Monday, July 11, 2011

80s Pre-Wonk

Here is a color key painted by the very talented Vicki Jensen in 1984 or so.
It's from a layout I drew for a cartoon show presentation called "Rockin' At The Rim". It was a show concept created by some rich guy's kid and his swarthy lawyer. These two guys ran into cartoon writer Charlie Howell at a bar and told them their idea for the greatest show in the world and asked if he would develop it. He, in turn asked me to help him with it. Charlie is one of a handful of cartoon writers who started as an animator.


I was never good at drawing backgrounds because props, objects and perspective evade me. This style though (if you can call bad drawing a style) morphed a few years later into the Bakshi Mighty Mouse style.This BG (the Cow's lair) is a better drawing than mine, probably designed by Jim Smith who actually can draw perspective, and he only slightly bent things while still maintaining a composition. The painting might also be by Vicki, or at least keyed by her.

This Mighty Mouse style later morphed into all out wonky cartoons when imitated by other studios who dropped the control and turned the apparent anarchy into sincere chaos.

I have more stories about "Rockin' at The Rim" if anyone is interested. I might have a couple more drawings from it. I'll have to dig through my files. I wonder if Charlie still has the story notes.

19 comments:

Steven M. said...

Are these from Mighty Mouse?

Damiano D said...

Interesting. I love the color and style, what ever happened to the project? Did no one bite?

Carmine said...

Cool BGs.

It's interesting how a lot of 80s cartoon styles, really feel like a 50s throwback, in terms of shapes and just general design elements. Perhaps cause lots of 80s cartoonists grew up in the 50s?

Actually, 80s style in general, outside of cartoons, but in all pop-culture, is very 50s feeling. Like the "Pee-wee's Playhouse" look, for lack of a better example. Anyone else notice that?

JohnK said...

It was a bad misunderstanding of the 50s from a generation that didn't have the same skills.

John Pannozzi said...

I'd like to hear more about Rockin' at The Rim. I love hearing about projects that never got off the ground.

Martin Juneau said...

To Carmine: Did it can explain why such things done today was taken from 80's pop-culture standards? The same cycle repeat 30 years later with less professionnal than the earlier generations have.

Cool project and backgrounds quality. Just a shame it never really seen the day.

BlakeJ said...

I would like to hear some stories, John. More pictures to accompany would be nice too, if you can find them.

Also, why do you think many young artists just go for the "cool" look instead of competent, principled, yet funny drawings?

K-T said...

Cool paintings, although the colors are pretty bad.

Mattieshoe said...

It seems that the more unique or specific something successful is, the more it lends itself to superficial imitation.

Maybe that explains why all puppets have to be designed in the Jim Henson "style" now.

Omar Momani said...

nobody color like this, amazing.
please John post more

Trevor Thompson said...

I adore your 80's style. Sue me.

Trevor Thompson said...

Colors are a bit much though.

Carmine said...

Yes, I agree Martin Juneau, that 80s style has been back in, particularly in the 2000s, regarding fashion. Now that its the 10s, who knows, but the popped collar, high top sneakers, skinny jeans, Run DMC t-shirts, and neon/crazy colors, have all been back in style in the 2000s. I'm assuming that eventually the 2010s will see a resurgence of 90s styles, but who knows. I don't know if the over-sized clothing will ever make a come-back....

But other than the constant re-launching of different 80s cartoons, I haven't really seen 80s style re-emerge in animation. I could be wrong though...

Pete Emslie said...

True, the primary colours on the barn seem a bit gaudy, but there's a richness to using real paint on illustration board (or watercolour paper) that you just don't get with the crummy Photoshop stuff being done for TV animation today. This is, of course, just the opinion of this Ol' Fart.... :)

Adam said...

You should keep posting more of your 80s stuff

Tom said...

Show Bud Budrimsky!

Scrawnycartoons said...

I haven't quite grasped the concept of wonky.

I know what you mean by '80s wonky, where the just have random angles to make it seem "wacky"
http://bit.ly/oTg8EL

Elana Pritchard said...

I love the barn bg. Even though the colors are gaudy you can still hear the crickets chirping.

HemlockMan said...

Lots of super-obvious sexual imagery in that silo/barn illustration.

I'd be interested in hearing more about this stillborn project. Mainly because I like hearing about this type of thing where even money can't buy you fame.