In Adventures in Cartooning, a magical elf guides a brave knight and his not-so-brave horse through the basics of comics as they fend off an evil, candy-stealing dragon. On their journey, they encounter daunting fortress walls, a giant whale, and bewitched knights before the final showdown with the dragon. Along the way, the knight learns about terms and techniques used in visual storytelling, like panels, word and thought balloons, and the balance of words and pictures.
Presented by The Center for Cartoon Studies — author/illustrator James Sturm is the school’s founder and Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost are alumni — the concepts come from people who know what they’re talking about and who espouse that anyone can create comics. Even though this is ostensibly a how-to book, the story takes center stage with quick pacing, playful dialogue, and bright, engaging illustrations. There’s even a fun twist near the end that’s sure to delight readers. The book also includes bonus material at the back, like more cartooning basics, some step-by-step illustrations, and a sample comic drawn by a young artist. While aimed at younger crowd (ages 6-10), this book will appeal to a wide audience because of its humor and charm. Readers wanting more can also check out the Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book (First Second, 2010) for lots of hands-on activities.