September 9th, 2007


Cartooning Advice From 8 Decades Ago

In what may have been the first book of its kind, HOW TO DRAW CARTOONS (1926), cartoonist Clare Briggs instructed young hopefuls in the business and craft of cartooning. His book is full of sound advice, but I find it most notable as a point of comparison between the business then and now.

In a chapter called The Road To Fame, Briggs invites a host of other successful cartoonists to add their two cents. He explains:

"There is inspiration to be had from the experience of those who have made good in any line of endeavor, for they have arrived at a station which permits them to speak with a full knowledge of all the facts. ... Hoping that a brief expression of their opinions would be helpful to the aspiring cartoonist in throwing light on what such a career offers, I framed a brief questionnaire requesting them to answer the following queries:

1. What do you consider the greatest contributing factor to your success?

2. How much importance do you attach to an art education where the student intends to adopt cartooning as a profession?

3. What is your opinion of the average correspondence school?

4. How did you get your start?

5. What general rule or advice would you give to the average beginner?"

Briggs summarizes their answers as follows:

"Almost without exception, the recognized figures in cartooning prescribe steady and intelligent work as the most certain route leading to [success]." He adds that "nearly all are agreed that while an art education is an advantage it is not essential because the idea, and not the drawing, is the vital element in cartooning."

I plan to reproduce several of these cartoonists' replies here on my blog. For starters, I'll leave you with Frank King's reply:
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