Friday, September 19, 2008

Irv Spector, a new favorite for me

Remember this post? I wasn't sure who this artist was and Ger Apeldorn and Paul Spector let me know it was by Irv Spector -- Paul's Dad.

He's great! He has all the principles down and a really great personal style. If I were to guess his influences, I would say...Herriman, Walt Kelly, Dan Gordon and of course animated cartoons.

I had seen Irv's name in the credits of many Famous cartoons. He was an animator and storyboard artist there (and maybe more). It never meant anything to me, because Famous cartoons are (mostly) so non-descript. If only they had looked like this instead of imitating the west coast cartoon style.
These are beautiful and cartoony at the same time. I'll break down some of the panels when I get some time.Anybody know where we could see some of his storyboards?

Thanks to Ger and Paul for finding me a new influence! The funny part is I bet I have some of his comic books, but just thought they were by Dan Gordon (who I also love) I see some differences now. Irv is more interested in strange artist perspectives and Dan is maybe goofier.

I'm sure they worked together.

Here are some panels that show off some of the concepts I write about. Are you seeing what I'm seeing in them?






pspector said...

John K "Anybody know where we could see some of his storyboards?"

Hi John - Michael Sporn was kind enough to post one of his old boards for me not too long ago, in 2 parts. (Sorry for the long link):

Anonymous said...

Interesting~ Thanks.

trevor said...

Wow, he does look like Kelly and Gordon, doesn't he?

Unrelated, but I miss Pogo and Krazy Kat.

Also, I see hierarchy of forms, good staging, and use of negative space. Plus everything reads left to right with no confusion.

- trevor.

patrick said...

wow, that bear is drawn so interestingly!

sunny kharbanda said...

"Here are some panels that show off some of the concepts I write about. Are you seeing what I'm seeing in them?"

Panel #1 alone has many of the powerful principles you write about. Let me take a stab, and see if I'm learning anything from your blog:

-Hierarchy of forms: especially in the house on the left and the rocks on the right.

-Asymmetry and uneven spacing: Throughout the image! The fence posts, the way the characters stand, it's all delightfully asymmetrical and non-parallel (but not "wonky").

-Negative space: Not just between the characters and the landscape, but even elements like the fence posts, the chimney smoke, the speech balloons are judiciously controlled. The image as a whole "breathes" very well, is relaxed and pleasing.

-Non-garish, mostly natural colors. In fact, the only thing that isn't natural in color is the one bizarre element in the story: his split personality. How functional!

And this is all from Panel 1.
I'm sure I'm missing some stuff, I'd love to hear what more gems other readers can point out!

Dan szilagyi said...

Hey John,

I've been a fan of yours since Ren and Stimpy were on Nick back in the day.

I wanted to ask you ( its not at all related to this post though, sorry) what are your thoughts on Japanese animation? ( anime i mean ) There have been some really great movies ( not TV shows) that they have done and i wish North America could finally move past the money aspect of things and do something like those films ( tekkonkinkreet is one film, another was paprika) Europe has many films/comics/art in general that is so diverse and great on many levels while it seems US/CDN are stuck with the same boring films/TV shows and ideas.
Do you think we'll ever get past this current way of things happening?

thanks alot and keep up the great work on here!
fellow Canadian


mike f. said...

Irv, where have you BEEN all my life??

HemlockMan said...

Oh, good grief! He just copped Walt Kelly's style. Yeah, perfectly, but it's Kelly! Even the bits of stories shown look like they were purloined from a Pogo strip.

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

Yeah, a sorta abbreviated W. Kelly, (none of Kelly's incredible spotting and hatching)...

I'm sure you'll agree, at some point an artist should produce these 'principles' intuitively or unconsciously, not scrutinizing his/her work by rote checklist:

"Lessee, asymmetry? check!..."

"Hey, busher! Frame that action via your hierarchy of forms!"

"Right-o, chief!"

and another thing: I believe in Billy Bunting.

Will Finn said...

John, these are joyous, I myself just figured out who Irv Spector is thanks to the posts (mentioined above) Michael Sporn did on him, courtesy of his son Paul. His story sketches and designs are leagues ahead of what the "Modern Madcap" cartoons ended up looking like.

Thanks for sharing these unbelievably unique comics.

Ger Apeldoorn said...


I hope you will do a further post about this and if you do I am interested in reading what you think about all this crazyness with the moving furniture and pictures on the wall. I know how important it can be to have some balance or imbalance in a panel, but on page one of the Spenser Spook story he shows a wall twice from the same angle - the second time the tear in the wallpaper is replaced by a hanging picture, On page two, there are a picture and a table with a lamp replacing a tear in the wallpaper. Is this helping the reading of the story or is it just bad comics?

I can see how this looks like Kelly (though more like his comic book work, which I should put up for comparison) but if you look beyond that, you can see it is also a lot more lively and loose. Kelly cleaned up a lot nicer, which sort of explains why Pogo made it and Coogy didn't. And maybe there wasn't room for two of those intellectual slapstick strips. But similar on the other side we have Jack Kent's King Aroo and Coogy is a lot funnier than that.

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

Ger--: Seems to me the loose inconsistencies you note in the backgrounds are evidence of a playful mind and a playful process...

Herriman landscape elements change panel to panel often with no character movement through space.

Repetition can be a tool.

Or mebbie the guy had a deadline.

A satirical mind like Kelly's is a rarity, and probably accounts more for the success of Pogo than refined cartooning.

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elana Pritchard said...

All strips have solid compositions and make good use of the negative space. The BGs frame the characters nicely, adding to the scene and mood, not detracting from it. The hierarchy of lines is beautiful and makes sense- nice thick outer lines in all the right places, and thinner lines for the details. The characters are pleasing and likeable- and definitely don't look like they came out of a plastic bag.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

All I meant to say was that anyone copying this should copy the underlying sense op space, not the 'silly' objects themselves or the flagrant ignoring of background rules. I have just written an article about Mad imitations in the fifties for Alter Ego (out in june 2009) and one of the most common mistakes the imitations made is filling up all panels with gags and signs, without a sense of composition to it. The other mistake mostb frequently made is doing aprody from memory rather than research. Both are signs of writers and artists trying to work as fast as possible - never a great thing to do when you are not a genius.

Big D said...

Hi John,
I am new to your blog but I have always loved your work and much animation in general.

I have a question for you. I have always admired the comic strip "calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Watterson. have you ever posted any opinions on the Calvin and Hobbes strips? If you have let me know where to find the post.
Thanks! Dennis