Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don Martin - An Original Style -A VISIT TO THE DENTIST PT 1

A couple of commenters who are in favor of stealing styles, characters and ideas have claimed that everything is stolen, thus relieving themselves of the stress of having to be at all original.
I myself believe in being influenced - as opposed to straight imitation - as I have explained in some detail, and I find it hard to think of too many great artists who aren't influenced by previous artists.

Now and then though, a truly unique talent comes along with a style so original that you can't figure out where the Hell it came from. Don Martin is one of these giants. The only other one I can think of is Tom Minton.
I'm sure Don Martin must have been influenced by someone, but he sure put it all together in an original way. The only previous artist I can think of that may have been an influence on him is Virgil Partch. Martin's humor is definitely influenced by Looney Tunes and Tex Avery, but his graphic style is one of a kind.

Visit To The Dentist to be continued...

I'm hoping that Mort Todd finds this post and tells us who Don Martin's influences are-or if anyone else knows for sure, feel free to divulge the secrets!


Hans Flagon said...

I've always wondered if Don Martin ever tried to get work doing greeting cards, before Mad. If there _is_ any influence, I think it would be in the Studio Card style popular in the late fifties.

Now one might ask... where did Virgil Partch get his influences? And is he in Don Martins family tree of influences.

Callum said...

You often talk about not simply copying images- Is copying good stuff a good way to learn fundamentals etc., or should you just study the good stuff and apply the formulas to your own original drawings?

JohnK said...

No, I always say copy the images exactly and try to analyze what the artist is doing.

You can't apply anything to your own art until you have trained your eye and mind.

Anonymous said...

No, I always say copy the images exactly and try to analyze what the artist is doing.

Do you need to print the images everytime you try to copy the artist exactly or are there any exceptions?

toon_monkey said...

maybe i'm loopy, but i always saw a little fleischer popeye in martin's style. just a little. perhaps in that they're construction is so unique. thanks for posting, john. martin's always been so underrated, but his mad strips were some of the first characters i drew as a kid in the margins of my text books 100 years ago.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Don Martin was one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE artists! NO ONE could create characters and sound effects like him, then or NOW! Schlabba-DAP!

FAGROON!! (klubble-klubble)


Vanoni! said...

An incredibly original (and funny!) style!

I remember being shocked when I saw some of Don Martin's early work. Very different from what I was used to. I had the same reaction to Al Jaffee's early work. In fact, that may have been the first time I realized tht artists evolve over time and aren't just born drawing in their "signature style".

I don't remember where I've seen those early works, but they may be a partial clue as to who his influences were.

Did I ever mention that in a serendipitous quirk of fate, my father (a huge Don Martin fan) was buried next to a gentleman named Don Martin? (for the record, my father was deceased!)
I also named my cat, "Poit!" - a mainstay in the Martin onomatopoeia dictionary. For some reason, people think it's French.

Vanoni! said...

Here's a LINK to the Martin cartoons I'd uploaded a while back.

- Corbett

Kali Fontecchio said...

Copying is good if you understand that you're doing it to learn the way something was built. Absorbing different ideas and putting them into your brain's cauldron of invention is fine too. Straight ahead copying and claiming it as your own is plagiarism.

Don Martin kills me.

Charlie J. said...

hey John,
I have a ten page interview with Don that I'll post if anyone's interested.

Don said he liked Vip when he was younger, but he didn't influence the way he drew. He says he was influenced by cartoonists in Post and Colliers like tom henderson and john gallagher.

Paul said...

I miss Don Martin. I remember him from the Cracked magazines I bought about 15 years ago. John Severin was great, I loved that his realistic looking bodies did bizarre, cartoony things. I never cared too much for Walter Brogan, though artists like Don Orehek kept my eyes interested. Still, there was no one like Don Martin.

What I gravitated towards most in his illustrations were the hands of his characters. More than any other part of the characters' bodies, the hands (to me) showed so much emotion and comedy. His four panel, "One fine evening in the castle," features some of my favorite cartoon hands this side of Rod Scribner's in The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.

Vanoni! said...

I found a blogpost with some of those old cartoons I was speaking of.

Here's a LINK to the post.

Scroll down until you see images like the following:
Don Martin sci-fi oldie

I see Partch - but I'm too ignorant to identify anything else.

Rogelio T. said...

The chins, mouths and backgrounds are occassionally somewhat similar to the one's George Price draws but they're exaggerated much much more. Martin does everything else completely different than Price though.

I think his graphics style was influenced by many different magazine cartoonists and by his own completely different interpretation of them all.

Zam3d said...

John, you also have to talk of another great MAD artist. Sergio Aragones!

Rogelio T. said...

When I said George Price I meant some of his '40s and '50s stuff. His style changed a lot.
Here's a small George Price book cover gallery.

I'm probably wrong but it's all still worth looking at.

Here's a link to the cartoonist gallery the pictures are from; there's a lot of neat stuff there.

Stephen Worth said...

Basil Wolverton?

I just posted some Wolverton at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. There's a Wolverton exhibit at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana that runs through November 11th.

See ya

angello ///// said...

the style of this cartoon this inspired by Don Martin:

or no?

Sean Worsham said...

Don Martin animated:

Sean Worsham said...

Another Don Martin animation, although I think Eddie already showed the comic version on his blog.

Jake van Wolfe said...

Hey John, long time reader and first time commenter. I love your blog and it has influenced me greatly. Being a freshman in college studying art is gonna be tough, but luckily I'll have a couple of extra tips and tricks by my side thanks to your teachings. I'm trying to create a site of my work, I should have some more pics up soon and they'll be caricatures of friends. Feel free to comment back and make any suggestions about my stuff. Thanks.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Aaaah! Refreshed at the fountain of Don Martin!

Charlie: Who are Henderson and Gallagher? Do you mean Jack Gallagher, the old strip cartoonist?

Neutrinoide said...

It remind me of Gotlib's work.

(click on suite to see)

Neutrinoide said...

I love european toon

Rogelio T. said...

John Gallagher brother of George Gately Gallagher (the creator of Heathcliff).

Shawn said...

I always thought the best cartoonists are the one's where you can instantly know who it is the very second you look at the work. Don Martin has always had that quality. I love it!

Hey Stephen!
That looks GREAT! I'll try to make it to that! Basil is one of my heroes too!

ZSL said...

without wolverton and don martin, mad magazine was never the same again. its still much better than most mags when it comes to buffoonery and lampoonery , but it's spark is dim.

R said...

I read where Don Martin was influenced by Al Hirschfeld and Hieronymus Bosch. I think Toon Monkey is also right in seeing a Fleischer influence. I think it was a STRONG influence.


Ape Lad said...

I was also going to say George Price, but I haven't been able to find anything to support that, other than some of the same visual cues like wide hips and such.

TCA said...

"Mad's Don Martin Steps Out!" "Mad's Don Martin Drops 13 Stories!"

Dick DeBartolo probably knows more about MAD magazine than anyone else alive. Unfortunately, he's only a writer. So I probably shouldn't have mentioned him here.

On his web page he boasts "you can find something of mine in every issue of MAD for the past 40 years." So he probably met that Don Martin fella.

DeBartolo is the only MADman who has ever co-hosted with Leo Laporte.

Maxeem said...

hullo john

i understand this can only be said to be on topic if i stretch the subject of copying to include fan art of spumco stuff, but i didn't know where else to post this: fan art!

"copying to get better" is the subject, so it fits this post right? right?

you can delete it if it seems too off base. tanx for any criticism!

R said...

Sorry, try this link for a Bosch image.

Vanoni! said...

I do see some Martin in that "Christ Carrying the Cross"


- Corbett

Anonymous said...

I think he was influenced by Milt Gross

Kyle Baker said...

My favorite Fester Bestertester story is "The Safe Movers". A man falls in the street after being hit with a safe, then an entire parade marches over his outstretched tongue for about ten pages. I think it's in the same book you're scanning.

DavidMcG said...

The UK Dennis the Menace springs to mind.
I guess Don Martin would have been 20 when it first appeared...

There's also an early comic strip (1930's, maybe?) about a bunch of delinquent schoolchildren with art that I remember thinking, "Don Martin was probably influenced by this," when I saw it.

I wish I could remember what it was called, but all of my history of comics books are on the other side of the country right now. :[

Rogelio T. said...

I was looking at the UK Dennis the Menace and David Law
and I started looking at the other Beano artists.
It's not an early strip but DavidMcG were you thinking of The Bash Street Kids.
Maybe Leo Baxendale
Here's a
Gallery(sometimes dosen't work)
his web site

and if you wanted to see what Tom Henderson's comics look like this page has a couple of his comics somewhere in there but they're in a different language

DavidMcG said...

No, I wasn't thinking of the Bash Street Kids at all! I can see how you might think I was, though.

Diabolikal Super Kriminal said...

I talked with Don Martin about his influences and, believe it or don't, he wasn't much of a comics fan as a kid. He was certainly inspired by Virgil Partch (VIP) which is evident if you've seen his early album covers. He also liked Milt Gross (Banana Oil) and Bill Holman (Smokey Stover [his fire hat may have inspired Martin's way of drawing feet, no?]). He dug the Popeye comics and cartoons but wasn't aware of Tex Avery or Bob Clampett (by name anyway).

All artists are influenced by others which is most evident by their early work. To see later stuff by Jack Kirby, it'd be hard to realize his early swipes were of Alex Raymond and Hal Foster.

Also, concerning the humor art of Gene Colan, I had him do some stuff at Cracked, shot from his pencils. Beautiful stuff from an underrated artist who was rarely successfully inked by other artists.

Great blog, John, and a true service to mankind!

Beast regards,

Mort Todd

chelsea said...

I have a question for you regarding character designs. Are they always done by the creator/close creative team of the show? Are they always done by those directly involved with the actual animation of the characters? I have heard of some illustration majors being hired on cartoon shows merely to design props/backgrounds/characters and I was wondering if that's fairly common or not. I'm planning on majoring in illustration but I have a secondary interest in animation, and it would be great to get on the team of a cartoon show. In that vein, do you think it's necessary to be trained specifically in animation to create good character designs for TV shows? Or in your opinion do these "rules" of design apply to all media, like comics, graphic novels, and children's books?
Thanks for being so informative! The amount of work you devote to enlightening us is impressive. <3

Jim Rockford said...

Don Martin definetly had a distinctive style and off the wall sense of humor.
check out those impossibly "hinged" feet that fold at the center!
and the way his characters hold their fingers.
I remember one if his cartoons where he has a guy sitting on a park bench throwing popcorn out to the pigeons,the popcorn attracts so many birds that the people around him start eating the last panel all the birds and people have died as the character explains he poisoned the popcorn because he hates pigeons!
Pretty warped stuff!
What I really like about Don Martin is that his cartoons are visually hilarious in addition to the wordplay.