Over June, July and August I’ve been watching a lot of cartoons, reading a lot of books and generally inhaling. Owing to certain winter-related health problems (back injuries), I don’t like racking up too much extra sit-down time on top of my day job. This winter – between freaking out, calming down, moving out, settling in and resting up – was a great opportunity to pay my dues and dig into books and DVDs I’d bought long before but not had a chance to enjoy.
But the weather’s warming up again. Now it’s time to put all the stuff I’ve read about into practice.
I started drawing again on Sunday and it turns out I’m really rusty. I feel like I’m going to be held back on the visual side of things if my drawing doesn’t improve. So that needs work. Cartoon Animation is back off the bookshelf again sitting in plain view to remind me I need to put in the hours again with my drawing. All hail Preston.
I’ve started writing down the Tex Avery cartoons that the animation examples appear in too. Well.. the basis for the animation examples anyway. The skipping squirrel on pages 112-113 is straight out of Screwball Squirrel.
Writing, thankfully, is less of a problem for me: the synopsis for The Quiet One which I wrote at the tail end of August is now blooming into a full-blown treatment. The opening sequence is at first draft and already one annoying story hole is offering to close itself neatly. Good story construction is problem-solving and I bloody love that kind of problem-solving.
If I could recommend another couple of books for the end of winter, though…
- The Cartoon Music Book – what it says on the cover, and how! As comprehensive a series of essays and interviews as one could hope for on the topic of music and cartoons, from the orchestras of the 1930s all the way up to Ren and Stimpy’s amazing use of library music. I’m taking my time getting through this one. No rush.
- The War of Art, by Stephen Pressfield. The author of The Legend of Bagger Vance tells it (somewhat) like it is – in the War of Art, the enemy is Resistance. The third part of the book lost me with its talk of Angels and Muses – the foreword, by “Story” author Robert McKee, admits to being in the same boat – but clearly it works for him, and the first two parts aren’t lessened in the slightest. If you want to devote your life to making stuff but you can’t get it together, read this book. It may just be the no nonsense short sharp kick up the arse paradigm shift you need to get going. (The follow-ups Turning Pro and Do The Work are also on my reading list.)
The War of Art combined with something like The Now Habit would probably be an even more powerful kick up the arse. The War of Art is shorter and more philosophical while The Now Habit is more thorough and scientific. Good complements to one another.
Maybe you could even triple team The War of Art, The Now Habit and the Pomodoro technique… cripes…
Anyway. Much to do. Works to create, craft to hone, technology to master, stories to tell, characters to bring to life, weight to lose, better physical fitness to attain, all that..