Archive for the ‘caricature’ Category

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Magazine Cartoons: Jack Davis

Jack Davis Cartoon

A while back, Will Finn, in his excellent blog small room wrote about the decline in drawing quality of Chuck Jones’ later work for the animation art market. He offers an interesting theory that perhaps Jones’ strength lay in his depiction of personality in motion, and when he chose to focus on static images for the limited edition cel market, his work lost its energy. The fickle nature of the creative spirit is better discussed by artists than by archivists, so I’m not going to add to what Will has said. But I’m going to offer an example from the comic world of a similar nature… Jack Davis.

Please note that I’m focusing on Davis at his peak in this post. When Davis was “on” no one could top him for draftsmanship, composition or energy. If you are interested in looking into how his work occasionally runs hot and cold, see David Apatoff’s insightful article, Counting To Nine.

Jack Davis Cartoon

Jack Davis was a cartoonist from a very early age. His first published work appeared in Tip Top Comics in 1936. He was twelve years old at the time. In 1949, he packed up and moved from Atlanta to New York City, where he was hired by EC Comics to draw for The Vault of Horror and Two-Fisted Tales. At EC, Davis met Harvey Kurtzman, who liked his work and used him in Mad magazine. Kurtzman and Davis also worked together on Little Annie Fanny in Playboy.

Jack Davis Cartoon

Davis went on to become one of the most sought-after illustrators and caricaturists in America. His caricatures of public figures appeared on the covers of Time magazine and TV Guide, as well as record covers, movie posters and bubble gum cards. Davis is currently one of the best-known and recognizable cartoonists in the world.

Jack Davis Cartoon

Here is an early Davis story from Mad magazine that shows his immense talents at their absolute best. Every panel of this comic is drop-dead brilliant!

KANE KEEN
Mad Magazine 1953

Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon
Jack Davis Cartoon

Many thanks to the talented cartoonist, Amir Avni for contributing the copy of "Son of Mad" from which this great story was scanned. Also thanks to the stalwart archive supporter Eric Graf for lending us record covers from his extensive collection to digitize.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

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

Jack Davis BookJack Davis BookJack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture: A Career Retrospective is a gigantic career-spanning retrospective, between whose hard covers resides the greatest collection— in terms of both quantity and quality— of Jack Davis’ work ever assembled! It includes work from every stage of his long and varied career. Much of the material has been scanned directly from original art, showing the painterly brush strokes and pen work. Many illustrations are accompanied by preliminary drawings that demonstrate the evolution of Davis’ drawing process. Recommended!

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

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

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

A few months 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 Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

The course originally ran in 20 volumes. We have been able to find an earlier edition of the course to supplement and complete Ralph Bakshi’s set. There aren’t 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

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

There’s plenty of 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

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.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

Zim’s technical skill was unmatched. Just look at the amazing precision and expressiveness of this drawing as he takes it from rough sketch to ink to watercolor.

The Zim Cartooning and Caricature Correspondence Course

The book is full of amusing contrasts. A tip on not thinning your ink too much leads into a speculation on what Rembrandt would be doing if he lived in modern times.

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. Look at these sketches of dogs… They make you feel like a flea bitten hound!

If you would like to see more from the Zim course, let me know in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Eugene Zim ZimmermanEugene Zim Zimmerman

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

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Exhibit: How To Draw Funny Pictures

Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures

Last week, I discussed Zim’s Cartoons and Caricatures. Here are some more examples of the genius of Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman from another vintage "how to" book… How To Draw Funny Pictures by E.C. Matthews. This chapter deals with a topic that is widely discussed today, racial stereotyping.

Ethnic humor was Zim’s stock-in-trade. He once joked that he and his fellow cartoonists at Puck magazine treated the various races and creeds that made up America with gloves… the kind boxers wear. Perhaps this is why he is virtually unknown today. But it’s unfair to sit like an armchair quarterback a century later judging an entirely different time by our own standards. Zim approached every person as a peer. He made fun of all of them equally.

Stereotypes are still part and parcel of caricature and cartooning. Pirates have eye patches and parrots on their shoulders. Surfer dudes wear baggy shorts and have long blonde hair. These are the generally understood symbols that represent specific types of people. How does a cartoonist utilize these common perceptions to communicate clearly while still remaining honest? Here is an important first-hand document of how Zim himself explained the purpose and limits of ethnic caricature in the "melting pot" of the early 20th Century.

Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures
Zim How To Draw Funny Pictures

Take note of this advice from the conclusion of this chapter…

Greatness makes one tolerant. Great men are not ashamed to stop on the street and talk to the man in overalls. They recognize the bond of friendship between the common people and themselves. The social sheik who feels above talking to a mere laborer is fooling only himself.

Take this little sermon to heart and treat every man as your equal; it will help you get ahead. How truly the Bible says, "The greatest among you shall be the servant of all."

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Eugene Zim ZimmermanEugene Zim Zimmerman

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

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.