Just in time for Halloween, Christopher Hart brings us this spooky, scary and a little bit silly “How To” book for drawing cartoons of some of the darker things in various fictional worlds. “Monstrously Funny Cartoons” brings you over a hundred-and-fifty-pages of tips and tricks on bringing to life everything from vampires and mummies to ghosts and bigfoot. As the title suggests it slants away from the dark, just a little, and skews funny, bringing a comedic tone to something that might otherwise not be so funny.

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Note the cute little mummy in the bottom right corner. Adorable!

Christopher Hart is no stranger to “How To” books, having written dozens over the course of his career; enough to have sold over six million copies and is actually one of leading artists in his field. He’s covered a wide variety of topics, from various aspects of manga to kids books and animals, and for a variety of skill levels. He fills his book with his distinctive, expressive art to illustrate, quite literally, his points on how to make your pictures do the things you want them to do. It is, after all, not enough merely for your cartoons to look like the thing they are, they need to convey the idea you’re trying to depict. Mr Hart’s book, here focusing on the funny side of zombies, monsters and aliens, helps you create creatures and people that sell the comedy.

The important tip, of course, as with any “How To” book is that the focus shouldn’t art, but the words and instructions. Monstrously Funny Cartoons isn’t a reference book for you to trace your scary creatures from, but a guide on the kinds of aspects and details your characters will need in order to convey who they are, not just what they are. The art included is in the author’s own style, in this case Christopher Hart’s, and while in the beginning your own versions will probably look similar, merely aping his style isn’t the point but adding the lessons presented to your own. While the art should be enjoyable, and simple, focused on the lessons being taught, the lessons themselves are the meat of the book. And in that vein, Monstrously Funny Cartoons isn’t a “Learn How To Draw” book, but is more for adding these distinctive attributes and lessons to your already established artistic ability.

No one can say the book lacks variety.

No one can say the book lacks variety.

That’s not to say it’s not useful, of course. Learning how various aspects of a drawing will inevitably affect the resonance of the piece, and what readers will take from it, is very handy. A detailed lesson on placement of a vampire’s fangs, and teeth, demonstrates quite clearly how small details can create big changes, and would be almost impossible without the accompanying illustrations. But for those who are somewhat below the level of “intermediate” when it comes to their drawing skills may wish to improve their own abilities before tackling this book. Ghouls and goblins aren’t particularly difficult to draw, but these lessons are about making your own style into something both scary and silly, not creating your style in the first place.

On the other hand, too, a “How To” book like this is not a journey unto itself. Very little of the book is dedicated to storytelling or narrative, or the depictions thereof, and (to a degree) rightly so. It’s a book about drawing funny looking versions of normally scary things, without losing sight of their scariness. What kinds of details make you feel about a character drawn in a specific way. These are all important tips to take you from being able to “draw good” to being able to create the characters you want to make.

Sick of hordes of scary, savage zombies? These ones will have you iviting them over!

Sick of hordes of scary, savage zombies? These ones will have you iviting them over!

If I sound like I’m being negative, I’m not. But having been the target audience for a book like this, the biggest problem I’ve had with them is that none of them are a “one stop shop” or a simple, definitive book that will instantly make me a great artist, and that’s because there’s no such thing. Going into a book like this expecting more than it can give isn’t going to help anyone. But going into it seeking the specific lessons it gives is all you’ll need to learn from it. And even if you’re not drawing funny-scary monsters, the lessons enclosed might make you want to include a funny mummy or a hipster vampire, simply based on the kinds of characters you can create with them, visually. Or it might just explain why one of your characters is a little too creepy in your otherwise realistic story.

Christopher Hart obviously know how to draw, and how to draw well, and his insights into the medium are laid out in his wide variety of books. This one – Monstrously Funny Cartoons – is probably more niche than some of his other books, but provides an excellent resource for anyone whose stories involve a narcissistic vampire, a friendly bigfoot (and littlefoot) or any number of other denizens of the underworld who need to draw more laughs than screams.

Monstrously Funny Cartoons by Christopher Hart is available today from your local book store (if they don’t have it, get em to order it for ya!) and also via Amazon, in both kindle and “real book” editions.

Overall Score
78 %

Need some tips to make your ghoul gags good? Some art advice to make your vampires nice? A few helpful hints to give your jokes a ghost of a chance? (I'm really sorry for that last one...) Monstrously Funny Cartoons is bound to help.

Writing 75%
Art 90%
Presentation 80%

About The Author

Living in Australia, my life is probably quite like yours, except hotter and with more dangerous animals. I've had a love of comics for the last 20 years, which is almost exactly two thirds of my life, and very little else has been with me that long. I fancy myself as a writer, but I fancy myself as many things that I'm not all that good at, so go figure. I have strong opinions but I love to discuss things, so please comment, cos I'd love to hear what you think of what I think.

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