While creator Mark Crilley moved on to other projects after more than 50 issues of Akiko, his work remained fresh and innovative. I didn't keep with his post-Akiko work, but did note in passing that he had begun to produce How to Draw... volumes, mostly on manga.
When I happened on The Drawing Lesson in a search of recent public library volumes, I was intrigued but skeptical. I've seen numerous volumes on the subject, some of which, like the Christoper Hart books, are simply awful. But given that it was Crilley, I vowed to give it a chance.
In The Drawing Lesson, Crilley tells of David, a young boy who wants to draw, but is reluctant to do the work of mastering the basics to get there. As a teacher and as a student, believe me, I've been there. Following a chance encounter with a woman named Becky, he begins to pester her until she agrees to give him his devoirs in drawing.
In her review of this book, Joanna Draper Carlson points out the myopic male privilege young David exercises in his demands on Becky. I agree to a point. He is demanding of her time and energy, and resistant to her teachings, but I saw that more as a function of youth than of sexism (though the latter is also a clearly valid point). Also, Becky is not shy about sticking up for herself, and understands what it means to be so young and so eager to get somewhere that you forget to take the whole trip!
|A very good Becky lesson!|
The lessons are not perfect. For instance, in the above spread, Crilley overlooks the cast light halo that often appears at the base of an object's cast shadow. But he's quick to point out that everything is not contained in David's lessons, which serve only as a foothold for fundamental skills and for the confidence to grow as an artist.
Next: No. 12, kids on a search in their animal natures...