Cartoon influences that shaped my work

by | Sep 25, 2019

Welcome to my blog! I’ll kick it off with a brief summary of the key cartoon influences behind my work with Education Comics & Cartoons.

My heritage

Self portrait of my father, Dr Peter Hesse

I’ve been drawing cartoons since early childhood. My father was an accomplished illustrator and oil painter, and he pursued these art forms as a hobby throughout his adult life. My father was thus certainly my first influence in the art of drawing. He could really draw – look at this image on the right: my father drew himself looking in the mirror! He had huge talent.


I never actually learned how to draw at all. Not a single lesson. Instead, while growing up I would read comic books, and they were my only teachers. I copied every cartoon character I could find, from Donald Duck to Spy vs Spy. Time passed, and gradually these different cartoon influences merged into what became my own style.

Its time to list my main cartoon influences. A practiced eye may just see them reflected – however faintly – throughout the images on this website.

Cartoon influences

Asterix and the Goths

Goscinny & Uderzo’s Asterix comics have always fascinated me. While Uderzo had incredible artistic ability, Goscinny was a master of subtle humour, which is why adults enjoy Asterix books just as much as children. Understanding the ways of the modern French and those of their neighbours considerably adds to the enjoyment of any Asterix album.

Tintin and the Blue Lotus

Hergé’s Tintin is still one of my favourite comic series, no matter how many times I have read all the albums. I love Hergé’s stories, and his simple, realistic artwork. He was a master of storytelling and comedy.



Lucky Luke

I also love Morris’ Lucky Luke albums. As a kid, for some reason I particularly focused on trying to copy Morris’ style of drawing hands – usually gripping a pistol. Drawing hands in different positions remains a challenge. Another one is drawing horses. Morris famously once said ‘if you can’t draw horses and hands, you can’t draw‘. I think he may be right.


A huge influence outside comics is undoubtedly the famous Daily Express cartoonist, Carl Giles. Giles’s way of drawing scenes with lots of funny detail definitely shaped my own style of drawing cartoons (check out some examples here). I also admired Giles’ economic use of ink: for example he managed to ‘draw’ snow by leaving the right parts of his page completely blank. He could also draw a typical scene of soaking wet, thoroughly miserable English weather, all in black and white. He was also very spare in his use of effects such as lines of expression and movement, which is quite rare and worked very well – when he did it. I have always been amused by cultural stereotypes, and here again Giles made everyone laugh with his cartoons of the typical sunburned, linguistically challenged English family on holiday in sunny Spain.

Lesser influences that also helped me to shape my own cartooning style included the Katzenjammer Kids, the Adventures of Captain Pugwash, and the classic English comics The Beano and The Dandy. As a teenager I also explored the crazy style and admired the caricatures in Mad Magazine. Much later, in the early 90’s while a student I discovered Gary Larson, who is probably the influence I would call ‘last but not least’. I love Larson’s departure from political correctness and his simple drawing style, such as the snub-nosed bespectacled nerdy kids, the animals who outsmart each other and humans, and the fridge-sized human adults.

I’d love to know what comic artists you admire – drop me a comment!