September 7th, 2016

Ask A Cartoonist: Books for All

by Tea

This week is World Literacy Day!  And of course, comics are an important part of literacy.  So many cartoonists love to read and write, so this week, I asked our cartoonists to either talk about a book they’ve written that isn’t related to their comic strip, or to recommend a book they love.  

Bill Holbrook, Kevin & Kell, On the Fastrack, and Safe Havens:

Dethany of On the Fastrack takes a large interest in literacy, to the point of volunteering at the local library.

Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:

I’m currently reading Dark Carnival, a biography of director Tod Browning, whose 1932 movie “Freaks” put me on the path to creating Zippy.

Shameless Plug Dept.: My latest book is Invisible Ink” the story of mu mother’s 16 year love affair with a then famous cartoonist.

Here’s a nice blurb fom Comics Journal:

Bill Griffith’s Invisible Ink is a memoir as fascinating in its way as Fun Home. Where Alison Bechdel gave us a look inside of a closeted life when closets were in flower, Griffith takes us across the border into the times before the times changed, an era that seems terribly remote and yet is so recent you can still hear the echo of the footfalls… It’s a “Greatest Generation” story, it’s a Holden Caulfield-era story, it’s a New York City story, it’s a history of cartooning story, it’s a story of a great wide swath of 20th Century American life. It’s worthy of your attention.

-R. Fiore, Comics Journal

It can be ordered —–with autograph and free drawing by me inside here

John Rose, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith:

I just recently finished reading Walt’s People: Volume 3. I have also read Walt’s People: Volumes 1 and 2 and thoroughly enjoyed all three! I highly recommend this series if you’re a fan of Walt Disney or a fan of cartooning or animation, as a whole. The Walt’s People series is an oral history of all things Disney, as told by the artists, animators, designers, engineers, and executives who made it happen, from the 1920s through the present.

Walt’s People: Volume 3 features interviews with Disney Legends Ward Kimball, Joe Grant, Floyd Norman and Andreas Deja just to name a few. There are many more volumes in this series and I look forward to eventually reading them all!

Bud Grace, The Piranha Club:

Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Dan Mannix and Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett.

Norm Feuti, Retail:

In the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I’ll recommend my own book, The King of Kazoo. It is out in the wild now.

Something’s stirring at the top of Mount Kazoo, and King Cornelius and his daughter Bing are going to get to the bottom of it!

Scatterbrained Cornelius, King of Kazoo, and his intrepid daughter, Bing, explore a mysterious cave at the top of Mount Kazoo. There they discover a famous alchemist named Quaf is planning a dangerous and forbidden experiment. Now Cornelius, Bing, and the brilliant royal inventor Torq must go all out to stop Quaf before his crazy undertaking threatens the entire kingdom.


“Feuti’s steampunk-with-a-medieval-twist worldbuilding is both exciting and imaginative without being jarring or anachronistic. The dynamics between hapless Cornelius and the clever-yet-often-overlooked Bing are exceptionally well-wrought and offer an artful feminist message. The clean lines and character stylizations are reminiscent of Jeff Smith’s Bone series and will certainly appeal to a similar audience. Though this volume provides closure, expect an outcry for more adventures in this intriguing world.

Clever, fast-paced, and altogether great fun.”

-Kirkus Reviews: *Starred Review


Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace:

They say that the best cartoons are the ones where the drawing and the caption cannot work independently of each other. Hank’s record of meeting that tough standard is incredibly high, this one being the perfect example.
And I think it’s on topic, too.

Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle:

I have a book that should be out on Amazon this week (it’s official launch isn’t until October 3rd, so ssssshhhh….), ready for me to send to my awesome group of advance readers, who helped put an earlier draft into shape. It’s called FAB Club and it’s about how a group of kids who have been bullied get together to defeat bullying. FAB Club is aimed at 8-12 year olds and it’s the book I would have liked to have read at that age.

Karen Moy, Mary Worth:

“Mary Worth” is a strip about a person who helps others. In that vein, I recommend the book, “A Touch of Hope” by Dean Kraft. It’s the remarkable story of a man who uses his gifts to heal others with his hands. His path is not always easy, but his motivation and ability to heal compel him to use what he has to do what he does.

Rina Piccolo, Six Chix and Tina’s Groove:

“Literacy Day ought to be every day! I love reading— it’s one of life’s pleasures that I can’t do without. I could tell you what I’ve been reading this past summer, but instead I’d like to to tell you about my own book, “Quirky Quarks: A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics.

Quirky Quarks is a book that I collaborated on, and co-authored with two physicists… It’s a book for science enthusiasts, or anyone who’s interested in learning about Black Holes, Dark Matter, and what happens inside of a particle collider. Oh, and it’s jam-packed with my comics, cartoons, and drawings.

If you’d like to check it out, you can find it on Amazon. It’s one of the most fun science reading you’ll find out there.

Okay, enough of the shameful self-plugging … go crack open a book, any book, and start reading!”

Stephanie Piro, Six Chix:

When I’m not writing and drawing my “Six Chix” and other cartoons I work p/t in a library so I’m a huge advocate for literacy and promoting reading. I also write a book review blog called “The Militant Recommender” ( ) because I’m always trying to get patrons to read books I think they’d like! I have so many favorites, far too many to list, but the first book I ever sent away for, when I was 11, was a hardcover edition of “Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux! My parents were great readers and my Dad wrote me a check to mail away for the book. Can’t remember where I saw the ad. And it was so exciting to receive it. I am pretty much a Phantom Phan so I have snuck the characters into the occasional “Six Chix” cartoon like the attached. I also attached one that came out this past Sunday, also promoting literacy! Hope you can use them!

Jim Borgman, Zits:

I just finished reading Judd Apatow’s book Sick in the Head. It’s a collection of interviews he did with comedians over a long period of time. As a teenager, Judd would call standup comedians who were coming through the local comedy clubs and ask them for an interview for his radio program. He carefully avoided revealing that this was a 10-watt high school radio station. Even when he showed up, a 15-year old with his cheap tape recorder, he found the comedians to be unfailingly generous with their time and insights into the business.

Jay Kennedy, King Features’ late great comics editor, once told me that the single best indicator he had of the eventual success of an aspiring cartoonist was that person’s having reached out to someone in the field before submitting a strip. It indicated a level of passion, he felt, and that passion can carry a person through the grind required to succeed.

When I was in college I wrote letters to some of the cartoonists whose work I was learning the most from. I received a gracious three-page handwritten letter chocked with tips and suggestions from David Levine, whose New York Review of Books caricatures I was aping for my campus newspaper. Likewise, Jeff MacNelly sent me an encouraging letter that went a long way toward lending me the confidence I needed to send my college cartoons to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which hired me as their editorial cartoonist.




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