Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Fun Graphic Novel "How To"

I picked up Adventures in Cartooning this past weekend. At a quick, first glance, it looked like it was just another graphic novel. But, on closer examination, this book is much, much more. When I looked more carefully at the cover, I saw phrases like, "how to turn your doodles into dandies", "word balloon", "sound effect", "motion lines". I came to realize that this book was a "how to" for aspiring cartoonists / graphic novelists.

The delight in this book is that the authors/illustrators (James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost) use a very simple plot - knight fighting a dragon - to teach all we need to know to be able to do this ourselves.

The main characters that carry the story are a princess who is trying to draw a comic, the Magic Cartooning elf, a knight (really the princess in disguise), a horse (Edward), and a fire-breathing dragon, who just happens to love candy.

Sturm, Arnold, and Frederick-Frost very cleverly introduce us to the necessity of panels to separate the different ideas, the importance of words with the pictures to help tell the story, thought bubbles to share the characters' thinking, size of font to show different emotions, word ballons placed in order from left to right to show the order of conversation, and sound effects. And they do all of this within the plot of the story.

I think this book will appeal to many students in my classroom. The simple story line, the great illustrations, and the fun how-to for cartoons / graphic novels all add up to huge kid appeal! I anticipate that Adventures in Cartooning will be flyng off the shelf when I introduce it to my class tomorrow. It was a great find!

An additional bonus -- this book will be a great mentor text for students attempting to write/illustrate a cartoon / graphic novel of their own in writing workshop.

It just came out at the end of March 2009, so it is available now. I highly recommend it!


  1. Karen-
    I bought this as well with a student of mine in mind and he is loving it. My kids were intrigued by the idea of paneling.

  2. This book looks terrific - right up my son's alley. Thanks for reviewing it, or I probably wouldn't have discovered it!