How I Learned to Think Like a Cartoonist
Earlier this year, Yale University Press was thrilled to publish a “classroom in a book” by Ivan Brunetti. Brunetti, an acclaimed cartoonist and illustrator, has taught courses on illustration and comics at the University of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. His book Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice is a 15-week series of lessons that offer a witty and sophisticated approach to cartooning.
Kevin Budnik has read Cartooning and has also been a student in Brunetti’s classes. He agreed to share his thoughts on Ivan’s approach to visual storytelling, as well as some of the terrific results of his efforts.
My blog, Our Ever Improving Living Room, began as an assignment in Ivan Brunetti‘s Cartooning class at Columbia College Chicago, to draw a week of daily journal comics using his four-panel strip format. I decided to challenge—or rather, force—myself to keep the project going as long as I could. I began posting on September 24th, 2010, and took to the Internet, posting a new strip every day.
Expanding Ivan’s exercise was both a lesson in training myself to draw and think like a cartoonist, as well as a year-long experiment to see if some sort of story might unconsciously form through the sheer routine of my everyday life. While drawing the strip every day became a part of my daily rhythm and helped me to work out basic fundamentals of cartooning (composition, rhythm, economy of space, and line) the strips also helped me see the world through comics: over time, I began to understand how to filter my reality into four panels. I was also able to relate differently to my own frustrations, anxieties, fascinations, and the things that make me happy.
Looking at the difference between the strips I drew on September 24th, 2010 and September 24th, 2011, it’s clear that I have evolved over the year. Drawing every day has proved an invaluable exercise for my mind, and has helped me to be more creative in general.
Kevin Budnik is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Chicago. He blogs at “Our Ever-Improving Living Room,” a daily journal comic.
Watch the book trailer for Cartooning!