Friday, October 31, 2008

Meet Me and My Pals at Meltdown This Saturday

If you're in LA come down to Meltdown comics and toys for a signing.

Cast your vote for the craziest candidate!

2:00 this Saturday

I'll be signing my new toyline. Buy a toy and get a caricature!

I'll bring some animatics and clips from the George Liquor Show too. [sody_george_jimmy.jpg]
Jim Smith, Kali and other surprise guests will be there for you to hobnob with!

7522 W Sunset Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA
- (323) 851-7223

How Rubber Can Change Your Life


Created by: Nico Colaleo with help from Eric Bauza and Kali!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

40s cartoons - McKimson and our Dads

McKimson understands humanity - not in all its layers and subtleties, but in its basest elements. He knows what's funny about our basic urges.Some critics may think this is low-class and too simple and I would disagree with that. Most cartoons miss human nature altogether. They not only don't catch the "subtleties" and varieties of human nature - they don't even see the basic truthful essentials of human motivation. The fact that McKimson can milk so much entertainment from man's most primitive qualities puts him way ahead of the vast sea of animators past and present.
Animation has a few formula styles, but most of them lack a basic ability to observe anything from the real world and add it to the potential magic of cartoons. These 2 qualities - realism in character motivation and wild imaginative fancy are the 2 hardest things to achieve in animation. McKimson is slim on the wild fancy, but is strong on the realism - the recognizable human motivations that we can easily identify with.
Disney cartoons are completely abstracted from human motivation or character. Walt created a small handful of simple animated stereotyped characters. Other animators who are Disney fans will continue copying these naive unrealistic character types in fully animated features probably forever. They get all their ideas not from observation of life or their own imaginations, but from other Disney films - or now from Pixar films, the successor to Disney.So-called "realistic" cartoons - prime time cartoons that wish to be compared to live-action sitcoms miss a true observation of humanity in another way. Their characters don't act, talk, move or portray any normal recognizable human characteristics. They move like zombies and speak like cartoon-writers, who have little in common with actual people.So back to the infinitely superior McKimson characters.
Watching his cartoons is like when you were a kid listening to your Dad and his friends playing poker.
They are all yelling at each other, shoving, calling each other stupid and laughing uproariously at each others' misfortunes.
You are witnessing a strange and compelling demonstration of grown up maleness in its rawest form.Not only does McKimson understand men conceptually; he and his team have crazy skills in bringing the characters to life on the screen.
McKimson's solid poses and careful timing gives his actions and abuse a ton of power and humor. This isn't something that just any animators or directors can do.

McKimson was the absolute best at it. None of his actions are arbitrary or culled from stock animation techniques. He doesn't randomly use tons of overlapping action or too much squash and stretch just for the sake of it, like Disney animators tend to do.His animation and timing is thought out and executed to give the story, characters and actions clarity, humor and power.

Every time I see this scene I laugh out loud because of how true and expert it is.


40s Cartoons - Daffy Duck Hunt - Extreme Sarcasm

This is a real typical McKimson attitude and expression. Pure sarcasm and disdain for your fellow creatures. Most of McKimson's acting is done with gestures, motion and posing, not a lot of facial expressions. McKimson's most specific expression is this sneer. You can see it in his scenes in Clampett's cartoons too, only on cuter character designs.
The face is basically symmetrical except for the mouth - a frown that is tilted up and to one side.
This attitude pretty much sums up McKimson's whole world view. His cartoons are built around a bunch of hard bitten abused souls who are looking to take their own turns at abusing other hapless creatures. McKimson's world is literally a dog -eat -duck place, pretty much like the real world before hippies made us lie about ourselves. This is a total refreshing departure from the naive Disney world view that dominated cartoons in the mid to late 30s.
Even Porky is a hard-bitten middle aged jaded soul who has seen the true ugliness of the real world and knows there is only one way to survive.
Daffy Duck Hunt is a funny cartoon, but not quite as slick as "The Foghorn Leghorn". I have noticed 2 basic styles of McKimson cartoons in the 40s. One very well drawn and fluidly animated, the other stiffer and with a less appealing drawing style.
I'm not sure why that is. Maybe he had an assistant who did layouts on the cartoons that were more stock stories? I've noticed this about Chuck Jones' cartoons too. Maybe they just drew some of them faster and used a more shorthand drawing and animation style so they could spend more time on the more innovative or special cartoons. Who knows?
Anyway, I love this verbal gag. It's pretty shocking actually to hear it in a cartoon.
I think this was written by Warren Foster. I wonder how he and McKimson worked together. Foster wrote for Clampett, McKimson and Freleng and was considered the funniest storyman at Warner's. You can tell he had to adapt his own humor to the world views of his directors. He and McKimson created a sort of simplified caricature of Tex Avery's WB cartoons. They focused in on one element of Tex' work - his man-on-the-street attitude, added more acting and avoided the abstract pure cartoony stuff.
This stuff kills me. It's a celebration of how ignorant and base we humans really are. It boils it down to our essence.

Meltdown Toy Interview

Here :
Find out about what goes into the making of funny toys. Hopefully we'll see you Saturday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Color Theory 11 - Mel Crawford's Secret Color Sense

Mel Crawford is my favorite Golden Book Painter. (This is actually a "tell-a-tale" book, but it's Whitman's imitation of Golden Books.)

This book has simpler technique than some of the better known Crawford books, which makes me think maybe TellATale had smaller budgets so the paintings had to be done faster. Thus - less brush strokes.

Crawford has a really unique brush technique, but he has an even more unique color sense. So unique that I can't figure it out.
Usually when I see great color work, I can figure out the whole scheme and plan. Like with Frazetta or Genndy or my favorite Disney cartoons.

I like these color schemes a lot, but I can tell what the plan is behind them. They are easy to analyze. Not so easy to come up with or paint though...

I can't do that with Mel's work. If he has a plan, it is very complex and unique to him.
He doesn't seem to like pure colors. He mixes colors in unusual proportions - never mathematically. Not 50% blue + 50% yellow to get green. Not even 75% + 25% to get turquoise.

He mixes a lot of colors with grays and neutrals - even muddy ones sometimes - which normally I don't like. He makes it work.

So first - each individual color is interesting.

But secondly, the way he chooses what colors to work next to other colors is equally baffling to me. It totally works, because you can see everything in his paintings at a glance. There's no awkward clutter and nothing gets lost.

Sometimes the textures he puts on objects have colors that strobe - like the bark on the trees in these paintings. Or the orangish texture on the purplish-grey rocks behind the pinkish-brownish-grayed bear.

Another thing I love about Mel's color is that he refuses to use the approved colors of the star characters - which are usually mathematical mixtures of colors straight out of the cartoon color tubes.
Wrong Color Magic:

Many people who paint cartoons think that you are supposed to use the simplest colors imaginable - right out of the color tubes.

Partly it's because executives think that kids like "bright colors" and partly it's because it's easy and you don't have to think.

To me, "bright" doesn't mean primary and secondary colors, it means surprising fun colors and combinations. Mel Crawford's colors are always surprising and a lot more colorful than the typical cartoon formula.