The Snowman (by Raymond Briggs) is my absolute favourite animated story. I have a VCR tape but hope to find a DVD version one of these days. The story and the art are exquisite. The music is incredible. "Walking in the Air" always completely mezmorizes me.
Merry, Merry Christmas everyone!
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas for me without Charlie Brown and a little Vince Guaraldi.
I'm getting there...kinda.
My link for today's Christmas Countdown is an extra special one...and one I'll be reminding you about in the New Year.
On January 21, there is going to be an Ebay auction of an unbelieveable collection of comic strip art, original Disney illustrations, rare books, animation cels and more. Proceeds of the auction will go to assist Matthew Hodge, the 17 year old son of former Disney story artist and Big Idea productions director, Tim Hodge. Matt was in a serious auto accident and is now in a coma. Following are details from the Help the Hodges web site:
On August 22, 2009 Matthew Hodge, the 17-year-old son of former Disney story artist and Big Idea productions director Tim Hodge, was in a serious auto accident. A train struck his car at 50mph as he was crossing the tracks. While Matt suffered neither broken bones nor any internal organ damage, he did receive severe head trauma causing him to remain in a state of coma today. Matt is a high school senior, a straight A student, and a drummer in his state championship marching band.
Being self-employed, the Hodge family has short term medical insurance that will not fully cover all of their bills. Additionally, with the care they are giving Matt, full-time work is not possible for Tim right now. This loving family is relying on their faith and the love of family and friends for their survival. This is a tragic accident that will forever affect their lives as the road to recovery for Matt may be a long one.
In an effort to help the Hodge family, the National Cartoonists Society Foundation is getting involved by hosting a fund-raising auction to be held on eBay. The NCSF is a fully licensed 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that not only helps fund educational endeavors for cartooning, but is there to help cartoonists in dire circumstances like the Hodges.
My fellow National Cartoonist Society Foundation board member, Chad Frye has been working with Tony Bancroft (supervising animator of Pumba, Kronk, and co-directed Mulan) and Tom Bancroft (supervising anmiator of Mushu) to coordinate this charity auction. Take a look at the amazing auction items and keep January 21 in mind!
I didn't get all the drawing done yesterday. It was one of those sluggish drawing days. Sometimes the drawing just whizzes along and other days it feels like I'm drawing in slow motion. Lots of erasing...debating about facial expressions...changing character positioning...in a nutshell, trying to make the drawing match the words and flow with the point of the punchline.
I'm thinking I'll get the rest of my pencils done today and also finish up the inking. I have my doubts about getting all my photoshopping done though and I'll likely be doing that first thing tomorrow morning.
One of my readers, Jean, has nominated my blog for a Kreativ Blog Award. Thank you, Jean!
Jean is from Bangalore, India and is someone I'd like to sit and have coffee with...if only a few gazillion miles didn't separate us. Take a peek at her blog.
I have to admit, I have some affection for India as I do receive a fair bit of mail from Indian readers. My strip is in three Indian papers which I think is very cool.
Anyway, thanks again, Jean and thanks to all my Indian readers for all the kind words over the years!
Back to drawing...
Can you stand another Cartooning Christmas countdown?
Six days to go. I lost the last two days with some time-sensitive Christmas shopping and getting my hair cut and coloured. Some things just have to be done, you know.
This has already destroyed my previous schedule...but then, I had two schedules before that one. You have to be able to roll with the things life throws at you. Really, what other choice do you have?
I did take some time to do some nice things for myself in the last two days though. (I'm starting my New Year's resolution early...which is to put myself first a little more often. I deserve it but more importantly, I really think I need it.) First I took the time to call a cartooning girlfriend for a Merry Christmas chat as I haven't talked to her in quite a while. Second, I bought myself the book, Inklings* (see below) by Jeff Koterba which I'm looking forward to reading over the holidays.
Now...on with the countdown:
Today I am drawing two weeks worth of strips. I have to be done before this evening because Tim and I are going to his company Christmas party tonight.
Tomorrow I plan to ink and photoshop.
Monday I plan to write two more weeks of strips. (Stop laughing...I have one week already completely outlined. That's a 40 yard headstart. My kids are home from school though...knock off 50 of those yards...)
Tuesday I plan to draw those two weeks of strips and Wednesday I plan to ink and photoshop them.
Then I'll have Thursday off for grocery shopping and incidentals.
I'm hoping it will work this way. It might.
I don't have a snowball's chance in hell. But I'll try anyway...
*Inklings is a memoir of award-winning syndicated political cartoonist, Jeffrey Koterba. Jeffrey traces his success back to his chaotic boyhood home and his complicated father, who, like Jeffrey, suffers from Tourette's syndrome.
I've got two of them.
1. I've been kinda busy here with Christmas preparations, getting ahead on the strip for Christmas and my daughter's been sick for over a week. (She's better now) So my apologies for being lax with the posting.
2. The widget in the top right corner of the blog where you can click and read Between Friends daily is on the fritz. My syndicate, King Features, is working on this and they'll have it fixed asap.
Thanks for your patience in both matters and thanks for popping in! I'll talk to you Monday unless something really weird happens.
I know this really cool woman, Peggy Mackenzie. The Toronto Star sent her to Malawi a month or so ago to follow up on a story about William Kamkwamba. He's the boy who built a windmill from salvaging discarded materials and brought electricity to his home. He did this at the age of 14 using books from a library. William is now 22 and his life has gone in directions he probably couldn't have imagined. Go read Peggy's story here.
Here's a Youtube video of William:
William's story is very inspirational. I have no doubt he's going to do great things. I couldn't help smiling while I was reading Peggy's article.
My cousin sent the joke below to me. It's the same Boston-marathon-running cousin who was trying to coach me to run a couple years ago. Things didn't work out. I'm thinking this little e-mail gag is his way of prodding me to get off my...duff... and try again? Maybe after Christmas, Kevin. We'll see, we'll see.
For my birthday this year, my Husband (the dear) purchased
a week of personal training at the local health club for me.
Although I am still in great shape since being a high
school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea
to go ahead and give it a try.
I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer
named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old
aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear.
My husband seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started.
The club encouraged me to keep a diary to
chart my progress.
> Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but
> found it was
> well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find
> Christo waiting
> for me. He is something of a Greek god - with blond hair,
> dancing eyes
> and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!!
> Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I
> enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted
> his aerobics class after my workout today. Very
> Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my
> gut was
> already aching from holding it in the whole time he was
> around. This is
> going to be a FANTASTIC week !!
> I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out
> the door.
> made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the
> then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on
> treadmill, but I made the full mile. His rewarding smile
> made it all
> worthwhile. I feel GREAT !! It's a whole new life for
> The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the
> toothbrush on the
> counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I
> believe I have a
> hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I
> didn't try to
> steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking
> Christo was impatient with me, insisting that my screams
> bothered other
> club members. His voice is a little too perky for that
> early in the
> morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that
> is VERY
> My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christo put
> me on the
> stair monster. Why the hell would anyone invent a
> machine to simulate
> an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Christo
> told me it would
> help me get in shape and enjoy life. He said some
> other shit too.
> Asshole was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth
> exposed as his
> thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I
> couldn't help
> being a half an hour late - it took me that long to tie my
> He took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not
> looking, I ran
> and hid in the restroom. He sent some skinny little bitch
> to find me. Then, as punishment, he put me on the
> rowing machine -- which I sank.
> I hate that bastard Christo more than any human being has
> ever hated
> any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid,
> anemic, anorexic little aerobic instructor. If there was a
> part of my
> body I could move without
> unbearable pain, I would beat him with it.
> Christo wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have
> any triceps! And
> if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me
> the damn barbells
> or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.
> The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and
> teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone
> softer, like the drama
> coach or the choir director?
> Satan left a message on my answering machine in his
> grating, shrilly
> voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just
> hearing his voice
> made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however,
> I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and
> ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather
> I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today
> so I can go and
> thank GOD that
> this week is over. I will also pray that next year
> husband will choose a gift for me that is fun -- like a
> root canal or a
> hysterectomy. I still say if God had wanted me to
> bend over, he would
> have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!
It's not one of my favourite strips. I think it starts out okay but I don't think the punch is very strong. And yet, this morning when I was clicking through my files, it seemed to have a certain appeal. This is probably because it's the time of year when things get a little crazy (crazier) and I'm trying to fit everything in and still enjoy the season.
Wanting to decorate the house but having little time to do it makes it a chore...but when I do get it done, I'm happy. Rushing to get ahead to have time off...and then almost being too exhausted to enjoy it...but being glad for the celebration afterward.
So today, this strip...even though I don't think it's one of my better ones...is resonating with me.
That's the thing about comic strips though...for every comic strip feature that I hear someone berate as being lame, boring and not worthy to be on the pages of the newspaper, I hear another person praise it as being funny, creative and their favourite read. It's that old humour-is-subjective thing.
And now back to work...I really need this weekend off!
It's Wednesday already? Well...I guess I'm just about recovered from my wild weekend.
The NCS Christmas party was fun as it always is. I got to reconnect with old friends and meet some new ones.
Then there was the Lady GaGa concert the next day. You know, the one where I took my daughter and three of her friends? Uh...that was fun too...sorta.
I've been debating about telling you about that concert. GaGa was fabulous of course but she started rather late and as a result, getting home was a bit of a ...shall we say, challenge? I think I'm just going to say that I did get the girls home safely at about 4:00 in the morning (and a $150 cab ride later) and that we'll all have something to talk about in years to come.
I've been tinkering with my Between Friends Store...some new designs are in the process of being added but I have added some new products like water bottles, beach totes, greeting cards, journals and (for the more ambitious) gym bags!