Thursday, April 2, 2009

Look at Books: Walter & Woody Teach Me How to Draw

Thanks to the overwhelming (5 Comments!) response to my last blog on how-to-cartoon book recommendations, I thought I'd give another shout-out to a book that was invaluable to me as a young, budding cartoonist.

Be warned: This book is long out of print, and to find  it you will have to do some serious searching on the internet to find a seller willing to part with a copy, but if you have a young, budding cartoonist in your life, or just need to reexamine the basics for yourself, this book is well worth the hunt.

The book is, "Walter Lantz, Easy Way to Draw, Featuring Woody Woodpecker and Friends". It was published by Whitman Publishing sometime in the early 60's, no doubt to cash in on the popular Woody Woodpecker show that aired at the time. I had this book as a lad, and in addition to Preston Blair's Animation book (which you are probably tired of hearing me mention), this book really gave me all the the fundamentals on cartooning and drawing that a little geek cartoonist-wannabe like me needed.

I had this book as a child, but over the years, I somehow lost it (I suspect Ronnie Forfia borrowed it before he moved, and never returned it. Ronnie: If you're reading this, I want my book back!). As the years passed, I looked for this book in vain. Not only could I not find it, but I seemed to be the only person who had ever seen it. Fortunately, awhile back, after listening to my rants, Perfect Wife found me a copy online. It was relatively cheap too! It was everything I remembered.

Although Walter Lantz is listed as the author of this book, it is really the work of 2 cartoonists from the Whitman ranks, Frank McSavage and Norm McGary. These guys were two workhorses for the Whitman line of publications, and their work pops up in a lot of Whitman products of the era. Although they are  not  well-known in the annals of cartooning, they knew their stuff, and every page of this book shows off their expertise.

This book covers it all, from the tools you need, from basic construction, expressions, backrounds (a fabulous chapter for me, as I hated drawing settings, and Preston never mentioned them in his book), to lettering and more! They even touch briefly on drawing "realistic" figures (I still use their easy breakdown for drawing a horse, one of the most difficult critters to draw).

Granted, this is not a perfect book for the modern young cartoonist. Most of the characters will be completely unknown to them (although you can remedy that by buying one of the excellent Woody Woodpecker DVD collections, and screening it for them the next time they want to watch whatever dreck they want to watch on Cartoon Network®), and the "folksy" tone of the writing might be off-putting to your young "playuh", but if you can find it, buy it.

If you doubt this book is worthwhile, I drew the Woody in the cartoon above from memory, after all these years, so there!

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Blogger Pepper Potts said...

Woody Woodpecker is a classic, and I'll try to find that book for my son who also is a budding cartoonist (although video and computer games seem to occupy most of his time lately).

I just hope AdSense doesn't see "Woody" or "Pecker" and decide to place an inappropriate advertisement :-0

April 2, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Ruprecht said...

A life-long comic enthusiast - especially for old stuff - you have been added to Rupe's blogroll.

Any detrimental effect from such, just let Rupe know.

A pleasure to meet your acquaitance, electronically speaking .....

................ Ruprecht

April 2, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Bill White said...


The more the merrier! Welcome to the blog!

April 2, 2009 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger David said...

Damn you Bill White! I want that book and for a decent copy the cheapest I found it for was $40.

April 4, 2009 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Bill White said...

Keep looking David!

PW got it on ebay for $13. Well worth it, AND it was a hardcover (most are a coloring book-like softcover) in NM condition.

$40 is a little high, and since the book has a lot of "practice pages" to draw on, you need to make sure some previous owner hasn't done crayon scribbles all over the copy you are buying.

If there is enough interest out there, maybe I'll scan a few pages and post them for you all to see.

April 5, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

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