Cartoon and comic strip art is a very important part of American culture. Two
teenagers, in 1933, named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster came up with an amazing
idea. A super hero from another planet would come to earth and save the planet
from crime. All of the comic companies rejected their idea, until in 1938 a
company decided to take a chance on Superman. Could you believe in your idea
for five years and not give up like these two artists? Another well known political
cartoonist has a great place in American history. Thomas Nast thought of some
of the symbols that are common in our every day life. He created the Democratic
donkey, the Republican elephant, Santa Claus, and the first ever political cartoon.
Draw blank strips and boxes to invent your own original character. Draw it lightly
in pencil first and then go over the lines with a fine line black ink pen. It
is said that Charles Schultz, the well known inventor of Charlie Brown, was
encouraged in the first grade by a teacher. He loved to draw even then.
Some quick tips about cartooning:
1. A cartoon is an exaggeration.
If you look at a real rabbit, the ears are about a third or a half the length
of the rabbit's head.
If you look at a cartoon rabbit, its ears are twice as long as its head.
2. A cartoon is a stereotype.
If you want to cartoon a pirate, use an eye patch, parrot on shoulder, peg
leg, long hair, ear ring, etc.
If you want to cartoon a doctor, use a stethoscope and white coat.
If you want to cartoon a cook, use a white tall mushroom shaped hat on a large
man, short pointed mustache.
3. A cartoon tries to capture the essence of things.
A house, tree, car or even people can be drawn with a few lines.
Props are things used to help tell a story or set a scene. These can be drawn
with an outline to vaguely suggest their presence.
A cartoon may use exaggerations, stereotypes and essences of many emotions
or feeling to create stories, communicate ideas, create humor, or make a point.
They are an effective means of communication. Many cartoonists, like Scott Adams
who draws Dilbert, claim they are not "good artists." They say that
they became popular, not on their art, but on their story content. So when you
are cartooning, let yourself go. Be creative. Use good grammar. Tell a good
story and you may become famous.
of Thomas Nast
Lesson 22 of Visual Manna Complete Curriculum has more tips on drawing and
creating comic strips.
Sharon Jeffus has a BSEE in art education from John Brown University and
ten years experience teaching in the public schools. Sharon has written a complete
art curriculum that reinforces the core curriculum subjects. She is presently
homeschooling her two sons, Jonathan and Joshua. For more information about
the curriculum she has written and other art products write Visual Manna, PO
Box 553, Salem, MO 65560. Arthis@rollanet.org.
Or visit their website at http://www.rollanet.org/~arthis/
"Hello! Santa Claus!" - Nast, Thomas. Harper's Weekly (Dec. 20,
1884), rpt. American Monthly Review of Reviews 27 (Jan. 1903). http://www.boondocksnet.com/gallery/nast841220.html
In Jim Zwick, ed., Historical Graphics Gallery. http://www.boondocksnet.com/gallery/
(Aug. 10, 2000).