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Snorty and Friends

What Is A MINI?

The Mini was a revolutionary English car which was first sold in 1959. It was in response to the first "Microcars" which were proliferating throughout Europe at the time due to lack of petrol because of the Suez crisis. The car was designed for maximum petrol economy, maximum space utilization and maximum performance, and was basically the ancestor of todays modern compact car. Any car with a front-wheel drive transverse-mounted engine owes an enormous amount to the Mini. Minis quickly became very popular in the UK and Europe, boasting such owners as the Beatles, Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland, Enzo Ferrari and members of Royalty. The sports version, tuned by the Cooper car company, won prizes in practically every field of Motorsport. The car is still made today, in the same place, Rover at Longbridge, Birmingham, although production is scheduled to cease 4th October 2000.

What's So Special About Minis?

Minis were designed in an age when people designed and built cars, not computers. As such the Mini is still defiantly hand-built, and each car has its own foibles and personality. Driving a Mini is totally different to driving modern cars, which seek to insulate you from the experience. The Mini does anything but that. It was designed from the outset to provide a high standard of handling, response and feedback. This adds to the car's personality, which right from the start gives an "eager" feel. However, being a typical product of 60's British engineering, Minis, like most 60's British cars, require a certain amount of care and attention. If they don't get the occasional service they sulk. If you've just come into money... somehow... they know..

Why a Mini Cartoon?

If spend any time with a Mini you'll come to realise it has a personality - that of a young, eager underdog ready to take on the World. (Which it did!) The car commands a fierce loyalty amongst its fans - even down to the staff on the Rover production line. In fact, on the evening of October 4th 2000, many Mini clubs participated in ceremonies of rememberance, including one in London at Trafalgar Square, which jammed up the centre of the capitol for a good hour, and was visible all over the world on webcam. How many other makes of car have had their passing marked in such a way?

The car design itself is very nearly that of the ideal cartoon car - as Rover and thousands of enterprising owners have proven, it is very easy to stamp your own personality on a Mini. It's also extremely easy to get a human expression on a Mini, as the face is practically already there. Contrast this with the "faces" of modern cars, which are very difficult to cartoon into any expression other than threatening. (interestingly enough, carmakers seem to have realised this and have attempted to put 'friendly' faces on some recent small cars.) Added to that, apart from a mid-80's book for children called "The Little Red Metro", and some more recent children's books featuring the adventures of Morris Mini-Minor and friends (incidentally illustrated by the infamous Rolf 'Can you tell what it is yet?' Harris of 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down' fame) I've never seen a cartoon that is based upon the Mini.

What is The Italian Job?

"The Italian Job" was a 1969 film where a gang of British crooks steal gold bullion from Turin using three Mini Coopers. Further details from my Italian Job site. Rover also brought out a special limited-edition Italian Job Mini, of which the original Snorty was one.

Do You Make Money Out Of This?

No I don't. I do it out of love. I'm not sponsored by Rover, BMW or any of the firms who own or trade in parts for the Mini, although some sponsorship would come in useful to meet the costs of maintaining the site. (My former employers DOM graciously provide server space for Snorty)

Can I use Snorty on My Site/Club magazine?

Please look at the "Linking to Snorty" section of the site, which explains how you may obtain permission to use Snorty for non-profit ventures. You can link to a special URL which will allow you to feature the latest Snorty cartoon upon your site.

Can I use Snorty for Advertising?

Not without my permission, and not without paying. You'll probably incur the wrath of BMW, current owners of the Mini trademark too. They have recently threatened several businesses with violation of trademarks for the use of the word "Mini" in connection with the offering of Mini-car related services. I believe that they have also attempted to trademark the actual Mini shape, although this is open to question as industrial copyright on the Mini shell ran out long ago (with over 4,000,000 Minis built it has exceeded the copy limit of industrial copyright) and ornamental copyright has never existed in the UK (otherwise how do you explain all the strat copies in guitar shops?)

Can I Advertise On

At the moment is not set up to carry advertisements. However I am open to offers of sponsorship.

How do you draw Snorty?

Snorty is usually hand-drawn, starting off with a pencilled rough sketch, which is then inked. The rough pencil outline is then erased and pencil used to shade the drawing, to give a tone effect otherwise difficult to get with just pen and ink. The final drawings are then digitized using a flat-bed scanner, and the digital versions touched up with Paintshop Pro, which is also used to letter the strip. In extreme cases PSP has been used to "fix" a strip by moving round the panels, altering speech bubbles and changing the order of the strip, which is much better than having to re-draw, as you can't guarantee you'll get the right expressions in a redone strip. Finally snorty is compressed down to 600 pixel width 16-colour picture, to minimise loading time.

Recent Snorty cartoons have been digitised and touched up using Agfa flat-bed scanners and a G3 Power Mac running Adobe Paintshop.

How does your site work?

Originally Snorty was done by hand on my Geocities site. However this lead to a large amount of work re-editing the html for the strip every week. Fortunately my full-time job is as a web programmer, so I wrote using php3 and the Mysql database. Each strip is stored in the mysql database and retrieved and displayed using php3. This also gives me a lot of leeway, as I used to have to publish the strip by hand every Sunday. Now the site automatically publishes the cartoons, leaving me to get on with writing them.

Can I buy a Snorty book?

Snorty books are some way off yet, but one is promised. At the moment, it looks as though I will have to publish the book myself, and this may cost quite a bit. If anyone knows a publishing company that would be interested, please contact me.

Can I buy Snorty Merchandise?

There is no Snorty merchandise as yet. Again, this would be expensive and a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment. I want to do a Snorty T-shirt, and when I can find the time to do a proper job of it I will. At the moment my spare time is still devoted to improving the site.

Copyright © 1998,1999,2000 Steve Dix. All use of registered trademarks is for purposes of satire
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