Three excellent art books

I love comic art books. I buy them without regard for my financial situation or almost non-exisitent bookshelf space. I'm a hopeless case. Of the dozen or so I bought last month, here are three of my favorites.

200703021739 Chicken Fat: Drawings, Sketches, Cartoons and Doodles, by Will Elder.

Will Elder was a longtime contributor to Mad Magazine and a partner with Harvey Kurtzman on many post-Mad projects, including Playboy's Little Annie Fanny. This slim book features many pencil sketches and doodles from Elder's notebooks, revealing a whimsical and curious mind. The title "Chicken Fat" comes from the tons of little inside jokes and funny extra goodies Elder added to his super-dense yet highly-readable comic book panels. He's on the top of my list for all-time best comic book artists. (See also my review of Will Elder: The Mad Playboy of Art)

200703021748 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style, by Matt Madden

I can't believe I didn't find out about this book until a couple of weeks ago. The author came up with a one-page comic book script -- a very mundane one about a man walking to the refrigerator and getting interrupted by someone in another room who asks him what time it is, which makes him forget what he wanted to eat or drink. It sounds dull, but Madden has drawn 99 different comics based on this script and the result is enthralling. He draws the page in various genre styles (superhero, manga, paranoid religious tract, underground) and also using different literary and cinematic conventions. If you like Scott McCloud's books about comics, you'll want this one.

200703021757 S Curves: The Art of Shane Glines

400 full color pages by one of the modern masters of Good Girl Art. His smooth lines and clean style has been influenced by the best magazine illustrators from the 1920s through the 1960s. This hardback book costs $100, because Shane self-published it using Lulu, but the quality is great. If you aren't familiar with his work, visit his site.