Archive for the ‘cartooning’ Category

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Magazine Cartoons: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture

My mother passed away a little over a year ago, and recently I’ve been going through some boxes of things she left behind. I found a book of crafts, games and puzzles from 1927 that must have been given to her when she was very young. It included these “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” cartoons by Joe McIntosh. They appear to be created as one panel magazine cartoons.

I don’t know anything about the artist, but this style of cartooning was very popular in the 20s. Just about every college newspaper and humor magazine had cartoons that looked very similar. The leading proponent of the simplified round head style was John Held Jr. Early Puppetoons by George Pal also had a similar feel. Although Joe McIntosh’s cartoons aren’t nearly as sophisticated as those of Held or Pal, they’re still very clever and fun.

Whenever I see straightforward, appealing cartoons like this, I wonder… Why are CGI designs are so needlessly complex and realistic? And why are Flash characters so flat that it limits their ability to be posed? Here are cartoony, stylized designs that have volume and work well within the perspective of a three dimensional environment. These sorts of characters would be easy to animate expressively using just about any technique- hand drawn, CGI, puppet, clay or Flash. Naturally, the subject matter here is dated, but the basic proportions and shapes could easily be applied to a more modern context. I’d love to see contemporary cartoons that are this simple and fun again.

See how many mistakes you can spot!

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture
How many mistakes did you count?

What's Wrong With This Picture
What's Wrong With This Picture

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Magazine Cartoons.

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Editorial Cartoons: Len Norris, Master of Just About Everything

Len Norris

After the holidays, my pal Jo-Jo Baptista showed me a paperback book of political cartoons he picked up in a junk store when he was visiting his family. It was by a cartoonist I had never heard of before… Len Norris. The second I opened the book, I started to get excited. This guy had everything- great compositions, stylish design, solidly constructed characters, flawless perspective, funny drawings, great fabric folds, expressive hand poses, wild looking kids and animals- and he seemed to be able to draw anything from any angle. He caricatured automobiles and trains as well as the insides of gothic cathedrals and department stores, and depicted fabulous mansions as easily as he drew middle class living rooms. What a talent!

Len NorrisLen NorrisI did a little Googling and discovered that Norris worked as Art Director for Macleans magazines for a few years after WWII, then began a 27 year run as editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun. Norris would lampoon stories from the paper, which he would refer to in a tiny box at the top or on the headline of a paper in a character’s hand. Today, without an understanding of the topical context, some of the gags are pretty puzzling. But it doesn’t matter- Norris’ drawings are spectacular.

It’s clear that Norris was inspired by the work of Ronald Searle, as are many current day animators. But Norris takes Searle’s ornamental line and wraps it around completely solid forms. This is exactly the sort of translation that a character designer would need to do if he wanted to adapt Searle’s style to an animatable model. But Norris isn’t just a Searle imitator. His characters are keenly observed and capture the spirit of Canadian culture in the 1950s. Look at these fantastic editorial cartoons and see if you don’t agree with Walt Kelly who was quoted as saying that Len Norris was “the best in the business”.

Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris
Len Norris

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resource

Editorial CartoonsEditorial Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Editorial Cartoons.

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Comics: Rowland Emett- Cartoonist & Tinkerer

Rowland Emett

I’m discovering that during the late 1940s and through the 50s and 60s, there was a group of British cartoonists who paralleled the style of Ronald Searle. I’ve already profiled Trog and the Canadian cartoonist Len Norris. Today, I’m going to introduce you to another interesting artist… one who had the mechanical skills to build his own cartoon world.

Rowland EmettRowland Emett was born in London in 1906. His father was an amateur inventor and his grandfather was a prominent engraver. He showed aptitude in both engineering and art at a young age. He studied at the Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts, and was drafted into the military during World War II. Beginning in 1939, he joined the staff of Punch magazine, where he was free to create cartoons on whatever subject he wanted… Usually, that subject was trains.

The cartoons at the bottom of this post come from Punch in 1947. At this time, Punch was at the peak of its circulation- 175,000 copies a week. After the war, there was a determined effort to brush away the cobwebs from the preceding century and update the graphic look of the magazine. More modern cartoonists began to replace the old guard, and subject matter became more centered around the everyday life of the average Brit, rather than the political struggles of the upper classes. Rowland Emett’s mechanical whimsey fit perfectly within this new framework.

Rowland Emett

But Emett wasn’t content to limit himself to pen and ink. His urge to tinker took over in 1951 when he created the Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Branch Railway at Battersea Park for the Festival of Britain. Intended to lift the spirits of the British public, the Festival of Britain received mixed reviews. Sir Thomas Beecham described it as “a monumental piece of imbecility”. But at least it was entertaining imbecility thanks to Rowland Emett.

Rowland Emett

Built of mahogany and copper over the top of a 15 inch gauge diesel electric engine that Emett obtained from a war surplus supplier, the cartoony railway was a huge hit with the public and repaid the cost of designing and building it in just three weeks.

Rowland Emett

The main locomotive was named “Nellie” after the engine in his Punch cartoons. In the five months the festival operated, around 8 1/2 million people visited the park. A lot of the design ideas for kinetic sculptures at the Festival of Britain influenced Disneyland’s “imagineers”, in particular, with the design of the “Small World” attraction and the Casey Jones ride in Fantasyland.

Thanks to our reader, Matt Jones here are a few links to videos of newsreels about Emett and his creations… These videos are mind-blowing!

Rowland Emett

Emett went on to design “The Featherstone-Kite Openwork Basketweave Mark Two Gentleman’s Flying Machine”, two copies of which still exist. He designed a “Forget-Me-Not Computer” for Honeywell and acted as a production designer for the 1968 film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His last great kinetic work was the “Aqua Horological Tintinnabulator”, a water powered musical clock which still operates at the Victoria Center in Nottingham. Rowland Emett was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1978 and passed away in 1990 at the age of 84.

During December of 2012, the Ontario Science Centre hosted an exhibit of Emett’s machines. Here is an amazing video of them in action by David Sweeney.

Enjoy these fantastic cartoons by one of Britain’s most interesting creators…

Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett
Rowland Emett

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Magazine Cartoons.