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How to Draw Cartoons the "Old-School Way" by animator Bill Nolan

How to Draw Cartoons by cartoonist Bill Nolan

A couple years ago, our pals at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive scanned in this "how-to-draw" book by animation pioneer William C. Nolan: "Cartooning Self-Taught"

Update: seems like all the old links to the Archive site are broken, so I'm posting all the images right here until they return to the Asifa Archive blog.


Bill Nolan is one of the hugest unsung heroes and animation -- is often credited with creating the rubber hose style of cartoons. It was Bill Nolan that helped Otto Messmer refine Felix the Cat into the bouncy, round, cartoony character that he became in the mid-20s.


I just love the giant hands on all these characters, reminding me of Bud Fisher's Mutt& Jeff, Elzie C. Segar's Thimble Theater (Popeye) and George Herriman's Stumble Inn. It's kinda strange how different decades have different cartooning styles. I wouldn't mind at all if this old-timey "bigfoot" style started to make a comeback!

This book is a quick survey of the most basic building blocks of how to draw cartoon characters: There are different mini lessons on how to draw the head, hands, feet, full figures, action poses, animals and kids. Like a lot of books of this type, it doesn't go into great detail, but it's fun for what it is!

10 comments:

ComiCrazys said...

Sherm - I'm with you. I LOVE the old comic strip styles of the 20s and 30s. Big hands rule! I think Otto Messmer drew the biggest hands. I've been copying a lot of the strips of those days lately. Great and inspiring stuff!

Sherm said...

Oh, yesss -- Mutt and Jeff, Segar's Popeye and Herriman's "Stumble Inn" also have giant hand-flaps ^_^

ComiCrazys said...

Sherm, have you seen this, Jumbo Comic Book? I just got a copy. It's great!!! All funny animals. Lots of Al Fago comics and others in the same style. A great book!

Sherm said...

Chris -- how in the world did you ever find that book? It looks like fun, but the guy wants $12 just to ship it, in addition to the $12.95 price. I may keep looking for a lower price. Thanks!

ComiCrazys said...

Sherm- I have an eBay funny animal comic search and it came up. I didn't get the first one I saw because it was just the civet scan. The next email showed a bunch if interior art and I was sold. Each story is printed in line art but in a separate color other than black. So an orange story, a brown story, blue, green, etc. It really is a great effect and adds to the fun.
Maybe message the guy for a media mail rate? It is a large size book though. Definitely a must for your library.

Sherm said...

Chris: I found someone selling it on Amazon, so I ordered it thru them. Didn't save any money, but the seller seemed very reputable so I just went for it. I'm looking forward to getting it and I'll be sure to chat you up when it arrives.

ComiCrazys said...

Excellent, Sherm! Be prepared for 448 pages of eye-candy!!!

ComiCrazys said...

Back on topic, though... we should petition Steve Worth for larger scans of the Bill Nolan book. Those scans are jpegs are nice but much too small.

Sherm said...

Chris: Just between you and me (and anybody else that reads these comments) I managed to find a copy of the Nolan book a couple years ago. I have not scanned it yet, but when I do, I will post big fat juicy high-res scans!

ComiCrazys said...

Sherm - No way!!! That's excellent. I look forward to that day.