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A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition by Charles M. Schulz

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a TraditionPremise: A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition is a biographical tribute to the animated television classic. With stories about how the Christmas special came together, readers will learn about producer Lee Mendelson, animator Bill Melendez, musician Vince Guaraldi, and creator Charles Schulz.

The book includes the script of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Guaraldi’s original score and publication notes for songs “Christmas Time Is Here” and “Linus and Lucy,” and original animation art from the special. Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez give their perspective of their relationships with each of the contributors and with the Peanuts characters, along with how the special came to fruition.

Themes: Charles Schultz’s comics tell grown-up problems from the perspective of children. With deep theological and cultural insight, the Peanuts kids share wisdom about life through the simplicity of their story.

A Charlie Brown Christmas shares the true meaning of the holiday in a very literal sense. In sharing in the nostalgia of this Christmas classic, the topics of life, faith, friendship, and love are brought forth through the classic Peanuts comics.

Pros: A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition told me so much about the people behind the cartoons that I didn’t know, but it also revealed to me more about the Peanuts creator. I like how they share how the cartoon eventually came to be, seemingly slapped together and lacking in content, but beloved to this day for its simplicity. I love that the book includes the full script and the original score of “Christmas Time is Here” and “Linus and Lucy.” The way the book is put together, sharing the different perspectives of the cartoon’s creators along with the artwork makes the book more than a keepsake. It really does feel more like a biography.

Cons: Knowing this was only about the Christmas special, I would have liked a more in depth look into Charles Schulz’s beliefs. I think it would have added to the meaning Schulz wanted to create through his work. And though there is a lot of original art, I would also have liked the A Charlie Brown Christmas to include more animation cells and storyboard sketches.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for biography and nostalgia, A Charlie Brown Christmas has plenty of both. I learned things not only about the Christmas special but about the people behind creating it. With a realistic view of how television shows are (or at least used to be) made, this book romanticizes how things came together to develop this classic cartoon loved by many. Great to pick up in bites or to read all the way through, lovers of the Peanuts gang and of the Charlie Brown Christmas special would do themselves well to pick up a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition to understand how it all came together.

Charles M. Schulz museum
A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition on Goodreads
Buy A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition on Amazon
I received a copy from the publisher to write this honest review.

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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Nonfiction

 

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Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden

Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures ContinuedPremise: Many artists have the desire to create comics but might not know where to begin when it comes to layout, style, or the techniques necessary for creating print and digital art. Mastering Comics is a textbook covering topics including character and reader perspective, storytelling, artistic techniques, conversion to screen, penciling, inking, lettering, and much more.

Themes: One of the main things covered in Mastering Comics is creating thumbnails as a sketch of what an artist is going to eventually make into a more detailed drawing through penciling, inking, and shading or coloring. The thumbnails are there as a guide as you go about telling the story without having to worry about spending too much time adding detail before the story or artistic details have been thought out.

Mastering Comics takes time talking about layout, especially as it pertains to how people will see the pages individually, as you turn the page, and as the composition as a whole. It looks at the visually pleasing aspects as you look at the page, as well as the natural progression of reading through dialogue boxes and narration, color schemes, and artistic style.

Another topic covered is considering the digital realm of publication. Mastering Comics talks about how to draw for the screen, especially with what resolution to scan at, how to save your documents for adding ink, color, and shading, and also for thinking about how it will be viewed on the screen when compared to the printed page.

Pros: Not only does Mastering Comics cover a wide array of topics for artists, it manages to do so in an easy to understand way. The artistic examples in the book are fantastic. I like that they offer extended examples and content on their website, especially if you haven’t read the previous book or are simply looking to expand your artistic knowledge. Having not read the previous book, I still felt like there was plenty of help in the drawing aspect to help a beginning artist, such as with perspective and size and placement relationships between people and objects.

Cons: Mastering Comics makes some assumptions about your level of artistic ability and knowledge, though it is fairly forthcoming about those assumptions. The authors give references to the previous book for guidance on art and beginning drawing techniques, though they don’t always go into much detail with those references. Some of the step-by-step instructions on creating computer graphics are not as clear as they could be (or should be in some cases).

Recommendations: This “definitive course in comics narrative” lives up to its claim. If I were going to look for a definitive place to research cartooning as a career or as a serious hobby, Mastering Comics would be a perfect starting place. There is so much in this book to talk about, it can’t be covered in a review, but must be experienced from reading through the examples and working through the exercises. After reading this textbook it made me want to get into starting a comic. I enjoyed going through Mastering Comics so much that I forgot I was reading a textbook.

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures website
Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued on Goodreads
Buy Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued on Amazon
I received a copy from the publisher to write this honest review.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Graphic Novel, Nonfiction

 

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