Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here's Some Thanks!

Another Thanksgiving Holiday is upon us. I have a lot to be truly thankful for this year. If you search down deep  in your heart of hearts, I'm sure all of you out there do too.

So, as my special gift to all of you out there this year, I will not bore  you with a list of the things I am thankful for (Perfect Wife, Rocco the Wonder Dog, Pringles™, etc). Rather this season, I am giving a great big "Thanks", to all of you Faithful Readers out there, who actually read this blog and leave your pithy observations in the comments section. Writing a blog is like writing a message in a bottle and tossing it out to sea: You do it on a whim, and wonder if anyone will read it and appreciate/enjoy/be offended by it. My extraordinary gratitude to all of you that respond. Please keep it up.

Happy Thanksgiving all! As Tiny Tim said, "God Bless us, every one!"

Oh, wait. Wrong Holiday.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Quickie for Mickey

Although I never achieved my dream of portraying him in a Theme Park, I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I did not commemorate this day.

Today, everyone's favorite mouse, Mickey, is eighty-one years young! So get out and celebrate! 

I said this last year on this occasion,  but it bears repeating: Even if you consider Mr. Mouse just a stupid corporate symbol, you should remember that, if it wasn't for his creation, the classic cartoons we all know and love might never have existed.

So if you have a moment or two today, hop on over to YouTube and check out some of his finest moments. You'll be glad you did.

Happiest of happys Mickey Mouse! 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Better in Cartoonland

It is easy to get a bit depressed nowadays. The economy is still in the crapper, we still have people in countries we never knew existed fighting pointless battles, and, across the nation, "Full House" reruns continue to be broadcast.

Why, oh, why can't life be like it was in the black and white cartoons of the Thirties?! Produced in the depths of The Depression, these cartoons were chock-full of sunshine and glee! There were no real plots to speak of, just a bunch of isolated incidents (to call them "gags", or "jokes" would be generous) set to a bouncy tune. Why can't we live like that?!

Imagine: You wake up bouncing rhythmically to some popular tune, hop out of bed, and interact with everything in your house, which, thanks to the laws of cartoon logic, are amorphically alive! Your coffee pot pours you a cup, while singing a happy "Good Morning!", to you. Your stoves flips you out a big stack of flapjacks, and starts singing. Then all the other household appliances, nearby critters, and maybe even passersby and neighbors join in. What a great way to start the day!

Of course, in cartoons, just as in life, some conflict would arise (i.e. A big peg legged guy would try to steal your girlfriend). However, within six minutes it would be easily resolved, and you would iris out on another happy musical number.

The above scenario sure beats getting up, screaming at the kids, scrambling everyone out of the house, spending a day at work dealing with nit-wits and then coming home to a microwave dinner.

Unfortunately, we don't live in Cartoonland, so we have to make do. Perhaps we can't sing and dance all day, and our microwaves can't carry a tune, but we can make the world a slightly more pleasant place for those around us. Just treat everyone around you as you would like to be treated.  That would be a start.

Also, bounce around to a musical beat a lot!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heavy Haband-ed

If you look about this page you'll see links to the sites of many fine retailers. These ads contribute a tiny bit of revenue to the author of this blog each time you order a product from them through this site.

I am grateful to all these advertisers, and I appreciate them agreeing to post their advertisements here. There is one company out there, though, that refuses to advertise here, even though I am a loyal customer/fan.

Yes, I am talking about you, HABAND!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this company, it is a mail order firm that sells apparel (and other items) you don't usually find for sale anyplace else. Their clothing lines feature styles, colors and accessories that any Grandma and/or Grandpa would love. From banded faux argyle golf  sweaters, to ladies' dusters (aka: Grandma Jammies), to Velcro™  walking shoes, this firm has it all! Each item is seemingly made of the finest polyester blends, and come in styles and colors you couldn't possibly find anywhere else. When was the last time you saw a pair of lime  green check adjustable-waist pants?!

If there is someone on your gift list this holiday season who seems impossible to buy for, Haband may just be the answer to your troubles. As an added bonus, they offer all kinds of free goodies when you order; like imitation jewelery and bottom-of-the-line electronics. Another perk of ordering from them, is, once your initial order is registered, you will be placed on their mailing list, and begin to receive ads from them  seemingly every other day! Each mailing comes  with a folksy note from "Duke" Habernickel, the company  founder. This man is the greatest copywriter on earth! Once you read his description of Haband's exclusive 3' Pre-Lighted Christmas Tree for $24.99 (with the enclosed certificate), you must have one. If you want more, no problem, as each additional one is only $19.99, each! Apparently, you should hurry though, as Duke says they won't last.

I have bought some items from this company over the years, and it really stings that they will not advertise on my site. Maybe this heartfelt blog will change their mind.

If they don't, I am only buying three or four Pre-Lighted Christmas Trees, tops!

UPDATE 11/13/2009: The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and finds out what a moron he is! This morning I received an email from a nice man at Haband who pointed out to me that the day before I posted this, the company had accepted this site into their affiliates program. It is actually all Perfect Wife's fault, as she handles all the advertising stuff here. I am too big a person to make a big thing about this, though.

Our apologies to all the good folks at Haband.

So now, if you scroll down, you can see that Haband is the newest member of our little advertising family. If you order any of their fine products through this site, this blog will get a little financial kiss in the mail from them. It's a win-win for all parties involved!

I guess this means I will have to buy a bunch more Pre-Lighted Christmas Trees!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am a Material Boy

One of the frustrations of living the cartoonist's life is finding drawing materials you are comfortable working with. 

Since I still have not started using computer-type programs for generating my work, I still use the ol' fashioned pen and ink products. Which ones to use, though? A stroll through any art supply store will present you with a plethora of pens, pencils, brushes and the like. Finding one you enjoy using is difficult. It's a lot like dating: It's hard to find the perfect match.

One problem is that the manufacturers of art supplies are constantly changing their products. Just when you find a drawing instrument you are comfortable with, the makers "tweak" the design. The pencil you loved using is now a piece of crap, so your search for usable tools continues. (Wow! That dating analogy is really apt!)

I used to be really "old school" when it came to drawing, using dip pens and brushes and bottles of India ink, but the quality levels of the tools I was using declined rapidly, so I switched to working with markers.

A lot of cartoonists turn their nose up at markers as if it's cheating. It's true in a way. However, marker technology has improved a lot over the last few years, and there are markers out there that give me results as good as any dip-pen ever did.

In case you are interested, my favorite marker is the Pigma Micron™ marker. They have a wide range of nib sizes, and the ink is archival, so if you proudly frame and display your work, the ink won't fade. For you fans of inking with a brush, the Sigma™ brush marker, from the same company is great, too.

If you are one of those poor unfortunate souls doing caricatures at parties and the like, the go-to marker has always been a Dixon Markette™. These are hard to find in the US of A, though, so caricaturists are always on the lookout for that perfect pen for live gigs. Something that produces a nice line weight and dries quickly. For years, I used a Sharpie Rub-A-Dub pen. It was okay, but the tip wore out too quickly for my tastes. A better choice is the Marvy Fabric Ball & Brush™ pen. My pal John turned me on to these, and they really are good to use. Not perfect though. Recently, I have returned to my Sharpie roots, only this time, I use the Sharpie Chisel Tip™ marker. These are great! You can get all kindza line weights, the ink doesn't smear, and best of all, they're cheap! If you are a "live" caricaturist, you really should check these out.

When I am just doodling for myself, though, I love the Papermate Flair™ pens. I don't recommend them for professional work, though. They fade too quickly. A shame, as they produce a really beautiful line.

Of course, sooner than later we won't even be using paper and pen to draw cartoons. Everything will be created on the computer.

Then they'll change the computer.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

A Midsummer's Nightmare

Seeing that this site is called "Bill White Cartoons", I feel I may have been a bit remiss lately in not talking about cartoons and the "life-of-a-cartoonist", in general. I will correct that mistake in the next few posts.

Whenever I teach a cartooning class (Which I do from time to time.  If you're in SE Massachusetts in January of 2010, don't miss out!), I always tell my students to save every drawing they do. Even if they hate it. If you draw often enough, and think about what you are doing, you are bound to get better. Then you can sift through examples of your old work, and see how much you've improved.

Take the piece shown here, please. This was a poster done by me a long  time ago for a local theatre group's production of Bill Shakespeare's classic, "A Midsummer Night's Dream". I was in the cast, so I was asked to design the poster. At the time I did this drawing, I was pretty impressed with myself. Now, I look at it and can see nothing but the sheer awful-ness of the whole thing!

For starters: What  is up with the anatomy? Had I ever seen the actual proportions of a human being?  The clunky, stiff hands are particularly awful.

Hey, how about that weak ink line? Combined with all the superfluous detail, this makes for one big mess of an image. My mentor, Mat Brown, always mentions knowing when to "stop" drawing. I wish he had been around when I was drawing this.

I could go on and on about all the defects in this drawing (the lettering, etc.), but let's leave it alone, and chalk it up as part of the learning process. I should really re-draw this to show you how it should have been done, but I have looked at it too long now, and that would be painful.

I'd like to think that over the years, I have improved, and all you wanna-be cartoonists will too, if you just keep working at it.

BTW,  the poster  aside, the show was great, and I was awesome in it.

I hope that made up for the poster...

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Merry Christmas, Already?!

I know you haven't even finished your Halloween candy yet, but thanks to the media and major merchandisers, the Christmas Holiday season is upon us!

This means that, even in these shaky economic times, we must start thinking about what gifts to purchase for our nearest and/or dearest. Giving someone you care about a gift they will enjoy is a wonderful thing. Getting a gift you want is even better!

What to get them, though? Sure, you could drive to your local mall and wander around forever looking for just the right item that will tickle the fancy of your recipient. There is, however, an easier way. 

Ask your friend/relation/boss what they want, and buy it for them at! Amazon has everything that the mall has, but at much more reasonable prices. True, you may have to pay for shipping, but isn't shelling out a few extra bucks worth avoiding the "atmosphere" of your local mall during the Christmas season? Unless you are a fan of screaming children, crowded food courts and relentless Holiday Muzak, Amazon is the way to go. One nice perk of shopping at Amazon, is that you can do it in the privacy of your own home, in your underwear. Shopping in your underwear is a sublime pleasure, but I can tell you from experience, it is frowned upon at most major shopping centers.

Another benefit of shopping at Amazon, is that, if you click to it from the link on this site and order something, I will get money! As a regular reader of this blog, I'm sure this matters to you.

Wherever and whenever you do your Holiday shopping though, get out there and do it! You don't want to be wandering around the mall at 3 P.M. on Christmas Eve looking for a gift for Auntie Gin at the "As Seen on TV" store.

If you're there, though, I'd love a Slap-Shot™.

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