Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Dream - A Real Studio Part 2

When I was 13 I was given, as a gift, a book called "The Secrets of Professional Cartooning" by Ken Muse. It was the first book to give me a really thorough understanding as to the specific process a syndicated cartoonist undertakes to create his or her own work. It was a really great book for a young person with cartooning ambitions. I learned about the certain properties of various tools, such as the pen nib, and zip-a-tone (remember that stuff?). Methods such as, how to use a lightbox to transfer a sketch to bristol board (bristol board -- who knew?). It contained a great section that interviewed various professional cartoonists like Charles Schulz and Milton Caniff as to the specific tools that they preferred to use. For example, Schulz used a C-5 pen nib, and Caniff drew with a Gillott's #659 pen nib but also drew with a Winsor Newton Series 7 #3 brush (a brush? Are you kidding me? How do you draw like that with a brush? My shock would be doubled when I eventually went to price one out -- many weeks worth of allowance for a few strands of hair?!) This was all really great stuff to learn. I poured through that book for years, and I still have it today, 27 years later. Its dated now, but there is much in there that can still be applied.
The one page of the book that really captured my imagination was a reproduction of a plate from Leo Stoutsenberger's "Cartoonerama" correspondence course. It was called "Setting Up Your Studio", and basically it illustrated the working environment of a professional cartoonist. This to me was completely fascinating. I could only imagine how pleasurable it would be to be able to work in such a "tricked out" space. Really when you examine the image, its nothing much more than an office space, but it was all of the individual regular items added together that made it so hugely appealing to me. I mean really. What's so exciting about masking tape and filing cabinets? No to me, this was it. This was the mark of authenticity. I hadn't looked at this image in many years, but I unearthed it recently in a move to our new home. There's a certain satisfaction in looking at this illustration and then looking at my new studio. Its a satisfying thing to see this and know that I like my new studio ... much better.
Now its been 27 years and I still can't find the stupid "tabouret". Where is it? Where?!

The above image is reproduced from The Secrets of Professional Cartooning by Ken Muse-Prentice Hall-1981

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