I'm (Almost) Back!
Hello all. I'm back.
Yeah, I have been struggling with a serious medical condition for quite awhile now, but that's only part of the reason I haven't posted anything in, what is it, OVER TWO MONTHS?! Yikes! I am also having computer problems, so until I can figure out what is the trouble with my beloved Mac, I am forced to use Perfect Wifey's PC. I am not the most computer-literate dude to begin with, but working on a PC is a real pain-in-the-pixel for me.
For example, you may notice this post is free of any of my "delightful" illustrations. There are some out there who might view this as an improvement, but not me. My blog without images is like a kiss without a hug, or something. Their absence is not due to my current condition (I drew a number of pics for this post, in fact), but rather that, for the life of me, I can't figure out how to scan and download images on this fushtoonkiner PC, and there is no one handy to give me any tech support in doing so. As soon as I can figure that out though, the cartoons and photos will return in full force. I'll even update this post with a doodle or two.
One other thing before we move on: Yes, I am still not well, but I am getting a bit better every day. One thing that makes me feel worse that it should though, is talking about my condition. So from here on in, no more chat about that stuff here. Just assume that if I'm posting, I'm okay. If something momentous about my condition happens of course I'll mention it, but really, I don't wanna discuss it any more. Except for this last thing: Thanks to all of you out there for the cards, letters and yes, even gifts, you've sent to let me know you're thinking of me during this tough time. You can keep those coming. Especially the gifts...
So now that I've let you know what won't be in the blog, I suppose you're wondering what I do have planned. That's easy: I don't know! I have plenty of things that I've wanted to comment on, but now a lotta time has gone by, and posting about them now seems kinda lame. I mean, National Pierogie Day is over, who wants to read about it now (although I hope you had a happy one)?
One subject a few of you emailed me about is the death of cartoon legend Joe Kubert. As you may know, I attended his cartooning school. He was an important figure in my development as a cartoonist, and his death hit me rather hard. I DO have something rather special to post regarding Joe, but I really need to post it with illustrations. So, until the computer kinks are worked out, it will have to wait. It will be well worth the wait, however, as the images I will post have never been seen by anyone but Joe and I, and they give fascinating insights on the way Joe worked, as well as what a wonderful teacher and editor he was.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you my latest obsession: Buying penny books at Amazon!
During my recent recovery, I was often in search of something to read. The problem was, I read a lot, and finding something I hadn't read before was a challenge. To make things more difficult, I was really getting into "how-to" books by cartoonists. These books aren't in great supply at my local libraries and they are, for the most part, overpriced at book stores. Amazon usually sells thing cheaper than the stores, but often the shipping charges erase any "savings" you get on the cover price.
Unless of course, you check out the prices on their "Used" books! One day I was looking at the information on a book I coveted (I now forget what it was, sorry). The price was outrageous, but I noticed I could get a "used" copy for one cent! Even though with shipping costs added, the total was four bucks, it was still a heck o' a deal, so I ordered it. For a penny, I expected the book to arrive in wretched condition, held together with staples, duct tape and fond intents, but to my surprise and delight, it was practically new! I returned to the Amazon site, and found a bunch of books I was eager to read, and while not all of them were available for a penny, they were still worth taking a chance on ordering "used".
So far, I have not been disappointed. Although some books have arrived in rougher shape than others, none look any worse than what a "new" book looks like after I have finished with it.
So now I am hooked on my "Amazon Penny Books", and will have a tough time paying cover price for a "new" book. The only spoiler in the whole deal is the shipping charges. If you decide to give the Penny Books a go, look at the costs of shipping carefully. Once and a while, a used book dealer will try to boost their profits by "tweaking" the postage rates a bit. In fact, one dealer had the shipping charge for a one cent book at around sixty bucks! Unless this shipping method involved the book being delivered to you on a satin pillow by a beautiful naked woman riding a silver unicorn, that seemed a bit much.
So what sort of bargains have I obtained? Here is a list of a bunch of the titles I have purchased at a ridiculously low price from Amazon. One caveat: one or two of these books were not "Penny Books" at all, but gifts from well-wishers that I enjoyed. I am posting this list not only to show how many I have obtained, but also because I intend to start writing my beloved-by-all book reviews again on a more frequent basis. If a title piques your interest, mention it in the comments and I'll let you know what a thought of it in a future post. Not all of these books were winners, believe me. You may notice most of them are "how-to's" and books on animation. I explained my "how-to" obsession already, the animation thing is a result of me realizing just how easy it is to do animation on your computer at home. I love animating, but filming pencil tests was always a problem, not to mention that things got expensive if you wanted to finish the films. Computers have made things much easier and affordable, as these books try and show. Some of these books are a huge help, while others should have remained trees. Of course, I will need to get my Mac back in working order first, but once that little wrinkle is smoothed out, oh boy...
Anyway here are the books, in no particular order:
* "Iwao Takamoto- My Life with a Thousand Characters" by Iwao Takamoto
* "How to Draw Cartoons" by Syd Hoff (Please note this is a different book on cartooning by Syd than I mentioned before. A very. Different. Book.)
* "The Animated Raggety Ann & Andy- An Intimate Look at the Art of Animation: Its History, Techniques and Artists" by John Canemaker
* "Big Book of Cartooning Volume 1" by Vic Lockman
* "Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio" by Bryan Hitch (Duh!)
* "Manga Pro Superstar Workshop- How to Create & Sell Comics & Graphic Novels" by Colleen Doran
* "Incredible Comics with Tom Nguyen- The Ultimate Guide to Creating Kick-Ass Comic Art" by Tom Nguyen
* "Radioactive Man: Radioactive Repository Vol. 1" by The Gang at Bongo Comics
* "Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice" by Michael Brandman
* "Animation- The Whole Story" by Howard Beckerman
* "The Klutz Book of Animation" by John Cassidy and Nicholas Berger
* "The Fleischer Story (Second Edition)" by Leslie Carbarga
* "How to be a Successful Cartoonist" by Randy Glasbergen
* "Get Animated!" by Tim Maloney
* "Felix- The Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat" by John Canemaker
* "Beginner's Guide to Animation" by Mary Murphy
* "Stan Lee's How to Draw Comics" by Stan Lee
* "Superheroes- Joe Kubert's Wonderful World of Comics" by Joe Kubert (Like going to Joe's school, but for forty thousand dollars less!)
* "The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics" by Freddie E. Williams II
* "Cartooning: The Art and the Business" by Mort Gerberg
Again, in the comments, let me know if you want to know my opinions on any of these books, or the reasons I even paid a penny for some. Thar are some gems in this list, as well as a few hold-yer-nose-and-open-the-windows stinkers here.
Thanks for reading. It's great to be back!