What Makes a Cartoon Classic?

For your entertainment and enlightenment, I am interrupting our regular posting schedule to provide a look at a classic cartoon (via YouTube).

What makes a cartoon a classic, besides the obvious fact that it’s old?

Writer’s prompt: Watch this cartoon (or you can fast forward through it if you don’t have time to watch all of it).

  1. What classic elements does it contain?
  2. Can you guess the era?
  3. Is there a message?

Remember: Completing one of our Writing Prompts gains you an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

A Little History of Cartooning

by Betty Thomason Owens

Cartoons have been around for centuries. Even the cave dwellers drew cartoons on the walls of their caves.
Were they:

1. Documenting history?
2. Lampooning local government?
3. Entertaining the kids?
4. Drawn by kids?

Fast-forward a few years:
Woodcuts and mezzotints are used in the early printing process. Those were a bit like rubber stamps. Artists carved their cartoon or illustration backward, so when the print was made, it showed up correctly.

Long before you could attach a file or snap a shot of something and post it to Facebook or include it on your latest blogpost, illustrators and artists created cartoons. These were often political in nature. Imagine that.

Political and editorial cartoons usually express one man’s opinion–also called lampooning and often involves caricature. Have you ever had someone draw you in caricature? They will usually overemphasize and under-emphasize some of your features to make it slightly comical, but still recognizable.

512px-Lincoln_and_Johnsond

An editorial cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled “The Rail Splitter at Work Repairing the Union”

This is a well-known example of early political/editorial cartoons. Notice the detail (click on it to enlarge). As you can see, it’s hand-drawn with a pencil. Most of today’s cartoons are a lot more professional, but personally, I still love the look of pencil drawings.

Note: I’m providing links below for modern examples, since most are copyrighted and require fees for use.

800px-Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_DieBenjamin Franklin was one of the earliest Indie writers. Yes, he self-published, and was best known for Poor Richard’s Almanac. He was a very busy man. When he wasn’t electrocuting keys, he wrote, taught, mentored, helped draft the Declaration of Independence, wrote books, made a fortune, printed…well, you get the picture. At a critical point in American history, he created this cartoon to encourage the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Another famous cartoonist was Theodore (Ted) Geisel. You may know him better as Dr. Seuss. He drew political propaganda cartoons during World War II. He took a lot of flack for it, also, but his signature style shone through those cartoons. There is no doubt who drew them. If you’ve read many of his children’s books, you’ll know he was very concerned with politics (Butter Battle Book, for one).

As an aside, cartoonists were also utilized by the war departments of some countries including Great Britain, to work on accurate maps for bomb crews.

My Grandpa Christy was an armchair politician. He drew cartoons for local “rags” — tiny hometown newspapers. He kept a scrapbook of those. I tried to get my hands on it in time for this post, but it didn’t happen.

His favorite subjects were (then) Presidents Nixon and Johnson. Why? He loved to draw big noses. He had one. He also had big ears and the biggest smile I’d ever seen. An omnipresent smile. Mom has many pictures of Grandpa, and that smile was in all of them. Except in the picture I have of him when he was about five or so, but they were warned not to smile for photos in those days.

20150313_134209Grandpa had a great sense of humor, which is one very important requirement in a political satirist/cartoonist. Open your newspaper and turn to the editorial pages. You will probably find at least one editorial cartoon. They are almost always political in nature. They can seem snarky, even cruel. Apparently, the ruder, the better.

Political/editorial cartoons sometimes make you laugh, but more often make you think. And that’s their reason for being.

Here are the promised links to some present-day quality political and editorial cartoons:

http://www.usnews.com/cartoons

http://www.washingtontimes.com/cartoons/

http://www.newyorker.com/cartoons/daily-cartoon


Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: Senator Douglass opened the morning paper and was shocked to see…

 

Mythology & Folklore: Giants on the Earth

Osmar_Schindler_David_und_GoliathAs a young reader, I loved mythology. I became interested in the myths in school when we had to read them, but continued on my own. So imagine my surprise when I found the following Bible verse:

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.–Genesis 6:4 NKJV

Could it be true? Had there really been giants on earth? Pre-flood, pre-Noah? The answer is yes. And they were men of renown. Well-known. Talked about. And why not? These were called the Nephilim, descended of angels. Later, after the flood, giants still existed in the form of the Anakim, the children of Anak, and also the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:11, 9:2 & Numbers 13:33).

Remember Goliath? He was nine feet tall. Nine. So it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe the myths may have been based in reality. And of course, as people do, they told tales about them. Fish stories. With each telling, they became bigger, taller, stronger, more powerful. Israel’s spies in Numbers 13 were shaking in their boots. No way were they going back there. Giants lived in the land.

2013-08-25 03.55.16Folklore is the passing down of stories, myths, sung or recanted. Loveable stories like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. Fun to read, fun to listen to around campfires. But fiction, all the same. Blown out of proportion by the tellers, but good clean fun, most of the time.

So could these stories also be based in truth?

They never seem to lose their fascination. Moviegoers flock to the hero sagas. Thor. Hercules. Can anyone play Zeus better than Liam Neeson?

As a young reader, finding that verse in the Bible (whose words are truth) was like a door opening on a whole new existence. My imagination shifted into overdrive.  I could see how people would think those men were gods. They towered over everyone else.

I hope my ideas have inspired you to look further into the history of mankind. Search the scriptures on your own and see what you think. Are the myths based in reality?

Writing Prompt: As writers, we have a wealth of ideas thrown at us in the stories of old. What can we do with them? Pull one of them out and give it a current setting. Mix in a little romance, if you will, or a good dose of humor. Make it real. Make it your own. Be creative! Leave us a short sample in the comment section.

“Osmar Schindler David und Goliath”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg

Betty Thomason Owens

The Flying Pioneers by Rachel Muller

WWI Air WarIt was said to be the “war to end all wars,” however, World War I only provided the fuel to ignite the world into hostile circumstances. 100 years later, we look back on the world’s history and the horrific slaughter on mankind through trench warfare, tank battalions, and the brand new contraption just taking the world by storm—the aeroplane.

In just 100 years the world has quickly developed and improved in aerodynamics. From the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 to today’s manless flying machines, architects and mechanics have greatly influenced the air and space market. But how did flying evolve into what is has become today? Well, believe it or not, it all started with World War I…

Just prior to the war, England’s air fleet consisted of only 33 planes. Most of these early flying machines were made of paper, bamboo or poplar wood, and bicycle tires. Canvas skins were later used because of its durability over paper. However, Germany advanced in the field of aerodynamics and quickly developed their own effective planes that were more durable, could carry metal bodies instead of paper or canvas, and were faster than the Royal Flying Corps’ own planes.

When reconnaissance flights began, pilots were also instructed to take down Germany’s 170 balloon observation crafts. The pilots found while performing their duties they were also able to drop small bombs from the cockpit onto the enemy’s line with little threat to the pilot and the aircraft. It caused significant damage to the enemy in which they had little to no time to react. In no time at all, guns were mounted to the fuselage and synchronized with the front propeller, thus thrusting the opposing sides into a new kind of war—an air war.Bomb Dropping

Fresh and young pilots entering the RFC (some only 16 or 17 years of age) were thrown into pilot training almost immediately. Most WWI veteran pilots recorded that upon entering their quarters they were handed a pilot’s handbook and the joystick. Before the invention of simulators, a young pilot’s training was on-the-job. Sadly, over 15,000 planes and some 7,000 pilots lost their lives in training alone. By 1917, the life expectancy of a pilot was only 11 days.

The pioneers of flying endured harsh flying conditions. Due to little experiment on altitudes and air pressure, pilots made the half hour climb to 20,000 feet to find the altitude a frigid tormentor. Oxygen was sparse to none at all and the oxygen mask had not yet come into existence. Many suffered frostbite from the extreme temperatures, and air sickness due to the lack of oxygen in the blood. It was an excruciating experience for many.

If a pilot was lucky enough to live two weeks and shot down a total of 5 enemy planes, he was deemed a Flying Ace and decorated for his bravery in the skies. But most pilots never received the recognition they deserved. England’s laws prevented an Ace’s name and photo from being published in the newspapers, but when the law was lifted, a pilot, whose name did appear in the papers, became one not so popular with his peers. The English pilots believed they were a team and did not look for self-glory as the German’s had.

After the end of the first world war, people around the globe were ready to dismiss everything associated with war. The price had been too high for many. Soon pilots and their aircraft were demobilized. Many pilots were out of work and rejected from entering the army. But then something promising happened, and it was something that was catching around the globe. In 1918, the first successful airmail trip was made and inaugurated, introducing the world to the possibilities of air travel.

Since then, man’s dream of flying has become a reality and our technology continues to grow at an amazing pace, expanding our world to the limits of our imagination.

Thanks so much, Rachel, for finishing out our month of World War I…

Rachel Muller_HeadshotObsessed with World War II since the tender age of 17, Rachel Muller has been studying The Greatest Generation for 13 years and composing stories of love and war for nearly three years. After taking time to start and raise a family she has now turned her to passion—writing WWII fiction.

Her first book in her Love and War Series, Letters From Grace, won a Top 28 spot in the Harlequin/Mills & Boon So You Think You Can Write Contest (2012) where it finaled as the only historical romance in their Love Inspired line. Since then she has concentrated on re-writes and is now under review by literary agents. You can learn more about Rachel at www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Best Treasure Hunting Movies

By+JenniferHallmark

raiders of lost arkI love to watch a good movie full of intrigue, romance and treasure hunting. Who can forget one of my all time favorites, Raiders of the Lost Ark? Harrison Ford became my favorite new hero and the suspense left me breathless.

And how could we talk about treasure without mentioning pirates? Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl combines Jack Sparrow the pirate with treasure and romance.

Another one I’ve watched over and over is Romancing the Stone. A writer living the adventure of a lifetime is my kind of movie.

For an oldie but goodie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart combines a hunt for gold with greed in the desert.

And last but not least, The Goonies, a movie about a group of kids hunting for a pirate’s treasure to save their homes from foreclosure. I loved Sean Astin in this movie!TheGooniesPortada-Frikarte

What are some more movies or television series that deal with treasure hunting?

And speaking of treasure, leave a comment to be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card to be given away on Monday.

On a Treasure Hunt

TrailerPainting_t620I told you a bit about my “treasure-hunting” uncle in an earlier post [here]. He and my aunt have both passed on, having never really hit it big. But they always had that hope. They were always on a treasure hunt.

Perhaps Uncle Bill’s forebears went West in the late 1800’s along with thousands of others, seeking gold. Few of those struck by gold fever found the treasure they sought. But many stayed on, having found a treasure of a different sort.

This picture is not of my treasure-hunting family, but this is kind of how they started out, that first trip. What sent them down this path? A friend told them about a summer vacation destination where they could dig for gems. They hopped in the camper and set off. After talking to the owner and operator, it seemed like a good post-retirement source of income.

Not everyone finds treasure buried in their backyard. I’m not sure I’d recognize it if I did. Many gems in their raw form just look like rocks to me. But just for you, I found a list of destinations, if you’re interested in a treasure-hunting vacation. I’ll list a few of them, but there’s a better list available at Travel Channel’s History site [here].

gemstonesWhat’s your preference in gems? Opals? Emeralds? Diamonds? My personal favorite is aquamarine, since that’s my birthstone.

  1. Opals: Bonanza Opal Mine, Denio, Idaho, or Juniper Ridge Opal Mine, Lakeview, Oregon
  2. Emeralds: Emerald Hollow Mine, Hiddenite, North Carolina
  3. Diamonds: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas
  4. Aquamarine: Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine, Spruce Pine, North Carolina

Are you close to one of those, or passing through there on your next vacation? Might be a good day trip or aside to your other plans. In case you aren’t aware, the Blue Ridge Mountains are gemstone rich!

If you prefer precious metals like gold, Roaring Camp in Gold Pine Grove, California is a good place to go.

There are also Thunder Eggs or Geodes, found in Rockhound State Park, in Deming, New Mexico. Find meteorites in Glorietta Mountain, New Mexico, and Brenham Township, Kansas. Dive for Jade in Jade Cove in Big Sur, California. And pick up some turquoise at the Royston Mine in Tonopah, Nevada. I love turquoise and always thought there was only the blue-green variety. Until I visited The Grand Canyon last summer and found white, pink, and purple turquoise in the nearby gift shops.

Many people find these treasure hunts great fun, as well as an educational experience for their children. This would be especially true of the dinosaur fossils found in Devil Hills, South Dakota. Wherever you choose to look, treasure is often near. Many times we have to search for it or dig for it. But it’s there.

Happy hunting, treasure seekers. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…” Matthew 6:21 NKJV

Betty Thomason Owens

 

Heroes, Heartthrobs, and Hunks Oh My!

Virginia Smith - Headshot SmallToday it is my privilege to welcome one of my favorite authors, Virginia “Ginny” Smith, to our blog with her contribution to our “Heroes” theme. Thanks, Ginny!

Several years ago when I first started out in this crazy writing business, I received a call from my agent with the news every writer longs to hear: “You’ve been offered a contract for your book, Murder by Mushroom Cover ResizedMurder by Mushroom.” She paused while I screeched and did cartwheels, and then went on. “Just one thing. The editor wants you to add a romance element.” My enthusiasm deflated. I’d proposed a lighthearted mystery. I didn’t read romance, and I didn’t want to write it. “Maybe we ought to keep looking for another publisher,” I said. After a moment of shocked silence, my agent replied, “You did NOT just say that. You can’t pass this offer up. Besides, you’ve already got a hunky cop in the story. He can easily become the love interest.” Grudgingly, I agreed to give it a try. The resulting story not only became a bestseller, but launched my career with a major publisher.

That was twenty-two books ago, and every story since has included a hunky hero. Though I don’t consider my books to be romance novels, I’ve come to realize that there’s a reason romance is the bestselling fiction genre. Human beings the world over share one deep emotional need: we want to be loved. Stories in which a character ultimately finds true love resonate with readers. That realization was a turning point in my approach to writing. Stories can be any genre – mystery, science fiction, comedy, relationship drama, suspense – but adding a touch of romance makes them deeper.

Take my newest book, The Days of Noah. The setting is one we’re all familiar with, the years leading up to the great flood of Genesis. In the opening chapter the oldest of Noah’s sons, Shem, proves himself to be a true hero when he rescues a young pagan priestess from a pair of thugs. Poor Eliana soon realizes that Shem may have saved her from being ravished, but he can’t rescue her from her ultimate fate: death at the hand of a wrathful God who will soon destroy the earth.

Those who have read the biblical account know that the only human survivors of the flood are four men and their wives. Think about it – that premise has hero written all over it! Four lucky women are destined to be rescued from death. Most everyone in my book thinks Shem’s dad has a couple of screws loose with that wacky story, but Eliana believes him. And she thinks Shem is one of the hunkiest heroes ever born.

There’s only one problem. He already has a wife.

The Days of Noah is not a romance novel. There’s a lot going on that has nothing to do with Eliana’s love life. Social unrest. Moral decline. Political intrigue. Betrayal. Murder. Human sacrifice. Deadly secrets. War looming on the horizon. But through it all, Shem’s belief in his father’s prophecy and his loyalty to those he loves make him a tower of strength and integrity. Eliana isn’t the only one whose heart beats faster when he comes on the scene.

Besides, he’s heartthrobbingly handsome, and that’s not a bad quality for a hero.

Take a minute and think about the books you’ve enjoyed, the ones that stand out in your mind. Was there a hunky hero? I’d love to hear about him! Post a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of The Days of Noah, either print or eBook.

———————————–

Virginia Smith is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny likes to write in a variety of styles from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. She is the recipient of two Holt Medallion Awards of Merit (A Daughter’s Legacy in 2011, and Dangerous Impostor in 2013.) Visit her on the web at www.virginiasmith.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ginny.p.smith.

Days of Noah 3D SpineThe Days of Noah

Belief in the One God is dangerous in Cainlan, a city founded on the worship of the god Cain. But when the daughter of a pagan priestess a meets the son of a religious fanatic, she is drawn to Shem’s caring manner and deep faith. Eliana believes his assertion that the One God will wipe the earth clean of the corruption that fills it, especially when she discovers a terrifying secret known only to those high in the government’s ruling council. Though desperate to escape her destiny, Eliana’s life has been preordained. Not even Shem’s God can rescue her from the fate for which she was born – becoming the next high priestess to Cain.

The Days of Noah book is available everywhere books are sold. Print copies can be ordered through any bookstore, or online from places like Amazon.com ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937671119/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1937671119&linkCode=as2&tag=nexstecri-20 )

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