Sunday, July 22, 2007

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 use 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