Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Caricature identification time

Who is this person of which I have drawn?  Who can name him?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First panel of my next book

I just now completed it and I'm posting here for a test.  I'm trying to get a raw and honest reaction to this so that I can better gauge how I should proceed with my next book.  What do you think of the style? The colours? The character's poses?  Everything?

Also, bonus points if you can guess what movie this is from (although my team of lawyers tell me I've never seen that movie before ;)  )

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The subversive cleverness of Dixieland Droopy

Tex Avery's 107th birthday is coming up on Feb. 26 this Thursday.  Since I know I'll be rather busy that day, I'll have to make this post right now.  This year, to honour Tex I will be talking about something I discovered while watching one of is cartoons Dixieland Droopy.

For those unfortunates who haven't seen it,  I'll give a brief rundown of the scenario.  Droopy plays a guy named John Pettybone who absolutely LOOOOOOOOOOOOVES Dixieland music.  He only owns one Dixieland record but he plays it on his old victrolla constantly, and rather loud too.  He even waves a conductor's baton so he can fully immerse himself in the music. Needless to say, his one neighbour and landlord strongly objects to this and kicks him and his record out of his house.  So, poor John/Droopy is forced to find other places to play his Dixieland record.  He tries a down town cafe.  He tries an organ grinder.  He tries a 'Good Rumor' ice cream truck.  He even tries a merry-go-round which happens to have a family of quadruplet boys in matching outfits playing on it.

Sadly for him, they all react to him the same way the landlord did, by tossing him and his record as far away from them as possible.  And of course every time he's tossed out he has to scramble like mad in order to save his only Dixieland record.  He's usually successful in protecting his record until the final time.  There he trips and drops that record shattering it to pieces.  But, before he has time to shed the first tear over it, the narrator points out that there is Dixieland being played nearby.

It's being played by a flea circus lead by a trumpet playing master named Pee Wee Runt.  So, since Droopy is a dog, he runs passed the bandstand and the fleas naturally latch on to him.  Now John Pettybone/Droopy is deliriously happy because now he has a tiny Dixieland band on his butt.  All he has to do is evade the original owner of that flea circus and his life is perfect.  Droopy is chased all over town, through alley ways and sewer pipes and fresh tar until he finally finds an effective hiding spot in a talent agent's office.

The sign on the door clearly says "No Dog Acts" and the talent agent is very quick to inform Droopy of this.  Since Droopy is not at all interested in impressing any talent scouts at the moment he puts up no protest.  He's about to get tossed out again until the talent agent starts hearing Dixieland music emanating from Droopy's lombard region.  "A musical mutt!! A Dixieland dog!!" He exclaims.  So, through dumb luck, Droopy and his musical fleas are promoted by this guy and they all become a sensation playing the Hollywood Bowl.  And they all lived happily ever after.

"Where's the subversive cleverness?" you're asking.  I'm getting to that.  But first I'll have to give a bit of info about what the world was like when this cartoon came out in 1953.  It all started with the commercial availability of the television set.  It was officially available on the market in 1947.  It was so successful that by 1950, movie attendance had been pretty much cut in half.  People felt they didn't have to go out all the time to see news or entertainment because it was all available on their little flickering box at home.  That meant that in that time period, Hollywood studios were losing money.  Or, at the very least, the profits made from their movies were much lower.  Very unfortunately, the animation studios depended on the crumbs of those profits for their budgets.  With less and less of those crumbs being available, the cartoons' budgets had to be that much smaller.   Walt Disney even shut down his short cartoon division at his studio so that his animated features and any other projects could have that much bigger a budget.
However, one animation studio seemed to be blossoming at this time: UPA.  Since their inception, their graphic style of choice was very flat and abstract, like a Picasso painting or anything from the dadaist movement.  Since this technique was much simpler to execute, being that it took less time and thus cost less money, many other studios began to make their product resemble that of UPA's.  Of course, besides the look, the movement of the characters were basic and stylized as well.  The Acadamy who handed out the Oscars were especially interested in UPA's style, which is still one more reason the other studios all tried to copy them.  In studio executives' minds: pseudo-UPA style = Oscar gold!!!
So it seemed that the fluid movement and the characters looking like solid formidable objects was out,  although not just for economic reasons.  The staff at UPA had an "opinion" or "attitude" about their work compared to that of others.  The felt that the other studios only did "low brow slapstick" while they themselves were making "the highest art".  (This attitude was rather viciously parodied in the WB cartoon A Ham in a Role by the way.  In it, a cartoon dog decides to turn his back on what he calls "low comedy" and goes back to his house thinking he can perform Shakespear's best work and not look ridiculous.  Thankfully, the Goofy Gophers are there to heckle him and prove him wrong.)
Although, the good people at Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies managed to adapt during this time as well, Chuck Jones especially.  (Hey, the UPA studio's graphics were practically his idea.  They based their style on Jones' cartoon The Dover Boys AND Jones even directed that studio's first cartoon Hell Bent For Election.)  When Chuck Jones first created the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, he had no idea that they would catch on as big as they did.  But, when they did, it inspired the entire studio (and the entire industry) to simplify the chase formulas of their cartoons.  This also helped everyone save time and money in this new toned down, stylized climate.

It's been said that Disney animator Freddy Moore vehemently disliked this new style.  He hated it so much that he felt he needed to drink heavily to forget it.  On his lunch breaks, he would go to the local bar and drink as much as he could.  In the afternoon he would stumble back to work drunk as a skunk and still manage to create the finest animation anyone had ever seen.  His boozed up work can be seen in Mickey and the Seal for instance.

So it's no surprise that Tex Avery was very much aware about this trend within the industry.  And I do believe that his response (or at least one of his responses) to it is the cartoon in question Dixieland Droopy.  Here, bombastic high energy style of animation thought to be out of style at the time is represented by dixieland music.  Note what happens in each scenario:

Droopy goes to the down town cafe...

All the upscale people are sipping their lattes...

Droopy puts his dixieland record into the jukebox...

It drives them nuts...

Before he puts his record into the organ grinder's music box, the monkey is mellow and flacid...

But once the dixieland begins, he's crazy and happy and dancing like mad...

Then when Droopy approaches the ice cream truck...

The dixieland makes it go wild and out of control...

The same thing at the merry-go-round with the quadruplets...

The dixieland makes the rigidly slow and orderly cycle of the ride start to spin out of control...

I guess this was Tex's way of fulfilling a secret desire to sneak into animation studios all over Hollywood (and possibly the world) and then inject his own brand of cartoon energy.  I'm sure every fan of Tex Avery would love to do that any chance they can get.
But thankfully in the universe inwhich Dixieland Droopy takes place not everyone hates dixieland music seeing that it ends with a large crowd enjoying it at the Hollywood Bowl.

So, with all of this I've posted that is now swimming in your head, enjoy this very cartoon in full below:

dixieland_droopy by Daffyduckandthedinosaur

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Do I Think of Cancer? Well...

I think very few people will disagree with me on this.

What inspired this brash new opinion of mine?  In the autumn of 2014, my own mother was diagnosed with Cancer in her uterus.  Hearing that news scared the whole family, my mother most of all.  We grew even more concerned when we were told that the type of cancer she had was "the most aggressive".  The doctor also informed mom that the operation itself has a 35% survival rate.
I remember my mother sitting in quite solitude after hearing that.  It was quite apparent that she was reflecting on the thought of no longer being on this earth. And I think I speak for me and both my sisters when I say that no amount of inheritance could replace the love and support mom has given and continues to give us.  I know for me personally I rely on her financial advice every tax time. Plus she's a swell babysitter for my sister's kids.  She would leave a huge hole in our lives if she left now.
So, I think it was for that reason that she summoned the courage to keep going.  She saw that 35% and decided that rather than look at that glass as 13/20ths empty she would look at it as 7/20ths full.  So with that, she bravely marched into the hospital to have her operation and just let the consequences be what they'll be.
Well, that very same day, her uterus was removed and she survived.  She had to stay in the hospital for about a week.  Then she was considered ready to come home. She needed a cane to walk around anywhere (whenever she felt brave enough to go anywhere).  It took about a month before the stitches healed.  After that the chemotherapy began.
As of right now, she has a few chemotherapy sessions to go and we're not 100% sure if all of the cancer was removed from her body with that operation.  But, she does seem to be recovering.  For one, she doesn't need the cane anymore.  She's also been driving her car lately, something she wouldn't even think of doing about a month ago.
So, to commemorate this ordeal, I made the above illustration.  Then, as a Christmas present, I put that drawing onto T-shirts and gave one to each member of the family, including mother of course.

They all appreciated them very much.  But, above all they appreciate mom will be around for a nice long time.  Oh hey, next month is her 68th birthday.  Feel free to wish her a happy birthday either here in the comment section or on Facebook if you're friends with her there.  Let her know you're glad she can celebrate another birthday.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Je suis Charlie aussi

I'm adding my voice and my art contribution to the many many other who are disgusted and irked by the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satire magazine in Paris France.  So here it is:

Take THAT, terrorists!!!  That freaky little monkey dude is what you look like to us.

At various conventions where I've sold my Censor Monkeys comic books I receive many puzzled looks from people.  They seem unable to understand what these monkeys are about (even though their "motus operandi" is in their name).  Well, to those people I say, THIS VERY THING is what they're all about.  Each one of those monkeys represents a relentless agenda to silence all points of view that don't resemble their own.
ISIS is just the most recent and most militant group to push their ideology on the world.  Before them, various other anti-defamation leagues and political correctness focus groups have eroded much of our freedom of expression all over the world.  Granted they aren't cutting off people's heads or killing anyone in cold blood, but they have their own bullying/verbal castration tactics.

 But of course, the absolute saddest part of this whole situation is that some gifted, brilliant, and courageous artists lost their lives to a terrorist group that has every intention to kill again.  At the same time, it fills my heart with elation to see so many still living artists NOT silenced by these heinous acts.  I just one day, the amount of anti-Muslim extremist cartoon satire has increased at least 1000%.  So it seems that ISIS has caused the exact opposite reaction to what they wanted.  I believe (or at least I hope) the term for that is "poetic irony".
This shows hope for the world.  There is a spirit of expression that can and will flourish even under the thumb of the harshest dictators.  These Censor Monkeys are fighting a losing battle.  Inside they are all just frightened children lashing out at their self-imposed boogeymen.  They attempt to destroy all that they can't understand and therefore fear, not too dissimilar to those at a Zine Fair some years ago.  What they don't realize is that no matter how much they are able to seize control of words or images, they can't control ideas.  Much like the Grinch, even though he stole Christmas from the Whos, he couldn't steal their idea of Christmas.

Oh, before I end this post.  I have someone here who has one final message for ISIS.  Ok, Jerome, it's all yours now.  Go ahead:

OooOOH! Fuck you, ISIS!! n'yuck n'yuck n'yuck

Did you hear that?  One Mr. Jerome Horwitz otherwise known as Curly Howard of the Three Stooges just told off the Muslim terrorist group ISIS.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAnd as most people might know, Curly was one of Israel's many children, a Jew.  Need proof?  Here's his headstone:

So that's gotta hurt.

There you go, ISIS.  I hope you're all proud of yourselves now, in that I hope you feel as ridiculous as you look to us.