Archive for the ‘caricature’ Category

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Caricature: The Genius of Miguel Covarrubias

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature

Miguel Covarrubias was one of the most famous artists of his day, but chances are you’ve never heard of him. Caricaturists know his work- Al Hirschfeld studied under Covarrubias and shared a studio with him in 1924. He spoke of Covarrubias’ talent in the same breath as Daumier and Hogarth. Ethnologists and archaeologists know the name of Covarrubias as well. His analysis of pre-Columbian art and the culture of Bali led to books on the subject that have become classics. And his reputation as an anthropologist rivalled any of his peers in that field. Illustrator, caricaturist, anthropologist, author and educator… It’s high time you knew about Covarrubias too!

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature

At the age of nineteen, Miguel Covarrubias, already a renowned caricaturist in his home country of Mexico, emigrated to New York City. He was an instant sensation, and his illustrations began appearing in New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Fellow Mexican artist, Diego Rivera described his illustrations as "those caustic but implacably good-humored drawings which, fortunately for his personal safety, people have been misled into calling caricatures. In Covarrubias’ art there is no vicious cruelty, it is all irony untainted with malice; a humor that is young and clean; a precise and well defined plasticity.”

Most of the caricatures from Vanity Fair below depict unlikely pairs of public figures. Click on the links to the Wikipedia entries on these people and see why Covarrubias put them together.


Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Jim Londos & Herbert Hoover
(Vanity Fair, August 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Senator Smith W. Brookhart & Marlene Dietrich
(Vanity Fair, September 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Al Capone & Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes
(Vanity Fair, October 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Clark Gable & Edward, Prince of Wales
(Vanity Fair, November 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Ex-King Alfonso & James J. Walker
(Vanity Fair, December 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Mrs. Ella Boole & Miss Texas Guinan
(Vanity Fair, January 1933)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Arthur Brisbane & The Sphinx
(Vanity Fair, May 1933)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Emily Post
(Vanity Fair, December 1933)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Admiral Richard E. Byrd
(Vanity Fair, December 1934)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Sally Rand & Martha Graham
(Vanity Fair, December 1934)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Dr. Samuel Johnson & Alexander Woolcott
(Vanity Fair, March 1935)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Auguste Piccard & William Beebe
(Vanity Fair, April 1935)

Covarrubias was much more than just an illustrator and caricaturist though. His books on Bali and Mexico revealed a careful analytical mind with an eye for detail. The following article from an arts magazine from 1948 encompasses the latter part of Covarrubias’ career…

By Henry C. Pitz
(January 1948)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature

Many thanks to the ever-faithful supporter of Animation Resources, Kent Butterworth for sharing this wonderful material from his own collection with us.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

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

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Comic Books: Basil Wolverton On Cartoon Sounds

Basil Wolverton Lena the Hyena

Last week, Animation Resources supporter Marc Schirmeister stopped by with a stack of rare fanzines from the late 1960s and early 70s. Included among them were two great issues of Graphic Story Magazine devoted to the genius of Basil Wolverton.

Basil Wolverton

Here is an article Wolverton wrote in 1948 for the Daily Oregonian…

Basil Wolverton

By Basil Wolverton

The so called comic strip on my drawing board showed a heavy horse stepping on a bozo’s bean. The horse was tramping on the guy’s head in a delicate way, of course, so the situation would be more entertaining than grusome- depending on the reader’s sense of humor. But, like an old silent movie, the cartoon needed something, and that something was sound. There had to be a heavily lettered word oozing out from the exact point of contact between the horse’s hoofs and the man’s head. Thus the reader, pronouncing that sound word to himself, would actually hear within his mind the excitingly comical noise that would eminate from such action.

Basil Wolverton

Summoning both brain cells hurriedly together, I tried desperately to imagine just what sort of sound would ensue if a nag were to step on someone’s skull. The word CRUNCH popped into my mind. Then CRONCH. Then CRANCH. I settled for CRANCH because somehow it seemed more refined. But before I could letter the word on the cartoon, I suddenly recalled my latest unhappy interview with the person who publishes my comic strips.

Basil Wolverton

“I want realism!” he had bellowed. “No more of this wild imaginitive stuff that’s causing some people to want to ban our comic books! From now on, get that realism in there, and your strips will be horribly funny! Then the readers will go into hysterics and laugh like crazy, and our books will be acclaimed the most laugh provoking on the stands!” That meant that an imaginative word like CRANCH was taboo. It was up to me to get the real sound word. I looked furtively about as a preposterous plan permeated my pate.

Basil WolvertonBasil WolvertonIt was easy to rent a horse. It wasn’t as easy to argue my brother in law into placing his pan on the pavement, and letting me ride the nag over his noggin. “Horses are so heavy!” he foolishly kept countering. “Besides, I have a cold sore.” As he waddled away, I realized my plan was hopeless- until he stumbled over something in the street. Before he could pull his chin out of the asphalt, I had steered the rented mare over him, and her hind hoof scored a bull’s eye on his bare bean.

The sound? It was far from CRANCH. The real thing turned out to be SLORNK. It was a sort of a slippery liquid sound. That was probably because my brother in law has oily skin and a thin skull. With the noxious noise fresh in mind, I streaked into my studio and feverishly lettered the word SLORNK boldly across the cartoon.

Basil Wolverton

Weeks later the fan mail began pouring in. They all said the same thing. In fact, both of them were worded the same. The first one read “I want to congratulate you on that completely true to life cartoon you drew of the horse stepping on a man’s head. The word SLORNK describing the sound was absolutely accurate. I know, because I am always getting my head stepped on by some careless nag.” The second letter was the same as the first, except for the signature. I figured when I wrote them that there should be some difference. Otherwise the publisher might get wise when I showed them to him.

He was dumbfounded when he saw them. After recovering, he slapped me on my sunburn and rammed one of his dollar cigars into my mush. Unfortunately, he stuck the wrong end into my mouth. Besides, he was smoking it. “Two fan letters in eleven years” he murmured incredulously. “My boy, you have arrived! It’s just like I predicted,” my publisher beamed, “your horribly realistic sound words are paying off!”

Basil Wolverton

I leaped on his desk. “Then I’m ripe for a raise?” I queried. peering so anxiously and closely into his red-rimmed readers that I could detect his wife’s fingernail scratches on his contact lenses. Anticipation was causing me to quiver like a rat terrier with radio-active fleas on a cold day. The suspense was terrible. Finally he opened his trap. He was grinning. This was the day for which I had waited eleven long years. “It does not!” he roared, brushing me off his desk. “I was merely feeling pleased that at last you may be worth almost as much as I’ve been paying you!”

While I gathered my teeth up off the floor, he pointed at me demandingly. “If you want a raise, every one of your sound effect words will have to be absolutely authentic! In other words, don’t draw a single sound word into your strips until you’ve actually staged the cartoon situation with real people and things!”

Basil Wolverton

(Incidentally, you readers should stop worrying about my brother in law. Ever since the day the horse stepped on his head, he has had nothing but good luck. Why shouldn’t he, what with a horseshoe embedded in the back of his bean? Furthermore, he’s the only living person who can slide his head inside those record-in-the-slot phonographs without crushing his ears.)

My publisher pointed at me demandingly. “If you want a raise, every one of your sound effect words will have to be absolutely authentic! In other words, don’t draw a single sound word into your strips until you’ve actually staged the cartoon situation with real people and things!”

As for my publisher’s demands, they resulted in my running out of friends and relatives within a week. Neighbors complained about howls and screams emanating from the studio. People su
ed. The ASPCA hounded me. My wife and fourteen kids swore sudden allegiance to the Progressive party, then fled to Siberia.

Basil Wolverton

Meanwhile, however, I managed to catalog hundreds of authentic sound words- enough to last me for a lifetime of cartooning, and enough I thought, to cover any and all comic situations, regardless of how terrible. I was so proud of my achievement that I showed the lengthy list to my publisher. Here are some of the more subtle sound words describing various clashings, crashings, slashings, bashings, hashings, mashings, etc. Read the situation, then voice the accompanying sound word to yourself, and note how vividly the picture then comes to your mind:

  • Pinheaded person pullingg pate out of a pop bottle: FOINK!
  • Glass eye falling into tomato soup: PLOOP!
  • Glass eye falling into a pitcher of thick syrup: PLOFF!
  • Man sitting on short tack: SQUINCH!
  • Man sitting on long tack: SQUONCH!
  • Uppers dropping in gob of putty: FLUP!

Basil Wolverton

  • Hungry cannibal filing eyetooth: FWATCH!
  • Man with calloused feet crossing rough linoleum: SKIRP! SKIRP!
  • Thumb gouging eye: SPOP!
  • Hot lava speweing on WCTU convention: FOOSK!
  • Hot lava spewing on Elks’ convention: SSSCRISH!
  • Person skidding on hot stove in bare feet: SCREESH!
  • Beaver biting into wooden leg: CRASP!
  • Car crashing into large vat of frogs’ eggs: SKWORP!
  • False teeth falling through skylight: TWUNK!
  • Sock in the face with Sears Roebuck catalog: PWOSH!
  • Sock in the face with Montgomery Ward catalog: PWASH!
  • Octopus slapping a tentacle on bald bean: SPOOP!

Basil Wolverton

  • Man dragging toenails over No.2 grade sandpaper: SKARP!
  • Man falling on face in a barrel of wet teabags: FROMP!
  • Sock in the kisser with a wet codfish: SCHALAMPF!
  • Person socking wet halibut with his kisser: SCHLOOF!
  • Lowers falling into a bucket of cup grease: UNPH!
  • Man with small head drowning in a glass of tomato juice: GOIK!
  • Woodpecker hammering on human head: DUD-DUD-DUD-DUD-DUD!
  • Cannon ball landing in mush of toothless man: FWOCK!
  • Two bald men colliding headon: KROCK!
  • Garter snapping on varicose vein: SCHWIPP!
  • Single BB shot landing on a cow’s udder: PWIP!
  • Person pulling ponderous pate through a puny porthole: SPOOCH!
  • Bear trap springing on human noggin: SPROCK!
  • Rat trap springing on person’s big toe: SPACK!
  • Man falling into a garbage can full of spoiled caviar: CROFF!
  • Surgeon tossing gallstones into empty garbage can: KRANG!
  • Man with one hair getting a haircut: WHICK!
  • Person being kicked in the neck: PFWUMPFPH!
  • Person getting kicked in snappers: PWACK!
  • Measle germ snapping at skin: SCHLOPP!

Basil Wolverton

If you’ve been able to struggle through the foregoing list of cartoon words, perhaps now your acoustical sense has been sharpened to the extent that you can readily guess a situation just by reading a sound word. To test your ability, hee is a list of cartoon words denoting various noises. If you can guess the action by which even one of them is produced, then your extremely something or other.


Basil Wolverton

Now check your definitions with the following list. Even if you missed defining all the words, it’s no reflection on your intelligence. Fact is, the more you miss, the brighter you probably are. On the other hand, the more you can guess, the better comic strip cartoonist you can become- unless, unfortunately, you’re already one.

  • SNIKK: The sound made by an African pygmy idly snapping his fingernail against his skull
  • SPIRP: Nose being caught in an orange juicer
  • FAMP: Corpulent person falling on back in a vat of peanut butter
  • SWORP: Meteor hitting obese dame on back of neck
  • SPITCH: Man sticking his head inside huge dynamo in action
  • KANK: Crazed horsefly crashing into dome of empty-headed man
  • IKK: Person with protruding eyeballs falling face down

Basil Wolverton

  • SPRATCH: Court plaster being yanked off polose chest
  • PWOT: Wet socks being tossed into the corner of the room
  • YOTCH: Post office pen forming the letter O
  • KZEEP: Man with rusty eyelid winking at gal
  • KLISH: Man falling on chin on thin crusted beetle
  • FEEMP: Mole (on chin) being hit with stray buckshot
  • SHZWOP: Obese dame’s girdle splitting out
  • KOPYP: Skin pore snapping shut on contact with cold air

Basil Wolverton

“Good work!” my publisher mumbled two days later, when he had finished reading the list. “Then I get the raise?” I gurgled hopefully. His brows knitted. (He was working on a pair of socks at the same time.) “Not until you complete that list by adding one more sound word! The word that’s missing is the one that describes the sound of a railway train running over a cartoonist’s conk!”

“That should be easy,” I chirped. “I’ll just-” Suddenly, the awful significance of his demand dawned on me. My publisher had conceived of this diabolical plan to prevent my getting a raise. But I would fool him.

A half hour later my noggin was resting uncomfortably on a railroad rail.

Basil Wolverton

They told me later at the hospital that it wasn’t too bad. Only 22 cars, plus the locomotive had been derailed. “The train crew wanted the day off anyway” my doctor said. “They will be up later to thank you.” While he poured glue in the cracks in my conk, I struggled to recall the exact sound of the locomotive passing over my pate. I became frantic at the thought that it had eluded me. Then I remembered. How could I forget something that had been so forcefully crammed into my mind?

I raced out of the hospital and downtown to my publisher’s office. When that man saw the Scotch tape on my skull, he blanched a little. “Did you find out what the sound of a train running over a cartoonist’s head is?” he asked. “I did.” I announced triumphantly. He leaned expectantly so far forward that his rear suspender buttons flew off, zipped out the window, and nailed a burglar who was ransacking a safe in an office across the street.

Basil Wolverton

“What is the sound?” he asked shakily.
“GJDRKZLXCBWQ?” he queried doubtfully.
“No. It’s GJDRKZLXCBWQ. The L is silent.”

Basil Wolverton

My publisher is not emotional. I have never known him to be moved to tears. But now his lips quivered violently. Or perhaps he was just trying to get something out of his teeth. “Now I have heard everything!” he blubbered.

“The raise.” I reminded him. “How about it?” “The raise? Oh yes. To show my appreciation for collecting the most complete and authentic list of cartoonists’ sound words, I’m going to double your salary!” Whereupon he reached into his wallet and tossed me twice as much as I had been getting previously per week.

Basil Wolverton

Then I realized that my list of sound words wasn’t quite complete until that moment. In all my life I had never heard that lush, lovely sound. It was a mild, whispery sound, barely audible.

Here it is: FMNW!

It was the sound made by my new doubled salary- two $1.00 bills brushing lightly together.

Basil Wolverton

Thanks to Marc Schirmeister for sharing this with us.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

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

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

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Exhibit: The Zim Course in Cartooning, Comic Art and Caricature Vol 2

Every other month, members of Animation Resources are given access to an exclusive Members Only Reference Pack. In May 2016, they were able to download Volume 2 of the classic Zim Cartooning Course. Our Reference Packs change every two months, so if you weren’t a member back then, you missed out on it. But you can still buy a copy of this great e-book in our E-Book and Video Store. Our downloadable PDF files are packed with high resolution images on a variety of educational subjects, and we also offer rare animated cartoons from the collection of Animation Resources as downloadable DVD quality video files. If you aren’t a member yet, please consider JOINING ANIMATION RESOURCES. It’s well worth it.

CLICK to Buy This E-Book

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

Animation Resources is proud to present exclusively to our membership the first of four volumes of Eugene Zimmerman’s landmark correspondence course in cartooning as a 200 page high resolution e-book. Members, to download a copy, login to the Members Only Download Page. This download will only be available during the months of May and June 2015 and might never be available again.

If you have not joined Animation Resources yet, see the Membership Signup Page. Over the next year, Animation Resources members will be receiving the entire Zim course, consisting of four volumes and nearly 1000 pages packed with incredible drawings and creative advice!

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

A couple of years ago ago, I stumbled across a "how to" book on cartooning by Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman. It was titled Zim’s Cartoons & Caricatures, Or Making The World Laugh. I happened to be speaking on the phone to Ralph Bakshi, and I mentioned the book. "Ooooohh! So you’ve discovered ZIM now! He’s one of my secrets…"

In 1967, right after he had resigned as the head of the Paramount cartoon studio, Ralph and his wife Liz were walking through Brooklyn when they saw a sign on an old house advertising an estate sale. They went inside, but it was late in the day and there wasn’t much left. Ralph glanced up at a tall bookcase and saw a pile of pamphlets stacked up on a high shelf. It was too high to reach, so he didn’t bother to look at them. As they were walking out the door, he got the feeling that he needed to go back and look at the pamphlets. It was a good hunch. The stack contained a nearly complete set of Zim’s correspondence course in cartooning. He asked the estate agent how much they cost, and was told $50. That was more than he and his wife had in their pockets, so Liz volunteered to run home and get the money. The Zim books were on his desk every day throughout the production of Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and especially Coonskin. This set is Ralph’s most prized possession, and now he is sharing them with Animation Resources.

The Zim Book on Cartooning

Zim’s correspondence course was the most highly regarded cartooning course of its day. Spanning 20 volumes, it covered a wide range of subjects, from practical homespun advice to lofty philosophy. Here are some examples of Zim’s genius from the pages of the four volumes we completed digitizing today…

The course was published in two different editions… 1914 and 1920. We have been able to find an earlier edition of the course to supplement and complete Ralph Bakshi’s set. There are no chapters or specific assignments. The books consist of page after page of individual nuggets of wisdom. Each book and each page stands on its own.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course
The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

Ralph also helped Animation Resources obtain vintage copies of the magazine Judge’s Library containing dozens of full page color examples of Zim’s work. These have been included in our exclusive online e-books.

Zim’s course is much more than just a "how to draw" course. In short anecdotal paragraphs, Zim succeeds in conveying what it means to be a cartoonist… the history behind the artform… how to deal with everyday problems and setbacks… and how to live the life of an artist.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

Zim was the founder of the "grotesque" school of caricature, which formed the basis of what we now call "cartoony drawing". He provides lots of examples of caricatures drawn from life, with photos of his subjects alongside his caricature of the person.

CLICK to Buy This E-Book

There’s plenty of traditional drawing lessons too. Zim’s masterful expressive line fills every page with perfect examples of the principles he is discussing.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course
The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

The book is full of amusing observation. Just look at the shoes and the way the clothing hangs on these bums. Zim is able to pack personality into every detail of the character.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

If you aren’t convinced yet that Zim is a drop dead genius, just click on this image!

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

The most impressive illustrations in the course are the examples of Zim’s rough sketches. He had an uncanny knack for being able to express every nuance of his subject with a free flowing and loose pencil technique.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

He was capable of extreme exaggeration that captured the essence of the unique qualities of the personalities he chose to caricature.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

But the most amazing thing about Zim’s artistry was his ability to draw the viewer into his world and make them feel the way the characters in the drawings feel. Wouldn’t you love to live in a cartoony world like this? You can, and Zim can teach you to THINK like a cartoonist.

CLICK to Buy This E-Book

Not A Member Yet? Want A Free Sample?

Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!

Sample RefPack

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

Eugene Zim ZimmermanEugene Zim Zimmerman

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit devoted to Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman.