Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tiny Toons Group Caricature

I've identified most of the people in this picture  - it's a cross section of the past, present & future of animation circa 1989.  That's me in the lower right with the curly hair & tie, between Art Vitello & Jim Reardon.

I'll post my ID's next week sometime.  If you can ID some of the people in this picture, or if you ARE one of the people in this picture, please post!

This picture was created as a layout for a scene in the last episode of Season 1 of Tiny Toons, which I was directing.  Steven Spielberg  was giving storyboard notes, and, as he often did when he wasn't directing a movie, he was enjoying making new scenes & sequences for Tiny Toons. I think he did this "ad-lib" - just creating on the fly - amazing!   Tom Reugger & I were taking notes, listening to Spielberg on the speakerphone, and he said something like:  "... and then Buster dumps the sack, and caricatures of all the artists on the Tiny Toons staff pour out ... and then...".  Many episodes of Tiny Toons were "remade" this way!

Bruce Timm had been doing caricatures of everyone on the staff already, but it took him over 2 weeks to draw this!   There's a painted cel of this somewhere.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Irv Spector?

I've been following Ger Apeldoorn's excellent blog

And there has been a lot of discussion about New York animator Irv Spector, who was very prolific as a comic artist. In animation, artists are always required to draw "on model", so it's interesting to see animators drawing their own comics in their own style. Spector worked in many styles. The comics of Hal Seeger's "Muggy Doo" looked like Howie Post's comic style, but I now see they are obviously by Spector. Here's a story from Timely's "Animated Movie-Tunes" #2 - I thought it was Harvey Kurtzman's art, but now that I've seen some of Spector's comics from the early '40s, I'm pretty sure he drew this (and probably wrote it, too). Hopefully some of the experts out there in Internet-Land can confirm this.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

J C Orozco - Man on Fire

Last week we were in Guadalajara, Mexico. One of the highlights was seeing the murals of Jose Clemente Orozco. The Cabanas Cultural Institute is his Sistine Chapel, dominated by the central dome and the "Man on Fire". All the walls and ceiling of the main building are covered with these intense paintings. The photos don't do his work justice, since they are all much larger than life. His work is incredibly violent, but I like it because he uses a lot of the techniques of cartooning: caricature, exaggeration, line of action, etc.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More Milt Stein

By popular demand (Well, one person asked for it---) Here is more early Milt Stein. This is from issue #11 of CooCoo comics from 1943. This is serious wartime propaganda, and you can see that Stein's style has really evolved into a wonderfully exuberant and expressive look. Still rooted in the "rubber hose" tradition, Stein creates dynamic compositions filled with depth of field, and a very cinematic approach to comics. Stein stopped drawing Supermouse shortly after this, and he did a ton of work for Timely comics (what would later become Marvel Comics) - working for editor Vince Fago (Stan Lee was in the army) In the '50s Stein returned to drawing Supermouse in his own book, with a more sophisticated style.

Some of these are at

and also at Shane Glines' Cartoon Retro.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thomas Nast

A few months ago I was at a party at John K's house, and, having had a few drinks, I was railing about how cartoonists were once important and influential contributors to culture, and not the hired "wrists" many of us have become today, grinding out corporate product for a few bucks. Thomas Nast was one of the names I held up as an example of how cartoonists once had integrity and could change society - Well it was obvious that none of the "younger" crowd, many of whom were students or graduates of expensive animation schools, had ever heard of Thomas Nast or had any idea what I was talking about. (could have had something to do with the alchohol)

Steve Worth suggested I write a blog about Nast. At the time I was really busy with work and with finishing my "Attila" movie, and there was no way I had the time to get into this "bloggging" stuff. Well, now my workload has eased off quite a lot, so I have more time to hang out of the internet and post stuff on a blog and read other people's blogs - So here is the promised piece on Thomas Nast

Nast is remembered today as the "Father of American Political Cartoonists". While still a teeenager in 1860 a New York newspaaper sent him to London to cover a prize-fight (In those days, pre-photography, newspapers hired artists to illustrate the news - America was a nation of immigrants, many of whom could not read, so this was a way to sell papers to illiterate "New Americans") He stayed on in Europe to follow Garibaldi's army and document the unification of Italy. Returning to America, he "covered" Lincoln's campaign for President, supporting the "abolitionist" Republican party against the "states' rights" Democrats. (Yes, the Democrats supported slavery! Times have changed!) Nast drew some great propaganda in favor of the Union during the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln said of him: "Thomas Nast has been our best recruiting sergeant. His emblematic cartoons have never failed to arouse enthusiasm and patriotism, and have always seemed to come just when these articles were getting scarce."

But Nast's most famous crusade was against Wiliam Marcy "Boss" Tweed and the Tammany Hall political machine in New York City after the war. Tweed ran a notoriously corrrupt ring of politicoes, controlling all the politics in New York state. Through the late 1860's, Nast did a famous series of cartoons, mercilessly exposing the corruption of the "Tweed Ring". Tweed tried to bribe Nast, offering $500,000 to drop the whole thing. (I can only imagine how much that would be in today's dollars!) Harper's championed their star cartoonist: "Believing that 'every man has his price' they have tried to buy him off. To their astonishment they found they were dealing with a man who was not for sale. Then they tried the efficacy of threats. Letters of the most violent character poured in upon him ... threatening violence and even death ... The pages of this paper show and will continue to show that threats are quite as impotent as bribes with Mr. Nast."

Nast kept up the deluge of cartoons, and the Tweed Ring was toppled from power in the elections of 1871. "Boss" Tweed fled the country to avoid arrest, but he was recognized as he was hiding out in Spain. Someone recognized him based on Nast's caricature!

Nast continued his career, creating the famous "Republican Elephant" and the "Democratic Donkey" as well as drawing the modern concept of Santa Clause (before Coca-Cola)

Just writing this story makes me feel like a complete wuss! The proud heritage of cartoonism has been laid so low! We cartoonists have sold our souls to faceless corporations for a few pennies - when it was our destiny to change the world!

Research for this post is from "Th. Nast, His Period and his Pictures" by Albert Bigelow Paine, 1971

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Milton Stein

John K requested some "early Milton Stein" comics. This stuff is pretty early - kind of crude looking, but you can tell he was working really hard on some of this stuff. In the next few years he developed the "rubber hose" style of cartoons to great heights! I don't know much about Stein except that he was a New York animator, he worked at Terrytoons on & off - spent a lot of time doing comics, for Fago's shop in the early '40s for Timely, and then for ACG/Standard for many years on "Supermouse" through the '50s. "Supermouse" actually predates "Mighty Mouse" (That's why they changed the name to "Mighty Mouse" after the first cartoon) - With Milton working for both companies was he involved in some corporate espionage? We may never know - he apparently commited suicide in the early '70s.

I've got a bunch of early "Supermouse" from the early issues of "Coo Coo" comics if anyone really wants to see more. Shane Glines has the story from Coo Coo #8 on his Cartoon Retro site, which is a real nice one - Milt really had his style together by then. In the late '40s he developed a more "illustrational" style, with nicely composed landscapes with well designed perspective and energetic posing - Streamlined and simplified without getting too "angular" like a lot of "modern" styles of late '40s/early '5os. He was as good as Harvey Eisenberg at this time.