Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Specific Acting: Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy

Hey folks,

Lemme talk about two little concepts in my cartoons:
1) The "Spumco Style"
2) Spumco Acting

OK first, as I've said before, there is no specific frozen Spumco style. The style of every scene in every cartoon I do depends on
who is drawing the scene (both storyboard and layout),
who painted the background,
what the scene is about and
how the artist and the characters are feeling at that particular moment.

In a very general sense the Spumco style is a combination of my style (which changes all the time) and the styles of whichever star artists happen to working on the cartoons with me. That's why not only do all the cartoons look different, but even from scene to scene characters and backgrounds change styles.

By star artists I mean the artists who have special talent - have a personal style, appeal and outlook. Not many artists have this but Spumco tends to attract them.

Now this very concept-of allowing individual artists to bring their own style to the cartoons is in this modern era of blandness unique to Spumco. Just about every other studio is completely anal about forcing all the artists to follow the model sheets and all draw the same. Every cartoon has to have the same look every week for 10 years running. To me, that is a waste of talent.

The other important major aspect of the Spumco style is the specific acting. In other words, we try not to repeat stock expressions over and over again. I have a rule that you are never allowed to draw the same expression twice in your life at Spumco.

To make this task even harder, the expressions you have to make up have to also fit the particular character and the very particular emotion he or she is feeling at this one unique moment in his/her life.

Whew! Sounds impossible? It almost is but we try for it and that's where the most fun is for me.

By the way, you really have to have strong fundamental drawing skills if you are going to try to draw specific custom made acting. Ask any artists that have ever worked for me how hard it is to do.

So below are some frames from the Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy. These cartoons are further experiments in the specific acting we used in the original series.

The amazing thing is many of the artists who did this work were very young and for some it was their first job.

We also had Ren and Stimpy veterans Eddie Fitzgerald, Jim Smith and Vincent Waller drawing the show.

Look at the pics below and I will tell you who drew them and then see if you can define the Spumco "style" in simple terms.

me-although Ren is an inbetween...


Helder Mendonca shows us duck lust

Fred Osmond has an eye theory for you...

This is a combo of me and I think Nick Cross...but it's a caricature of me.

This is a final drawing by Katie Rice inspired by a rough from Nick Cross. I enjoy combinations of different artists' styles. When you let people create and influence each other you end up with lots of new ideas and drawing techniques.

Here's Katie

Here's a layout by...(I don't know yet!) but it's from a tiny scribble I wrote on my timing notes.

Here's me. I make this face all the time.

This is Warren Leonhardt

Jessica Borutski.

Katie did the girls and Luke Cormican drew Ren.

Nick Cross drew this great stylish picture.

The Zone
I've talked to some of my artists about the "zone". This is a creative state we all want to be in all the time. It's when all the rules and restrictions that you need to be a good artist and to plan your scenes are lost for a sublime moment in your subconscious and then somehow out of nowhere weird things just flow out of your pencil that you could never think of using mere logic.

It usually happens at about 4 in the morning. I was in a zone when I drew that Ren above. His eyes don't make any physical sense, but you can tell exactly what he's feeling from the weird shapes. It's weird but specific at the same time.

Specific acting is not likely to happen for you until you get a good grip on the basics first. Drawing well constructed stock expressions is difficult enough. Specific acting is the next level up.