Monday, June 21, 2010

Eisenberg and Hazelton* Contrasted

Harvey Eisenberg's natural style was fairly traditional - basically very rounded characters like 40s animation: Tom and Jerry. When he started having to draw comics using Ed Benedict's more stylized angular characters, he went through a transitional period where he tried to adapt.
His clean compact and controlled compositions were evident right away, but he had some trouble figuring out how to tilt the characters' angular heads at first.
Yogi's perspective doesn't make much sense in the panel above.
His cheats became more subtle as he got used to working in this style.His staging is always very controlled and easy to read.
Gene Hazelton - who had a similar background in animation had some differences in his style. He works more on a part by part design basis. Each individual piece of his picture has a pleasing design and style, but the overall staging and composition is less organized than Eisenbrg's. Drawing your pictures piece by piece, rather than from the big elements down to the smaller ones inevitably leads to a more cluttered look.

I think Gene was more concerned about how the characters looked, and he filled in the trees and background elements in all the spaces left between the characters.
Gene's specialty was stylish cuteness. He was known for his cute kids...

Harvey's kids are cute too, but a bit more pudgy, less Valentine's card sweetness - and again he is more concerned with the balance of the composition, the negative spaces, framing of the characters and readability and flow of the whole picture.
Gene is also known for his cute women.
Here's Gene with a less cluttered composition. With cute fishies.Here's Harvey showing off perspective and his easy organization (hierarchy) of a lot of detail.
I loved these strips when I was a kid and thought that the artists must be animators, because the comics seemed to have elements of modernity, appeal and style that was more evident in animated cartoons than in the general comic strip style - which was traditionally more stiff.

another giveaway:

Eisenberg - these men have overall forms that are pulled along the lines of action. Their details- hair, clothes, arms, facial features all are kept tightly conformed to their dynamic overall statements.

Below are Gene Hazelton's men. They have lines of action too, but less direct. Their details are sticking out more and breaking up the overall flow and statement. - but each individual detail - the shape of the eyes, the fingers etc. have interesting angular shapes.
Each part of that phone receiver draws attention to itself, but the parts contradict each other and break up the overall shape of the phone.

Harvey thinks from big to small. Gene thinks from small to small and hopes it all adds up in the big picture.

*** Mark Christiansen thinks that the art I'm attributing to Hazelton here is actually Iwao Takamoto. He could be right, although it looks to me like Hazelton at least did the finishes and the faces.

Either way, these are all great cartoonists and the differences between Eisenberg and the other artists are still evident.

Thanks Mark!

Mark is a wonderful cartoonist too, so go check his blog...