April 19th, 2017

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Illustration: Fantastic Mexican Lobby Cards

Mexican Lobby Cards

Previously, I posted galleries of images of lobby cards by the master Mexican caricaturist Ernesto Garcia Cabral. Today, I’m presenting a group of images from a variety of science fiction, horror and adventure films released in Mexico. In many cases, these cards are a lot more entertaining than the movies they’re advertising. Every one of them makes me curious to see what the movie is all about, which shows that the lobby card is doing its job. It’s a shame that lobby cards have gone the way of the dodo in this age of cinema multiplexes and mall theaters.

But that isn’t all that seems to have been lost. Check out how these images exude the essence of the fantastic. Science fiction movies today are generally ugly and mundane compared to these crazy creatures and bizarre locales. Instead of cramped, cluttered shoeboxes flying through space, rocket ships should be streamlined and beautiful. The future should be strange and alien, not urban and post-apocalyptic. Creatures should be shocking and otherworldly too. Movies today could use a double dose of fun.

Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards
Mexican Lobby Cards

And here’s a batch of miscellaneous cards that use cartoons to sell a wide variety of films…

Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Card
Mexican Lobby Cards

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

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Posted by admin @ 12:00 pm

April 18th, 2017

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Comic Strips: A Typical Golden Age Comic Section

David Apatoff's Comic Collection

I read the news on the internet the other day that many newspapers are discontinuing their comics sections. I don’t think many people realize just how far the market for cartoons has fallen over the past few decades. Newspaper comics are the clearest example of how quickly a once vital artform can go the way of the dodo bird. This weekend, take a close look at your local Sunday funnies. (If your city’s newspaper still has them that is…) Compare them to these comics from nearly 70 years ago. Keep in mind that this is just an average Sunday from an average newspaper of the time period. I think you’ll be shocked at how different it is from what passes for comics in today’s papers.

David Apatoff's Comic Collection

Until I had a chance to actually see a complete Sunday comics section, I had no idea how huge and diverse the Sunday comics section was in the past. Not all these comics are classics, but even the worst of them are more interesting than the crop in current papers. It’s a crime how lousy newspaper comics have become.

David Apatoff's Comic Collection

Here are some statistics to think about, courtesy of Mike Fontanelli’s research… At the time this newspaper comic section was published, Li’l Abner had a circulation of over 80 million, and Capp made $200,000 a year from the strip- not counting licensing and other ancillary income. At that time, the population of the United States was 145 million, and adjusting for inflation, Capp’s salary in 2008 dollars would be 2.2 million dollars a year. Capp’s cartoon was read every day by more than half of the United States, and he made much more money any modern day print cartoonist makes from his work. But Capp wasn’t alone. Chic Young made $5,000 a week from Blondie. Milton Caniff, Chester Gould, George MacManus, Hal Foster… all of these men made MUCH more than the typical cartoonist today does, (NOT factoring for inflation!) and their work was seen and enjoyed on a single day by more people than current artists can hope for in a decade. The difference in scale is mind boggling.

David Apatoff's Comic Collection

This week, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon chatting with Ralph Bakshi. I can’t seem to shake one comment he made when he visited and saw what we were doing here at Animation Resources. Ralph said, "Cartooning is in jeopardy." He explained that artists who would have become cartoonists in the past are going into other fields, because the market for cartooning has deteriorated so much. In the past, a cartoonist could do a newspaper strip, or contribute one panel gags to magazines, or do spot illustrations for advertisements, create comic books or make animated cartoons. Today, every single one of those branches of cartooning is struggling for survival. There are animated cartoons today that are neither animated, nor cartoons. The comic book business is suffocating under the weight of an unsupportable business model. Magazines rarely run cartoons, and advertisements are usually just Photoshopped collages. Some markets, like newspaper comics may be on the way out entirely. It’s clear that if you’re determined to become a cartoonist today, you can expect to be swimming against the current.

David Apatoff's Comic Collection

It’s difficult not to be depressed. I’m not sure what can be done to reverse the trend. I can only hope that this website will act as a catalyst to inspire the artists who truly love the medium to create something totally new and exciting. We can only hope that artists will stick with the art of cartooning and build up a totally new market on the internet, because that’s our best hope for the resurgence of cartooning. Perhaps today’s hard work and sacrifices will spawn a market for cartoons that replaces and surpasses all the old models. I sure hope that happens, and I’m doing what I can to see that it does.

David Apatoff's Comic Collection

I hope you cartoonists out there understand what I’m saying… I’m not saying that there are no good cartoonists and no good cartoons today. I’m saying that the market for cartooning has been allowed to dwindle down to nothing. That isn’t good for the business of cartooning or for cartoonists who want to make a living drawing. I’m reminding you here that there was a time when cartoonists didn’t think small or settle for being boxed into a "niche market". To them, becoming successful was the goal, and they didn’t consider that to be the same as "selling out". The aimed straight for the mainstream with a variety of challenging, well drawn comics, and they hit it big. Let’s find a way to do that again.

The New Orleans Times Picayune
First Comic Section
Sunday, June 25th, 1939

1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color
Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics

Second Comic Section

1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics

Third Comic Section

1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics
1939 Sunday Color Comics1939 Sunday Color Comics

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Newspaper ComicsNewspaper Comics
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.

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Posted by admin @ 12:41 pm

April 17th, 2017

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Illustration: Dulac’s Hans Christian Andersen

Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales

The invention of chromolithography at the end of the 19th century opened up a new world for book illustrators. It was no longer necessary for illustrators to limit the number of colors and focus on high contrast line work. The printing press was now capable of reproducing oil paintings and watercolors with all of the richness of the original artwork. This resulted in an explosion of illustrated books around the turn of the century, and made superstars of the artists who created them.

Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales

One of the most striking aspects of vintage book illustrations is the use of color. In our memory, our impression of these beautiful images is made up of rich and vibrant hues, but if we analyze the way color is actually being used, we realize that the color harmonies are very subtle, with small brilliant accents used to direct the eye, and careful attention to the rendering of form, texture and lighting effects.

Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales

Art is all about beautiful contrasts, and so is the use of color… warm colors against cool colors, light ones against dark ones, large areas of color against small ones… Edmund Dulac was a master at juggling these contrasts to create a pleasing color scheme from a muted palette. Some of the pictures in today’s post are almost monochromatic, with a variety of shades and shapes defining the image. Others have a variety of hues all around the same value. Dulac is constantly varying the way he handles the lighting and color to convey the feeling of the story.

Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales

Collecting golden age illustrated children’s books can be a difficult and frustrating process. It’s hard to know just how many color plates a book should have. First editions might have had thirty or more color plates; but with each subsequent reprinting, the number might have been reduced to twenty, twelve, eight or four. Modern reissues might contain all of the plates, but the color balance and detail in the reproduction is usually nothing like the original. First editions are always the best, but they can be very costly, selling for as much as a thousand dollars or more for a volume in good condition. For the past twenty years, I’ve been collecting these books… on a budget. I look for damaged bindings or torn text pages that will reduce the value. As long as the illustrations are all present and in good condition, I don’t care how beat up the rest of the book is.

Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to get ahold of an original printing of Edmund Dulac’s most famous book, Andersen’s Fairy Tales. However, the cost of first editions with all 28 plates was prohibitive. The other day I was searching through abebooks.com and with some clever search terms, I discovered that there was a German printing of Andersen’s Fairy Tales that contained all of the plates I was looking for. Since it was in German, the price was a fraction of what an English or American first edition would cost. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate! Here are the scans…

Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales
Dulac Andersen Fairy Tales

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

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Posted by admin @ 3:25 pm