from graphic novel guest blogger, Francisca Goldsmith:
Artists’ sketchbooks are the analogs to writers’ notebooks: individuals maintain them for different reasons and to suit different personal needs. Steven Heller is eminently suited as editor, critic and art director to curate this compendium of out takes from the wide array of artists who were willing to share pages—or, in some cases, scraps mounted onto pages or into albums or simply maintained in files—of work not intended for published view.
There is much learn from the likes of these private “passages” from the pens, pencils, computer drawing programs and other media expressions: how one comics artist develops his characters, how another sequences her ideas into a story, how others exercise their drawing hands with no product expected other than the movement and maintenance of fluidity. A fair number of the six dozen cartoonists note that they began maintaining some manner of sketchbook in early or later adolescence, although work shared here tends to have been undertaken in the past two or three years.
This is an important work for high school and community college art departments to share with their students, showing how the work of visual arts may require time spent away from orderly projects, and how many before them have worked through visual expository concerns to arrive at points where they are willing to display how they got there.
Adult/High School–This generous collection of outtakes from the private sketchbooks of more than 50 currently active artists who work in any–and some in several–of the comics formats (comic books, single panel cartooning, graphic novels) gives both aficionados and serious art students much to ponder. Heller takes care to explain that the sketches as presented have actually undergone some necessary editing through the production process; it simply isn’t possible to see in published book format the “raw” states of those sketches that might have been done on napkins, while others have been slightly adjusted by the contributing artist prepublication. Canonical comics artists, including R. Crumb and Kim Deitch, appear with relative newcomers, including Carol Tyler and Rutu Modan. Coverage is international, and each artist is introduced by Heller with generous quotes from the sketcher about his or her sketching history and habits. Material chosen shows each artist’s interests, styles and, in many cases, work patterns. An appended list of artist websites makes an excellent suggestion for the next step to take to become more familiar with any of the comics artists met here.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA