Sunday, July 29, 2007

Howie Post, the cartoony Harvey artist


Harveytoons had a very appealing house style. It's generic but cute. Almost all their kid stars were the same design.I'm not sure who did this really cute cover...Warren Kremer?

Casper is Elmer Fudd without ears. He is a living dead construction model- the ultimate bland!
Spooky is Casper with a dognose and freckles. And he's a smartass bully.
Audrey is Casper with a dress and hair.
So is Dot.
Hot Stuff has pointy ears and horns.




Richie has cashWhich character doesn't belong?

HOWIE POST

When I was a kid there was one Harvey artist I loved. I thought of him as "the fun one".Jerry Beck later told me it was Howie Post. He did the 1950s Spooky and Little Audrey comics. He continued in the 60s but someone else started to take over.
Howie not only drew the most likable versions of the characters, he did the nicest backgrounds too. His haunted forests were great!
These examples are actually a little later than the most cartoony stuff he did. I found these online, but I have a stack of 50s Harvey comics somewhere and as soon as I find them I'll post some.

I always thought the comics were drawn better than most of the animated cartoons.

Just for comparison sake, here are the same characters drawn by Ernie Colon. Not so cute. Kinda serious looking. (This is also a bit later)

Colon is obviously a good draftsman and he must have been fast, because he did tons of titles all through the 60s, and I read 'em all.
He's not as appealing and not at all cartoony though. He also has a tendency to draw the characters mean.Colon did this weird thing that confused me when I was little. He would combine regular bighead Harvey kids with little head incidental characters. Tiny close set eyes even on the kids.

The adults had heads that were a quarter the size of the kids' heads! Check out your collection of Richie Rich comics and get creeped out! The adults are a different species than the kids!


Sometimes he made the kids positively demonic.Audrey could use an exorcism!

Howie Post's cute Audrey.

Compare the proportions of her features in Post's design to the Colon one.
Her eyes are bigger, wider apart and set on angles.


Howie's caveboy Melvin




Here are some more great covers from the 50s. Kremer?



The earliest comics looked more like the cartoons:


So you might be wondering, "Why do you like these characters if they are generic and bland?"

Well Casper is very bland indeed and I didn't like him as much as the other characters. But the stories were about magical impossible stuff happening and that was good enough for a reading or 2. The other characters have a bit of personality and much appeal when in the hands of appealing artists.

These are for kids and have simple stories with simple personalities and I'm completely fine with that - as long as they look fun! And they aren't pretending to be anything more than that. I never heard the artists (or writers!) telling us about the great acting and storylines - although I'd say they were still ahead of animated features on both scores. They were silly and sincere. Fun throwaway entertainment. A classic American tradition.

They also were done very cheap. You could buy a fist full of these comics for a buck and still have money left over for smokes and cokes. Generic and silly for 10 cents makes more sense to me than generic and hard on the eyes for $100,000,000 or more. Plus the Harvey style didn't squeeze every other style out of business. There was a lot of variety in comics and cartoons back then.



If you're gonna do simple and soft for kids, an appealing visual style can do a lot for a lack of "deep" content.



These look like they are drawn by someone who never grew up and is still immature, silly and playful. He'd let you stay up past your bedtime and eat big helpings of ice cream.


Howie Post's really cute and lively drawing style gave the comics a light hearted and imaginative personality.

I liked the early cartoony Harvey comics but didn't care too much for the late 60s comics when they started looking too serious and the style got dreary and less cartoony.
These look like they are drawn by an intelligent mature man who always balances his checkbook. He'd be sure you got to bed on time and finished your cauliflower.



It's amazing how different artists can bring such different feelings to the same designs and material.

Harvey comics is a naturally cute style.

I'm saddened by the realization that the concept of cute and appeal may be lost forever.

Look what happens to a once cute style today when really serious people get a hold of it.

These folks would make you go to church every day of the week!


Did you know that there is a huge difference between "Design" and "Style"?

I was thinking about doing a post on that, but it'll take some work.


36 comments:

Sean Worsham said...

Howie Post is cute and appealing, I love how friendly, round and curvey his lines are. I love the big eyes too and for the fact that there was lots of action going on in screen.

But on a technical level Ernie Colon drew great compositions at least and knew how to balance the shapes in his paneling and storytelling. His silhouette shapes are good and you can tell what the characters are doing. However his work kind of has a cold feeling when compared to Howie, but still fun enough for what it is.

In a way I could say, Howie was the Bob Clampett of Harvey Comics while Ernie Colon is like the Pixar/Bruce Timm of Harvey. Both are not bad, just good in different ways, although if it were up to me, I'd pick Howies work anyday if I saw them both on a rack in my local 7-11 (Boy how I miss them putting up comic books there). I'm sure some little kid would do the same.

Herman said...

That is what I thought they did with the Transformers movie also, The should have stuck with the old designs the had differentiable silhouettes, And not very busy looking Solid you know. Serious people ruined it

mike said...

Awesome post. Always had an affinity for Casper.

chrisallison said...

Hey John, I've always admired your work with eyes. I always loved Disney until I saw some of the expressions that you got out of characters. They say the eyes are windows to the soul which is a bunch of fucking hooey, but there's something to be had there. Eyes are important and it's the first thing that people look at.

You were talking about how Howie addressed the eyes. I _KNOW_ you have theories about eyes, how to draw them for different effects, how to garner the most appeal (like by setting them at angles and such). I'd like to request a post on eyes in the future. Think you could swing one for a red blooded American?

JohnK said...

>>I'd like to request a post on eyes in the future. Think you could swing one for a red blooded American?<<

I guess a green blooded Canadian might be able to swing that.

Good idea, Chris!

Chappell said...

I would definitely love to see a post on Design vs. Style.

Art F. said...

Thanks John! Now I finally know the name of the man who drew my favorite Harvey comics, Howie Post.

Roberto said...

Who drew those early comics? Was it the animators themselves?

John said...

I always liked Casper but he was never one of my favorites. I really liked the animated cartoons more than the comics but neither were nearly as good as bugs bunny (actually I like daffy better than bugs but most people would think I was nuts if I told them that!) or Popeye or stuff like that. There aren’t many mainstream American comics I like I manga and underground American comics more than anything. I highly suggest anything by Jhonen Vasquez or My absolute Favorite comic artist Jeff Smith his stuff is way beyond amazing!

Kali Fontecchio said...

I have one of those comics! Except in Spanish. Doesn't really matter what language it's in though.

Mitch said...

Cool didn't know alot about Harveytoons.

"I was thinking about doing a post on that, but it'll take some work."

Can't wait :) is it that style is something very personal?

Offtopic: I have putt some new inks on my blog, I really like to have some feedback 0=)
http://mitchoo.blogspot.com/

Ironhorse said...

Steve Mufatti did some early Harvey kids comic work, didn't he?

Is there much of Howard Post's stories in the new Casper book?

Ironhorse said...

I was a kid who read Harvey comics around the late 1970s into the early 80s. I could tell a big diference between the artists as far as which had more appeal. I never cared much for the Richie Rich adventure two-parters because they didn't LOOK very fun. Those were the Colon stories I later found out. Here and there was the occassional Lotta or Dot story which had a lot of eye appeal. The characters were just bold and alive.

It was a treat to find old 52 page Harvey comics at garage sales to get more of those fun looking drawings by past artists unknown. I even enjoyed the Sad Sack comics for some reason. Maybe it was the simplicity or clear staging of the characters despite their stiffness.

Will Finn said...

Hey John, these are beautiful. Thanks for sharing them...

Remember I told you about a comic by Post back in the early 70's? I put a few examples up on my blog for folks to see. Not typical of his Harvey work but still nice zesty cartoon fun. Take a look when you get a chance...

http://willfinn.blogspot.com/

el_lang said...

maybe making difference of criteria in the desingn for adults and kids could be related to a certain ademic idead,.In some old animes like mazinger z , the teens and kids had the big eyes and looked more like the recent anime ,while the adult characters were more "realisticly" drawn ,with smaller eyes and so...

Gabriel said...

Kali said:
I have one of those comics! Except in Spanish. Doesn't really matter what language it's in though.

I have some in portuguese, bought by my mom as a kid in the 60s. They're not in very good state, though, and some of them have children vandalism all over :(

samuel said...

Hello!

This isn't so much on topic with this post, but a few days ago you were talking about Popeye. You may enjoy this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWxnPRUx5VQ

I hope you do! It's Popeye vs. The Underdog in a battle to the end! (guess who wins?)

Ryan G. said...

I read somewhere that characters with pronounced eyes are more of a "thinking" character, whereas characters with pronounced mouths were "feeling" characters. The combo of the two can produce interesting expressions.

Sean Worsham said...

I just noticed something on the Howie Post original comic art! They pasted the drawings on to sort out the compostions! Awesome, This is very useful info when creating comics! That and a little xeroxing as well!

This is similar to animation, when we need to recycle things like arms and legs when doing certain animations or quickly replacing a flawed part of the drawing (I remember doing this on a Smashmouth video a while back, when my mentor Jules Marino showed me by cutting out a drawing flaw I made on a character's leg and replacing it by pasting on better drawn ones I made). Aw the good old days before we used photoshop and various programs to quickly fix mistakes!

MitchLoidolt said...

Hey John,
This isn't really on topic, but I've scanned in the first few pages of an animation lesson from Winsor McCay in a mail-order draftsman class book from 1925. The first few pages are where he's talking about the "new" medium itself, and then it goes into more technical detail.

If you want the rest of the pages I'll scan them for you. I've got the whole series if you think there's more to be learned from the 1920's... who probably produced the animators of the 1930's and 40's!

First three pages are on my blog here: http://mitchloidolt.blogspot.com/

I've got a big foldout sheet of frame by frames of a Roy Olson animation of a police officer, too... I'd piece it together in photoshop if you wanted. It's gonna be huge though.

cartoon lad said...

To John K,
Did you kinda get the idea for doing "He-Hog the Atomic Pig" from "Wonder Warthog"?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Wow! I didn't know about Post before. He's great! I especially liked that shot of Audry and her friend approaching the shack!

Leigh Fieldhouse said...

Hey everyone, I've just started working on Lesson 1 of John's animation drawing school.
I'm not sure if my link is working properly from ASIFA blog, soo I'm going to post up the link for feedback, any critiques would be greatly appreciated.

http://www.leighfieldhouse.blogspot.com/

Thanks!

MitchLoidolt said...

Okay John, Lesson One is posted in full.
http://mitchloidolt.blogspot.com/2007/07/modern-illustrating-division-11.html

Ironhorse said...

Go find a copy of Comic Book Artist #19 from June 2002. Huge issue devoted to Harvey comics. Among other terrific articles it features great interviews with Howard Post, Warren Kremer, Ernie Colon, Sid Jacobson and Sid Couchey, who was the main Little Lotta artist. Lots of artwork in that issue.

JohnK said...

Hey Ironhorse,

if you have it, would you scan and post it?

I'd do a post on it and link to you...

Thanks!

John

Ironhorse said...

Hi John: I'll get the Howie article scanned and posted. It's the shortest interview of the bunch. Some of the others run around 10 or more pages.

You'll read in the Post interview he took over the director/producer job at Famous when Seymour Kneitel died. I think Post is the one Shamus Culhane bitched about in his book regarding his predecessor's efforts.

Ironhorse said...

Posted!

funfactoryusa.blogspot.com

J.E.Daniels said...

I came to know Post's and Colon's artwork from various Marvel Comics during the 80s!
When Marvel had their STAR Comics line, aimed at kids, they tried their best at "funny books"!
I remember seeing Howie Post in "Heathcliff" and "Madballs".
I recall Ernie Colon in "Rocky and Bullwinkle".
I was influenced by some of their stuff! I still have a few issues featuring their artwork!

n69n said...

i love Harvey Comics, & all the Harvey artists were a huge influence on me!

my favorite is LITTLE LOTTA, she's so fun to draw!!!

& i love the perversion of her eating disorder...she eats EVERYTHING, & the kids all cheer her on!!!!!

n69n said...

also, i think Colon drew sexy eyebrows!

Kyle Baker said...

I loved all the Harvey artists as a kid, even Warren Kremer. My favorite was Ernie Colon. Ernie also does a lot of "straight" adventure stuff as well, which is why some of the characters have realistic proportions. What was really funny was when he'd do the opposite and accidentally put a big-head figure in a straight action comic. Anybody who's worked on a straight job and a cartoony one at the same time has made the same mistake. I once put realistic drapery all over a cartoon bunny's suit because I was doing Spider-man at the same time and wasn't sleeping.

While Howie Post and Warren Kremer both drew cuter, it was the wonkiness of Colon's work that captured my attention as a kid. It was so radically different from the other Harvey that it was noticeable and recognizable.

eeTeeD said...

Sorry, but I can’t agree with your opinions on Harvey comics.
1) Harvey comics were not bland. CUTE + SWEET = FUN, not bland. Dell Comic’s version of Bugs Bunny was a good example of bland. Neither the stories, nor the art captured the spirit of bugs bunny. If it had been Steve Mufatti’s intention to create art that was wild and freewheeling, I could understand someone saying, that his art was bland, but that was not his intention. Bland means dull and lifeless, and Mufatti’s work was never that. His characters were beautifully designed and drawn. They had charm. They expressed emotion. They had life.

2) You pretty much say that Howard post was the WILD and FREEWHEELING artist, while Mufatti, Kremer, Taras, and Colon produced lifeless and boring work.
I beg to differ.
Howard Post had a long career in cartooning and animation. He did comic book work for DC Comics back in the 40’s. He also did freelance storyboard work for famous animation studios, the studio where Harvey comic book artists Steve Mufatti, Dave Tendlar, and Marty Taras worked. Eventually Howard Post (briefly) ran Famous Studios (into the ground). Howard Post also had a syndicated comic strip. he is perhaps best known for his work at Harvey comics.
You see Post’s work at Harvey comics as wild and freewheeling, but I’ve always seen it as rushed and sloppy. In interviews I’ve read that Post has given about his career in cartooning he’s basically said that he “...works to live, not lives to work like some guys...” Mr. Post loves to hunt and fish, and he said that as soon as he got a check for his cartoons he was off and running for the Poconos. Post felt that the comic book work he did at Harvey was “throwaway art”, and it shows.
To me, all of the above things show clearly in work. Post’s Harvey work looks like the work of a man who quickly whipped out his work so he could grab his check and run off to spend a long weekend in the woods. His drawings are sloppy. His figures are off balance. His work is far off model, and NOT with the intention of some artistic goal... it simply took too much time and effort for Post to bother drawing on model. His drawings expressed emotions only on the simplest, crudest levels.

Further, you stacked the deck in Post’s favor. You showed earlier examples of Posts Harvey work to prove your point. In his early days at Harvey, Post did put a bit more time and effort into his work. He also had an artist named Lee Donahue inking his work. Lee Donahue was an extremely talented artist who, like Mufatti, Tendlar, and Taras, worked at Famous Animation Studios. Donahue really cared about his work, and it shows in the slick professional job he did on the Harvey comics. On Post’s work he worked especially hard, bringing the art back on model, and giving it some fun and life that Post couldn’t be bothered to inject himself.
The Ernie Colon “Little Audrey” (are you sure it’s Colon? It looks a bit like Kremer to me. Sometimes it’s hard to tell those two apart.) was a later piece of work. Turning out 8 pages of work per day for decades will wear an artist down. Also, this later work does not have the benefit of Lee Donahue inks.
Post burned out early at Harvey comics. While Taras, Kremer, and Colon turned out solid competent work well into the 70’s, Post’s art became a simple sloppy rushed version of its original self after only a few years.

rodineisilveira said...

Johnny K.,

Did you know that Howard Post was also a script writer for animated cartoons in various studios (among them: King Features Entertainment and Hanna-Barbera)?
And did you know that Howie also created a comic strip titled Dropouts, which was distributed for the newspapers from the whole world by United Media/United Feature Syndicate, between 1968 and 1982?
And a small detail that I've seen on the Lambiek site (http://lambiek.net): the reference that I've seen from Hot Stuff (another famous character from Harvey Comics, which was frequently drawn by Howie Post) wasn't drawn by Howie, and yes by Warren Kramer (more exactly the Warren Kramer's 70s style).

Mark Arnold said...

Great stuff here!

-Mark.

For more information about Harvey Comics, check out my site at http://thft.home.att.net

scott roberts said...

I wouldn't have known about Post using assistants or whatnot, but his work and Mufatti's were my favorites. I have an issue of Audrey that has Post's signature in the splash panel of one of the stories. Perhaps an editor missed it? I thought I could generally tell which is Kremer and which is Colon. Many of the examples on the site look more like Kremer's work to me. Weren't the heavy eyebrows one of his things? Or did I get the two confused? I inked Colon's pencils on a Rugrats story a few years back, and did some fixes on another. (They'd forgotten to give him reference on the bkgd's, and the ones he'd drawn were pretty Harvey looking.) But it was a thrill working on those stories.