As a kid, even more than Disney and Warner Brothers, I loved Woody Woodpecker cartoons. I liked Woody’s attitude; he was a little edge and a little sarcastic but he usually still came out ahead in the end.
Also when I was a kid, I loved to draw. I bought all the “how to draw” books that my mom would let me from the school’s book club. All the books you see above are mine and ones I owned as a kid. I had books that showed you how to draw animals, and cars and trucks, and other books that taught kids how to draw dinosaurs. One of my favorites though was “Easy Way to Draw” by Walter Lantz.
While most of the other books I owned taught kids how to draw things like generic models of cars or random animals, “Easy Way to Draw” showed kids like me how to draw the very characters we saw on television every morning before the bus arrived. A couple of circles here, a beak there, and blammo, you had Woody Woodpecker! And not only could you draw Woody by reading this book, but you could draw all his friends too! There were pages for Splinter and Knothead (Woody’s niece and nephew), Buzz Buzzard, Wally Walrus, Andy Panda, and a few others.
This book also taught kids how to draw other things you might see in a cartoon, things like airplanes and houses and of course automobiles. I remember it bothering me that this car had flat tires, and whenever I would draw it I would fix that.
3/4 of the way through the book, Walter had kids drawing entire scenes. This is the first drawing book I owned that explained what perspective was. Like the picture on the right shows, every time I would draw a scene I would draw all those perspective lines to help me shape walls and doors correctly, and then carefully erase them while attempting not to erase the rest of my picture.
By the time you reach the end of the book you get the feeling that they may have included some “padding.” These pages show you how to make a real life Woody using an orange and a rag and some cardboard, and a cutout Buzz Buzzard. I never tried to make the Woody but I can’t imagine making anything that would turn out actually looking like Woody Woodpecker. The last few pages of the book are blank so that you can practice your own drawing. This is one of the few times were drawing in books was not only condoned but encouraged.
I have always loved the back cover of this book, which features a picture of Walter Lantz and his many creations. While I know (and knew then) that they weren’t “really” there with him, I felt like in his mind, maybe they were.
By the way, I never drew anything that looked as good as the characters on the back of this book look. Insert Woody’s famous laugh here.