Saturday, April 6, 2024

Happy Birthday, James Garner!

 As is my annual tradition, here is my latest caricature of Jim Garner, and once again in his role as Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. Though I've drawn him many times as Rockford, it seemed only fitting this year as 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of The Rockford Files way back in 1974.

Not too much to add here, but creating this year's entry was a very frustrating experience for me, as I had to learn how to do the colour work using a new program since I no longer have access to Photoshop. Just over a year ago I had to replace my old antiquated computer with a new one when it finally quit on me, but alas, I can't install my Photoshop disc on here since Adobe doesn't allow anything other than their subscription service which I refuse to subscribe to. I'd tried Apple's own program, Pixelmator, some time ago but found it to be pretty useless and difficult to decipher. So more recently I decided to give Sketchbook Pro a try, as it's fairly inexpensive to purchase and download. It will take some getting used to, but it does seem fairly comparable to Photoshop, albeit with several things that I can't seem to figure out yet.

Anyway, I was able to muddle my way through it enough to add colour to my (still) traditional ink line on illustration board approach. I'm afraid that this old dinosaur will never be able to give up my trusty Winsor & Newton sable brush and bottle of ink in order to create my caricature art. Fact is, I really wouldn't want to.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

RIP Ian House

It is exactly one week ago that I heard the devastating news that a longtime friend of mine through Facebook, Ian House, had passed away. It’s been difficult coming to terms with that or even knowing what to say, but I’m going to try and sum up my thoughts here rather than on Facebook, as Facebook posts are such fleeting things and Ian’s memory deserves better.

I had first encountered Ian House more than ten years ago back when he had started a Facebook group page devoted to Classic Television Shows of the 50s through 70s. Somehow I had stumbled upon that page and joined, as it was well run and covered all of the TV series I had grown up loving in my youth, many of which I have alluded to here on my blog as well. Ian and I hit it off immediately, as he enjoyed my caricatures of these classic TV stars that I’d been posting on my blog and linking to on his group page. One thing I really admired about Ian was how good and decent he seemed to be, as he ran a tight ship on his Classic TV page, allowing no controversy or foul language. His philosophy was that his Classic TV page was like the family living room of the 1950s, and that the sense of innocence and decorum from that era be maintained. I remember Ian’s favourite shows tended to be family friendly sitcoms like “Leave It To Beaver”, “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. I also recall that Ian would often post photos of his longtime TV crush, Elizabeth Montgomery of “Bewitched” fame. Ian had great taste!

I soon became Facebook friends with Ian, as he’d noticed one time that I’d mentioned Sheridan Animation in one of my posts and he’d been curious because he’d taken the animation course there back in the 80s. I explained to him that I was currently an instructor in that program and so we realized we were both from the same Greater Toronto Area, thus adding to our shared cultural backgrounds. On Ian’s personal Facebook page, he also talked about his love for classic Hollywood cartoons, particularly the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and 1960s Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons, most notably “The Flintstones”. From what I’ve gathered from colleagues who also knew Ian in his Sheridan days, he was a bit of a cartoon historian who collected info and made videotapes of everything available at that time.

Though we both yearned for an earlier era, I was more of a mid-20th Century kind of guy while Ian’s tastes went back even further to the Jazz Age of the 1920s/30s. I remember him even musing about wishing he’d lived back during the Edwardian era, as he really did prefer the more mannered society of that time. Like myself, Ian House was a conservative, quite a staunch one, and he loved his life in America, having moved there from Canada to work in California for a time before later relocating to Indiana. He very much appreciated American history and star-spangled patriotism and greatly admired President Calvin Coolidge from that earlier era he so cherished. Still, one thing he held onto from his Canadian roots was his love for hockey, especially his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, and he posted about them often on his page!

For the last year or two, Ian had formed a little group of fellow Wordle enthusiasts on his page, where we would compare our daily results from doing that day’s puzzle. At some point Ian suggested we all use the same starter word each day, taking turns to provide one for the following day’s Wordle. It had become a fun daily ritual and I and his group of friends, about six of us in all, were quite devoted to it. In fact, just this past February 7th we all scored a Wordle-In-One with the word, AFTER! Everything had been going so well and Ian had become a part of my daily routine, so our little group was thrown for a loop when just one week later on February 14th Ian announced the following:

“Personal Note: Hi folks, this will be my LAST Wordle post for the indefinite future; I hope somebody else on the team will be able to assume my duties. Wordle On!”

We were all a little confused and concerned by Ian’s cryptic message and, as we didn’t hear from Ian for several days after that, a couple of us had reached out to him in Messenger to see what was wrong. Several days more went by and then I got a response from Ian where he confided that he’d been in deteriorating health for some time and that his situation had become quite dire, with an extremely painful leg condition that had become so bad that he could no longer get around freely anymore and was practically housebound. Ian had always been a very private kind of guy and he said he’d let us know whether there was any marked improvement but that he requested we not inquire anymore until then. Though I was worried like heck about him, I agreed to honour his request. Then, just one month later on Thursday March 21st, We heard from Ian’s brother, Woody the shocking news that Ian had passed away.

Since then I’ve been devastated, my mind flooded with memories of all the conversations I’d had with Ian over the last decade, his many interests and personal quirks running through my mind, and it’s been hard to believe that this funny, friendly, and extremely decent man is gone now at the age of 62. Our little Wordle group continues on, but the fact is we’re all reeling from Ian’s death and miss him terribly. Ian’s brother Woody has been in touch with me and we plan to meet soon, as he coincidentally also lives here in Mississauga, about a 20 minute drive from me. This memoriam was difficult to write and a lot of tears flowed while compiling my thoughts. Ian House, I know you’re in a better place now. Godspeed, my dear friend.