Saturday, February 20, 2010

If You Can't See It, It Doesn't Matter

Some people think that bad drawing is just another "style", among many. People like to say "Not everything needs to be cartoony" - which is usually the straw man argument used to endorse stiff bad drawings like you get in most TV cartoons from the 70s on.
Even when good artists who worked on those bad stiff TV cartoons tell you these cartoons are bad and that we are ashamed to have contributed to them, there are still holdouts who won't believe it.
Well there's nothing anyone can do about that.

If you can see that organic well drawn cartoons are obviously better than stiff dead ones, but just can't figure out why, you can probably learn some of the techniques that make old cartoons much better in general than cartoons drawn in the last 40 years or so.

If you can't see it at all, no amount of evidence or argument is gonna change your mind. So I encourage commenters to not yell at each other just for not being able to see the difference. It's a pointless argument if your eyes can't recognize it.I sometimes wonder why some folks who so strongly disagree with the whole point of this blog keep coming back every day just to get mad.

There are plenty of sites that revere modern cartoons where the fans can enjoy them in peace.
I agree that not everything needs to be cartoony. Everything isn't. Far from it. But in the cartoon business there ought to be at least a few homes for cartoonists to do what cartoonists invented and have had stolen from them.

Why on earth are cartoons such a rarity in the cartoon business? And how can that be controversial?

17 comments:

Jonathan Harris said...

I love it when you say this because, apart from disproving everything the trolls always say about your insistence that yours is the only way to do things, it also reminds me to chill out a bit and be a bit less arrogant.

'sharpyoungbull' said...

I think people who defend these drawings forget that they have to be viewed as animation, not goofy still frames.

My favourite is the Flash at The Ramshackle Inn. Horrific!

Meredith D. said...

It's funny, I felt nostalgic for some of these cartoons until I went back and watched them as an adult. I couldn't sit through 5 minutes of Superfriends or Transformers. It's like torture.

Niki said...

I actually can see it, but I feel like I'm still bad at drawing.

HemlockMan said...

The answers to your last two questions are probably another question:

Who knows?

It's a mystery.

I'm not a graphics artist, but I did notice that roughly about the time I stopped watching cartoons (just before I entered my teens) they got really crappy. I went several years without seeing any toons in the 70s and when I sat down with a couple of my nieces one Saturday morning, I was frankly horrified for what was passing as cartoon. Alas.

HemlockMan said...

If Howie Post could come back from the dead, would he kill these guys?

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/CASPER_1.jpg

seifd said...

That frame of Captain Marvel is amazing. What's that expression supposed to be?

RooniMan said...

I can see the difference, so I'm good.

Carl Peterson said...

I think the reason they keep returning is because they recognize the validity of your arguments, but love cartoons you would consider crap. They try to reconcile their feelings with your theses, and that's impossible.

The things you argue for are perhaps the BEST reasons to love cartoons, but certainly not the only ones. I loved Transformers as a kid, and I think I was reacting to voice acting, sound effects and color theory. Also, the concept - adventures with intelligent alien technology - was appealing to me (and obviously a lot of kids).

Meredith D. said...

One further observation: If they can't see it, no amount of evidence may change their mind, but how about training?

I have this odd habit of getting rid of all of my son's picture books that contain "bad art," mostly because it's a pet peeve of mine. But I do hold out some hope that exposure to "good art" will instill in him some aesthetic sensitivity.

After all, if a chef's palate can be trained, why not the artists' eye?

Gene Snyder said...

One thing that I've noticed in modern cartoons that is different from earlier cartoons, aside from the style and drawing, is the pacing. It seemed older cartoons set you up for good gag. "Wait for it, almost there, here it comes... NOW!" Cartoons now seem to be full-tilt, fast-paced, with little or no room for any kind of build-up to a real over-the-top funny moment. One cartoon in particular that I think really shows this is "Fairly Odd Parents". It seems every character in that cartoon is talking 17,000 mph, the actions are short, and it's a barrage of material thrown at you all at once. There's no room to breath through the entire episode.

Just my two cents...

Ben Cohen said...

I often agree with the lessons (the point of the blog). But why post something that says..."right on man!" Sometimes my nostalgia gets the best of me (child of the 80's). Sometimes my training as a comic book artist runs counter to your training as an animator (example...I think comics are the superior art form to animation...but I am totally bias even though I love both). My love of "quality" is balanced by my love of kitsch, nostalgia and the underground...all of which are counter culture alternatives that produce some high quality, some awesomely bad and some just down right terrible stuff...totally open to the debate found here...much of your work is closely associated with these camps. Sometimes teachers disagree. I would not even bother reading if I did not admire your work and think what you were posting would be of value to me or my students.

Killer ZEES said...

I loved Superfriends for simply the fact that I got to see comic characters animated on TV. The timing is shit, the story is shit, and it's stiff. People hold onto old tv animation like licking 9 volt batteries when you're 10. Thank god for the internet, I get to watch these things for free and remember how bad they were.

Marty Fugate said...

Re: If you can't see it, it doesn't matter.

I hear tell Medieval sculptors would carve the hindquarters of gargoyles with exacting precision -- the part of the statue facing the church that no one could see. But they'd put as much care into that part of the statue ....

Because God could see.

lucas accardo said...

What do you think of Space Ghost John? Those where "realistic"... the animation was minimal, but i like them, one of the best episodes was The Sandman. Great Art and Colors.

Felicity Walker said...

Carl Peterson is right.

I love the 1980s cartoons, but obviously not based on any criteria you would approve of. But even though I disagree with you about the validity of 1980s animation, I keep coming back here for two reasons:

1. I still like your style of cartoons and how you explain your animation theory, and

2. Ironically, reading your experiences and opinions of 1980s animation, even when you're ranting about how bad it was, is still a way of learning new things about the thing that I love: 1980s animation. And that's fun.

Besides, if my nostalgia for 1980s cartoons is sincere, it won't be diminished by being more educated about the flaws in the process. There are already things I don't like about some of the cartoons I like, and those things haven't ruined it for me yet.

Felicity Walker said...

...and, to bring it all full circle, if you can’t see why realistic cartoons like Transformers and G.I. Joe are beautiful, no amount of evidence or argument will open your eyes. ☺