Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday HappyTime with Mike Fontanelli

Erotic Cycles

Betty knows just how much Bimbo is turned on by cycles.
This is what I would consider not conservative animation. Grim isn't holding anything back. He's just doing what he thinks is naturally funny. He's not checking his rule book first.
You'd have a million people saying no to this kind of thing today - or even in the 50s.
Not just because it's dirty - but because it's too cartoony. It "doesn't make sense".
This arm wave is funny as hell, you better say no to it, quick!
And of course the rubber butt slap is the topper of it all.
The Fleischers had their own sort of "limited animation " techniques. They would animate a lot of cycles or bits of animation and repeat them a couple times. This could essentially cut their budgets in half. This is different than say, HB's limited animation of the late 50s - where they were trying to hide the animation. The Fleischers made the cycles themselves funny and worth looking at more than once.''

By the 50s animation was still professional, but outside of some commercials, was pretty conservative. "We don't do that sort of thing anymore".
I love this early purity.
To me, this is the essential part of animation- moving things funny.
Now you have to fight like Hell to get anyone to allow you to do what simply comes naturally to the medium.
Look what this is doing for Bimbo!
Don't you wish your gal/dog? would do some erotic cycles for you?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Big House Blues - Spumco - "The Beeg Sleep!"

My whole TV system is geared to "pose to pose" animation. We draw the layout poses at Spumco, then ship them to overseas studios for them to connect the poses.
When I do animation myself, my more natural tendency is to go straight ahead, or if there are poses in the layouts-to sail right past them.
I don't have the patience to draw a lot of inbetweens that look very close to the keys, so I draw all the inbetweens for fun - even if you don't see them all in the actual animation, it's more fun for me.
It alleviates the boredom (for me) of doing traditional conservative animation.
I just like doing funny drawings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Good Conservative Cartooning 2

I think Harvey Eisenberg is a top-notch cartoonist and I collect his stuff wherever I can find it. He's one of my favorites.
He's a conservative cartoonist:
He doesn't draw wild extreme poses like Rod Scribner.
His comic panel layouts aren't as imaginative as Milt Gross'.
He does have style, but it's not overly self-conscious or dominating like say - later Chuck Jones cartoons.
What does he have instead? He has tons of skill. He has a beautiful sense of balance to his layouts and hierarchy.
His layouts are perfectly clear. He has enough style to make his cartoons appealing - they draw you into them.
Eisenberg has all his principles down. His fundamentals are completely solid. You don't see that in many cartoonists. In other words he's well-rounded. His drawings just look right in every way and there is an automatic appeal to just plain good drawings.
He is able to combine his own natural style with other styles - in this case with Ed Benedict's. Ed is a more daring cartoonist and that's why he is a character designer. His whole job is to think up striking combinations of shapes. Harvey's skills allow him to understand Ed's inventions and interpret them to make them functional in stories.
This is the kind of cartoonist you would love to have doing layouts on your cartoons. If he did the staging under an imaginative director, this would make the animators' jobs a lot easier. Your more imaginative animators would be freed up to think about the characters and take them to places Harvey wouldn't on his own.

But he can provide a solid backdrop for the stars. He makes it easier for the Rod Scribners of the world to shine in.

It's like a great singer being supported by a skilled band and a great arrangement. The whole band can't be going off in their own direction. They have to be tight and structured so that Frank Sinatra can meander a bit off the track. His stylistic meandering is noticed by the tightness of the accompaniment of the background. Also, he is highly skilled himself and knows all the fundamentals. His style came after his learning of how singing works.

This is why I love cartoon animation so much. It's a collaborative medium. There are so many skills and talents involved that no one artist could ever learn them all. Put a bunch together and find out their specialties, then let them grow together and the advances will be much greater and faster than any one artist alone.

Here's earlier Eisenberg - drawing in Hanna Barbera's Tom and Jerry style.
Harvey Eisenberg Foxy Fagan

When is the best time to use the power of conservatism? WHEN YOU ARE LEARNING A NEW SKILL.

Like in school. That's where you should be able to learn fundamentals. You should not be searching for a personal style. That comes with time to a rare few.

Any time you learn something new, you should learn it slowly and carefully - the way it was done best traditionally.

The trick is separating principles from stylistic habits.

Many animation schools preach Disney fundamentals but are really encouraging you to copy their style or habits instead (after being degraded by multiple generations of Disney clones). Their cliches.

It's better to look at a lot of styles so you can see what is style and what is form and structure. Otherwise you have the danger of becoming a clone of someone else's style only with a broken mutated gene.

The better you can draw, the better you can recognize cliched habits against fundamentals.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My kind of Conservative Cartooning

I don't want anyone to think I'm completely opposed to conservative approaches to cartooning. There are many conservative cartoonists I love.
I'll explain more later and maybe touch on why I think making cartoons with crews rather than alone leads to better results.

Well a lot of people in the comments did my job for me! thanks.

I'll add a little:

When I say "conservative" I don't mean in the political sense of the word. Most artists are by their nature more liberal than the average person in general.

I mean conservative in the sense that they are cautious, afraid to go beyond certain prescribed boundaries. There are only a handful of people in any field really capable and willing to break new ground and move things forward.

The difference between old type conservative and new is basically this:

A conservative cartoonist from the old days prescribes to a complex and sundry set of boundaries. It takes a lot of learning and skill to do this.

The new type of conservative is actually 2 types:

The conservative executive is afraid of everything. Anything at all that doesn't fit a mold, that hasn't already been done a hundred times - but even worse. They are afraid of the basics! Of pure skill - and of making a committed statement to anything. That's why so many animated movies never have their characters actually make it to a finished real pose or expression. It's as if they stop at an inbetween for fear of being too clear or entertaining. (Will Finn and I came up with this theory today)

Modern conservative cartoonists don't have the benefit of solid basics, good schools or high standards in new media to look up to. All they have to work from is superficially copying current styles and trends, without knowing their origins or original purposes - if they ever had any.

Combine these 2 types of modern conservatives and you get lackluster, unskilled and predictable generic modern animation, that with each generation declines (maybe unknowingly) another notch.

Harvey Eisenberg is a conservative yet highly skilled and somewhat stylish cartoonist of the past. More on him in the next post.