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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Beautiful People 12 and Lovable Ducks

Hey look at more Rod Scribner crazy Daffy Duck faces from the Great Piggy Bank Robbery!
Andrea put a new scene up on his killer site-go there and see the rest! Then search for Gruesome Twosome on his site too.

Make sure you comment and thank the rascal for doing this for everybody! He's your pal.

I can't think of any controversy to stir up today so you'll have to satisfy yourself with envying the natural beauty of these great stars.

I gotta run down to a TV Land shoot-it's about the most popular catch phrases on TV in the last few years I think...

I'll find some crap later to stir up the pot again.

Buy some shirts and underpants!

Monday, March 27, 2006

The George Liquor Program Spinoffs: 2 Dirty Pussies

a beautiful study of the female behind by Mr. Jay Li.

So here's my dilemna; some fans tells me I go too far and others tell me I don't go far enough.
How do you please everyone?

I figure if I split my cartoons into some for prime time and some strictly for kids I'd have a chance to make more folks happy.

Even prime time poses a problem. What makes something prime-time? Basically, something that kids aren't supposed to watch. A lot of cartoons seem to rely on just breaking taboos or at least cartoon taboos, but there aren't too many left to break are there. Almost everything that was once considered taboo has been done in Family Guy and South Park now - except stuff that takes some drawing ability - like sexy girls!

Katie Rice and I were writing shorts ideas with characters from the George Liquor Program and we thought it would be cool to take Cigarettes the Cat and Bugs Pussy and star them in their own series as 2 horny cats always trying get free shows from human girls.

Here's the outline for I guess what you would call the pilot episode. If you like cartoons that kids aren't supposed to watch, let me know what you think and go for as many comments as possible to induce me to put more stories up! You got me 450 for my last George Liquor story post. Can we beat it? Better enlist your friends!

Peeping Tomcats

Cigarettes The Cat runs into his old buddy, Bugs Pussy. They compare their lifestyles.

Bugs is a can pussy (he lives in a garbage can in an alley), and figures himself to be well set up.
He asks Cigarettes where he lives, and Cigarettes reveals that he is the pet of a hot teenage girl. “Whoa! A CARTOON HUMAN girl?? Sweet deal!” ejaculates Bugs.(Cartoon animals always lust for human women)
Gigarettes shrugs and says “It’s a decent life.”

Cigarettes asks if Bugs wants to see a show that night. “What’s playing?”
"Well at 10:00 my master changes into her pajamas.”
“Hey, that sounds great! Who produced it?” Cigarettes says John K. did and Bugs realizes he’s in for a good show. “That guy delivers the goods, man!!”

That night they are in Sody Pop’s bedroom as she is preparing for bed. “Aw, who’s your new little pussy friend?” she asks as she strokes Bugs’ fur. He purrs and Cigarettes meows in answer.

The two buds act like cats the whole time and pretend that they are not at all aroused by Sody’s changing-except that every time she looks away, they look at each other and make dirty faces and sweat profusely. When she looks back, they resume cat behavior and lick their crotch fur. Bugs mutters under his breath at Cigarettes, “I’m glad I’m not a faggot, man!”

As Sody starts to take off her top, she is complaining, “I hate boys!! They only want one thing!” She slides her pants off and picks up Cigarettes, sits on the edge of her bed and strokes his fur. “I wish boys were more like you guys. You love me for myself!”

Cigarettes winks at Bugs, who is turning purple with lust.
Before she takes of her undies, Cigarettes and Bugs hide her pajamas under the bed.
Then we show her slowly peeling off her bra, then her panties.

We cut to a closed laundry hamper as a pair of panties flies towards it. The lid flips up and Bugs lunges up from the shadows to catch them, and dives back into the hamper as the lid shuts closed.

Sody is on all fours crawling around the floor looking for her pajamas.

As Bugs and Cigarettes are staring in awe at Sody’s beautiful body. They realize someone else is peering in on the scene: A mouse, a tic sticking out of his fur, and a worm coming out of Bugs’ ear.

They are outraged! Gigarettes pulls a gun on the mouse and yells in a whisper, “You friggin’ pervert! I’ll report you!”

Sody gives up on finding her PJ’s and decides to sleep “au naturel”. She scoops up her pussies and they eagerly crawl into the sack with her.
The End!

So that's just one of a few side stories we came up with for some shorts about characters from the George Liquor Program. Want more? Gimme them comments!

Oh here are links to the other George Liquor Program Posts for those of you who have just discovered my blog:
all kinds of stuff: The George Liquor Program
all kinds of stuff: George Liquor Stories 1
all kinds of stuff: George Liquor Stories 2

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Barber Shop 7 -readability

Hey go ahead and read the funnies and then I'll give you some bull afterwards.

OK, well I don't know how amused (if at all) you were but I'm going to tell you some other principles of good drawing and storytelling that have to do with readabilty.

By readability I mean how easy (or hard) it is to see the pictures and how well they draw you to the important points of the scene.
If you are already a pro, you probably know all these concepts, so I'm really just offering this stuff to young artists who could use some tools to help drive their ideas home.

Readabilty is made up of these tools:
Where you place your characters, BG and props within the panel (or screen if it's a movie).
I like to use simple staging and I usually focus on the characters.
I see some modern comics and shows that have complicated or cluttered images that make it hard for you to see in an instant what is going on.
I don't believe in filling the panel or screen with wall to wall detail. It makes your images and story hard to read.

Sillhouettes and negative shapes
The characters in this comic have more details than in my cartoons because we don't have to draw as many drawings for a comic as we do for animation. We can spend more time on each drawing in a comic.
Details can be dangerous if not carefully placed or if your characters don't have clear sillhouettes.
Look at the panel 1 on page 1. The barber is holding up his razor. It reads because there is a big space all around the blade. His whole body reads becausem it is a simple sillhouette. There is almost a tangent where his little finger hovers above the mirror's border. Had I noticed, I might have moved his hand up a bit more to clear the border better.
If you look at almost every panel you can see big negative shapes that draw attention to whatever the import action of the scene is.
Negative shapes are just as important as filled shapes-not only in your overall sillhouettes and composition, but even in detailed areas-such as a face. Note that between the characters' eyes and the sillo of the head there are empty spaces that help draw attention to the expressions.
I see a lot of young artists who will fill a whole face with the eyes, nose and mouth, so that there is no empty space in the head. That makes the face a jumble and hard to read.

Line of action
Look at the last panel on page 1. You can draw a line right through the barber's body, then through his neck and his head. This line of action makes him lean forward.
This is a concept that has really been lost in many cartoons today. I'm amazed when I see whole TV shows or movies where the characters are just standing or sitting straight up and down or equally bad-every bit of the body is zig zagging in every direction.
Almost every panel in the comic uses lines of action. I just picked the last panel of page 1 because it is so obvious-but the first panel also uses one for the barber, although more subtle.

Nature is asymmetrical or organic. Math is geometric.
I like art that is organic-that uses the rules of nature rather than the stricter and simpler rules of math.
When you see a scene that has 2 or 3 characters in it and they are all lined up with equal distance between them and they all are on the same angle, that to me is very artificial and boring. Poo on that.

On page 3, look at panels 2 and 5. Note that George and Jimmy are closer to each other than either is to the barber. George and Jimmy are almost one entity. No one is exactly in the middle of the panel either.
This concept of asymmetry is carried all the way to the details of all the forms. No 2 eyes are exactly the same, nothing on a character is exactly the same on one side as the other.
Even the eyes are different shapes on top than they are on the bottom. No perfect ovals.

Now even though this is a cartoon, I feel that making everything seem so natural makes all the crazy stuff that happens in the story more believable.
It's part of why people get so intensely involved in the stories of my cartoons. They just seem more real than what else is current.
It makes the cartoons warm. Many cartoons today are like staring at wallpaper that swears. You may laugh at the dirty jokes but it's very hard to be pulled into the stories because everything is so mechanical or artificial.
I invite cartoon designers and artists to comment on how many times their boss at some modern studio told them to make their drawings more even and mechanical.

Hmmm...a thought about characterization. I mentioned that I like things that seem natural. Well not just in the drawings but in the personalities of the characters too. Some cartoonists and all execs think you can define a character simply with a few rules and catch phrases-Chuck Jones for example. He says Bugs Bunny can never lose and can't ever pick a fight. I say, "Why not?" and so did the other WB directors. Some of Bugs' funniest films are the ones where he loses or is a big heckler-"Tortoise Wins By a Hare" is my all time favorite Bugs cartoon even though he loses.

Human nature is neither simple nor completely predictable. In modern cartoons the execs want you to figure out all 3 traits of a character before you ever animate a cartoon and then never to vary from this mathematical formula again.

Someone a while back told me I didn't understand George Liquor's character. Something to the effect of "George is a republican. Republicans are bad. Cigarette smoking is bad. Therefore George should smoke."

While I welcome the suggestion, I have to say that I grew up with someone very much like George Liquor who hates smoking and is very conservative.

I believe that all humans are full of contradictions and opposing motives. Which is why we are all crazy. And entertaining.

This story is about 2 conservative guys who have a lot of hate for certain things but they also have the capabilty to be soft and gentle. The pages in this post show that contradiction and I think that's what is funny about it.

My favorite panel is the bottom right of page 2 where Harvey just loses it and says what he really thinks about hippies.

Then in an instant both he and George lighten up at the generous suggestion that Harvey give the one decent young lad a couple nicks on the face and all is once again right with the world.

Now buy a Goddamn t-shirt and support natural insanity!

Beautiful People 11

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mr. Horse rough to solid

Here are some models created from Ren Seeks Help.
One of the biggest problems creatively I've faced over the years is getting an original idea to survive the assembly line system of making cartoons-especially the Saturday Morning cartoon system I began my career in.

When you do an original drawing (if you are any good) you tend to put a lot of life and action into it when you first think of it. Then it has to be traced, cleaned up, animated and assisted and colored. Each of these steps along the way tends to tone the drawing down.

This happens naturally even if you clean up your own drawing-it loses some of the guts and spontaneity.

Now imagine if your whole production system is geared on top of that to purposely tone everything down!
That was the system in the 70s and 80s and is still the system at most studios today.

In my own studio and the service studios I work with, I have to constantly beg people not to tone down artwork.
The layout artist tones down the storyboard drawing. The animator tones down the layout, then the assistant tones down the animation key and then in Korea the "on model" department erases everything and traces a pose off the model sheet.

This whole process tortures me so I always have to teach people first-to not have an inclination to tone down a drawing I hand them-and then give them some techniques to help them preserve the life of the drawings.
These are some key poses I roughed out for Ren Seeks Help. I then gave them to my most solid artist in Canada to do sample cleanups. Helder Mendonca is a really great cartoonist whose strongest attribute is his ability to construct characters out of solid shapes. He is a natural talent who learned a lot from Jim Smith-another artist whose drawings are really solid.

If you look at the roughs you can see how I try to build up my poses out of simple shapes and then lay the details on top of them. And I attempt to wrap the details around the bigger forms. This is not natural to me. I naturally draw flat and had to teach myself construction, I'm not the best at it at all but I like it when I see it so I try for it.
Helder then tries to preserve the flow of the poses and make the drawings even more solid-these 2 concepts are very hard to balance-they are naturally opposed.
We did these samples and handed them out to the rest of the artists as guides.
Mr. Horse is a particularly hard character to draw-well all horses are! Do you remember when Dreamworks did a press release for "Spirit" and told everyone that no one had ever animated a horse with personality before? They explained that it was because a horse's mouth is too far from its eyes, so you couldn't draw expressions on one. Their solution was to shorten the snout to bring the eyes and mouth closer together. Uhhhh....ok.
Boy, try to draw gestures with hooves!! Yikes. Most artists are terrified to draw Mr. Horse. Helder loved it. He did a lot of his own scenes that are just killer. He drew the great pistol-whipping scene at the end of this cartoon.
He draws a good maimed frog too.
One of my favorite "solid" style animators is Bob McKimson. He animated a lot of stuff for Bob Clampett (as well as other directors) and he could draw really realistic subtle acting. He did the scenes in Falling Hare where Bugs is sitting on the wing of the airplane reading about gremlins and scoffing at the stories "Gremlins, little men..what a fairy tale!"
This - to me - is the best looking Bugs Bunny ever animated.

Clampett told me that McKimson had a photographic memory and when Clampett handed out scenes to McKimson, he would act out the whole scene live and Mckimson would just memorize every human gesture and expression Clampett did and then turn around and animate it just like Bob acted it out.


Hey, Brian Romero posted some Mckimson drawings of the greatest cartoon character in history-Adolph Hitler! Go check 'em out. He has 3 sets of drawings. The first and 3rd are McKimson's animation, and the middle set is Rod Scribner.

Also look at the rest of his blog. He has lots of great stuff there. Make sure you comment and thank his ass.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Specific Acting in Looney Tunes-Duck Twacy

While we're on the subject of specific acting you might wonder where I got the idea to do it in cartoons.

Specific acting is something we all take for granted in live action because each real actor is a live person who brings his or her own personality and observations of other humans to the screen or stage.
This is something all humans have naturally. Everyone you know has specific faces he makes and gestures she does we expect to see this kind of acting in our favorite TV shows and movies.

Most of us don't expect to see it in cartoons. Why? Because hardly anyone does it. Why? Because not very many artists ever thought of it and because it is hard to draw.

I accepted generic acting in cartoons when I was a kid, because I was so mesmerized by the sheer magic of drawings that were moving at all.

I started to become a bit more discerning when I was a teenager and I realized how much more sophisticated the Warner Bros. cartoons were than the other classics-particularly in how much more believable the characters were.

I found myself particularly attracted to Chuck Jones' cartoons and I noticed not only his slick drawing style, but also the unique expressions he drew.

I especially liked when he would invent an abstract expression that no human could actually do-like the famous "D-uh" take he draws where the two whites of the eyes are joined and one is bigger than the other. Thanks to Pat Lewis for finding me this frame below!

I used to copy all the funny expressions Jones did and talk to my friends about it. They thought I was a real weirdo let me tell you! Anyway, Jones' cartoons tend to be pose to pose, so whenever he invented some funny pose or expression, he would hold it long enough for you to notice it. That's cool!

When I was 20 I discovered Bob Clampett's cartoons and was instantly blown away by how much richer and more inventive they were than even my favorite cartoons of my childhood.
As a contrast to Jones' work, Clampett's cartoons are not pose to pose, they tend to be moving constantly. The amazing thing is that so much information is happening and yet it all reads - even without holding every idea!

He would have characters act and in a single sentence there would be a bunch of custom tailor made new and specific expressions to describe each inflection of the dialogue!

When I began freeze framing his cartoons a whole new world opened up to me. I realized why his cartoons were so exciting-something was happening on every frame! Not just bookended in the held poses. Clampett and his animators could control all this information and make you absorb it and understand it all. This is fantastic control-I can tell you from experience, it's really hard to do and back then no one else was doing it.

My pal Andrea, (Duck Dodgers) has done a great service to cartoon fans by posting still frames of classic cartoons all over his site.

Below are just a few frames from one scene of Bob Clampett's The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.

Note that the first frame is pretty normal looking.

This is animated by the great Rod Scribner. He uses every part of the drawing to get across subtle distinctions in the characters' mood at each instant of his acting.
He even changes the shape of the pupils during the animation to add color to the emotion.
This scene was one of the great revelations of my life!
Many of these expressions can't be described in words. I know what Daffy is feeling on the frame below but can't tell it to you. The picture speaks better than any words can.
Sometimes a duck has teeth, other times he doesn't. I remember an executive telling me to change a storyboard panel once because "ducks don't have teeth." It was a talking duck, by the way.
Look at the picture below sideways but don't let your Mom catch you.

That goes double for the one below! (I've seen this in real life many a time!)
Seeing Jones' cartoons and Clampett's cartoons gave me the idea to look not only at cartoons for acting ideas, but to look at real life, study actors and on top of all that even invent physically impossible expressions that can only be drawn.

I'm hooked on specific acting and can never go back.

Click the link below to see more of this scene, and if you scroll down the page fast it will animate! If you are a young cartoonist and want to learn fast, I suggest you copy these drawings and then go freeze frame more old cartoons from the 1940s and copy them over and over until you start to absorb all the great principles of the best cartoons ever made.

Hey Andrea, isn't there another close up scene of Daffy near this one that's even crazier?
"Hey, what's the matter with me? I'm Duck Twacy!"

Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy

Hey folks,

Lemme talk of two little concepts about my cartoons:
The Spumco Style
Spumco Acting

OK firstly, as I've said before there is no specific Spumco style. The style of every scene in every cartoon I do depends on who is drawing the scene (both storyboard and layout), who painted the background and what the scene is about and how the artist and the characters are feeling at the moment.

In a general sense the Spumco style is a combination of my style (which changes all the time) and the styles of whichever star artists happen to working on the cartoons with me at the time.
By star artists I mean artists who have special talent-even by Spumco standards and have a unique personal style and outlook. Not many artists have this but Spumco seems to attract them.

Now this very concept-of allowing individual artists to bring their own style to the cartoons is in this modern era of blandness unique to Spumco. Every other studio is completely anal about forcing all the artists to follow the model sheets and all draw the same, and every cartoon has to have the same look every week for 10 years running. Screw that!

One important aspect of the Spumco style is the specific acting. In other words, we try not to repeat stock expressions over and over again. I have a rule that you are never allowed to draw the same expression twice in your life at Spumco.
To make this even harder, the expressions you have to make up have to also fit the particular charcter and the very particular emotion he or she is feeling at this one unique moment in his/her life.
Whew! Sounds impossible? It almost is but we try for it.

By the way, you really have to have strong fundamental drawing skills if you are going to try to draw specific custom made acting. Ask any artists that have ever worked for me how hard it is to do.

So below are some frames from the Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy. These cartoons are an advance in the acting we did in the original series which was already a revolution in cartoons.

The amazing thing is many of the artists who did this work were very young and for some it was their first job.

We also had Ren and Stimpy veterans Eddie Fitzgerald, Jim Smith and Vincent Waller drawing for it.

Look at the pics below and I will tell you who drew them and then see if you can define the Spumco "style" in simple terms.

me-although Ren is an inbetween...


Helder Mendonca shows us duck lust

Fred Osmond has an eye theory for you...

This is a combo of me and I think Nick Cross...but it's a caricature of me when I'm being perverted

This is a final drawing by Katie Rice inspired by a rough from Nick Cross. It thrills me when I see combinations of different artists' styles! When you let people create and influence each other you end up with lots of new ideas and drawing techniques.

Here's Katie and me...

Here's a layout by...(I don't know yet!) but it's from a tiny scribble I wrote on my timing notes.

Here's me. I make this face all the time.

This is Warren Leonhardt (I hope I spelled it right!)

Jessica Borutski.

Katie did the girls and Luke Cormican drew Ren.

Nick Cross drew this great stylish picture (of course I modeled for the crotch)

I've talked to some of my artists about the "zone". This is a creative state we all want to be in all the time. It's when all the rules and restrictions that you need to be a good artist and to plan your scenes are lost for a sublime moment in your subconscious and then somehow out of nowhere weird things just squirt out of your pencil that you could never think of using mere logic.
It usually happens at about 4 in the morning. I was in the zone when I drew that Ren above. His eyes don't make any physical sense, but you can tell exactly what he's feeling from the weird shapes. It's weird but specific at the same time.

Start arguing...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happytime Apparel-John and Katie's new store

All up and down Rodeo Drive you can see the biggest and most glamorous stars as they showcase the latest fashion trend-John and Katie's new HAPPYTIME APPAREL!
Girls! See how many husbands come running when you wear a Happytime Baby Tee- now with Phil The Pocket Pup right above your eager left tittie!
Or try our fancy-ass cap-sleeve-shirts emblazoned with Nit Hoatzin, Vixen From The Future! Transport yourself to other dimenisons where all the men have extra equipment so ready to do your bidding!
For the daring lady cartoon fans, now you can be as sexy as Wally Man in his brand spanking teensy weensy Cigarettes the Pussy Thong!
Dress up like a famous Hollywood cartoonist and when you're done dreaming, go dress up your favorite authentic hotshot cartoonist!

OK, fans this is your big chance to prove your love to us. We've heard the words. Now's your chance to back 'em up with cash!

Tell you what-we know you want lots more designs and as soon as we sell the first 200 items we'll drop a new batch on you.

Next up will be some of Katie's funny cute girls to wear over your most sensitive parts!

Go to her and share your urges:

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Beautiful People 10 - mate with them

Are we ready to name these Hollywood hotties?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Don Martin gifts from Corbett

Cobett (Vanoni) has been very kind in sending us links for more Don Martin comics, so here they are for your enjoyment. All you girls out there owe him a kiss!
The Sculptor in His Studio 1
The Sculptor in His Studio 2
The Sculptor in His Studio 3
The Sculptor in His Studio 4
The Sculptor in His Studio 5
The Sculptor in His Studio 6

The Fishermen 1
The Fishermen 2
The Fishermen 3
The Fishermen 4

Moving Men 1
Moving Men 2
Moving Men 3

After the Rains 1
After the Rains 2
After the Rains 3

Early One Morning 1
Early One Morning 2
Early One Morning 3
Early One Morning 4

Carpenter's Assistant 1
Carpenter's Assistant 2
Carpenter's Assistant 3
Carpenter's Assistant 4
Carpenter's Assistant 5
Carpenter's Assistant 6
Carpenter's Assistant 7
Carpenter's Assistant 8

The Chase 1
The Chase 2

Barber Shop 6 - tension builds and Don Martin!

I'm a little worn out from some of my own tension today. If only I had someone to shave me and calm me down.

I'm using some ideas I got from Don Martin to give a sense of timing to the Barber pages way below.
That's a hard thing to do in comics since there is no animation.
See how Don Martin does his thing.

If you don't know who Don Martin is, he's Mad Magazine's "Maddest Artist" and a brilliant innovator to boot. Grab the old 60s paperback books he did and study his pacing and staging!

On The Beach 1
On The Beach 2
On The Beach 3
On The Beach 4
On The Beach 5

The Great Hotel Fire 1
The Great Hotel Fire 2
The Great Hotel Fire 3
The Great Hotel Fire 4

In Surgery 1
In Surgery 2
In Surgery 3
In Surgery 4
In Surgery 5
Note the use of punctuation in the panel continuity. Instead of just using each panel for each gag, I use some pantomime panels to create pauses before the punch lines-like stand up comics use. I got this from Don Martin and animated cartoons too.

In this last page, the punctuation panels are gone which speeds up the actions as they get madder and madder.

OK, here’s a theory:
Most comics before Don Martin broke up their story into panels and used each panel to tell the important plot points in succession.

When I was a kid, I noticed that Don Martin’s comics told their story with a sense of timing. He broke up his actions into the important bits-in smaller increments than most comics and it made you feel like they were happening in real time.
Don Martin’s comics are like animation. They have rhythm-and I think I absorbed that into my storyboarding technique and then in my own comics.

Speaking of storyboarding technique, check out Bob Camp’s and my storyboard for Stimpy’s Invention!

Stimpy's Invention Board Pt 1

Thursday, March 16, 2006

You better learn to love classic cartoons!


OK, listen all you young would-be animators, if you wanna become great you have to learn from the old cartoon masters from the 1940s.
Learn everything you can about how they drew and animated, how they thought and what cartoons they made.
Don't study my cartoons; study all my influences.

Here's a poster I did with Lynne Naylor of my biggest hero Bob Clampett:

I won't tell you too much about him except that I think he was the most influential and greatest of the classic cartoon directors. He was the looniest of all the Looney Tunes animators and was largely responsible for their success and style.
My other big heroes are Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and Bob McKimson.
If you want to draw great, copy their beautiful and hilarious cartoons from the 1940s.

Look at some of these fun pictures from Clampett's cartoons:

Kitty Kornered

Falling Hare

Baby Bottleneck

So listen up, kids, many young cartoonists come to me with portfolios full of fake spumco style drawings or worse-graffiti art or the Cal Arts style. Don't do it!

What I look for is good old fashioned 40s style cartoon fundamentals. If you seriously want to work for me one day then do exactly what I tell you.
Buy this book now!
It's by Preston Blair, one of Tex Avery's animators in the 1940s. He animated Red Hot Riding Hood! This is the best book ever written about how to draw cartoons. It costs about 11 dollars and will teach you more than 4 years and $80,000 worth of cheesy animation school.

But after you buy it, be sure to open it!

Draw the characters in it and DRAW THEM THE WAY HE SHOWS YOU HOW TO DRAW THEM!

Learn these important fundamental principles:
Line Of Action
Clear Sillhouettes
These are all words they use in animation school, but they don't show you how to do any of it. Preston explains it all clearly and shows you with great solid and beautiful drawings.

I can't stress how important this advice is. You can't get into Spumco if you don't learn these principles correctly. Don't concern yourself about your own personal style. You don't have one yet. Only 1 in a hundred cartoonists ever develop an actual style. Fundamentals are much more important.

The kind of cartoonists I like are the ones that can see the obvious: that cartoons should look good and that old cartoons are the most appealing. If you can see that, then you might have a chance of learning how to do it. I'll help anyone who can prove it to me.

Now, it's very hard these days to find the great cartoons because they hardly ever show them on TV anymore for some mysterious reason.

You can learn about the history of them at Steve Worth's Asifa animation archive. Go there. Steve is very helpful and generous with his time and knowledge. Buy him a hot dog.
Go and see Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs, the greatest cartoon ever made!

Here's another great site to see frames from cartoons that pleasured your eyeballs.

Go buy some 1940s WB cartoon videos here. Buy the tapes instead of the DVDs! They are easier to use and look a lot better!

I'll talk more about classic cartoons in later posts, but this is a good start for those of you who are interested. Bone up!
I used to freeze frame great old cartoons and taught myself the classic fundamental principles above. You can do it too! And you will laugh a lot whiile you discover these masterpieces.

Good luck!

P.S. Don't copy drawings from Friz cartoons because they are not drawn very well. They are stiff, sloppy and bland.
Chuck is great. So are Bob, Tex and McKimson and so are the late 1940s Tom and Jerrys.
Do it.

Oh, and if you are in college I would be happy to come and lecture and show the best of these cartoons.

If you show me crummy flat cartoon drawings I'll fly apart!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

John K. Package Design

One of my crazy beliefs is that character merchandise should be as fun as cartoons themselves.
Kevin Kolde hired Spumco to design packages for paint projects in the mid 90s and we took what Palmer Paints were already selling with generic names and titles and rethought their products.

What was once "poster Paint" became "TV Cartoon Paint". If you were a kid, which would you rather have?

Not only do we try to make the packages look fun, we write jokes all over them too. My philosopy is to be nice to kids (and kid-like adults!). Richard Pursel and Elinor Blake and I wrote lotsa fun stuff on the packages and each one featured a message from a Hollywood cartoonist to the kids.
We made a whole bunch more paint sets. You probably don't want to see the rest though.

Spumco made toys too and so I worked with cool designers to do the packaging. The Jimmy Of The Future box was designed by the brilliant Dave Sheldon-who designed many of the retro fake-commercials in the original Ren and Stimpy cartoons.
I designed The George Liquor Talking Man box and worked with Craig Kelly who was our graphic designer.
Craig and I designed these cell painting kits, and we used to stay up all night long having laughing fits on the floor coming up with the gags that we put all over the boxes.
Craig and I almost died laughing at 4 in the morning as we tried to figure out how kids could wear a mask of a 3/4 angle of Cartoon legend Joe Barbera. Finally I said, let's clone his left ear and attach it on the right side of his head!" Then Craig said but then the eyes won't be in the middle..." He solved that quickly by adding the tab between Joe's face and his ear.

Joe loved this box when I presented it to him. He said "John, this is craaaaaazy!!" and grabbed me and dragged me into his office and showed me his shower room and his secret treasure- a poster signed to him by Michael Jackson that he kept hidden in the closet and would only show to open-minded soul mates like me.

We even wrote funny instruction booklets for the cel painting kits and they made Linda Jones really mad.

Here is the box for the Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy coming soon from Paramount. The famous innovator, Annmarie Ashkar designed it.
Go ahead and strain your eyes to see if you can read all the crap all over the box.

We also are working on the "Ultimate Set" which is more graphic in the design. Wanna see it?

OK, maybe I'll write more stories about these boxes later, but I have to go meet Eddie Fitzgerald for pizza and theories.
He's the guy who made the funniest short cartoon for TV in the last 10 years, I think. Starring the "Worm". TALES of WORM PARANOIA

Monday, March 13, 2006

Beautiful People 9 - yeesh- and Spumco's business acumen

Hey, while you are figuring out who these beauties are, let me ask you something. My pal Eddie once wrote up a list of all the innovations that were introduced by Spumco that the rest of the cartoon business just takes for granted now.

It's a pretty long list. In fact there are quite a few inventions and concepts we started that haven't even been picked up yet. The whole business according to Eddie is still trying to catch up on about 10% of the first slew of gifts.

Now I know this is bound to agitate the Spumco bashers out there and will sound like bragging, but I kinda don't give a crap. I figure I better put it down just for the sake of history, since the whole cartoon business made a pile of money from us with no thought of ever paying us back.

Basically, for the last 15 years, Spumco has been the research and development department for the rest of 2D animation. Usually studios pay for this department, but since Spumco was an independant studio, everyone else just waited for all the inventions and the training of new artists and snapped 'em up as greedily as they could. Spumco has only ever been paid for basic production, not for training artists, not for developing markets and technologies and not for developing new shows-(all this is usually covered under "overhead" at major studios), but I have always had to use my own money (and my producers') to push history forward. Nevertheless, Spumco is responsible for the 3 biggest business, marketing and technological innovations in the last 15 years and everyone else has benefitted greatly.

The 3 most general changes in animation were 3 new markets that generated billions of dollars for the industry:
1) Cable TV cartoons: Before Ren and Stimpy, kid cartoons were relegated to major networks' Saturday Morning cartoons. Ren and Stimpy came along and was the most popular TV show ever created for cable for 10 years (until Sponge Bob, a descendant of R and S) and it sold 600 million dollars of merchandise in the first 2 years. This success brought Nickelodeon into millions of new homes and gave The Cartoon Network confidence that it too could maybe compete against the established Network giants.
Nickelodeon then adopted (a nice way to put it) my studio system that was completely different than the Saturday morning cartoon system and stocked their new studio with my trainees. (And spent about 10 times more just trying to imitate us than what they ever spent on the ones who created all the new ideas).

Within about 4 years after Ren and Stimpy hit, Saturday Morning cartoons were crippled and ever since, cable cartoons have been on top.

2) Short cartoons on TV: When Fred Seibert took over Hanna Barbera in the early 1990s he hired me as a consultant and asked me why old cartoons were great and new ones sucked. In a nutshell, I gave him a history lesson, explaining that old cartoons used a director and unit system rather than the established Hanna Barbera assembly line system, and that they constantly created new characters that appeared in shorts, rather than banking on 13 half hours of Saturday Morning cartoons that might die if the audience didn't like a new character. I also told him not to use "writers" or scripts; that the old cartoons-including Disney's were all written by artists with drawings on storyboards.

Fred started the first shorts program for the Cartoon Network-I helped him pick directors and voted on the best shorts which led to Cow and Chicken, Dexter's Lab and Powerpuff Girls, thus making Cartoon Network the second most powerful kids network and in turn caused every other studio to start their own shorts programs, each new one getting further away from what the purpose was of doing shorts in the first place.

3) Flash and Internet Cartoons: In 1996 I was so frustrated with how ungrateful and slow moving the TV cartoon business was, that I was looking for a new medium and had recently discovered the WWW.
I instantly saw the potential of reaching audiences directly and for less money than you would need to pay to keep a network filled with highly paid pests who hated creativity.
I needed a program that would allow me to make cartoons for the internet. Within a few months of my brainstorm, in walked Annmarie Ashkar, a big Spumco fan who wanted to work for me. She told me about a primitive new program called Flash that some websites were using to make banner ads and simple games. We both agreed that maybe we could force it make cartoons, so we made the very first Internet cartoon called The Goddamn George Liquor Program.

Now at the time everyone thought I had lost my mind (as they do each time I find a new way to make them rich). They told me to drop this crazy notion of Internet cartoons and get back to TV. Even my own staff was mad at me.

So I spent my own money developing the techniques to make this program work for animation, put the first Internet cartoons up, called Macromedia and showed them what I was doing, worked with their programmers and suggested many improvements for the program. I also called all the magazines and Newspapers and marketed the whole deal myself. I got on the cover of Wired and many other magazines and the news spread like wildfire.

Soon, everyone and his dog started up their own Flash websites and copied what we were doing. Icebox, one of our followers, then saw another cartoon I had started called Weekend Pussy Hunt and paid for part of it. I trained about 40 artists to use Flash with the techniques Annmarie and I developed and now they are all the top Flash people in TV.

OK, this folly of mine has now been copied by every network that won't buy Spumco cartoons and I have generated Hundreds of millions of dollars of business again.

These 3 major innovations are merely business innovations, they don't even begin to count the tons of creative innovations that Spumco either started or reintroduced from classic cartoons.


That's just a start folks. Want more?
On a lighter note, watch the world's sexiest man eat a hot dog:

Background Painting- Kristy Gordon

This is the incredible story of multi-talented Kristy Gordon.

I love this painting of the Finishing Tree! It's so gloriously rich! Doesn't it remind you of the one you grew up with?

Here's a theory about color that started at Spumco and eventually made it to Powerpuff Girls, Time Squad, Samurai Jack and a few other lucky cartoon projects:
It used to drive me crazy that all modern cartoons were painted using the same colors in the 1980s, basically pink, purple and green, and on days when cartoon painters were extra daring, they might use red or blue.
In other words, cartoons were usually painted with primary and secondary colors only and in most of the business today, they still are - except for those few cartoons that were inspired by Ren and Stimpy that in turn were inspired by Mary Blair, Frank Frazetta, Golden Books, N.C. Wyeth and many other styles that had fallen out of fashion.

OK, for example, if I was to hand out this background to a typical painter, the grass would come out middle green, the tree middle brown and the house would be pink and purple.
I'm fascinated by how colors work. I almost always have car accidents when I'm driving by myself because I notice all kinds of things that get me going.

I used to stare at lawns and I noticed they weren't really green and certainly not green like out of a tube of cartoon color paint. I could see the dirt under the grass peeking through the green blades, and the dirt colors itself were varied and not consistent. Don't ask me why, but things like this make me crazy with excitement.

So when Kristy started painting for me I told her all my weird color obsessions and she thought I was some kind of lunatic. I said, "Whatever you do, don't paint cartoon video box colors in my cartoons!"

I told her my dirt and grass theories and we drove around and flipped the car onto some lawns in Ottawa so that Kristy could get a first hand feel for what was thrilling me so.

She then painted tons of dirt cards, and slowly tried different techniques of layering the greens on top of the browns until she came up with the gorgeous painting you see above.
Kristy is a natural master of technique and detail. She just oozes with style and artistic elegance.
Once she understood what I like about color, she started painting all kinds of lush BGs for the show.

A lot of fans and cartoonists misunderstand what I want from my artists. They think I want the Spumco "Style" and I don't. Cartoon Network can have that. I want good fundamental substance and individual styles from the artists' own souls.

Has anyone ever treated teats so reverently as our little genius Kristy has done for you?

Superficially, Kristy's backgrounds don't look like the backgrounds in the original Ren and Stimpy series . They aren't filled with spatter and drybrush, but then many of the original cartoons weren't either. But now when everyone thinks back, that's what they remember the Ren and Stimpy style to be.

I want mood in my scenes, the techniques can vary all the time.
Think of the great lush paintings Scott Wills did for "Son Of Stimpy" or the stylish BGs Bill Wray did for "Robin Hoek". (go look at his killer cartoony paintings!)

Great painters will work in many styles if you let them, and I not only let them, I yell at them if they don't! I'm such a greedy fan of art that I need my eyes pleasured all the time and I get bored when my artists settle into a style that the fans can call the Spumco style.

Kristy is an incredible artist who is interested in many different aspects of art. She draws, and animates and does layouts...she paints killer landscapes and you should order some now and plaster them on your walls to show the world what magnificent taste you have!

On a sad note, cartoon paintings are out of fashion again. Most cartoons have photoshop fake paintings now, or none at all! Whenever I see a cartoon that has flat BGs that don't differ from the look of the characters, I feel totally cheated. You should too! Especially when there are great artists, like Kristy, Bill, Nick Cross and many others who can do so much to make you feel good.
BTW, I think the drawings for all these paintings were done by the wonderful Nick Cross, who I will post about later this week and I'll show you his killer work from Lost Episodes of Ren and Stimpy.

Kristy also does voices for me! She is the beachball girl in Naked Beach Frenzy and many other funny characters in the LOST Episodes which are coming soon!

Worship her now!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jessy made something for you


Can you believe that was was animated by a 19 year old girl? Yep. Jessica Borutski taught herself classical style animation just by watching a million 30s and 40s cartoons when she was growing up.

She's a tiny bit older now but is a throwback to animators from the 1940s. She coulda been in Bob Clampett's unit!

You know what's sad? There are quite a few really talented cartoonists and animators around today who could probably make cartoons close to the quality of the great ones from yesteryear, but no Movie studio, TV network or cartoon studio will allow it!

We are unfortunately slaves to horrible trends today and non-creative people in charge and all these great modern cartoonists are doomed to work at a fraction of their capacity. You already know the names of some if you've been visiting my blog, but now you can add Jess to the list of modern day geniuses who have no way to show off their talents and entertain all you poor visually starved folk.

Jess loves Betty Boop and Bob Clampett, and is a really funny girl to boot. And cute too! (for some reason most of the talented girl cartoonists are real babes while all us guys are dorks.)

Let's all go to her site and sing her a song!

Beautiful People 8 - mean

In my first beautiful people post I explained how I had to get used to drawing someone before my caricatures became cartoony.

Here are some I did the other night when I was in a particularly mean mood I guess.

Note how they have less details and are more exaggerated than my earlier versions of the same people.

It took me a long time to get a caricature of this girl that I thought was decent. I have a ton of practice shots. Maybe I'll put 'em up later so you can see the progression.

I did this one for Katie because she loves to do her and has funny theories about her head.

Hey, thanks for all the great comments on the last Barber shop post! You people are amazingly observant! I think I will collect up my favorite comments and include them with the next Barber post.

Tomorrow you get a special treat! I'm gonna feature some great background paintings from Kristy Gordon. She was the key BG stylist on some new Ren and Stimpy cartoons.
I'll give you some notes on them too in case you want to try painting for me sometime.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Barbershop 5- what are we lookin' at?

OK, I'll shut up for this post. Let's hear your theories about what you're lookin' at.

Beautiful People 7 - Paris

Hmmm, I wonder what everyone will fight about today if I don't say something wild and controversial...???

Wednesday, March 08, 2006



This particular comic story was very hard to structure. I had this idea to tell 2 stories at once:

1) A mood piece about the wonders of getting a barber haircut for the first time. This was to be done visually, almost in pantomime-completely through the drawings and focusing on Jimmy's POV.

2) A social statement about the pre and post Beatles world. Many smart people who lived through the 60s noticed that the whole western world reversed its basic philosophy. We went from the lofty western ideals of progress, logic and common sense to a world bathed and blinded by eastern mysticism - which is why everything sucks so bad now.

This story is told allegorically and is represented by George's and Harvey's complaints about the modern generation and what makes a decent haircut.

I knew that the world was ruined by 1970 but wasn't exactly sure what caused it. 25 years later it was explained perfectly to me by Spumco's producer, Kevin Kolde. He said it so plainly and it all fell into place for me: "It's the Beatles fault. They ruined the world." And I knew in an instant that he was right. Even though I love the Beatles' music, I have to admit they sure as Hell ruined the world. You hear that, Dad? (He predicted it the day he first saw men with girl hair on Ed Sullivan in 1964.)

Here comes the setup for story 2 about how the world has changed. Setup 1 about Jimmy getting a haircut misleads the audience into thinking that it's the main story, but this next page prepares us to think about larger issues.

I'm a firm believer in clear storytelling and you need "structure" as a tool to guide the audience through the emotions and thoughts you want them to experience. All of my writers will tell you horror stories of me rewriting their material to make the ideas clearer and more to the point.

I don't believe in that crap they teach you in highschool that every story has a hidden significance and that the writers themselves don't know what it is.
To me, everything has a purpose.

You know who is a great stickler for story structure? Tex Avery. People think of him as being wild and out of control, but he is completely in control of his material.
He is actually very conservative in his approach.

In almost every cartoon, he spends the first 2 minutes blatantly setting the audience up for what the cartoon is about.
In Deputy Droopy for example, the first couple of minutes is almost pure exposition with the sherrif explaining to Droopy to guard the jailhouse and if any trouble happens, just "make a sound, any sound, and I'll come a runnin'!"
And then the rest of the cartoon is just about 2 outlaws causing trouble and Droopy making louder and louder noises to wake the sherrif.

Tex uses this same structure for almost every one of his cartoons.
His main objective once he's sure the audience knows what the cartoon is about, is to build the gags and make them bigger and crazier and faster.
Uncontrolled random craziness wouldn't be as funny if he wasn't so careful in setting up his premise in the first place.
This is also a formula well executed by Monty Python-think of the "I'd like to register a complaint." bit.

The other important point in story structure is to have the purpose build as the story develops.

In The Barber shop, since there are 2 stories happening simultaneously, this task was really daunting. Ask Richard Pursel (who co-wrote it) and Mike (who drew it)!!
The haircutting jokes had to get funnier and George's and Harvey's conclusions about how vile young people are today had to get angrier and more preposterous.
It was a monstrous logistical problem to have both these stories build at the same time without tripping over each other and I did it just to see if it was possible and whether my artists would live through it. They did, but flinch whenever they see me in the hallway now.

I produced a cartoon that really suffered from poor structure: Black Hole. The premise of the story was simple. Ren and Stimpy get sucked through a black hole into another dimension where the physical laws are different than ours. Thus, they begin to mutate into weirder and weirder forms. Or...they should have. Instead they morph randomly and not in a building progression. The funniest morphs are early on, and then later they are less weird, so I considered that cartoon quite a failure. I've made other crap too, but my goal is always to have good solid structure and momentum.

This comic, I think achieved it while making a funny and sad social statement but maybe you'll disagree-especially if you are manually holding up your pants right now and reading your horoscope.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Beautiful People 6-Jude Winners and more funny looking folk


here's a funny looking person.

And now........



Here's a solidly constructed Jude by Pedro.

A funny pair by Mitchl.

I love this one by Aimee! Nice hair theory.

OK, here's more of my crap...


Monday, March 06, 2006

Calling All Girls-More Heartaches

Hi Girls! Here's a preview of some more characters from the Heartaches cartoon in development. Let me know if you want to read more stories!!

This is Debbie Doublebubble. She is the Heartaches' road manager and protector. She kicks ass-especially the asses of boys who are mean and immature-which is all of them!
(Character design by Gabe Swarr!)

Here is Roxy's neighbor, Mr. Crusty. He hates loud rock music so whenever Roxy's band is playing in the garage, he turns up all his laid-back 70s records real loud to drown out the evil rock music. He loves any music sung by people named Neil: Neil Diamond, Neil Young and Neil Sedaka.
(Character design by Gabe Swarr!)

This is Mr. Crusty's pet, Crabby the Duck. He is a duck curmudgeon. He doesn't like other pets, especially Roxy's cat, Maynard. He is always challenging Maynard to no-holds-barred fisticuffs on Mr. Crusty's lawn. Maynard is terrified of this foul-billed bully.
All the bugs on the lawn love to watch the fur and feathers fly.

Here's Eric the DJ. He feels he is a soul mate to the girls in the Heartaches' band, because he has a talent too.
The girls' talent is to make records. Eric's talent is to take the records and scratch them up, which drives Roxy crazy. Eric is always taking her classic rock albums and scratching the living crap out of them.
He has other talents too, like kicking the toaster, pulling the tape out of videocasettes and eating crayons then shooting the mashed bits from his nose onto wax paper.
The girls make fun of his talents and he can't figure out why because he has seen Eminem get rich on even less ability. He is envious of the one amazing talent that Eminem has: The ability to catch his pants just at the moment they are about to fall off.
(Character design by Gabe Swarr!)

Darla Dumbell has failed 3 years in a row. She's in Roxy's class and is 3 years ahead in physical development from the other girls. She is the bad girl of the class and all the boys love her but she only dates boys from reform school.
She gets expelled all the time.
Bad bad bad.
(Character design by Gabe Swarr!)

Tammy Training Bra is training under Darla to be bad. She's not really stupid enough to be bad but tries real hard.
Darla is embarrassed to be seen with her but happily takes her money and makes her do her homework and stuff.

Want to know more about this show?

I need lots and lots of comments!

If you haven't seen the first post about the Heartaches go here:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Barber Shop 3- The Funny Pages Ain't Funny No More

When I was a kid, Sunday was a thrilling day. I got to look at a huge glorious full color pile of newspaper comics in every imaginable style.
Great classics like Li'l Abner, Dick Tracy, Brenda Starr, Pogo, Dennis The Menace and more...
Even the newer comics were drawn beautifully-The Flintstones and Yogi Bear by Gene Hazelton and Ed Benedict, Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker, Big George by Virgil Partch... I used to make collections of all my favorite strips.I copied my favorite drawings and read the jokes and stories over and over again.Whoever picked all these great strips sure was kind to the readers.
I feel sorry for kids today. George will explain why...

There used to be semi-plausible excuses for why modern animation was so crappy (1970-1990):
It costs too much so you have to have tons of executives who want you to aim at the lowest common denominator.
You have to send all the animation overseas.
It has to be done too fast.
These aren’t very good excuses but they are something at least.

However I can’t figure out any excuse at all for why the newspaper funny pages have gone to hell.
Each artist can do a whole strip himself-only 4 panels a day.
They get paid a mountain of money.
It can all be done in the country.
You don’t need hundreds of artists, so you can pick the best ones.
There are people alive today who can draw really good cartoons, but they aren’t in the newspapers for some unexplainable reason.

It’s got to be the editors or art directors. The people who choose which comics get to see print, and they choose totally repulsive amateurish stuff.
I remember when it started, in the 1960s. I started seeing comics where the drawings were so poor, you couldn’t tell where the face was. Which part is the mouth? Where is the nose?
Now almost every comic is like that!
You have to spend an hour staring at the drawing just to figure out what the hell it is. That’s fun???
I think all funny pages editors ought to be burned at the stake for what they’ve done to the comics. And so does George Liquor.

Can anybody out there explain to me why the comics are so completely amateurish now? Who in the world can enjoy them?
I want to see an actual photo of someone laughing at the funny pages. I have a friend who calls them the “sad pages” and that’s the origin of this gag in “Comic Book”.

If someone out there has a time machine, grab some modern newspaper “funnies” and go back to 1940 and show the newspaper editors and cartoonists what’s being made now.

They’ll think you’re insane!

Beautiful People 5 Jude


I had a little trouble with this guy. Here's the first drawing I did of Jude Law and his bitch.
I just did it freehand and didn't have a plan or analysis of his head when I did it.
In the next drawing I noticed a couple odd things about his head:
1) It's diamond shaped.
2) the upper half of the diamond is smaller than the bottom. His head comes to a point at top.
This one is sort of realistic.
I'm gonna post more in a bit. See if you can guess who the other folks are with him.
Can any of YOU draw Jude's perfect head?

I'm hoping Katie Rice takes this challenge up to. She's been hinting that she wants to start drawing guys and I can't wait.

I want to see her version of George Liquor. How many of you would like that?

Beautiful People 5-more judes

Look, it's Jude's ugly side-yelling at his ex. Luckily he has a good example of wholesome love to learn from.

Here's 2 of the handsomest stars ever. Who would you give it to?

The Hollywood babes all line up for diamond head.

Stay tuned for news about The Traumas-we'll be playing at a gallery show of Spumco art soon!
Read about us below!

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Traumas-Cartoonists Sing

Did you know that many animator types are also musicians? My theory is that animation and music are really the same art forms, one is movement aimed at the eyeballs, the other at the eardrums. Maybe that's why my favorite cartoons are often musicals like Betty Boop and Clampett films.

Here's an unknown band of famous-ass cartoonists.
Dave Feiss-creator of Cow and Chicken, Annmarie Ashkar-co-inventor of Flash and Internet cartoons and some jerk on the right there who is trying to horn in on the act.
Here's Dave again with internationally beloved Katie Rice.

We play mainly cornball songs I guess-old country and western and early Rock 'N' Roll.
Songs by The Carter Family, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Elvis, The Beatles, The Louvin Bros., Ray Charles and more of your favorites.

Look how serious these guys are as they bare their ignorant backwoods souls backstage at world renowned Masquer's Cabaret in Hollywood where dreams are destroyed.Our themes are misery, heartbreak, lost infants, agitated loins and beating your best girl with a stick and tossing her into the river so you can cry the rest of your heart away in prison.

Here's the best reason to see us play-to watch the cute chicks warble and bounce.

Dave:Guitar, Dobro, piano and back up vocals.
Katie: Vocals and Accordion
Annmarie: vocals, piano, guitar
Me: Croon, cry, yodel and guitar.

Hire us to play at your next big Hollywood Bash!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Barber Shop 2 - more Mike

Lots of you keep asking me in the comments to give you some theories about drawing and story and techniques. I love to do that but it also upsets some people because it can smack of bragging or something which it isn't meant to be.
I can only tell you what I know from my experience, and what I say is not meant to be the only way to do things. These are observations of what I like in cartoons, explanations of what I do and what I see in other artists' work that inspires me.

So I will risk some of these observations here.

Here's some more great art by Mike Fontanelli and inks by Shane Glines.
These comics are an interesting blend of both comic techniques and animation techniques. In Spumco comic books, the story is broken down into smaller increments than a comic typically is in order to feature the acting and give the pages a sense of movement.

In The Barber Shop, I really wanted to give a feel of what it's like to be in an old fashioned barber shop.
Jimmy is there for the first time and is marvelling at all the particulars of the ritual-here he is getting draped by the protective hair repelling sheet.

OK-the art-the drawings are pretty solid which seems to be out of date these days-at least in animated cartoons.
You can really feel the grotesque exaggerations like Jimmy's eyes bugging out, because they are in the same perspective as the angle of his head.
Many cartoons today have arbitrary exaggerations, bug eyes and gross drawings just for the sake of weirdness. Here, every weird drawing tells the story. They are in context-funny and essential at the same time.

Expressions and acting: This is where I think Spumco excells beyond what anyone else has ever done. Most cartoons, both past and present rely on stock acting. You can see the same 4 or 5 expressions and poses over and over again in most cartoons.

What we strive to do at Spumco is create a new and specific expression for every character and every moment in every story.

Each expression should describe a unique emotion and state of a certain character. I expect my artists to observe how people act in real life and not rely on generic expressions they have seen a million times in other cartoons.

This is an extremely hard habit to break, particularly because the networks and studios don't even grasp the concept of acting and use model sheets to stifle any possible urge to create something new. That doesn't mean that other cartoons don't have other good points so don't intrepret this as me saying that all other cartoons but Spumco's are crummy. I like lots of other cartoons way more than my own, but we are very good at acting.

I'll leave this subject for now, and will come back to it later, but look at the expressions in each panel of these comics and see if you can describe them with a single adjective. Usually it will take a general adjective further mofified by 2 or 3 more and even then you can't get as specific as the drawing itself.

"A picture is worth a thousand words". If only that were true in modern cartoons. It should be.

Even at Spumco we don't always have an original specific expression for every drawing. The drawing of George in the 1st panel in the above page shows him with a one adjective emotion-"Happy". To me that means the drawing fails. Every single drawing should be original or I feel like I'm cheating the audience, because they have already seen "happy" before and deserve a new and more entertaining feeling.

As this comic progresses you will see the acting get more and more complex and specific and therefore entertaining. It was Mike's first comic and he got better and better as I kept beating these concepts into him.

Young cartoonists always ask me to teach them the Spumco "style". There is no Spumco style. Compare the George Liquor comics to the Heartaches cartoons. They are different styles but they use the same fundamental principles. I believe in strong fundamentals rather than superficial style. As I keep posting pages from these comics I will try to explain the principles behind them and will tell you about other artists past and present who are strong in these principles. It's a lot to absorb, so be patient!

Review of today's concepts:
Construction-solid drawings whose details wrap around the larger forms. Classic cartoons are very strong in construction-Chuck Jones, Clampett, Disney from the 1940s. Frank Frazetta is a master of solid construction. So is Jim Smith. Click the link to his site in my links section!

Exaggeration in context-Bob Clampett is the greatest at this.

Acting and specific rather than generic expressions- again Bob Clampett was the first to start experimenting with this concept. Falling Hair is a great example. So is The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.
Study the expressions and gestures of people you know. You will see tons of funny and interesting instances of emotions that have never been drawn before. Draw them!

Katie Rice is great at capturing specific expressions and poses of individual girls.

Other sources to study for great acting are old live action movies and TV shows.
Kirk Douglas, Robert Ryan, The 3 Stooges, The Honeymooners are all worth studying.
Learn to caricature and then go to the next level by caricaturing not only a person's features, but his or her individual expressions and gestures too.

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