Friday, October 10, 2008
Owen Fitzgerald and Real Drawing Skill, VS Copying Other Artists
I'm amazed there isn't a book on Owen Fitzgerald. There are lots of cheesecake cartoonist books out, yet Owen is the best cartoonist of pretty girls I know of.
You can tell that Owen actually knows how to draw for real. His work is stylized, but caricatured fom observation of the real. He combines life drawing, perspective and traditional "realistic" drawing skills with 40s animation principles.
Then on top of that he has a real appreciation for how girls not only look, but how they stand, pose, move, flow. Besides al his technical skills and powers of observation, he has a very unique and cute style.
Owen can take a crowd of girls and give them each a different pose, yet compose them all so that they make a flowing pattern.
Just for comparison's sake let's look at a cartoonist who is better known for drawing cute girls.
Dan De Carlo is best known for his late 50s and 60s Archie Comics. He was considered "the good Archie artist" by many in the 60s, including me. He has a sense of design balance that some of the other Archie artists were missing. The distance between his shapes seemed mathematically right, where the other artists' seemed to be sloppier by comparison. Dan was also good at designing skimpy, sexy costumes for the girls, which probably added up to a lot of sales for the Betty and Veronica comics. I used to copy his girls all the time when I was a kid.
On the surface, De Carlo has a similar finished style to Owen Fitzgerald's. They both draw girls with big eyes. scant detail and clean confident shapes. But that's where the similarities stop. De Carlo looks like a really toned-down version of Fitzgerald.
He can only draw one face and one body for one thing. He just changes the hair to make new characters.
Compare the posing in De Carlo's work to Fitzgerald's. Dan's poses are wooden and unnatural, as if each part of the girls' anatomy were separate 2 dimensional shapes that just rotate in place to create new poses. Owen's anatomy flows along lines of action, stretches and squashes and he can draw his characters from more angles. De Carlo can only draw 4 angles-front, side, 3/4 and back and he reuses the same drawings, expressions and poses over and over again.
This tells me that De Carlo is self-taught. His art looks like he copied another artist's work (maybe Owen's) and learned how to make a few superficially appealing poses, and then stopped learning. Once he got his style down, he never evolved or added to it.
Today we have many Dan De Carlo imitators who are even more superficial and stiff than he was. Or people who imitate those who imitated Dan De Carlo.
This is the problem with falling in love with a single style. If you teach yourself to draw by copying another artist, you will never have any control over your creativity.
Owen is a far superior artist than any of the Archie artists because he actually is an artist, not merely a copy machine. He uses many more tools and he can make his pencil do what his mind can think up. De Carlo and his imitators can only think up what their pencils have already memorized. There are millions of possible poses and designs that are barred from their work.
This is the state of animated cartoons today. We are copying copies of copies of copies of copies of something invented by people that once had skill, verve, observation, variety, creativity and individuality. Modern cartoons fear creativity, because acquiring the tools that allow for it to happen is so hard to do.