cartoon by Henry Syverson
I don't go in much for New Year's resolutions but if I could will one into being it would be to get out of the drawing slump I have been in lately. I know all too well that the only thing to do with a slump though is to ride it out. John Sanford and I used to talk about how strange it is that the more you learn about drawing, the harder it gets for some reason. It seems to get truer every year.
2007 will always be fondly remembered here as the year I started blogging. It has turned out to be one of the most creatively satisfying things I have done in a long, long time and I am only sorry I hemmed and hawed for so long (at least 2 years) before finally jumping in. A lot of inspiration came from CARTOON BREW, the first site I click to every day and Amid and Jerry continue to do a fantastic job there. Adding comments this year found me wanting to chime in so often that a blog of my own seemed to be the only alternative to over-staying my welcome there. CARTOON BREW remains as valuable as ever and I am always amazed at how on top of things they stay, given their various commitments elsewhere, including ancillary sites they each run separately. The fact that they do it all for free is even more amazing. Thanks guys!
Shane Glines' CARTOON RETRO has been another inspiration for me to get blogging. For a mere 50 bucks a year Shane has been sharing a vast library of eye-popping cartoon joy from all over the world and throughout cartoon history. Where else can you see Reamer Keller, Ronald Searle, George Petty, "Lichty" and a host of international favorites at the click of a mouse. On top of that Shane throws in a few masterpieces of his own now and then that will blow your mind. I decided that I could return the favor here by publishing scans of some of my lesser-known favorites like Henry Syverson and Sheilah Beckett.
ASIFA Hollywood Animation Acrhive is a treasure trove as well and I have tried this year to make a point of coughing up a paypal contribution on a regular basis. Steve Worth and his volunteers are stocking the archive shelves and files with goodness and the site updates about once a week. The Milt Gross pages we got this year alone were a good enough reason to support the cause.
A number of personal sites have inspired me and the list only keeps growing, (although my LINKS list itself is incomplete and a mite out-dated). John K, Thad K, Jenny Lerew, Mark Kennedy, Michael Sporn, Ward Jenkins and Mike Mayerson are some of the indespensibles and their commitment to keeping various and diverse aspects of the artform alive and lively is something that we should all be grateful for. The web has also kept me in touch with many current friends and colleagues (like Bill Riling, Patrick Mate, Clio Chiang, Uncle Phil, Scott Santoro and Claudio Acciari) and brought me back in touch with some folks I have lost track of over the years: including Dave Nethery Mike Gillett, Pete Emslie, and Mike Wykcoff.
BTW, since I mentioned above my erratic linking policy I should add here that I know that I don't always link to everyone who stops by or even to everyone who is kind enough to link to me. I don't know if that's bad blogging etiquette, but if so, I apologize. I am certainly appreciative when someone links to the small room, but nobody is required to, even if I visit often. I do update the list from time to time, but I admit I am not very diligent about it. Also my comments policy is driven by gut-instinct to a large degree: I try to keep negative comments out because I don't as a rule like to be put on the defensive about matters of taste, and I don't like to subject others to that either (though there were a few exceptions). I also try to keep the number of back-and-forth comments limited to avoid a "chat room" effect (I hate chat rooms and don't join them). Lastly, Ward Jenkins recommended that "staying on topic" is a fine general rule of thumb, though of course it doesn't have to be rigidly adhered to. When I find things continually getting "off topic" though, I do edit the comments more heavily.
The internet also likely had something to do with the plethora of good books and DVD's this past year: THE DON MARTIN COLLECTION, THE HANNA BARBERA TREASURY are two of my favorites, as well as the ongoing PEANUTS and KRAZY KAT series from Fantagraphics. The POPEYE VOL. 1 dvd was a welcome and well-produced set, though I think I got even more joy out of the WOODY WOODPECKER selection, mainly because since they are so rarely shown anymore I forgot how good some of them were. VENTURE BROS. VOL 2 and even the Joe Orilio FELIX were worth getting for me (Jim Tyer did some FELIX stuff that rocks even though it is limited). The upcoming Ralph Bakshi book looks like a must-have and hopefully it will lead to a complete set of his DVD's as a retrospective. Maybe there will even be some exciting new stuff--here's hoping anyway!