December 12th, 2017

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Filmography: I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (Fleischer/1930)

Fleischer Bouncing BallFleischer Bouncing BallThis Saturday, the archive video guru, Eric Graf sat down to begin digitizing an amazing collection of Fleischer Bouncing Ball cartoons. These were among the most popular cartoons of their day; however, taken out of their original theatrical context, it isn’t quite the same experience viewing them today.

Each cartoon consisted of an animated introduction, followed by an invitation by the narrator to "Follow the bouncing ball…" A singalong section designed to get the whole audience singing was followed by an animated singalong where the characters interacted with the words of the song. If you’ve ever seen any of these films projected on the big screen, you know what fun it is to be singing along, and suddenly have the cartoon characters start cavorting with the words you’re singing.

Fleischer Screen Songs
Fleischer Screen Songs

This film is interesting, because it includes some early attempts at lipsync. The rabbit conductor speaks to the audience in stilted speech, obviously designed to be understood over the primitive theater sound systems of the time. But the stilted speech and the bizzarre drawings create a truly weird and wonderful effect. Drawings this strange don’t happen by accident! Still frame through this scene and check them out. John K theorizes that this scene might be some sort of animation equivalent of exquisite corpse. Marc Deckter has provided lots of great frame grabs of the crazy lipsync at his blog, Duck Walk.

An interesting side note is that the narrator who refers to the rabbit as “funny boy” is none other than pioneer recording artist, Billy Murray, disguising his natural tenor as a baritone. He narrates many of the Fleischer cartoons of this era, and provided the original voice for Bimbo.

Fleischer Screen Songs
Fleischer Screen Songs

We are fortunate to have over ten hours of Fleischer Screen Songs on Beta tapes. With your support, we have assembled a video digitization station where we can capture video. There’s literally hundreds of hours of cartoons waiting to be digitized… the entire Terrytoons syndication package donated by John Kricfalusi. The Warner Bros and MGM laserdisc box sets, the complete run of Format Films’ Alvin Show, and classic television commercials from the 1950s and 60s. As time and funding allow, we will be adding this material to our database.

Fleischer Screen Songs
Fleischer Screen Songs

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (1930)
(Quicktime 7 / 18 megs)

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.

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Posted by admin @ 11:46 am

December 11th, 2017

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Cartooning: Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning Part Two

Willard Mullin

SINGLE PANEL COMICS, SPORTS CARTOONISTS, EDITORIAL CARTOONS AND COMIC BOOKS

We continue with the section on two column panel and sports cartoonists from Gene Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning (1950). Here are step by step descriptions of the creation of panel cartoons by George Clark and Lichty; as well as an article on Robert L. Ripley and features on sports cartoonists Pap, Howard Brodie and the great Willard Mullen. Following that is a gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoons, features on C. D. Batchelor and Bill Crawford, and a cursory look at how comic books were edited.

TWO COLUMN PANELS

Two column panel cartoons are a staple of newspaper comics today, even though the width of the standard column has shrunk. As the size decreased, artists were forced to reduce detail. Daily strips are so small now, it’s hard to do anything wider than a medium closeup in every panel. The two column panel cartoon has become the last bastion of cartoons with any kind of detail at all. Here, Gene Byrnes covers a few of the most popular single panel comics from the late 40s.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

GEORGE CLARK
The Neighbors

George ClarkGeorge ClarkGeorge Clark was born in Oklahoma. He began drawing at a very young age, and by 16 years old, his cartoons were appearing in the Daily Oklahoman. His first syndicated cartoon was "Side Glances", and in 1939, he created the one panel comic he is best known for, "The Neighbors". Clark’s gags were inspired by quiet observation of people in soda fountains and railroad stations. He would photograph situations, street scenes and expressions to incorporate into his drawings. The family in the comic was loosely based on his own wife and children.

He would create all of his comics for a week in one marathon session. He wrote, "It takes me at least six hours to warm up. I sit there trying to work and wondering what I’ve been doing all these years that it should still come so hard to me." When the ideas started flowing, he would work nonstop for up to 12 hours straight to complete the six cartoons for the week. He commented on the grueling process by saying, "When I’m trying to think of ideas for cartoons and they won’t come, I think it would be wonderful to paint landscapes, with no gags in them."

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

LICHTY
Grin & Bear It

Lichty

George Lichty was one of the most famous and highly paid one panel cartoonists in the newspapers. He created the cartoon, "Grin And Bear It" in 1932, and it ran every day for many decades. When asked to what he attributed the popularity of his wonderful lummoxes with names like "Bascomb Belchmore" and "Senator Snort", he replied, "From little acorns mighty oafs grow."

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

LARGE PANEL COMICS

When newspaper comics were at their zenith, whole pages were sometimes devoted to a single comic. Other comics would be half pages. Interspersed throughout the comics pages were quarter and third page single panels that depicted scenes and panoramas filled with gags. Today, each comic is so small, it’s lucky if it can put across a single gag. A lot of the richness and depth of view has been lost.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

ROBERT L. RIPLEY
Believe It Or Not

Robert RipleyRobert RipleyRobert Ripley was unique among cartoonists, because he truly lived his strip. Ripley travelled the world in search of the odd and unusual, which he featured in his daily newspaper comic. He passed away in 1949 at 56 years of age.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

SPORTS CARTOONISTS
“PAP”

PapPapThomas "Pap" Paprocki was referred to as the "Rembrandt of the sports pages". Born in 1902, he began his artistic endeavors at age nine, when he took painting lessons from an artist near his home in New York. A gifted athelete, it was natural that he would gravitate to being a sports cartoonist. In 1932, he began working for the Associated Press, where his column and drawings ran for over three decades. Check out the meticulous planning he put into his work.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

HOWARD BRODIE

Howard BrodieHoward BrodieHoward Brodie worked as a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. During WWII, he became a combat correspondent, creating illustrations of GIs in action that made a huge impact on readers stateside. He was a decorated veteran, and also served as a combat artist in Korea and Viet Nam. In the 50s and 60s became a courtroom artist, famous for his ability to capture the drama and detail of the proceedings in his quick powerful sketches.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

WILLARD MULLIN

Willard Mullin
Willard Mullin has been featured in this blog before in reference to his work on the Famous Artists Cartooning Course. He grew up in Los Angeles, but like most newspaper cartoonists of his era, he moved to New York in 1934. He worked for the New York World Telegram for over thirty years, where he created the iconic caricature of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the "Brooklyn Bum". Mullin eventually became a respected illustrator for Time, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post. Although sports cartooning is pretty much a dead artform, Mullin’s work is timeless and will live on long after the game has ended.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

EDITORIAL CARTOONING
By C. D. Batchelor

C D BatchelorC D BatchelorClarence Daniel Batchelor started as a staff cartoonist at the Kansas City Star. He worked as a freelance illustrator for a time before joining the New York Daily News in 1931. He worked there for 38 years as an editorial cartoonist, He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for the accompanying cartoon of a young man labelled "Any European Youth" being propositioned by a skull faced whore representing war, captioned… "Come on in, I’ll treat you right! I used to know your Daddy."

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

PULITZER PRIZE WINNERS

Mauldin
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

WILLIAM CRAWFORD

Bill Crawford
As I went to Google to research this blurb on editorial cartoonist Bill Crawford was a master of the medium. He was awarded the National Cartoonists Society awards for best editorial cartoon of 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1966; he was awarded the Silver T-Square Award in 1977; and he served as president of the organization in 1960. His cartoons first appeared in the Newark News, and later were syndicated to over 700 newspapers around the country.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

COMICS MAGAZINES
By Whitney Ellsworth

Byrnes Complete Guide To CartooningByrnes Complete Guide To CartooningWhitney Ellsworth started out as an assistant artist at King Features, working on strips like Dumb Dora and Tilly the Toiler. He was chief editor at DC Comics during the golden age of Superman, Batman, The Spectre, and The Green Arrow- but Superman was the series he was most closely involved in. Ellsworth wrote many of the story outlines for the comic books, and in the early 50s, he wrote the pilot episode of the Superman TV serial, Superman Meets The Mole Men. He retired in 1970.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning

It’s interesting to compare the editorial script to the finished artwork provided here. The only thing the artist used was the basic situations, a few details and the dialogue. The staging of the panels and the pacing of the action from panel to panel had to be completely reworked to function visually. It’s surprising that Byrnes gives this section on comic books such short shrift. Ellsworth focuses on the technical and editorial aspects of the comic book business, and barely mentions the artists who actually create them. Perhaps if Byrnes had gotten Joe Shuster, Bob Kane or Jack Kirby to write this section, it would have been a different story.

Many thanks to Marc Crisafulli and David King for sharing this great book with us.

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 @ 1:39 pm

December 8th, 2017

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Feed the Library of Your Mind

Library

If you read no other article today, read the one at this link…

Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You’ll Ever Have Time to Read

A lot of young animators seem to think that as long as they have Google, they have all the reference they need. But that isn’t true. POTENTIAL reference is no better than having no reference at all. You have to know exactly what it is that you don’t know to grow.

This article is about books and reading, but the same argument for the value of books could be made for a library of music, movies and artwork. A shelf full of music of all types, or classic movies, or art books about the old masters are directly relevant to your growth as an artist. It’s not enough to just create. You have to absorb your culture so you can reflect it in your own unique way.

A library is a constant reminder of how much there is to learn about and incorporate into your life and work. Life is short. Surround yourself with knowledge. Organize it and set aside time to browse. Once in a while select a specific subject that you should really should know more about and dive in. Analyze. Process. Learn.

Recently a book was published showing great artists in their studios. Their workspaces were all different, but there was one common denominator. They all had bookshelves packed with reference. If you want to be a great artist too, follow their lead and push your boundaries and expand your frame of reference by building your own library. It can be walls of books or hard drives full of images, movies and music. The format doesn’t matter. What matters is the impetus to know more than you already do.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 9:44 am