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