Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ripples thanks to Shane

Does anyone think Shane Glines is "old School"?


A term I keep hearing in defense of modern primitive cartoons is that old or well drawn, well thought out cartoons are just "old-school" which I imagine is what we used to call "square." So skill is square according to folks who wish they could draw better, can't (or can but don't want to admit it), but instead have chosen to just jump on the flatwagon.

Here's what Shane said about my last post about George Clark:

"Hi John, Clark was fantastic, and I agree that he was probably and influence on Owen. I have a bunch of George Clark on Cartoon Retro- here are some better scans to use for your article:"

Ed Benedict, Kimball and Oreb could do very graphic, angular designs but they were still solid forms drawn with perspective. Shapes had a top, front, sides, and bottom. That Snooper and Blabber drawing posted a few days ago blew my mind- such a sophisticated arrangement of cool shapes- angular and graphic but all fitting around solid forms. It's my favorite cartoon style, and I can't even imagine being able to draw something so complex. Clearly if you try to draw that style without understanding solid drawing and perspective you end up with this current style - characters run over by a steamroller. -Shane.http://cartoonretro.blogspot.com/

Here's some "new-school" cartoon art that I think has all the attributes I like about "old-school" cartoon art.


Kristen may draw in a slightly angular style, but it's based on a keen observational capacity and really strong drawing skills. I can guess some of her influences, but her style is unique, it's not just the modern simplistic flat TV style that so many copy.
It's also funny which along with good drawing must be considered "old-school" since I don't see any funny looking cartoons anywhere in the mass media - not on TV, comic strips, comic books or even animated movies. The number one ingredient of what a cartoon is is non-existent today except for on a handful of blogs created by the last living actual cartoonists. Are cartoons going to be considered a 20th century anomaly soon, since they have disappeared from the mainstream?

Shane is much like me. He draws in an influential modern style - but it's derived by a love, understanding and appreciation of a huge variety of well drawn "old-school" styles from the 1920s to the 1950s. We both appreciate good drawing whether it's new school or old-school and can tell the difference between skilled art and poseurs.

Join Shane's special site to see lots of rare great old-school cartoon art and illustrations!



More on capitalism coming: What I like about real Capitalism


O gato said...

The first image John, is this a book that can be bought? The girl and style she's drawn in is absolutely gorgeous! I love the way her eyes are drawn! They're cute and seductive at the same time. :) As for these flat angular styles... to me they feel like a slap in the face to the artists who actually DREW and Painted their characters and put care into their animations. They make me want to bang my head against a wall and say "WHY?". I saw an episode of your show Ren and Stimpy on youtube and the mouth and body movement was astounding! You really don't see that sort of thing in cartoons animated by flash today which is really sad.

cartoonretro said...

Thanks, John.
I'll be 40 next week, that might make me officially "old school"

O gato said...

Ack I just saw the link as where to buy the book. I feel really dumb now.

Fata Morgana said...

Are cartoons going to be considered a 20th century anomaly soon, since they have disappeared from the mainstream?

No. I think this elucidates precisely why the internet will take over what used to be the purview of television and perhaps even film. The reason that television, newsprint, CDs, etc. seem to be dying from the perspective of the old hands who run those sorts of things, is that people are going to the internet (like your blog, for example) and finding things that are so much better than what is 'popular', and are thus loosing interest in the popular.

Some fool wrote a book about the "culture of the amateur" and how the internet is ruining culture by having a bunch of "untrained" people creating things. What he failed to understand is that "untrained" or "unapproved" does not equate to "unskilled."

Anyhoo, interesting blog post as always.

cartoonretro said...

I should point out that I am as guilty as everyone else of doing the flat steamroller style (probably even have to take some blame for it's current popularity) but I always feel shame when I do.

I do it for 2 reasons:

1. when I run into limitations in my drawing ability. It's a quick and easy cheat.

2. It sells. And the people who are going to be animating the design in Flash generally aren't the best draftsmen and wouldn't know what to do with a solid design. They want to be able to break the model up into separate flat parts so they don't have to do any new drawings.

The flat style works great for UPA style designs, with characters that are 2 heads tall and all nose, but when you superimpose it onto realistic proportions it just doesn't work unless you have superhuman ability, like Jamie Hewlett, Mignola and Robert Valley.


Anonymous said...

Good read as always. You've inspired me as of late to try some different techniques in designing characters and playing more with proportion.

One of your journals mentioned the bland repetitiveness of Disney cartoons, especially when designing boys. I decide to do some doodles and concepts of young boys and came up with some interesting results. Not happy with all of them. But I'm learning!

Anyways, your journals are always a joy to read.

Anonymous said...

I do have one question though. You mentioned that today's cartoons have a flat steamrolled look, but then you go to mention that you like the style see in George of The Jungle. To me it has as much flatness as TDI or that surfing show (whatever it's called). The image of the cat and mouse have more life and depth to me than George does.

I'm just curios... What are the good aspects of George and the other characters? I just want to know so I can learn how to judge my own designs better.

Gad said...

"There is no school like old school"

it's not just animation that's gone down the drain, plain old cinema and popular music , and classic art, are in the same deep shit. But there is always a time when some people get sick of the new inventive stuff and go retro.
I remember five years ago looking for publications of Alex Raymond’s “rip kirby” and Lee Falk’s “The Phantom”. But there where no such things in existence.
And suddenly there are publications of all the classic comics strips going out right now.

You guys, Shane and John, you keep it all alive. I check your blogs every day for wonderful inspiration.
And I really believe that the in a decade or so we will start to see new good original stuff popping out again

Mellanumi said...

I've never really been impressed by Shane. He has a certain finesse to his work; but I think he wanders dangerously close to all the crappy animation out there today. If I were in his position, I wouldn't mind working in particular styles, but I'd be careful to find my own voice above everyone else's. One thing that bothers me is how people misapply labels. Quite often, people will call something "Expressionistic" or "Gothic" or "Brutalist" without really understanding the characteristics of each aesthetic. I don't find Shane's art to be retro at all. I think he has retro aspirations. I think the purpose of art is to be progressive, truthful, functional, insightful and unique. But more often than not, people are trying to be imitative. It's the necreptitude that is infecting all of the arts.

Wilson said...

John you're being way too cynical here. You're just mentioning TV shows. There are plently of artists and animators who draw in either modern, or in their own styles.
I mean you're attacking TV and that's an easy target, but you know what? ALL artists hate mainstream media, not just in animation, art of all forms. You act like you're the only one and you're style is above all others but it's just specific. I mean you emulate from what's considered the golden age in animation, but really, animation is just life. All you need are your eyes to observe how life around you moves. When people draw cartoons their poking fun at life, or expressing how they see it. So I dont see the need to knock other's styles. Art is all about the infinite amount of ways to portray things. You're talking specifically about TV but just go to an animation festival to see the many different styles there are. Why put them down? What artist spends their career talking about how much everyone is terrible compared to them? That's a lame attitude to have in an already small community.

:: smo :: said...

i wouldn't say "old school" is the same as calling something "square." old school generally has a vibe of respect about it but acknowledges that it's the old way of doing things [or style of music or thing etc]. square is kind of hokey and lame and old fashioned in a conservative way.

old school foundations totally have a place in newer concepts. people confuse budget with stylization a bit too much.

Zoran Taylor said...

@Fata: I think the opposite is true.

@CJ: Where did John say he liked it?

Clark Nova said...

any word on the ultimate ren & stimpy box set? it's been around 4 years since it was first announced. has it been completely shelved?

C said...

If I were prime minister, I'd ban all 'tude. Unless you're making fun of it. But I'd limit that.

I don't really get downing the parent's generation. I liked stuff from my parents' era and before more than some stuff now. Most notably the music.

Meenx said...

All of the female characters from "Stoked" have the same shaped face and eyes. If they weren't colored differently, I could not tell them apart!

cartoonretro said...

Mellanumi: I pretty much agree with you. The main purpose of my art is to be the candy that lures people to Cartoon Retro so they are exposed to real "retro" artists- guys like George Clark, Russell Patterson, Earl Oliver Hurst, and hundreds of other incredible artists that most people today don't know about.
I would love to be progressive, truthful, functional, insightful and unique but for now I'll have to settle for just giving people something visually pleasant to rest their eyes on for a few seconds.

ThomasHjorthaab said...

Hey John, I know It's not long ago you took a look on my blog last time:)
But I did some more classic drawings of a character I would love your take on... It's not all that different, but I think I managed to put in some more construction...


Thanks for your time!
ps. I'm seriously looking forward to your book man!

Chris S. said...

Big fan of Shane's work!

Hey John, If you get a chance to swing by my blog sometime ... I started on the Preston Blair assignments (lesson 1). I would like to make it into your Cartoon College one day. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

His opinions are listed underneath the image. He could've been talking about something else but every other reference he makes that refers to a particular image in this entry is directly underneath it as seen in the rest of his journal.

Ben Fried said...

I see cartoons above all as group styles for drawing. A 'superstyle', maybe. The superstyle calls for use of 3D shapes. If that principal is ignored, then that doesn't necessarily make it BAD, but it does mean it shouldn't be called a cartoon.

The images on a lot of the flash shit are more like moving 2D design. Now, most of it sucks because 2D design should be more about use of color and doing things that can only be done without a third dimension. TDI, and the like just simply DON'T go beyond art with a third dimension. They just try to look like art with a third dimension, but ignore the fact that 3D art requires use of 3D shapes so it looks not just flat but also boring. It's just plain shitty art.

Having an understanding of how to draw in 3D can and will greatly help your understanding of the second dimension, however. So really it's pointless to not learn it. And it's not like anyone is incapable of learning it. They're either unwilling or don't even know that they should learn it.

Artists really should try to explore as many forms of art as they can, because every single one has parts about it that can help you understand the other. Style is a very useful tool in art, but it's certainly NOT to be used as a crutch. More importantly, people should be taking existing styles and doing things to it that haven't been done before. It's what moves art forward.

The biggest problem for cartoonists today... People don't look at it as art. They look at it as a way of distracting children. A lot of people don't realize how much of the world they live in made of art. Textbooks? Someone had to make the pages. Chairs? Someone had to come up with the design for that chair. People need to understand that art can have function. It doesn't need to always be a pretentious painting meant to be put into a gallery.

I really want the world to understand the definition of cartoons. Here's what I think it should be:

Art with 3-dimensional shapes, a focus on exaggeration, and meant to be humorous.

Just because it moves doesn't mean it's a cartoon. And just because it's funny doesn't mean it's a cartoon.

Conny Nordlund (Loathsome) said...

I hope this flat thing dies soon.
And I hope people are smart enough to keep away from it.

AShortt said...

Man The Ripples was beautifully done.

Freckled Derelict said...

Long Live cartoonretro!!
I can't say enough praise for that site and Shane.
And Kristen as always is amazing.
Thanks for getting the word out John!
PS - If you're interested I finnished posting the full Yogi Bear Comic book"Yummy Tummy Stories" here - http://plentyo.blogspot.com/

chrisallison said...


Matt Hawkins said...

I'm a big fan of Kristen! She's an amazing artist and super nice person to boot. I'm proud to say I own a piece of her original artwork. I've been very inspired by this blog and have been going back and drawing some of this great art you post. I too feel like over time I've gotten lazy and rely on tricks. Flat and angular is what is what sells, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've had a "Creative " director say "Make it cool like (insert name of Cartoon Network show here). I do a lot of dimensional papertoy design and I'm always trying to work more life and action in my "geometric" work ain't always successful but I find this blog super inspirational! Thanks for all the work that goes into this site John!

Mars Cabrera said...

Check stoked>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngDr8GfKFJs&feature=related

Niki said...

It sucks being a teenager, having been born in such a crazy world. I've decided that I'll start watching more older films and imitating the people in them.

If they really are calling it old school then most folks I know should love it. "Old school" is a rap term and nobody can hate on the old school. It's like blasphemy.

David Germain said...

To me, Kirsten's art reminds me of Bill Elder's work. I don't know if he's one of her influences, but that's what I see anyway. She does do some great stuff.

I certainly don't try to draw in that flat style. But yeah I definitely have to work on my skills. Just tonight I learned that it's hard to draw a human face in profile without making it look flat. I guess that's why more artists favour the 3/4 turn.

Oh well. I just gotta keep practising I guess.

Trey Brown said...

John, I love your blog and I continue to learn with every post you make. I'm so glad Kristen's art is in this entry. I feel that she more than most has the best grasp of what the future of cartooning should be. Her art combines principles of drawing both fluidly and functionally while maintaining the overall appeal and attraction of her characters. My blog is new and i'm nowhere near as skilled as either of you but I've been trying to apply principles of her art as well as yours recently. If you have a free moment aside from other more deserving blogs please check out mine at:


Jeff Read said...

"Old-school" comes from the hip-hop community, and like many terms from that community it's multi-shaded in meaning, depending on context. Nowadays it's less frequently used to mean "antiquated", and more frequently used to convey a certain affection and admiration for the way things used to be done.

Aaron Clark said...

Every time I see that crap I just want to start my own studio, and produce a fantastic show. However I think TV will die for cartoons before that happens...

Well I'll just have to stick with the internet then, and hope to see an improvement.

Mars Cabrera said...

** I think TV will die for cartoons before that happens...***

Worst excuse ever. A lot of tv shows got off the ground because, the people behind them just went ahead and did it no matter what the cost, no matter what the circumstances were.. I'm in Canada , we're still making 'em! Call it anything you like but, I'm having a good time and there's always room for improvement, that's a given. You know, it's always easy just to sit down and criticize! If you have a problem with flat looking shows. What's stopping you making YOUR OWN show? your style, Ripples style, whatever, you call the shots? Post it and we'll take a look at them.
The point is, anything is possible! Any style can be on TV, Just get out there and do it!

Whit said...

After the U.S. abandoned jazz music all the jazz players had to live and work in Europe to survive. It is not that simple for animators now in this severe global recession.

Mellanumi said...

CartoonRetro -- you're right; I can accept that. I never said your work doesn't put a smile on my face. It does.

The Artist Aficionado said...

I think Shane uses his own contemporary style and mixes it in with earlier influences of modern sophisticated themes.

I have to agree though I haven't seen one decent animated product in years. I have avoided most of the networks to find good animation these days. I try my best to resurrect the likeness of true artists who are not visible in today's society. Sadly.

thomas said...

John - I watched some of Chris Reccardi"s "Meddlin Meadows". Its a better example of UPA style than most of the current crop of cartoons that you've talked about.
I'm just bringing this up because it included one element, that most cartoons in this style don't, and that's contradiction.
Although the cartoon was 2D, the characters still moved in depth; the original UPA was very spatial.

I think you've played with this contradiction, but more contradicting 3D with 2D.
What do you think?

Dan szilagyi said...

haha i love the fact that all the shitty cartoons you had as examples are Canadian "made and animated" except for the family guy side show cartoon.

i agree though....to think that shows like " kid VS cat" is a highlight on TV today makes me just cry and never want to work at studio B

Ben said...

I love Shane Glines, its because of him that i started drawing...i love him, also cartoon retro :)

Taelor said...

Anime ruined cartoons for the rest of the world.