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.


Niki said...

I love how Wilma has these pretty black lips. I don't know exactly why, but it seems to make her look cuter.

JVaughan said...

I think with out a doubt to have any production work you have to have the right mix of liberal and conservative people and understand what they bring to the table. Liberal artists can break the old rules and make new ones that work. Conservatives can then follow those rules and make the rest of the production flow right. If you just have a bunch of people doing whatever they want you have no consistency to the production. If you don't have a liberal mindset behind the operation then it ends up very stagnant and even if the people are competent it won't be good.

Niki said...

Since we are talking about comic book art, I'm hoping someday you can talk to everyone about the old Superman comic book covers where he isn't trying to be cool. Where he just messes around with everybody and ruins people's days?

I found some examples too!

John Young said...

Your excitement about bringing out the best in people is so awesome. That should be the number one job of a director. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you have specific and hilarious things you could bring to a project and having no one take advantage of them.

Trevor Thompson said...

I wonder what execs mean when they call a show 'stylized'? Because a lot of the shows that get called that usually don't have an individual style.

- trevor.

Roberto González said...

I think I have some of these comics somewhere.

I have some doubts about this whole theory. I'm sure you have addressed some of this before but I don't remember all the posts.

Isn't there some middle ground? Like people who are conservative in some aspects of their drawings and not so conservative in others.

Another thing that I don't know if you have covered, but you keep saying that not all people can develope a style. Well, generally, I think most people has some sort of style of their own, like when you see his drawings you can recognize his mark. Maybe what you mean is that they are influenced by other things and rarely they "invent" new things that would influence on others.

On one hand you seem to imply that developing a personal style is really difficult, but on the other hand you recognize that being a good conservative also implies great skills. Still you suggest the former is a more difficult thing than the second one, cause you have to learn the skills first and then develop an style. Am I right?

Is it more a state of mind or a difference in the skills or both?

I don't even know what type of cartoonist I am, cause I think I'm conservative in some aspects and not conservative in others.

JohnK said...


I'm not saying you have to be one or the other. There are all degrees and many variations of talents and skills.

That's why I like the collaborative nature of cartoons.

And having skill is never a detriment to anything, whether you have a strong style or not.

But real style comes after the skill part.

Vince M said...

JV: "Liberal artists can break the old rules and make new ones that work. Conservatives can then follow those rules and make the rest of the production flow right."

Do you realize how stupid you sound, JV?
Liberals, conservatives.
Do you really think that only liberals can bring something new to the table?

Is that what you're taking away from this?

smbhax said...

I voted for Perot.


Wait what are we talking about?!?

From the nice examples you posted, I like Eisenberg doing Barbara's Tom & Jerry style much more than Benedict's Flintstones style. Less UPA, more golden-era-like, I suppose. Did he switch back and forth as needed, or did he move to the Eisenberg/Flintstones style and stay there?