This encyclopedia-sized reference on manga design isn't exactly an ideal textbook for anyone who's serious about learning how to draw—but very young kids in thrall at the altar of Pikachu will have a blast.
Writer: Christopher Hart
What They Say
Kids will love this all-in-one collection of how-to-draw manga lessons and inspiration! We took our four bestselling Kids Draw books and combined them into one giant manga celebration. Kids learn how to draw manga eyes, heads, faces, bodies, as well as more specific lessons on drawing manga fantasy characters, manga �shoujo,� and manga monsters. More than 1,000 illustrations give step-by-step instruction and fun, colorful inspiration. Throughout, Christopher Hart�s signature humor and style makes the book as fun to read as it is to look at.
Given half a chance, most of the faculty in America's art schools would pull every “How To Draw Manga” reference off shelves and drag them to a fire pit in the middle of the country. An enormous bonfire would follow. There are many professional artists who are skeptical about how much of the craft can be learned out of a book, and they're especially skeptical (appalled, even) at the idea of manga being a young artist's introduction to the world of illustration.
Offhand, it's hard to blame artists for their wariness towards Japanese comics and cartoons. America is most familiar with anime and manga at its most cliché and unappealing: yards and yards of Saturday morning shonen anime, each more derivative than the last. These are shows populated by characters with awkward stick-bodies, eyes large enough to see through muddied waters, and chins and hairstyles sharp enough to spear through fish.
Cheaply-animated shonen cartoons have granted America a narrow idea about what “anime” entails—and Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga bases its techniques around every single one of those cliches. Big hair shaded inexplicable colors, shimmery, saucer-sized eyes, little fuzzy critters teetering on limbs like dollops of dough. Christopher Hart pulls out some crazy “facts” about manga illustration (“Manga-style dinosaurs stand on two legs versus four”), makes very few references to proper anatomy, and offers the meat and potatoes (or is that sushi and onigiri?) of monster, alien, and warrior designs. And kids will adore it.
Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga is, without argument, a big book. It's a compilation of four other Kids Draw Manga references, and the end product weighs in at over 250 pages of dragons, warriors, and cute anime pets. For $22.50 USD, a parent could certainly do worse as a gift for an art-crazy kids. The question remaining is, should a child interested in art get anywhere close to a manga encyclopedia instead of, say, a book on anatomy?
The easiest answer is “yes,” but a young artist who aspires to draw should first and foremost remain interested in drawing. Handing said artist a copy of Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga will probably do that, at least for a time. Everything else will eventually fall into place.