I bought this for Max the other day. I was trying to find something New and Inspiring, without being overtly so, if you know what I mean. And while Max is always open to almost any suggestion I might make (I should admit here and now that even I cringe at some of my past suggestions), he isn't always as interested as I think he might be. But when the geeky cashier at the local bookstore surreptitiously poked his cohort and said "Cool stuff, dude" (in response to my purchases) I felt a distinct thrill of pleasure. Yes, call me shallow and superficial, but there is something about the approval of a geeky bookstore guy that gladdens the heart.
Anyhow, here is one of the books I bought. As you can see, it's called Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels. What appealed to me about this book was not the "how to" aspect of it so much as the fact that here is a book which explains the critical requirements of the basic sketch: perspective, atmosphere, and character. And does so in an amusing and distinctive way. Succinct (compared to how I do things). Fun. Picture-esque. I like that.
I paired it with one of these: a nice black, spiral-bound, archival quality sketchbook. It even foregrounds its purpose -SKETCHBOOK is written in giant letters on the front - so I didn't have to. This seemed embarrassingly redundant when I was standing in line contemplating how much money I was going to spend, because we have a lot of paper for all sorts of purposes, but ultimately I was glad I got it because Max was delighted with the idea of having a decent sketchbook.
I've been thinking about these two items a fair bit in the last few days, in the way one does when grandparents ask for Christmas or birthday ideas, because I don't think I would ever have considered these things had I not had several hours in a bookstore just to scavenge through every single shelf. I wasn't even alone: FDPG was with me, but, even more critically, I happened to have enough time and freedom from regular requirements ("Hmmm, we need something to go along with Black Ships Before Troy" "I should get this map" "Ooh, more origami paper!") to peruse the hitherto neglected shelves holding such oddities as blank diaries, art histories, and comics, not to mention blank sketchbooks. It was very pleasant. Novel even. FDPG was similarly delighted (then again, she loves being in bookstores). She was able to fondle the Mr. "Indiana Jones" Potato Head at length without her brothers shoving her aside in order to give full vent to their own peculiar sense of humour, as they usually do. She had a hot chocolate at Ye Olde Starbuckies, sitting beside a friend of mine who does to kids what every parent rejoices to see - she treats them like another friend at the table. FDPG even got to try on sunglasses at a kid shop in a shockingly extended fashion, something I usually avoid like the plague when the boys are with us (call me humourless but I can only take so much boyish cackling, snorting, and guffawing).
So there you go. It's never what you think it's going to be, is it?