Written and Illustrated by: Andrew Loomis
Published by: Titan Books
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
Fun With a Pencil is what this latest release of instructional tomes from Andrew Loomis is called and Fun With a Pencil is exactly what it is.
Loomis’s books are well known all over the world for the succinct and well laid out instruction that all of them offer. I can, however, see how getting through some of the larger books might seem a bit daunting to some. There’s just so much information to absorb in his books that I could see many people being intimidated by the encyclopedic knowledge offered inside. Especially for a beginning or younger artist, Andrew Loomis’s books might seem to be a bit more than what they bargained for when dipping their toes into the artistic pool.
Fortunately Loomis was smart enough to publish Fun With a Pencil. Fun With a Pencil is a terrific beginning tool for anyone, young or old, who is interested in exploring the basics of cartooning and illustration. If you have anyone in your life who’s always thought about wanting to find the cartoonist inside of them this would be the book to pick up for them. Much of what is in Fun With a Pencil is the same information that artist has laid out in his previous volumes but the presentation here is more direct and the layout is more simplistic so as to make potential illustrators enjoy the experience of learning a new craft. Fun With a Pencil is chock full of exercises, diagrams, cartoons and text that serve to make drawing fun for the beginning artist. Fun With a Pencil should join How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and Ben Caldwell’s Action! Cartooning to form the holy trinity of beginner cartooning books for younger artists. And while Marvel Way and Action! Cartooning are great books they still can’t compare to the amount of pure instruction that Loomis offers here. The size and scope of this book dwarf what many other books about introductory illustration have to offer. If content is king then Fun With a Pencil triumphs over other books with its successful combination of educational instruction and fun filled artistic exercises.
As a matter of fact it’s the size of the book that might be its only detriment. Once again, Titan Books has delivered a beautiful hardcover tome but it’s so professionally produced that I could see people having a hard time handing over a nice book like this to a child who might actually benefit from it the most. While I love what the crew at Titan Books have done with the aesthetics of Fun With a Pencil’s packaging I do have to say that it seems almost a shame to hand a book that is as lovely as this one over to the hands of a child who will undoubtedly fill up the hardbound volume with pencil and crayon marks almost as soon as they get their little hands on it. Fun With a Pencil is the one time that I would have to chide Titan Books for their astounding production value. I think that the audience for Fun With a Pencil might have been better served with a softcover edition of the book. If anything it’d make it easier for kids to lug the book around and possibly make it better for a parent to deal with seeing their kid manhandle the pages with abandon. Still, it is a terrific book for a novice artist to have and complaining that it’s too nice a volume is probably the ultimate nitpick. As it is my daughter loved the book. I should actually take this opportunity to apologize to the people at Titan Books for getting this review out so late. I had actually handed this book over to my child to see if she’d get anything out of it and didn’t see it again until a couple of days ago. She’d sequestered it away while doing her best to figure out the contents of the book. So while my review hits this site a bit after the book’s release I don’t think that you could get a better commendation for Fun With a Pencil than the fact that this reviewer’s child hid the book away because she was enjoying it so much.