Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon Illustrations




From time to time, people call me and want me to do magazine covers or illustrations for them. They assume that all cartoonists can do all kinds of cartoons, and I hate to have to dissapoint them.


To me, a cartoon illustration is a painting- like in the old Golden Books by J.P. Miller, Mary Blair, Mel Crawford and Gustaf Tenggren-in other words, not just a cartoon drawing filled with flat color, but a real painting. Like they used to do thousands of years ago before culture died.



Unfortunately, I can't paint-for some reason, paint and brushes hate me and will only make messes under my direction. The extent of my actual paintings were in Big House Blues where I did many of the backgrounds because I couldn't find any real background artists at the time to help (except Bob Camp who did all the good ones in the cartoon). What a mess! Strangely enough, my splotchy, messy BGs caught on and became a style and now there are whole shows on network TV with messy sloppy backgrounds in them on purpose!



I admire people like Bill Wray (my favorite cartoon painter), Kristy Gordon, Nick Cross, Jay Li, Simon Dupuis, Scott Wills, Richard Ziehler-Martin, Vicki Jensen and the like who can paint real paintings with great skill and appeal in a cartoon style. Most can also paint straight paintings too.

Hey, check Pietro Vargas' stuff out! http://pipsqueakscorner.blogspot.com/


OK, bored yet? I don't blame you.
So my dilemma a few years back was how to make my cartoons look like real paintings without having to actually use paint.
I hated all digital paintings and still do for the most part-especially that Photoshop crap. Yeeesh!

I discovered another program called Painter which is a torture program, but at least it has a few variations of things they call "Brushes" that you can paint with. The strange part is, none of the things they call "brushes' look anything remotely like any real brushes. But what the Hell, I was able to at least make some kinda pseudo painterly looking pictures and the art directors at the magazines never complained!

So here are a few.


This one was done back when Fred Seibert just took over Hanna Barbera and was revamping it and turning the Cartoon Network into something real. I showed him a bunch of weird looking caricatures I did of Hanna Barbera characters, and he said "We gotta do something with this". So he had me produce a laser disk collection of the first 14 episodes of The Flintstones from 1960. I did all the cover and insert art with Craig Kelly doing layout and design. You gotta get this box set! It has the best supplemental materials ever! Commercials showing the Flintstones smoking Winstons' cigarettes, the original pilot with different voices, all the crazy off model toys from the 1960s-from my collection and Bob Jaques' too. Jerry Beck helped me find tons of rare commercials starring the Flintstones in the 1960s. Earl Kress helped me write liner notes for a special booklet. I show you how to tell one Hanna Barbera animator from another in special music videos edited by Henry Porch. The picture above is the cover to the insert.

Later Fred asked me to do the Ranger Smith cartoons, and then he hired other artists to imitate my f...-ed-up style of Hanna Barbera drawings to use for merchandise.



Here are a couple Spumco Comic Book covers:




The cover from Media Magazine:





Here's a tease from something I will tell you more about later:





Stay tuned to my and Katie Rice's Blog. I'm gonna paint one of her great girlie drawings with fake paint soon!

65 comments:

Mukpuddy said...

All good dude, still really informative stuff!!

I've been wanting to get that Flintstones dvd for a while now, but I didn'trealise it had all those goodies on it!!! I need some cash now!!! Time to sell my body me thinks!!

ZSL said...

Fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Hey, John

I missed your thing at the HOB. Did you play with your band there too? When is your band going to be playing again?

Rebecca said...

I remember that cover to WIRED.. holy shit. I must've been 11 years old when I saw that, my dad had a copy. I only glanced at it, just once, but I never, ever forgot it. And recently, watching and drooling over Ren and Stimpy since coming to art school to learn to animate, it's been nagging at the back of my mind, that cover to some magazine my dad had. I was starting to think I'd just imagined it.

Eliot Phillips said...

The captions are in the correct places in the RSS feed so it's just a CSS thing. The Flintstones thing sounds great. You should get Cartoon Network to buy more of your work instead of playing Ranger Smith every week.

Sam said...

Sweet!

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

It's like I'm back in school again. I've been very frustrated with Photoshop recently, and have tried to get into Painter with little success. Looks like I'd better try again. Thanks again for all the cool information!

Duck Dodgers said...

Marvelous drawings,john!

Your blog is my favorite one of them all...and it's up only from a few days!

Could you please post drawings or other stuff from the unreleased epic " Jimmy's Big Date" ?

mackaydesign said...

John,
Have you tried using ArtRage? It's a free painter program. They just came out with version 2.2. and like I said, it's free

http://www.ambientdesign.com/artrage.html

By the way, your work is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Uhh John I think you are being modest.... what about that schwarzenegger painting you did , that's a great painting. I have a copy of it next to my desk infact.
-c

Duck Dodgers said...

Marvelous drawings,john!

Your blog is my favorite one of them all...and it's up only from a few days!

Could you please post drawings or other stuff from the unreleased epic " Jimmy's Big Date" ?

And could you also post some drawings from the unmade last George Liquor episode? The plot of it is in one of the Spumco comics!

Anonymous said...

John, I have to you ask you an embrarassing thing. It's purely out ot medical interest, you see? What are those wormy things George Licquor is clipping from under his armpit? I ask you because I have those, and I'm afraid to show it to someone else, so I never had them diagnosed. I have to find what they are!!!

Boris Hiestand said...

man it's great you're blogging too now. Can't wait to see what you'll be posting next! Love your work.

Anonymous: those wormy things you're referring to are 'stalagwarts'. Nothing to be ashamed of. Wear them with pride.

SteveLambe said...

I understand your fustration with digital painting, but actually photoshop's come a long way over the last two years. There's a lot more than just a handful of silly airbrushes in there now, plus you can create your own drybrushes and sponge effects.

Just give version 7 or CS a try. It's worth it.

Jay D Smith said...

gasp!!

Brian Romero said...

I wish they'd re-release that Flintstones Laser Disc on DVD with all the extras.

Duck Dodgers said...

Mukpuddy, jon is speaking of the Flintstones laserdisc box set, not of the dvd releases.

Lee said...

Hey John, i'm a big fan, and I love your blog.

When are you going to write a book about your experiences in the studio system? or maybe you have already?

makinita said...

awesome man i use painter too in fact i give painter classes at a local art institute in Ecuador so cool that u use that 2 do your art it gives me such joy 2 know and awesome drawings like always

Andrius said...

Wow! its great to see all that artwork! extremely good! Thanks JohnK!

Jeff Pidgeon said...

Great stuff, John (as always)! I didn't realize you were painting these digitally. Such cool color work!

Even though I'm methodically buying all the full-season Flintstones DVD sets (one season left to go), I still have your laserdisc set. The supplement is far better, and your liner notes are hilarious!

Hope you're well, Jeff

benj said...

WOW!
cant wait to see more!!!

rajesh said...

who did the rootie kazootie pages? they rock.

Some great caricatures, btw.

Josh Carrollhach said...

Hey John K

This is a great blog. You have always been one of my favorites, someone who really understands animation. I was recently looking over some Preston Blair drawing's of Red from a 40's Harmann-Ising cartoon and was really struck by how similar your work is: dynamic, fluid and perfectly exaggerated. And watching Hanna and Barbera's Tom and Jerry always brings you to mind as well.

I quote your description of Bluth all the time (great hilarity ensues when we count arm-waves in any of his features).

keep up the great work!

Mitch K said...

These are really cool paintings -- you seem to know what you're doing, for a guy who is bullied by real brushes. haha

The APC cover you did is very nice, and very glossy. It's quite a contrast from Nick's version (which is a really really cool painting as well). I like your tan lines. Rawr!

It's hard to find those Golden Books where I live (I wish I didn't unknowingly let my mom throw out my childhood ones). However: I DID find "I Can Fly" the other day at Value Village.

What I like about real paint is the tiny (or big) 'mistakes' that happen. And yes, Bill Wray is pretty amazing.

How long (on average) does it take you to paint-up one of these darawings? They're beautiful, thanks for showing them off!

Roni said...

I'm a huge fan. John's drawings are fantastic. Can anyone tell me where I can pick up those comics? I remember reading one of them in a comic book store when I was a kid and I've never forgot about it. I wish I had bought it when I had the chance! Please keep the blog going, John!

- Thaddeus

aye jay said...

hi john
really love the blog!
wanted to ask you a question about an art project, but not in a public forum, do you have any contact info you would publish, or e mail me? (ayejay@ayejay.com) thank you either way, your work means so much to so many people!

Pedro Vargas said...

Hey John!

I really love your drawings. They're too damn cool. Very expressive stuff!! I love painting especially w/ gouache paints and I've always loved a painted BG ever since R&S came out. I tried using Photoshop once, but it makes my drawings seem uninteresting and then I question: what do we learn from something digitally made rather than something hand made? it baffles me! Picasso's way more interesting than a digitally made abstract painting is what I say!

Pedro

=shane white= said...

Nice collection of work John.

I'll be back for sure.

=s=

Chris McD said...

To the person who asked about those wormy things, I believe they are "skin tags". See this article:

http://dermnetnz.org/lesions/skin-tags.html

Probably those are the first skin tags illustrated on a magazine cover, EVER! I've always thought that detail was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful stuff.

And anonymous, those things under George's armpits are called skin tags. Welcome to getting old!

WIL said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elliot said...

Painter does do a fairly reasonable job of imitating actual materials.
Photoshop has one brush that lets almost anyone who use it do a reasonably half arsed impression of a classic illustration style without actually having any talent whatsoever.

the_ancient_undergrad said...

Hmmm, What to write without seeming like a gushing idiot.

Marvelous work, I love your style.

kp said...

All that was fake paint?? Funky! I'm still trying to figure out real painting;I've given up on oils and attempting to work with gouache/watercolours and acrylics. P.S. Gotta love those oldschool "Golden-Book"-type illustrations!

inpixels said...

Hi John K.

Can you tell use the History of Spumco.com? I remember going to it every day, it had the amazing Pussy series Flash Cartoon, won Webby Awards and next thing you know the site was G-O-N-E. What the heck happened if you don't mind me asking?

I could have sworn that Archive.org had a copy of the Fred Flintsone and Barney Rubble Winston commercials but could not locate it ...anyway it can be found here
http://www.tvparty.com/vaultcomcig.html

Are there any cartoons that you watch? Have you seen the stop animateion Moral Orel?

ttrentham said...

John,

I was at the Alamo Drafthouse lunch in Austin back in August. I had an amazing time, but I didn't really get a chance to talk much as I was at the other end of the table.

Anyway, I got to thinking after that day that you might want to take another look at distributing via the Internet. I think you were ahead of your time with Spumco.com and charging for cartoon shorts. With the advent of the Video iPod and networks selling shows over the Internet, cheaper broadband, more powerful PCs and other mobile devices, I think you could produce shows now and have a large enough audience that it'd be economically feasible.

I saw an interview last year where you mentioned you were doing a deal to get some of your stuff available to cell phones. What happened with that? And can you give us an update on the Lost Episodes DVD or any of the other DVD releases that seem to be delayed?

Take care.

Anonymous said...

This is stupid..

Daniel said...

You may find it superficial, but: Is there a place to download the good old Ren+Stimpy films?!

dk

courtney said...

Great stuff man, keep it up. I have loved your sty;e for years.

wae said...

Hiya John,

Glad to see you're blogging, great stuff. The sketch you did of my wife and I (from the Alamo thing TTrentham mentioned) hangs proudly on our wall ... thanks again. I've got a few photos up on Flickr as well. Looking forward to your posts.

Dave Pryor said...

Hello John -

Great to see your Blog. Thanks for signing my wife's Jimmy the Idiot doll years ago.

Your work has had a heavy influence on the independent animation I've done in the past. Just had to tell you. Thanks a bunch!

Anonymous said...

OH MY FREAKIN GOSH! Your John K. creator of Ren and Stimpy the best freakin show! Nickeldodeon sux! Log rolls down stairs alone or in pairs!

Anonymous said...

hi plz email me stimpy383@yahoo.com thanx John K.

Anonymous said...

Hey John, nice blog. I'm "one of the people" that asked you to do a magazine cover... in fact, I asked you to do this WIRED cover, back when I was the design director. It was great to see it again - it's still pretty much my favorite cover ever. The scratch-n-sniff sticker that we placed in George Liquor's armpit was probably my favorite trick ever done on one of our covers. For anyone that missed it, the sticker had two different smells (depending on which cover you happened to get)... banana, and flowers. --Daniel Carter

Sr. Moska said...

I'm a huge fan of Ren & Stimpy. Great Job man.

By the way, what happened to the george liquor flash series? I wanted to at least dowload them but they're totally gone, anywhere I could finde em?

Vanwall said...

Great blog! Your stuff is great even when it's not painterly.

Anonymous said...

I hate you, and your work. But your work also makes me laugh like a little girl. And your work scares me like a little girl. And that typoe of cookie is fucked up. But I'm still laughing. Thanks for ruining my life and bending my pschee. And ruining classical music for ME and NOW MY KID. :-) http://cmevans.magic-servers.com/main.asp

JohnK said...

...I'm "one of the people" that asked you to do a magazine cover... in fact, I asked you to do this WIRED cover, back when I was the design director.

Hi Daniel,

so what are you up to now? Need any more illos?

Yer pal,

John

JewUnit said...

on IMDB your trademark is Abstract expressionist backgrounds

litte brooklyn said...

Just found this blog and am so excited. love your work!
xo

"before culture died"
*sigh*

Anonymous said...

Love the Flintstones - it must be great being able to do your own original and parody other works!

http://chalkie-talkie.livejournal.com/

Daniel said...

Hi John, glad to see your blog is alive and kicking, just like you. I'm at a design firm now, and I'll absolutely keep you posted on what's up project-wise...

Daniel

Daniel said...

Hi John, glad to see your blog is alive and kicking, just like you. I'm at a design firm now, and I'll absolutely keep you posted on what's up project-wise...

Daniel

Snoofalah said...

I appraise your work, and I always will. Sometime reach me dude. I love to animate, and you've inspired me like no other.

Keep rawking.

-Snoofalah

CORKY said...

Ahhh those storybooks are pure gold!! Ahh the memories!!!

I still need to try that paint program. I usually use flash or Photoshit-oop-"shop"

John, have you ever seen the show called "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" ?? It took alot of the old style into it's designs and colors. Real weird.

-cork

Q ray said...

Was there ever a series planed for Ranger Smith?
I thought I saw some pre-production art on the Spumco site.

danipage said...

Like those chicks :PP

David Germain said...

Great blog, Mr. Kricfalusi. This is an excellent way to keep in touch with the fans.
Incidently, my student film Hansel und Gretel was broadcast on Zed in Canada on the same day they showed an animated interview with you more than 2 years ago. I always considered it a privaledge to have my film on the same schedule as yours.

miles said...

Mel Crawford and Bill Wray - HELL YES!

Anonymous said...

John, any chance your Yogi Bear and jetsons shorts (and any other hanna barbera shorts u did that i dont no about) will make it onto dvd?

Anonymous said...

Just got an email about your blog...

Nice to see that you are still around :)

Long live Mr Hoek and Stimpson !

(SR71)Atomica said...

John, once again, great job. I just blogged this place onto my blog. Check my profile for more details. Peace.

Paridhi said...

hi u have got nice work there and i like ur rendering style.

Mattieshoe said...
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