Monday, June 07, 2010

Heaven Sends Me Sad Sack

I'm gonna prove to you that Jesus loves war and a good cartoon butt-stabbing as much as the rest of us.
This is George Baker's early style. He was a real cartoonist. Pure and full of honest humanity.
I always liked his work. Gritty, funny, manly, ribald and to the point.It got a lot more stylish as time went on and I find it really interesting to see how it started.
This early stuff is more conservative - almost a standard Mutt and Jeff sort of style, but it hints at something new.
It shows no signs of inbreeding.
Like most pure cartoonists, Baker thinks feet are funny. Especially backwards feet.
Besides being able to draw funny feet and square buttocks, George Baker was really good at continuity.
His strip is mostly pantomime. Good cartoon storytellers are able to tell their stories without words. I feel like an idiot having to say that. That should be an A priory principle of cartooning; it's part of the definition of what a cartoon is.

This is really an all-American outlook.
I miss cartoons being cartoons. I keep waiting to see if animated features will ever have a cartoonist's outlook and style. It seems to be against the law to make animation that reflects a cartoonist's viewpoint. It's bizarre to me that it never happens, when there is obviously such a huge audience for it. Normal people love cartoons.

I read the intro in the book and found out that Baker worked for Walt Disney before the war! Luckily for cartoon fans, he managed to maintain his own style after leaving the house of marrying your sister.
A side benefit: I ordered this book that celebrates the inherent humor in killing, sex and latrines. Boy was I thrilled when it came with a message from the prince of peace.
Jesus is an American and he thinks war and latrines are hilarious too! Maybe He is a cartoonist as well.

WATCH A GREAT STYLE EVOLVEHe is a foot genius. Even the dog feet are great.


aalong64 said...

Hey John, this is pretty shameless, but it IS kind of related to this post in that you mentioned missing 'cartoons being cartoons.'

I just finished a traditionally-animated short a couple of weeks ago. I think you might actually like some aspects of it.

I've tried to incorporate some things I've learned from reading your blog, although I know I've still got a ways to go.

Anonymous said...

So much life and vitality in all of these drawings. Amazing. Just like with Walt Kelly, the training at Disney's really helped George Baker with his own cartoons. Luckily, he didn't blindly copy his house style. He stayed true to his own personal tastes.

"I miss cartoons being cartoons. I keep waiting to see if animated features will ever have a cartoonist's outlook and style. It seems to be against the law to make animation that reflects a cartoonist's viewpoint."

I know it may seem amateurish to you, because of all that Robert Crumb influence on it, but I keep thinking of that "Fritz the Cat" movie that Bakshi made decades ago when you say that. I've seen parts of it on YouTube, but is that kind of what you're hinting at (except without the underground comix influence)? Keep in mind, I've never seen the whole feature in entirety.

Elana Pritchard said...

Cool! Kinda like Bill Mauldin meets Don Martin.

mike f. said...

Poor Sad Sack in that last scan, getting his head pierced by ignorant music. Exactly how I feel trapped at a red light, next to another dime-a-dozen hip hop fan with a hearing impairment.

-jjmm- said...

Fantastic. Thanks to share.

C said...

You'd think the fact that Spongebob is so popular would give animated features a hint.

Great artist! Especially the square-hooded lady and the octopus.

thomas said...

See alot of R. Crumb in the early work. Beyond just the style, its the characterization of men and women. You can recognize the typical Crumb nerd in Sad Sack.

BTW>>a priori<<<otherwise it means church...

Trevor Thompson said...

Don Martin liked funny feet too!

Andy Norton said...

You have given your whimsical treatment on another fantastic cartoonist.

You might have encouraged me to try and draw comics without using dialogue, as those comics are just sublime to look, analyse, and learn.

Did this cartoonist do anything else besides Sad Sack? I would be interest to see some of his other work, so that I can truly take your theories on board on his work.

RooniMan said...

Such excellent hierarchy in Baker's cartoons.

Niki said...

Hey JohnK! Can you do a post on funny looking cars? I've been looking for them but I can only find a few. I knew you've drawn them before, and I really like them. Here are the few that I found though:



Motorbikes will do too.

HemlockMan said...

Another comic book character that I liked a lot as a kid. It was stuff like SAD SACK, and watching the Battle of Khe Sanh chaos on TV, plus the scroll of American dead soldier names on the news every night that all combined to make certain that I'd never be a soldier. And plus the fact that I didn't love Jesus.

I was struck by the portrait of Baker by the Sgt. who got killed. That's a very nice illustration! Too bad he got whacked by the "bad guys". Oh, well.

"The Proposition" is hilarious! Best of the toons you chose. I've seen a lot of cool books and comics in my day, but I've never run across that particular hardback collection. Good pickup!

Martin Juneau said...

I see more honnest humanity and cartoonist's views in Baker's style than i can see in a complete comic made through the last 30 years. The way he draw feets is very spectacular. This is a very cool stagment. George Baker have a true style from his own knowledges and tastes.

Trevor Thompson said...

When did the more stylized, angular stuff start appearing?

Jack G. said...

Sex Hygiene!

I found a Sad Sack compilation at my grandparents house. It looks like the book your displaying here.
The book had such an awful musty smell.

But I loved that that the cartoons were put over so easily without dialog. Something we all should do now and again.

Zoran Taylor said...

Hey Aaron,
I can teach you how to do a hyperlink. No one pay attention to the ones that you have to type into the address bar yourself.

I'll do this one for you: Fester's Nephew

You is welcome.

brucequast said...

Hey John- I have that book, too, and it's great! I got it from the library when I was a kid and thought it was hilarious, and kind of dirty--much different from the Harvey Sad Sack I was familiar with. Many years later, my sister bought the same copy for me at the library's used book sale.

-jjmm- said...

John, do you mind to make a critic about some of my new drawings? There aren't cartooning exercises but I'll apreciate to recive your opinion and I will be very grateful.

Lebon Bon Lebon said...

Sorry for the off-topic John, but I couldn't find a way to contact you.

Could you do a post on the new looney tunes? what is right and what is wrong?

ComiCrazys said...

Woohoo! Snagged a copy on eBay for $5!!!

Sherm said...

That's a fantastic book...and pretty easy to find a copy for dirt-cheap prices. It's a reflection of how popular that strip was!

The wordless storytelling and fantastic body language make this book a real gem.

thomas said...

Very funny post!

The difference between Baker's angular drawings and alot of contemporary work is that it isn"t overly designed, in fact, its a little clunky, but it just adds to the humor.
Contemporary angular drawing tends to arbitrariliy streamline the figure, without making any anatomical or dimensional sense. In contrast, he along with some one like Don Martin, build on human imperfections.

Conceit Arturo said...

John, you said that cartoons are never cartoony anymore...I've got to say I've seen a VERY cartoony studio, it does3D but it has the charm of 2D, I swear!

I really hope they get to do a full feature one day, their stuff really looks like a whole new direction 3D can take while not forgetting being cartoony