From cartoons to graphic novels, from humor to superheroes, comics are the worlds most popular form of illustration. And, as in all forms of illustration, artists and designers experiment with visual ideas, image-and-word play, narrative sequencing, and stylistic flourishes through sketching. What we rarely see is the creative thinking--the doodling--that leads to fully fo From cartoons to graphic novels, from humor to superheroes, comics are the worlds most popular form of illustration. And, as in all forms of illustration, artists and designers experiment with visual ideas, image-and-word play, narrative sequencing, and stylistic flourishes through sketching. What we rarely see is the creative thinking--the doodling--that leads to fully formed visual ideas and stories. Comics Sketchbooks presents the private notebooks of eighty-two of the world's most inventive, innovative, and successful artists alongside new talents and emerging illustrators. The artists have been selected by the world's leading critic and most knowledgeable source in the field of graphic design and illustration, Steven Heller, who has had personal access to some of the most private and unseen material. Although there have been several comic-book compilations over the years, none has the visual excitement, insight, and mind-blowing creativity--and fun--of this one.

30 review for Comics Sketchbooks: The Private Worlds of Today's Most Creative Talents

  1. 4 out of 5

    Althea J.

    This was an interesting collection of artists. I was expecting to get a behind the scenes to the process of some of my favorite comic book artists. It wasn't that exactly. The only 2 big names from mainstream big-two comics were David Mazzucchelli (just a 2-page spread, but Asterios Polyp fans will appreciate some noodling of art from that book in the bottom right corner) and Jim Steranko. David Mazzucchelli Jim Steranko There were a variety of styles, nationalities (lots of European artists, espec This was an interesting collection of artists. I was expecting to get a behind the scenes to the process of some of my favorite comic book artists. It wasn't that exactly. The only 2 big names from mainstream big-two comics were David Mazzucchelli (just a 2-page spread, but Asterios Polyp fans will appreciate some noodling of art from that book in the bottom right corner) and Jim Steranko. David Mazzucchelli Jim Steranko There were a variety of styles, nationalities (lots of European artists, especially French), and professions from which these artists represented (graphic designers, cartoonists, animators, sequential art creators). There were a bunch of folks representing underground comics and a bunch of writer/artists of more independent graphic novels (aka not superheroes) whose work I've been wanting to check out: Ruta Modan (Exit Wounds), Josh Neufeld (A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge), Vanessa Davis (Make Me a Woman) and Lauren Redniss (whose Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout I adored!). Each featured artist shared a few words about their process and the role sketchbooks play in that process. For example, Lauren Redniss uses hers to record things she sees. She explained how sometimes she'll go back to her sketchbooks to pull images she can use in finished work. "For instance, a marble figure atop a fountain that I drew in Rome became, on a page in my new book Radioactive, a servant at a 1911 royal banquet celebrating Marie Curie's second Nobel Prize... a drawing of a Parsons colleague from a faculty meeting is now King Gustav V of Sweden, some radishes I drew as a still life once are getting served on silver platters, and musicians from a jazz club downtown are now playing chamber music for the historic occasion." It was interesting to hear about how some artists will use their sketchbooks to record the people and places they encounter. Like Bill Griffith who, when sketching, "never thinks of an end purpose beyond capturing what he is seeing and thinking about," capturing the actual dialogue as he heard it. Or Russ Braun (aka Java Monk) who sees his sketchbooks as "a playground to work out ideas, create characters, and simply a convenient place to practice becoming a better draftsman." I love this insight into Braun's process: He developed a sense of sequential storytelling by drawing the same character a number of times, answering a different question each time: "'What would happen next?' or, even more basically, 'What would he look like from this angle?'...characters just came to life and dictated their own stories." Joseph Lambert sketches to keep his hand and mind loose. "I try to get all of the bad or stiff drawing out of my system before I get to the final page." I enjoyed how John Cuneo worked out ideas for strips, along with his own mishigas within the sketchbook space. And I loved the composition and coloring of the sketchwork by Peter Kuper, which he notes, has evolved into "unplanned murals with images from different locations and different times merging into a whole." Some of the sketchbook art collected here appears more finished than others. Like Manuel Gomez Burns who sees his sketchbook as an art object. Or this gorgeous work by Nathan Jurevicius: Though some artists mention the tools they use, or that digital tools have influenced their sketching process, there's not much real discussion of these topics. It's more of a collection of a few sketchbook pages and a short blurb for each artist. Perfect as a library book. Here's some more examples... Olivier Kugler Martin Lemelman Joanna Neborsky Chris Battle SIDEBAR... If you enjoy sketchbooks and are on Tumblr, a MUST-follow is http://mitografia.tumblr.com/ Kenneth Rocafort's blog where he posts a daily sketchbook pic ---- he's frickin amazing!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Recommended to anyone interested in or currently using a sketchbook to help open up your creativity and improve technique. The editor managed to gather together some authors that I really enjoy, but he does take one big misstep. While it is kind of nice to see some artists show their finished art alongside their sketches, some artists chose to only include finished or nearly finished stuff. In some of the artist intros, the editor flat out tells you that some of the artists don't even keep a ske Recommended to anyone interested in or currently using a sketchbook to help open up your creativity and improve technique. The editor managed to gather together some authors that I really enjoy, but he does take one big misstep. While it is kind of nice to see some artists show their finished art alongside their sketches, some artists chose to only include finished or nearly finished stuff. In some of the artist intros, the editor flat out tells you that some of the artists don't even keep a sketchbook. That's fine if what he is including are preliminary sketches for finished pieces. But instead, some of what we get is ready for publication or in the third or fourth step of the creative process. Just because an image has not yet been Photoshopped doesn't make it a sketch. Anyway, about three quarters of the stuff in this book is fun and a helpful insight into how many professionals work which makes it worth my time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamil

    I dunno, maybe it's me, but I expected more shots of actual sketchbooks, sketches in the context of the sketchbook page, not just isolated drawings. I love to see how artists organize their thinking on the page. I wanted deeper process stuff. & I wish there was more than a couple pages from artists like Mazzucchelli and Panter. I dunno, maybe it's me, but I expected more shots of actual sketchbooks, sketches in the context of the sketchbook page, not just isolated drawings. I love to see how artists organize their thinking on the page. I wanted deeper process stuff. & I wish there was more than a couple pages from artists like Mazzucchelli and Panter.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin Britton

    Steven Heller’s Comics Sketchbooks opens up the private notebooks and doodle sheets of eighty-two of the world’s more innovative and successful artists and allows fans to take a fascinating peek inside. Each sketchbook provides a detailed, almost intimate, snapshot of its owner’s style, thought processes and working method. Despite all of the pages that Steven Heller has included having been submitted, edited then approved by the artists in question, Comics Sketchbooks still offers a delightfull Steven Heller’s Comics Sketchbooks opens up the private notebooks and doodle sheets of eighty-two of the world’s more innovative and successful artists and allows fans to take a fascinating peek inside. Each sketchbook provides a detailed, almost intimate, snapshot of its owner’s style, thought processes and working method. Despite all of the pages that Steven Heller has included having been submitted, edited then approved by the artists in question, Comics Sketchbooks still offers a delightfully voyeuristic look at their private, creative lives. It would be interesting to know how long each of the artists involved spend sorting through their papers and deciding which sketches best exemplified themselves and their work. In Heller’s introduction to Comics Sketchbooks he discusses just how difficult it was for the artists to share their work, especially the “failed” sketches and the beginnings of projects that never made it to fruition. A number of artists that he approached during the planning stages of the book claimed that they were unable to contribute since they either didn’t keep sketchbooks at all or else discarded their doodles upon competition. This seems surprising if true, it’s hard to imagine artists not wanting to keep any of their own sketches, but could be indicative of the fact that informal sketches are generally made for personal pleasure rather than for public consumption. Either way, it highlights just how much of a privilege it is to be able to see into the sketchbooks for those eighty-two artists who did participate in Comics Sketchbooks. All of the art reproduced in Comics Sketchbooks is excellent [as is the quality of the reproductions] but everyone is bound to have their favourite pages depending on who their favourite artists are. For my part, I particularly loved Seth’s Scout Master drawings, Charles Burns’ Nitnit sketch, and David Mazzucchelli’s early Asterios Polyp designs. It’s great to be able to see this kind of untamed, unguarded work by favourite artists. It’s also really interesting to be able to finally put a name to a favourite style; I discovered that I’ve been a fan of Chris Battle’s animation for years without realising it. And, of course, Comics Sketchbooks is a great place to discover new favourite and identify artists whose work you want to look into in more depth. Comics Sketchbooks is an archive of great work by some of the greatest artists working in comics. While not all of the included sketches were made for comics, all of the artists either work primarily in comics or else combine such work with other illustrative work. As such, Comics Sketchbooks provides insight into comics art and illustrative skills worldwide and into the amazing breadth of styles being used today. The work of comics veterans such as R. Crumb and Victor Moscoso is included along with the work of artists working at the top of the profession today and also those who could still be considered up-and-comers. Comics Sketchbooks is a beautiful volume that really inspires an appreciation of comics art and of art in general.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roberto Aramburu

    Tons of art and artists I love and discovered a few that I will be exploring. Was surprised to see animators featured in here. It's great, I expected nothing more than raw and unfinished work and that's exactly what I got. I also learned a few tricks for my sketchbooking sessions. Prepare to have google when reading it, you'll find even more goodies. Tons of art and artists I love and discovered a few that I will be exploring. Was surprised to see animators featured in here. It's great, I expected nothing more than raw and unfinished work and that's exactly what I got. I also learned a few tricks for my sketchbooking sessions. Prepare to have google when reading it, you'll find even more goodies.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Parka

    (More pictures on my blog) This large 352-page paperback reminded me instantly of an earlier book called Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World's Great Graphic Designers. It's also not a coincident that the author is the same Steven Heller. Comics Sketchbooks features the sketchbook pages of 82 artists. There are comic artists like Jim Steranko, animator Bill Plympton, illustrator Peter de Seve, political cartoonist Ann Telnaes, underground comic artist Robert Crumb and more. Those are some o (More pictures on my blog) This large 352-page paperback reminded me instantly of an earlier book called Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World's Great Graphic Designers. It's also not a coincident that the author is the same Steven Heller. Comics Sketchbooks features the sketchbook pages of 82 artists. There are comic artists like Jim Steranko, animator Bill Plympton, illustrator Peter de Seve, political cartoonist Ann Telnaes, underground comic artist Robert Crumb and more. Those are some of the artists I recognise so it's fun to discover a new bunch of them, each with a short profile provided. A peek at their private sketches reveals the other side of these artists. The sketches show us what they think of and draw while they are unguarded. There are sketches of people on subways, comic ideas, doodles, some literally from dreams and a lot of other weird things. The sketches are rough, some are unfinished, and they all represent some random thought. The artists' hands are like mind seismographs. The artists' websites are included at the back of the book. It's a nice visual book for the adventurous reader to dive into.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Correll

    There are some great artists in this book but there's a lot of finished work included, rather than actual sketchbook drawings... Could have done with the inclusion of more artists who use the sketchbook as a musing/ brainstorming tool- someone like Tom Gauld, maybe. I'd liked to have seen more evidence of the thought processes behind the artists' works. There are some great artists in this book but there's a lot of finished work included, rather than actual sketchbook drawings... Could have done with the inclusion of more artists who use the sketchbook as a musing/ brainstorming tool- someone like Tom Gauld, maybe. I'd liked to have seen more evidence of the thought processes behind the artists' works.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jo Bennie

    A hefty coffee table book packed with the studies and notes on sketchbooks from 82 of the foremost comic book artists working in the field today. It is a generous work, artists showing how the pristine work that we read in their comics comes to the page. And it is inspiring, showing how different artists work their way from idea to finished product.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I love seeing other artist sketchbooks so this was a great book for seeing rough work, but too much finished work to have sketchbook in the title I thought. Still worth a read to see how people work and develop their ideas tho.

  10. 4 out of 5

    George

    You won't like all of this book, but you will love some of it. Browse to find an artist or two that you like. You won't like all of this book, but you will love some of it. Browse to find an artist or two that you like.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bochones

    Me regalaron el libro y esta bastante bien editado y con una muestra muy variopinta de autores.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Williams

  13. 4 out of 5

    Don

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert Boyd

  15. 4 out of 5

    estonia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Schlatter

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paige

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris kunselman

  20. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Gómez burns

  21. 5 out of 5

    Álvaro

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katy Borluvie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin E Collins

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bob Bradshaw

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Bennett

  29. 5 out of 5

    Esther

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chrisel

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