Sunday, July 29, 2007

A post-Post post




John K has posted some outstanding comic book art by Harvey cartoon animator, director and comic artist HOWIE POST. We were talking about him awhile back and how generally unknown and under-rated he is. I mentioned this comic strip I remembered called THE DROP-OUTS and promised to publish a couple examples and here they are...

Back when other kids were attending Weblos, football games and anti-Nixon marches, I was in my room pasting up favorite Sunday comics likes these from the Syracuse Herald-Examiner into my scrapbook. THE DROP-OUTS came on the scene around 1970 and didn't run for too long but I liked it. It was basically about two beachcombers stranded on a deserted island. One of them was named "Sandy" (the little one, I think) but I forget the other guy's name. It was kind of a two-man GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. I always wondered if the working title had been THE CASTAWAYS, (which seems more appropriate) but some long-haired editor at the syndicate came up with DROP-OUTS to make it more Timothy Leary-esque. If it did actually go down that way, it was a vain attempt to make hippies read mainstream media.

These drawings are not typical of Howie Post's comic book style, but they are nice and expressive, I think. I wish I had more to scan but they seem to have been lost to the ages. Click the panels to see bigger.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Doodlle Soup



Some digital doodles. A a happy slacker dog and a dispeptic butler.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

ROBIN HOOD CONFIDENTIAL pt. 2 : Keith Ward's "Reynard the Fox"

I stumbled across this book in the Burbank Public Library one day in the early 1980's. It's an "Americanized" version of the German folk classic "REYNARD THE FOX" published in 1945. The illustrator Keith Ward decorates the book with highly appealing drawings of animals in medieval clothing that appear to have influenced Ken Anderson's take on the 1973 Disney version of ROBIN HOOD. "Reynard" was also the villain in Marc Davis' proposed CHANTICLEER feature (which appears to have been set in a somewhat later time period) and I suspect that somewhere during the research for both properties this book may well have been kicking around the studio.

Keith Ward was a prolific illustrator in the first half of the 20th century. These fanciful and accomplished renderings are typical of his later work. Some of his other notable assignments include the original "Dick and Jane" reading primer illustrations and he also designed "Elsie the Cow" for Borden condensed milk, and "Elmer the Bull" for the same company's glue. (I remember an oil portrait of the entire bovine clan at supper that hung in the cloakroom of kindergarten class that was likely Mr. Ward's work as well. I can't for the life of me remember what they were eating.) When the digital age of electronic used book searches dawned, this book is one of the first things I tracked down and got.


As you can see, Keith Ward's jaunty Reynard (on top) resembles Ken Anderson's preliminary "Robin" at least as much as the finished model.




The "Lion Queen" in the above drawing seems to have had every bit as much influence on Ken's version of "Prince John" as the Campbell Grant drawing I posted earlier (see HERE).



Could this anonymous snake in the grass, wandering along with a crow, have been involved in the inspiration for "Sir Hiss?"



And most strikingly, this noble bear's costume "bears" an "unbearably" close resemblance to the disguise "Little John" wears at the archery tourney.



There are many other illustrations in the book too, including rabbits and elephants that look like the ones in the film, a gallows scene, and the king dozing in his royal bed, not unlike the setting of the movie's climactic "heist" scene. Once again, I am not bringing these to light to besmirch Ken Anderson, but to show a likely influence from a heretofore unsung artist. I have to think that Keith Ward must have in some sense been influenced by Disney films back when he was illustrating this book (though to my knowledge he never worked for the studio), so it's all cyclical in a way. Reynard, even in this cleaned-up 1945 version, is too a vicious and cynical character for a Disney movie. He constantly rips innocent creatures off and even kills and eats quite a few. Somehow he gets away with it all. I guess he never heard of "karma."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A 350 MILLION YEAR OLD COMIC STRIP


CLICK HERE to visit the site of a web comic created by my friend Scott Santoro and me. It's called FOSSIL FOOLS, about the creatures who failed to make the evolutionary grade back at the dawn of life on land.

We came up with this almost three years ago talking about how hard it is for some people to keep up with changing times. Scott said:"It's like the creatures in Darwin's diagram, but they're going the wrong way..." and the mental picture struck us so funny we started fooling around with Dr. Seuss-like creature designs of what must have happened during the trial and error phase of evolution. We pitched it around as an animated feature and a TV series but got tired of the inevitable "notes" suggesting we turn it into something else, so we just decided to do it as a web strip for fun. Right now there are just two main characters, but the cast is slated to grow as more creatures make the leap onto terra firma. Hope you like it.

So far there is just one strip, but more are coming. We started putting the blog together right as Scott got hired as a storyboard artist on a production in England. I'm still here in Los Angeles so we are still trying to figure out how to co-blog from a very long distance. A few crafty folks have already stumbled onto the "beta" via my profile so join the early adopters and check it out!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

JOHN K'S COMCAST SPOT


JOY!NEW JOHN K ANIMATION!
Click the above link to see JOHN K's amazing new COMCAST commercial (if you haven't already). I got to do a very short scene in it but it was a real honor. I had only met John once before but have always been a huge fan. I loved the original REN & STIMPY and the recent ones he did had some real gems in them. He's got to be one of the single most influential and unique cartoonists/animation directors around. Hope I can do it again.

Because I don't know how to animate in Flash, John was nice enough to let me animate on ancient planks of pressed wood pulp called paper ("pay-purr"). Someone else had to scan and clean up the drawings digitally, which they did quite nicely...

I also go to meet Marc Decter, John's highly organized, efficient and serene production coordinator. I didn't get to meet the rest of the team (it was a very quick turnaround) but I see that Rex Hackelberg worked on it--I am also a big fan of his blog (see LINKS A' POPPIN'). Rex's drawings and paintings have a loose and loony feel that always gets me inspired. Kali and the rest of the group did awesome work on the whole thing--congrats to all! Hope it sells a lot of Nintendos!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Meet "WTF? MOUSE"


It's high time the small room had a mascot. I nominate this critter, who I randomly drew last year using Photoshop. He's been on my desktop on and off in tile form and I still haven't grown tired of him. I decided to name him "WTF? MOUSE" due to the stunned expression on his mug. You can pronounce it: "Whuthufff-- Mowse" in polite company, if you know any. I am working on some stupid adventures for him to go on. Copyright 2007 Will Finn so no stealing (no kiddin')!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Two Princes


Campbell Grant's 1960 illustration of "King John" (see previous post below) seems to have served as the inspiration for at least one of Ken Anderson's rough designs for the same character in Disney's 1973 ROBIN HOOD feature. Perhaps this is where the oversized crown gag came from too. Kudos to Peter Emslie for commenting in and guessing faster than I expected...

This isn't the only artist who influenced Ken Anderson's take on that film, I can post more references soon. I'm not trying to fault him, but I also want to show credit where its due for some of the ideas in the movie. Certainly some of it seems to have grown out of Marc Davis' concepts for the shelved CHANTICLEER project, which featured a fox villain and lots of barnyard creatures in classic settings. There was also an early UPA cartoon with the Fox and the Crow where the Fox played Robin Hood, looking remarkably like the early sketches of that character. Wether that was conciously or subconciously floating around in Mr. Anderson's mind is anybody's guess, but I have to assume he had seen that short at least once.

ROBIN HOOD has its fans, but I remember being disappointed by it even as a kid (okay, teeenager) and still can't find much to like about it, apart from Ollie Johnston's animation (and some of Milt Kahl's, although his contempt for the project seems to have taken the spark out of much of his work here IMO). Its a potentially good idea but when so much is being borrowed and cribbed from other sources, and recycled from other movies, maybe it was doomed from the start.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Campbell Grant






Earlier I had posted some drawings by Henry Syverson from books by Richard Armour, who wrote a number of humor books from the fifties into the late seventies. Armour was initially known for funny poems, but in the 1950's he began writing satirical history and literature essays in the style of humorist Will Cuppy (author of the posthumously published THE DECLINE AND FALL OF PRACTICALLY EVERYBODY, 1948). Most of Armour's books from this era were illustrated by Campbell Grant, a former Disney story artist who was patterning his style after William Stieg, who had illustrated Cuppy's book. I will scan some of these at a later date for people who are only familiar with Stieg's SHREK-era drawings. They're very amusing.

Here are some of Campbell Grant's illustrations for Armour's dissertation on IVANHOE from THE CLASSICS RE-CLASSIFIED, (1960). Does his take on "King John" (directly above) look vaguely familiar to anyone?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July


This picture isn't all that patriotic (or...is it?) but at least the color scheme is. This was an early experiment with Photoshop, scanning a small story-skectch-sized meeting doodle and trying to figure out how to add color.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Peter Emslie has a blog!


E-i-e-i-oh! Peter Emslie needs no introduction to fans of caricature and illustration, his portfolio site is home to some of the most entertaining images around. Peter is not only brilliant at capturing a dead-on likeness, he also has expert design and color chops, making him a triple threat. Somewhere in my disorganized files is a portrait he did of me for a Disney publicity function years back. Until I can track it down and post it, I hope he doesn't mind me swiping his Michael Moore for promotional "fair use!" Click on his name in the links column and go check out his new blog (if you haven't already)!