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End of year must have cartooning products

We’re closing in on the end of the year. 2010 was a good year, but mostly a blur. That said there were a lot of great books, services and products that came out this year. I’ve compiled a list of things I thought are above and beyond. If you’re still looking for a gift to give yourself, I heartily recommend you get these five items.

#1. The iPad.

It is this year’s most anticipated, most hyped, and most sought after gadget. I’ve been using an iPad since September and I can’t endorse it enough. The I draw on it (ArtRage), get my news (Flipbook, Pulse News, CNN, NPR), play games (Words with Friends), watch movies (Netflix), listen to music (Pandora), socialize (Facebook, Twitter) and use several productivity apps (Dropbox, SimpleNote, Plaintext). Many a blog posts are composed while on my morning train commute. Consider that Computer World released a report predicting sales of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices will out sell PC shipments within the next 18 months. There is a dramatic shift happening and it’s happening faster than anyone could have predicted.

It really is a game changer. News organizations are scrambling to get into the tablet market. King Features recently released their DailyINK for iPhone, iPod Touch and have an iPad version set to release soon and I can’t wait for it. I’ll finally get to consume the comics I love on a portable device that can give them the screen real estate they need. If you can still get an iPad for Christmas, do it. Tell your spouse that you need it for marketing research. It is the future. Besides, The Daily Cartoonist looks fabulous on the iPad.

It looks like Amazon is sold out. Check back for new inventory.

#2. 40 A Doonesbury Retrospective

Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury is an iconic original and it recently hit the 40 year mark and still going strong. There have been two excellent books released to coincide with the anniversary – “Doonesbury and the Art of GB Trudeau” by Brian Walker (read my review) and 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. Andrews McMeel published “40” and like other complete collections (note: “40” isn’t a complete collection), the attention to detail is first rate – really a work of art as much as the comics inside it.

As much as I love comics, I have to admit I don’t enjoy reading them in the paper like I did in my youth. I much prefer to sit down with a collection and take in the story-lines at one time rather than over a span of days. “40” allows your to read those story arcs and see Garry’s drawing style change of time. A wonderful collection.

#3 Duck: Birds and Pencils

Florian Satzinger is a Austrian animator designer/illustrator. He was a student of Ken Southworth (Disney, MGM and Hanna-Barbera animator and animation director). He posts his sketches on his Paperwalker blog. I’m not even sure I know how I found out about his blog, but I’ve been a fan ever since. He published a collection of his sketches in book form through Brands Studio Press. It’s only 48 pages and costs $24.95, but it’s worth it. The line art is creatively beautiful, zany and fun. I don’t know how large the print run was. Get one while you can.

#4 Bug

You don’t have to run out and get this. It’s free. As in a webcomic free. Bug is a new comic created last year by Adam Huber. What I enjoy about Bug is the multi-punchline strip approach. The bugs are black and white, not even sure if they’ve got names, but they’re likably amusing. Adams has great comedic timing and delivers simple line art that matches the humor. If there was a future in syndication, I’d say get this guy a contract. He updates 5-6 times a week. If he sells a book collection, I’m first one in line.

#5 Dropbox

So this last one isn’t directly cartooning related, but last summer it completely saved my… assets… and I’ve become a big proponent. We all know we need to back up our stuff, but sometimes it’s a hassle. Since all but one cartoonist (Patrick McDonnell?) uses a computer in some capacity, you’ll want some kind of back up system. DropBox is an automatic syncing service. It installs on Macs, Windows and Linux and places a folder on your computer. Everything that you save in that directory is automatically backed up to their servers. If you install it on multiple computers, the file is synced to all computers automatically. It also allows “versioning” – you can see early drafts of changes you made in a file (last 30 days). It’s really convenient, and best of all you can get 2GB for free. You can buy more space if you need it.

Community Comments

#1 Topher Davia
December/17/2010
@ 6:19 am

Alan,

I might add one more cartoonist that (probably) doesn’t use a computer. I don’t know if he does now or not, but I meet Russell Myers of Broom Hilda close to 8 years ago and handed him a CD that he might enjoy, and he commented that he’d have to have his daughter show him how to get the info on the CD into the computer and see what’s on.

That was nearly a decade ago, and the guy was VERY nice (as in this isn’t mean to show him in a bad light at all), but I’m guessing if he didn’t know how to view images on a CD he hasn’t switched to using a computer by at this point.

#2 Henry Clausner
December/17/2010
@ 8:39 am

::::copy and pasting the items…hey does Santa have an email address?…or a website yet?

#3 Joe Engesser
December/17/2010
@ 8:42 am

Thanks Alan! If you wanna get a real bargain and something unique check out the “Mad Art Sale” at tomrichmond.com. He’s selling several of his original published pieces for CHEAP!!!! I picked up a couple and love ’em!

#4 Bearman Cartoons
December/17/2010
@ 9:05 am

Alan I downloaded Sketcbook and ArtStudio (so far I am liking ArtStudio better) Any words on why you like ArtRage??

#5 Alan Gardner
December/17/2010
@ 9:44 am

@Bearman – I can’t give a point by point comparison on sketch apps. ArtRage filled a few of my requirements (unlimited layers, undoes). It has a several different types of tools (brushes, pens, pencil, charcoal, chalk, etc.) that lets me create what I want to create. It’s the closest to photoshop. And let’s be honest, purchasing an app through the App Store is a leap of faith – sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get for your money. I’ve been very happy with ArtRage.

#6 Ted Rall
December/17/2010
@ 9:46 am

A list of cartoonist must-have apps would be cool.

#7 John Read
December/17/2010
@ 6:40 pm

“Since all but one cartoonist uses a computer in some capacity…”
I know you say that tongue-in-cheek, but I bet you’d be surprised at how many cartoonists – working cartoonists – don’t personally use a computer in their work. And that number doesn’t include the cartoonists whose wife or girlfriend handles their computer needs (including Patrick McDonnell).

#8 Adam Huber
December/17/2010
@ 9:53 pm

Thanks for the nod, Alan.

And I couldn’t agree with you more on DropBox. I finally got it a few months ago (sprung for the 50GB storage space) and now, all I can think of is: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” If you’re gonna do a webcomic, get yourself a DropBox account, pronto.

#9 Charles Brubaker
December/17/2010
@ 11:21 pm

Adam Huber’s “Bug” is great. One of my must-reads.

#10 Joe Rank ( KRANKY )
December/18/2010
@ 2:15 am

I started doing computer ‘enhancements” with my stuff over a decade ago, but stopped. It took way more time (for me) than was worth it. I also looked at Jeff MacNelly’s work after he went digital…and his superb draftsmanship just got lost in the electric pixels. Twarn’t the same.

I do things the old fashioned way, and it takes me generally less than an hour from conception to finished.
I have ink, brushes, cardstock, pencils, a few crayons, sometimes a burnt matchstick, and some trade secrets for shading purposes…just not all the time. One that is not so secret is a worn out brush for splattering. Q-tips and toothpicks can be used inventively.

Computers, while helpful tools, are no replacement for talent or ingenuity.

#11 Daniel Boris
December/18/2010
@ 8:50 am

I’ve been using both ArtRage and Dropbox for several months – both are awesome products! One of the cool things about ArtRage is that you can save/work back and forth between ArtRage and Photoshop!

#12 Keith Brown
December/18/2010
@ 10:57 am

Thanks for the tip on DropBox. I love it. 2GB Free!

#13 Ted Rall
December/18/2010
@ 12:43 pm

Thanks, Alan, for the tip on DropBox. I set up my DropBox account in 10 minutes last night. It’s incredibly straightforward and well worth doing, especially if you travel.

However, there is a caveat. While I had no problem installing DropBox on my 2006 MacBook Pro, my 2002-era G4 Mac tower (OS 10.2.8) didn’t take it. So if you have an old Mac, forget it.

#14 Daniel Boris
December/20/2010
@ 8:41 am

@ Adam: I like your strip a LOT? the writing is fantastic in Bug! Congrats!

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