Here are some of my favorite resources of all time — mainly in the pursuit of storytelling and picture making.



by Illustrated by Bernie Wrightson

This book has been out of print for years and my students were paying small fortunes to get a copy. Now it’s reprinted in such high quality that Bernie himself is happy with it, and rather than costing $60 for its coffee-table quality, you can get it at Amazon for about twenty bucks.
To quote drawing professor Don Lagerberg, these illustrations are “some of the finest steel pen work in the second half of the twentieth century.” Indeed.

Bernie has shown his process during slide shows in my classes, so if you want to know when we do it again, get on my list. But if you want a copy of the book, here it is, looking better than when it was originally printed. —mv

Click to buy from Amazon.com

Little Nemo 1905–1914

by Winsor McCay

Most books take a year or more to produce so that the author can present a distillation of the best offerings. This book took ten years of constant work by one of history’s greatest comic artists. Winsor McCay’s talent for pageantry and grandeur, his taste (notwithstanding racial stereotypes) and style in architecture, costumes and composition, his stunning draftsmanship… it’s all here in one book of glorious imagery. And for forty bucks! I spent $120 on this same collection in six volumes previous to this printing. I’ve spent countless hours poring over the pages and drinking in the wonders, and I feel like I’ve just begun. If it goes out of print, it’s one of the first books I’ll go for in a fire. —mv

Click to buy from Amazon.com


Little Nemo in Slumberland — So Many Splendid Sundays

Little Nemo in Slumberland — Many More Splendid Sundays

by Winsor McCay & Peter Maresca

These books reprint Little Nemo in Slumberland at the full-page size they appeared in newspapers a hundred years ago, before most people had seen movies, before color movies even existed. They are splendid in this large format, but the books aren’t cheap, and they’re not quite complete collections. So if you’re trying to save money, go for the Dover “Palace of Ice” edition. And if you want to read them all in the order they appeared, go for the 1905-1914 edition. But if you can afford it, these are the big windows into McCay’s world —mv

Click a cover or title to buy from Amazon.com

Little Nemo in the Palace of Ice and Further Adventures

by Winsor McCay

This cheap version of Little Nemo Adventures may not compare to the big 1905-1914 collection, or the Really Big Splendid Sundays edition, but it was the first collection I had, and it got me hooked, and it’s well-enough reproduced to be worth the $10 or so that it costs on Amazon. So if you’re skeptical, start here. —mv

Click to buy from Amazon.com


The Drawings of Heinrich Kley

More Drawings by Heinrich Kley

by Heinrich Kley

Ishamelessly claim that he is the greatest master of free-form line drawing since Rembrandt van Rijn. When I first saw these drawings at the age of eighteen, I saw nothing but amusing scribbles. When I re-discovered them at the age of 38, I went into breathless awe from which I haven’t recovered after years of poring over them. They are spontaneous masterworks on a level of draftsmanship that has set the standard so high that I can hardly imagine any artist surpassing them. They are also supremely funny — Daumier taken to wild and angry absurdity. If you’re easily offended, you may not like him. He put his “outrage at the ungodly absurdity of the human condition” into drawings with a steel pen — fitting for a satirist of this stabbing level. —mv

Click a cover or title to buy from Amazon.com

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DROAR Volume 1: Drawings & Watercolors by Justin Sweet

DROAR – Volume 2: Justin Sweet/Drawings

DROAR – Volume 3: Artwork by Justin Sweet

by Justin Sweet

Justin’s sketchbooks. I’ll spare you my hyperbole because it’s as pointless as complimenting the night sky. They’re running low. He may not reprint them. Here they are. —mv

Click to buy from justinsweet.com

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (DVD)

Director: Todd McCarthy

These interviews with cinematographers were just before the digital revolution, so they focus on the priority of the image. Not how it’s made, but how it looks. And why. It’s 90 minutes of photographer’s wisdom, and it’s filled with probably a hundred clips and shots from movies throughout the 20th century. Seeing so many different styles and visual moods paraded end-to-end shatters any presumption we’ve had that the world really looks like what we see on film. Artists design pictures for emotion. This film gives insight into how cinematographers choose subjects and lenses and light to evoke emotion. —mv

Click to buy from Amazon.com

Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance (DVD)

Director: Godfrey Reggio

Einstein supposedly read Flatland every year to expand his mind. If he had lived beyond 1982, he might have watched Koyaanisqatsi every year. It’s about the same price as an acid trip, but safer, and it can be re-used. It has no dialogue and no overt story. It’s simply music and imagery. And it’s intense. But contrary to the objection that it’s an “art-house” film or an “intellectual’s film” or that it’s only for filmmakers and musicians, it was the first film that my two-year old son sat all the way through, riveted and utterly involved. And why not? It works on the primitive level of a two-year old. Waves, water, clouds at high speed, explosions, slow-motion humans, fast-motion cars, time-lapse shots of weather over cities… it opens your mind to the rhythms and patterns of life like nothing I’ve seen, and I’ve seen it about 27 times since 1983.

But here’s my warning. If you watch this movie casually, you won’t like it. It wants complete attention. And it takes patience. The first half-hour is slow, but it’s foreplay. It pays off for those who relax and submit. It’s at the top of my list of movies to expand the mind. —mv

Click to buy from Amazon.com


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