February 28th, 2018

Members Click Here Membership Email Join Us!

About The Animation Archive Project

Animation Resources

The Genesis of the Project

Animation In BurbankAnimation In BurbankIn 1982, Stephen Worth was a student at UCLA studying design. He attended an event hosted by The International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood and had the opportunity to speak with the organization’s President, the legendary cartoon Producer, Story Man and Voice Artist, Bill Scott. Scott shared with Worth an idea he was nurturing. He described his plans to create an “Animateque”- a research facility for animation professionals and students. Steve never forgot that meeting. “The resources weren’t there to pull it off during Bill’s tenure as President of ASIFA-Hollywood. But a few years ago, I remembered Bill’s idea and realized that computers had made organizing educational material much easier. The concept of a “digital Animateque” excited me. I guess you could say that when Bill passed away, his passion for the idea was transferred to me.”

Bullwinkle J Moose

Bill Scott, the voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose, came up with the original idea of an “Animateque” devoted to the art of animation.

After 20 years as an animation Producer, Stephen Worth decided it was time to give back to the muse. He went to work full time at ASIFA-Hollywood to try to build support for Bill’s concept of the Animateque. “The animation business is in dire need of inspiration and new ideas,” Worth explains. “I kept reading in the trades that traditional animation techniques were dead and artists would soon be replaced by technology. But I know from working with innovative filmmakers like Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi that the principles that created Pinocchio and Bugs Bunny are the same ones that will lead new technologies to the same heights reached in the ‘golden age’ of animation. The technology is just a tool. The artist is the one who creates. We need to invest in artists.”

Stephen Worth assists artists at the archive.

Katie Rice, Stephen Worth and David Gemmell refer to artwork in the collection of Animation Resources. (photo: Lori Shepler)

Almost overnight, Worth established a world class facility for self-study and research into the art of animation. Housed in a storefront in Burbank, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive provided information, digitized animated films, assembled biographical information and prepared high resolution scans of artwork for use by countless animators, educators, art students and researchers. The facility became world famous through its exhaustive website and extensive collection of material from the personal files of legendary animators like Grim Natwick, Les Clark, Michael Lah, Herb Klynn and John Kricfalusi. A dedicated group of volunteers worked tirelessly digitizing and cataloguing the material, guaranteeing that future generations will be able to benefit from the valuable information.

Natwick's Assistant Chuck Jones

Studio gag drawing of Grim Natwick at the Ub Iwerks Studio with his "kid assistant" Chuck Jones. Jones would go on to become one of the most influential directors in the history of animation.

In January of 2011, ASIFA-Hollywood informed Worth that regrettably they were no longer able to sponsor his project. Worth wasn’t willing to let Bill Scott’s dream end there, so he scrambled to create a permanent organizational umbrella for the collection. He established Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) California non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging animation education. The core of Animation Resources’ offerings is Stephen Worth’s valuable research and curation efforts and the generous efforts of the dozens of dedicated volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to creating this resource.

Do You Know This Man?

Ub IwerksUb IwerksThough few would recognize his name, and even fewer his face, nearly every person on earth knows of this man’s work. This is Ub Iwerks, the man who created Mickey Mouse.

This self portrait from 1931 was found in a trash can at a local TV cartoon studio. No one knows how the drawing got there and no one at the studio could identify him. At a reunion of animators from the most successful animated feature of recent times, this sketch was shown to a hall full of employees from the studio this man made famous- not a single person recognized him.

Read more about Why We Need an Animation Archive.

About the Collection

Mary BlairMary BlairThe archive database of Animation Resources consists of biographical information, images and filmographic data culled from from a variety of sources. In a remarkably short span of time, the collection grew to contain over 6,000 digitized animated films and over 125,000 high-resolution images. These assets are searchable by keywords, and all of the data is cross-linked within the database structure.

This means that it is possible to search for an artist’s name and find his biography and filmography, then click through to watch a digitized movie file of a film he worked on. One more click reveals animation drawings by that artist from that particular film. “It’s a way of organizing information that’s never been attempted before,” says Worth. At this point, the database is not available on the internet, but plans are in the works to build the infrastructure required to share the entire collection online with the world.

Gustaf Tenggren
In the "golden age" of animation, production designers didn’t look to other cartoons for inspiration on how their films should look… they looked to classic illustration, like that of Gustaf Tenggren. Animation Resources’s archive database includes hundreds of illustrated children books, each one bursting at the seams with new ideas for how animated films can look.

Eldon DediniEldon Dedini“The purpose of Animation Resources is to be an archive FOR animators, not just an archive OF animation.” Worth explains. “Because of this, the collection doesn’t just include animated films and related artwork, but art instructional material and a wide range of items dealing with the history of cartooning and illustration as well.” The collection is basically the world’s largest artist’s “clip file”- children’s book illustrations by Rackham and Dulac, magazine cartoons by Virgil Partch and Erich Sokol, superhero comics by Jack Kirby and Jack Cole, newspaper comics by Cliff Sterrett and Milton Caniff, drawing instruction by Preston Blair and Willy Pogany… a whole world of inspiration for artists and cartoonists.

Animation Resources www.animationresources.org

The animation related material in the collection includes storyboards, animation drawings, production correspondence, exposure sheets, publicity materials, production photos, model sheets, pencil tests, background paintings, and more.

Animation Resources www.animationresources.org

Digitized films in the collection include rare cartoons by the Fleischers, Terry-Toons, Iwerks, Lantz and Columbia studios. “These are primarily films that have never been released to home video. Many of them haven’t been broadcast on television since the 50s or 60s. We’re specializing in the studios that don’t currently have extensive commercial distribution.” says Worth. Animation historians like John Canemaker, Leonard Maltin, Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler have been supporting the project as well by sharing valuable research and helping to acquire rare animated films for digitization.

Chad's Design for TelevisionChad's Design for TelevisionHow unique is the material in this collection? Animation Director, John Kricfalusi writes, “Animation Resources has collected decades of lost cartoons, comics, children’s books, and classic illustration and made them available to cartoonists, illustrators and fans all over the world. But that’s not all. Steve has also given the whole history context. You can trace styles across studios, across different media and back through time to see where artists got their influences and how whole schools of styles evolved. There are a lot of great cartoon blogs out there, but Animation Resources has to be the most extensive. It takes a much wider view of illustrative art and cartooning than my own blog does. I mostly promote very cartoony styles, mainly because no one else was doing it when I started, but Steve shows you where everything came from and how all the styles are interrelated.”

Lotte Reiniger Prince Achmed

Animation Resources’s archive database contains information on influential women animators like Lotte Reiniger, the creator of the oldest surviving animated feature.

A Non-Traditional Approach

A Typical ArchiveA Typical ArchiveTraditionally, libraries and archives have limited access to their collections in the interest of preservation. Delicate paper and film stock requires special handling and cannot stand up to the rigors of general circulation among artists and students. In most archives, collections are donated unsorted by the boxload. An archivist must go through piece by piece inventorying, stabilizing and storing the items before they can begin to be utilized. This process typically takes several years. Once the collection has been inventoried and shelved, a curator is brought in to examine the holdings and determine a contextual format- a book, an exhibit, an article- that will make the public aware of the collection and its importance. Curation can take another year or longer, and by this time five or six years may pass before the public is even aware that the collection exists.

Animation Resources www.animationresources.org

In the era of YouTube and Google, this is beginning to change. Digital technology removes the problems associated with storage and preservation of vintage artifacts. Once digitized, a film or piece of artwork can efficiently and inexpensively be backed up and distributed, making open access a possibility. Without physical objects to catalog and store, archivists are able to shorten the time it takes to prepare a group of items for public access. This allows the collection to be curated as it is assembled. The curator isn’t limited by the pool of material that he has to work with. He is free to actively solicit outside sources for material that fills in gaps in the rest of the collection and relates to the concepts he is trying to put across. Most collectors are more than happy to share a digital copy of their items.

Storyboard by Louise Zingarelli

Ralph Bakshi, the animator who was responsible for bringing about the modern age of animation has written several inspiring articles for the Animation Resources blog and has contributed material to the collection. The storyboard section above is from Bakshi’s "Cool World" and was drawn by Louise Zingarelli.

Supplementing Animation Education

The Archive DatabaseThe Archive DatabaseAnimation Resources is intended to serve creative professionals and students of the artform who are looking to develop the necessary skill set to become an accomplished animator. These artists have a tough road to haul. They are facing an industry where the quest for technical knowledge has often times eclipsed the need to develop artistic proficiency. Schools and universities don’t have the time and resources to provide their students with all of the experience required to be a professional animator. So they focus on the most immediate and practical elements and expect the students to acquire the creative and artistic aspects of their education on their own.

In tough economic times, the studios cut budgets for in-house training, so the young artists aren’t able to pick up the fundamentals on the job either. It’s a difficult situation, and many students of animation aren’t even aware of the vital need for self-study until after they have graduated and joined the ranks of job hunters. By that time, it may be too late for them to pick up the creative skills they need to be a productive employee in animation.

Animation Resources www.animationresources.org

Story artist Eddie Fitzgerald offers storyboarding tips to volunteers Michael Fallik, Max Ward and Art Fuentes.

Joseph Baptista, a student intern on the project who is now a professional animator comments, “Doing an exercise for a class at school, you’re not really sure how it fits in functionally and how those principles apply to a real world job. You just do it for a letter grade and you move on. But if you are trying to learn to animate, the best way is to first learn about the principle, and then to try to understand how it was applied through analyzing and imitating the work of great artists.” Worth set out to fully integrate an educational mission into the structure of Animation Resources. Educational material is accompanied by contextual information to help a student fully understand and absorb it and is accompanied by real-world examples of the principles in use. Through self-study, a student learns to recognize principles among the art in the vast collection and, with practice and determination, begins to master the techniques for themselves.

Animator  Carlo Vinci

The family of legendary animator, Carlo Vinci has been sharing artwork from Vinci’s fifty year career in animation. The collection includes a number of class assignments from his studies at the prestigious National Academy of Design, documenting the education of a golden age animator.

Byrnes on SketchingByrnes on SketchingThe animators who created the classic cartoons of the 1930s and 40s did not attend animation schools. They studied fine art- life drawing, sculpting, and painting- and learned the nuts and bolts of animation after graduation on the job. In those days, animators were trained as a part of apprenticeship systems. An experienced animator would take fledgling artists under his wing and train them to assist his scenes as they worked their way up the ladder of production. A young artist would start as an assistant, then graduate to animator, and perhaps eventually to director, learning as he worked.

National Academy of Design in the 20s

Students at the National Academy of Design in the early 1920s. Traditional art studies from the past form the foundation for artists of the future.

However, changes in the business environment in animation in the 1960s and 70s stopped this system in its tracks. Studios were downsizing and sending work overseas. Experienced “old timers” who possessed the accumulated knowledge of decades of experience were retiring without passing along their techniques to the next generation. By the mid 1970s, it looked as if animation was a dying artform in the United States. A few animators, most notably Eric Larson, Ralph Bakshi and Richard Williams refused to let the artform die, and acted as a bridge across the gap, instituting training programs at the studios where they worked. Most successful animators today who got their start in the early 1980s have one of these three men to thank for their careers.

Bill Nolan Cartooning Self Taught

In the 21st century animation business, the employment of an animator only lasts the life of the project, and the ladder of upward mobility is either weak or non-existent. Art schools have largely shifted towards a “trade school” approach, focusing on technical skills like proficiency in Flash and Maya instead of classical art training. This leaves young animators without a means of developing their craft and growing as an artist. Animation Resources steps into the breech, acting as an adjunct to animation schools and training programs, encouraging students to begin an organized program of creative self-study early on so they will be prepared when the time comes to find a job in the industry.

Preston Blair's Animation

Animation Resources hosts an online drawing course led by John Kricfalusi based on Preston Blair’s "Advanced Animation".

“Everything an animator needs to know is in those old films and sketches.” Worth explains. “The great animators of the past may no longer be with us, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still learn from them. It doesn’t matter if artists animate using a pencil or a computer. The fundamental principles are the same. All a student of animation today needs is access to the material, a mind for analyzing what makes a scene work, and lots and lots of practice.” Animation Resources is trying to help fill the gap by providing a facility for artists to study core art skills and encouraging them to carry the art form forward.

Mickey Mouse Poster Design

Animation Resources’s archive database contains many one-of-a-kind treasures from the estates of legendary animators like Les Clark and Grim Natwick.

Future Plans

You might wonder where the funding to accomplish all of the things Animation Resources is doing is coming from. “We’re very much flying by the seat of our pants.” Worth admits. “Thankfully, there are a lot of great people who believe in this idea who are willing to support it through individual donations. The student volunteers are enthusiastic too and are willing to roll up their sleeves and make it happen. Everything is on an achievable level and momentum is building to allow us to take on even more in the future.”

Milton Caniff in his studio

Milton Caniff at work in his studio in the late 40s. The estate of Caniff, the creator of Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates, has shared original artwork and biographical material with Animation Resources.

rotoscoperotoscopeThe full collection is not yet able to be shared online, but a wonderful selection of images and information are available on the Animation Resources blog, which can be found at www.animationresources.org. The website contains thousands of images and streaming videos, along with biographical articles and information on the progress of the project itself. According to Stephen Worth, the blog serves over a quarter of a million articles a month to over 1.5 million unique visitors. “Our web traffic comes from around the world. We’ve heard from artists as far away as Japan, Kazakhstan and Italy who follow our progress on the internet every day.”

There are also plans to syndicate the database to schools and universities around the world. John Kricfalusi writes, “Animation Resources’s collection should be available to as many people as possible. I think it would make sense for art colleges to support it and take advantage of all of its vast resources. I would have killed to be able to find so much knowledge and inspiration when I was at Sheridan College.”

Tony the Tiger

“The next step for us is to establish a steady stream of revenue to fund the sustained growth of the project,” says Worth. “I see in my head a full brick and mortar museum dedicated to animation with satellite facilities all over the world. I’m willing to do whatever I can to make this a reality. There are a lot of other people here who love animation and are happy to help. I don’t think it’s an unattainable goal.”


Classic Illustration by Edmund DulacClassic Illustration by Edmund DulacPart of what makes Animation Resources so unique is that they are so progressive and yet so willfully different from other archives. Their unique vision is encapsulated in a remark from Worth, “I’m not a library science person, I’m an animated film-maker, so I don’t know what normal is for a facility like this. I do know what animators need and how they need it organized so they can use it. That’s what I’m trying to build.” This pro-access and pro-digital approach is refreshing. Animation Resources is clearly designed by and for animators. These specialized artists not only need to understand the basic elements of form, design, and nuances of character performance, but how to rigorously time and structure the creation of their art down to 1/24th of a second. It’s a big challenge and it requires a good education.

Certainly the professional world contains a scattered sampling of people as committed to their medium as Stephen Worth and his group of dedicated volunteers, but it’s extremely rare to find such a concentrated few in any one place. Their passion and co-operation are achieving great things. Archivists and librarians might have a lot to learn from these animators. Animation Resources is rapidly becoming the model of what the “21st century archive” must become.

Milt Kahl Pinocchio Drawing

A rough animation drawing by the legendary Milt Kahl. The animation of the past is being put back to work, educating and inspiring the animators of the future.

Most importantly however is the impact Animation Resources is having on the artform. John Kricfalusi writes, “I hope that seeing some of the incredible work of artists and cartoonists from the first half of the 20th century will inspire us to set our standards of quality higher. This could help spawn a new renaissance in cartooning as more and more young cartoonists discover how much great work has been done in the past and how much potential for variety there is in our field.”

Worth expands upon this point, “What point is there pickling the past in formaldehyde and setting it up in bottles on a dusty shelf? The past should be put to work informing the present and helping to improve the future.” It’s clear that the people behind Animation Resources don’t think small.

Paul Terry's Famer Al Falfa

Animation Resources depends on the support of the people who benefit from it. If you feel that this website is of value to you, we encourage you to contribute, volunteer and support the project. With your help, Animation Resources can grow. Together, we can take the project forward.


Other Articles About Animation Resources

Animation Resources’ Goals and Projects

The Officers and Board of Animation Resources

Animation Resources 2015 Annual Report

KCET: Animation Resources Aims To Build A Massive Digital Archive Of Cartoon Art

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Share on Tumblr

Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:24 pm

February 27th, 2018

Members Click Here Membership Email Join Us!

Join Animation Resources Today And Download Vol 3 Of The Zim Cartooning Course

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

During Member Appreciation Month, Animation Resources is pulling out all the stops to share some of our greatest treasures with our members. If you join today, you will be able to download 5 volumes of Eugene Zimmerman’s cartooning course materials. That’s over 800 pages of tips, advice, drawings and horse sense. But these books will only be available until the end of the month, so join today! For a rundown of all the perks of Animation Resources membership, see… http://animationresources.org/wannabeamember/

Every other month, members of Animation Resources are given access to an exclusive Members Only Reference Pack. These downloadable files are high resolution e-books on a variety of educational subjects and rare cartoons from the collection of Animation Resources in DVD quality. Our current Reference Pack has just been released. If you are a member, click through the link to access the MEMBERS ONLY DOWNLOAD PAGE. If you aren’t a member yet, please JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES. It’s well worth it.

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

Eugene "Zim" Zimmerman
Download Page
Zim’s Correspondence School of Cartooning, Comic Art & Caricature Volume 3: Books 11 to 15 (1914/1920)

Animation Resources is proud to present our third volume from the Zim course as a downloadable high resolution e-book. This PDF e-book is optimized for display on the iPad or printing two up with a cover on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.

REFPACK006: Zim Cartooning Course Vol. 3
Download Page
Adobe PDF File / 212 Pages
455 MB Download

Zim's Cartooning Course Advertisement
Advertisement for Zim’s Cartooning Course (ca. 1920)

From Stephen Worth’s introduction to Zim’s Cartooning Course Vol. 3

When Eugene Zimmerman left the Alsatian region of France in 1869 at the age of seven to emigrate to America, he didn’t know exactly what the future might hold for him. Like many immigrants who made the voyage from the old world to the new, he left with little more than the clothes on his back.

Eugene’s mother died in childbirth when he was only two, and his father and older brother Adolph left France three years later to take a job in a bakery in Patterson, New Jersey. Eugene and his younger sister Amelie were left in the care of their aunt and uncle in the French town of Thann, near the Swiss border. But the Franco-Prussian war was looming on the horizon, and his guardians thought it best for little Eugene to join his father and brother in America. So he said goodbye to his younger sister, never to set eyes on her again, and booked passage in steerage on the Paraguay, an old fashioned steamer.

Twenty-one days later, he disembarked in New York City. Young Zimmerman crowded into the Battery in Castle Garden along with countless other immigrants. He was disinfected and his bedding from the voyage was cast into the sea. An aunt and uncle living in New York’s East side took him in for a while, but Eugene was eager to reunite with his father. He packed up and moved to New Jersey, where he was surprised to find that his father didn’t even know he had left France. Soon, Eugene was working alongside his father and brother in the bakery, greasing pans and delivering bread.

For a short time, his father sent him to a French tutor, but Eugene had little interest in the culture of his birthplace. Financial limitations finally forced him to attend public school, where his accent earned him the nickname, “Frenchy“. However, he didn’t identify himself as French. His overriding goal was to become an American through and through. He later wrote, “I soon learned to cuss and swear as perfectly as my American associates.“

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

Zimmerman took a number of odd jobs as a child to pay for his room and board- chore boy on a farm, fish peddler, assistant to a wine and beer merchant and newsboy. But his career really began in earnest when a traveling sign painter named William Brassington took him on as an apprentice. Brassington would take in orders from local businesses for advertising show cards and Eugene would letter and paint them. He learned to create huge display banners and flags, and letter in gold leaf in a variety of styles. Zimmerman decorated the interior of their sign shop with murals of landscapes, and Brassington started to offer Zimmerman’s illustrated advertisements as well as plain lettering to his clients.

Eugene’s work was noticed by a rival sign painter in the area, J.C. Pope, who hired him away from Brassington for $9 a week to head up the pictorial department in his workshop in Horseheads, New York. Zimmerman began to seriously study sketching, filling notebooks with doodles and cartoons copied from the pages of magazines like Harper’s Weekly and Puck.

Pope’s business eventually folded, and Eugene went to work for a large sign firm headed up by Joe Densmore in Elmira, New York. On a trip to New York City to visit his family, his uncle borrowed one of his sketchbooks and arranged for it to be delivered to the famous cartoonist, Joseph Keppler at Puck. The work was good enough to land Eugene an interview at the magazine; but unfortunately, Eugene had returned to Elmira by that time. Stranded without train fare, unable to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, Zimmerman’s excitement dimmed. But Densmore took pity on the young artist’s situation, and lent him $10 for transportation to New York City to meet with Keppler.

Eugene Zimmerman in 1896
Eugene Zimmerman in 1896

In his autobiography (ZIM: The Autobiography of Eugene Zimmerman
Walter M. Brasch- Editor, Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1988), Zimmerman described his arrival at the offices of Puck…

Outside the structure was gloomy and depressing; within, I found a cheerful bustle of clerks at desks. Somewhat relieved, I breathed my name and business into a receptive ear. The message wafted through a speaking tube to the great Keppler, three floors above, whereupon that high and mighty personage came down and met me.

Heaven’s gates opened up to me when I discovered that Mr. Keppler was merely a human being, albeit a bit pompous. He was a typical artist of the old school- a commanding figure with iron grey hair, mustache and a goatee of the Louis Napoleon type… After some discussion, a contract was drawn up in pen-and-ink and we all signed it. I was hired for a period of three years at five dollars a week the first year, ten dollars the second, and fifteen the third.

Before I was presented to Keppler, my imagination pictured his studio as a gorgeous showplace like an Arabian Nights dream. I expected to find the master cartoonist surrounded by medieval armor and tapestries, Chinese jade and incense burners. It never occurred to me that such a museum would be unsatisfactory as a workshop.

Keppler occupied a small clean enclosure in the Puck art department. A similar adjoining one was used by his lieutenant, Bernhard Gillam. The studios of those artists was about as imposing as the stalls of fine racehorses, yet in such unpretentious compartments were created the most wonderful cartoons that made political history during the big presidential campaigns of the 1870s and 1880s.

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

Puck was one of the first publications to take advantage of the development of four-color stone lithography and zinc plate printing. Prior to this, illustrations were laboriously engraved in blocks of wood. But at Puck, Keppler drew directly upon lithographic stones with grease pencil. When complete, the drawings were etched with acid to create the printing plates. Working as Keppler’s assistant, Zimmerman’s job was to help prepare the “tone stones“, the blocks of stone which created the subtle blends of color for which Puck was famous.

Cartoon by Joseph Keppler
Center spread cartoon by Joseph Keppler from the December 21, 1881 issue of Puck

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

Keppler was a classically trained artist, and his cartoons exhibited the refined compositions and vivid colors of European oil paintings. He had gotten his start working for Frank Leslie’s Weekly. During an argument with the publisher over a $5 a week raise, he threatened to jump ship and launch a magazine of his own. Leslie assured him he would do everything in his power to drive him out of business if he tried it, but that didn’t deter Keppler. He hired the foreman of Leslie’s printing plant and began producing Puck as a German language publication loosely based on the British magazine Punch. It was so successful that in 1877, he launched an English edition.

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

Puck was not just a humor magazine- it was primarily concerned with political satire. Thomas Nast had established the precedent at Harper’s Weekly with his relentless attacks on Boss Tweed and the corruption rife within Tammany Hall. Tweed was eventually driven from power and fled to Spain under an assumed name. But anonymity eluded him- He was recognized on the basis of Nast’s published caricatures and the hounding continued. As Nast entered retirement, the popularity of Harper’s Weekly declined, and Puck rose to fame for its no-holds-barred attacks on corrupt American political figures, as well as its opinionated views of European politics. Puck also took aim at the Catholic and Jewish faiths, for which it generated considerable criticism. A Jewish organization threatened a boycott of Puck, but the publishers assured them that their purpose was not to offend but to entertain. Puck’s editor promised to be more careful in the future to avoid material that might be misinterpreted as anti-Semitic. The group was satisfied and called off the boycott, and as time went by, the objects of satire became more political in nature. The orientation was decidedly in favor of the Democrats, with Republicans the principle targets for mockery and derision.

Competing head-to-head with Puck were Judge magazine, Police Gazette and Life. Judge stepped into the opposing political camp from Puck, favoring Republican candidates and skewering the Democrats. The Police Gazette’s stated mission was to provide information of interest to law enforcement officers, but it was just an excuse to print lurid stories of murder and outlaws from the Wild West, along with risque woodcuts of beautiful women. Life magazine took the high road, with “appropriate“ material appealing to the elite, in stark contrast to the rough-and-tumble content of its competitors. Zimmerman later reflected, “Puck had been vicious in its attacks on the Catholics and Jews. Life sidestepped religious prejudice, thus gaining the respect of all denominations…“

Cartoon by Bernhard Gillam
A center spread by Bernhard Gillam from the June 13, 1891 issue of Judge

Zimmerman was surrounded at Puck by some of the greatest names in cartooning- chief among whom was the English born Bernhard Gillam. A strong forceful line and meticulous and precise style was the hallmark of Gillam’s work. He was most famous for a cartoon he created during the presidential campaign of 1884. Gillam depicted the Republican candidate, James G. Blaine as a tattooed man in a freak show, his skin covered with slogans referring to the various scandals that peppered his career. The April 16, 1884 issue of Puck that featured the cartoon quickly sold out and additional printings were hastily arranged. Circulation doubled, and ultimately, over 300,000 copies of the issue were sold.

The Tatooed Man by Bernhard Gillam
The Tattooed Man by Bernhard Gillam from the April 16, 1884 issue of Puck

The “tattooed man“ comic created a firestorm of controversy, throwing the spotlight on Puck. Gillam fed the flames with a series of variations on the same theme. Keppler and another Puck artist, Frederick Opper joined the fray to create a few “tattooed man“ gags of their own. The cartoons reached such a high level of public awareness that Pear’s Soap advertisements parodied them. (“Hurray! Soap to remove tattoos!“) The final election tallies between Blaine and his Democratic rival, Grover Cleveland were very close, and many attributed Blaine’s loss to Gillam’s cartoon. The irony of the situation was that Gillam himself was a Republican and voted for Blaine. Several years later, he was hired by the Republican magazine, Judge where Gillam attacked Cleveland with the same sort of enthusiasm that he had supported him during the “tattooed man“ days at Puck.

Another great cartoonist working for Puck during Zimmerman’s years there was Frederick Opper. Opper worked for Scribners on St. Nicholas Magazine before joining the staff of Frank Leslie’s Weekly. When Leslie died in 1880, Opper was engaged by Keppler on Puck, where he produced illustrations for the next 18 years. Opper later accepted an offer from William Randolph Hearst to create a comic strip for the New York Journal. Titled “Happy Hooligan“, the pioneering strip ran until failing eyesight forced Opper to retire in 1932.

Zimmerman doesn’t say much about Opper in his autobiography, but he describes him as “the recognized comic artist on Puck“ who generally had first pick of the material submitted for cartoon ideas by the editorial staff. Opper was very prolific, producing more art than any other artist on staff. Zimmerman wrote, “There were more Puck artists than there was white space to fill, so that often one man would have to give ‘way to make room for another’s work. This was a serious obstacle to my artistic advancement.“ It seemed clear that there wasn’t room at Puck for both Opper and Zimmerman.

Cartoon by Frederick Opper
Cover illustration by Frederick Opper from the June 27, 1894 issue of Puck

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

Around this time, Eugene Zimmerman made a change that would forever brand his art in the public’s mind…

Early in life, my long name became a burden, so I threw two-thirds of it overboard,
thus saving time space and India ink, and providing a merman for any sea nymph who
cared to salvage it. A friend, a very successful businessman noticed that my signature, “Zim“ had a downward slant. Said he, “Never sign your name downhill, always uphill. It looks more prosperous.“ From that moment, I have always signed my drawings uphill, for I believe there is truth in this assertation.

Fortune was soon to smile upon the newly named, “Zim“ with a change of scene, a change of lifestyle, and most of all, a change in employment.

Dissent was brewing on the Puck staff. Keppler and his partner Adolph Schwarzmann had made a deal with the editor, Henry Bunner that should Puck’s circulation increase significantly, Brunner would receive a $1,000 bonus. Word filtered back to Gillam that Bunner had collected on the deal. Since his “tattooed man“ cartoons were largely responsible for the jump in circulation, Gillam demanded a raise in salary from $100 to $125 a week. Keppler and Schwarzmann firmly refused, and Gillam began quietly investigating new avenues of employment.

Meanwhile, Judge magazine was experiencing hard times. Competition with Puck was fierce, and although Puck’s circulation had risen dramatically, Judge’s subscription base was hanging fire at a fraction of the size of its biggest competitor. Due to the combined efforts of Frank Beard and Grant Hamilton, Judge had begun to dig itself out of debt. But when a new buyer for the publication, entrepeneur William Arkell took over, Beard was out and Hamilton was put in charge. Investors who had a particular interest in backing a Republican rival for Puck flocked to the venture. Hamilton was given a fat bankroll earmarked for hiring the best talent available.

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

Bernhard Gillam was first on his list. Money wasn’t the only reason Gillam was interested in joining the staff of the newly reconstituted Judge- Gillam was a Republican himself, and his position creating editorial cartoons at Puck was in essence a job as a “hired gun“. Gillam confided about the opportunity at Judge with the only other Republican on the Puck staff- Zim. At Puck, Zim was just another artist competing for space
with older, more established artists. Hamilton promised him that Zim could submit as many cartoons as he wanted to Judge with complete freedom in regards to theme. Gillam and Zimmerman resolved to resign Puck together, and join Arkell and Hamilton at Judge.

The parting with Puck was not friendly. Gillam and Zimmerman’s output was important enough to Puck to force Keppler and Schwarzmann to hire five artists to replace the two departing ones. The men in charge of Puck were certain that Judge would fold and Gillam and Zim would return in defeat. But it wasn’t Judge that would suffer a decline. With the departure of Gillam and Zimmerman, Puck began a long slide in quality and circulation from which it would never recover. At Judge, Gillam and Hamilton went to work revitalizing the publication’s antiquated editorial policy, inadequate printing facilities and second-rate staff. The first issue of the new Judge hit the stands at the beginning of 1886. It was a resounding success.

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

Bernhard Gillam and Grant Hamilton in 1889
Bernhard Gillam and Grant Hamilton in 1889

Freed from the restraints placed upon him at Puck, Zim set to work at a white heat. He began exploring the possibilities of humorous situations arising from the lives of people like himself- the immigrant classes. While cartoonists at other magazines depicted distinguished aristocrats and political celebrities in fancy sitting rooms, Zim favored subjects from the streets, reveling in ethnic humor. He made fun of all groups equally- ignorant farmers, tradesmen, Blacks, Irish, Italians, Jews, Germans, cowboys, Indians, cops, crooks, street urchins, mangy cats and old hound dogs- Zim took inspiration in the diversity of unique personalities that made up the melting pot of America.

Privately, Gillam was not happy with Zim’s choice of subjects. He felt that Zim’s caricatures were grotesque and coarse and would have preferred to pattern Judge on Puck at the peak of its success. But Hamilton and Arkell believed that Judge would never succeed solely as a vehicle for political cartoons. Their vision for the magazine was to feature more humor and less politics. Zim’s cartoons poking fun at both rural and urban life fit perfectly within the scope of their plans.

Zim made many changes in his life all at the same time. In addition to joining the staff of Judge in 1886, he married Mabel Alice Beard and set up housekeeping in Brooklyn. To add to the upheaval, a short time later his father became ill and passed away. Zim worked very hard, both on his duties for Judge and freelance projects, burning the candle at both ends. Eventually, the stress drove him to nervous collapse. He sold his stock in Judge and took five months off, recuperating in Florida. When he returned, he set up residence in Horseheads, New York, commuting to the city to work for two weeks of every month. Zim and his father-in-law began work on building a home for the family, which by this time included a daughter, Laura, and an adopted son, Adolph.

For Judge, Zim generated a flurry of brilliant political cartoons, as well as caricatures based on his experiences vacationing in the deep South, life among the poorer classes of New York and the rural characters that populated his new home of Horseheads. Along with Bernhard Gillam, his brother Frank Victor Gillam and Grant Hamilton, Zim helped to build Judge up into a publishing empire.

Eugene Zimmerman in Horseheads
Zim at his drawing board in his home in Horseheads, (mid 1890s)

In 1896, Zim’s friend and associate, Bernhard Gillam died of typhoid fever. By this point, the artists of Judge had scattered themselves across the country, sending in their artwork by post. Arkell called the remaining art staff back to New York and divided Gillam’s salary and percentage of sales equally among them. The art department pulled together as a team, spending more time at the Judge offices in the city. Hamilton was appointed Art Director, and with Gillam gone, the magazine veered even further away from current events to more humorous subjects. During this time, Zim forged a close friendship with Grant Hamilton, spending countless hours with him roaming the streets and slums of New York in search of interesting character studies. As time passed, Hamilton’s artwork loosened up and acquired more specific aspects of caricature. It was clear that as an artist, he benefited from his close friendship with Zim.

The mid-1890s was the time when Zim’s artistry was at its very peak, and he wasn’t alone. The art staff of Judge consisted of a virtual “who’s who“ of cartooning. In addition to Hamilton and Zim, the roster of cartoonists included Hy Mayor, Richard Outcault, A. S. Daggy, Emil Flohri, Frank Livingston Fithian, George R. Brill, C. T. Anderson, Peter Newell, J. H. Smith, Sydney B. Griffin, F. Victor Gillam, T. S. Sullivant, Michael Angelo Woolf, Gus Dirks, and an up-and-coming youngster named James Montgomery Flagg.

Eugene Zimmerman in 1886
Zim dressed for a trip to the city in 1886

In 1901, William J. Arkell resigned (or was forced out of) the management of Judge. He was replaced by an attorney named Austin Fletcher. Fletcher was disliked by just about the entire artistic staff of the magazine. Hamilton resigned to form a new publication, Just Fun, which only survived a few issues. Zim distanced himself more and more from the management at Judge. Eventually Fletcher was forced out by John A. Sleicher, the former editor of Leslie’s Weekly. Hamilton returned to his post as Art Director and things went back to the way they had been for a time. But Sleicher was unsure about which direction the magazine should take. He waffled back and forth, giving contradictory instructions to the staff. The publication drifted and gradually lost its edge. Too much work, combined with the recent loss of his beloved adopted son Adolph to tuberculosis, and his disenchantment with Sleicher’s mismanagement threw Zim into a period of depression. He eventually quit full time employment with Judge in 1912 to work freelance from his home in Horseheads.

In 1905, in response to requests from his readers, Zim authored a small “how to“ book titled This And That About Caricature. Written in an anecdotal, chatty style, the book didn’t attempt to be an art instructional text as much as a statement of the philosophy of a cartoonist. It sold well enough to attract the attention of a mail order school, The Correspondence Institute of America. Zim revised the book and licensed it to the company for use in their course, but soon discovered that the organization was a fly-by-night fraud, bilking thousands of students. Even so, the company raked in a considerable amount of money on the basis of Zim’s name. So Zim resolved himself to create a real course to do what the C. I. of A.’s course had done dishonestly.

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

Eugene Zimmerman in 1905
Zim at work in the offices of Judge around 1905

Zim’s Correspondence School of Cartooning, Comic Art and Caricature consisted of twenty 32-page books packed with artwork, practical advice, homespun philosophy and plain old horse sense. Every month a new book would arrive in the mail, and the student would be responsible for arranging to ship their completed assignments to Horseheads where Zim would review and critique them for a small fee. Along with the income he generated doing freelance illustration work from home, Zim was able to bring in a steady income from the course without having to commute to New York City.

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

During this time, Zim undertook to publish several small books marketed directly to the communities of Horseheads and Elmira, New York. Zim’s Foolish History of Elmira (1912) contained amusing drawings and stories regarding the town’s past, caricatures of prominent citizens, and a few pages of advertisements for local merchants. It sold for a nominal fee on the countertops of shops and newsstands in the area, and led to three separate editions of Zim’s Foolish History of Horseheads in 1914, 1927 and 1929.

Paul T. Gilbert, the editor of Cartoons Magazine, an anthology of political and humor cartoons from around the world, came across one of Zim’s “foolish histories“ and hired him to write a column for the magazine titled, “Homespun Phoolosophy by Zim“. In 1926, Gilbert established the first trade organization for cartoonists, The American Association of Cartoonists and Caricaturists. Zim was elected president, and the other officers included Rube Goldberg and Bud Fisher. But Cartoons Magazine folded in 1927 and the AACC dispersed soon afterwards.

Watercolor sketch by Eugene Zimmerman
Watercolor sketch by Zim for Judge (1913)

Zim dabbled in sequential comic strips, but his metier was magazine cartoons, not newspaper comics. In his later years, he freelanced with several magazines and wrote a daily newspaper column. But most of all, he wrapped himself in the comfortable surroundings of Horseheads, serving with the volunteer fire department, sponsoring a local brass band and participating in local politics. The citizens of Horseheads were largely unaware of how famous their resident cartoonist had been in his day. His work at Puck and Judge faded into the past, partly due to the passage of time, but also because Zim’s brand of ethnic humor had gone out of style. By the time he died of a heart attack at age seventy-three in 1935, he had largely faded from public memory. The community of Horseheads mourned his loss most of all.

As the decades have rolled on since Zim’s passing, he has come to be routinely omitted from accounts of the history of cartooning. Although Thomas Nast, T. S. Sullivant, Frederick Burr Opper, Richard Outcault and James Montgomery Flagg are frequently mentioned in histories of cartooning and illustration, Zim’s name is conspicuous by its absence. When he is mentioned at all by historians, it is in reference to the “political incorrectness“ of his humor. But Zim’s legacy is more important than history gives him credit for. His contribution to American culture is both historical and artistic.

During the last decades of the 19th century, America was a land being built by poor, hard-working immigrants. Zim was one of them. He took caricature out of the drawing room and into the streets. When Zim entered the business, cartooning existed to glorify (or more often, defame) famous American political leaders. Zim took caricature further, poking fun at the real Americans of the day- the people he saw in the streets of the Italian, Jewish, Black and Irish districts of New York City.

Self caricature by Eugene Zimmerman
Self Caricature of Zim

When they mention his work at all, historians frequently describe Zim cartoons as typical examples of “ugly racial stereotyping“, but nothing could be further from the truth. Zim didn’t deal in stereotypes. His comedic sensibilities may have mirrored the ethnic humor of the day- the same sorts of gags found in knockabout comedy routines in Vaudeville shows, humorous dialect monologues on phonograph records, or even in the jokes and stories told by the common people he was depicting. But Zim’s true genius isn’t contained in the gags themselves. The value of Zim as an artist lies in the way he presented the characters and situations.

Eugene Zimmerman didn’t invent his racial imagery from whole cloth, and he wasn’t just repeating a formulaic stereotype. Zim reflected his world through the art of caricature. Every element of a scene was carefully observed and artfully exaggerated to create an image that was beyond real- a distillation of the larger reality. In his cartooning course, Zim charts the progress of a man’s boot, from new and shiny to beaten down and decrepit. He analyzes what sort of shoes might be worn by a particular type of man- be he hobo or aristocrat. This level of observational detail extended to all aspects of his sketches, from the likeness of the facial features to the character’s clothing, to the furniture and room that surrounds him.

Zim Cartooning Course Vol 3

These precious drawings are a priceless window into the past. More than a hundred years later, we are fortunate to be able to see the world of the 1890s through Zim’s observant eyes. Zim’s fondness for the common man is apparent in every line that flowed from his pen. He didn’t just achieve his boyhood goal of becoming American through and through; utilizing the art of caricature, he vividly documented the day-to-day reality of millions of others Americans just like him.

MEMBERS LOGIN To Download E-Book

JOIN TODAY To Access Members Only Content

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Share on Tumblr

Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:42 pm

February 26th, 2018

Members Click Here Membership Email Join Us!

Help Animation Resources While You Shop

Register your Amazon account with Amazon Smile and a portion of your purchase will be donated to Animation Resources. It costs you nothing and it helps us a lot.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Share on Tumblr

Posted by Stephen Worth @ 9:18 am