Friday, August 29, 2008

Don Martin and the Essence of Cartooning.last dentist scene

All fields of art branch out and take in influences and skills from other fields - sometimes eventually to the point where it rejects its own reason to exist, but thank God for the purists who remind us why we chose our particular field in the first place.If you could boil down the definition of a cartoon to one concept could you do it?
Don Martin sure could.
It's not acting; that can be done better on stage and in live-action movies.
It's not "story"; that can be done much better in novels and live action movies.
It's not even funny voices or sound or movement. All these things are add-ons that already exist outside cartooning.
There is just one element that can only be done in cartoons; its "fundamental atom" as Eddie calls it. What is it?
It's not grossness or slapstick either.
I am dying to read your answers (and arguments).

Sergio Aragones and Basil Wolverton also distill this atom and focus all their work around Eddie's atom.Plop Magazine With Basil Wolverton Cover


Anonymous said...

Here's my understanding of what a cartoon is:

A singular or a series of humorous images that provoke an emotion or a related life experience, that is amplified, but stays true to nature’s law and order.

Am I close, or did it sound too pompous?

From an inspiring animator/ artist.

Nate said...

I am going to say that it is the combination of ugliness with the fundamental beauty of the hand-drawn line.

Caleb Bowen said...

I would say exaggeration. Cartoons use exaggeration to the point of being humorously absurd. Without exaggeration, it's just regular animation.

I think a person's exaggeration skills are like a drawing style. Some people can make any joke funny because of how they tell it. If an idiot tries to tell the same joke, it comes off like a bad magic trick. Clampett's cartoons have exaggeration cranked up to 11.

I also believe this is why certain minds reject cartoons: "That's not even possible!" -Some people are not willing to take this ridiculous leap in logic. Obviously, if Don Martin's dentist existed in reality, there would be lawyers involved and lawsuits distributed over a period of 8 years. All of which is not funny unless you exaggerate.

Joe Henderson said...


JohnK said...

nope nope nope nope

Adam T said...

Cartoons at their essence are exaggerations. That's why I like them so much. They can take something subtle, like a funny expression, movement that normally only lasts a second or an emotion or ridiculous image that pops into your head that other people can't even see and freeze it in time.

You can do that with photographs too but with cartoons you can do it after the moment actually happens. Less luck is involved in capturing it. And cartoons let you filter out all the unnecessary details and enhance the important ones to really emphasize what you want to emphasize.

So for example everyone's gone to the dentist. And most people have probably had a tooth drilled, and it was probably a memorable experience the first time it happened to you. You probably experienced a certain kind of pain and other sensations you've never had before. And it probably reminded you of other events in the past that at first seem loosely connected to what was going on in the present. But to someone who wasn't you or the dentist it doesn't look like a lot happened. Some guy had his hands in another guys mouth and drilled some rot out of a tooth... big deal.

The really interesting thing going on was what was happening in your head when you were having tooth rot drilled out of your mouth. So if you can draw a cartoon well you can communicate what happened at a particular moment and what you were feeling at the same moment with a few well placed lines on a 2D surface, like Don Martin does in the example. That's pretty amazing, no other art form can do that.

Animated cartoons are a little bit different because they can do more than just freeze a moment in time you can stretch it out or speed it up too.

RocknOats said...

Two words:

Funny pictures.

Thunderrobot said...




and freedom to create whatever you want, and not live by the rules of science or society.

jhbmw007 said...

I'd say it's the visual component that immediately grabs your attention and draws you into whatever is happening in the cartoon. The design, layout, and composition that were carefully crafted to convey something that was created in the cartoonist's mind... eh?

Mattieshoe said...

That really depends on how you're going to define "Cartoon"

Disney Animation doesn't have much humanity or exaggeration in it. is it still a cartoon?

in your "Is it a cartoon" post, you included pictures of Little Lulu and Disney comics, neither of which I would consider very "Cartoony"

But then again, I guess it's a question of Levels.

Clampett's cartoons are very human AND exaggerated. he doesn't just exaggerate the sizes and proportions of things.

of course, to be a Cartoon, it has to exaggerate the funny aspects of life and things.

bulldogs have tiny butts in proportion to their chests, which makes them slightly funny-looking. take that aspect of bulldogs and exaggerate it to make it 30x funnier.

Avery was the king of funny contrasts, (or at least someone in that unit was)and applied them to all of his characters.In my opinion, he had the most physically cartoony characters.

But Avery wasn't as keen towards humanity as Clampett was. he exaggerates every aspect of life in his cartoons. it wasn't just how off-the-wall a gag was, it was what it was exaggerating that mattered just as much.

Avery's cartoons didn't as thoroughly exaggerate anything human or relatable, so his cartoons feel less "real".

so I guess it comes down to this:

Is a cartoon a humorous exaggeration?

or is a cartoon a humorous exaggeration of HUMANITY?

diego cumplido said...

ummmmm .... I'll be thinking about it... all day long....

for now, I can asumme it's related to cartoony weirdness. The abilty to produce IMPOSSIBLE FACES and IMPOSSIBLE GAGS in a hand-drawn world which owns its own rules.

Is not just exageration, a lot of comedians exagerate real life and they're not cartoons. Cartooning takes that to the next level, it breaks physic laws and the real life look. Its made of self-invented shapes "based on real life" but not copied from it. That shapes and gags and laws are only possible in this drawn medium.

I'm near the answer?

Ryan G. said...


goodmorninggoodmorning said...

Funny drawing

Wes Riojas said...

The cartoon is an artform that provides believable stories with impossible situations or actions that are also believable. For example, Wylie Coyote hanging in mid-air and waving bye before falling to earth. Then in the next scene, he's okay. It's believable, but impossible.

Bitter Animator said...

Man, that's a tough question and I can't think of an answer that can't be applied to some other form.

For me, the essence of cartooning could be seen as a unique viewpoint. Putting down on paper an interpretation of a view, be it heightened or not.

That's what I see in Watterman, who just totally gets inside the head of a child and draws it. Or Marc Hempell with his book Gregory - it's a view unique to him. Like an interpretation.

SoleilSmile said...

Defintion: Lampoon or an abstract of life.

I finished my latest Sody. Could you critque her for me? Pretty please?


Bob said...

A cartoon is: Pure fun.

Rogelio T. said...

There are really no limits to how cruel and inhumane you can be!!!

Roberto González said...

I was going to post something along the lines of Diego Cumplido...

Jake Thomas said...

The definition of cartoons is Fun.

trevor said...

All my favorite cartoons have one thing in common:

Funny drawing, or visual fun.

But that's probably wrong.

- trevor.

Luke said...

"What primal attribute do we derive our pleasure from when we watch a Cartoon? FUNNY DRAWINGS that move. Not Story, not Music, not Dialogue, not Background design, not even pretty animation; all these can be important additions or enhancements to a Cartoon but they are all subservient to the Funny Goddamn Drawings. This is the number one most important attribute that a Cartoon has. It is its essence, and its priority. What we like about Cartoons is that they are "Cartoony"." -John K.

Melvillain said...

John K.,
I love your blog. I'm not an artist or cartoonist, but I love your incites. The Don Martin cartoon seems to portray something that theater, and film cannot, that is the eventual unveiling of "the joke". Each panel is funny, but the payoff doesn't come until the final frame. In a cartoon on paper there are no sounds, or movement, so each line of drawing has to add to the action to convey meaning. I don't know, maybe I'm full of it, but I thought I'd give it a try.

purpleyellowpinkisnotacolorscheme said...

a ridiculous, absurd, or humorous image. If it's worth a flip then it is usually a drawn one.

Adam said...

I can't think of one word to define it. All I can think of is...

The illustration of whimsical ideas.

I-Like-it said...

One of the very first blogposts I've read here was called "WHAT IS A CARTOON". It nailed it. Re-read it! I won't say anything because I've already cheated :)

Sven Hoek said...

Caricatures or comic drawings.

Comic books and strips were ok when I was a kid, but GOOD animation is my favorite kind of cartoon. I just got Boomerang channel and have watched some great old cartoons (Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry, etc). Imagine what this genius "Mr. Floosi" would do if he could do it up right. Imagine, a show made in America, it would cost a friggin forture but lets dream of the day.

Free the K

Zoran Taylor said...


David Carley said...

Reality of a mind's ideas; which may be inconceivable in the physical sense, but always represented through a concrete medium.

Anonymous said...

Hi John!

Awsome blog. Maybe a bit off-topic, but is there any way to contact you? I would like to talk to you about the old Hanna-Barbera designs. Of curse if that's not too much of an inconvenience for you.

SAY UNCLE said...

Cartooning is it's own handwriting. And it's language is often very individual.

That's why when another person attempts to cartoon like someone else, it comes off as copying, almost like forging a signature.

Phantom Spitter said...

Cartooning simply can't be explained. It's wonderful and meaningful, but those are just adjectives. It's more than that. Yep.

n4nln said...

A cartoon is a window into the cartoonist's mind. Through that window, you get to share the cartoonist's private little slice of gentle insanity from the safety of your easy chair. Whether it's wild hallucinations or sly observations, the cartoonist is sharing her mind with you.

Frank Macchia said...

ive debated this with friends a million times
im still not totally sure
but its always interesting to hear everyones different interpretations

the closest ive felt ive got to the heart of "what is a cartoon"

a real cartoon is artists unique perception of the rules and boundaries of "reality"

i think a lot of that has to do with how things relate to echohter and the timing

i remember watching cartoons when i was a kid..not yet fully understanding WHAT they far as i knew, they WERE real...but even as a kid the thing that always stood out for me was how everything worked together in its own syncronized little world

its hard to explain...but i guess an example would be like...goofy fumbling with some objects, while falling all over the something could look so spontaneous but be so controlled and coriogaphed at the same time

controlled chaos?...imagination?...exaggeration?...satire?...funny drawings?...slap stick?...

personally i think all of those things boil down to making ANYTHING possible as long as its beliveable within the rules of that universe.

im curious to hear your interpretation john.

whats your opinion?

LeoBro said...

A cartoon is a visual joke.

Like a verbal joke, a cartoon is designed to make you laugh, by using a combination of distortion, surprise, exaggeration -- sometimes by means of a little story but sometimes by something as simple as an idea turned on its head. Instead of relying on words, a cartoon's humor exists in the drawing.

Because a cartoon is visual, the success of the joke depends on its graphic appeal.

That's what I think, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Simplified, funny, illustration.

Jim Rockford said...

his is a very thought provoking post! (I'd better put on my patented stupomitron helmet)

This is really a difficult question to answer.

I think the cartoons "atom" is imagination.

The ability to caricature life,distort reality.

In cartoons anything no matter how improbable,outrageous,surreal or bizzare can happen.
emotions and actions can be expressed via unconventional means.

The very laws of the universe dont apply.
The only limits are that of the cartoonists imagination.

Don Martin was a great choice to illustrate your point.

Bob said...

A very interesting question and one I often think about. Around two years ago, I was not sure what I wanted to do in life and I decided to get myself into art teaching because I was intrigued by the marks that children make. I was obsessed with the idea that children can make drawings with so much life and not think about the marks they're making... it's much like the Tao Masters of drawing like Sengai, who I believe was the first cartoonist; and Tao Masters believed that everything is defined by line, much like cartoons. In order to make a successful drawing you must do more than an observational drawing, but a drawing that reflects the essence of life.

Many of times in Sengai's drawings he embraces life by making the figure look funny because laughing is a natural aspect of life. Take a look at this pic below

or this

That last picture reminded me of that Barney Rubble drawing that Ed Benedict drew

I think that image perfectly describes a feeling a humanity with minimal marks.

After awhile, I stumbled onto your website John and I was immediately introduced to the artist Milt Gross. Looking at his work I was sucked into the ideas of cartooning and it reminded me what it was like to view the world as if I was a child. To me that is one essential aspect in cartooning and every great cartoonist in history does this either consciously or subconsciously. It is what makes cartoons an artform and many of times Disney does this hoitey-toitey crap that people believe reflects some attributes of life, but in reality they are just selling into the bullshit ideals that people think they want to believe in, and that is a void in the artform, at least for me.

When I watch a Clampett cartoon, he doesn't use the over the top tricks to sell a story, but defines his work by making characters that have an appealing look and personality. Sometimes thats all you need, but Clampett didn't stop there...and another aspect of cartooning that cartoonist like Clampett and Don Martin abided to, which is that in a cartoon anything is possible and that through drawings you can make things that can not exist in reality happen through this artform.

In conclusion, I would like to discuss an interesting point you brought up in a post you did about Otto Messmer. In this post you throughly discussed the phenomenon of Felix The Cat's design and how his look defined the medium. Felix has child-like porportions and I believe that is the reason why people made him into a star because every person has affectionate feelings towards animals with juvenile features such as, large eyes, bulging craniums, retreating chins, etc. It's a subconcious aspect of humanity that we feel that we must protect things that can not defend themselves. Anyways in this recent article I read, "The Neotenic Evolution of Mickey Mouse," Neotenic meaning the reverse cycle of the physical tranformation of a baby becoming an adult, it discusses that Disney artists were aware that people responded to Mickey Mouse's "baby" design and Freddy Moore was the last cartoonist that the article mentioned who literally transformed Mickey into looking as if he was a grown up todler, "Pluto's Birthday." (Check out Mickey's proportions and you will see that his arms, bodies and legs are bigger in clever ways, leave it to Moore. P.S. I can scan this article if you like and post it on my blog.) Anyways, a good cartoon must always reflect some sort of child like emotions, through it's design and humor, and must do things that are over the top that most people can not do in their lifetime. To me that is two essential aspects of cartooning, but like I said earlier, this is one of hell of a question and there many things you can discuss about it.

JohnK said...

A cartoon is a funny drawing.

HemlockMan said...

I vividly recall that Don Martin strip. When I was really young--about eight or so--some of his cartoons disturbed me. But only a few.

patrick said...

filtering out the boring parts and accentuating the funny parts of life

Owen said...


SoleilSmile said...

A carton is also the line drawing under a painting. But that's a different context--and me being a wise ass.
Fleeing for my life now...

James said...

Here's my theory.

A cartoon is exaggeration of life. The funny drawings are the sole key. Without it you'd just have animation, not a cartoon.

Mitch K said...

Funny, of course! And also having a funny nose. Why are noses in such hilarious abundance and variety in cartoons? Because noses are funny. It's almost cheating to draw a nose on a cartoon character.

Phantom Spitter said...

Soleilsmile: No, a carton is a box or container usually made of cardboard.

Mattieshoe said...


we were all too busy trying to be existentialists to realize the beautiful simplicity that is a cartoon.

Guilherme said...

Strange ...

For me, caricature were the main element for any cartoon, dont meaning that it is supposed to be funny.

All you should have in a cartoon drawing were different proportions, orientations and shapes from what you see in real life and somehow, these identifies what is represented.

When you try to achieve real life forms, its called classical drawing.



SoleilSmile said...

Whoops! The type queen had struck again!

Zoran Taylor said...

(gasp) John answered his own question! He NEVER does that!!

SoleilSmile said...

Perhaps he was exasperated by our poly/social-sci answers. Most the people on this blog ARE still in college. All that Nietzsche, Foucault and Duchamp kinda seeps into the psyche.
420 brownies anyone?

Raff said...

Cartoon - Art form based on the following phenomena:

- The human ability to read place, objects, living beings and actions from simple, appropriately drawn marks

- Simplicity as a distancing factor which allows us to see malproportionate features as amusing instead of grotesque

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I have given this a llot of thought the last few months,giving so much attention to cartoons and cartoonists... for me the essence of cartooning is the joy of simplification. The joy of seeing something captured in a cople of lines. Just as a one-liner is better if it is at a certain length, so a cartoon is better if it uses a minimum amound of lines.

trevor said...

A cartoon is a funny drawing.

Woo-hoo! I got it right!

Do I win a toaster?

- trevor.

Guilherme said...

Trying to go further ...

A funny situation with classical drawings makes a cartoon?

latoucha said...

Focus on the question. The question IS NOT what a cartoon is.

It asks what justifies the cartoon as an artform. It is not a "flip" answer.

An excellent, thought provoking question that requires critical, existential thought.

Rudy Tenebre said...

"Ahh-hah!! Whatta great idea for a gag!"

"Eddie your fired."

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Don Martin is amazing.

He could begin a gag with a guy walking down the street and you're already laughing before the gag even starts. Somehow that guy walking down that street is already funny. It's funny that the guy and the weird street even exist. The fact that the character doesn't even know he's drawn is funny. And it's all so delightfully ignorant and class clownish.

Jim Rockford said...

"a cartoon is a funny drawing"

Well,the answer was staring us all right in the face via those incredible Don Martin strips!

Guess we were all looking to deep,I thought the question was what the element or advantage cartoons hold over live-action movies is.

Cartoons are funny drawings..the answer was so obvious,I thought it must be something deeper!

Taco Wiz said...

This is a bit random, but...will you ever do a part 2 to the Joe Barbera tribute? It's been over a year.

Nate said...

ok but... to say cartoons are funny drawings is almost a tautology. It's like saying "what makes a good steak? delicious meat."

it begs the question. what makes drawings funny?

and the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF ALL TIME: what makes background drawings funny?

Anonymous said...

"A cartoon is a funny drawing."

Well, I now feel like a fucking idiot, since I've over analyzed the question, the obvious was clearly visible.

I thought I was right with the "a singular or a series of humorous images" part, but how you worded your answer was direct to the point:

A cartoon is a funny drawing; no more, no less.

And I can only put the blame to myself.

From an inspiring animator/ artist

JohnK said...

I think you mean "aspiring".

David Germain said...

what makes drawings funny?

Or, to open another can of worms, what makes ANYTHING funny?

Yeah, at first I thought John was oversimplifying the whole thing too. But, the more I think about it, the more I feel he's right. Cartoon drawings have been around way longer than anyone had even thought to animate them. And the one quality that every one of those drawings have had since the beginning is that they are funny. They put a smile on the corner of our mouths just by looking at them whether they are meant to poke fun at an authority figure or just be a simple illustration of a small animal.
Really, that's what every animation school should look for in a portfolio when thinking about which students to accept. Even before they learn the basic principles of construction or line of action, they should have the ability to make funny looking drawings. At my animation school, people with masters degrees in art were turned away simply because their work didn't possess that cartoony touch.

JohnK said...

Now they turn you away if you can put a smile on someone's face with your drawings.

I.D.R.C. said...

I'm late to the party so I didn't get to prove how smart I am, but it's funny to me that there is any more than one answer here. I think that is a direct result of when you were born. For me the answer is obvious and simple because the formative years of my life were spent admiring funny drawings. Compared to now they were everywhere. They even delivered them to your house in full color on Sundays. So, I have no source for confusion about what a cartoon fundamentally is. I'm only confused about why so often it isn't anymore. I'm not too confused about that, really.

trevor said...

I don't know what there is to debate.

Every cartoon or comic strip I've ever enjoyed started first and foremost by me going, "Oh, that looks cool".

In fact, as much as I hate Family Circus, I still admire the art.... for what it is.

Oversimplifying it would be to say that cartoons are funny.

- trevor.

purpleyellowpinkisnotacolorscheme said...

I was thinking about the definition I left and it allowed for real life images and people (google groucho marx or jackie gleason images if you don't believe me). That would make them their own illustrators. I guess I'm hesitating to omit photos from cartoons. I just couldn't find any reason why performers of their caliber couldn't be freeze framed to accomplish the same goals that a drawing does. Funny drawings made the concept but I'm not completely sure they incapsulate it. It's a problem I made for myself by being to liberal with the definition. Are some people cartoons, or are the simply cartoonie? I don't know why but I think they can be cartoons. Albeit limited cartoons. Funny drawings have advantages that can elevate the joke and they have a larger funny arsenal available at the touch of a hand. Even if it's just a funny doodle. Maybe that's the difference for me. A drawing has an inherent ability to suspend your disbelief. It's not just funny it's a specific sort of fiction even when it's telling the truth. Whereas I think people can be cartoons, they are lower on the scale of fantastic. The immediacy of a funny line can't really be captured in a photograph. A cartoon can go anywhere and never make you question "why?". Sometimes the way the line is drawn is the only funny part of a drawing. Groucho can't rightfully adjust his non-existent line variety for emphasis and jimmie durante can't make his funny grotesque face a corruption of rythmic squiggles. That said, I still think they would have been able to accomplish the same tasks of a funny drawing on some level with the same goal reached. I'm not sure what I'm talking about has really ever been tried in the sense that I'm talking about it. A large part of what they do is centered around their acting and voice talent, but sooooo much of it was the image and what they could make their bodies and face do (maybe cgi movies should study what those guys did instead of how many pores they had). The answer you gave is the one I knew. I think you've written it in several brilliant posts. It' even cartoonie in how short and concise it is. I'm sorry. This is a stupid theory and it doesn't really keep me up at night. I like to ramble on about dorky crap that's in the back of my mind. This was way long and I apologize if you even started reading. (if you know any one that tried cartooning with real people, I'd like to see it though. I'll bet it looks ridiculous and campy. Like super hero movies!).

Zoran Taylor said...

Purple makes a good point- I swear I KNOW some cartumans, myself possibly included. (That means you, Kate....)

Anonymous said...

And once again John, you are correct, and once again, I've proven to be a real dummy.

"Aspiring" means to become ambitious or to desire of something great or of high value, while "inspire" is to be influential for many. Sheesh, Am I a dope.

If I cannot do something as simple as using the proper word for the proper sentence, then how can I be a proper, functioning artist for this industry?

From an aspiring animator/ artist

JohnK said...

Hey Bruce, what happened to your blog?

Matt Hawkins said...

The word that come to my mind when I see Don's or Basil's work is Anarchy. Funny for sure, but with a definite undertone of disdain for society.

Matt Hawkins said...

I couldn't stop thinking about this.

I think what makes a "funny drawing"
is hate. It needs joy too, but with out hate it's not funny, it's just pleasant. If an alien came down from outer space and knew nothing about the human sense of humor and you showed it these drawings from Don and Basil the first thing it would say is "Wow, the guys who drew these must really hate humans!" Don't believe me think of all the cartoonist you know, aren't the funniest ones bitter miserable S.O.B.s! Funny happens when pure joy meets unadulterated hate like cold and warm air forming a tornado.
We can find joy and laughter in the face of suffering, that's what sets us apart, that's why our species has been able to survive this long and why now more than ever we need the funny!
"Funny Drawings" present the vulgarity and vileness of life with a great zealous joy.

Gabriele_Gabba said...

I dunno what it is either and i'm enjoying reading these posts by other people.

One thing i can say, is that for me, cartoons create something unreal... Something that exists from our imaginations, so really isn't it like looking into someone else's head and how they view things?

Some might like it, some might not. So similarly, cartoons also interest me from a the way the creator decides to deliver certain information.

Does it have charisma/truth/law? Perhaps all or none of the above?

Thanks John, now i won't be able to sleep!

Guilherme said...

great debate! thanks Latoucha!

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

Solielsmile mentioned Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp was a great jokester. He suggested using a Rembrandt for an ironing board.

As it happened, his pranks were positively misinterpreted by Rauschenburg and Johns, and turned succeeding generations in the 'fine'-arts in a direction which most of this readership would dismiss. (Manzoni canned his excrement as early as 1960... today our myriad M.F.A.'s thresh about to top it!)

Nothing primed me for the hostility of DA-DA to bourgeois culture more than growing-up with the beloved irreverence of the Schlesinger studio!!

NateBear said...

Funny drawings.

Martin and wolvertin go sew in funnyness to their drawing to the highest degree.

k.dubb said...

hey John K!

if you have like two minutes, would you peek at my "squirrel puke" post and maybe critique it's "funny drawing"-ness? i'd like to see what you'd say to help me increase my drawing ability.

thanks a ton! i'll buy you lunch!

I.D.R.C. said...

I think what makes a "funny drawing" is hate. It needs joy too, but with out hate it's not funny, it's just pleasant.

Strong word, hate. When I think of drawings with "hate" in them, I get a different picture. Although I'm sure you don't mean hate in the racist sense.

Also you didn't use "love" as the polar opposite, you used "joy".

What's the polar opposite of joy? disdain, maybe? that sounds awfully PC but I wonder about telling people to make sure they put a little hate in their drawings. But we are all adults, I think.

crazyharmke said...

Hey John

I did some corrections on the Sodies


Matt Hawkins said...

O.K. I was being melodramatic and making my point with a sledge hammer. Your right hate isn't the right word. I think outrage is a much better one. When Wolverton's work appeared on the cover of Mad it was pulled from the shelves. This was a statement against society that Mad was making. When I was in high school and the teachers rolled their eyes at my Ren and Stimpy shirt a statement was made. I think it is the cartoonist duty to see all the good and the bad in this world and let both equally inform their work. That is where humor comes from.
All the great American humorist butted heads with the establishment.
Humor isn't clean and pleasant it's dirty, it's ruckus, it makes us uncomfortable, it's anarchy.

Where has our outrage gone?

SoleilSmile said...

Alright John. Then what do you call the drawings for the action adventure genre? The fantasy genre? The educational genre? Be they animated or printed they are still considered cartoons.
Clearly there is more than one definition for cartoon. How would you define these genres?

Brandon D. said...

A strong individual vision, this is difficult in live-action and animated films due to many collaborators working on a single cohesive project.


Something that doesn't suck.

Jenny said...

"Disney Animation doesn't have much humanity or exaggeration in it. is it still a cartoon?"

Jiminy christmas.

SoleilSmile said...

Another thing--the great Fredric Back is from your beloved Canada--that's the main "goodie reason" I am going to the Ottawa animation festival. I would love to meet with him again. His work was the main inspiration behind my 3-4th year BFA film, Dear Jesse. Martha Baxton says that Mr. Back is too tender to make the trip to Cal Arts again, so I'm going to him this time.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Fredric Back, he's the filmmaker behind the Man Who Planted Trees and Crac! amonng other wonderful films. Mr. Back's cartoons aren't necessarily funny. There more like charming and under the category of experimental animation. Caroline Leaf is another favorite of mine.
John, do you admire animation artists outside the comedy genre at all. If so, then who? I a very curious to know.

miss 3awashi thani said...

cartoons are funny , live action can't pull it of so fully.
in a cartoon every element can squeeze out a laugh, from the animation, the timing, the facial expresions, the poses. it's all funny.
i know some cartoons arent funny but that just isn't right. the reason i'm trying so hard to be cartoonist is to make people laugh, it's an intangible service the real world is so horrible but if you can laugh about it, it becomes a beautiful place.
like man boobs. their gross but funny, therefore wonderful...

Traven said...

"A cartoon is a funny drawing."

So what? What's it good for, why does the world need funny drawings, exactly?

I've read on one of these blogs that most people just don't get cartoons. "JohnK this, JohnK that, but Pixar... oh it is AMAZING"

So, cartoons are basically for a minority of humans who can recognise and enjoy "funny" things. That's not bad, but why DRAW them? Why aren't you satisfied with your rare gift of perception?

How egotistic of you to try promote cartoons at all.

Traven said...

Cartoons have at least two purposes:

1. To make possible to face the hardest things in life. The hardest things to face are boredom, lifelessness and loss of life. Work that needs to be done is often boring - and stupefying. Even living people often seem as if life has been sucked out of them. plus, our potential for empathy is far from unlimited. But, a cartoon can make miserable living beings and trivial inanimate objects interesting and endearing. It’s a power to be reckoned with on a planet with 7 billion people and counting.

2. To remove the manipulative potentials of the entertainment industry. If people are more exposed to funny things they gradually learn the mechanisms behind them, and hence become immune to the endless distraction of consumerism. (Nothing wrong with temporary distraction, but you have to have some general sense of orientation... )

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

Solielsmile broaches the definition of a cartoon: I believe one of the earliest uses of the term comes from renaissance painting. A 'cartoon' was the initial application of an unpainted, unmodeled figure or object in its linear or graphic stage.

Ren and Stimpy in High School-- Damn, I'm feeling older and older...

Daniel Og said...

those guys you mentioned are beautifull... funny thing is that I had this don martin book, i had stolen it from my father and my father stole it from me back...

my understandig of a good cartunist is just synthesis... he can squeeze inside an image all mentioned qualities, sound, storytelling, etc.
without even using it.

The Butcher said...

"Sergio Aragones and Basil Wolverton also distill this atom and focus all their work around Eddie's atom."

Well, not all of it. Basil Wolverton did some illustrative scifi/horror comics that didn't look funny, but were still great.

Sven Hoek said...

I Can't remember ever laughing out loud at a Disney movie. And I cannot remember ever watching a John K cartoon when I wasnt laughing my ass off.

I think its safe to say that Disney makes animated films not cartoons, since the very definition is "Funny" drawings. I know a funny drawing when I see it, but John K. has the ability to create lots and lots of funny drawings, pure genius.

Neutrinoide said...

It is an image which produce dissociation with an element of reality with comedy.

Bryce Johansen said...

John K said...

A Cartoon is a funny Drawing.

...That's a pretty bland way to describe a cartoon.

I don't feel it should be just that in fact I think it's completely unnatural to format it into such blaud way of thinking because not every cartoon is a funny drawing...but it's still a cartoon...Caricatures can be funny drawings but they are technically not cartoons.

You can't parallel it to any of art form like that. Sorry but I don't think there can ever be a true answer to your question?

only beliefs that there might be.

"Focus on the Result...Not the Formula"