In his 350-page collection, Heller reprints pages from the sketchbooks of over 80 cartoonists, illustrators, and designers. Included in this venerable line-up are alumni, former fellows, and faculty from the Center for Cartoon Studies, notably Julie Delporte, Joe Lambert, David Libens, Max de Radigues, Robert Sikoryak, and CCS co-founder James Sturm.
For each of the artists, selections from a recent sketchbook are featured alongside a brief statement about their work. Heller has also been careful to include a quote from each artist, detailing his or her (although, unfortunately in this book, overwhelmingly “his”) attitude toward the act of sketching. These attitudes were diverse and engaging, and proved to be my favorite part of the book.
Joe Lambert writes, for example, that “there’s a freshness which comes with sketching that I haven’t figured out how to express in my finished work.” This is a sentiment echoed by many of the artists in this book. James Sturm largely agrees, but adds that “sketchbooks also allow me to put down a wide variety of images that have colonized my brain and look for connections.” I particularly enjoyed how artists like Lilli Carre pointed to the quotidian nature of artist’s sketchbooks. “I don’t treat my books as tidy art spaces,” she writes. “I’ll…draw from life, and write down notes, thoughts, and ideas that I want to work into my stories. Also: Grocery lists, work schedules, recipes, films I want to track down, and so on.”
This book, just one of the recent acquisitions to the Schulz Library’s “artists sketchbook” section, is both visually impressive and intellectually stimulating. For fans of comics, it’s a fascinating insight into the minds of successful creators. For other artists, and students like myself, it can also be a profound source of inspiration and a reminder that there is no one “right way” to create comics and comic art.
—Sasha Steinberg, guest writer.