Monday, June 21, 2010

Jimmy Hatlo, Bob Dunn: The Cartoonists' World View

There used to be a school of cartooning I think of as "The Man Style".
By "Man" I don't mean "manly", muscular, macho, athletic or anything like that. I mean the style and point of view reflects how men see the world. Men who have to work for a living, who had a tough childhood and had to sweat for everything they have, who have seen the ugliest parts of human nature, yet still can find amusement and jollity in the everyday world of crusty humans.

Jimmy Hatlo is one of these towering giants of cragginess. He appeals to the middle aged man in all of us. Even as a kid, I loved these man cartoonists and identified with them. I think in every lad - and especially in every red blooded cartoonist boy, there lurks a fascination with the world of adults. Adults are funny, with their rules, their bulbous noses, their red-faced frustrations, their mottled, moley skin and scraggly hair- their wrinkly knuckles and crooked stinky toes. Why are these people in charge of the world most kids wonder...and so do the cartoonists.

This drawing style is more than an arbitrary graphic style; it represents a natural philosophy and outlook. Hatlo knows what's funny: fish markets are naturally funny, too much traffic, middle aged men with aches, pains, crustiness, and complaints about the younger generation; all this is natural cartoon fodder for the true cartoonist who draws the world as he lives it.


There were many man cartoonists in the first half of history; in fact probably most of them were crusty, hard boiled realistic dreamers. they were bald, smoked cigars, wore suspenders and hats and had eyeballs that saw throgh every irony of life- their drawing styles were born of this natural cartoonist personality.

Some other funny man cartoonists who really represent the type were Bud Fisher, Bill Holman and Gene Ahern. All these guys would fit in at any lodge meeting.

Man cartoonists saw almost everything from a middle aged man perspective. Hatlo even drew kids who looked middle aged. He had a great strip called Little Iodine starring a tiny man in a dress.





LITTLE IODINE: MIDDLE AGED KIDS
Other artists followed him with his strips and comic books: Bob Dunn and probably more:I don't know who drew the Little Iodine comic books, but he's great. He is dutifully following Hatlo's style, but has added a lot of his own on top of it.
Looks like this cartoonist is also influenced by Milt Gross.
I think this stuff is gorgeous and it makes me really nostalgic; it makes me wanna be a carefree snot-nosed kid again. This scene of Iodine playing with puppets of her parents is so pure. Kids playing and making up games and stories are a million times more creative than what corporate entertainment has become. We need to inject some of this pure fun back into our stale and clinical modern cartoons somehow.
These aren't generic cutesy pie Disneyesque/Cal Arts cherubs. These are buck toothed, freckled and stubbly little terrors who'll do anything to get away with breaking the rules.
This is the kind of stuff that made me wanna be a cartoonist.
I'll put up some more of these covers in another post. If you have any Little Iodine comics, scan them for us will ya? I will link to wherever you put 'em.

http://pappysgoldenage.blogspot.com/2008/06/number-329-no-high-hattin-for-hatlo.html

http://hairygreeneyeball.blogspot.com/2008/11/jimmy-hatlo.html

http://mikelynchcartoons.blogspot.com/2009/08/little-iodine.html


Eddie Fitzgerald is the last "man-cartoonist" I can think of and that's a horrible tragedy. Man cartoonists were the foundation of all that was great about cartoons, the heart and sould of our art. At least half of the business was held up by these cigar chomping but gifted and insightful regular guys.

Now instead of mans, we have pampered middle classed suburban kids who have never experienced the grit, grime or sweat of real life. They spend their lives trying to ape each other and aiming to be the one with the hippest ironic modern style -or the one who can draw the squarest fingers, or the one who copies Aaron the best, or the one who wants to marry his Mom.
THIS IS CARTOONING?
Where are the funny cartoonists?

See? Hatlo was right about it being funny that us middle aged guys complain about all the young bums who have it easy!

40 comments:

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

I'm a MAN cartoonist!!!??? Son of a Gun! I thought I must fit into some genre, i just couldn't figure out which one.

Elana Pritchard said...

What advice do you have to female cartoonists who want to be as funny as these gripping funny men?

Niki said...

I think I'll end up making man cartoons, even though everything I like and try to draw is pretty girly.

In fact, I just got electrocuted about 8 or 9 times today, I already have stories to tell!

Severin said...

Back in the secret, hidden archives in Savannah College of Art and Design's library I found a number of comics written solely for architects and businessmen. The humor was stuff that only architects or businessmen would appreciate, and I find it amazing that there was once a market for such specific cartooning material.

An uncle of mine, whose only experience with cartoons the past 30 or so years has been in newspapers, asked me if I couldn't make some money drawing cartoons for a company, showing the company triumphing over a rival or something similar. I wonder if it'd work? Who do you approach about something like that?

Zoran Taylor said...

Myself, I think the heart and soul of cartooning is rampant, no-holds-barred androgyny and transgression. Maybe because I watch Ren and Stimpy so often. Hm....

Zoran Taylor said...

Eddie's a crusty old man?

Isn't he Spumco's resident non-crusty old man?

Geneva said...

You're not the only one who's exhausted of the same darned overpriveliged suburban kid perspective. Yawn.

(On a related note, I am also tired of themes about the travesty of a flawless childhood ending. That and justice. What is it with spoiled kids and petty justice? I could rant about this for paragraphs. In summation, don't bother with Toy Story 3.)

Poink said...

Hey, I love real men in my cartoons too :) I don't know if you know this but thanks god, they are people who still draw/animate what they see and feel and not copy disney:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM5DaQER2BI (( in French, sorry, I'm french. But I can translate it quickly: its a young dude asking for a cigarette to the other guy and he freaks out completely )
The animating is nice, and the characters are.. well.. real!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY_uliH6rzQ another one.

And a movie I loved:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w14kQlT8hjg
Something's that not disney either.

THERE IS HOPE!

ComiCrazys said...

John, Bob Dunn ghosted for Milt Gross (as if such a thing were possible) at some point. I have a few Sundays dine by Dunn that I'll post next on my blog (probably tomorrow).

I'd never given Hatlo much consideration before but seeing this post has made me a fan! My father used to call my cousin Little Iodine when she was a kid. It fit!

Roberto Severino said...

Now this is the type of cartoonist I wanna be someday. No filler, just a real man's perspective life. I see so many funny possibilities for cartoons in my own everyday life, from my mom and dad's argumentative relationship, the preppy, but really funny, cute and insecure girls at school, the "gifted" students who love talking about their teachers behind their backs (I see it all the time at my school), crabby teachers who follow the most arbitrary rules, etc. Makes me wonder myself why in animated features, we get the same, boring, derivative suburban child with no personality or POV himself. No one wants to pay see that stuff, and any good, real cartoonist should know that. They want their money's worth, like they usually get with a Bugs Bunny cartoon, The Honeymooners, Fleischer cartoons, an early 30s Marx Bros. movie (if you exclude the lame, romantic stuff with Zeppo), The Three Stooges, and Hitchcock films.

"or the one who copies Aaron the best"

That's far better than trying to rip-off and steal from 60s Disney films thinking that you'll be able to draw like Milt Kahl or Frank Thomas overnight, IMHO. At least he copied from a cartoonist with original ideas.

By the way, I'm suddenly thinking about enrolling to an art school or art college, not necessarily animation school at all, because I want to develop a solid art foundation and I'm worried that it's going to be harder for the studios to hire me if I'm unschooled. I know that the Preston Blair book and the old cartoon framegrabs are all I need if I'm ever to draw good cartoons, but is it a good idea to at least try to attend some type of college or art school? I've heard so many bad stories about people not learning anything from them and how they don't teach you that much anymore.

Mike said...

I recognise some of these characteristics in the works of Herge (Tintin) and Uderzo (Asterix) and other Gallic cartoonists.

Beebo said...

Nowadays this stuff is considered "sexist", unfortunately cartooning (along with most of popular entertainment,) is dominated by female perspectives tastes. Do you think all those moral lessons in the Filmation cartoons were there to please Dad? No, for some reason the First Commandment of Moms is "Thou shalt not have fun for fun's sake." So why does Dad let her get away with it? Because she controls access to something he likes even more than cartoons...

Craig said...

I also like MAJOR HOOPLE by Glen Ahern. Spent hours copying the poses and wrinkles and shadows.

kurtwil said...

Whether from a mans or woman's view, honest cartooning (drawing/expressing what you're feeling in an artistic manner) is something I hope never goes out of style.

The very process of classic animation (labor intensive line art) has over many years gutted its own soul: fewer expressive lines, less flowing, living motion). Today few animators get the time to properly use the limited line mileage they have time for.

But as the occasional great modern animation examples shows (many of which I learn about from this blog) there is hope!

Zoran Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MLP said...

Jay Lynch did a tribute to Hatlo (complete with tips "of the Lynch lid" rather than the Hatlo hat) called "Give 'Em An Inch". Playboy ran it for some years.

Amyiss said...

- Nowadays this stuff is considered "sexist", unfortunately cartooning (along with most of popular entertainment,) is dominated by female perspectives tastes. Do you think all those moral lessons in the Filmation cartoons were there to please Dad? -

My suggestion to you is either figure out how to best speak to a generic wide audience or MAN UP and be able to take criticism for your work like any good artist or entertainer. Taking criticism doesn't mean you bend to it, only that you don't throw a tantrum when it's thrown your way.

If you're going to make sweeping, outdated, stereotyped generalizations about half the population, yeah, expect someone to tell you off.

Zoran Taylor said...

"Unfortunately cartooning (along with most of popular entertainment,) is dominated by female perspectives tastes."

I would argue that what we have now as far as cartoons represents NO ONE's perspective. The only difference lies in how easily one or another segment of the audience can GET USED TO this sort of blandness. Moms, being more naturally protective, are more easily PERSUADED by stuff that bends over backwards to look "safe" because it puts some of their natural fears to rest for a bit. When you're dealing with the psychology of a developing child 24/7, you can hardly wait for a chance to turn your brain off - which is how a lot of parents (by which I admit it isn't always Mom) miss the fact that there really isn't any morality at the heart of these films at all. Not enough, anyway. Not as much as MAD Magazine.

My Mother was big on this sort of "protective entertainment" for many years. Now that I'm a young adult, guess what her favorite Ren and Stimpy episode is? Yep - it's the one with the pistol-whip murder. I've almost never heard her laugh like that in my life.....

JohnK said...

"I would argue that what we have now as far as cartoons represents NO ONE's perspective."

Maybe it represents the market research perspective - which amounts to no human perspective, neither general or individual.

Zartok-35 said...

If we're going to get cartoons that aren't made by "pampered suburbanite kids", we'll need another great depression or something. That will make everyone crusty, and able to find simple life related problems funny again.

M Kitchen said...

This is a brilliant commentary. The world needs more artists of "The MAN Style" School of Cartooning!

Pete Emslie said...

Hey John, I got a big kick out of this post - great observations! Your analysis also brought to mind this recent post by Will Finn, where he's rightly critical of a Mother's Day themed Flintstones sericel that has given Fred's Bedrock domicile a decidedly feminine makeover, leaving our caveman like a poor old sabre-tooth tiger that's been defanged!

I particularly like and agree with this excerpt from Will's postscript:

"However, THE FLINTSTONES (1960) was, initially at least, a marked alternative to the classic territory of contemporary cartoon rivals, such as (coincidentally) Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959), with it's typically rarified elegance, balletic motion, central female protagonist(s) (and antagonist!), and floral color scheme. As if to delineate their own separate territory, THE FLINTSTONES was deliberately primitive, blunt, broad and rough, visually as well as conceptually. In a word: masculine, like the sitcom it was largely inspired by. Which in turn was not devoid of a strong, sturdy feminine influence, but in both cases, masculinity was essentially a (the?) dominant theme."

Until I'd read Will's observations, I suppose I was not consciously aware of why it was that I liked "The Flintstones" so much as a kid growing up in the 60's. Yes, Fred is a big self-centered jerk, but I think we like Fred not despite this, but BECAUSE of this! As selfish as he may be when he gets out of attending some social function with Wilma so he can go bowling with Barney, I think we all secretly admire the bastard for following his male tendencies so brazenly. I know you've also made a similar case for, not only Fred, but also every dad's favourite character, Foghorn Leghorn.

I think we need to see more of this male mindset in our cartoons today, showing the world what likable lunkheads the male species really is made up of. This steady diet of sensitive metrosexuals that now seems to dominate in animated films and TV is getting rather wearying. I suppose we should at least be grateful for Homer Simpson, although he ain't no Fred Flintstone.

Pablo said...

iron giant, was a great, great movie

RooniMan said...

The world would be better with more man cartoonists.

Zoran Taylor said...

"....neither general or individual."

when you pander to both, you serve neither.

Steve LeCouilliard said...

@Zoran: You beat me to it. I was going to say pretty much the same thing. I don't see modern cartoons as women-centric so much as executive-mandated.

The current trend is toward NO point of view, which is, of course, impossible since all expressions of art, no matter how broadly defined contain a point of view. In this case we end up with a disingenuous wholesomeness instead of honest comedy.

I think the objection to this sort of man-centric cartooning is that it seems to bolster the prejudices of the time. What I'd like to see is manly cartoons alongside woman's cartoons or even gay cartoons, all with a strong individual perspective instead of blandness which gets passed off as safe.

Martin Juneau said...

Not to be sexist, but it's true that today's feminists become a plague to our society.

Europpean comics (Not today) like Gaston are true specific comics at my opinion. Maybe it's not also liked than Tintin and Asterix but Andre Franquin have a point unlike Herge and Uderzo have; He draw this character with true humanity and specific characters expressions which is seems lost today. Currently, they re-released in 19 comic-books every Gaston's gags in a way that represent originally Franquin's work, which was a lost when Dupuis re-released Roba's Boule & Bill in 2008, neglected the original paintings cover arts from the early original books and the digitalisation from the original albums.

So yes, we need more cartoonists as womens and mans with true perspective of life. I don't see that in today's features.

Zoran Taylor said...

"What I'd like to see is manly cartoons alongside woman's cartoons or even gay cartoons, all with a strong individual perspective."

Or how about EVERYONE's perspectives interacting? Whatever happened to that? Tell a story from several points of view and see how different characters react to the same things. Why is everyone so sure only novelists and serious filmmakers can do this?

Another thing: If the number one defining trait of every character is their gender, of COURSE it's going to be really hard to write for them if you're the opposite gender. That's why we need more girls like Lucy from Peanuts and more guys like Yogi Bear - characters who are convincing men and women, yet have an enormous number of other traits that could apply to either.

I'd like to further point out the difference between "metrosexuality" and androgyny - One is a fake, wimpy attempt at appealing to some symbol of sophistication, an attempt not to be threatening by having no definition. The other -the latter- is a totally confident and even willfully entertaining ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the places where one's personality transgresses the supposed gender boundaries. You needn't even go to Bowie to see what I mean - Even Fats Waller had some of this in him. So did Josephine Baker.

Zoran Taylor said...

Oh yeah, there's another thing we need more of - TOUGH, FUNNY, GIRLY GIRLS. I don't mean Butch or Femme Fatale per se - I mean Mae West, Bette Davis (She enters the room, whacks him HARD across the face, pauses and then mutters "sorry"), Lucille Ball (as a person), Joan Rivers....we're getting this stuff via SNL now, they've had fantastic women for years. But in CARTOONS....where are they? Clearly there are a LOT of women who are like this. Why can't anyone make a cartoon about them?

georgeliquor said...

"Men who have to work for a living, who had a tough childhood and had to sweat for everything they have, who have seen the ugliest parts of human nature, yet still can find amusement and jollity in the everyday world of crusty humans."

That race of men is dead. Sorry, John.

Now we have a race of kids who can't draw, watch Ren and Stimpy and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, comment on the blogs of cartoonists, and get a cushy job when they're older, where they continue to comment on blogs and watch cartoons when they're supposed to be working.

Yup, evolution at work.

Paul B said...

It seems that the tecnology has taken our humanity apart...

Paul B said...

I would like to be born in an era where more effort is required in order to do things, we would have much more to tell.

Martin Juneau said...

"Now we have a race of kids who can't draw, watch Ren and Stimpy and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, comment on the blogs of cartoonists, and get a cushy job when they're older, where they continue to comment on blogs and watch cartoons when they're supposed to be working."

That's what i think but that's not all and it's scary. Today peoples credits much matter to videogames, rock music and sports than know the problems of our political society. I'm shame to be from this faux pampered generation.

Isaak said...

Since the topic of blandness has come up, I think many historical figures could come up with more distinct animation then today.

Nixon's cartoon- One man against a world, "cartoony" animation would be required to show the exaggerated evil of what he was facing.

Harriet Nelson- The title character, a ragamuffin, ends up in luxury but realizes to her horror she is married to a "monster" and her children are slowly devolving to CalArts characters

Betty Friedan- Picked-on woman would finally have the courage to confront the cadre of belittling men. As previous posters hinted, instead of blandness, would use strong feminine style

Team of Pat Buchanan and Hunter S. Thompson- Cartoon would quickly alternate between caricature of liberals and one of conservatives. Of course, one would have to supervise them so it doesn't go too far off the tracks.

Mr. K.-Sorry to be cliche, but if you want an entertaining feature, read the Fifties. People with good and bad qualities facing off against unknown and exaggerated threats. Would make an interesting cartoon.

Zoran Taylor said...

"......watch Ren & Stimpy.....comment on the blogs of cartoonists...."

WHOA!!! Take THAT, everyone who's here! OUCH!!! Alright everybody, clear out! The threat is REAL, people! If you don't wanna be a pampered sissy, STOP READING THIS BLOG!!!


You're welcome, John.

JohnK said...

Now, now...

talkingtj said...

so i just got rejected from the prestigious school of visual arts the other day.they sighted academic reasons-my gpa, from over 20yrs wasnt high enough. they encourged me to go to community for a year or two then they will put me right in.not likely. it was a long shot from the start but in the end i really didnt want to be the 45 yr old in class with 20 yr old hipsters. the work i saw there did not impress me at all. hard to read, cluttered, bad anime styling. to say i had reservations is an understatement, early on i thought i was making a mistake. i think it works out for the best, im just too old school, i learn more from this site anyway.

Isaak said...

Jon K

If you would like to comment on my comments from some morbid curiousity, my email is on my account.

Taco Wiz A.K.A That One Guy said...

Zoran, I was making fun of MYSELF. I fit the description perfectly...except I'm not an adult yet and therefore don't have the cushy job.

Mykal said...

John: I don't know if you are still interested in the Hatlo style comics, but I've just posted a story over at The Big Blog of Kids' Comics (and referenced this post as well). Hatlo sure was a funny man. -- Mykal