Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don Martin - In a Department Store pt 3

Don Martin uses techniques similar to Tex Avery's.

1) Extremely clear simple staging, focused on the gags.
2) One idea is presented at a time.
3) He sets up each main idea clearly first, then builds on the gag, making it more and more ridiculous.





The gags are crazy, but the control over the audience is completely logical. Very common sense conservative execution.
Don Martin, like Avery, knows what he wants you to look at and laugh at. He doesn't leave his pictures, ideas or continuity to chance.

I've seen many storyboards and comics that stage stories randomly, cutting to new angles for every panel, filling every panel with detail and clutter and never focusing on anything important to the story, character, atmosphere or gag. Clear staging and storytelling is indeed a rare ability. Not every artist can do it.

When you see it done well, it seems so simple that you almost think the artist is cheating. Certainly executives feel cheated when good storytellers give them clear simple logical storytelling. They feel that they paid for their elaborate clutter and confusion and deserve to get it.

15 comments:

Payo said...

Love the way he indicates the bystanders with enough detail to make them individuals, but leaving out anything below the shoulders so they recede - also "In a department store" is fantastic as a title - your brain fills in the mannequins, counters, etc without him even having to put a drop of ink towards them.

His margin drawings are still my favorite memory of Mad magazine from when I was a kid.

JohnK said...

That was Sergio Aragones. He's great too.

lastangelman said...

This guy who knew how to stage a gag and how to move the story along while keeping the readers'interest. Don Martin could have made a terrific slapstick film writer/director. I can only imagine what the result could have been had he collaborated with Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis.

Niki said...

Weird, clear staging. I've been playing old PS one games and one of them "Brave Fencer Musashi" considering the fact that it's pretty weird and all, when they made it they orchestrated it so that you could see everything unless it was some kind of secret. I think the same principles apply, just to a lesser extent. that's probably why I crawled back to it.

HemlockMan said...

Strangely enough, Stephen King mentioned some very similar points in one of his writing essays. He applies some of the same rules you point out for illustration. Only he applied them to fiction writing.

Lucas Nine said...

About storytelling, did you see “He Done Her Wrong”, by Milt Gross?

Sean Craven said...

I remember reading your statements indicating an impatience with static comic strips -- my immediate reaction was that some jokes work in that static format that wouldn't work either as written jokes or with more elaborate staging.

But now I'm getting that there's a broad middle ground (In staging!) between, say, Doonesbury and Youngblood.

This will require thought.

Shawn said...

I love Don Martin poses.

M. R Darbyshire said...

I wonder, did Don Martin do the cartoons in the first episodes of Mad TV? I think they were in his style, but maybe I'm remembering wrong.


Speaking of He Done Her Wrong, I'll be posting pages of it this afternoon.

Zoran Taylor said...

The genius icing on the cake here is that NOBODY within the comic seems to realize how tremendously silly it all is. Well, maybe the big lug on the left is laughing at one point, but he's so retarded it's hard to be sure.

I don't wanna sink anyone's boat here, but I think Don Martin may have been another one of those great old cartoonists who ACCIDENTALLY bred bad habits in later illustraitors (that spelling is intentional) - in this case, making anyone who isn't "doing something" look bored and even slightly smug. Jim Davis copied it, and then god help us, so did Seth MacFarlane. Heck, a less careful illustrator imitating Martin might even draw full-on 'tude wihtout realizing it!

Gabriele_Gabba said...

Oh man, i wish your next post was more on Tex, i'd love to hear more about him!

Hayden Currie said...

This blog is a valuable public service. Thanks for giving it away free.

Ian Andersen said...

John,
I've been working at your $100,000 animation course for roughly 3 weeks, and today decided I would begin trying to tackle lesson 4 while continuing working on the Stretch and Squash Lessons.

I drew Preston's rabbit three different times making corrections in between and applying them to the next drawing, with some results, but I seem to run into the same troubles each time. The head seems too large when I'm drawing it but always turns out to be smaller than the orignal, and I can never place the legs and feet correctly.

I'm going to keep trying, I am hoping you can take a look or offer some advice on how to position the feet and other things that aren't wrapped to the main constructed areas. All the drawings are posted here with the corrections noted: http://weflewairplanes.blogspot.com/2009/01/lesson-4.html

I'm anxious to try my hand at that those comic covers you posted, but I know I'm not ready to take them on yet. Thanks for the help.

Matt J said...

Check out this French short Thé Noir-it's almost like Kurtzman's HEY LOOK animated

M. R Darbyshire said...

First dozen pages of He Done Her Wrong, if you need Gross material.