The latest book I’ve issued with my publishing hat on is a book that has a Schulz link… even though it came out when he was three years old.
lHow To Draw Cartoons is a guidebook created by cartoonist Clare Briggs, one of the comic strip powerhouse of the day (When a Feller Needs a Friend, The Day of Real Sport, and more.) Unlike what the title and cover suggest, however, this book doesn’t cover drawing cartoon art at all. Briggs assumed you’d learn about actual drawing from some other source, most likely a correspondence course. What he had to offer was his insight on how to come up with humorous concepts that would appeal to a wide range of readers, as well as how to build a career for yourself in the field. And it’s not just his advice you get — the final portion of the book has background and insight from many of the top comic strip names of the day, such as H.T. Webster, F. Opper, and Winsor McCay.
But clearly you’re not going to read Schulz advice here. He was a gifted young man, perhaps, but not that gifted, not at three. No, this was a book that inspired Schulz. He spoke of it as the first real book on cartooning he had.
Did it have an impact? Well, he seems to have taken much of its advice, and if you look through the example strips and cartoons in it, you will see a lot of themes in the Briggs cartoons that will remind you of Schulz. (There are about 50 cartoons and strips in the book, mostly by Briggs.)
In fact, here’s the very first cartoon in the book — the frontispiece, before any of the text:
It’s a boy standing behind a tree, looking in at the house of the girl he has a crush on… an image we saw repeatedly in Peanuts, if from a different angle.
Now, I wouldn’t turn to this book for advice on how to navigate the current comics market, as it’s more than a mite dated on that. But as a picture of the field as it existed about a century ago, it should be of interested to scholars and the curious. I’ve priced it at a mere $15, and it’s available for immediate order from Amazon units across the globe.