Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell
Chris Riddell is British illustrator and political cartoonist, known for his cartoons in The Observer, and for a series of children’s books he has illustrated, written or co-written, including The Edge Chronicles, Goth Girl, Muddle Earth, and his new colaboration with Neil Gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle (images above, top three). The latter title is not yet formally released in the U.S.; there is a review on The Guardian, with an image gallery.

His own website focuses on his cartoons, including “Illustrations to Unwritten Books”; the latter consisting mostly of terrible (i.e. wonderful) literary puns.

There is also an Edge Chronicles blog at Weird New Worlds. In addition, Riddell contributed an illustrated essay to the Guardian’s series, “Love Letters to Libraries“.

Don’t miss his absolutely wonderful sketchbook blog (yellow pages above), which is an extensive Tumblog with some of his most imaginative, off-the-cuff and delightfully loopy work, along with various sketches, and a sort of intermittent visual diary of his comings and goings, some of them sketched in a lined accounting ledger used as a sketchbook.


Théodore Rousseau

Theodore Rousseau
Étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau was one of the first of the French painters to be attracted to the gnarled trees, bolder-strewn hillsides and deep forests of Fontainebleau, and after visiting frequently, one of the first to move to the small nearby village of Barbizon, where he became one of the premiere painters of the Barbizon School.

After early acceptance at the critical Salon, Rousseau’s predilection for Romanticism ran afoul of the Classicists in control of the Salon at the time, and kept him from acceptance for a number of years, earning him the unenviable nickname of “le grand refusé”.

He managed to impress patrons sufficiently to carry on, however, and eventually regained acceptance, though he was consistently denied the kind of official recognition due a painter of his ability.

As a leader of the Barbizon School, his often dark and moody canvases with their roughly scumbled surfaces and open brushwork, contrasted with those in which he applied sensitive glazes, helped usher in modern styles of painting.

It would be a stretch to think of Rousseau as an actual Tonalist, but the Barbizon painters exerted considerable influence on the American painters of that style, and I see in Rousseau’s compositions — particularly those of illuminated skies seen through the framing of dark masses of foreground trees — many of the compositional conventions taken on by painters like George Inness.

Unfortunately, reproductions of Rousseau’s work on the web seem to suffer more than some of his contemporaries. The widest selection is probably at WikiArt, though the images are not large, and The Athenaeum has a decent selection. The best reproductions are probably those of the excellent collection of Rousseau’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery, London.

You can also go to Artcyclopedia and search through the links to individual museums.

There is currently an exhibition of Rousseau’s work at the Morgan Library and Museum in NY, the first of its kind in the US. Titled “The Untamed Landscape: Théodore Rousseau and the Path to Barbizon“, it concentrates on his drawings and plein air oil sketches, forms at which Rousseau, much like Constable, excelled. The exhibition runs until January 18, 2015.

If you visit, and come out wanting to see Rousseau’s more finished work, the Met is just a cab ride away.


A. Wilkenfeld

A. Wilkenfeld, cartoon illustrations and character design, Tanglefoot
A. wilkenfeld is an illustrator and character designer, originally from Sydney, Australia and now based in New Orleans. Aside from that, I can find little biographical information.

To my eye, Wilkenfeld’s lively, fluid drawings show an admiration for the work of great caricaturists like Al Hirschfeld, along with an affection for early 20th century magazine cartoons, and mid-20th century animation.

His characters are stretched, looped, bent over backwards and flung into outrageous positions with gleeful abandon, particularly those shown dancing.

Dancing seems central to the theme of Wilkenfeld’s personal project of an in-development webcomic titled Tanglefoot, which looks to be a treat. You can find work for it, along with some of his other drawings, on his website, Tumblr, Behance portfolio and deviantART gallery.


Tony Auth, 1942-2014

Tony Auth, editorial cartoonist and illustrator
For over 40 years, Tony Auth was a glimmer of sanity amid the news of the day, in the form of his cartoons on the opinion pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 2012, Auth — a winner of the Pulitzer and Herblock Prizes — moved to the local PBS affiliate, bringing his cartoons to their NewsWorks website.

Auth’s cartoons, drawn with a wonderfully sketchy line, and little pretense, carried his commentary straight to the point, often skewering left and right alike, though most would count his politics as liberal (if only because he wasn’t rabidly right wing).

Auth died this month, on September 14, 2014, at the age of 72.

Tony Auth was also an illustrator of children’s books. You can find a number of them, along with collections of his editorial cartoons, on Amazon.

I, for one, will miss his visual voice and that occasional breath of sanity amid the screaming and finger-pointing, particularly now.

For more, see my previous post on Tony Auth (from 2006).


B. Kliban cartoons on the web

B. Kliban cartoons
Much to my delight, and considerable surprise, GoComics, the online repository of newspaper comics from both Universal and United Media syndicates, has been placing online the wonderfully off-kilter and reality-warping cartoons of B. Kliban.

If you’re not familiar with Kliban, it’s worth noting that The Far Side’s Gary Larson, Bizzarro’s Dan Piraro, the New Yorker’s Jack Ziegler, and other cartoonists who mine the veins of absurdist cartoon humor, owe much to the legacy of B. Kliban (as Kliban, in turn, owes a good deal to Saul Steinberg).

I’ll be the first to suggest that Kliban is not everyone’s cup of tea — there are times he can leave even dedicated Kliban aficionados scratching their heads — but for those of us who find delight in his tilted vision, terrible (wonderful) puns, surreal non-sequiturs and brain-stopping inversions of the normal, this is good news indeed, particularly as his publisher has long let most of his collections of drawings (they’re not always “cartoons”) languish out of print.

There is a GoComics archive of Kliban drawings from his collections (as well as some not in the collections, drawn from other sources), and a separate archive of his cat drawings, which have found a more mainstream audience.

GoComics is adding three drawings a week. I don’t know how long this will go on, as they must have a couple of hundred online already; and there are — sadly — a finite number of B. Kliban drawings in the world.

Among them are some of my all time favorite cartoons by anyone, including the one shown above, at bottom, which I’ve had on my bulletin board at various times since I was in my 20s.

For more (and another of my favorite cartoons), see my previous post on B. Kliban.

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Cartoonist interviews on David Wasting Paper

Since 2009, David Paccia has been posting short interviews with cartoonists, comics artists and cartoon illustrators of various backgrounds on his blog, David Wasting Paper.

The interviews are a standard set of questions, the same given to each artist, the answers to which, of course, are varied. The questions range from interesting and useful, like “What is your favorite pen?” and “Did you have any formal training?”, to rather silly, like “If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you’d be?”.

The results, however, and the types of cartoonists, comics artists and illustrators included, are wide ranging and interesting. In the more recent articles, there are more images, often including images of favorite tools.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a master list of the artists. You can see sub-lists of some of the artists included during a particular time frame in the “Blog Archive” navigation in the right hand column. If you follow the link below, you can thumb back through all the posts tagged with “Cartoonist Survey”.

(Images above, with links to my posts here on Lines and Colors: Roz Chast, Paolo Rivera, Steve Artley, Shaun Tan, David Peterson, Steve Rude, Peter de Séve, Tom Richmond, Kim Warp, Mattias Adolfsson, Drew Friedman)