Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Howie Post and new department in my Amazon store

Boy do I love Howie Post! He has all my favorite traits in a cartoonist:

This is probably #1 on my list. Although to be able to draw with appeal, you have to understand some principles and then on top of that just have a natural knack for cuteness.

He even draws ugly characters with appeal. Like Basil Wolverton.

All His Principles

Good construction, line of action, clear clean poses, unambiguous attitudes.


His characters are very lively. Even his props and bgs are. Many artists have trouble with this essential element of cartoons. I see a lot of cartoonists whose characters seem to be sleepwalking, just going through the motions, merely obeying the script. Of course that is encouraged by today's styles, but I don't understand it. No sir, I don't like it.

He's the one with the cartooniest animals.


Howie has a great natural sense of design and balance. He really knows how to use negative spaces to point to the positive spaces. He tries lots of interesting shapees and textures, all very cartoony and fun.

Look how great these silhouettes are! They still read perfectly and have tons of life and attitude - plus being extreme design statements.

Howie's skills are immense and the really amazing thing about the skills is that he is able to balance them all at the same time. Ask my layout artists how hard that is to do!

Not only is each panel a well thought out technical composition, the whole page is balanced as a single overall artistic whole.

These are true works of art.

He is so good at designing trees, that I'm going to devote a whole post to it for our lovers of good cartoon backgrounds.

Here's a later comic page by Post. It still has all the principles but is a bit less cartoony. By the mid 60s, just about everyone was getting lesss lively in the arts. Tiredness was setting into American culture and now, 40 years later we are totally lethargic.

I found this article about Howie at Pappy's fantastic comics blog.

It turns out that Howie had a period of heavy Walt Kelly influence, which totally makes sense.



Where can you get your hands on some killer Howie Post art?

Well luckily for all of us, Jerry Beck and Leslie Cabarga have been compiling classic Harvey comics into big collections, published by Dark Horse.

Like all cartoon books, the stuff you really are buying the book for is not as abundant as you would like and they always go too far past the golden age of good stuff. I've never been able to figure out why.

Here's an open request to Jerry and Leslie: Please put out a whole book of Howie's best stuff from the 50s and early 60s! From all the Harvey comics he worked on: Little Audrey, Spooky, Nightmare, Hot Stuff and anything else he did.

I'm looking forward to the Audrey book that's coming out but just found out it has Little Lotta and Dot in it too, and I remember that stuff being drawn by the poorest Harvey artist. It's too bad, because they were potentially fun characters. Were they ever drawn by the good artists?

I never knew the names of the Harvey artists, but I could tell the different styles:

The fun cartoony guy (Howie)
The early animator guy. (early 50s Harvey comics)
The mean guy with realistic adults with tiny heads (A lot of Richie Rich and all the characters by the mid to late 60s)
The crummy guy (Little Dot)
The other early guy with style:Who is this, Jerry?

Oh and here's another bonus: they printed the color stuff right. They just scanned the original comics, instead of recoloring them in photoshop. They still have all the 4 color dot patterns that make up the different colors and the lines are intact - unlike say, the Marvel reprints that have lost a lot of the original detail in the linework and have flat ugly colors now.

By the way folks, I added a department in my Amazon store for good cartoon comics and books so check it out. Lots of great inspiring stuff there!


Later today or tomorrow, Howie's trees!
Hi John,
Enjoyed your post about Howie Post. I'm a big fan of Post too.
Here's a capsule description of some of the other artists you may have been wondering about...
Sid Couchy- Little Lotta and Little Dot... the simple guy
Martin B. Taras- Baby Huey, Buzzy, Wendy the Witch... Neatest draughtsman... his Huey and Buzzy stories look like they are moving. He was more restrained on Wendy.
Steve Mufatti- Early Harvey artist who became the model artist. He snuck cool design shapes into his work. Left Harvey in 1958 to work for Joe Oriolo on Felix.
Milton Stein- Friend of Post. Stein put some way out designs into his settings.
Dave Tendlar- Baby Huey, Herman and Catnip... Drew in a rounder and wavier style than Taras. See Tendlar's Fleischer cartoons, and the style will seem instantly familiar.
Warren Kramer- Stumbo, Casper... Sid Jacobson's favorite...at first he was trying to emulate Mufatti, but he was more conservative. Became even more conservative later.
Ernie Colon- Richie Rich, Casper... Jacobson's other favorite. Tends to vere off into almost illustration style proportions.
Milton Knight is actually the biggest expert I know on the Harvey artists, and he even worked with Post and several of the others. He knows more than I do about them.


Dan said...

AAAAAAAAAAAA Im the first one that reply!!! hahahahahha

Fuzzhound Lluis said...

Thanks heaps John!!

Great stuff!

Taber said...

I see what you mean with those trees. Great organic form mixed with strong composition. Great stuff, and funny too!

Zach Cole said...

Awesome! Great post! I've always been curious about who drew the Harvey characters. Especially Hot Stuff and Spooky, they were my favorites growing up.

It's a damn shame people think of the crappier Harvey comics from the 80's when Harvey is mentioned. People seem to go for the boring realistic-ish human characters over this stuff too, which has always baffled me.

Gabriele_Gabba said...

Oh wow, this guy is so packed with skill its dripping off these pages! I'm scooping this stuff up!

lastangelman said...

I think I gave the Harvey comics a miss back in the day ('68-'72), though they had enough of the stuff packin' shelf space on the comics rack at the sweet shop/pharmacy I'd patronize. I bought Sad Sack, Mad Magazine, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, sometimes there'd be a Abbot & Costello/Three Stooges Key Comic and occasionally sneak a peak at the National Lampoon, when the old pharmacist was busy filling a prescription.

I always preferred the Harvey cartoons on TV like Herman and Catnip and Baby Huey (I once argued how Baby Huey was a rip-off of Jun-yer Bear from the Warner Brothers cartoons). The Hot Stuff here is a lot better than any of the Harvey comics I remember, these must have been way before my time.

Roberto González said...

Harvey comics are not very popular in Spain. I almost bought one Richie Rich comic once because of the cute drawings. I didn't know who was the artist there, it looked kinda similar to these drawings. There were not tiny heads there, that's for sure.

I don't remember why I didn't buy it, I guess it was because, like you say, only some of the stuff in the comic looked good.

Those are very nice images. Probably the stories are kinda dull? I've never read them. Anyway the drawings are very cute.

By the way, I'm still posting some quick sketches in the blog, it would be great to have some kind of advice.

Brian O. said...

The fun cartoony guy (Howie)
*Steve Mufatti*The early animator guy. (early 50s Harvey comics)
*Ernie Colon?*The mean guy with realistic adults with tiny heads (A lot of Richie Rich and all the characters by the mid to late 60s)
*Sid Couchey*The crummy guy (Little Dot)

Could your mystery artist have been Nick Tafuri or (unlikely)Marty Taras?

JonnyPlank said...

Man, I hope you do that post on trees! trees are just about ALL I draw these days! And my obsession has really taken off since seeing some of your composition posts and watching George of the Jungle.

This blog is like candy for artists!

Blammo said...

Great post again!
I love Howie Post....Man I wish comics still looked like this.

I was inspired by some of your comic posts a few weeks back and went out to re-aquaint myself with an old favorite of yours and mine...GEORGE BAKER and "Sad Sack".
Bought a whole bunch of em' and smiled throgh every page!


Kali Fontecchio said...

I'm SO excited about Lil' Audrey, she's my fav. I hope there's lots of Howie in that book.

Justin said...

Talk about eye candy! I gotta get my hands on those.

Sven Hoek said...

WOW!!! Those drawings are amazing. That's the best comic I've ever seen. Like a baby 'Hell Boy' cartoon. Those trees are awesome and twisted. Very fun to look at. I agree, I wish they still made comics like this.

Dear Joshy said...

...I had no control. I just had to purchase it.

It was weird.
First my wallet emerged and then I blinked.

Now $12.95 is missing from my bank account and a user from Amazon.com is sending it by Monday.


- Josh

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

...Howie's skills are immense and the really amazing thing about the skills is that he is able to balance them all at the same time. Ask my layout artists how hard that is to do!

Speaking of which, I was looking at my printed copy of your storyboard/layout manual, John. Just wondering, have you posted all of the manuals yet, and if so, are they scattered?

Just want to be up to date! Thanks for this great post! I'm going to Amazon as soon as I get my stimulus check.

- trevor.

PCUnfunny said...

This is the cute I like. Not the false stuff like the 1980's dreck but cute with personality.

HemlockMan said...

Wow! He did a really good Walt Kelly imitation!

I miss those old Harvey comics. What a shame that kind of four-color fun is forever missing from the days of modern childhood.

Shawn said...

The lines look good. Did Howie Post ink his drawings too? Or did somebody else ink them?

Rudy Tenebre said...

Hello John, a question:

Who was the principle character designer at Filmation responsible for the continuity of style of everything from the Groovy Ghoulies to Fat Albert? Always curious, and I believe you did a stint at that studio, and found it contemptible, perhaps, but I've been attracted to some of those designs since a kid...er, um.......


John - New posts at comicrazy. Milt Gross and Basil Wolverton comics.

grantbond said...

these are wonderful.

JohnK said...


gimme your link again...

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I have most of Post's early forties DC Kelly imitation stuff and will scan some of it for my blog later this summer. He did another series in 1947 for DC called Jimminy and the Magic book in the same style, which is even better. Unfortunately these books are very hard to come by and very expensive. But you can see the originals of one complete story in the archives of Heritage.

In the mid forties, he was the star artist of Wonderland, a cross betwee the stuff he had done for DC and Walt Kelly's Fairy Tale Parade.

In the fifties he worked for Timely, doing some very sketchy horror stories and a book of his own, called Monkey and the Bear. Unfortunately, the stories are not very good.

Most collectors also know his work on the later issues of Brownies, taking over from Walt Kelly himself.

Later in life he got his own newspaper strip called The Drop-Outs, a very dated strip about two dudes who life on a beach somewhere.

Mitch L said...

Whow that are allot of comics. Awesome.

I need cash :P


John - http://comicrazys.wordpress.com/

There's also some Kurtzman Silver Linings strips and Milt Gross Pete the Pooch from Argosy magazine. Enjoy.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

What happened to the Howie Post post on backgrounds that was up here for fifteen seconds last night..... had a bit about negative shapes and forms within forms and everything.

Or am I just crazy?

- trevor.

Rudy Tenebre said...

Goya did numerous etchings, (the Caprichos!) some of which depicted the aristocracy as asses, having their portraits painted by monkeys.

Malibu debutantes hiring out famed cartoonist and protege for dismal caricature sessions...

Hryma said...

Here's my tree tries.

Pete Emslie said...

I must admit, I was not familiar with Howie Post, but I sure do like the liveliness of his cartoons. Though it's certainly derivative of Walt Kelly, I really like his "Presto Pete". That's my kind of cartooning! The character looks like he's heavily influenced by Red Skelton's "Freddy the Freeloader" persona.

perspex said...

i agree completely... i wish people were more inspired by Harvey artwork [Howie's] than by relying so heavily on Disney- that stuff gets to be SO boring no matter what era!

JohnK said...

Well Howie comes from the same traditions as late 30s to mid forties Disney.

He just has a nice individual style on top of the same basic fundamentals that Disney
encouraged and helped develop.

Bill White said...

When you praise Howie's trees, you must realize that he was COMPLETELY inspired by Warren Kremer's fabulous work, as were all the Harvey artists. If all you wanna-be cartoonists out there want to see good, solid cartooning, just seek out Warren's stuff, for his poses, acting, construction and layouts.

David Germain said...

Not only is each panel a well thought out technical composition, the whole page is balanced as a single overall artistic whole.

I always wondered if professional comic book artists considered the loo of the entire page as opposed to just the individual panels. I am aware that many have used "splash pages" to emphasize characters and/or big actions. I always thought THAT was the only time they considered the whole page.

Well, now I know better. I'll certainly put that idea towards any comics I do in the future.

Thanks for this post, John.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

I am totally buying that Hot Stuff collection thanks to your post.

How about adding "Ace in the Hole" and maybe "Bad and the Beautiful" to your Kirk Douglas store while you're at it? Please!

John Will Balsley said...

Great work, I think a lot of humorous comic book work is highly underrated when it comes to the comic world.

Racattack Force said...

Whoa...I have to get a hold of these comics.

Captain Napalm said...

Strange - I find the first page of Presto Pete kind of bland, the second better and the third flat-out amazing, despite the fact that the panel layout gets exponentially denser as it goes along. Maybe the story arc explains that, but I just don't think the captured the embarrassment of being illiterate. But I guess there's some intentional irony there.