Book Review-Character Mentor: Learn by Example to Use Expressions, Poses, and Staging to Bring Your Characters to Life
These are all good, basic advice. The rules of artwork are only guidelines, but the skilled artist has to know them to know how to break them effectively. Character Mentor is an easy-to-follow comprehensive primer. Bancroft illustrates it toward the end by presenting and analyzing some of his recent commercial assignments: “to create concept designs for a computer-generated animation series being produced by The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) called Superbook” (p. 136; animated Bible stories for children), and “A friend of mine who is a talented illustrator in China asked me if I would illustrate my version of the ancient Chinese story ‘Journey to the West’, also known as ‘The Monkey King’, for an art book he was compiling for an international audience.” (p. 146)
Character Mentor is Bancroft’s second book on this theme; a sequel of sorts to his 2006 Creating Characters With Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels. To “mentor” is a 3,000-year-old literary reference. The original Mentor was a wise old man in the Odyssey, who tutored Odyseus’ brave but unskilled young son Telemachus. Actually, Mentor was Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, in disguise, so readers for 3,000 years could be sure that Telemachus was getting the best training and advice possible. Similarly, readers of Character Mentor can feel the animation lessons going back through Bancroft to the top animators of the 1930s and ‘40s. And now Bancroft is passing it on.
Fred Patten has been a fan of animation since the first theatrical rerelease of Pinocchio (1945). He co-founded the first American fan club for Japanese anime in 1977, and was awarded the Comic-Con International's Inkpot Award in 1980 for introducing anime to American fandom. He began writing about anime for Animation World Magazine since its #5, August 1996. A major stroke in 2005 sidelined him for several years, but now he is back. He can be reached at email@example.com.