Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is This A Work Of Cartoon Genius?

I must be one of the world's biggest cartoon fans, but rarely do I find a cartoon that I think is brilliant. Something that covers all the great things a cartoon can do that separates it from other forms of entertainment. I think this Don Martin comic meets and exceeds the highest cartoon criteria.

First, it's drawn funny. Really funny - and in a totally unique style. I love the early Martin stuff best because it hadn't found a formula yet. It's still searching and so has less rules and more variety.
The concept of the story is really funny. The people are generic (for Martin's world) but still bizarre - and meant to be typical normal humans. That whole approach is so unique in itself! We're supposed to instantly identify with these everyday normal people that only exist in Don Martin's world.
Martin is presenting a gag and story that couldn't possibly be done as well in any other medium- including animation.
The gag is built around a growing crowd. Crowds don't work in animation. Imagine the amount of time it took to draw just one of these crazy panels. Now multiply that by 24 frames a second for film. Then having to animate each of these characters doing something somewhat different than each other - as is indicated in the poses. This would not only take Herculean labor, it would also be totally wasted because all the stuff would fly by so fast you couldn't take it all in. With still pictures, you can slowly go through the panel and see every funny detail.
These birds are stylized and hilarious at the same time. They work both as a group, and as individuals. You can stare at each of these panels forever and find humor within the overall gag situation and in the minute details. Each little character is drawn with thought. Martin didn't just draw a ton of birds in the same pose.
The gag builds to more and more heights of preposterousness. It is structured.
Goddamn, these are some weird creatures! What a mind!

I love the crazy eagerness of the human characters eating the delicious popcorn.
Nice stubbly chicken butt.

The frenzy keeps on building, even when you think it can't get more nutty.

Wouldn't you kill to have this painted as a mural on your wall?

And of course he ends on a morbid joke, because he is aiming this at little kids to get them in trouble with their Moms. This psychology makes the comic even funnier.A masterpiece of inspired and original cartooning!

One more thought: Don Martin doesn't design his humans to keep up to date with what is supposed to be "cool" or hip. No 'tude. His characters exist in a timeless world so that anyone can identify with their situations. The fact that they are so uncool makes it all the more pure and inviting. We know he isn't trying to talk down to us, like so many cartoons today made by nerds who are trying to be cool.