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OK-the art-the drawings are pretty solid which seems to be out of date these days-at least in animated cartoons.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.


Anonymous said...

John, thanks for posting these with your comments. I think any cartoonist can gain something from reading your post and experimenting with creating specific cartoon expressions. I know that personally I can fall into 'comfortable' and 'generic' poses and expressions. Thanks for the slap on the wrist!

Anonymous said...

I have always enjoyed cartoons, from the time I was five years old, watching Animaniacs at six in the morning to now, when I'm fifteen and still waking up at an un-godly hour to catch something worth watching on Cartoon Network.
But I never actually considered becoming a cartoonist until Nicktoons aired Ren and Stimpy again last August.
It blew my mind away!
The colors, the facial expressions the was absolutly breath taking!
As lame as it sounds, you inspired me to become a cartoonist, and I can't thank you enough for it.
I'm looking into colleges and taking animation courses at the Rec Center, but I think this little blog entry has been the most helpful.
Thanks man, you rock!

Chet said...

sorry john,made a few typos,

Nice tips john,I like some ideas there,though i dont agree with all of them specifically.I feel stupid about asking this but what is a solid drawing?

JohnK said...

Hi Chet,

solid means 3 dimensional rather than flat.

40s cartoons versus modern cartoons.

Get a Preston Blair book, man!

All this stuff will get clearer with each new post.

It's a lot of stuff to absorb.

I'm still learning, myself.

Your friend,


Bitter Old Birds said...

I've always admired how the Spumco artists are constantly changing and creating new expressions for the characters. This is actually something we have discussed in my animation classes. It's a great exercise when I'm trying to draw my own characters.

These story panels are fantastic. The line quality and attention to detail really makes things stand out. I can't wait to see a new series or movie or animated ANYTHING from Spumco.

christopher said...

Thanks John! I've managed to obtain a few of your notes and theories and they always enlighten and inspire me. Cartoon Retro has also been an invaluable resource. Reading about the way you and Shane analyze the art of those who inspire you has been one of the most important learning tools for me. I've always wanted to see more of Mr. Fontanelli's work too!

Hey Chet, if you want to see more examples of solid drawings check out Jim Smith's site in the links section!

makinita said...

hI John
this was a painting i did when i was 17 i hang it on my bathroom of course this is redone and much beter the old one was dificult 2 scan cause it was frame and had glass
hope u like

SPUMCO rocks!!!

Saul said...

Hey John, It's a privilege to visit your blog everyday.
For me, cortoons history have a clear before and after Ren & Stimpy.
And as a teacher you are, now with this blog, and specially this post, you are closer to your apprentices.

Saludos desde Monterrey, México.

Gabriel said...

What a great post. I'm pretty sure lots of people thrive for that sort of stuff, i've been digging the whole internet for years and I can't believe how there's so little of that sort of material. Cartoon retro seems like one of the few sources, but i live in a wretched 3rd world country and have no job, so I can't afford to subscribe. John, what do you think should be a good approach to analyzing old cartoons? Is it useful to freeze frame key poses and try to reconstruct them, or do you see a problem in trying too hard to copy stuff?

Anonymous said...

Thanks John, I don't think this comes off sounding like bragging at all, I enjoy reading a blog where I can get new concepts to think about when I draw.

Question: How do you feel about 3-D animation?

To me, 3-D is the epitomy of what you are talking about with static poses, and everyone is quick to say they look great because they look different, but in reality they are usually quite bland and you're seeing the almost the exact model over and over. It makes me sad to see this style of animation taking over more and more. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

mitchL said...

These insights are invaluable. That statement about the Preston Blair book made me laugh because a couple of years ago when I called up your LA studio, a grizzled man answered the phone and I asked him what you guys would look for in a lowly creature applying for a position there, and he said, plainly, "get the Preston Blair book and study it." I have it, and I haven't done much with it due to all the work our school has us do that distracts us from the real learning we should be doing.

This post was almost like a supplement to the Looney Tunes Volume 3 DVD that features John's commentary along with other notable animation gods.

I'm glad that you've decided to create this blog.

Shaun said...

Amazing as always!:)

** Shaun **
My awesome blog:


Mitch K said...

I have an old copy of that big yellow "Animation by Preston Blair" book. It's great, and I suggest it to anyone who is looking for a good book.

John man, thanks so much for these ideas! I need to start saving your posts to disk or something -- I'll need these forever. Thank you!

JohnK said...

>>Is it useful to freeze frame key poses and try to reconstruct them, or do you see a problem in trying too hard to copy stuff?

Yes it's extremely useful, but you need to know HOW to do it.

Start with the Preston Blair book and learn to construct your drawings.

Chet said...

thanks John,

Iv been wanting a Preston Blair book,just i have to wait till my birthday or something.

JohnK said...

Hey Chet get the one with the yellow cover inside. There's a rabbit in a boxing pose on it.

It's only about 10 dollars!

Don't get the expensive one. It's not as good.

David Germain said...

I don't have that $10 Preston Blair book but I did graduate from an animation school that cost $36,000. I probably leaned just as much as I would have just from Blair's book but on the upside I did get two student films made (one was the final assignment in the third year and the other was one I did for fun in my second year).

nightwing said...

I agree about expression in drawing, its something i try to do, though not always successfully, here is one i like, its a quick sketch of judge dred and even quicker colors in flash
and some other that i think have some nice expression...these arnt cartoony, though
Jerry Cantrell:
ok...that was only one more...but the rest i was gonna show are on my blog, theres a fred flintstone and some more caricatures
(sorry about the long links but i forgot how to make nice, pretty, blue, short links)

Gyrobo said...

I'm just in it for the laughs.

Brett W. Thompson said...

I just wanted to add another comment thanking you for posting some guidance for those of us hoping to become good cartoonists :) So many of your fans look up to you so much, and you've inspired so many to draw and try animation, so this kind of guidance is very much appreciated :)

Peggy said...

Thanks for posting this. I learnt a lot from listening to you firsthand and secondhand, and from analyzing your stuff (and others'!) with the tools you gave me. It's good to see this getting a wider audience than 'people around Spümcø and those who dared write letters to you for advice'.

I don't know how much of what I learnt from you you'd think is on display in my current art, but it's there on several levels!

Gabriel said...

>Don't get the expensive one. It's not as good.

Is the expensive one the one with the elephant on the cover? What's the difference?

Josh Boelter said...

This is interesting stuff. Unlike a lot of folks here, I'm not a cartoonist or an animator, but I find this fascinating. And actually, a lot of this applies to other arts, such as writing and filmmaking. Weirdness for the sake of weirdness may be entertaining, but it's much better if that weirdness exists to tell the story. I try to keep those kinds of things in mind when I'm working on a screenplay.

Thanks, John.



Chet said...

Hey Chet get the one with the yellow cover inside. There's a rabbit in a boxing pose on it.

It's only about 10 dollars!

Don't get the expensive one. It's not as good. -

Yeah sure thing John,thanks for telling me.

Chet said... -is this the one?

Trevour said...

Thanks for the insight John!!!

I've also learned more about cartoons and animation on my own, than I ever did while at art school... I dropped out and really I don't regret it. Still pay off those loans though.

BrianB said...

Very informative and eye opening. Thank you for all the artists names in the post, and for more comic pages.

Btw, one project I'm doing now to improve my charicatures is I'm drawing the same class every week. Like 4-5 people. And I started realistic like you said you semi do for celebrity charicatures. And from there I've gotten a lot more comfortable with really bringing out their shapes and uniqueness. And this post reestablished where to go next, by capturing their gestures as easily as their shape comes. And the great thing about gestures is that there's never just one. There's a whole bunch of reactions. Even the flatter expressions for the non-eccentrics are uniquely self concious.

Thanks for the inspiration John.

Spike said...

Hey John- I'm looking for someone to illustrate the cover art for my new cd "There's No Sound In Flutes!" (after something Buddy Rich yelled at his band on those famous tapes). Do I have any chance in hell of being able to hire you to do it?

Jenny said...

Great post, John--I wouldn't worry for a second that anyone would take your opining the wrong way(I mean, assume extra hubris on your part). Jeez, you've certainly earned your own take on things. Even if people don't see it the same way, it's all good and more than gold to get an artists' approach from him. : )
I have always found you to be pretty open-minded, myself.
Anyway, great advice and it's just fun to read/hear you analyse. I highly recommend to all & sundry who enjoy reading you that they ought to hear you, too; the commentaries you did on the recent WB compilations--those are just terrific.

Count Screwloose said...

Fascinating stuff, Dr.K, even for those of us who don't have any cartooning skill...



Matt Greenwood said...

This is the most informative blog post I've seen. Thanks!

BrianB said...

Oh, and as for 3D guys, I'd say anything outside of Pixar is just gross. And Pixar's getting better. The Incredibles dvd had a nice feature where a guy was talking about pushing himself and the expressions. That he always played it too safe and he's been trying to push the range of characters now.

I don't think they're "kings" per se when it comes to animation, but they're a good bunch of smart artists. Certainly kings of CG animation. They've always been bolder than early 90's Disney was in they're designs. They don't water em down and choose the bad designs in preproduction like Disney did. They choose what looks best.

But I think a problem may be, and I'm not 100% on my own view here, but I think they're restricted and a bit timid in moving the details around the form. Like John said, solid construction with details on top. For them, construction is automatically there. But I don't know how well they really push the details around it. I think that's where they need to go.

Cars is really going to restrict them animation wise likely. Which is a shame, since The Incredibles was probably their best acted yet. Bob had some really great expressions and moments. Cars animation wise just seems like a novelty they can't stretch. Like they worked themselves into a jam. That said, they can still have their story and some amazing technical visuals, but I don't know about their focus in advancing CG animation near heights of traditional animation and it's best acting.

As far as Dreamworks goes, they're exactly the generic John was talking about, only with solid construction thanks to the computer. Not at all appealing constuction, but something that won't get lost thanks to the computers. Their animators just don't add anything. Sad thing is, I'm sure there are potentially good artists there, but they're not allowed to excel. And Hoodwinked is the a new low in animation. It's the CG Scooby Doo.

Anyway, just my view on things to take or leave.

playing devil's advocate said...

hahahahaha. I love Jimmy gnawing on the paper. God bless the 'tards.

You draw some of the best expressions ever. Some might disagree, I'm not one of them.

But do you feel there is more to acting that specific facial expressions and posing?

What about the movement itself? The timing and arcs? Can that not communicate complex emotions and be specific, even when the expressions themselves are on the "generic" side?

I suppose that would be a question better asked by someone who had specific examples and an opinion on that matter, ha.

Thanks for sharing your insights. I hope you share more.

playing devil's advocate said...

^^ educated opinion, I mean ^^

JohnK said...

But do you feel there is more to acting that specific facial expressions and posing?

What about the movement itself? The timing and arcs? Can that not communicate complex emotions and be specific, even when the expressions themselves are on the "generic" side?

Yes, but no one does it. All movement and timing today is generic and repetitive too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this John, it's really fascinating. I'm always trying to explain to my friends why Spumco cartoons are special and have a certain something that others lack.

I was showing someone an episode of the Ripping Friends (Infernal Wedding) and the facial expressions alone were making us laugh. It's so rare to find that in a modern cartoon.

I was watching Simpsons commentary from the 4th season or so, and many times Matt Groening said something like "We can't do that expression on Homer anymore. Too bad"... It's cause the style used to be a LITTLE bit looser, and not quite so strictly on model in the early years. I found that interesting, something I wouldn't have noticed. Their eyes, and pupils, and mouths were altered a bit depending on what the scene called for, and often it helped a lot.

In elementary and junior high school (and now too!) it was always so fun to draw Ren and Stimpy in my notebooks cause you could do anything with their faces.


Nico said...

John -

i think that an animator just starting out, such as myself, can gather more knowledge just from reading your blog... compared to taking most animation classes in America today. thanks so much for your wisdom, and keep sharing. tons of people are reading this thing!

JohnK said...

Let me refine my timing comment. I was a bit too hasty.

There's an amazing animation studio in Vancouver called Carbunkle cartoons. It's founders, Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong do with animation and timing what Spumco does with drawing and acting. They tailor their timing to the specific needs of each character in each scene of each story. They constantly invent new ways to move and time things and are then imitated by everyone else.

They created the animation style that debuted in the first 2 seasons of Ren and Stimpy. Since then, many other studios have copied a few superficial aspects of their work and this new formula has now become the generic TV timing template in kids' cartoons.

Animated Features for the most part follow one of 2 different timing formula styles-the modern Disney formula or the Dic bland formula.These are now blending together too.

Wicks for Candlesticks said...

Yeah, the old Preston Blair(yellow cover, boxing rabbit, bulldog, and fancy duck on cover) book is the best. My copy is worn and torn since I've had it since childhood. Skinny book but tons of information. Still studying it and I always go back to it in times of artist's block. Easy to follow, a lifetime to master. Highly recommended. "You can draw, why not try?"

Vanoni! said...

Great artwork and incredibly helpful insight.
I look forward to more posts like this.

Thanks for going through the trouble of sharing.

– Corbett said...

I've basically been doing the same thing John K mentioned. Except not so much with comedies per se - but I am a familiar fan of the classics he mentioned.

A few films I've gotten a lot out of studying include:
Citizen Kane and A Touch of Evil
Amelie and City of Lost Children
Umberto D
The Godfather parts 1 and 2
North By Northwest, Psycho, and Vertigo

These are all films that have a pretty strong visual style to them that animators can appreciate - especially Amelie and City of Lost Children, which are practically animated films in terms of style alone.

I especially love North By Northwest and Vertigo, however - I look back at those films (along with the Fleicher Superman shorts) and wonder what it would have been like if Hitchcock and Walt Disney joined forces for a feature animated film.

Anonymous said...

Hi John! It's true, normal TV model sheets do inhibit acting. Overseas animators will always favor what they consider "officially sanctioned" model sheet poses over what appears to be maverick interpretations by native board and layout artists.

Maybe the biggest obstacle to acting is scripts. Normal TV stories are way, way overwritten. There's no time for anyone to act. They're always rushing ahead to the next scene.

And why are there so many characters in TV cartoons? How can you act a character if you're always under pressure to cut away to one of the other seventeen characters in the scene?

-Eddie F

Ricardo said...

John, I know you probably have herd this a million times but, I want Rent&Stimpy back..Ohh the pain I miss them so Much!!!

Duck Dodgers said...

Is the story to be concluded or it was never concluded when it was made?

Nathan Jones said...

Hi John,
Just like to say thankyou for making the time to give us such helpful tips. I love this Blog, I come here everyday. You make me want to draw characters all day!
Ive always loved your stuff, keep up the fantastic work!

WIL said...

Hey John,

This is my favorite post of your's so far.


J said...

Great post John.

bab2600 said...

Hey John,
I have one quick question. What would you reccomened for both practice and study of anatomy and perspective? As a kid I never payed attention or even tried to study anatomy simply because I wanted to draw cartoons not real stuff. Now my big problem with my art is a lack of realistic anatomy in my cartoons such as muscle structure, shading, and making my characters jump out and not look so flat. Any recomended books, methods, or techniques for this?

On a side note Jackie Gleason and Art Carney are great for studying for facial expressions. Also thanks to DVD's you can pause a nice clear picture for study. My favorite pose at the moment is in falling hare when bugs does that sick bend over and goes through/looks between his legs.
Thanks for doing these tips in a blog!

Steve B said...

John, you're a genius. Upon finding your blog I immediately pulled out my R&S DVD's that have been in the basement for some time. I've been re-playing them now for a couple of weeks and laughing and enjoying the wackiness. After watching one of the featurettes on the 1st disc, there is an interview with you where you cover much of the topic you've just posted. You emphasized how with your artists you never wanted to see the same drawing twice, and after hearing that on the DVD, I've studied each episode more closely now. You're right! R&S never have the same expression twice. Sure they have the feelings of "happy" "mad" "sadness" "annoyance" etc... but the way their expressions are drawn are different each time. There are hundreds of ways you can draw happy or angry and get that emotion across, without using generic expressions.

This is truly what sets your animation apart from everything else out there. It's refreshing and it's needed more often for sure.

Thanks so much for doing what you do. Your fans appreciate it!

R. Banuelos said...

Not to disagree with anything, but didn't Bill Tytla not use form drawings? His animation is beautiful, although he used a great clean-up assistant to finish his drawings? How does force drawing fit in with any of this?

Again, not to disagree but Tex Avery used flat drawings in later MGM cartoons and his cartoons are really funny. His WB cartoons weren't as good as his MGM cartoons, why would a flatter style better suit Tex Avery and not anyother artist or Director? I believe solid drawings better suited Ren and Stimpy and Chuck Jones cartoons but perhaps not for everything.

David Germain said...

Again, not to disagree but Tex Avery used flat drawings in later MGM cartoons and his cartoons are really funny. His WB cartoons weren't as good as his MGM cartoons, why would a flatter style better suit Tex Avery and not anyother artist or Director?

Well, some say that Tex Avery's style works better with 3-D seeming drawings (not to confuse it with CGI) because they give a solid sense of reality which Tex would then violate with his outrageous gags. That's where the jaw-dropping feeling of "holy crap" comes from when watching his cratoons. His flatter UPA inspired toons of the early '50's however already violate reality with its flattened image so any outrageous gag loses its impact in the process.

But, that's all just a matter of opinion really. I enjoy all of Tex Avery's work. Whether he worked in the primative but creative environment of Termite Terrace, the big budget tour-de-forces of MGM in the '40's or the UPA inspired work of the '50's, Tex knew how to tell a story and deliver great gags. Truly a master.

JohnK said...

Tex Avery's "flat" cartoons were designed by Ed Benedict and Tom Oreb who were both great traditional artists with really strong fundamentals.

The animators were also schooled in a couple of decades of solidly constructed cartoon animation, so everyone in Tex's unit was highly skilled.

There is a huge difference between skilled artists drawing in a designy or "flat" style and amateur artists who draw flat just because they can't draw very well.

Today a lot of artists draw in a flat style because it's the trend and because it seems easy, which to me is cheating and not very interesting.

Ed and Tom were real designers with a natural gift for putting interesting shapes and contrasts together. Today's flat stuff has no design. It's merely flat.

I love Ed Benedict and Tex Avery and Tom Oreb but don't recommend to young artists to try to do what they did. You will see all the wrong things.

Learn fundamentals first!!

I'll talk about design versus style in another post soon.

Joel Bryan said...

I've read quotes from you talking about acting in cartoons... and that's a concept I'm really taken with. I try to incorporate that into any kind of drawing I do, from cartoons and caricatures to more realistic renderings.

What I like about these Spumco comic pages is there sense of time progression, and the "acting" really helps that along. It's similar to Japanese comics and cartoons in theory, but not in execution.

The end result is the same, though, a panel-to-panel progression, a feeling of movement through the story. As opposed to something made up merely of nice still images that seem photographically composed. Yeah, the characters seem to actually move and interact.

To me, maybe this is a Spumco aesthetic, but it also seems to reflect the best way to do things and the way things seem to be done in all the things that resonate with me, whether it's a cartoon or a comic book or a song or a novel or a movie... whatever! The ones I tend to think of as "best" are the ones where the artists have a distinct philosophy on how to do things correctly.

Not that the other ways to do things aren't fine and good, but it's the craft, thought and philosophy of Spumco cartoons and drawings that I relate to all the others who've influenced me. They might express it differently in words, but it comes across in the work.

Anonymous said...

When I think of Solid drawing in Cartoons I think of old Popeye Cartoons from the 30's (black shirt Popeye).

I think this was the best post yet, every artist could benefit from this, not just animation guys.

Anonymous said...

I've been roaming the net for months now looking for a Carbunkle site and can't find anything.
:( DOes anyone know if they have a website?


R. Banuelos said...

Isn't it strange that animation started with great technical cartooninst with strong fundamentals, then sunk into "dumb" drawings and Winsor McCay got pissed off about it. Then cartoons got better with better artist in the 40's and then got "dumb" again. Ren and Stimpy came out with better artist and afterwards came more "dumb" drawings, and now John K. is all pissed about it. Animation has the strangest pattern of great versus bad.

:: smo :: said...

hey john! your blog is super inspiring! right now i'm working on a show that's based on the concept of doing as little animation as possible to make a buck. so many things are recycled and limited. it's all i can do to go home and watch my clampett cartoons and study the marx brothers and try and make my own stuff on the side.

thanks for keeping real cartoons alive! now we just need to get some more studios that will let us work on this stuff without farming it out!

Heather_Chavez said...

That was very insightful, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us

akira said...

awesome! thanks john for the stuff to think about, study and practice!...

one question... from what i can remember of beanie and cecil, bob clampett used a limited number of generic expressions... am i mistaken? did bob clampett change? was this for budgetary reasons? does he have work after warner bros. that you recommend?

thanks again, prof!

akira said...

weighing in on cg animation.. i think the expression and timing of the "scrat" character in the "ice age" trailer is pretty freakin good... am i wrong?

Alleycat said...

Don't forget those Roger Rabbit shorts. That really brought back really great Animation... or at least we all hope it would. But, it didn't That is until Ren and Stimpy came on the scene, and everyone thought that would bring back really great Animation. But, it didn't.

The Golden Age of Cartoons (mid 30's to late 40's for me), seems like we will never get back to that.

Every once in a while someone will do something great, but most studios rather put out crap.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff

lover said...

So awesome. Very talented.

stella said...


very great blog!!!

from italy

JohnK said...

>>from what i can remember of beanie and cecil, bob clampett used a limited number of generic expressions... a

Beanie and Cecil was an amazingly creative and imaginative show, especially considering how low budget it was and that it was made for TV.

All limited animation unfortunately has the problem of fast and cheap production, so you can't make it exactly what you want, but Clampett was very clever even under extremely harsh conditions.

His Looney Tunes, however from the 30s and 40s are almost all one of a kind custom made classics full of ideas and flawless execution and the greatest cartoon acting of the period.

cemenTIMental said...

Cool stuffff, great to hear your thoughts on animation! Love the Old Navy ads, the acting is indeed great.. just been frame-by-framing and there are so many unique expressions!

R2K said...

Great looking!


Duck Dodgers said...

Do you like Tashlin cartoons, John?
I consider some of his works, like " Porky's Romance", " Puss 'n' Booty" and " PorkyPig's Feat" , as some of the greatest cartoons ever made.

Anonymous said...

UPA's stuff lies divided between its early, creative design approach, when the place was helmed by Steven Bosustow Sr. and talented artists/directors/animators like John Hubley, Bobe Cannon and Emory Hawkins worked there. Once UPA sold out to Henry Saperstein (a former CBS executive) their wonderfully stylized flat look became just an excuse to draw bad. What was once a great reaction to overripe, kitschy Disney excess got destroyed through years and years of hackwork, not unlike the 90's output of every contemporary cartoon shop influenced by the surface look of Spumco cartoons and none of the soul.

Gabriel said...

Speaking about the old navy clips, i see they are in 10 fps. Was that the original frame rate? If not, is there any chance of us frame freezing maniacs seeing those clips in the original rate?

the casual llama said...

nice blog ..
would you mind visiting mine ?

Jorge Garrido said...

John, I think I speak for all of us when I say: write a book! A long one!

Also, John, and everyone else what title for my cartoon series do you prefer: Wackie Whapsodies or Wacky Whapsody's?

Anonymous said...


Ditch that apostrophe. It's not a real possessive.

Garwik said...

This is an amazing amount of insight into your brain. Reading this and looking back on your old work makes me appreciate it even more.
I can look for the things you pointed out in this post, and understand how it all comes together.

BrianB said...

Hey John, what do you think of Bill Murray? His minimalistic comedy and fantastic timing? Would it translate to animation well, and are you a fan?

Graham said...

Love the comics. You should really publish these...and give them to us of course...signed...with your earwax...

benj said...

Great post John!
Thanks for the tips.

Adam said...

Hi John

I dont know if youre still reading comments from this post but I wondered whether at Spumco you sometimes change the expressions of the characters on the storyboards after recording the voices.Do you direct the voice actors to convey the specific emotions portrayed in the storyboard so they match up, or are you happy for the the voice actors to sometimes improvise and go back and change the storyboard so the animated acting matches the voice? I hope that question makes sense!

JohnK said...

>>I wondered whether at Spumco you sometimes change the expressions of the characters on the storyboards after recording the voices.Do you direct the voice actors to convey the specific emotions portrayed in the storyboard so they match up, or are you happy for the the voice actors to sometimes improvise and go back and change the storyboard so the animated acting matches the voice?

yes, we do it both ways.

Satan's Sister said...

I have been listiening to this guy and he said that I should stop thinking. thinking is all my problem along with your advice for cartooning. Let me tell you that has such a effect on my brain in expanding concepts. I have pretty much learned drawing in architecture school. there are two schools in skool one is sketching and collaging - creation can be a curator of past the future and present. Then the other one is when you think you should sketch what you are thinking - in other words have the ability to draw what people think. These also go along with the real constraints of space and function - mainly in the buidling a safe abode.

Jorge Garrido said...

>>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.

I actually prefer a more traditional comic book style in comic books, instead of breaking things down like Spumco comic. I dunno, I just like comics to be fast and gripping, to have good gags that come quick. Pow, pow, pow. I also think the size of comic book is important. I like the traditional size of comic books, as opposed to the large size of Comic Book. It's easier to read, but you can still see the drawings good, and the comic seems thicker. The other day I found a bunch of old Daffy Duck comics from the 60's at the thrift store for a few bucks! They were the standard size but with that awesome thick feel to them. I was in heaven! They had these great ads for toy guns and stuff, it was sweet! My favourite comics books are from the 40's and 50's, especially funny animal comics. I like modern day funny comic book like the current Looney Tunes comics and The Simpsons, too. I'd love it if they made the following comics:
1. Spongebob
2. Ren & Stimpy
3. Spumco (seperate series)

schrappi scharppi said...

regarding the site about the romanian cartoonist you should have a look i think i maybe misspel. so is
i hope the operators of this site dont take this as some kind of comercial or advertise,is all about the cartoons.