Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pete Emslie Wants To Know...

Hey John,

I've been reading all the comments on your recent post about specific
vs generic designs as they apply to Indians in cartoons. I had been
planning to write up something similar myself, only in regard to
blacks and the art of cartoons and caricatures. About a week ago I'd
even sketched a few faces from this series of mug shots you'd posted
recently of the "Baggy Pants Gang", with the idea of showing how
different individuals can look, while still retaining those features
that are common to their race, such as the wide, flared nostrils,
thicker lips, and dark hair and eyes.

Anyway, before I go ahead and write something up for my blog, I'd like
to offer you first dibs on this. Fact is, you get much more traffic on
your site with a more far-reaching readership, so I'd be happy to let
you use these if you'd like to post a follow up to your Indian topic
relating specifically to the visual portrayal of blacks. In fact, I'd
even suggest asking your readers outright whether or not they consider
my cartoons of these dudes to be racist, when they are so obviously
based on existing humans. It would be interesting to me to hear their
opinions. By the way, don't feel bad if you'd rather not use them, as
I'm just offering them to you as a courtesy between friends. I just
think it would have a lot more impact on your site than mine. Let me
know what you think.



Hi Pete,

those are all good drawings but to me, defeat the purpose of caricature. Caricatures are meant to be funnier than the subjects, not sweeter.
Anyone who wears his pants under his exposed bvds in public invites brutally honest ridicule and satire, he shouldn't expect a reward of pretty flattery. "Thank you for being rude and stupid. What else would you like to get away with?" And I don't care what race you are.
Cartoonists should provide equal opportunity ridicule.

Cartoons and comedy shouldn't be apologies for actual human appearance, behavior and personalities; they should make fun of it. Most people with a sense of humor can especially laugh at themselves. All races and cultures in most times enjoy a good joke based on themselves.

They still mostly do today, but are afraid to admit it in public, because of the PC police.


Toole said...

I love the Bill O'rielly one that made me laugh.

JohnK said...

Thank you. He is a good subject. He provides tons of laughs.

SoleilSmile said...

In regards to Pete's post: Why is he using mug shots?

Use Taye Diggs, Micheal Jordan, Larry Fishbourne, Blair Underwood, Morgan Freeman and other GOOD LOOKING SUCCESSFUL Blacks to characature.
There was even a charming engineer who helped host a commercial encouraging young people to take an interest in math and science during the Olympics. I think Chevron sponsored the commercial. It ran incessantly! You could not have missed it!
Blacks are sick and tired of being viewed through criminals.
Ignore the criminals, choose the hard working professional who is sitting RIGHT NEXT TO YOU as the model for your character designs.


JohnK said...

I think you are missing the point, Ashanti. No one wants to watch cartoons about decent, normal people. Well...except executives.

These guys aren't real criminals anyway. They got arrested for being rude and stupid.

"Blacks are sick and tired of being viewed through criminals. " If they are then, why is Rap so successful and why do black stars glorify it?

believe me, I'm more sick of it than you are. Give me Fats Waller or Cab Calloway anytime. Style, personality, talent and fun.

Nikita said...

I actually have done some charicatures where I would draw it more realistic and super detail it, and my friends would freak cause it would be them but their features would be all out and from the way I normally draw it's completely unexpected. they thought it was ugly and funny too and I used to be worried that it looked more like a cartoon than a person. not so much anymore thanks to these..

Kali Fontecchio said...

I like Pete's flatteratures.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I also like yours Johnnie, but you need some new ones.

JohnK said...

And risk offending all the white people I make fun of?

Vanoni! said...

This is close to my heart as I have recently started drawing at a theme park and have taken to doing 'Flatteratures".

It started as a money thing - flattering caricatures bring in more customers and make me more money - but toward the end of the season - I felt like I was doing a huge disservice to myself.

Blacks, by the way, seem to run the widest gamut at the park in my eyes, being the easiest offended at a well exaggerated caricature - but also making the biggest whoops and hollers when they appreciate a well exaggerated caricature.

And not to poke a stick in the hornet's nest but if I looked at those photos out of context I wouldn't necessarily recognize them as mug shots - and I certainly don't think Pete's faces look like criminals.
Every time I see a black person I don't immediately think
< nerdywhitevoice >
"there goes. . .a delinquent!"
< /nerdywhitevoice >

Sheesh indeed.

- C

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Soleil,

I'll admit that by drawing from these mug shots I am being deliberately provocative, but you see, this is the reason that I take exception to your basic argument. You're suggesting both here and in your previous comments that there should be a balancing out of the good and the bad. First of all, that assumes that I have not already drawn famous and successful Black personalities, although I question why they must be, by your definition, "Good Looking" as well. You'll see my caricature of Whoopi Goldberg on my website, as well as a sketch of Oscar Peterson, whom I admired greatly, on my blog in memorium to to his passing. Both of them are successful and intelligent people, though I would hardly call either of them highly attractive physically. Yet, why should that matter? Isn't caricature a celebration of the human face and figure, in all of its uniqueness, warts and all?

The only area where John and I may differ a bit is in our chosen approach to caricature. I rarely go for the jugular in my caricatures, as I don't often have an axe to grind with my subject. Perhaps the only celebrity that I drew with a poison pen was former Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, whom I passionately despised at the time. Aside from that, I seek neither to flatter nor ridicule my subject, but to simply capture both their physical likeness and their personality through my drawings that are more designed than distorted. That is all I was doing with these caricatures of the dudes in the mug shots - caricaturing what was already there to begin with.

As to your assertion that "Blacks are sick and tired of being viewed through criminals", I couldn't agree more. So how come then, when men like Barack Obama, and Bill Cosby before him, confront head on the problem of young Black men who shirk personal responsibility when fathering children out of wedlock and joining gangs, are then criticized by other men like Jesse Jackson (caught unknowingly on camera with the mic still on) for being down on their own kind? Unless this problem is confronted, it will continue to persist, leaving a tragic trail of despair in its wake. That's why I like Obama much more than the hypocritical Jesse Jackson.

I'm also sick and tired of Blacks being seen as criminals, yet the image of the baggy pants "Gangsta" rapper not only persists, but is publically condoned by an ultraliberal society that has been cowed into not saying anything critical, lest one be pegged as "racist". Personally, I hate rap music and have been called racist for being quite vocal in my opinion of it as crap. Yet my own CD collection contains numerous recordings by the likes of Sammy, Nat, Ella, Satchmo, and the aforementioned Oscar Peterson, all of whom I respected and admired greatly as superior musicians. But we're not seeing too many performers on the Black entertainment scene like them anymore and it is rap that has the highest profile today. That being the case, why shouldn't we as cartoonists use our art to comment on this sad state of affairs? Shouldn't anyone be fair game for caricature? Why should anybody of any race, religion, sex or "character type" be excluded from our attention? For my part, I just love drawing faces, in all of their wonderful uniqueness of design. These caricatures from the mug shots were just intended to show the variety of physical individuality among a group of similar "character types", nothing more, nothing less. So honestly, what's wrong with that?

SoleilSmile said...

"Blacks are sick and tired of being viewed through criminals. " If they are then, why is Rap so successful and why do black stars glorify it?"

John that is an ongoing problem between the two classes of Blacks. It's been around since the house vs. field slave dynamic of the pre-emancipation era.

It's also hard to label the two factions as well. We have plenty of mean labels for each other, but no formal polite term. The two classes are not defined by economic but rather behavior.
Let's just say that that demographic of Blacks who glorify gangster rap and every other idiotic idiosyncrasy Blacks have been labeled wit are one group. In contrast the Huxtable, Hilton type of Black that Bill Cosby portrayed (note the insignificance of incomes) is the other group that condemns gangster rap and it's ilk.
I'm sorry to be a spoiled sport John, but decent Blacks are just so sick of being ignored. Thank goodness Bill Cosby snapped at the podium and told the "chitlin crowd" (one of rude names for that group) that decent Blacks are sick of them running away with our culture and we're not going to take it anymore!

Ok, off my soap box.

JohnK said...

Well, again Ashanti, "decent" isn't very funny.

My favorite comedic caricatures of white people are "The Honeymooners" The Three Stooges, Archie Bunker, The Beverly Hillbillies, Jack Benny etc.

I loved Bill Cosby's Fat Albert routines (but despise the cartoons). All those characters were very ethnic, very specific and very funny all at the same time.

I also like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Richard Pryor. None of these guys portray decency. They would be broke if they did.

Comedy is about faults and foibles, not about characters you look up to.

That's for church, not for comedy, cartoons or any kind of entertainment.

The kind of black characters you seem to be condoning are people who want to bury their ethnicity and be lost within the whitewashing of today's American homogeneity.

SoleilSmile said...

Peter, sorry for being imbalanced. Ugly is fine, but flatter with the personality. Whoopi has a greatest mouth. She also has a great earth mother style. That should be loads to work with.

I am more of an action adventure genre character designer, so I always flatter those I characature. However, even in comedy, there is an opportunity for appeal. Remember John's Chuck Jones oaf posts? Those guys are large and dumpy, but still cute in their dumpiness. You wouldn't run out of the room in fright after seeing these guys.However I wold with the characters you designed. I' sorry to say that so bluntly. Part of the appeal is the acting in those Ben Washam (?) drawings. Remember that acting is part of a character designers job just as much as the animators. Now go try again. Put these same characters in a vignette and perhaps keep the crows from Dumbo in the back of your mind. Those crows fit the definition of crows, they discouraged Dumbo from bettering himself, when he was down. But remember they changed for the better and even before they changed they were still charming, so you knew there was a hint good in them somewhere. Timothy mouse just had given one powerful sermon to coax the good bits out of them:)

JohnK said...

"You wouldn't run out of the room in fright after seeing these guys.However I wold with the characters you designed."

I'm confused. They look just like the Proud Family - only cuter, more specific and more appealing. They look more like a boy's choir group than street thugs.

They would fit right in and improve the show by being less stereotypical "Black Cal Arts Animation Style". Pete was totally flattering while remaining specific in his caricatures. That's his style.

Wicks for Candlesticks said...

Drawing live caricatures for a living does more harm than good. Sure it helps with speed, but you lose a lot of the funny.

I occasionally do some caricature gigs, and it really hampers my creativity. You want money? well you better slim, and pretty up the person. Haven't met many customers with a sense of humor, especially towards themselves.

A funny thing about caricature artists is that you can see who they hate and admire, based on how they draw a caricature.

I guess my point is, stay home draw people you don't know and keep working towards creating funny looking, yet appealing caricatures.

-David O.

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Ashanti (Sorry, I only knew you as "soleilsmile" before),

It looks like we were both composing our comments at the same time, so I'm happy to see that we're both on the same page regarding Obama and Cosby. I don't know whether you've seen my caricature of Whoopi, but you can see her on my website found here:

In regards to these mugshot caricatures, I still have to disagree with you a bit. I don't feel that I am the one who "designed" these characters, at least not originally. Some might say it was God, others Mother Nature, or, as I'd say quite simply, the science of genetics is what ultimately was responsible for what they look like. As a caricaturist who interprets things visually, I'm just calling them as I see them... :)

Kali Fontecchio said...

I don't get the argument going on.

When I drew a close of friend mine who is black, I drew him how he looks except caricatured, and gave him huge lips, because he does have huge lips. And so he drew me big-ass crooked teeth, 'cause that's the obvious caricature of me.

Could that not be looked at in a different light under the wrong context? Of course, what if he drew all his lower-middle-class friends with crooked teeth, is that a stereotype about how we can't afford braces? Out of context, anything can be looked at in anyway.

People should be more offended by what The Simpsons get away with, hiding behind their extremely generic designs, they can almost say anything without raising eyebrows. A little bit contradictory.

SoleilSmile said...

John, "we" don't want to discard our ethnicity. I can't tell you how we are SICK of that type of comment and every variation of it thereof.
We just don't commit crimes and we aren't so loud in public that we scare the horses! Do you think Duke Ellignton behaved like an idiot in public? No! Or Nacy Wilson or W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T.Washington, or MLK? No!
There's a time and place for everything.

Here's a fun Space Jam story:

All the managers on the set wanted to meet and be friends with Micheal Jordan. They also wanted to speak Ebonics with him, which Mr. Jordan did speak---but only with his homey friends he brought on the set for company. As soon as a Whte exec came about to play, Micheal would switch off the ebonics and speak plain standard English.
As Oprah said, "we" meaning decent Blacks, know how to turn it on and off. Speak two dialects. Behave one way for business, and the relaxed poise of your own culture when you get home or are among trusted mixed company. There are too many people out there who will use our culture against us. So never show your soft underbelly on an initial meeting. It's unprofessional and to soon to trust the ruling class to interpret question aspects of our culture favorably as whole--perhaps in a about 7 more generations we can relax. Til then: When In Rome, so as the Romans.
However, that doesn't mean as a Black person can loosen up around an outsider you know, love and trust. There are just as many people who love us for our idiosyncrasies as those who disdain us. Do you get it now?

Mr. Semaj said...

I also like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Richard Pryor. None of these guys portray decency. They would be broke if they did.

Glad we got another Murphy fan around here. :)

I'd love to see a Black cartoon that doesn't condescend to PC contradictions. The PJ's was pretty close. The Proud Family just didn't cut it.

As for Obama, the fact that he made it THIS far shows exactly where Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went wrong. What neither of them understand is that it's their inward thinking that's been holding the Black community back and has given us the identity crisis we still face today.

Kelly Toon said...

yeah Pete's drawings are about as far from scary as I can imagine those characters looking in any format.

Thomas Sowell wrote a fascinating book called Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Part of it traces how most of the "bad habits" we associate with poor blacks (shiftlessness, rudeness, lack of education, hostility, thuggery) were taught to the early southern slaves by the poor WHITE population, mostly comprised of Irish and Scots. Their home cultures had plenty of drinking, fighting, and working just enough to get by, if at all.

I really, really like drawing black people. Yes, there are generalizations to be made, broad noses, large nostrils, full lips . . . . but the variety amongst them is great fun to interpret. As someone posted above, when it comes to retail, black sitters can be either really touchy (better make em look tuff and their girl look super sexy) or they want something really silly and crazy. I have had so many brothers just laugh and whoop and show all of their friends, when I do one that pushes their lips and accessories. Gotta have the bling!!

Of course, this applies to just about every other category of sitters too, so . . .!!

SoleilSmile said...

Pete, the guy on the top left is the scary one. The others are alright. I will specific this time, because obviously everyone else is non-plussed by him, whereas he makes me wanna run out of the room.
He is creepy-scary no matter what race he is. The characature just comes across as the smarmy guy all girls avoid. I usually wanna feed those kind of guys to the yak at the zoo. Keep at it, Hon'.

Stephen Worth said...

Give me Fats Waller or Cab Calloway anytime. Style, personality, talent and fun.

In his autobiography, Cab Calloway said one of the most entertaining things he ever experienced was seeing his dancing caricatured by a ghostly cartoon walrus in a Betty Boop cartoon. Fats Waller had a great sense of humor and used cartoon caricatures in publicity too.

Here's a funny story from my Alvin & the Chipmunk days that will probably get me in trouble... Phyllis Tucker Vinson, the Head of Children's Programming at NBC at the time, decided that there weren't enough positive black role models in NBC Saturday morning shows. So she arbitrarily decided that the teacher in one of the shows that was in production at the time should be black. Ross said, "fine" and revised the character model and hired a black voice actor to do the part. He was a big guy with a deep voice kind of like Paul Robeson... not a cartoony voice, but a decent actor, which is more important.

When Phyllis Tucker Vinson heard the natural pause dialogue track, she freaked out and called us up saying, "I didn't mean THAT black! He sounds scary! Get someone else with a less ethnic sounding voice." Ross had already paid the actor for his work and the show was shipping, so he just told the guy who did almost all of the secondary characters (who was blonde and blue eyed) if he could do a black voice. He did an impression of Bill Cosby doing the Jello commercials. (not too good)

When she heard the revised track, Phyllis Tucker Vinson called Ross to complement us on finding "just the right black voice for the part". The irony of this story is that Phyllis Tucker Vinson was black herself.

See ya

patrick said...

this has been such a great week of posts, thanks John!

As much as I love weird, gross and unflattering, I also am very drawn to and influenced by Pete Emslie's caricatures.

All in all, I agree with Kali's theory.

chrisallison said...

If Pepe Le Peu wasn't French, he'd just be a rapist.

I don't understand how a single, specific character (or even a group of characters) translates to a broad generalization of a whole culture. Can somebody explain that?

Racism discards the idea of the individual for a generalization instead. If I'm reading this correctly, those who are offended would like you to give equal representation to the culture as a whole (the positive as well as the negative), discarding the individual characteristics of the singular person to make sure that the group as a whole is depicted.

Aaron said...

"Drawing live caricatures for a living does more harm than good. Sure it helps with speed, but you lose a lot of the funny.

I occasionally do some caricature gigs, and it really hampers my creativity. You want money? well you better slim, and pretty up the person. Haven't met many customers with a sense of humor, especially towards themselves."

Wicks: The third sentence in that second paragraph is where your problem is. If you use the job for money, you can make good money, but if you can forget about that a little bit, it can be a great way to study faces and practice, and draw cartoons. It ain't easy though. It's not the money issue that's challanging for me, it's the people issue. People act like your friend and when they see the sketch they turn on you.

Vanoni! said...

I guess my point is, stay home draw people you don't know and keep working towards creating funny looking, yet appealing caricatures.

The other funny thing about (live) caricaturists is I don't know if I've ever met one who's been at it more than a year or so who isn't completely bitter.

I didn't say I intended to make a living of it. I just like money.

Jizz Wad said...

I think it really does not matter as long as it is funny and reflects actual observation. I am offended deeply by things which try something and backout or are just not entertaining, just one joke.

TV Impressionists for example, no matter how great they get the voice or the acting if there's no joke or satire going on you're wasting everyone's time. A terrible impression can be hilarious if the gags are funny or it is truly hitting on a warped version of a personality/subject.

Oliver_A said...

Let's just be honest: we certainly wouldn't have this whole discussion now, if Pete would have been black himself. And that goes for both black and white audiences.

Which is, for me, the key point of this issue: not only the ethnicity of the characters depicted in the caricatures is important but also the ethnicity of their creator.

In consequence, people are only allowed to make fun of people their own race, which, to me, is very racist, because it practically is segregation.

You can always turn this debate into a no-win situation and say: you are racist because you only caricature white people.

How would a black person feel if a white artist honestly said: "you are black, so I make you look nicer, so I have less problems"?

Another question is, do humorous depictions of other races, when honestly done, turn someone into a hateful being? Or isn't it more relevant what the person watching these depictions, is interpreting into them based on his/her own pre-aquired system of belief?

For example, when I was a kid, I really liked watching Tom & Jerry cartoons. Unlike most young Americans in the 80's, I had the privilege to grew up with the original uncensored cartoons, with the original mammy. Never ever in my life would it have occured to me to think "yeah, huhu, work for us superior white people!". For me, she was just a mammy, simply because I wasn't raised to think that way. As a small child, I also listened to and enjoyed both black and white music, only based on what I liked musically.

So I realize now, my post comes off a bit as a naive "can't we just get along???" preachery. But on the other hand, how naive is it not to realize that the very center of this whole discussion itself is racist.

@Ashanti: Don't get me the wrong way. You have every right to feel offended by these caricatures. But honestly ask yourself, why you are offended. Are you offended because of their look, or what they politically imply to you?

I personally believe that all humans are equal, and we all share the same characteristic traits. Love, humour, a possible indication of intelligence, but also hate, prejudices and most certainly stupidity.

@John: if this post is too offensive, then let me know and I censor it, but I really feel strongly about this.

Anonymous said...

To Stephen Worth:

It comes to show that, as a species, humans are generally crazy.

Then again, that's the sole reason why it's fascinating (to me, anyway) observing how people interact with the world: A mother of two is picking up items to prepare dinner for her family, while her five and seven year old daughters are playfully teasing one another, or seeing a number of foolish drivers going over a red stop light, just to pile up in the end or even being with a group of friends, getting drunk and socializing with one another, puking it up afterwards.

Anyway, just like I have said on Eddie’s blog, I’ll never have any qualms or to say a bad word to anyone UNLESS if they're dreadful, but even then I’ll never drop to the level of negatively commenting about the slant of ones eyes or their religion or the colour of their skin; for me, its a lot like ordering a ham sandwich, but without the ham: it doesn’t make any sense.

From an aspiring cartoonist/ artist

Bitter Animator said...

Wow. Fantastic topic and some great comments. I'm a huge fan of Mr.E's work and love these caricatures. Yes, they could have been far more damning, given the source photos and that's why the reaction that these images could be scary is a little bizarre to me. Mr.E has been rather kind.

That has nothing to do with the race, though he has been able to retain visual traits of the subjects (I can't see how that could be offensive), and everything to do with the subjects - who are real people. Are they a stereotype? If they're real, does it really matter? I guess you could take that up with the guys themselves, though it sounds from what Soleilsmile says, there are many who'd like to.

But, hey, I just like the drawings.

Pat McMicheal said...

Pete, I love those drawings! They look FUN, not hurtful. We can't ignore the common features of the many flavors of humans! If you soften-up those features, IT WONT LOOK LIKE THEM. If you thin out their noses, shrink the lips and straighten their hair, what do you have? A guy from India or a white dude with a nice tan.
When asked to draw a giraffe, you have to make a long neck( does this make me a giraffe hater?) or one of those proboscis have to draw the extra long nose! I don't hate these monkeys, I think they are awesome and unique!
If the features are there, why is it racist to recognize them? Should we make believe these features do not exist? Who does that help?
Sorry for so many questions

Anonymous said...

I would like to bring up something that has always puzzled me about this issue: Elmer Fudd is a caricature of a white idiot. No one says that he depicts all whites as idiots, people just think he's a funny idiot. The now censored and reviled "All This and Rabbit Stew" features Bugs against a black idiot. This cartoon is demonized because it supposedly depicts all blacks as idiots. Why? Everyone knows there are idiotic members of all races. Just in looking at those mug shots, some of them look tough, some look friendly, some look like idiots. Which ones did you snicker at? It's a basic fact of the universe that idiots are funny, and it's a cartoonist's duty to make us laugh. So why can we all enjoy Elmer, but "Rabbit Stew" is racist?
I believe this attitude drives a wedge further between the races, and increases cultural segregation, because some races are fair game for caricature and some aren't. If we're truly going to have a fair, equal society, we can't have separate rules for separate races. That is the essence of what segregation is. The point I'm trying to make is, a cartoon of a black idiot DOESN'T DEPICT ALL BLACKS AS IDIOTS! IT'S JUST A FUNNY CARTOON! And, when we see a caricature of a white idiot, we don't react this way? Wouldn't life be so much better if we could all just laugh and have fun together in a spirit of brotherhood?

Chris_Garrison said...

I'd like to see John K's version of the mug shot guys.

I think flatteratures are viable, in some instances. A flatterature is for when you find the person really appealing, and so you caricature their appeal. It's like Pete found those guys goofy and dumb, but also really cute and lovable. So he put that in his drawings. He must really love people and forgive them their foibles.

John K likes to play up people's hideosity. John K, it seems like you want some appeal in your cartoon characters, but you don't like to have much appeal in your caricatures. Is that right? I can see why it'd be that way with celebrity caricatures, because it's not useful at all to explore the appeal of Paris Hilton. But if you want to draw your sweet granny, do you still heap on the hairy moles and stuff?

hulk27 said...

John your right about caricature and finding the funny Sebastian kruger is one of my favorite caricaturist and he dose some of the most grotesque caricature. But the whole comment about African American glorifying rap is not true the majority of rap album are brought by white suburbanite that are bore to deaf with there existent, I should know I live in suburbia and they love some rap. I didn’t even listen to rap at the time when I live there, my Mother introduced me to r & b (al green, smoky and the temptation); What I don’t get is why rap annoys every one so much it a rebel part of a culture just like rock and believe me they are just as annoying slacker-ish in there demeanor and appearance. By the why I’m a big mental, punk, rock, rap, R&B, Celtic and STK fan so this is not coming from a place of bias it just observation. I rarely if ever here people hating on rock so vehemently like you said john people should be proud of the differents in their culture that makes them unique but why be offended by anyone’s appearance. One more thing stop assume we all like it because a small segment of the groups is into it and guys if we bump into one another on the street, no I don’t know why another black person talks, dress or does what ever you find is fascinating we don’t all live together, sorry!

Timefishblue said...

I think the only defense these need are that they're specific. They're based on the actual guys in the pictures, with the features of these real people instead of stock "black" features.

Each nose is a different shape and size. Pete obviously wasn't just like "I'm drawing a black guy, so I'll give him The Black Nose that all black people everywhere have."

The people he drew all have big lips in real life, but not everyone in the mugshots has big lips. If Pete drew the guy in the bottom row second from the right, I'm sure he wouldn't draw his lips as big as the lips of the guy in the top row on the right.

They're not generalizations. They're not stereotypes. They're also no whitewashed Michael Jackson-style. Everything in Pete's drawings comes from their actual faces.

JohnK said...

except the big eyes, which come from cartoons

Wicks for Candlesticks said...

"The other funny thing about (live) caricaturists is I don't know if I've ever met one who's been at it more than a year or so who isn't completely bitter."

Haha! Yeah, I'm a bit bitter. I actually have some customers track me down to re-draw pictures they don't like. It can really get on your nerves.

Drawing caricatures is a fun gig, as long as you don't take it too seriously.

-David O.

Ted said...

"My favorite comedic caricatures of white people are "The Honeymooners" The Three Stooges, Archie Bunker, The Beverly Hillbillies, Jack Benny etc."

When you say Jack Benny, what do you mean exactly? Jack's own persona or the overall mix on the show? The show had a wide mix of caricatures, from various class and color groups. Rochester, Mary and Phil Harris being poor and low class (plus their various individual traits; black and avoiding work, drunk and girl crazy, and female; all three were also acidic to work well as a main antagonist for Jack in any given situation), Kenny Baker/Dennis Day being some dumb young guy, Mr Kitzel being an old ethnic vaudeville type (I think Jewish, but I'm not really sure since they didn't played up that aspect; of course they never did with Jack and Mary either), Don Wilson being the jovial fat guy with an announcer voice, Andy Devine being the jovial fat guy with a funny voice, and Jack being the mincing pinch penny. (I'm probably missing several important characters, but I've been listening to the late '30s episodes recently.)

flashcartoons said...

i read somewhere sagging pants was invented in prison, for easy access

SoleilSmile said...

I think I'm more perturbed about the SOURCE of the images, not the images themselves.
Pete, why don't you go to UCLA or Venice beach and draw a group of young men there? This may be intimidating at first, but you'd be amazed at how disarmed people become once they hear you're a an artist.
When I was a character designer at Disney Television, I was asked to design frat boys and other campus guy types. So, scared and prejudiced against jocks, I went to UCLA for reference. To my surprise, fraternities were totally sweet to me after I told them that I was an artist and needed them for reference. It was a joyful experience had by all. I got over my beef about jocks and they got to be dog characters in a Disney film.

Since then, I've never been afraid sit down and draw anyone. It's fun! So, in the future, be careful where you get your references from. It can mean a difference from an approval and an objection.

Oliver_A said...

>>I think I'm more perturbed about the SOURCE of the images, not the images themselves. <<

Pete took them from an earlier post of John, in which they were shown in their proper context of getting arrested for wearing baggy pants. And that's how those huys look exactly to me. Being really p*ssed off for being arrested on such ridiculous grounds.

Pete Emslie said...


UCLA and Venice Beach are a little off the beaten track for me - I'm a Canuck living near Toronto! However, I do just happen to be a part time instructor in the animation program at Sheridan College, so I see young fellows of that age group in my classes. Admittedly, there aren't a whole lot of Black students in the animation program, usually not more than a handful each year. Well, for the record, I end up drawing caricatures of most of my students every year. And I hate to disappoint you but, though they're a talented and likeable bunch, some of these guys aren't much different to look at than these rascals I've sketched from the mug shots. Most of them are highly influenced by rap and graffiti culture in both their attire and their choice of characters and visual style in their assignments. So, am I supposed to just reinvent what I'm seeing to appease your tastes? Seems to me that the best I can do to hopefully satisfy you, is to point you towards my caricature of Barack Obama. If you don't like that, then I can't help you...

Raff said...

Regarding what's at issue here re: portrayal of Blacks not at their best, I think it's a touchy subject because of the history of the use of caricature worldwide.

Caricature has been and still is used to insipre antipathy toward a set of people.

The WWII caricatures of the Japanese features were designed to make you hate all Japanese, by making their unique features appear unpleasantly conspicuous and by showing how 'not like us' they are.

The worst thing is, they're drawn with the same techniques as the "fun" caricatures like the Blacks in Coal Black. Out of context, you can't tell the difference.

So we're forced to ask ourselves: How do we undo the damage of the minsterel posters, the bearded and hook-nose Arab drawings and the hand-wringing bent-back Jew villains and still have our fun at the same time? Not easy.

SoleilSmile said...

Don't worry you guys. You will probably get to make dopey Black characters if Obama gets elected or stays in the public eye if he isn't. Reason being, there will be a stellar example of Black male-dom who will erase any bad press that threatens to "stick" and ultimately hinder the Black male community.

There was also a chance to draw the Black buffoon in the 80's when the Cosby Show was on air, but that all changed in 1994 with the O.J. Simpson trial. What an embarrassing mess that was! As for Black women, we enjoyed the same good PR that Phylissa Rashad and Angela Basset accumulated in the 80's-90's. However, Halle Berry ruined us all in regards to being seen as wives instead of mere hoochie-mama's when she performed that horrible role in Monster's Ball! Then the Academy had the nerve to give her an Oscar for it which resurrected and reinforced the "Sapphire" stereotype. Every Black actress in Hollywood turned down that role in favor of preserving the reputation of Black women except miss desperate-for-anything Halle.

Anyhoo, I'm done and I'm sure John is too. Next subject please.

Gabriele_Gabba said...

Great post! Is it me or does Tom Hanks always lend to the funniest caricatures?

I don't think we can ever laugh hard enough at ourselves! There is only one person in my country that can't be told to shut up by the goverment and lemme tell you he's a cartoonist!

SoleilSmile said...

Oh no Pete. I'm not objecting the fashion styles, just the SOURCE if the images. Have you every had that character design assignment where 3 different characters wear the same clothes and the acting varies for each character?


You're going to see different personalities in your students. College students are always happier and more charming than street thugs--because they have HOPE.

Ok, I'm going to draw a comic strip featuring the Black boys who used to disrupt class when I was a teenager. Yet, I'm going to draw them in such a way that they are still likable, even when they're introduction is less than kind.

I'll post a link by the end of the weekend,ok?

See you in a few days.
:) Ashanti

Shawn said...

How come all cartoons about GERMANS portray them as being stupid and fat, wearing lederhosen, drinking beer, yelling, or being a hateful Nazi???

Who cares? I'm a German and I think those cartoons are funny as hell.

Some of you drags have too much time on your hands, constantly trying to think of things that piss you off. If you don't like jokes, then don't watch cartoons.

Michelle Klein-Hass said...

John, you forgot one of the best damn group of caricatures I've seen in a while...

Awesome political caricature toys!

McCain looks suitably gruesome, and Obama...well, he's exaggerated but exaggerated in a very appropriate way. The funniest thing about him is actually those ears, and you make the most of them. Hillary is bootylicious!

cemenTIMental said...

Polite reminder that there is no "PC Police"; that most examples of "political correctness" that people on blogs get so upset about are imaginary rhetorical situations rather than actual events or people's actual opinions, and that 'PC' insofar as it exists at all in reality is a minor symptom rather than a major problem.

Anonymous said...

Also, cememntimenal, in Canada certain acts of free speech are violations of our insane Human Rights Charter. These are real laws and real people losing their jobs and having lawsuits. Billions of dollars have exchanged hands (one of Bill O'Reilly's favourite phrases.)

SoleilSmile said...

Shawn, that would be fine and dandy if they're weren't so many people who use those characatures against us. You may not be prejudiced or anyone else on this board. However, there are plenty of people who still are and it hurts when they approach minorities and say or do mean things. Furthermore, racist people always seem to approach a minority when they're alone and without their friends to protect them. So, you would never see it.

You really have to live as a minority. It's won't hit home unless you have to live with the ridicule on some way every day.

As I said, it's just too soon for stand alone incidents. If you want to draw a minority buffoon, make sure there is a stellar example of that minority somewhere in the background. Just be clever and thoughtful about it, that's all.

vhpayes said...

Are you kidding? Last time I checked this was still America and we can draw whomever we please. Why does he have to go to UCLA to draw black guys? He wanted to draw the guys on the pictures. That's it. He doesn't and shouldn't make excuses to you or anyone else. I live in Orlando and all of my black neighbors look like those guys in the mug shots anyway. Not racism just the truth.

Guess what. Most black people I've seen have wide noses, big lips and dark skin. So what? That's just how it is. Of course they also have their individual differences that's what makes everyone unique, but saying that a race doesn't have common traits would just be wrong. I have worked as a caricature artist at 4 theme parks on two coasts and drawn lots of different people, all with individual specific features, but some groups sure do like to look and act alike.

For example, the Puerto Rican from New York ( Yankees hat to the side. Small eyes, big lips, short mustache and goatee, fake diamond bling, want a discount), British tourist ( Pale but usually sunburnt, males have spikey hair, usually wearing their polo collars up or in a soccer jersey, usually like a funnier caricature), Southern Blacks ( basketball jersey, like to look hardcore, "don't draw my lips big!"), L.A. mexicans (guys don't smile, very short hair, gold necklace, girls with hoops with their names in them, also necklaces with their names) Lower class Whites (don't like to smile because don't want to show their teeth, basketball jerseys or rock t-shirts)

Anyone who has worked in a theme park can confirm and add to the list, I'm sure.

For the record, O.J. Simpson and Halle Berry didn't ruin black people's reputation.

I think the point of the original post was that while there is a general look to groups of people, there exists individual and specific traits and features in everyone, so why don't we draw it that way?

Pete, I like your caricatures, but I agree with John K. about the funny factor being missing. Although I fully respect your right to draw in whatever manner you please and make (or not make) whatever statement you wish.

Personally, I prefer John's caricatures which to me are funny and satire the fact that the people whom we generally consider good looking are actually quite funny looking and sometimes darn right ugly.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey, if you want to see some funny looking honkies, take a look at the caricatures I've just posted over on my blog.

Dlove4u2 said...

Even though I don't really like the fact that the choice of pic for the black charicatures, the drawing them self were great.

And john if you get a chance, check these bands out:

Bad Brains

24-7 Spys

allie and the crunch