Saturday, December 2, 2006

Owen Fitzgerald

Owen was the first really good artist I met when I started working at Hanna Barbera in 1978. He'd just sit at his desk with a 4b pencil in one hand and a cigarette in the other, drawing these quick flowing lines which became great, expressive drawings of Scooby Doo, or Jabberjaws. Owen's first job in the animation business was inbetweener on "Snow White". He did layouts for Chuck Jones at Warner Bros in the '40s. After the war, he did a lot of comics for DC; "Bob Hope" and "Fox & Crow" and lots of others that I haven't seen. Bill Hanna loved Owen's drawings, though Owen later told me he never "got" the HB style like the Flintstones or Yogi Bear. The "flat" design-ey style was not something he understood - He drew "classic" cartoons and he drew them well. As an animator in the early '80s I would always be happy to get a scene laid out by Owen, because the drawings were so loose and expressive - it was much nicer to work from a loose drawing, where you could see the lines of action etc., rather than a tight, cleaned up drawing. (I wish I would have saved some of those drawings, but I took it for granted, and it was "only Scooby Doo!) Years later I was lucky to have Owen working for me at Warner Animation on the first season of "Tiny Toons". I hope you enjoy looking at these drawings by a "really good artist".

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lynd Ward's Woodcut Novel

Lynd Ward's first woodcut novel, "God's Man", was published in 1929

It tells the story of a youn artist who goes to the big city in search of fame and fortune. He meets a dark man in a tavern, who gives him a magic brush. This brush was owned by all the greatest artists in history, and it was this brush which painted all their masterpieces. The boy signs a contract and soon he is a sensational success as an artist.

But he soon finds that the city is corrupt, everything is all about money - He sees the city's ugly underside -

He flees the city for a more natural life closer to nature

He starts a new life, creating art for his new family -

One day the dark man shows up - Well you can guess what happens next - Beware of the magic brush! (or the magic pencil, stylus or whatever!)

The plot may be predictible and the characters one dimensional but Ward's graphics are incredibly powerful. He had studied in Germany in the '20s and was influenced by the Expressionist artists of the day. Franz Masereel had made several woodcut novels in Germany, and Ward was the first to do it in the US. The book was very popular, going through several printings - even inspiring Milt Gross' "He Done Her Wrong" (The Great American Novel and not a word in it - no music, too) Ward went on to make 4 more woodcut novels through the '30s. His plots got a little more sophisticated, with a "social conscience" typical of much depression-era art. Later, he illustrated novels and children's books. God's Man & his second, Madman's Drum, are available from Dover Press.