May 26th, 2020

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Theory: Big Boy and the Power of Licensing- A Cautionary Tale

Bobs Big Boy

In 1936, entrepeneur Bob Wian opened a small lunch stand. He had a brilliant, yet slightly devious idea for a hamburger. If he took a standard hamburger bun and sliced it down the middle twice, instead of once… and if he took a standard hamburger patty and divided it into two small patties… he could create a double-decker hamburger that appeared to be larger than the average without costing him any more to make. He named it the "Big Boy".

Bobs Big Boy

Wian hired pretty high school girls as car-hops and dressed them in short skirts and cowboy hats. But something was still missing…

Bobs Big Boy

One day, animator Benny Washam was lunching at Wian’s stand, doodling on placemats. Wian saw that he was a cartoonist and asked him to draw a caricature of Richard Woodruff, a chubby, apple cheeked boy who helped out at the stand sweeping up after school. Washam obliged, depicting the lad in oversized checkered overalls munching on a burger.

Bobs Big Boy

Ben Washam’s Original Design

Wian loved the doodle and gave Washam his lunch for free. Bennie gave the sketch to Wian to use as a mascot for the stand.

Bobs Big Boy

Bennie didn’t think any more of it for many years…

Bobs Big Boy
Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy

Wian turned the caricature into an empire, branding not only his hamburger stand, but a line of sauces and spices and a franchised chain of family restaurants that eventually covered the entire country. A cutened version of Washam’s doodle was plastered all over the menus, signage and television advertising.

Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy

Wian knew who in the family made the decisions about where to eat… It wasn’t mom and dad, it was the kids. Outside each restaurant in the chain, he placed a huge fiberglass statue of Big Boy as a beacon to attract children…

Bobs Big Boy

And cartoonists, like assistant archivists, Alex Vassilev and JoJo Baptista!

At the restaurants, Wian gave away free comic books featuring the character. Here is an extremely rare example… Big Boy comics number one from 1956. These comics were produced by Timely Comics, which later became Marvel. They were written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett. Later issues featured the work of Archie comics artist, Dan DeCarlo. Adventures of the Big Boy is one of the longest continuously running comic book lines. It’s still being produced fifty years later.

Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy

Years later, when Big Boy had become a familiar figure to the entire country, Washam admitted to his fellow artists at Warner Bros that he was the cartoonist who had created the character. They laughed and teased him, saying, "Benny, you should have been heir to a hamburger fortune, but no! Your lot in life is to toil day and night making animated cartoons!" They were joking, but there’s an element of truth in it. Never underestimate the power of a doodle. The Big Boy sketch that Washam traded away for a free meal in 1936 ended up selling millions and millions of dollars worth of hamburgers.

If you would like to see more Big Boy comics, let me know in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

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

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 11:20 am

May 22nd, 2020

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Exhibit: Carlo Vinci’s Student Life Drawing

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

All of us at Animation Resources are deeply grateful to the family of legendary animator Carlo Vinci for the material they have shared with us over the past couple of years. Around 1929, Vinci attended the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York, receiving the silver medal from the Tiffany Foundation Fellowship upon graduation. By stroke of luck, his student drawings have survived in an old portfolio tucked at the back of a closet. They provide an invaluable peek into the artistic development of a golden age animator.

In a previous article, we posted scans of the course outline for the National Academy of Design. The class schedule ran six days a week with studio classes from 9am to 4pm and lecture classes beginning at 4:10pm, and night classes offered from 7pm to 10pm Monday through Friday. It was an intensive program focused on traditional art skills- drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as art history, composition and color theory.

DRAWING FROM CASTS

The first year student began with three hour sessions drawing from casts of classical sculpture. Since the casts were static, the student had the opportunity to work slowly and develop the ability to construct the organic shapes and complex volumes of the human figure without the time constraint of working from live models. They were not allowed to progress to drawing from life until they had mastered the basic principles by working from casts.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

DRAWING FROM LIFE:
LONG SESSIONS

Drawing from life continued throughout the entire course of study, starting with longer sessions to allow the student time to work out the problems of anatomy and perspective. As time went by and the student gained experience, the sessions were shortened.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

DRAWING FROM LIFE:
SHORT SESSIONS

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

PORTRAITS

Special classes in portraiture and composition were also on the schedule.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

PEERS’ WORK

Vinci admired the work of his peers and saved a few of their sketches to study.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

By Umberto Romano

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

By Ilya Bolotowsky

It’s interesting to note that even though Bolotowsky became very well known for his abstract paintings, he was obviously very skilled at traditional representational art as well.

Life drawing forms the foundation for all art. Students of animation would do well to focus on life drawing while they are in school and have the time to develop their skills.

For more on traditional life drawing, please see David Apatoff’s excellent articles on George Bridgman’s Art Class and The Training of Robert Fawcett.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:39 pm

May 21st, 2020

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Exhibit: Carlo Vinci Shows Us How To Pick An Animation School

National Academy of Design 1931

Today, I read a post on Cartoon Brew titled When Angry Animation Students Attack. Apparently, an animation student became frustrated by the poor quality of instruction at his school, so he crapped out his final film and ended it with a credit for his professor that read, "Thanks for nothing."

This particular post resonated with me, because the most common question I’m asked by young artists is, "How should I pick an animation school?" They always expect me to recommend a specific school, but my answer usually surprises them.

Carlo Vinci Artist and AnimatorCarlo Vinci was one of the most talented animators who ever lived. When he passed away in 1993, he left behind a remarkable legacy. But of particular interest to students of animation was his collection of student work. Tucked away in a closet was a portfolio full of studies that chart his education. Vinci’s family is generously allowing Animation Resources to document this material with the intent of reconstructing his education as a model for current students of animation.

Today, I’d like to share a brochure with you… This is the course outline for National Academy of Design, the art school that Carlo Vinci attended… I hope you take the time to read over this material carefully, especially if you are a student looking to pursue a career in animation. It will help you know what to look for in an animation school.

National Academy of Design 1931

The Academy believes firmly in the development of individuality but denies that such development is helped by the ignoring of the universal heritage, the heritage of the graphic manifestations of Man’s temperament and impressions. It therefore approves careful consideration of the Art of the past and its correlation with the Art of the present. It encourages progressive experiment admitting the vitality of real Art under any form and condemning only ignorance, insincerity and the contempt which is born of them.

National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

The students have at all time free access to the Academy’s large and valuable collection of standard and rare books on every branch of the fine arts… Of especial advantage to the student is the easy accessibility of the great collections in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society, New York Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, the City Hall, the Hispanic Society, and the galleries of innumerable private collectors and art dealers in the city, where the best American works and art treasures from foreign countries may be studied to better advantage than anywhere else in America.

REQUIREMENTS

National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES

National Academy of Design 1931

The class schedule runs six days a week from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. First year studios in drawing from sculpture, life drawing, portrait painting, still life painting, and composition run from two to three hours apiece. Second year courses consist of life drawing, sculpture from life, portrait painting, etching, composition, and mural decoration. And three hour night courses are offered in sculpture, life drawing, drawing from sculpture and composition.

First year students receive lectures in anatomy, perspective and art history. Second year students attend lecture classes in color theory, various printing techniques, stained glass, mosaic and the history of art and architecture.

COURSE OF STUDY

National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

Note that students first draw from still life and sculpture, and only when they have proved their abilities, are they allowed to advance to drawing from life.

National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

INSTRUCTORS

National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL

>National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

PAST GRADUATES

National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931
National Academy of Design 1931

HOW DO I PICK AN ANIMATION SCHOOL?

Here’s the surprising answer… You don’t! Schools that specialize in animation as a trade do a lousy job of preparing you for a career in animation. While you’re a student, you should focus on your core art skills- drawing, design, composition and color. Look for a school that can give you a solid classical art background. Avoid ones that just teach computer programs. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to learn Maya!

Carlo Vinci was one of the greatest animators who ever lived, but he never took a class in animation. Instead, he spent three years of intense study to learn to be an artist. With the experience he gained at the National Academy of Design, he was able to learn animation and advance quickly on the job. It was the same for great animators like Marc Davis, Chuck Jones and Frank Thomas who studied at Chouinard on the West coast.

IT’S A LOT EASIER TO LEARN ANIMATION THROUGH SELF STUDY ONCE YOU’VE BEEN TAUGHT THE CLASSICAL ARTS THAN IT IS TO DO IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Start with the general skills and work your way towards the specific ones.

National Academy

Students at the National Academy of Design
around the time Vinci attended.

You have an advantage that the Golden Age animators didn’t have. Personal computers and inexpensive animation software make it easy to experiment and learn animation on your own. You have amazing resources on the web, like Animation Resources’ Animation Drawing Course, and Mark Kennedy’s Seven Golden Camels. You have no excuse for not learning to animate.

You can’t buy an education, but you may be able to buy a degree. Students graduate without any marketable skills from good colleges every year. But that isn’t the schools’ fault. Your education is your own responsibility. It’s not your professor’s job to MAKE you learn. Learning is a life-long occupation. Apply yourself.

If you can’t afford a university degree, you can still obtain a first class art education. Attend classes at your local community college and pick up copies of the Famous Artists painting, commercial art and cartooning sets on eBay. Self study is the key to becoming a great artist. Once you start to master the fundamental skills, THEN apply yourself to learning to animate.

If you follow this advice, you’ll never have to make excuses for your lack of skill as an animator, and you’ll never need to blame anyone else for your lack of education. Best of all, your education will form the foundation for any creative endeavor you undertake.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.

TheoryTheory

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

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Posted by admin @ 11:00 am