Friday, June 04, 2010

Ketcham/Fitzgerald Houses

This house is a basically simple design. But it's the dynamic angles they are drawn in that impress.
There is a misleading looseness to these drawings that might make you think they are hastily thought out.
But underneath the sketchy lines are some really difficult angles, killer posing and clever staging. The line style is just Fitzgerald's way of imposing some of Ketcham's style on top of his own unique compositions and designs.
Y'know it's astounding that you never see this art talked about in any of the comics history books.
Until Shane Glines started promoting Owen Fitzgerald on Cartoon Retro, the poor guy had never gotten much (if any) public notice. Yet he has to be in the top 10 or 20 comic/cartoon artists in history as far as talent, style, skill and versatility goes.
He was a very humble guy too. I had been a huge fan of his Bob Hope and Starlet O'Hara comics for years and never knew his name. He ended up doing some work on Beany and Cecil for me, and I didn't realize who he was until somoene later told me. I talked to him on the phone and told him how big a fan I was and he seemed amazed that anyone even cared or knew about his work.
This is the same artist! The guy now known to be one of the best pretty girl cartoonists.http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2008/10/owen-fitzgerald-and-real-drawing-skill.html

If I had to guess Fitzgerald's influences I would say...George Clark, Lichty, Hurst and then all the animation principles he absorbed working on classic cartoons. What do you think, Shane?

To think that he ended up anonymously working on horrible Saturday morning cartoons like Scooby Doo as a layout artist.

21 comments:

Kali Fontecchio said...

They don't look rushed to me!

Elana Pritchard said...

Natural looking poses on such slanted angles is quite an amazing feat.

JohnK said...

It sure is! I wish I could do that.

Roberto Severino said...

Appeal, solid posing, staging, and dynamic angles and compositions all working together flawlessly. Owen Fitzgerald must have been a genius to pull all of this off.

I wonder if he ever told you any of his secrets when you were working with him on Beany and Cecil. You sure got to know more animators and cartoonists from the Golden Age than probably most people have.

JohnK said...

Unfortunately, I didn't because he was working in another unit and I didn't know who he was.

MDG14450 said...

"Y'know it's astounding that you never see this art talked about in any of the comics history books."

I'm glad that guys like Fitzgerald are being recognized, and that the internet is giving me a chance to see more of their work then would've been possible (or at least affordable) 20 years ago.

Of course, 90% of the internet remembrances of Howie Post were about "the guy who drew Anthro."

Myke Peters said...

being as young as i am, i never was able to experience this style of animation first hand. It's always been hard for me to find reference points as to who did what style first. It's nice that these guys are starting to get some much deserved recognition.

patrick sevc said...

Thanks for posting these. I've been obsessed with cartoon houses lately.

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Michael said...

Off topic but I just need to share this with this awesome community and John K.

Cartoons and Science! Love this trend in Cognitive Science to present complex systems called Scribing. I believe this is a powerful tool because we grasp complexity through metaphor (George Lakoff - Wikipedia) and cartoons are metaphor on steroids.

RSA Animate – The Secret Powers of Time
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/05/24/rsa-animate-secret-powers-time/

RSA Animate – Empathic Civilisation
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/05/06/rsa-animate-empathic-civilisation/

RSA Animate – Drive
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/04/08/rsa-animate-drive/

RSA Animate – Smile or Die
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/03/17/rsa-animate-smile-die/


This storytelling approach is very innovative. I think opposing viewpoints would have a very hard time getting anyone of comparable innovative talent to do an opposing stop animation scribe because Truth and McTruth are magnetic opposites. Just look at the cheezy corporate graphics on conservative news versus so called progressive or liberal sources. Dedicated artists and or innovators are hunter-gatherers, not brainwashed over-consuming, corn-fed domesticated cows.

top cat james said...

It's a shame that the Dennis comics digests are no longer published. It was an inexpensive way to see all the great art and stories from the 50's and 60's. I still have my sizable collection of the "Pocketful of Fun" digests Fawcett put out in the Seventies.

Niki said...

His work looks like the kind where the artist is confident enough to draw straight ahead when he did that Dennis page. Which one came first the Dennis or the Bob Hope comic?

Martin Juneau said...

I really like those compositions to the house. Did anyone watching the cartoon made by Dic in the 1980's? I think they popularised this character more than the original comic i rarely the occasion to read.

I like when artists can have variety in their works. The sad part is today, everyone who wants to draw seems only stuffs like Anthro and call themeselves experts because they do this only. :(

RooniMan said...

Is Owen's work good for study?

Cali-4nia said...

Just found your blog yesterday! Amazing! I have sooo much catching up to do. I'll be at this for weeks! You're doing a wonderful service to all of the animation buffs out there.

Also, do you still review your animation school blog? If so, I have posted some stuff if you'd like to have a peak.. I have a lot of lessons to catch up on.

Thanks Mr. K

http://cali-4nia.blogspot.com/

John Pannozzi said...

This post has increased my desire to go and write a book on Owen Fitzgerald someday. I seriously want to write books about animation and cool stuff. I even want to make some documentary films on animation if possible.

HemlockMan said...

A lot of the old comic book artists were that way. Very humble, and very surprised that anyone would recognize their talent.

Hell! They used to GIVE AWAY comic book pages! They'd GIVE them away! Or toss them! Or chop them up and use them for ads and production art and THEN throw them away! Many (if not all) of them considered this stuff throwaway. No matter the thought and effort they put into the work.

Yep. When you consider how the publishers treated their work, it's no wonder that so many of them were very sweet, humble people.

Alex Firer said...

I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned, but Jaime Hernandez cites the Dennis the Menace comic books as an extraordinary influence on his work.

David Germain said...

This is the same Owen Fitzgerald that was Friz Freleng's layout artist in the 1930's and early 1940's, right? Or is this a different guy?

JohnK said...

Yes. I think he worked for Chuck Jones too.

Ron Ferdinand said...

It's really great of you to bring Owen Fitzgerald's Dennis work to the forefront. When we closed our Monterey studio down in '95, Hank let me have the original art from a complete Fitzgerald story. Not only was his published art loose and great but as you look at the originals, you see how astounding his brush and penwork were. He made it look so easy.