Tuesday, October 14, 2008

howie post and kelly


Post was obviously influenced by Walt Kelly here and there are similarities, but really only a couple. The similarities are superficial compared to the differences.

1) The choppy inking style
2) Both Kelly and Post were animators, so their characters have that 40s constructed cute look.
I see some differences though. Post to me is even more cartoony than Kelly - and more imaginative - which is saying a lot. His trees and foliage are made up out of his head. They are much more fantastical than Kelly's beautiful, but more normal looking trees.

I think cartoonists can learn a lot by incorporating some elements of their heroes' work into their own - as long as it doesn't end there. If you only try to be as good as your hero, you'll fall far short. You will only see a couple of superficial aspects of his style and not see the underlying thought and background of influences and study. You see a lot of cartoonists copy the inking style of other cartoonists, because the inking is the easiest thing to see - as a style.

I love Posts's decorative textures - which he kept doing all through his Harvey comics work.

Here are some Walt Kely drawings to contrast and compare to Post's work when he was being influenced by him.

Kelly's work is a bit more conservative and less wacky. It's also tighter and more controlled.
Kelly had a lot of imitators, who usually missed the point. I used to imitate his cross-hatching style and then wondered why my drawings didn't look as good.
Kelly worked at Disney's as an animator on some of the early classic features, and you can totally see all the Disney cartoon principles at work underneath his own stylistic finish.

Kelly drew lots of comic books in the 40s and experimented with different levels between realism and cartooniness.His realistic stuff is not quite realistic - like many of the MAD/EC artists, or Mort Drucker.

All Disney animators (and Chuck Jones) have a fascination for naked babies cavorting with kindly old men.

Here's some wacky stuff.
Chuck Jones was surely influenced by Kelly's comic book work.
The way the smile line curves into the lower cheek is a real Jones thing. It probably came from Kelly and Jones just took it further.

Chuck Jones took Clampett's Charlie Dog character and redesigned him to look like Kelly's dog:

Interestingly, Jones made a Pogo special in the 60s:

You can see what a tough time the animators had drawing Kelly's characters. Without the thick stylish inking, you are left with the actual drawings exposed and naked. When they are weak, it's really obvious because they can't hide under fancy inking.

Moral: the finished lines are not what make a style good. The good drawings underneath are. The finish is just that, a finish. It's the last thought dashed on top of deeper ideas.

Irv Spector also was influenced by Kelly, but had enough of his own ideas and flair to make his work not just a poor rip-off.



Deniseletter said...

Hi John,Good post!I love to read you."The way the smile line curves into the lower cheek is a real Jones thing"I was thinking of this many times privately,but you say it.
Excuse my english

ArtF said...

Walt Kelly is one of my heroes. I can get lost in his drawings. I wish the world were half as interesting as Walt Kelly drew it.

Anonymous said...

“Kelly's work is a bit more conservative and less wacky. It's also tighter and more controlled.”

That’s the question that I’ve been pondering. Is it a good or a bad habit to have more control over your work, as well for it to be tighter?

Also, what were your thoughts on the Albert Uderzo drawings I’ve posted on the comment's page not to long ago?

Have a good one, teach’.

From an aspiring animator/ artist

Anonymous said...

"You can see what a tough time the animators had drawing Kelly's characters; without the thick stylish inking, you are left with the actual drawings exposed and naked. When they are weak, it's really obvious because they can't hide under fancy inking."

True. A well constructed rough drawing will always beat the stuffin' out of a clean, but poorly constructed one.

But you can't deny that the BG's from that ‘Pogo Birthday Special’ are beautiful in there own right. I was more mesmerized from the layouts & composition than the short itself. If you’re interested, here is a link to Abe Levitow’s website that displays some production artwork from the short.

Abe Levitow's Official Website

Also, was it just me, or did Porky Pine sound an awfully a lot like Charles M. Jones?

Have a good one,

From an aspiring animator/ artist

Paul B said...

Jones really lost the cartoony voices in that POGO cartoon.

It is also very stiff and bland.

The only great thing I see in that cartoon is the great drawings and backgrounds.

Peggy said...

Hmm! I have been a fan of Kelly since I picked up one of the big Pogo collections when I was eight. I can't believe I never put two and two together to realize that Jones was probably a Kelly fan.

On the other hand, Jones and Kelly were pretty much working at the same time - maybe they're both getting the cheek thing from the same place. How many modern cartoonists are you influenced by, outside of your immediate buddies?

zoe said...

"Little Tom Tinker's Dog" in the lower left panel is a dead-ringer for a Dr. Seuss dog.

kungfukoi said...

Just wanted to say Thank You John, for continually posting.

Your blog is the best thing going these days for cartoons.

-a Fan.

Per said...

Damn those guys are good. Thanks for the post, John. No pun intended.

cartoonretro said...

I like the strangeness of Post's drawings, especially during this period. They are beautiful and classically drawn but seem more unpredictable and spontaneous than kelly's, which have a very pleasant, safe and friendly feel. I love Walt Kelly, but the drawing is almost too pure. I like that dirty, weird quality in Post's style.

Nikita said...

I love the chuck jone's stuff, I actually draw alot of mine with those big smiles, but I try to avoid looking and copying him. now I'm just trying the life drawing book, and putting characters in different poses. Those instructions are difficult! but uncle said keep trying.

Brandon Zuckerman said...

I've got to agree with Paul b, the voices in the Pogo cartoon were a real drag.

mike f. said...

Great analytical post - but Kelly could be weird with the best of 'em, when the mood struck.

I'll have to bring over some of his lesser-known monster designs. There's a slew of them in the "Kluck Klams" story...

Larry Levine said...

Hi John, I disagree with Walt Kelly influencing Chuck Jones' style.

Chuck's style of drawing cheeks goes back to his early work such as Conrad the Cat (a prototype to the later Charlie Dog model) during which time Kelly was still an animator working for another guy named Walt.

Even if Walt Kelly didn't influence Chuck Jones, he influenced countless other cartoonists & animators and his work will forever be the standard for great comic strip/book cartooning.

trevor said...

Holy crap! That's Chuck doing Porky's voice!

Well, I never ( but I will from now on ).

- trevor.

mike f. said...

For the record, Kelly detested the finished Pogo special. Jones had changed all Kelly's layouts to facilitate TV animation budgets and schedules - something ex-Disney animator Kelly hadn't counted on.

(BTW, is that the best walk-around costume ever, or what?)

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

"You can see what a tough time the animators had drawing Kelly's characters. Without the thick stylish inking, you are left with the actual drawings exposed and naked. When they are weak, it's really obvious because they can't hide under fancy inking."

Is this due to hack animators' interpretations of Kelly's characters, or a fundamental weakness of Kelly's character design? If the latter, would you care to diagram examples...?

Whit said...

Kelly and Jones had an ugly personal feud festering during production of that special, which permeated everything it touched. Notice those two never worked together again. Kelly even went so far as to personally animate (and brush ink) a demo presentation for a later Pogo special he planned to do without Jones, which never got off the ground. The animation was good and the character design very solid but the timing was thicker than molasses. Kelly said his backers ran off with the money.

John A said...

That walkaround character is supposed to be Pogo? I thought it was Fat Freddy after Slim Fast.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Everything looks happy.

Roberto González said...

I might be one of the few people who thinks everything in that Pogo cartoon is fantastic...ok, it's very slow paced and it's not terribly funny. Then again I don't find the comic strip all that funny either. The drawings are beautiful and funny but I just can't really get into the gags that much.

I like what you said about the construction and the final touch. Makes me feel more comfortable, cause I use to work a lot in the early sketches but sometimes my inking is a little lousy.

trevor said...

Chuck seemed to be particularly nit-picky and precious at this point in his career.

Where can one find a video of that Kelly-animated Pogo in brush pen? We'd LOVE to see that!!

- trevor.

Vince M. said...

Howie Post rules!

Walt Kelly's okay, too.

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

Kelly's caricatures of F.B.I. director Hoover, V.P. Spiro Agnew, and former Attorney General and Nixon stooge, John Mitchell, in the Pogo's during the second Nixon administration (early 70's) is comparable to the best of an old Warner short in terms of humor, and far more weighty in terms of social and political satire.
(See the paperback collection: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us)

Kelly accomplishes in 4 or 5 panels what a multitude of animation drawings accomplish on film.

A static drawing uses SURFACE to interest the eye in the way that animation modulates form to interest the eye. To blame inking as fancy flourish is the equivalent of degrading great animation as a mere visual effect.

John also has a preference for the funny animal period of Kelly's work of the 1940's, -- I think it safe to say the mature work of the 60's and 70's is by far the better stuff, in draughtmanship, humor, and content.

Anonymous said...

I think one Walt Kelly imitator might've been Jeff Smith, creator of Bone. He was definately influenced by Walt Kelly's thick, sinuey lines.

...well, that's my input.

carlo guillot said...

Hi John.
I've just found this:
Lookig forward to its release.

Jake the Animator said...

This is amazing. I've been wondering what you thought of Walt Kelly, one of my idols. I also love glancing at his Disney scribbles that he passed to the other animators. He was good friends with Ward, and Ward saved all of them and printed some in a couple Pogo comics collections. But yours blew me away.
Thanks again and keep it up!