Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Japanese Off Model Is Fun

Here's Craig's version of off-model George that reminds me of the Japanese toys.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Messmer's Pure Cartoony Style

These are some great examples of cartoony drawings in their purest forms.
Otto Messmer is probably the biggest influence on American animation there ever was.
His drawings are boiled down to the very essence of what a cartoon is. He's not even trying to mimic reality. His style is very simple, but also appealing.
Even his props are fun to look at. This quality of being fun to look at is what makes a cartoon different than other forms of illustration.
The simple shapes and symbolic stylized expressions Messmer uses tell the viewer clearly what is happening and what the character is feeling.
Messmer's style owes a lot to early cartoony comic strips like The Katzenjammer Kids, but also reveals graphic innovations that he discovered through trial and error by having to move characters about on screen.
Poses that are moving have to be even more clearly staged than still drawings in a comic strip, because in film, we only have a limited time to look at each pose before it moves into another.
Animators like Messmer and most who followed him quickly learned that clear negative shapes and using only a few lines and details helped make characters communicate faster and more clearly when animated. It also made them easier to animate, which resulted in better movement.

By turning the practical realities of animation into graphic appeal, he solved a lot of problems for the rest of us.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Anyone Remember Slimies?

Here is more proof that kids who grew up in the 50s and 60s experienced a Golden Age of fun and pampering.
This is what "The Greatest Generation" made all their sacrifices for. They grew up poor, during the depression and then had to go fight Nazis in the ugliest war in history.
Why did they do it? For their kids. So we could have TV, Mad Magazine, comic books, cartoons, Nutty Mads and these oily slimies. Not to mention 3 meals a day, security and clean underwear.
So what did the kids who grew up with this pampering do?
They took all this cool stuff away from the next generations of kids - and then what did that even more remote generation do? They went and grew up to cover themselves with tattoos, join gangs, defend Transformers, take the prizes out of cereals, become "creative executives" make reality shows, bring mystical practices to corporations and monopolies, preach bucking the system in big budget corporate made movies, create rap and "sampling", become "DJs" and to complain about the greatest generation for being stuffy.

What am I missing Mike?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More Nostalgia From The Fun Era

The Happy Yesterdays
Here's Pete Emslie and his sister Lynne enjoying the idyllic days of the 60s, not realizing what horrors were on their way to destroy western civilization.

The Lumpy NowsBack to the fun era...

All this stuff when I was a kid really made me want to be part of the whole fun world of kids' entertainment and toys when I grew up.

BUT THEN!!!I grew up and was booted into a strange new world of backwards reasoning. This is what had happened to cartoons and I had to work on shows that I'd swear were meant to punish kids. This is what the hippies did to us. They should make hippie bop bags now so we can beat them up.

A few years later Ralph and I tried to turn things around and it worked for a while after.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Quality Criteria




Well, this whole blog is dedicated to my own view of what makes quality, but I thought I'd just spell it out.

There is no one ingredient that makes "quality" for me. I like a lot of different things. Mainly if something grabs me, then I like it. It's afterwards that I try to analyze why I liked it, mainly so I can learn and improve my own work.

You don't have to have every possible good ingredient in a work of entertainment for me to consider it "quality". Mainly it has to be fun. I can break down fun into separate qualities:

Charismatic Fun CharactersNot very many animation cartoonists have succeeded in creating truly charismatic characters with defined personalities. They mostly happened at Warner Bros.

Popeye came from comic strips, which were more consistently successful in creating strong characters.

The Flintstones came from the Honeymooners. I guess that was kind of cheating, but the designs and voices brought a lot to the characters.

There are lots of cartoons I like that have star characters, like Woody Woodpecker or Tex Avery's MGM cartoons, but there isn't much to the characters themselves. The cartoons have other traits that make them entertaining.


This includes not just the drawing style, but the whole attitude.

You can have caroony drawings, cartoony animation, cartoony voices, music, sound effects and on and on.


Humanity is an outlook that certain artists have. They share it with regular folk. It's a clear and honest look at life.
These creators observe the world in its raw, funny and humanly faulty truths.
They make art that reflects and exaggerates real human motivations, characteristics and what regular folk on the streets find amusing. It's not polished up, sweetened and made phony. Warners was such a breath of fresh air when it found its style, because its whole attitude was reality-even though the cartoons were highly imaginative and much more cartoony than Disney. They reflected real people. They weren't archaic artificial abstractions like Disney cartoons.
Mickey is a cute character but has no soul.

Disney and his followers - to me, lack humanity and that's the main reason I can't get into them. Even if there is some measure of skill, it's not enough. It's not a skill in telling life's stories or noting the interesting things about human nature, it's a skill in whitewashing life or now imitating what has already been done by previous whitewashers.

These creators are just too polite to admit life and humanity as they are in all their glorious imperfections, blemishes and rudeness.These simplistic characters don't act like real people, they don't have honest recognizable motivations. It's like what Christians think people should be, rather than what talented entertainers observe life to be really like. As if they get their characters out of film school books instead of from the street or the neighborhood.

Nowadays the main characters - that we are supposed to root for- are positively wimpy and I can't imagine anyone wanting to identify with that. That doesn't mean the cartoons can't be successful. But I think if there was competition from more sincere less naive outlooks of humanity, it would be harder for these things to make money.

Creativity- Impossible Things That Can Only Happen in CartoonsI'm amazed at how little magic there is in cartoons anymore. It used to be an innate obligation among cartoonists. It was our job to do the impossible and make it seem real. Unfettered imagination fell out of fashion in the 60s and has never truly recovered.

SkillI certainly admire skill. Bob McKimson is one of my all time favorite animators and when he is directed by Clampett he is super entertaining.
Classic Disney cartoons are skillful, but that's not always enough for me.

I can study Kahl's animation with awe and mathematical admiration, but it doesn't move me the way fun animation does.

I think every artist should amass as many skills as possible-but recognize the difference between skill and style. Skills are style neutral.

Skill is not an end in itself. It's merely your tool kit.

The more skill you have, the more variety of creative things you can make-as long as your skills aren't confused with stylistic cliches.


Fun is not the same as funny. Swing and Rock 'N' Roll music is fun but not usually meant to be funny.

Woody Woodpecker cartoons aren't particularly funny, but they are lively, colorful. musical, wacky and

Betty Boop is really fun.
Fun as opposed to dreary.This kind of movie reminds me of the feeling of going to your room without supper. Or doing your homework.

FunnyNot all classic cartoons are funny, but most strove to be. I always strive for it, even if I don't always succeed.

Did it Blow My Mind

Now I don't expect every cartoon to blow my mind, but the ones that do are at the top of my list.

I borrowed this phrase from Eddie, because it's so right.

Does It Swing?

To me, cartoons and lively music go together. My favorite cartoons tend to be musicals,

The Fleischer cartoons are probably the swingingest of all time. They had the best music during the swingingist period in American history- the 1930s.

All through the 30s, mostcartoons were timed to songs. This gave way in the 40s to a more straight ahead style of timing. Chuck Jones for example would time his cartoons sstraight ahead (although to beats) and Carl Stalling would score it aftewards.

Clampett continued the 30s tradition of timing the whole cartoon to music and songs, not just to a beat.

You don't have to have every single quality I listed to make a great cartoon, but the mnore you have, the more I will love it.

Here's one that has almost everything and in heaping helpings:

Post Mortem:

Well sadly most of the qualities that I look for in cartoons are considered corny now, or have just been forgotten. You don't have to have all these qualities in a cartoon to be quality, but the more you have, the more quality it is to me.

I'm amazed by how many people will argue against all this, and how vehemently. I get this comment a lot, "Why do all cartoons have to be funny and cartoony?" And I always answer, "They don't. But why can't at least a few be?"

Eddie says I should go further and demand that they all be. In my honest opinion, at least 80% of cartoons should strive to do the sorts of magic that only cartoons can do, but we don't even have 5% today. Cartoons should by definition be cartoony. Shouldn't most music be melodic?

It's truly baffling to me how much energy and argument I have to summon up just to convince the world to let us have fun again. "Oh Pleeeease have some ice cream!"

That's why this blog exists. To try to revive some excitement for what made cartoons cartoons in the first place. To bring back lightness and joy to cartoons. Distilled fun. Without the filler.