Well, goodbye (and in many ways good riddance) to 2011! Hello to 2000-plus-a-dozen, aka 2012, aka Year That Time Ended. Or something like that.
I hope you and yours had fun and stayed safe for the big party night (and college bowl day). There are a couple ways I like to have fun on New Year’s, neither of which involve booze or the company of drunken strangers. (WARNING: The following may be sleep-inducing to some readers. Please do not drive or operate heavy machinery immediately after reading this blog.) Been doing one for a long time, one fairly recently. Both are either sad commentaries on my life or interesting twists on holiday celebrations. I’ll let you (and my future therapist) decide.
First one is finding old calendars to reuse, something I’ve done quite regularly after purchasing the Chambers Book of Facts. It contained a “time table” of all the calendar configurations along with a list showing which ones occur on which years. I had discovered accidentally a long time ago that calendars repeated themselves, and figured it was every 7 or 11 years. It was then fun to go through my calendar collection to see which ones I could reuse, especially those from my youth. (The 1975 Marvel Calendar was one of my first and will always be a favorite! So much great art by so many great artists, along with their birthdays and goofy commentaries throughout the year.)
However, I had no idea how complex the arrangement is. There are actually 13 different calendar configurations under our current system. Unlike the every-four-years of leap year (of which 2012 is one), they are not all equal; each one re-occurs at different intervals. For instance, 2011 used the same calendar as 2005, just six years prior; before that, it was 1994, then 1983, 1977 and so on. But 2012 is quite special: the most recent prior calendar is from 1984, and before that, 1956! So that may also help explain the “specialness” of this new year. It also means I’ll be on the lookout for a 1956 Elvgren or Vargas or other pinup calendar from ’56 during my antique-store and show sojourns. (If you have one for under 20 bucks including shipping, please let me know.)
Marvel’s 1975 (and first mass-produced?) Calendar. October art by Ploog plus December grid. I cannot tell you how geeked I was as a kid to get this baby! I trashed my original copy but thankfully found a nice replacement a while ago. (They’re still very reasonably priced for some reason.) I’d only been collecting comics for less than a couple years at the time, and was full-steam into my own “golden age”. Look at all the great tidbits and comedy you enjoyed throughout the month! Compare that to the standardized, bland-a-rized blank grids and stale, anonymous, factory-generated pinups you get on today’s (much higher-priced) calendars. I was a Marvel fan before I got this, but a true fan-addict afterwards. If only companies did this today!
The other thing I love to do, which I’ve done almost each year for over two decades, is draw something in a sketchbook to commemorate the event. If I have time (which isn’t lately), I’ll do two drawings, on December 31st and January 1st. But usually I’ll start something on the 31st and finish on/after the 1st (or better yet, start at 11:45pm and finish after midnight), so I have a single drawing that represents both the last thing I drew for the year and the first thing for the new year. It’s fun to look back and see the progression (or regression, depending on how it turns out) and what kind of mood I was in at the time. Cool, right? Right? HEY, WAKE UP!!
(I realize I’m probably the only guy on the planet, other than another lonely artist, who would find this fun, but hey, at least I never ended up in a drunk tank, ralphing on the bathroom floor. contracting an STD, or sideswiped by a drunk driver on New Year’s.)
Some of these I’m proud of, others I wouldn’t dare allow out of my file cabinet. For the last several years, I’ve only done just quickie sketches in smaller sketchbooks just to have something tangible, but in past years I took some time. My favorites are in a hardcover sketchbook called “Fantasy Portraits”, where I did nothing but pencil drawings of faces I made up. So I dug some out and scanned ‘em for you (and me, too…nice to have digital records of this stuff). Click on any for larger views which you can navigate. In chronological order:
A few obvious things: Conehead Father Time has seen better days; things must’ve gotten brighter between ’92 and ’94, then again with ’98 and ’99, judging by the expressions (and notation); and clearly I needed a date. (If only some of those women actually existed…!) Unfortunately, the most significant year, the new decade/century/millennium of 2000/2001, turned out so lousy I won’t even scan it (sorry, but I still have some pride left). Curiously, it was also the first New Year’s I spent with my future wife, and one of my personal favorites ever. Yet as you can see, the art just got quicker and lamer afterwards. Makes me wonder if there’s an inverse correlation between personal and artistic happiness…I sure hope not! Better leave that to the shrinks.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Next week I’ll make it less about me and more about what we can look forward to in the next dozen months. See ya then!
P.S.: Start the year on an artistic high note and order a commission today! I promise I’ll take my time on it and give you something we’ll both be happy with–or your dough back. This calendar won’t occur again until (gasp!) 2040, so let’s make it count! Just ask Craig here.