Monday, October 16, 2006

The Death Of Form



What's the difference between the world before 1970 and the world after?

Simon the Chipmunk will demonstrate:
Before hippies destroyed the western world in the late 60s there was a concept called "form". Form is structure. It is a skeleton which has an central idea and existence and it holds together various details which add up to a specific instance of the form.
Here is a toy of Simon the chipmunk from the 1960s cartoon series. It is a well made toy. It has a solid recognizable form and the details are fairly cute and tasteful. It is a nice happy thing to give a kid (or a grown up nerd like me). Whoever made the toy liked kids and was kind to them by making something cute and fun. The sculptor did what was once obvious to people-make things well and make them with a purpose in mind-in this case-make a cute toy because kids like cute toys. Logic and common sense-foreign concepts today.
Here's a version of supposedly the same character from the 1980s. What's the difference? No form. No taste. Ugly, sloppy and wrinkly. Whoever makes modern toys for kids doesn't understand the concept of toys and cartoon characters. They are supposed to be made to make kids happy. That means cute and appealing and with a distinct shape and form. In order to be appealing, you have to have form and design. It doesn't seem to exist anymore.
The bastards that make shit like this must hate kids. Either that or they are just plain retarded.
I really feel sorry for kids today, kids and girls actually. There is nothing cute or visually appealing anymore. Have you seen how ugly and bland Teddy Bears are now? Unbelieveable. There is a commercial on TV today that is actually kind of clever, it's about sending Teddy Bears to girls you wanna hook up with. The girls get the bear in the mail and then want to mate with you. It's a good and logical concept, but it doesn't work because the actual teddy bears are hideous. There's nothing remotely cute about them. They look exactly like the cheapo ones you see at the check stands. Girls and kids (and cartoon nerds) need cute stuff! There's a huge market just waiting for somebody to exploit and no one is doing it. Not since Powerpuff Girls.

Compare Dreampets from the 1960s to Beanie Babies of the 90s. Two very similar types of toys, except the Dreampets are well designed and have solid forms and Beanie Babies are limp lumpy blobs.

Look at these amazing wrinkles and lumpy seams. How in Hell does stuff like this get approved by the cartoon companies, the toy companies and the toy stores?

Alvin in 1960. Cute with form.
Alvin in 1990. A vague limp shapeless wiggly blob.
Hey, most people like babies, right? We think they are cute and cuddly. It's a good thing corporations aren't in charge of baby design. Imagine if babies didn't have skeletons or even cartilage? If the people in charge of modern culture had their way, babies would be pink bags of skin filled with eyeballs, gums and poo.

Look at these interesting and fun specific designs of similar forms from the 1960s. So when did everything fall apart?In the 1970s form began to be considered uncool. It represented the rigid establishment. So everything started to become vague and mushy. These toys are just one example of the horrible thing that has happened in all walks of modern (post 1970) life. Nothing has form anymore. Music is rambling non melodic nonsense. Jorge's pants aren't the same shape as his legs. Movies and TV are vague, dark and shot with wobbly cameras. Form has since been replaced by meanness, ugliness and "attitude".

This Fred is an early example of slipping standards in toy manufacturing. Compared to the toys of just 5 years earlier, this seems to have less form, structure and appeal, yet compared to today, it looks brilliant.

I think it's time to return to form and planning instead of this random ugliness that pervades modern western life now.

The sad part is, no one even knows what form is anymore. They sure as hell don't teach it in schools. Makes me wonder what school is for if everyone is just allowed to be random and vague.

All this of course applies to drawing cartoons. If you wanna be good at it, you need to learn construction, which is the form of characters. If you draw that flat stuff you will never have any control over what you do and everything you do will be accidental. Modern flat is nothing but avoiding the problem of learning to draw. Understanding and practicing form will open whole new worlds to you and give you much wider choices in your art.

Believe it or not, the 1950s UPA style cartoons do have form, unlike today's flat stuff. I will explain and show you the difference in a later post.