Friday, October 17, 2008

Jim Tyer Terrytoons Comics

I have mixed feelings about Jim Tyer. On the one hand, he is one of my favorite animators. On the other, he is a bad influence. That's why I don't do a lot of posts about him. I sort of feel like he should be a secret just for the most sophisticated cartoonists and animators. Anyone under the top-tier level of cartoonists shouldn't be allowed to to see his work, except under the strictest supervision, because what he does will be misinterpreted as pure anarchy - like "Wow! I guess I don't have to follow any rules at all anymore!"

Tyer is a pure cartoonist. He does cartoons for the main reasons that cartoons should exist at all - to be wacky looking. They should be instantly funny to look at, then should do impossible things and should move in crazy imaginative ways. He covers all those 3 criteria naturally through sheer cartoonist's instinct. I think most cartoonists need those 3 attributes, yet so few have even one of them.

I do believe in the value having a few exceptions, like Bob McKimson or some Disney animators who aren't exactly zany but can bring other qualities to the cartoon world to round it out. I'm all for bringing supplemental skills from other arts to add to our medium, as long as they don't take it over completely, which sadly has happened.

Tyer actually has some solid skills that many of his fans might overlook. When he feels like it, he can control his work. For some strange reason, he tends to do that more in the comics than in his cartoons.
These comics are still much wackier than most comics, but are kind of conservative compared to his animation. The poses in this Heckle and Jeckle comic have some measure of construction and have very clear lines of action and silhouettes.
They are easy to read - not cluttered like most amateur comic art.
Good clear negative spaces. Good contrasts of spaces versus filled features on the characters.

Unlike Kurtzman, Post, Kelly, Frazetta, Stein and Gross he doesn't really compose his frames as a whole. He just draws each character separately and lines them up next to each other.

His characters don't seem to have expressions-especially in the eyes. They are always glassy eyed.
I like the way he draws Heckle and Jeckle's beaks - they have a lot more life than the other Terrytoons animators.

Check out the scene in SteepleJacks where Heckle and Jeckle are in front of the fence talking and eating hotdogs. There is some really rubbery, crazy, imaginative impossible mouth shapes and animation. It's hilarious. There is a lot of other funny Tyer animation in the cartoon. The bulldog chasing the magpies on the girders. The bulldog's foot nailed to the ground and his fifty toes...good funny stuff.

Jim Tyer needed Terrytoons. He needed cartoons without direction or purpose, because he didn't have any sense of balance. Every drawing and action to Tyer is equally amusing and potentially wacky - regardless of what's supposed to be happening in the story. I don't think his animation would have worked in any controlled situation - although I wish he had worked for Clampett for awhile and I really wish he had done some early Flintstones, just to see how it would have worked.

His limited animation for Snuffy Smith, Stuffy Durma, Milton the Monster and other 60s New York cartoons is really creative, sloppy and funny all at the same time.

Tyer TV Felix, Milton

There is a theory that Jim Tyer wrote his own Terrytoons comics. I believe it because his stories seem so much crazier than the others. Not just the drawings, but the whole premise.