Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let's Put Some Life Into Animation Again!
















Characters used to look like they knew they were performing and loved it.
















Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote a book called "The Illusion Of Life" to show you how to fake the appearance of life in animation even if you are not a particularly lively person.

The most "lively" cartoons of that period though were made by individual directors and animators...and still cartoonists
who just were lively exciting people.

I don't know if liveliness can be taught, but it seems to have largely gone out of fashion.
I know some people will post "John, there are lots of drawing styles! They don't all have to be fun!" And I'll agree. There can be lots of ways to draw stiff and bland and there are lots of ways to draw in a way that celebrates the gift of being alive. Would rather be young and full of energy or old and decrepit? Many drawing styles in cartoons are of the old and decrepit variety, like these.
What would you rather do, work at the post office? Or eat ice cream and be surrounded by pretty girls at the office all day?

To me that's the difference between drawing fun cartoons and drawing stiff bland tedious cartoons.

It doesn't look like much fun to come into work every day and have todraw like this. I used to do it at Filmation and Hanna Barbera. Most of us were really depressed! The whole drawing style is depressing.


Frank and Ollie explain the ingredients of drawing life very well. Line of action gives a character's body a direction, exaggeration nails the point of the attitude, clear silhouettes make the pose read, expressions define the character and his emotion.

Try to find any of those ingredients in these drawings from Disney cartoons!
Boy does this character ever jump off the screen!

Here are some lively cartoon images that I hope will inspire you to wake up your cartoon characters and make them spring to their stories with verve and inner spirit.





Even in repose, Bugs seems to be alive and ready to pull some antics.







Characters can look like they really mean what they are feeling.








Wouldn't it be fun to come into work every day and do fun, funny and lively drawings?







Animators were proud of their heterosexuality in the 1940s!



for more great cartoon stills go here!
http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/

107 comments:

:: smo :: said...

The other night ASIFA East held this thing at SVA where a woman from cartoon network came in and showed these pilots they produced, and never turned into series.

she tried to explain, in a very matter of fact way, what kids like. and animation is done in korea because it's so much cheaper, and inferring that there's no merits to animation done by animators here.

i had to leave. this woman knew nothing about kids, just about buying and selling kids.

cartoons should be like these above. they should be fun and entertaining, for kids or anyone. not just 6-11 year old unimaginative consumers.

it baffles me how many people think getting a soulless show on cartoon network is "making it" and how many people tell themselves "well at least i'm working in animation" to justify making crap.

i'd much rather be working as an inbetweener [and rather inbetweeners still existed!] on something fun, than being a director of a pile of shit.

hopefully you can change things, i'm more than willing to help. i've already started trying.

LêA said...

Great post! And some beautiful images from some beautiful cartoons (not the one from She-ra, ha ha)

-what cartoon are the yellow and red cats from?

You have a point, but...How can animators put life in their characters, if nowadays people (like animators) don`t have any life? (they are dead people)

J. J. Hunsecker said...

The yellow and red cats are from "A Gruesome Twosome", Clampett's third cartoon with Tweety.

I noticed too, that there were lots of frame grabs from the rarely seen "It's A Grand Old Nag."

Anibator said...

That image from She-Ra or whatever the hell it was makes my sphinchter itch...
But, once again, I find myself in the position of playing Devil's advocate - the cartoons you show as examples of GOOD cartoons are all HUMOR cartoons.
I mean - who can argue that the old Warner Brothers cartoons from the 40s weren't the funniest and most lively ever? Of course they were. But - as awful as most non-humor cartoons are - some cartoons aren't meant to be humorous.
You seem to overwhelmingly PREFER slapstick humor cartoons, but animation can also be a great vehicle for drama, action, tragedy, horror, etc.
The fact that good examples of those genres in animation is exceptionally rare should be all the more incentive for young animators to aspire to break new ground.
"The Proud Family" and "The Simpsons" aren't 'about' slapstick... they're sit-coms. I, personally, have had my fill of sit-coms in general, but it's like comparing apples and oranges.
For whatever reason, the oftentimes stilted-looking art direction of a show like "Simpsons" actually CONTRIBUTES to its humor style... as does the art direction of "Beavis and Butthead".
(on a side note, "The Simpsons" hasn't made me laugh in over 5 years now, but reruns of "Beavis" still crack me up)
Similarly, a movie like 'The Iron Giant' - which I know you hate - is not, in my opinion, a comedic story... it's a dramatic adventure done with animation. If the kid in that movie had been designed to look like a Tex Avery character, the sad moments wouldn't have had the same impact. They caricatured reality enough to make it visually interesting, but didn't go so far that the ability to be taken seriously was lost.
As for action cartoons, I'm a huge fan of the Fleischer "Superman" serials, but I also think there are some great, adrenallin-pumping action cartoons coming out of Japan and - very occasionally - you get something like Bruce Timm's "Batman" that is, at least, relatively cool.
Again, animation is like any other form of entertainment media... I like the Three Stooges, but I also like Archie Bunker... I also like James Bond... I also like mobster movies.
It may not be your cup of tea, but - to use a fragment of your analogy, if you did nothing but eat ice cream all the time, eventually it would get boring. Enjoying different styles of humor and different types of art direction helps to keep a sense of variety - and variety is, of course, the spice of life.

Brian Romero said...

smo, that's why I've resisted taking a job at any big cartoon studio here in LA. I'd rather stick to freelance cartooning/illustration, design and photography than take a job where making mediocre cartoons is the best case scenario.

As for this post... well each one of those stills has more energy than an entire episode of any cartoon on TV today. Cartoon animation is becoming a lost art. Maybe someone will figure out a way to get real cartoons to the fans without going through some corporate machine.

Franfou said...

I think of course you are right about putting life and fun into animations and also searching for expression and originality is the reason why we work in that field...good advice from you for the illustartor I am, John...bye !

JohnK said...

Anibator

I've heard all those arguments before and refuted them all.

They aren't even arguments. They are excuses to not have to do anything creative.

"Dramatic" does not equal dead. Real life people, even serious ones make expressions and strike poses.

Frank and Ollie-the heroes of all the modern animators who draw dead "dramatic" stuff talk about dramatic animation all the time. How can you be dramatic without being lively?

Would you watch a live action dramatic movie starring mannequins? What about live sitcoms with characters who didn't make expressions and always stood straight up and down? Would that be funny?

Animation should be animated. It should be alive. There is no excuse for a cartoon to not do its job.

There is no excuse for being lousy. Lousy is merely lousy.

You might as well find an excuse for disease or famine or torture.

Kali Fontecchio said...

You have this innate ability to find the dirtiest screen grabs.

Mr. Semaj said...

That spotted dog from the Milton Gross comics must've been what inspired Jasper from "Big House Blues".

Max Ward said...

Lively animation doesn't only need to be for humor, but humor does it best. Dramatic scenes and horror scenes need to be lively too. "Lively" doesn't mean wild takes, bulging eyes, and rubbery limbs, not at all.

Jennifer said...

John, this is a great post, and spot on. Smo's comment confirms what you've been saying all along regarding cartoon execs' attitudes - "who cares if it's cheaply produced and bland, the audience is stupid enough to accept it". If that's the case, then why does Aqua Teen Hunger Force only have 375,000 viewers, even after the publicity stunt? (375,000 viewers are horrible ratings for network TV, and they're not even good ratings for cable.)

I have a question - Do you think that one of the reasons why cartoons for TV started getting stiff is the execs wanted to play it safe to avoid criticism from the growing "children's advocate groups for TV viewing" lobby (Peggy Charren, et al) AND to appear "kid-friendly" to product marketers?

The Horns and the Hawk said...

john, let's not get carried away. i prefer my cartoons bland that way it's harder for me to distinguish reality from my fiction. bland world, bland cartoons, it makes market sense.

hey, sometime can you talk about the evolution of the "character holding invisible waiter's tray while talking" motion? i mean it seems so natural, and i'm amazed every time i see it. especially when they move their hand up and down and side to side like they're dancing in a lame paraplegic way. that's my favorite/sarcasm.

Anibator said...

Cartoons got stiff because it's cheaper and easier to produce stiff cartoons.

Raff said...

>> Let's Put Some Life Into Animation Again! <<

Bigger picture - we gotta put some life back into life again! The most popular modes of expression I see these days are cynicism, defense, whining, projections of shame and whatever few obnoxious, oppressed, fashion-conscious venues of escape there are.

Never mind animation - we're sick, too many of us anyway, that's the REAL problem. It's naturally easiest to put what we know and what we're surrounded by into our art, whatever form it takes.

But it's sweetest to express what we wish for deep down and don't have already, and it's also a lot harder. I guess that's the real challenge now.

Benjamin said...

Do you think these (or any of these) are lively? To me, they look well-drawn, and leap off the page...

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/S3.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/2.1.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/1.2.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/jane13.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/ol.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/1b.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/987.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/df.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/lp.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/14.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/rt.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/i.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/gh.2.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/tarzan_expressions_2.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/untitl4.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/untit32copia.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/untitl8%20copia.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/untitl21.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/untitl24.1.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/lean.1.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/alpuno.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/aladin7.3.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/er.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/59014495_3450c5da5d_o.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/arielentree.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1742/1898/1600/keane1.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/TheGreatMouseDetective19.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/cap033.0.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/cap031.0.jpg

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http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/cap012.jpg

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/508/2740/1600/cap0b-02.0.jpg

John Pannozzi said...

John K., could you please give me some hint as to when the Ultimate Ren and Stimpy DVD set will come out? I'm dying here.

fluffy said...

How about Batman: The Animated Series? I always thought the action in that was very lively and graceful without coming across as "cartoony," and there was some great character design. It was very stylized, too, at least in the first couple seasons (though when it turned into "Batman and Robin" it got pretty crappy).

dieselcreek said...

Execs just want to play to the largest audience with the least amount of investment. Homogenize everything, get the most return, move onto the next project.

Sure there will be interesting projects that aim for a more specific audience, but I tend to see them getting horrible time slots, not producing enough advertising revenue because of it and then getting canned. Showing up later on "Brilliant But Cancelled" syndication...

It always about the greenbacks. This goes for most all business, although I am happy to see a pushback in some industries that are going more local or using alternative media. Thank Flying Spaghetti Monster!


wait...what we're we talking about? Zombie-toons?

.

:: smo :: said...

hey brian! i don't think working in tv animation is ALL bad don't get me wrong, but it's really tough to keep your wits about ya! the one thing i'm really happy about in working at crappy studios is meeting other bitter artists who want to work on something good!

i'm just afraid too many people are waiting for something good to happen, and it's not gonna unless we make it so.

Sean Worsham said...

(I have a question - Do you think that one of the reasons why cartoons for TV started getting stiff is the execs wanted to play it safe to avoid criticism from the growing "children's advocate groups for TV viewing" lobby (Peggy Charren, et al) AND to appear "kid-friendly" to product marketers?)

I have your answer Jennifer,

I think it's because us cartoonists are more lively, the boring execs who lead boring lives are secretly jealous of us because they know we technically have more exciting lives. We like to party, make each other laugh, play pranks on each other. In other words make the world a better place w/ liveliness and laughter. That goes against corporate execs belief, ones that went through tough times in college living under deeply religious uptight parents. Hell they don't even know the meaning of fun.

Their idea of fun is getting a huge reward (in this case cash) and they think driving around in their huge cars and showing their latest rolex's and mansions is the best way to ease their sexually repressed lives. It's like how some people say if you can't have sex you go out and kill (see the movie Dogma to see what I mean) but since it's against the law to kill many execs go for the next best thing greed.

It's too bad many execs hate liveliness, sex and having real fun (ie cartoons and rock n' roll). They are sure as hell missing out!

Mitch K said...

Ahh this post is GREAT!!

Scott said...

John,

Good post. You always have a lot of great examples to highlight what you’re talking about, and your Looney tunes stills are fantastic.

I was wondering though, if you could give us some examples of “lively” and “fun” animation from other eras, such as more modern day stuff, just for the sake of variety. I think a lot of people on here accuse you of liking only one “style” because you seem to show a lot of very cartoony and slapstick stuff of the late 30’s, 40’s etc. There has been a lot of lively animation done in the last 20 years, even at Disney. What do you think of Roger Rabbit? Belle, Gaston, the Beast, etc or the Genie from Aladdin?

It would be interesting to hear your opinions on those and see a little more variety. Anyway, keep up the good work.

Peter said...

John, I'm glad you're doing what you're doing because you're struggling to bring real cartoony cartoons back into entertainment.

Smo was telling me the other day that the lady said kids are conservative these days, unimaginative, and all carrying cellphones. Kids are not and have never been conservative. Maybe shy, but if anybody has ever really talked to or played with kids (or heaven forbid, remembered what they were like when they were a kid) then they would realize that kids are the craziest! When we get old we learn to stop having fun and being nuts, calling it 'maturity' or 'professionalism', when real fun comes from being free enough to let your imagination run wild.

Kids are masters of the imagination, more so than marketing executives whose main concern is the big Sell.

Kids will be conservative if that's all you give them a chance to be. Let crazy be crazy! Maybe they'll grow up to be tomorrows geniuses and be happy because they learned how to be happy when young.

lastangelman said...

I'll never never never understand why some people after being shown and explained the "fine wines and caviar" you offer and serve here, day after day, week after week, FOR FREE, still insist on the "the watered down Kool-Aid and white bread mayonaisse" being distilled by the conglomerates and big companies, and believe they just had

Shawn said...

That wacky cartoony stuff is my favorite!

I think what makes those stills you posted so great is the amazing exaggeration and the loose flowing drawing. Those are not stiff/conservative drawings, they look like FUN! I would love to draw as good as Rod Scribner did in those Clampett cartoons...the thing is, I think it's easier to learn structure and solid drawing than it is to learn how to loosen up the drawings and exaggerate expressions, lines of action, etc. the right way. You've done lots of posts explaining stucture and solid drawing (which is the first step to good drawing), but after we've learned those principles, the Preston Blair and Tom & Jerry stuff just isn't cartoony enough for my taste. Do you think you can explain to us how to loosen up and draw as cartoony as what you just posted???

queefy said...

The head of cartoon network quit.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=2863647

Maybe you should take his job.

Matt said...

John you said it right when you pointed out which would be the better to come in and draw in the morning. Christ, if I had to draw that stiff shit I would leave searching for brains to eat at night. I read up on a show last night Nickelodeon just picked up.

http://www.coldhardflash.com/2007/02/winfrey-making-fiends-for-nick-tv.html

I think it's time lively fun animation attack and bite all of this shit in the jugular.

Blue Delliquanti said...

Good examples as always. I admire the artistic style of "Coal Black" immensely - the characters have form, but still have a capability to stretch and exaggerate their features, which I still struggle to acheive in my own designs.

Could you tell me what cartoon those stills with Hitler were from? They looked really dynamic, even compared to the others!

Mike Smith said...

Golden Age animators were lucky if they could get a pencil test in, so their animation is full of strange, life-giving hiccups. Freeze-frame some Rod Scribner or Jim Tyer and you'll see characters popping out of their arcs. It's those weird-ass, subliminal moments that give the action its piss and vinegar.

Today, animators have slider bars and can tweak an action to where it's so pristine that the viewer doesn't care about it. Mathematical perfection makes for a lousy cartoon.

Roberto González said...

I have not a clear position on this, I think I'm somewhere in the middle of anibator and John...Anyway, I love all that framegrabs! Yeah, I'd also like to have a lot more of that. Since I'm not old enough I haven't seen Looney Tunes on the big screen ever (except for the lousy new versions, which I find "watchable", but I think they are very weak). And I have been waiting since... I don't know, FOREVER to see an animated movie that looks like that. I mean, since Disney has been the main studio controlling animated movies there is not even full-length classic movies that are as funny and lively as a Bob Clampett cartoon. That's why I think there are a lot more classic real action movies than classic animated movies. Classic animated movies are LT, Tex Avery and other shorts. I can't almost rewatch some Disney films completely without being bored, and I can certainly rewatch good real action movies. That's strange, cause I like cartoons more than real people.

Also I'll agree with John's point of view on this: I actually buy dramatic moments in Ren and Stimpy or Bob Clampett's cartoon. I symphatize with the characters, I feel bad if they feel bad and I'm happy if they are happy. It all seems natural, not artificial and written. If the characters are especially well written as they are in Simpsons or Iron Giant I still can buy the emotion a little more, but in other pictures it's like "this is so boring" in the dramatic parts.

But at the same time, I like the fact that The Simpsons looked different to other cartoons when it aired and though I probably would enjoy it a little more if it was more lively I can't really imagine how the show would work and what kind of animation and look it will have. That's why I find the experiment of John K. directing a Simpson episode very interesting. I'd really like to see that, but to be sincere, I'm unsure if it would be better or worse than the regular show overall.

I can picture Iron Giant being more lively and still not being over the top humoristic. I can picture Bruce Timm's Batman being more lively and being more cool(and I think it's a very good show the way it is). But I can't picture the Simpsons animated that way.

Incidentally, I want to know the title of the cartoon with the horny horse, I think it's the only one I haven't watched and I want to find it. It looks amazing!

Pseudonym said...

Anibator: Go to the theatre some time and watch a "serious" play. The actors don't just stand there and deliver their lines. Watch what they do. Watch how the personality of the character comes out through action. (It's more exaggerated action than you'd see on film because plays don't have close-ups, that's why I think it's useful if you want to animate "serious".)

Hell, go and see a professional production of Hamlet. The story of The Lion King is just the story of Hamlet cut-down for kids, so you'll have a good basis for comparison.

Art F. said...

Awesome examples of cartoon action and exaggeration! great post!

Jeremy Bernstein said...

John!! Am I getting close?? Or do I need to push this cartoon further??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRpztUf2Mxc

captainyolk.blogspot.com

Ryan said...

What cartoon are those images of the black girl from? They're gorgeous.

Josh Lieberman said...

Brilliant
By far my favorite post. I love all those expressions, especially the ones from Draftee Daffy.

JohnK said...

Do you think these (or any of these) are lively? <<

They look like Filmation to me.

JohnK said...

>>Cartoons got stiff because it's cheaper and easier to produce stiff cartoons.<<

Those Disney movies cost over a hundred million dollars each. There's no excuse for them to look stiff.

Rodrigo said...

Hey John, could you give us an example of non-comedic animation you like?

Maybe Beauty and the Beast?

JohnK said...

>>Hey John, could you give us an example of non-comedic animation you like?<<

Bambi. The witch in Snow White. The Queen in Sleeping Beauty. Disney's best talent was dramatic stuff, but he makes you suffer through a lot to get to it. Wacky sidekicks and animals washing plates clean with their butts.

Beauty and The Beast looked like a Ruby Spears cartoon to me except with more inbetweens.

Thad K said...

John,
The queen in "Sleeping Beauty"? Don't you mean Malificent? The actual queen barely appears in the film and I'd hardly call anything with her dramatic.

That film is all design and nothing else. It almost makes Pluto look exciting by comparison.

Nick said...

This is from an article about the new Fantastic Four series. It shows executive mentality.


"The new series, animated by the French company Moonscoop, features a mixture of 2D and 3D animation. The backgrounds and some of the technology was done as CGI, while the FF, their enemies and some other elements were hand-drawn. As Executive Craig Kyle explained, "A lot of people love CGI, but... on television it's really difficult. Where you find the best success is when you have your environments in CGI. The emotion dies when you have a CGI character in most cases. With hand-drawn characters you get great emotions... When you see the Fantasticar tearing through in the New York skyline [Moonscoop] crafted, it's simply amazing.""

The Butcher said...

"Animators were proud of the heterosexuality in the 1940s!"

It seems like not just animators, but everyone else in the world is eager to denounce their heterosexuality nowadays. I would use emo as an example, but most of those guys are openly homsexual.

I don't really care said...

Enjoying different styles of humor and different types of art direction helps to keep a sense of variety - and variety is, of course, the spice of life.

You're not talking about different styles of art direction. you are talking about appreciation for a total lack of art direction.
There's your apples and oranges right there, mate.You are talking about eating crap and pretending it's caviar.

it's a concept not unlike the spittoon dinner in onwards and upwards.

Roberto González said...

"Disney's best talent was dramatic stuff, but he makes you suffer through a lot to get to it. Wacky sidekicks and animals washing plates clean with their butts."

Hahaha,that made me LOL cause it is quite true, especially in the long features.

I guess this is where anibator's argument, which weren't that bad IMO, fail. Strong poses and lines of action don't mean comedy. You could have something similar to Bruce Timm's Batman, but animated like Fleischer Superman and it would be completely awesome to look at. I still prefer Batman cause I've never give a shit about Superman character in general and the stories on those Fleischer cartoons are very simple for me. But a combination of the two would be great.

You could have designs somewhat similar to those in the Iron Giant but with more lively and fluid animation, as in an old Disney movie.

You could have The Simpsons...sorry, but I still can figure out how you'd apply that to The Simpsons.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

What cartoon are those images of the black girl from? They're gorgeous.

Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs (1943) by Bob Clampett.

The Jerk said...

YYYYYYESSS!!! this is what the world needs. We've had enough boring cartoons telling us how much life stinks, Time for cartoons to remind us how much fun it CAN be!

JohnK said...

>>John,
The queen in "Sleeping Beauty"? Don't you mean Malificent? <<

Yeah, you're right Thad. Good catch. Isn't she an evil queen?

I love the scene where she appears in Sleeping Beauty's room and causes her to prick her finger. Very creepy. The dragon is great too.
I even like the animation of Sleeping Beauty a lot.

But nobody today can do that. It all just looks clumsy when people try.

Ms. Jane D'oh said...

fabulous post. i love those daffy draws!

Julián höek said...

hi john
is there an animation feature you realy realy like to recomend us? beside disney (if you even like one)
the plot, the animation, the design, the color, the gags, composition and all of that stuff you allways talk about but done amazingly in an animation long lenght movie. could you mention a cartoony and a "serious" one (if exist) done good to you standarts so i'll go and watch it
thanks!

akira said...

John, there are lots of drawing styles! They don't all have to be fun!

Gavin Freitas said...

Sign me up for the "fun" cartoons John! Maybe one day studios well change their ways about how they animate and draw but as long as money is an issue probley not. I think its up to us to just start our own companies & studios and sell them on the net. The net is a VERY powerful tool! And Great stills of Daffy! Good post.

Thunderrobot(aka Chet) said...

Hey John,

http://thunderrobot.blogspot.com/2007/02/preston-blair-practice-1.html

Im sorry about the foot cutoff, i was too stupid to make room for the entire foot.

-and as for this post, i completely agree. People focus too much on FPS and fluid animation, but id rather see extremely limited animation if it was lively and well drawn.

two-bit said...

"What would you rather do, work at the post office? Or eat ice cream and be surrounded by pretty girls at the office all day?

To me that's the difference between drawing fun cartoons and drawing stiff bland tedious cartoons."

I DO work for the post office, as a mailman, and am also a wannabe cartoonist, so your comment really hit me like a bag o' hammers. YEESH!!!

Tom Dougherty said...

I love the blog, and I'm really into your writing about bringing life back into animation- something I'm definitely wanting to see, and soon. One quibble here I'd like to make is that the examples show lively shots of old cartoons and static poses of newer cartoons. I know that in a lot of cases they're not far from static when they actually ARE performing, but I'd just like to see animation vs animation, design vs. design, y'know?

Thanks for your blog and all of your hard work here.

Ted said...

Roberto, you don't need to be old to see classic cartoons on the big screen, you just need to be in the right place at the right time.

The 3D film fest in LA last year had an entire program of 3D classic cartoons, for example. That was not the right time and place for me; in college, on the other hand, there were classic cartoon fests (mostly if not all WB) a couple of times a year on campus.

Being in Spain probably doesn't make it easier to see 50+ year old American animation on film, but it's more about where you are than being too young...

William said...

I don't think it's about money. On TV maybe, but money is too simple. I think it's about people and fear.

John has alluded in the past to "executives" actually being against making money because the animation with more integrity attracts attention, and people sit up and want to give money to it.

What I hate is how underrated kids' intelligence is. Noone realizes that a child will do whatever you expect them to- and if you expect them to sit and watch something and accept it, they largely will- but there's a catch. They'll realize if it's bad. It's true. When I was a kid, Ren & Stimpy was HUGE and all the adults, even my parents wanted to watch it with me. My sister's high school and college friends taped it & archived it. After it got cancelled they kept circulating their tapes to keep the fire alive. (John, at one point I remember telling them the show wasn't as funny as they used to be, and that's how I found out about you and your story over at Nick.)

When I was little, I knew if I liked a show, you had to buy stuff from it and that would keep it on. A capitalist childhood, I knew it, my friends knew it, but we are trained to forget it and just accept what's on TV. This is bullshit. Why? If kids know a show is really good and aren't given some sort of saturday morning Ludovico treatment, they'll give you more money!

Like John said, these Disney pictures cost a hundred million dollars, something that isn't proving lucrative anymore. They mark it up conveniently to Pixar's success and how "the public doesn't like 2D animation anymore", not how bad Treasure Planet was. I don't think there's a person on the planet that liked, or even saw, Home on the Range. I also don't understand how "It's Roseanne Barr- as a cow! They're trying to win the farm back from evil developers!" was sold to some sterile boardroom.

If the cigars up-top took more chances and didn't adhere to management trends, safe personal image & their own fear, lots of money would be made. (Wait...I shouldn't refer to executives as cigars...smoking is for evil heterosexual republicans now.)

If you're raised to higher standards the whole world benefits. I don't know if Pocahontas or Tarzan made any money, but if they did it's because parents blindly took their children to it- back then I can tell you, there was not a single person that didn't absolutely hate them. Why? Because we all grew up watching Pinnochio and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty on our crappy VHS. The problem with the dilution of culture is a dilution of societal standards. Kids are smart- smarter when you expect them to be.

Things are getting better, but only just.

William said...

Oh, and I was thinking the same thing Kali...you DID pick the most suggestive frames.

You know what you SHOULD do a post on- innate sexuality of organic cartoons. Like all the boners Clampett put in his for starters.

Daffy's tongue makes me feel like I did something bad.

Marc Crisafulli said...

Good gravy.. that's a lot of hilarious drawings!

Roberto González said...

To Ted: In fact I have watched some classic cartoons in the big screen in some spanish cartoon conventions. However I'd love to watch them regularly in front of the movies and with a big audience. Besides, he copies in some of those festivals are not of the best quality.

But I'm proud to say the first time I watched Coal Black and The Seven Dwarfs was in one of those festivals. And I watched Tex Avery's Little Tinker and several censored and dirty classic cartoons in the same session.

The GagaMan(n) said...

Is any of this lively enough for you?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkWGNHTp-Dc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oQ4-Hwhsxg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCuieF9Uzgc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBAEcgRtyNI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3j3aU7iXqA

cemenTIMental said...

John, there are lots of drawing styles! They don't all have to be fun!
No, but they do all have to be good.

toonamir said...

Woah, coincidence! I was copying some Coal Black for fun this week, the same picture you posted.
See it here

JAY said...

Hey JK - what did you think of the Disney announcer recently about revisiting trad. animation projects?

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/film/story/2007/02/10/disney-handdrawn-animation.html

PsychoWiLL said...

People do find excuses for disease, famine , etc. It's called war.
But to the point of topic.
I've found once I get to work on this stuff, I can't stop. Starting is the hardest part.
Apparently my roommate had a temporary instructor, the guy who did Bambi vs Godzilla, who "even walks like a cartoon".
Well, Maybe if I keep animating in an 'odd' way or, a 'new' way I'll make headway in the 'biz.

Alex said...

These screencaps turned me into a furry.
I hope you're happy.

dwestburg said...

The pictures in this proof only prove what you've been saying for so long.

No one in animation (outside of Spumco) draws poses like these anymore.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

A wonderful, wonderful post! If I were rich I'd pay to have it put on billboards on Sunset Blvd!

Rodrigo said...

Is it wrong of for me to be sexually aroused by that female horse?

Hmmmm. . .

Pedro Vargas said...

Another good post, John! Things are just to damn stiff now. I know it's great that we talk about so many good animators and directors in the world of animation from the past, but when will we ever stop doing that? I'm not saying we should forget about the best animation done in the past, but when the hell is someone going to show their best animation today that uses all those good animation principles from the past that'll encourage us to talk about it and say good things about it? I'm getting so impatient that it makes me want to do something for myself. I just hope that what I'll animate can be as good as the animation done in the past. Hopefully I can make the time for it.

katzenjammer studios said...

Hey John, I had the pleasure of meeting Eddie. He explained acting in a new light, and I think if you explained it on your blog like this, that people might understand better.

Eddie proposed that acting is NOT only merely being CONVINCING. Sure, a character can look angry, but is he looking angry in an ENTERTAINING light? Instead, acting should be an entertaining, interesting way that a character exposes his feelings. Everything else is just cataloging trite motions. It is mediocre for an animator to have the character say "Well" and shrug his shoulders. But in ACTING, it's a million times more entertaining and memorable if your character did ACTING (what I believe you refer to as "specific" acting). Eddie referenced Jack Benny, and how he would say "Well!" and shake his head and put his hand firmly into his cheek... kinda like this although this is watered down for the picture I assume:

http://www.arvadacenter.org/images/perform/benny.jpg

It's about what the audience will remember and keep watching again and again. Merely cataloging mundane human expressions (Eddie called them body spasms that hint at emotion) is sufficient, but should not be the GOAL. That's something you can capture on film, and does not take advantage of the medium, like you claim.

My good friend Marshal Vandruff explained the need to me for a common vocabulary amongst working individuals. You are talking about "specific" acting, but I'm not sure people understand what you mean. Then they argue, because they don't understand the basic premise you're talking about. With animators, we can talk about twinning (a pretty abstract concept), and each other know what we're referring too right away. Think about having to explain the design concepts behind twinning everytime you need to mention it to people! Eegads! Being very articulate about these concepts will help the community to understand what you mean, and will ultimately make working together infinitely easier.

:: smo :: said...

hey john, i love those charlie horse screens. that was a post warners clampett cartoon right? can you give us some more info on those? it'd love to see them!

cemenTIMental said...

s any of this lively enough for you?Lively enough for me at least! ^__^

this one is crazy!:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oQ4-Hwhsxg
Maan i need to watch Re:Cutie Honey again.

DonB said...

With Disney getting bad-mouthed so much, we should remember that "once upon a time" they were lots better than they are now.

Here's a short Ward Kimball animation clip:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvp65_mother-goose-goes-hollywood-2

>> Is any of this lively enough for you?
>>
>> --some anime links--

I'm not an animator or cartoonist, but knowing what I like and what I don't like, I really don't care for any of those cartoons. I like to think I have an open mind, but those clips don't do anything for me at all. Those were rather awful actually.

Ape Lad said...

Hey, check out the relationship between the similar butt tuft/head tuft on Daffy in those examples. I don't remember who pointed it out in the comments a few months ago, but those are some great examples.

cemenTIMental said...

DonB, the question wasn't whether you personally like them or not, but whether they have "some life" in them...

I think animators like Masaaki Yuasa are definitely putting the sort of life John's talking about into their animation. Sure the result looks quite different to classic hollywood cartoons, but even if you don't like those clips you gotta admit they're anything but stiff and bland.

The GagaMan(n) said...

>>I'm not an animator or cartoonist, but knowing what I like and what I don't like, I really don't care for any of those cartoons. I like to think I have an open mind, but those clips don't do anything for me at all. Those were rather awful actually.<<

Fair enough. The stuff I posted isn't going to be to everyone's taste, but it is a lot more lively than anything coming out of America right now. It's just a shame that most of this kind of anime I used as examples never gets released outside of Japan, and instead we get all the copy-cat crap they churn out instead.

hen said...

"Characters used to look like they knew they were performing and loved it." - So animation is all about overacting?

Marcelo Souza said...

One thing that I could never understand was how come animators 60 years ago could be more open with their sexuality than today,maybe because just about everything is "politically incorrect". Nothing was funnier when suddenly Daffy or Bugs start acting gay and gave that juicy kiss on the villan's mouth. That was gold!

KieranM said...

Hey john, loving all these posts about good cartoons. I've heard your opinions on Clampett, Avery, Freleng and Jones, but what do you think of Art Davis, Frank Tashlin and Robert McKimson's cartoons.

Spencer said...

On a related note...
http://zippythepinhead.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/2007/images/021007.gif

DonB said...

>> DonB, the question wasn't
>> whether you personally like
>> them or not, but whether they
>> have "some life" in them...

Nope, I didn't see any life in those clips at all. What I see in those clips were flashing colors and constant camera panning across what look like static drawings. I'd much rather be watching Daffy washing dishes on his butt!

Might be just a matter of taste though. As a kid, I remember there were those who liked the super hero comic books, and those who like the funny imaginative ones. I didn't care too much for the super heros style of comics, but I really liked the funny ones - stuff like "Hot Stuff" and "Sugar and Spike".

Muppet Pro said...

HEY JOHN! DO A WAR CARTOON!!!!!!!

_Eric ;)

jessicaLynn said...

Hey WOW
Charlie Horse is super manly and sexy!!! I love the look of those cartoons! Ive never seen them!Bring them next time your in Ottawa!

CORKY said...

yeah, I have to animate a lot of despressing shit in school. Horrah!

Hey John remember me? :P

paul etcheverry said...

Thanks for this post. Especially enjoyed the screen grabs from "It's A Grand Old Nag", Clampett's Republic Studios cartoon that (unlike his Warners series) I have seen just once.

Such British comedies as Monty Python, The Black Adder, Mr. Bean, Absolutely Fabulous, Red Dwarf, etc. strike me as much closer to the spirit of cartoonmaking than a large quantity of current TV and CGI stuff.

Come to think of it, John Candy's SCTV performances were way more cartoony than the characters he provided (excellent) voice-over work for in animated features.

LeoBro said...

Hey, there he is! That goofy guy in the model sheet for "Bums Away" (fifth graphic from the top). The one turning his head around behind him. I love that guy. I just spent three nights drawing him in Lesson 4! I couldn't figure out what animal he is from the book. I still can't, but now I know he lives on a farm with large chickens. What fun characters.

drgrafik said...

HI John, Ive been following your post for a while now and taking into account all your teaching. In a way you remind me of some of my father. When I was a kid (7 or 8 Years over 20 years ago now) he caught me watching Scooby Doo and he went mental. He sat me down and we wrote a list of the cartoons I was allowed to watch. Needless to say, it all ended up being Fleischer, Warner Bros, Disney, the first season of the Flintstones – anything old that was done with style. He used to say "look at the old cartoons compared to todays – EVERYTHING moved in the old ones. In todays all they do is stand around and talk! and only they're lips move, they're chins should at least move with it!" Man he'd really freak out over it. But then we started learning together about the different animators and how many frames per second made a smooth flowing cartoon. He went out and bought the Preston Blair animation book and made me learn to draw from it. Reading your blog has made me go back to practicing, although my drawing are still a bit stiff. I'll get there. And now I'm trying to teach my daughter all the principals of good drawing and composition. Shes only five but its amazing how fast shes picking it up.

I have a question for you: What do you think of the animation in Who Framed Rodger Rabbit? I thought that despite the sloppy mixing of Real life with cartoons, that they seemed to be doing some pretty nice animation for the time. Plus they started showing Rodger Rabbit cartoons before main features, which brought back a bit of nostalga for me, back in the day when they did that regularly and a cartoon was part of the cinema experience. Why did they stop doing that? I know lots of people who thook they're kids to see the disny film just to see the beginning cartoon. Anyway I did feel that much of the animation in the film was pretty smooth and well done, especially for the time. What did you make of it?

William said...

By the way, John, I finally got a dime to my name and bought the Ren & Stimpy Season 1 and 2 DVDs. It's about the best thing I ever bought. And it was great to watch that featurette with you and Eddie, with as much as I read your blogs!

So when you get that 34 cent check in the mail, you should know. Right here.

Le Minh Nhut said...

Perfect posts.The images are great!

Gabriel said...

Hey WOW
Charlie Horse is super manly and sexy!!! I love the look of those cartoons! Ive never seen them!Bring them next time your in Ottawa!


What?? I haven't seen that cartoon, but I hope Charlie is the retarded funny looking horse. The strong and manly horse is probably an asshole! I'd be disappointed if that jock got the girl in the end...

The GagaMan(n) said...

Wow drgrafik, that's quite the father you got there! Are you sure you're not John K's son? =P

fabiopower said...

Hi, John!
I'm again
From Chile:
I Want to Be an ASIFA Volunteer! (english version) in my blog...you and your friends are invited to read it… Thanks to all!

Travis H. said...

dude, its a black sody pop!

DumeReturns said...

Hello Mr. K. I agree with 90% of your comments--namely that cartoons need to be drawn well by people who actually have an imagination. It truly is amazing how sterile the human mind can be sometimes, and like you suggest, I think I would go crazy if I had to draw Scooby Doo all day.

But I for one would like to see more "lofty" subject matter in animation someday (in addition to a steady supply of wackiness), like Dante's Inferno as interpreted in the style of William Blake, or some tales of Greek Mythology in full animation with classical, Michaelangelo style designs, minus the charicatures. By some really talented animators As a model for this, I like to point out the Night on Bald Mountain sequence, the one part of Fantasia without any "cartoony" characteristics. It isn't that I don't like wacky-crazy stuff--I love it--but I think that when you combine that with more naturalistic or serious designs, as Disney did in almost every feature, it ends up peverting both styles. I don't see why animation can't have some high art films and some completely silly lowbrow ones (which I like just as much), just like live action cinema. Disney couldn't make up his mind whether he was going to go cartoony or serious in any single film, so like a shrewd businessman he played it both ways every time. I think a dark story like Hunchback of Notre Dame would have worked much better without the slapstick gargoyles etc. And Snow White probably would have been better if the title character had had a slightly more cartoony design. Anyway, you've probably heard all this before--just wanted to here your opinion.

Estrato Bajo en Calorias!!! said...

Kick it in www.estratobajo.blogspot.com
have fun.

Estrato Bajo en Calorias!!! said...

take it back to HAND MADE.
http://ilustracionesmolinachi.blogspot.com/

Craig D said...

These sort of posts are both inspiring and depressing. The eye-candy is always appreciated in any event!

As a public service, HERE is a link on how to embed links in the comment section.

Marius de Moraes said...

We love all kind of crap anyway...


Thanks for all, John K.

Zaki said...

Why bother about TV? TV is regulated, censored trash, anyway, controlled by execs & corps to line you up and lull you into crap.

The Internet is the future of animation! No time slots, no red tape, no censors, no execs! Just you and the viewer!

What I'm trying to say is, if anyone of us wants to bring life to animation, bring them online!

The GagaMan(n) said...

Kind of off topic, but if there is one thing I most defiantly agree on, it's John 's hate for Tiny Toons, after seeing This clip, in which the scene from 00:47 is "The Great Piggy bank Robbery" shot for shot but with bad drawings, bad gags, and bad animation. Yikes, if they wanted that cartoon so badly, just air the original, don't try to re-create it.

Shad said...

Thanks John!

We have a major network art director giving us animation feedback on cool keyframes that are literally them taking the model sheets and dutching them sideways to show us how the characters should look in that position.

They think that squash and stretch is a bastardization of their characters and makes them lose the integrity of the show. They told us to redraw the eyes in ONE in-between frame because they didn't look like the model sheet. This frame is on screen for 1/15th of a second.

Creative animation was born out of the 90s and found fandom and now middle-manager people-with-titles are taking control of it again.

Craig D said...

gagaman(n): EGADS! I could only stand about half a minute of that TINY TOONS clip.

Is this an example of too much / inappropriate drag-and-follow-though?

Seems like this was discussed here sometime last year.

Roberto González said...

I see it the other way. Tiny Toons, Animaniacs,etc. kinda introduced me to some classic cartoons.

I perfectly recall loving the Droopy segments in Tom and jerry kids as a child (yeah, quite bad, but still), then when I watched clips of Tex Avery in Cartoon Network promotions I thought: wow, this is like those characters I already like, but with much better drawings! and I was desperately trying to catch them when they will air. I remember that they usually included a lot of Barney Bear cartoons in the program that included Tex avery's short, and i was like "this is pretty boring, but some day I'd see that Droopy shorts with the good drawings". And i finally did and i loved them.

I wouldn't use this type of explanation to justify something as Loonatics, cause that totally changes the concept, the drawing style and everything.

Finally I'd quote this, cause I totally agree with it:

"By some really talented animators As a model for this, I like to point out the Night on Bald Mountain sequence, the one part of Fantasia without any "cartoony" characteristics. It isn't that I don't like wacky-crazy stuff--I love it--but I think that when you combine that with more naturalistic or serious designs, as Disney did in almost every feature, it ends up peverting both styles. I don't see why animation can't have some high art films and some completely silly lowbrow ones (which I like just as much), just like live action cinema. Disney couldn't make up his mind whether he was going to go cartoony or serious in any single film, so like a shrewd businessman he played it both ways every time. I think a dark story like Hunchback of Notre Dame would have worked much better without the slapstick gargoyles etc. And Snow White probably would have been better if the title character had had a slightly more cartoony design. Anyway, you've probably heard all this before--just wanted to here your opinion."

Gabby said...

I do really agree.
nowadays animation seems to lose their souls , and most of people only can say ' thats cool!' towards a good drawings.

I rarely see an outstanding character these days, most of the style those are drawn are already exist. I dont know whether it is a good or bad thing

Orangesoda said...

John, if you like actual animation, you should check out Ed, Edd 'n Eddy (season 3 and up). it's the only cartoon these days that still uses actual animation like the old cartoons, so give it a shot.

MGMUA said...

Simpsons is the Most Overrated Piece of Shit That Was Ever Made! The Animation on Simpsons is Terrible,The Characters are Annoying,The Writing Sucks,and Simpsons Does a Very Poor Job at Tributes to Classic Animation!

MickeyCat said...

>>They look like Filmation to me.<<

Glen Keane's not going to be very happy if he hears you say that about his awesome drawings. I can imagine him turning into the hulk when he discovers this blog of yours. :(