Release Your Inner Cartoonist with Harry Venning

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You may not realise it yet, but you have a cartoonist within you, just waiting to be released. The first part of the process is to stop fretting over your lack of artistic ability. You do not have to be great at drawing to be a cartoonist, although it does help if people can recognise what it is you’ve drawn. Cartoons are all about putting over a funny idea on paper, using a combination of words and images, or sometimes just images. All the shading, elaborate cross hatching, perspective, detail or exquisite fine line will not make a cartoon one iota funnier. In fact they may even distract. Cartoonists focus on the funny, and so should you.

The second part of the process is to sign up for Harry Venning’s Idler Academy course, “Release Your Inner Cartoonist”.

Over five fun-filled instalments Harry will show you how to transform a flat piece of paper into a riot of laughs, an explosion of adventure, a cacophony of sound and a scurry of movement. All shot through with the real emotion that comes from drawing eyebrows in just the right position. Discover the many uses of the humble asterisk, how to do a caricature, when to use a speech bubble and what the Eskimo brothers said to each other in Harry’s favourite ever cartoon.

Lesson 1: Expressions (10:00)
How to turn a random collection of circles, lines and dots into hugely expressive eyes, covering such emotions as anger, joy, fear, surprise, and exhaustion. Watch the story of The Sad Puppy come alive, and share his heartbreak.

Lesson 2: Bringing a Blank Page to Life (11:00)
Make that football (or any other object for that matter) fly through the air at top speed, spinning as it goes. Learn some cartoonist jargon, find out how and when to drop in a shadow and annoy the neighbours with some cartoon noises.

Lesson 3: Information (16:15)
How to get over the information essential to set up a joke’s punch line, including location, characters and pointers, including speech bubbles, and how they work.

Lesson 4: Creating A Character (13:30)
Creating a character, group of characters, and providing a suitable setting for a strip cartoon. Hopefully a long running one!

Lesson 5: Telling A Story (14:15)
Using whatever means, and however many frames, are necessary! Plus the many uses of the humble asterisk.

About the tutor

Harry Venning is an award-winning cartoonist, illustrator and comedy writer. A weekly contributor to The Guardian with the Clare In The Community strip, his work has also appeared in The Mail On Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Independent, Sunday Times, The Stage and Radio Times, as well as publications in Canada, Switzerland, South Africa and New Zealand. Harry is also a member of the exclusive Cartoonist Club of Great Britain with work displayed in the Cartoon Museum, London.