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Monday, September 19, 2011

My Favorite Cartoonist

There was only one cartoonist that mattered to me when I was growing up. My Grandfather.


His name was Noah Yeater, but everyone called him 'Bill'. To us kids he was 'Grandaddy'. In our family, he was the adult who was most like us, because he enjoyed the same things we did. He loved kids and delighted in making us laugh with his corny jokes, funny sayings and physical antics, which we never grew tired of no matter how often we heard or saw them. He was clever and talented but always denied it. He would make us things in the garage, and play catch or throw the frisbee in the yard whenever we asked him to. He was the only adult who would sit and watch cartoons with us, and would laugh as hard as us while watching the Three Stooges. He liked to watch wrestling on TV, and called them 'Grunts and Groans'. One night he grew tired of watching wrestling and decided to go to bed 'and let THEM fight it out'. He was always saying funny things like that.


I can remember spending many weekends at my grandparents house, laughing endlessly at his sense of humor, but my fondest memories are of his drawing, and drawing with him. He would sit in his recliner and pull out any odd scrap of paper, tablet or index card from the end table drawer and begin doodling. I would sit on their fancy floor pillows and do the same. We would finish our drawings and then share them with each other, laugh a lot and comment about the situations we had depicted, then we'd be back at it again, creating the next drawings. It would go on for quite awhile. I never once felt I could compete with his talent, but always hoped I could crack him up as much as his cartoons made me laugh. Occasionally he would laugh pretty good at my ideas, but he was probably just being nice to me, the budding cartoonist, who had so much to learn. In my eyes, he was the master gag man, the brilliant artist, and I was the spectator, the rookie... but he did all those drawings just for us kids, never pursuing it professionally outside of our family.


I remember we would sit together in church, and pull out our pens and start drawing on any available space on the church bulletins they would give us. I recall on some Sundays being disappointed to find both sides of the bulletin full of type-written words about that days service or coming church events, with no white space to draw on. On a good Sunday there would be a half page or more of blank drawing space. Yippee! One Sunday we got busted by my mom and grandmother for not paying attention and we were no longer allowed to draw during church. That was a sad day for me. Non-artists don't think it's possible to draw and listen at the same time. Hogwash. We do it all the time.


One day the most amazing thing happened: I was talking to my grandmother about those drawings, as she looked through them laughing, and I told her how much I aspired to be as good a cartoonist as he was. She told me that my Grandaddy had said the same thing about me, that he thought he wasn't as good as I was. I was speechless. I will never forget that day.


What I am posting here are all that remain of the many drawings he did, at least until we get lucky and find more. My brother saved many of them when he caught our Grandfather throwing them out years later. There are no surviving church bulletins festooned with drawings. I am clueless as to why that is. When I get my time machine finished, I will go back in time and rescue all of his drawings for our enjoyment.


One last thing: My Grandfather had a somewhat crude style of cartooning, but he made up for that with loads of personality and attitude in every drawing. Almost every one of his doodles sports some kind of clever gag. That was his genius.


He will always be my favorite cartoonist. I miss him very much.


-Ted








28 comments:

  1. lovely and touching story, Ted. thanks for sharing

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  2. Seconded tek! here.. Thanks for sharing the great story, sir. :')

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  3. OldPlainTed, i love reading your story!!!!!!

    xxoo

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  4. Sweeet, gotta love those Grandparents. Where would we be without'em. These drawings are amazing, my fave is the basketball player all by himself. Just standing there concentrating. Such a simple drawing but says so much. Lovin' this!!! Thanks, Ted

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  5. Fantastic story! I like a lot of these drawings..and love the 'untrained' style that your Grandad had..Glad I wasn't on that operating table!!!I can see how he made you laugh and influenced you to be what you are today...he was proud of you and he would be even more so today!

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  6. Ted, what a wonderful memory. You were/are so lucky to have been touched and inspired by your Grandpa! I read this feeling so happy for you and selfishly, so sad for myself. And yet so happy again because you, like him, are so willing to share your passion and expertise. Thank you! And when you talk to your Grandpa in your prayer (or whatever it is that you do) thank him too.
    P.S. - thanks for the huge vote of confidence on my blog today. I am realizing QUICKLY how differently digital media translates on the printed page. Praying hard to the 'line weight fairy.'

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  7. I guess the kid apple never falls too far from the Grampa tree, eh? Great touching story, and I have no doubt he'd be very proud of you too.

    PS: Thanks for the comment on my last post. You're funny. Hehe. :)

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  8. Nice story Ted...
    Love the one on baseball field and whole page with piano, postman etc.
    Haha!

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  9. Thats a great story. Thanks for sharing. the "crude" style is actually very very charming. :D
    ps. thank you for guilting me into making a blog post. I thank you!

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  10. Such a heart-warming post-- it reminded me very much of my own Granddaddy. He was a free-lance writer (of Western adventure stories!) who was also a some-time illustrator, & would entertain my brother & me for hours with pencil or fountain pen & his ever-present pads of yellow first-draft paper. Sadly, he died when I was young, & I have few mementos of those endless reams of delight.

    I'm glad you have this archive of your grandfather's wonderfully free-spirited creations, & most of all the legacy of joy & encouragement that were his greatest gift.

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  11. What a wonderful thing to have sketches from Grandpappy!

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  12. I wish I had someone like your grandfather in my family, who I could share the love for drawing with. I used to hide my drawings from my parents when I was a kid! Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Thanks so much to each and every one of you for stopping by and sharing this heart-felt memory of my Grandfather. There's a lot of him in me, and that's something I realize more and more as I get older. Life goes on though, so more funny cartoons coming! I won't let you down!

    Tomoko; that's so sad to hear that you had to hide your drawings from your parents. That was their mistake.
    I grew up having to hide things as well, hobbies that I enjoyed, like building plastic model kits. It wasn't considered grown up by my mom, so I understand what you went through. I ended up with a huge model kit collection after I moved out and continue to build them even today. You continue to draw and create art. So why were we denied something we so obviously loved? I follow your blog because maybe I sense that same passion in you. Keep going!

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  14. These are fabulous,...authentic and enthusiastic. I feel as if I might learn something from them. Thanks for sharing these, Ted.

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  15. Thanks for sharing this experience, Ted! I can feel the genuine love for art shared by the two of you in your writing!

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  16. Hahaha, Buster IS mesmerizing, isn't he?
    Beautiful post, Thanks for sharing part of your childhood with us and these drawings, I like them, specially the ones about sports and the man playing the piano. You are very lucky, not all grandfathers are this cool :)
    I'm gonna see the Chaplin documentary this weekend, finally!! I can't wait :P

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  17. All of these illustrations are just FABULOUS and hilarious! I love 'em. Thanks for sharing this with us. The story was the best. I love when artist like yourself share part of their childhood with us. Thanks so much for stopping by cause I know that you are super busy with work and all. It's means so much to me. Thanks
    V

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  18. so you had your own "grandpa moses" to inspire you (his attempts at perspective were better than hers, by the way).

    That's so cool that you had mutual inspiration going on; what a great nostalgic note to share with your "adoring fans."

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  19. Beautiful story, Ted. In my case, I was collecting ALL the drawings of my children, since they are almost 1 year old. Hundred of sketches.

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  20. A lovely story what I wouldn't have given to have been a fly on the wall listening to the conversations that went with these drawings.

    I'm just of to take a picture of my sons recent art work 'a worm drawn on the bath with water crayon' before it gets washed off.

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  21. Beautiful story and great drawings, Ted. The relation to a Grandfather is always very special. A Grandfather is free as a child with huge life experience, usually partner in every impishness.
    It would be also false to compare you two, because for us it would be some technical judgement, but for you most of the drawings contain emotional information.
    How great, you kept them! Thanks.

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  22. Beautiful post Ted! These are precious gold!!! ;) Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Thank you Ted for sharing this, it brought a tear to my eye. I aspire to be to my little girl what your grand father was to you, I hope she has such strong and loving memories of everything we do together when she is older as you have with your grandfather. I too had fun loving family memebers who 'never grew old' and those people are with me always and made me who i am today. I love his cartoons. Janet.

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  24. Aww, Ted. What an incredibly heartwarming tribute. Your grandfather sounds like he was a delightful, charming, and funny-as-heck kinda man. His influence and inspiration on you is clear. You probably brought him as much joy as he did for you. You kept each other young.

    So wonderful that these precious drawings were saved! Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

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  25. This is one of the best things I've read on the internet!

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  26. This is a woderful tribute to your Grandpa, Ted. :)

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