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Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Flintstone Flyer - Carlo Vinci

Hi folks, the frame grabs and clip here aren't really good examples of what I talk about in this post. We just haven't had time to grab them all yet. If you have the cartoon go watch it!

Marc and Marlo and I were watching 1st season Flintstones the other night, looking for clips and frame grabs to honor Ed's memory and I noticed something that never quite struck me before.

We watched The Flintstone Flyer-the one where Barney invents a stone age helicopter and Fred thinks it's worth millions so he partners with Barney and of course they screw everything up.

The plot is a perfect combination of a live action sitcom and a cartoon. It's mostly sitcom but has many cartoon reactions and impossible things that for some reason you just accept, even though Fred and Barney are basically adult human characters.

The whole episode is animated by one guy-an amazing feat!

Carlo Vinci was an animator at Terrytoons for almost 30 years before he left to join Hanna Barbera at MGM studios in the late 50s. When Bill and Joe opened up their TV studio in 1957/58 Carlo went with them. Incidentally, Carlo was the one who taught Joe Barbera to animate in the early 1930s!

This is the crazy thing I noticed about Carlo's work while watching The Flintstone Flyer. I know his work really well. He did great unique full animation at Terrytoons for decades. The directors always gave him the difficult scenes. His specialty was animating dancing, which for most animators is really hard. Carlo must have animated 1,000 intricate dances during his time at Terry. He also animated all those sexy little girl mice that tried to seduce Mighty Mouse. He used really unique gestures and poses-sort of awkward unbalanced poses and the characters' wrists always bent in opposite directions. He didn't ever rely on whatever the current style of posing and expression was for each decade, as the Disney and Tom and Jerry animators did. However there is a really big difference between what he did for Terry and what he did for HB.

Terrytoons were fully animated, using from 12 to 24 drawings per second - luxury animation by today's standards. Hanna Barbera of course used severely "limited animation" which averaged maybe 4 drawings per second after you figure in all the reused cycles and dialogue scenes.

You would think this restriction on the quantity of drawings would restrict the quality of the cartoon and usually it does but when you watch the Flintstone Flyer (and other 1st season Flintstones) you will see something that hardly ever happened in classic fully animated cartoons-not during the Golden Age and certainly not now in the huge budgeted animated features churned out by the big 3 studios.

Natural, believable acting:
Fred and Barney act like real people. They make expressions that real people do. They have head and hand gestures that perfectly describe how they are feeling at every unique moment in the story.

Carlo doesn't rely at all on stock animation acting. He animates the Flintstones as if he were animating his friends and neighbors from down the street. This is an incredible feat! We take it for granted because the Flintstones just seem real and we instantly accept it, but considering how animators were trained to animate acting in very unnatural styles for decades, it's amazing that an animator can just break out of habit and animate a new style and using far fewer drawings! At Terrytoons he was never called upon to do any real acting.

I can tell you I know from 20 years of experience that very few animators can draw natural expressions or draw in different styles. Disney animators draw Disney expressions and animate Disney gestures. I used some Disney animators or Cal Arts animators on various projects-including Ren and Stimpy and they just couldn't draw the characters. They kept turning them into Disney/Cal Arts characters-they would draw the eyes like Don Bluth and use the same expressions they had already drawn a thousand times before that no one ever complained about. "No no!" I'd say, "This is Ren, not Mowgli! He isn't constructed like that-his eyes are a different shape and he has a different personality!"
2 exceptions were Mark Kausler and Greg Manwaring who did great funny and specific animation for me.
And of course, Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong always do fantastic custom animation. But these people are rare.

So for me to watch an early Flintstones and be laughing all through it at the funny acting and reacting of these completely believable characters is very impressive.

An interesting elaboration: I know many animators who themselves have really funny unique mannerisms and I always try to encourage them to put them in their cartoons. You would think this would be an easy and natural thing to do. It isn't. Hardly any animators can draw what they actually feel. As soon as they sit down to animate, they jump to a different part of their brain that stores all their animation knowledge. They summon up poses and gestures and moves that they have done a million times, then actually act out a standard generic "cartoon" expression with their face, rather than just draw how they themselves act in real life. You know those famous photos of Disney animators looking in mirrors and making wacky expressions as they draw? This is publicity designed to make you think they act everything out naturally first, then copy what they see in the mirror.

It's actually the opposite situation. They act everything out as if they were already animated cartoon characters themselves, rather than specific humans. Watching grown men act like Mickey Mouse is the weirdest thing ever.

Carlo Vinci was a middle aged fat guy when he animated the Flintstones. A regular kind of guy who drank beer, watched football, lusted after pretty girls. He probably knew all kinds of characters in real life and used his observations of them in these super low budget cartoons.

The Flintstones is to me by far the best animated sitcom in history. The characters are completely believable. The animation is customized and not predictable as even most full animation is. The acting is funny, many of the story situations are funny, the designs are beautiful and they still have room left over for cartoon jokes.

Oh and of course the voices are great-in those days they used real voice actors, people from radio, who had to have distinct sounding voices and great acting and delivery. That certainly helped the animators.

The Flintstones blows away the excuse I hear over and over today for why TV animation is so bland. The excuse of not enough money. Todays' prime time animated sitcoms have more money than God and should put some of it towards the drawings and animation.

Ed Benedict , 1912-2006

This looks like a caricature of Ed. So does the guy in Tex Avery's Field and Scream.

It's amazing to me that a guy with such a crusty exterior can make drawings this cute!

Well I have some really sad news today. Ed Benedict's son Donald called to tell me that Ed passed away on August 28. He was 94.

Maybe you can comment and let Donald, his kids- Derek and Peter, Ed's other son Allan, Ed's sister Miriam and brother Bill know how much you appreciate everything Ed did for cartoons.

Ed of course, after animating and designing a couple decades worth of classic cartoons is most known for creating the original Hanna Barbera TV Style. Ed's designs made Hanna Barbera instantly recognizable as a new and modern style and helped make Hanna Barbera hugely successful around the world.

These frame grabs are from the original 1960 season of the Flintstones. Ed did all the character and background layouts. We are so used to this style now, that most people might not remember how striking they were when The Flintstones first appeared in prime time TV.

By the way, these background paintings are great, aren't they? I think they are painted by Art Lozzi. I wish I knew more about the guy. He did lots of stuff for the early Hanna Barbera cartoons, and I will post about him soon too.

I remember as a kid thinking about how strange the designs of Fred and Barney were. They were futuristic even though they were cavemen. Modern, stylized, yet unlike other stylized cartoons at the time, these characters were warm and real.

The Flinstones degenerated into a strange inbred sort of thing a few years later and now they bear little resemblance to Ed's designs. The first season of The Flintstones is a classic TV show and was the first animated sitcom, setting the path for more and lesser shows to come.

I have a million funny stories about Ed. I first met him in the mid 80's when Lynne Naylor, Bob Jaques and I went on a trek to northern California to meet him. He was a super curmudgeon who couldn't believe anyone even knew who he was, let alone loved his cartoons. We brought up tapes of his work for Tex Avery, his Hanna Barbera cartoons and he was completely disgusted by them! But then he demanded copies of them all so he could write me letters telling me everything that was wrong with them.

Over the last couple decades I kept visiting him and rifling all his files of fantastic cartoon drawings he did for cartoons, commercials and comic strips. He also would show me lots of photos he took of the MGM studios in the 1950s. He would point to an animator and tell me all about him. "See that guy with the suave mustache? That's Ken Muse, a nice guy, a real slick operator. Couldn't draw worth a crap! Hanna loved him cause he could really 'pump out the footage'! But a good guy to go bowling with, one of the guys." (By the way the animation in this clip is by Ken Muse! Ken really watered down Ed's designs and poses-I remember recognizing his style as a kid and thinking of him as the 'bland animator'.)

Ed had a great collection of Golden Books and magazine illustrations and we would pour over them and he'd give me all kinds of design theories.

Every time we visited we would watch old cartoons. Ed loved UPA and Disney (he pronounced it "Dissney".) He didn't think anyone else did anything else worthwhile and we had some great arguments. He would sometimes put his fists up and threaten to beat some sense into me. He had a huge pointy tuft of grey hair sticking out of his chest and it would stand erect and fill with blood when he was in scrapping mode.

It's funny, 'cause he would crab all weekend about everything and then when we'd leave he'd be all choked up, which would always kill us. He was the soft-hearted curmudgeon.

I showed him a bunch of Clampett cartoons and he was amazed at how wild and inventive they were. "Damn ugly though!"

He could still draw really well into his eighties and I got him to do many background layouts for Boo Boo Runs Wild and Day In The Life Of Ranger Smith. After we finished the cartoons and brought them up to show him, he stared at me for about five minutes getting madder and madder. He said, "Well there was some funny stuff and really inventive things in there, but why in Hell can't you draw on model?!"

Ed and his wife Alice (who passed away a few years ago) used to watch Ren and Stimpy together and actually became big fans of it to my surprise and delight.

Ed is one of the true giants of animation. I think he was the greatest character designer in the whole history of the medium.

He was a wonderful guy to boot and always lots of fun to hang out with. I had an awful day yesterday after I got the news. I sure am gonna miss him.

Uploaded by chuckchillout8

I have lots of interviews I did with him on tape. I need someone to transcribe them though. Anyone out there do that? Preferably in LA.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

JB and KG, 6

Sorry I haven't said much in the last posts and haven't put up much variety. I'm busy on a music video. I'll put up more animals soon and some Chuck Jones scenes with an explanation of what makes a good layout: How to compose characters and backgrounds together. Jones was the best ever at this, I think.

Tenacious pencil roughs, 3

Friday, August 25, 2006

more animal crowds

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tenacious pencil roughs, 2

Tenacious pencil roughs, 1

These were drawn, with great pain, in Mirage.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Barnacle Bill (1930) Grim Natwick, Cartooniness

Here's one of my favorite cartoon scenes ever.

While Disney was spending his artists' time trying to figure out what lightning really looked like, Grim just made it up and to me, it's a heck of a lot more fun. If I want to see realistic lightning, I can look outside the window during a storm.

But I have to watch cartoons to get this kind of thing.

This is pure creativity, a concept of the distant past.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jack and Kyle Toys-buy them soon!

I'm back making toys for you again and I hired my old pal Chris to be in charge of the sculpting.

Look what Chris Peterson and his lovely assistant Derek did for all you Tenacious D fans!

Remember who gives you the most detailed butts when you purchase your next cartoony-type toy!

So I'm gonna get Chris to sculpt the toys for my characters and maybe Katie's girls too. Are you gonna buy 'em?

Which characters should we do first?

Cartoon Grammar - Barnacle Bill (1930)

Here's a follow up to "What is a Cartoon?"

This scene from "Barnacle Bill" is animated by Grim Natwick and has all the elements that make up a real cartoon. They add up to fun!

Funny drawings
Funny Motions
Impossible Gags
Musical timing
Butt Stabs (they are quick!)


Saturday, August 19, 2006

JB and KG, 4

Friday, August 18, 2006

More Funny animals and some other fun

Here are some of my designs...

And here are some by my favorite modern day designer...
and inked by Chad Coyle.

Here's a couple that are part Katie and part me:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Funny animals, zombie crowds

I'm trying to design some characters for the Tenacious D video I'm doing.

I'm out of practice as a designer even though it's kind of what I used to exclusively do. So I'm trying to get inspired by other designers I like- Grim Natwick, Milt Gross, Bob Clampett, Jim Tyer and Katie Rice.

Actually, looking at Katie's designs is quite daunting.

It's so easy for an animation cartoonist to fall into a rut and start repeating the same old shapes and designs over and over again and then I see Katie inventing new ones every week and whole new styles..well it's pretty scary to try to compete with that, but I'm gonna try really hard to get some new styles or at least styles I'm not familiar with. I especially want to get as cartoony as I can, and writing all these articles about cartooniness is making me think about it all the time.

It's easier to talk about than do it!

But I'm gonna will myself to make it happen.

Wish me luck!

JB and KG, 5

I drew these in Mirage on a Cyntiq and the fellas at Copernicus Inked and animated them.

Wait'll you see it moving!

The movie is out in November. You better go!

These guys are like living cartoon characters...more animated than the cartoons you've been watching on TV lately!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Marlo Licks Jack

See? Maybe when you're a big rock star, you can have your own toy and then get hot cartoonist chicks to lick your bum too.

Tell you what, if you buy all my toys, I'll send Marlo to your house for a quick slurp. One lick per customer, buddy!

Friday, August 11, 2006

What is a Cartoon?

Last night I did a show all about what the primal elements that make up a cartoon are. No one seems to do them anymore. There is more animation being done today than ever in history, yet where are the cartoons? I could understand maybe 5 or 10 percent of entertainment-oriented animation being not cartoons, but I can't for the life of me figure out why there are practically no cartoons at all anymore. No one wants to do what cartoons actually are and what they do better than any other medium. At least no one in charge. The cartoonists certainly want to make cartoons and the audience would love to watch them if they existed.

I figure it's my duty to remind everyone of what cartoons are and to come up with some defining characteristics. Now remember, I don't care if people make animation that isn't cartoony for those who like that sort of thing. But SOMEONE should be making cartoons. Let's go back to our roots.

People who couldn't make it to the show last night have been asking me for these primal elements.

They are:

1) The Funny Drawing
What good is a cartoon without funny drawings? To me, that's the number 1 most important element in a cartoon. Anything else is merely a drawing.

2) Funny Motion
Animation that doesn't move funny should be called "animation". "Cartoon" is a very specific type of animated motion.

3) Impossible Gags
You can draw things that can't happen. Not in real life, or in CG animation or any other medium. So why don't we anymore?

4) Musical Timing
All classic cartoons were timed to musical rhythms or tempos. That's why they automatically feel good when you watch them. Most modern animation is timed straight ahead and actions fall haphazardly with no definite or structural relationship to each other. They feel jerky and not as fun as old cartoons.

A real cartoon is like music. It should feel good, no matter what the content or subject matter is about. It should make you bounce to it.

Genndy Tartakovsky times his cartoons to tempos and so do I. We are among the last holdouts to this tradition.

5) Butt Stabs

Even Walt Disney, who is mostly anti-cartoon loves a good old butt violation. All real cartoonists think the butt is the funniest part of the anatomy and tend to do an inordinate amount of butt poking and crack exposure in their cartoons. If you are ashamed of buttcracks, you are probably ashamed to be drawing cartoons and shame on you for doing it.

Here's a cartoon that has all these defining elements on purpose:


Here's Steve Worth's kind review of how the Cartoony Cartoons Show went over last night:
The show last night was amazing. I've seen all the cartoons in John's program, but when he put them in context with his comments and showed them in order, the progression and development was blatantly obvious. Everyone is talking here about what they want to see on the cartoon DVDs. John just nailed *exactly* what they should be... a collection that illuminates, not just shoveling titles onto disks by character. The bonus treat at the end was a sneak peek at John's videos for Weird Al and Tenacious D.

After the program, John sat at a table with his pals and signed and drew for everyone in the room. He was joined by Marlo Meekins and Eddie Fitzgerald who tag-teamed doing caricatures of the most interesting faces in the crowd. Marlo posted a few examples on her blog this morning... Check it out. The surprise guest of the evening was the lengendary voice actor, Gary Owens. Yes, Powdered Toast Man was there! His stories (did you know that the Rat Pack did voices in Roger Ramjet?!) were golden!

John was incredibly generous to put this program together to help out ASIFA's Archive. Without him, we wouldn't have accomplished anywhere near as much as we have. Thanks, John!

This show needs to go on tour. The whole world needs cartoony cartoons, and this group of films are the cartooniest!

See ya

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Animation Magazine Article

about cartoony cartoons:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

When Cartoons Were Cartoony-Live Event In Sherman Oaks


If you live near me in the San Fernando Valley, or anywhere near LA, then come on down and watch some very cartoony cartoons!

I'm going to show some highlights of the most cartoony cartoons in history.

Jim Tyer
Oswald The Rabbit-Walter Lantz
Swing You Sinners- Fleischer
Polar Pals-Clampett
Great Piggy Bank Robbery- Clampett
Slap Happy Lion-Avery and Irv Spence
Deputy Droopy-Avery and Ed Benedict

A Dramatic musical clip from Stimpy's Pregnant
My 2 latest short cartoons, one done with Katie Rice

I'll talk with you about what the "Alphabet Of Cartoons" is and answer questions.

I will bring special guests-Eddie Fitzgerald Theory Corner and
Marc Deckter from Duckwalk.
Marlo Meekins do a special dance celebrating the day that real cartoons will come back.I am even now trying to convince her to make a Jim Tyer chicken suit for the glamorous event.
Mike Fontanelli will toss the ceremonial Clampett garlands around her nether regions and chant to The Loss Of Cartooniness Dirge.

After the talk and cartoon show, I will sign any art you might have, or DVDs, or you can purchase original art there at the gallery.

Steve Worth master of the great Asifa Cartoon Archive is the brain behind this historic event. Beg him to give you a personal tour of his amazing collection of classic cartoons in Burbank.
Maybe some of you true cartoon lovers want to contribute to his monumental effort with cash, volunteer work or donations of tubed meat food products.
Go see his great cartoon blog:

Van Eaton Galleries located at 13613 Ventura Bl in Sherman Oaks. There is an $8 donation to the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive at the door, and you must reserve a seat in advance. To RSVP, please phone 818 788-2357 or email your name and the number of guests in your party to...


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Milt Gray on cartoon timing past and present

I asked Milt Gray to compare the way they timed cartoons during the Golden age of cartoons (1928-1960) to the way they do it now.

He's the perfect guy to do this comparison. Milt has researched and studied classic cartoons since the 1960s. He used to study them frame by frame on little film viewers-long before VCRs made that so easy to do. He interviewed countless classic animators and directors about how they did what they did.

While learning about the forgotten secrets of the past, Milt worked in the modern business (the dark ages of cartoons), first at Disney's, then at many Saturday Morning Cartoons, so he knows how full animation worked in the 60s, how limited animation worked at the Saturday Morning studios. He currently works on the most expensive per minute cartoon in history. He is a timing director on the Simpsons and has directed many other TV shows as well.

This is the guy, folks, who can tell you both systems, old and new. He talks a bit about old cartoon timing in general, and then more specifically about how Bob Clampett did it.

I asked him to give you his invaluable insights and knowledge for free. If you see him on the street, kiss him. Or get your sister to.

Milton Gray On Cartoon Timing Past and Present
Hi John,

You asked me to write about timing for animation, with an emphasis on
comparing the timing done for today's standard television cartoon
shows to the timing that Bob Clampett did on his 1940s Warner cartoons.

Actually, all that can be commented on are the differences, because
those two subjects are complete opposites. Bob Clampett's timing was
always creative and intuitive, and an integral part of the very
conception of his cartoons, whereas the timing in nearly all current
Hollywood television cartoon production is at most an afterthought
and completely mechanical.


Nearly all current television cartoon production is done one step at
a time, completely separate from every other step, and by different
people who are not allowed to have any contact with each other;
consequently, there is usually no artistic vision guiding the
production of these cartoons.

Typically, as you know, each individual television cartoon episode
begins with non-artists writing scripts. Even though there are some
writers in the business who love cartoons and respect the input of
artists, those writers are usually never hired. Instead, the
Hollywood suits usually hire writers who have no knowledge of cartoon
production and no interest in cartoons whatsoever; these writers
write mostly dialog -- usually hackneyed dialog, reflecting their
contempt for the medium they are working in. The only thought of
timing is to make the length of dialog fit the length of the show.

Then copies of these scripts are sent, simultaneously, to voice
actors and to storyboard artists. The storyboard artists are usually
under strict orders to not add or subtract anything, but to
illustrate the script in the most literal sense.

On a few shows, the storyboards are then handed to other artists (who
have no contact with the storyboard artists), to make layout drawings
-- and like the storyboards, the layouts have to follow the scripts
to the letter.

Finally, almost as an afterthought, the timing of the scenes -- by
people called "animation timers" -- is done by still other people.
The timing is mostly dictated by the length of the recorded dialog;
beyond that, there are strict rules, of a very mechanical nature, for
handling the few actions that take place between lines of spoken
dialog. A shocking fact is that most so-called animation timers
these days are people who have never animated, and therefore have no
real understanding of timing. But perhaps no matter -- the
relatively few people like myself who do have years of experience as
animators are forced to work in a straightjacket of restrictions --
of adhering to a small set of very mechanical "rules" (usually in the
name of "cost control" or "efficiency") that we are not allowed to
depart from.

Then everything done so far is sent halfway around the world, usually
to countries that do not speak English and have cultures of body
language completely different from our own, for other artists to do
the so-called animation. No wonder these cartoons come out stiff and
wooden, with no soul whatsoever.


At the total opposite extreme is Bob Clampett at Warners in the
1940s, not just directing but really creating cartoon movies -- with
timing an integral part of his creative thinking from his earliest

It is said that in comedy, timing is everything, and I know that Bob
Clampett thought about timing all the time, always looking for new,
inventive uses of it.

The other directors at Warners, such as Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones,
also thought a lot about timing as a key element in their cartoons,
so it would seem more useful to compare Clampett's timing to that of
Freleng and Jones rather than to typical present-day television product.

In general, the most common thread in the 1940s Warner cartoons was
their very fast actions, broken up occasionally by the characters
pausing to make some wise cracks. This is where, superficially,
Clampett's timing will seem the most similar to that of Freleng and
Jones. But this is pretty much the entire range of the timing of
Freleng and Jones, whereas Clampett explored timing far beyond this
narrow area.

But first, let's look at the differences within this area. John, you
wrote recently about the differences in character acting, comparing
some of the best of Clampett in Falling Hare (a scene animated by Bob
McKimson) to some of the best of Jones in Rabbit Punch (a scene
animated by Ken Harris). In both cases, the respective directors had
a lot of input, so it wasn't just the animators flying solo. And, as
you articulated so well, the Jones-Harris scene was comprised of very
broad, general cliches of movement, while the Clampett-McKimson scene
was a masterpiece of precise, original acting, every nuance unique to
that exact moment of dialog and character emotion. Such a precision
performance requires not only a deep, careful analysis of physical
acting but also of timing. The real tragedy is that because such a
great accomplishment -- of draftsmanship, gesture and timing -- looks
so natural, it is taken completely for granted -- meaning, the
accomplishment goes by completely unnoticed -- by most cartoon fans,
critics and historians, resulting in the director and animator
receiving no credit at all when in fact they deserve to be lauded as

Unlike Freleng and Jones, Clampett's cartoons typically went far
beyond just fast character actions and character dialog. Among other
things, Clampett loved the medium of live stage theater, and because
of the extreme limitations of that medium (compared to movies), live
shows had to be very inventive in their staging and lighting, to
conceal this and reveal that at different times -- things that were
unavoidably on the stage all the time. Plus there were certain mood
effects in the use of colored lighting, and sometimes an actor would
unexpectedly swing off the stage on a rope, over the heads of the
audience. Bob was very impressed by this, and he wanted to inject
more of that into his cartoon movies, to make the entire picture come
alive on a kind of magic screen, rather than only the characters
moving on a static background. And timing was always central to his
thinking. Bob was also something of a hep cat, very interested in
the latest popular music, especially black jazz, and so his sense of
timing of the more abstract elements almost always included matching
actions to a specific rhythm.

Instead of simply cutting from one scene to the next, Bob would
sometimes move the characters and the props around, at the same time
as doing an iris wipe from one scene to the next, all with a very
specific rhythm, sometimes to suggest increasing tension in the
plot. Bob told me that on occasion, when he had a specific
syncopated rhythm in mind that didn't adhere strictly to a regular
beat, he would run blank film through a movieola at full (normal)
film speed, and tap on the film with a grease pencil the syncopated
rhythm he had in mind, and then take the film off the movieola and
count the frames between the marks. He would time his actions to
those numbers of frames, and then give that information to Carl
Stalling, who would compose music to fit that timing. I should have
asked Bob which films he did that in, but I didn't so I can only
guess, but a very likely candidate is the scene in Wagon Heels, about
5 minutes and 15 seconds into the cartoon:

Injun Joe has just fired (out of his mouth) a giant gun shell at the
circled wagon train, which blows everything off the screen (including
distant mountains). Then, in rapid succession, the wagon train's
wheels fall down to the ground, then the wagon train itself, then a
large foreground cactus, then the distant mountains, then there is a
quick iris wipe to the next scene (which is almost just empty
ground), then a white settler zips into scene, then Injun Joe zips
into scene to confront the settler, all in the space of about five
seconds. This is just a "quick transition" from one scene to the
next, but the timing and sense of energy is thrilling.

Another example in the same cartoon, but using only the wild actions
of one character, but with a very jazzy drum and percussion
soundtrack, is about 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the cartoon:
Sloppy Moe has just screamed into Porky's ear that he knows a
"SEEEEEE-CRET!", and then he bounds all over the screen and off into
the distance to this wild drum and percussion rhythm.

One can be very literal minded and say that these two scenes don't
make sense, but on a purely emotional level they feel so right, and
are absolutely surprising and thrilling.

Bob gave his cartoon timing a lot of importance. He wasn't just
frivolous about it. At the beginning of making each cartoon, once he
had the basic story gags worked out, he would spend one or more
evenings just walking alone on the beach, running the imagined
cartoon through his mind, as if he were seeing the finished cartoon
on a kind of magic screen in his head. The purpose was to envision
not only the staging of the gags, but all the little gestures and
nuances of the characters' acting, as well as the broader actions, in
his mind -- with special consideration of the timing of all these
things. When something wasn't quite jelling, he knew that there was
a problem, of writing or staging, that needed more thought, and he
would go over that in more detail the next day with his gag man.
Ultimately, all the details would be worked out in Bob's mind before
even the layouts were begun. Bob was very sincere about making the
best cartoons he could.

It's really hard to talk about good timing just in words; it's
something that has to be experienced and felt. Every individual
scene requires, for its best effect, a sense of timing unique to that
scene, which requires a very intuitive approach, and it has to be an
almost holistic, organic thing in the mind of the creator of the
scene, not just something imposed later by someone else. I don't
feel I've done justice to the subject here, but I think it would
require a whole book of examples of individual scenes to adequately
cover the subject. Short of that, a person who wants to learn good
timing should stop watching Hollywood television "product", and turn
off that part of the brain that is so accustomed to watching cheap
stuff, and expand your senses while submersing yourself in the best
of the Golden Age theatrical cartoons, and try to absorb a sense of
the beauty of motion, the ballet-like elegance of even Daffy Duck at
his elegant craziest.

Clampett's sense of timing was so sophisticated because he thought
about it all the time, and felt it in his soul. Plus the fact that
Clampett was so much more inventive visually, and adventurous in his
range of subjects. These things cannot be separated, they all need
each other for their full effect. The key to all of this, Bob
himself once said, was that he took an active interest in everything,
especially the arts -- he fed his mind with new ideas and experiences
so that his mind would always have lots of resources to draw from.

Well, John, I don't know if this really addressed what you were
hoping for. If not, maybe we can keep adding to it in the future
until we get a better handle on the real issue. But for now, you're
welcome to use this.

Your pal,

I'm gonna follow up this article with stuff Clampett, Hanna and Freleng taught me about timing and also with clips from be continued!

If any of my favorite hecklers comment and say that their favorite modern cartoons are timed mechanically on purpose and real comedy timing would ruin the jokes, I'm gonna copy and paste it into a whole new blog post where everyone can see you all together, naked.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chris Peterson-Master Toy Sculptor

My old buddy Chris Peterson, is a fantastic toy sculptor. He's done tons of character toys that are probably already in your collection.

We go waaaay back to Filmation studios making the worst cartoons ever! Then we made a Smurfs Goddamn Christmas special where Gargamel ate up all the little blue tidbits and pooed out a big blue Yuletide dump, directed by Gerard Genius Baldwin.

Chris taught himself to sculpt just for fun. He used to make sculptures of cartoon charcters that he would like to own, but weren't being manufactured-like Joe Rockhead. He also used to take my characters and make really great sculpts of them. I'll show you some of them next time we visit Chris' toy heaven.

I'm working with him to create new lines of toys, not only with my characters but with famous cartoon-like live action stars!

This line of toys is called "John K.'s Butt-Nakeds"

Here is Chris' beautiful and gracious assistant, Derek. He puts the blobs together to make the basic construction of the handsome toys and then Chris takes his perfect wet fingers and smooths out all the tasty details for you.
Oh and here is a nice family that I drew at the San Francisco show. Dad's camera screwed up, so I offered to take this picture and a couple others for him.
Here are Jim's kids, Eric and Caroline who are decent American kids who love cartoons!
Hey Jim, put up the drawings I did for you, so I can link to them!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pretty Girls Are Hard To Draw, Pose and Animate

Boy, is it hard to draw girls. But girls are so cool in cartoons that I just have to do it.

Not only is it hard to draw them in a still pose, it's even harder to draw "functional" drawings of them - that is, consecutive drawings that move from pose to pose and have to do a continous action within a set story. Whattaya think, Chad??I always loved the few classic cartoons that animated pretty girls. My 2 favorites are Red Hot Riding Hood and Coal Black.
I love the design and animation of Coal Black, particularly the Scribner scenes. Preston Blair's animation of Red Hot is not only, pretty, functional and smoothly animated-it's also animation of dancing! Holy crap. Talk about a pile of nuts to crack all at the same time!

This is an area of animated cartooning that is not explored enough. Maybe because it's so hard to do (David Germain excepted!)

If I had my way, I'd make lots of cartoons with pretty girls in them.

A funny thing, the best pretty girl artists these days seem to be girls! Katie, Lynne, Brianne and others all leave me in the dust.

But I'll keep trying whenever I get the chance.

Here's another virile guy who's helping me try to preserve our manly abilities to draw cheesecake.
Chad Coyle:

Thanks to Weird Al for letting me and Katie do some! The world owes you!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Random Rock Images

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