Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Appeal 1-starting with cuteness as the 1st element

Scribner



Blair

LET'S GET AWAY FROM THE SHEER UGLINESS OF CARTOON WRITERS TO SOMETHING INFINITELY MORE PLEASANT....CUTENESS!

Disney

HERE'S WHAT FRANK AND OLLIE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT:
From The Illusion Of Life


#12 APPEAL
A live performer has charisma. An animated character has appeal. Appealing animation does not mean just being cute and cuddly. All characters have to have appeal whether they are heroic, villainous, comic or cute. Appeal, as you will use it, includes an easy to read design, clear drawing, and personality development that will capture and involve the audience's interest. Early cartoons were basically a series of gags strung together on a main theme. Over the years, the artists have learned that to produce a feature there was a need for story continuity, character development and a higher quality of artwork throughout the entire production. Like all forms of story telling, the feature has to appeal to the mind as well as to the eye.




Hess

I agree with all the 12 principles of animation that Frank and Ollie present in The Illusion Of Life. I believe them even more than they do. Their number 12 principle is "Appeal". I might put that as number 1.

Benedict

The main element that separates a cartoon from other forms of art is its simple appeal. It is all the tastiest parts of visuals paired down to the essential elements that bring instant pleasure.

Natwick



Bowsky?

Without appeal to draw you into the cartoon, you might not find out what else the cartoon has to offer. (I know the philosophy is different now, but that was what cartoons meant when they were invented-visual fun. The fun parts without the boring and ugly details of life.)


Ruth

But what exactly is appeal? It's a hard concept to define. It starts with cuteness as its basic atom. Cuteness in a simplistic definition is usually "attributes of children and young animals". Big heads, big eyes. Smooth soft finish. The attraction to those proportions is genetically programmed in us. We have to learn more about ugly old men before we decide to like them, but most of us automatically like puppies, kittens and kids....and once upon a time....REAL cartoons.

Clampett


Not everyone can draw cute or appealing though, even if they know the basic technical formula. Some people just have a knack for it. These cartoonists make the best designers.
Rice




Curmudgeon

I like to add a pinch of retardation to my cute drawings sometimes to make fun of appeal.



Mickey Mouse is sort of the standard for simple cuteness, although not every animator draws him cute. Freddie Moore sure does.


LITTLE WHIRLWIND

Disney made cartoons for Moms and infants.
Buy the color Mickey DVD if you have little kids or cartoon historians running around the house and you want to calm them down!



Here's a cartoon from 1947 that stars Mickey, yet Mickey is not very cute in it. The differences between cute and nasty Mickey are very subtle. Mickey is actually a really hard character to draw. If you get any feature off just a couple micro increments, the cuteness disappears.

MICKEY DOWN UNDER






Pluto's Party

In the 50s Freddie Moore came back to Mickey and gave him an updated more modern angular design. He also restored his cute appeal.





Strangely, they didn't bother to update Pluto. They left him as bland and unappealing as ever.


PLUTO'S CHRISTMAS
Moore took the fifties design a little further. I love the way Mickey looks in this cartoon. Note how the backgrounds don't match the updated modernistic style of Mickey. Someone was not paying attention.





WACKY CAN BE CUTE AND APPEALING TOO
Of all the Warners directors Clampett had the cutest most eye catching appealing style.

It's ironic since you don't usually equate crazy edgy stuff with being cute, but that's what made Clampett's edginess so engaging. It's like a bunch of cute innocent looking characters getting away with the nasty stuff we all think about. A great combination!

Clampett aimed his cartoons at the general public. Little kids love them because they are cute and funny and really energetic.

Older kids like 'em 'cause they are twisted, edgy and surreal.




Clampett inspired Virgil Ross to draw in a cartoony and appealing style.

Scribner had the cutest most natural, unaffected style of all the animators at Warners-while at the same time being the most exaggerated animator. My biggest drawing inspiration!
Clampett got McKimson to do the most appealing drawings of his career.Adults like them because they address their most important concerns.


A cartoon drawing should have appeal, but appeal sure isn't an easy ingredient to describe or define.

It starts with 'cuteness". But the word "cute" has lost its meaning.

McKimson not cute or "appealing"
Mckimson was a great animator and really good director, but his cartoons had a less innocent, not at all "cute" style to them. It was more of a cynical middle aged man cartoon style. He drew everyone kinda dumpy and pissed off, like most of my (male) friends!All his characters had tiny pig-like eyes and big fat jowls.Here's Jordan arguing with Ralph. McKimson made cartoons for Dads. They love this stuff! Me too.

Funny as Hell but not cute...

Sometimes Scribner could get away with doing cute stuff for McKimson. Scribner was the king of combining cute with sick.
Look at the giant pupils! An instant cute symbol.

Chuck Jones Faux Cute Style


Jones purposely cultivated a cute style. He developed a caricature of cuteness.


His early cartoons aimed at little kids and Moms.

His "middle period" was a lot funnier as he aimed at more general audiences. His style got less cute, more handsome I guess-a grown up cartoon style. It's still great drawing, though.


At the end of his Warners career he reverted to very cute, only this time aimed at critics, rather than kids.

Eventually he turned even the stock WB characters all into cutesy characters.

Friz not very appealing









Not Appealing







In the next installment of Appeal, I'll talk about how to draw gross and "pretend-ugly" stuff in an appealing way! Don Martin and Basil Wolverton will assist.

65 comments:

stiff said...

Not related to your point on this one, but Warner's really effed up the colors on those re-masters--I just noticed on that Kitty comparison.

Is McKimson the one who drew the "husky" Bugs?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Some great examples from Fred Moore and Clampett.

Does anyone know why McKimson's own cartoons looked so...uh, ugly? He drew so beautifully for Clampett.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Also, I love those Hess bunnies!!

PCUnfunny said...

I couldn't stand the fat ugly McKimson Bugs. His personality also changed along with his character design. He went from being a young joker to a pissed off old thug. "Rebel Rabbit" was not even Bugs,just Foghorn Legornn in a rabbit costume.

David Germain said...

Hey, John, those pictures of Bugs dressed and acting like Romeo are from A Witch's Tangled Hare which is an Abe Levitow cartoon. Although his drawing style was similar to Jones' so it's an easy mistake to make when one doesn't notice the credits.

But that's beside the point. I totally get what you mean about Jones' faux cuteness. That's what I love about his work. I love the way Bob Clampett used cuteness as well like you described. I think that his knack for cuteness mixed with nastiness culminated perfectly within his Tweety character.
Although I don't really respect how Friz let Tweety devolve within his own cartoons, I'll definitely disagree with your sentiments of him. I do find Friz Freleng's work appealing, but definitely in a different way than Clampett, Jones, or anyone else.

Paul B said...

this is what i was waiting, the post of appeal!!!!


where is the post in which you mention the drawings of "Pogo", I like his trees!!

COME TO MY BLOG, IT'S FUNNY!!

Kali Fontecchio said...

I like how you snuck in that Gal pic- ha!!!

The Hess bunnies are my favorites of the week.

Mr. Semaj said...

"Cute" could've been one of McKimson's weaknesses, as a director. That appeal that he gave under Clampett's supervision is certainly not there in "The Hole Idea". But thanks anyway for posting the funny drawings of his, exactly why I like McKimson's cartoons.

Trevour said...

What was going on with those Mickey ears in '40-41? They were in perspective and were colored on the inside - he almost looked like a different character, and definitely lost some of the 'cute' factor. He looked more like a real mouse/rat guy, as opposed to the triple circle head.

NateBear said...

I never found sniffles to be genuinely cute, just sappy. Maybe his eyes are too small. Or he needs to be whacked in the face with a Golden ruler.

So where does Hello Kitty factor (or actually cute descendants thereof) into all this?

Anyhow all this makes me want to go sketch eye candy til i pas out.

Charles said...

I love those wide-eyed Scribner characters.

Chuck Jones cute can be hilarious but for me he goes so far sometimes making them seem so effeminate and ignorant, like in those bugs bunny pics, it makes me want to see bad things happen to the characters.

Can't wait for your post on how to do appealing ugly instead of ugly ugly though. I think you're a master at that with those lummox characters.

Shawn said...

Scribner's drawing style in the Clampett cartoons will always be my favorite.

McKimson's character designs may not be very "cute", but I still find some of them appealing. I happen to like how Daffy Duck looks in cartoons like Boobs in the Woods, Daffy Duck Slept Here, and Daffy Doodles. I love how Daffy has a skinny skull and a big fat red tongue. He's ugly and obnoxious in those cartoons, but I like it.

Hryma said...

The Hess Bunnies would have to be the cutest, especially the laughing one!
I notice that shark you keep bagging, wasn't that voiced by your mate Jack Black? What's he think of that if it is and he knows?


In December you posted "Life Sucks Part 2 sc 4, Storyboards...."
I loved the board of Stimpy watering the garden so much I decided to paint my version of it.
It's on my blog www.hryma.blogspot.com aka Cartoons Music Drawing etc.

Lee said...

Brilliant post John!

I've been wondering for quite some time, what exactly the difference was between a line drawing and a cartoon. I think you've just summed it up nicely for me!

"... that was what cartoons meant when they were invented-visual fun. The fun parts without the boring and ugly details of life."

Well, that and appeal, of course!

lastangelman said...

I can't wait to see your post on Martin and Wolverton. I could never draw toons like Warners or Lantz or even Jones cutesy stuff, but Don Martin's stuff, he is my personal Clampett, he knew slapstick and gags, how to tell a story and how to draw funny and gross but believable carictures and make it look deceptively easy. AND no one could draw a sound effect like Don Martin. I love Wolverton's really gross detail, I could look at that stuff for hours.

Charlie J. said...

funny animal comics (especially terrytoons) have extremely appealing drawings, whcih is why I collect them.

http://www.timely-atlas.comics.org/funnyani/gallery.html

Jennifer said...

This is a little bit off-topic, but it is somewhat related to this topic re: cuteness, and it relates to the previous post. Have you seen Bolek and Lolek, the Polish cartoon series? The artwork in this series reminds me of the old Yogi Bear series. There are no words in the cartoon. The story is told through cartoon acting and incidental music.

When I show this series to people, they are absolutely mesmerized by it (in a good way).

There are a few Bolek and Lolek episodes that are posted on YouTube. This one is my favorite episode (it's called Bolek and Lolek and the Picnic).

Jorge Garrido said...

Great post!

Hey, John, I have two great examples of "cute!" My profile pic right above my comment from "What Price Fleadom", and this great image from Porky's Nephew, combining "cute" and "sick"

>I couldn't stand the fat ugly McKimson Bugs. His personality also changed along with his character design. He went from being a young joker to a pissed off old thug. "Rebel Rabbit" was not even Bugs,just Foghorn Legornn in a rabbit costume.

Oh come on, Rebel Rabbit was McKimson is top directing form!

>Although his drawing style was similar to Jones' so it's an easy mistake to make when one doesn't notice the credits.

I bet Jones made those all guys draw exactly like him.

Rodrigo said...

Pluto's Party brings back a lot of nostolgia. And yes, I agree, Mickey look is a notch above uber-bland so it's more tolerable.

Appeal is extremely powerful. I think great modern day examples are webtoons today. Most have limited animation, so their drawings really have to count. The ones that have gotten public acclaim usually have very solid character drawings and appeal. (Brackenwood, Arj & Poopy, Fuggy Fuggy, etc . . . )


I love Clampette cartoons, but I remember as a kid, those bulbous looking characters with protruding round features, doing ungodgly things, sometimes freaked me out. I can't remember the name of the toon, but the one where Bugs tortures the living shit out of Elmer in his dreams was really unsettling. He dressing him in drag, strips him naked, and sings that "The rabbits are coming! Hurray! Hurray!" song. That one might have been a bit too much for little kids with an ounce of empathy in their bones.

SteveLambe said...

Great post,John! So many variations on drawing cute.

Which Lowell Hess book are the bunny images from? I thought I had most of his storybooks , but I must have missed that one.

Looking forward to the next drawing gross (in an appealing way)lesson.

Rob Bodnar said...

Thanks!

The Jerk said...

i think that an important part that makes these characters "cute" or "appealing" is their attitude- they all have a shining optimism, in the face of whatever obstacle they encounter- they have a love of life, and their expression, body language, posture, etc, all say to the viewer, "nothing's gonna keep me down!" We all are instinctively drawn(pun?) to people like this, we all deep down want to believe that the world is fun.

S.G.A said...

I always thought Marie Severin was good at cute stuff, When I was I kid I always recognized her stuff right away cause it always had that cuteness, robert crumb too... in his own way.

ChristopherC said...

Great post! That was a real education in regards to style, for Mickey then showing Chuck Jones's cute style. Great info thanks very much John for posting this. I am learning a lot...

Anibator said...

i'm glad you snuck in the pic of Gal.

that guy's a humorless class-A douche with no business being in the animation industry.

and he determines what cartoons get made.

PCUnfunny said...

"Oh come on, Rebel Rabbit was McKimson is top directing form!"

Sorry I couldn't stand that toon. Bugs became just blustering and loud thug, it's Leghorn in a rabbit suit. The only part I really like was when Bugs was interrupting Senator Claghorn.

PCUnfunny said...

"I can't remember the name of the toon, but the one where Bugs tortures the living shit out of Elmer in his dreams was really unsettling. He dressing him in drag, strips him naked, and sings that "The rabbits are coming! Hurray! Hurray!" song. That one might have been a bit too much for little kids with an ounce of empathy in their bones."

That was Clampett's final WB cartoon, "The Big Snooze" made in 1946. I don't see how it whould be too much for kids really. Bugs was screwing with Elmer as usual.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Who's Gal?

Ryan G. said...

Wow! The Mickey in "Little Whirlwind" has depth to his ears

akira said...

man i love that yogi and boo boo picture sooo much! any plans of releasing your HandB stuff on dvd?

your posts are great but i was just thinking what could even make them even better is if you drew what you were saying sometime, illustrating your points with new illustrations... i'd love to see you draw pluto right or fix an unappealing character, if possible. don't get me wrong.. i'm not saying you don't illustrate your points with pictures but i would just be EVEN MORE excited to see your next post if it was going to have a brand new never before seen John K sketch in it..

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Pardon my ignorance, but who's the schmuck in the jogging suit?

Rob said...

Alright John, how the hell isn't the damn cod from "Nemo" cute and appealing? Granted it's a fairly stock design, but its cute enough that I'd at least smile at it as I slid it across my buttery frying pan.

cemenTIMental said...

Great post!!


I like to add a pinch of retardation to my cute drawings sometimes to make fun of appeal.


Haha indeed, always a good combination.

Chloe Cumming said...

You present a very convincing case for the sustained encutening of the world, even before this entry I have thought this.

But it is indeed a very difficult thing to legislate for... it's hard to pin down... why, just today I've been toiling trying to get my drawings a bit more cute, or at least, appealing/joyful/disarming/heartwarming and finding I'm tied up in knots over it. I've adopted a strategy of going way over into weird and loose and into really brutally honest caricature before I swing back and focus on the conundrums of Cute once again.

I think... true 'cute' is sincere... you have to really mean it. Which I think must mean being a particular kind of person with a particular kind of outlook or optimism. Some cynical world-weary types wouldn't even recognise cute as a real phenomenon, just a marketing strategy or something. Cute isn't just a manipulative use of big eyes. It's a whole way of being. It requires a philosophical commitment, perhaps.

jessicaLynn said...

Hey John!
I really like those Hess BUNNIES! Like SO much. Thanks for exposing me to their cuteness.

Art F. said...

the Hess bunnies are the cutest! who drew that bear in the "not appealing" section?

Raff said...

I like this post a lot.

And you're right, it is hard to draw Mickey.

BTW It's no accident that lots of CGI caps are in your "not cute/appealing" category.

I don't think I've EVER seen cute done right in CGI. I'm amazed how many attempts there have been. Come on guys, it's CGI. CGI is best suited to robotic motion, cold weirdness and funky camera moves. That's why I prefer CGI from the 80s - they exploited its quirks instead of fighting them.

Is it really worth the amount of effort it takes to attempt cute in a creepy medium like CGI? Only if you're under pressure to do so because someone said "2D is dead". Otherwise it's like brushing your teeth with rubbing alcohol.

Anibator said...

Hey, J.J.

"Gal" is a humorless, frustratingly typical animation executive bottomfeeder who hates cartoons yet for some reason studios keep hiring him as a 'development executive' although he and his ilk never really 'develop' anything other than misery.

Mad Taylor said...

Halfway through reading this I began to think about Basil Wolverton and how his art appeals to me but isn't tackling a whole lot of cute. It was cool to see you'll be talking about him in your next post and now I don't have to ask anything :)

Max Ward said...

I got censored! Why! Did I pull a Ted?

Sean Worsham said...

I like how you put that animation producer at the bottom as "not appealing." :)

JohnK said...

Hi Max

sorry. I don't remember. Maybe you gave away a surprise. It wasn't for controversial reasons.

Kate said...

i love this.

Rodrigo said...

"That was Clampett's final WB cartoon, "The Big Snooze" made in 1946. I don't see how it whould be too much for kids really. Bugs was screwing with Elmer as usual. "

Thanks for the info.

Sure the premise is nothing too different. It was about the level of severity that Bugs goes to. Actually, now that I recall, Elmer wanted to stop bothering Bugs, and Bugs was too much of a bastard to live and let live. Like everyone else, I love to see Bugs get the best of the bad guy, but Bugs throws the first punch here--and it's a hell of a punch. Clampett zaniness on top of it all really multiplies the effect.

Sure, if I saw it today, I'd probably think it amusing if not a little weird (seriously, Elmer Fudd with breasts). Maybe Clampett wanted to go out with a bang. Mission accomplished I suppose.

BTW, did you watch this as a kid?

Max Ward said...

If I gave away a surprise I will be impressed with myself. That means my observation skills are more keen.

Karley said...

What's the one below the Nemo pic? The girl in the overalls? I've never seen it before.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Hey, J.J.

"Gal" is a humorless, frustratingly typical animation executive bottomfeeder who hates cartoons yet for some reason studios keep hiring him as a 'development executive' although he and his ilk never really 'develop' anything other than misery.


Oh I see, thanks for the information, Anibator.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

who drew that bear in the "not appealing" section?

Art F.,

I think that's from a Walter Lantz cartoon series from the late 60's, called the Beary Family. I'm not sure though. If it is, then that might be a drawing from Paul J. Smith.

Mr. Semaj said...

Sure, if I saw it today, I'd probably think it amusing if not a little weird (seriously, Elmer Fudd with breasts).

I didn't find anything disturbing about "The Big Snooze", until just now.

katzenjammer studios said...

Hey John,

How'sa bout a post on drawing eyes? If you don't have appealing eyes, I'm convinced you can't get an appealing drawing.

That'd be swell.

pglatz said...

Hate cute? Here is the antithesis; how did Disney allow this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bHGfWfRU_Q

Elisson said...

Wolverton!

I've gotta believe that there's more than just a little Basil Wolverton influence in the character designs for Ren and Stimpy.

Roberto González said...

Thanks to you, I'm starting to like McKimson a little more, but I actually think some Freleng stuff like Bird Anonymous or Three Little Bops really look cuter and more appealing than McKimson. I don't think McKimson's drawing style is so funny either, some of his cartoons are very funny but not really because of the drawing style.

Really nice post, as usual, and yeah, those modern examples feel poor in comparison. Well, that Brick Duckbill thing doesn't look SO bad for me (though it is the first time I know about it) and Little Nemo I think he's kinda cute too, but everything else is definitely not appealing at all.

Oh, and that Mickey Mouse in pglatz's link is the weirdest thing I have ever watched...ugh!

Roberto González said...

Incidentally I watched The Big Snooze as a kid and I loved it. I never really thought too much about Bugs being meaner than usual. I just thought the whole thing was funny as hell. Also, it was all a dream and Bugs had good motivations, he needed Elmer to keep his "job".

JoeyCee said...

The 1st mickey drawings were the only time they gave the ears depth...cartoon geek knowledge

PCUnfunny said...

"BTW, did you watch this as a kid?"

I saw it when I was younger and thought it was weird.

Shawn said...

>>How'sa bout a post on drawing eyes? If you don't have appealing eyes, I'm convinced you can't get an appealing drawing.<<


Hot damn! I agree with that statement 100 percent!

RodTramonte said...

That hedious-faced Ren doll is gonna give me nightmares forever... 8-O

Chris E said...

Good examples of different ways or presenting appeal. I wonder if my own creations even have the slightest hint of appeal?

Tom A said...

Hey John, speaking of cutness, have you ever seen the webcomic Lackadaisy? Even from a layman's point of view, it's clear that cuteness constitutes most of the appeal.

Chris E said...

Oh yeah, Tom. I know the artist who draws Lackadaisy. She has a knack of giving the characters appeal without it feeling like a furry comic.

Erin Middendorf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin Middendorf said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who found Shark Tale's character designs hideous.

Here's the link to the Lackadaisy comic: http://www.lackadaisycats.com/

Tracy Butler has talent AND patience. Each panel is SO detailed!

Nemo said...

can anyone tell me the name of cartoon when bugs bunny sings: the rabbits are coming! Hurray! Hurray!Pleaseee!!!! Send me a message on katja.baubau@gmail.com thanks for the reply!

SparkyMK3 said...

How on earth is Pluto unappealing? I mean, it's a very generic design and not nearly as cute as Fred Moore's Mickey, but i certainly don't think it's unappealing--unless you can explain to me how it's unappealing. I always like to learn something new.