Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008

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!


Weirdo said...

Happy New Year to you Will. I want to join CARTOON RETRO, but I want to get a job first so I can have money to join. Did you get the Don Martin Treasury? I got it for Christmas. I also want "The Original Art of Basil Wolverton".

BTW, this year also sees the release of The Complete HUMBUG by Harvey Kurtzman. I comes out at the end of August. Also coming is more from the EC Archives, Bill Mauldin's "Willie and Joe", Mark Evanier's book on Jack Kirby, The New Complete Pogo, more from The Complete Dick Tracy, The Complete Terry and the Pirates, and other cool stuff. Sorry for the long list. Keep up the good blog.

Will Finn said...

Wow, that's the first I heard about a HUMBUG reprint, thanks for the update. I did get DON MARTIN and have only just begun to pick through it. The ones from the early 1970's bring back vivid and fond memories.

Keep on blogging and have a happy 2008!

Pete Emslie said...

Hey Will,

I agree about blogging being a great means to an end. I also started one up after thinking about it for the longest time and seeing how everybody I knew in the art world seemed to be doing one. I decided to figure Blogger out back in mid-summer when my workload was pretty dry, and I've found that the blog has been a wonderful way to kick myself into gear creatively, as I now draw a lot more just for the sheer fun of it. It's certainly been a great incentive for doing more showbiz caricatures, which are probably my favourite things to draw.

Also, I agree that it's been a terrific way to reconnect with folks like yourself, as well as establishing new acquaintances with others who somehow have discovered my little cranny in cyberspace. So Happy New Year, Will, and may 2008 see the "Small Room" become as crowded as Groucho's shipboard stateroom in "A Night at the Opera"!!

Bill Breneisen said...

Happy New Year! I'm fairly new to your Blog, but I've been a fan of your animation work for years. Blogs like yours have been a great resources as I try and learn this whole animation thing. Cheers!

David Nethery said...

Hope you have a great '08 , Will !

I'm glad you started it (blogging) and hope you'll continue . Your "voice" and point-of-view on the internet is a welcome one to those of us who value cartooning and animation.

Happy New Year !

Stephen Worth said...

HAP! Pee New Year!

Looking back on the past year, the best thing that happened to me was all the new friends I've made. You're one of them. You can't have too many buddies to hang out and chat cartoons with!



WILL!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR MAN!!! Thanks so much for your kind words, and I'm sure glad you started a blog last year. Here's to an awsome 2008!

Holger said...

Happy New Year Will!
Thanks for your comment on our Thief blog.
I discovered your blog a few months ago when you were posting a lot of Syverson images. I had never seen his work and ordered the 3 books by him that I could find right away. Touche is my favorite.
I'm also a big fan of the Belgian comic artist Franquin. His later work has an energy and swing that made me wonder if he might have been inspired by Syverson's use of speedlines and his depiction of speed in general. A little google search revealed that he was at least aware of him via Saturday Evening Post.

Will Finn said...

Thanks everybody! I have some new post ideas formulating that will generate soon.

Holger, your THEIF blog is fascinating. I never met or worked with Dick Williams but he has inspired me at various times, most recently via the NASRUDIN books you blogged about. I didn't know about the Syverson/Fanquin connection, but I definitely see it. I love Franquin as well.

Ward Jenkins said...

Will, thank you very much for the mention here -- it's a great honor to be a part of your blogroll! I'm humbled by this gesture. I, too, have been a big fan of your work since I was made aware of it years ago. Needless to say, I was so excited to find out that you started up a blog this past year. Very glad you did! It's been a great addition to my morning blog reading.

Keep up the great work and here's to a fantastic 2008!

Bruce said...

How's it going Will? A very late Christmas, and a later Happy New Year!

I've been clicking away on my portfolio for the Capilano College animation program, and I got some neat swag for Christmas; The Oswald, Donald Duck, and Disneyland Tins were given to me from my dear old sister, and a case of 24 Derwent Graphic pencils, ranged from 9B to 9H, were from my other favorite sister, and an iPod from my mum. Good times...

I wish you the best for this year, and hope I’ll get into the program, and be able to meet you one of these days.

From a nutty artist who is determined to be the best, best the best, etc.

P.S. Here are a couple of videos that I found hilarious


Jack Benny and Mel Blanc

Gregg, The Grim Reaper

The Playmates: Beep Beep