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.