Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Norm McGary Golden Book Paintings and HB Nerd Time

Norm McGary is one of my favorite Golden Book painters.He has a slick style and puts just enough detail into the backgrounds and characters to give you a different experience than what you get from watching the cartoons.The cartoons have the advantage of sound and motion but are limited in how the characters can be rendered, so good Golden Books like McGary's give you extra treats in the rendering.
I like when he does the 2 color limited palette pages too.
Hawley Pratt drew these and he was lucky guy to get so many great painters to polish his rushed drawings. I think more people know his name than the painters who spent must have more time on the books.

I always wondered what the pay rates were for each job. Does the layout artist get as much as the painter? Even though the painter does the most work?
And how much does the writer get who spends half an hour writing a whole book in retarded baby-talk? I love how the writer gets top billing - as if that's what anyone buys a Golden Book for.
This Huck and Friends book has everything an HB fan could want- a bunch of favorite characters in a rocket.

And such a beautifully rendered rocket too! I used to fake sick, skip school and stare at this picture for hours and wonder how many years of intense schooling, whippings and study it would take to become a giant of the Golden Book world of painters.Sometimes McGary would use more grays and neutral colors than most cartoon painters (who tend to use too much primary and secondary colors.)
He used darker colors than the typical Golden Book.
I sometimes confuse his work with another good GB painter - whose name escapes me right now. (I think he did the Beany and Cecil Book)

I also like the way he painted all the humans' noses red, like they went around drunk everywhere.
Aww, how cute...


With so many ways there used to be to paint cartoon characters, you have to wonder why this terrible style is the only one left. Does anyone like this??
I also wonder why CG films have settled on making once cute characters as ugly as possible, when there is so much reference on how to render cartoon characters as appealing as their original designs and cartoons.
Like is there a law that says if you revive a classic character, you have to make him look uglier than real life?

When do you think it was decided that cartoons should no longer appeal to the eyes and whose idea was it?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to another cool artist, John. Old Golden Books are the coolest. This is one of the many reasons why I regularly check up on your blog.

"With so many ways there used to be to paint cartoon characters, you have to wonder why this terrible style is the only one left. Does anyone like this??"

I have a theory on that. Maybe it's because the people who did them were practically raised on bad painting styles and such. Either that, or the executives force the artists to paint that way. Not exactly sure.

Also, I really hated how they did the artwork for the Ren and Stimpy DVDs, especially the first season. Now that's really terrible. Sloppy paint technique and everything. I can't believe they didn't let you draw the characters or even paint them. Compared to that, these Hanna-Barbera DVD renderings look great, and that's saying a lot.

Pedro Vargas said...

My, God! Those paintings are breathtaking! I am blown away!! The first one really is amazing and the one with the moon is just beautiful! Wow, now I want to find more of his HB paintings!

drawingtherightway said...

For some reason that image with the animals in the waiting room reminds me of a Ren and Stimpy episode. I think it might be because of the shadow behind the animal reading the newspaper. Ren and Stimpy had dramatic shadows for certain scenes.

Zartok-35 said...

Hawley Pratt? Thats interesting. I wonder when he could have gotten around to doing this.

They're gonna say "We took a real bear, and Yogi bear, and rendered them half way." And the public will accept it, beacuse they just don't care.

ardy said...

Maybe the new Yogi Bear movie is a "grittier, more realistic" retelling of the Yogi Bear canon, like the new Robin Hood movie was. Ranger Smith is a hardened ex-cop whose life has taken a turn for the worst. After he's forced to retire, his wife leaves him and he becomes an alcoholic. So he takes a low-level security job for a national park, where a monstrous bear is terrorizing park dwellers with deformed midget-bear goon along side him.

RooniMan said...

I'd say some guy in the 70's, on no paticular day, said "I think I'll try making them ugly and see what happens," and look where it lead to.

patrick sevc said...

I stare at this Golden book for hours too. It's perfect!

I am interested in attending your Cartooning class. I haven't done any of the Blair lessons in about a year, but I will do those first 7 lessons this week. In the mean time, if you want, you can see some fairly recent more advanced lessons Here

Thanks John!

Bob Lilly said...

Thanks for the post about the Golden Books paintings. I suspect that the good stuff was and is being painted by artists who didn't particularly specialize in cartoons and could paint from real life. These guys mastered tones and values and could mix the paint.
The bad stuff is probably done by cartoon-only artists with less mastery of the fundamentals (whatever the heck the fundamentals really are).

blakepackard.com said...

"But Yogi,
the CG version of you looks terrible. Mr Ranger and your fans aren't going to like this?"

"Quiet Booboo! Can't you see I'm flat broke. I need this job. Heyehaee!"

ari said...

looks like a man in a suit, seen the new wile e coyote's?


HemlockMan said...

Today I was walking through a mall. There was an ad in the middle of the place from the Forest Service. (Why the Forest Service would advertise at all--let alone in a mall--is beyond me.) On the poster in the kiosk was the "new" Smokey the Bear. Yep. You guessed it. He's computer generated...CGI shit. You can see each individual hair. You can see his lips glistening in his mouth. And, worst of all, he has human teeth! Yeah! Human teeth! And huge, blunt, brown hairy three dimensional fingers. It was hideous. Children are now horrified by Smokey the Bear.

Martin Juneau said...

Those paintings are really cool and the contrasts on it is perfect. This is why i like varieties from different artists rather to like one singular style like the rest of us do today.

About DVD covers, did you know that the first Looney Tunes DVD box set was at the origins a sort of milestone like in the Treasures series? Those executives believe that Clip Art can arranged this unlike a well-done cover art like this: http://forums.goldenagecartoons.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=3356&d=1275414007

pumml said...

McGary is one of my most favorite children's book painters and this book is pure eye-candy. The Yogi Bear big golden book is another great example of his skill. Of all the GB painters, he always seemed to go the extra mile... incorporating a nice variety of techniques that give his paintings a rich quality. Funny to note that he dropped out of art school early on and went directly to established illustrators for advice instead. Seems to have worked out well for him!

I'd be curious to know about their pay rates as well. I wasn't aware that Pratt worked so loose, but it makes sense. He did layout for a ton of books.

Is the other painter you're thinking of Al White? He and McGary have pretty similar styles and he was frequently teamed up with Pratt on these books.

AtomicTiki said...

Personally I feel that CG animation is designed to troll us in some way:


A more apt term there could not be.

Niki said...

I very much want to paint like that. I've even spent three days getting the hang of a comic book panel. I hope I got it right, wish me luck.

Mike said...

I have fond memories of LGB artists like Gustaf Tenggren and Jiri Trnka (more famous as puppeteer and animator).

In one Prague antikvariat I found two editions of a book of fairy-stories Trnka had illustrated, published one year apart (same author, stories and publisher) but with two very different artistic renderings of essentially the same material.

kurtwil said...

The hunch here is the DVD covers shown here are unappealing due to, in part:
1. Characters lumped together without any real staging or compositional skill,
2. Scene lighting that's "hard" (brassy, chromish, CGI-ish).

A lot of DVD or restoration products are directed by folks who really don't understand the originals very well. Still, artists do the best they can on tight budgets and deadlines.

Btw JK, what did you think of AVATAR? It's pretty hard to miss these days as it's playing in any number of stores selling the DVD.

Scrawnypumpkinseed said...

Great pictures there. Really nice coloring.

I always churn when I see DVD covers (like the ones you've presented in this post) where they just add shadows, gradients and other photoshop techniques to every surface of the picture!

Marty Fugate said...

Jeez, that CG Yogi is a walking nightmare. I imagine him saying, "I'm not dead, Mr. Ranger Sir. I'm undead."

-- and the cartoon Ranger wakes up screaming.

Silly-Stungun-Millie said...

What I'm curious about is if there's any information on HOW the Golden Book paintings were made. It would be such a shame if no one passed down the information for future generations.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I love that book! The rocket is painted so beautifully!

EalaDubh said...

I wouldn't let that CGI Yogi near MY computer, the static generated by that frizzy thing would blow it to bits.

Martin Juneau said...

"I always churn when I see DVD covers (like the ones you've presented in this post) where they just add shadows, gradients and other photoshop techniques to every surface of the picture!."

I don't minded to buy a DVD product (Mostly the Looney Tunes) as long that the content is very good at my opinion. I notice rarely the drawings covers because i know that you can't judge it by the covers like for a book.

But those covers from Yogi and Huck is poorly drawn at my opinion compared to the rest of the Looney Tunes covers.

TedM said...

That looks like a really cool Huckleberry Hound book.

easylivin said...

Norm McGary went home to be with the Lord on Feb. 10, 2012. He was dearly loved by all who knew him. He will be missed. His painting's will be cherished. He did all of the paintings for God's Story.

easylivin said...


Norm McGary went home to be with the Lord on Feb. 10, 2012.
He will be missed, but knowing he is "Out of here" is a blessing.

klancy kozmo said...

Norm was a teacher and mentor to my husband. One of the items he gifted us is a beautiful book about the making of Fantasia in 1939. It's something we treasure to this day.