Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good Conservative Cartooning 2

I think Harvey Eisenberg is a top-notch cartoonist and I collect his stuff wherever I can find it. He's one of my favorites.
He's a conservative cartoonist:
He doesn't draw wild extreme poses like Rod Scribner.
His comic panel layouts aren't as imaginative as Milt Gross'.
He does have style, but it's not overly self-conscious or dominating like say - later Chuck Jones cartoons.
What does he have instead? He has tons of skill. He has a beautiful sense of balance to his layouts and hierarchy.
His layouts are perfectly clear. He has enough style to make his cartoons appealing - they draw you into them.
Eisenberg has all his principles down. His fundamentals are completely solid. You don't see that in many cartoonists. In other words he's well-rounded. His drawings just look right in every way and there is an automatic appeal to just plain good drawings.
He is able to combine his own natural style with other styles - in this case with Ed Benedict's. Ed is a more daring cartoonist and that's why he is a character designer. His whole job is to think up striking combinations of shapes. Harvey's skills allow him to understand Ed's inventions and interpret them to make them functional in stories.
This is the kind of cartoonist you would love to have doing layouts on your cartoons. If he did the staging under an imaginative director, this would make the animators' jobs a lot easier. Your more imaginative animators would be freed up to think about the characters and take them to places Harvey wouldn't on his own.

But he can provide a solid backdrop for the stars. He makes it easier for the Rod Scribners of the world to shine in.

It's like a great singer being supported by a skilled band and a great arrangement. The whole band can't be going off in their own direction. They have to be tight and structured so that Frank Sinatra can meander a bit off the track. His stylistic meandering is noticed by the tightness of the accompaniment of the background. Also, he is highly skilled himself and knows all the fundamentals. His style came after his learning of how singing works.

This is why I love cartoon animation so much. It's a collaborative medium. There are so many skills and talents involved that no one artist could ever learn them all. Put a bunch together and find out their specialties, then let them grow together and the advances will be much greater and faster than any one artist alone.

Here's earlier Eisenberg - drawing in Hanna Barbera's Tom and Jerry style.
Harvey Eisenberg Foxy Fagan

When is the best time to use the power of conservatism? WHEN YOU ARE LEARNING A NEW SKILL.

Like in school. That's where you should be able to learn fundamentals. You should not be searching for a personal style. That comes with time to a rare few.

Any time you learn something new, you should learn it slowly and carefully - the way it was done best traditionally.

The trick is separating principles from stylistic habits.

Many animation schools preach Disney fundamentals but are really encouraging you to copy their style or habits instead (after being degraded by multiple generations of Disney clones). Their cliches.

It's better to look at a lot of styles so you can see what is style and what is form and structure. Otherwise you have the danger of becoming a clone of someone else's style only with a broken mutated gene.

The better you can draw, the better you can recognize cliched habits against fundamentals.