Thursday, September 28, 2006

Take it From Shane-and join Cartoon Retro!

Cartoonretro has left a new comment on your post "The Importance Of Having A Lot Of Influences":

When i first started "Cartoon Retro" I sent John a password along with a note telling him that I wouldn't be doing the site if it wasn't for him. I wasn't at Spumco long, but it was a defining moment in my life. It was exciting to find someone else who not only loved old comics, cartoons and movies, but who had an intellectual curiosity about them. John wasn't content to just experience art- he wanted to know how it was done. What were the tools? The thought process? The influences? He analyzed, studied, and interviewed- not just as a fan, but in an attempt to discover the secrets so that they could be applied to his own work, and that of his artists.

THEORY was a big word at Spumco. Don't just copy. Analyze, study, write it down. Explain in words what you are seeing. It's not easy- It uses two conflicting sides of your brain.

When I first discovered the Spumco library I was in heaven. John noticed how much time I was spending in there, and the big stacks of books and binders and videos I was checking out. He called me into to his office- "I'm glad you are taking advantage of the library- but in return I want you to write down what you are learning." He wanted me to make "theory binders"- so that he and other artists could benefit.

John has given you an impressive list here- but it's Important that you realize that this is John's list, one that developed over decades of study and research. Use it as a starting point to find what excites YOU. One of the drawbacks to working at Spumco is that John's personality and taste is so strong that it's hard to not be overwhelmed and only like what John likes. John respects individuality, and I don't think he would want you to unquestioningly parrot his likes and dislikes any more that you should accept every word written by Frank and Ollie.

Be curious, smart and critical. Don't believe everything you read. Develop your eye and your taste. Find what excites you- not because you were told it was good, but because you have a mental (and even better, a physical) reaction to it- and then dig deeper. When I was young I worshipped Frank Frazetta. I would read interviews that discussed Frank's influences and when he mentioned people like Howard Pyle or N.C. Wyeth, I would head to the library and find out who these people were. Artist interviews are my favorite thing in the world, because you have someone you admire telling you who THEY admire. What better education could there possibly be?


P.S.- Join Cartoonretro! ( Just today I posted complete comic stories by two of John's favorites- Milt Gross and Owen Fitzgerald.