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Friday, August 31, 2007

The Laugh Out Loud Cats Comic

"Ape Lad" is publishing a brilliant comic strip originally drawn by his grandfather in 1913.
THE LAUGH OUT LOUD CATS can be viewed on this link here.
And originals are available too. I just wish I had thought of this first!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Another Great Art Direction Book

Go order this book now.
It's the first in-depth study of the work of one of the great animation art directors, MAURICE NOBLE.
It'll be out in February 2008, which is a bit long to wait, and it's a bit pricey, but it will be worth every minute and dollar.

With this book and Hans Bacher's DREAMWORLDS available in the same year, animated films can't help but look better!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Another Bob

This just goes to show you how unreliable photos are for caricaturs. This is another shot of Bob Clampett, and his facial structure and even the thickness of his eyebrows appear very different than the photo printed just below. I used this one for my caricature.

Part Two Warner Brothers Caricature...

This is Part Two of the caricature entry, so you'll have to read backwards.
So now that I had the pictures of all four of them, I started working up rough sketches, starting with Clampett.
Tough man to draw. He photographed differently each time. A shot taken from his famous 'home movies' at Warners shows the little-kid Chuck, and Bob with a very long face and lantern jaw--exactly like his caricatures. But this photo shows him with a square jaw and strong chin, but no lantern jaw.
Why he photographed that way in stills is a mystery, but perhaps the photographer got him from a good angle.

This is why it is never a good idea to draw from photographs; life is always better, and if your subject is not alive, a motion picture will do just as well. It is very important to see the muscles of the face working, expressions, and so on. For example, Bob Clampett had dimples. They only showed in one of the photos--clearly not this one. Friz Freleng's freckles also did not photograph. Chuck has a boyish quality that does not come across in my caricature, but I knew him better than the others and know that he had a mischievous streak in him. If he looks a little manic here, that's his inner Coyote showing through.
Well anyway I got the whole thing done this morning, and once Didier's designer puts the type and title on the page, it will be done.

That Warner Brothers Mob

My old friend Didier Ghez has published a number of interviews with Disney artists in five books called WALT'S PEOPLE.

Each book boasts black and white cover caricatures of the interviewees by Peter Emslie.

Didier asked me to work up some caricatures of some of the Warner directors for the cover of his newest book, BUGS' BUDDIES, which will be published in 2008.

Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Friz Freleng's work is well known to everyone; but their faces are not. They are far less well known than most of the Disney people--although to most people outside the animation world, Disney artists also have no faces.

To make matters even more difficult for myself I decided I wanted to draw each of these men in their prime, as young men.

I'd known Chuck Jones pretty well, when he was already rather old, and met each of the other three only once.

The first thing I decided to do was use characters associated with each director as his 'shadow'. I also had the quaint conceit that the characters would be in color, and the men's faces would be black and white artwork. The characters came to life through their imaginations, and have survived them. That was sort of the idea, at any rate. Maybe I really did it because it sort of looked cool.

Didier was enthusiastic about the idea. Now came the fun part. Where did I find pictures of some of these guys as young men?

Some were in the Warner books, but the difficulty of working from photos is: the face can look different from different angles, and at different ages in a person's life. Chuck Jones looked about seven years old in one picture that Greg Ford kindly sent to me.

Caricatures the guys did of themselves were no help at all. The WArner crew was vicious--toward themselves--. Bob Clampett drew himself as a turkey necked longfaced geek with a beaky nose, receding chin, and a huge head of hair. Photos reveal him to have resembled a young Elvis--classic features, small nose, dark eyes, strong chin, square jaw and face. If he'd been born twenty years later he could have been a matinee idol. At least the dark pompadour was accurate in his caricatures.

Chuck Jones was even less kind to himself. He's frequently caricatured in the Warner cartoons as an overweight, blubberlipped straw-haired pinhead. And Chuck designed all of his own characters!

I could not believe it, but Little John in the hilarious RABBIT HOOD ("Da-a-a-a-a-h, Don't you worry, never fear! Robin Hood will soon be here!") was a caricature of Chuck, by Chuck.

Friz Freleng was usually drawn as a sort of chameleon lizard, with a tremendous snozz and receding forehead.

Tex Avery looked elfin; his caricatures came closest to suggesting what he actually looked like. Some good shots of him appear at the top of this post.

So what to do?

Well, some of the photos of the fellows had better angles than others. I was lucky enough to find a shot of Chuck and Friz in a turnover session, together. Chuck is revealed to have had a strong chin, a round face, and fine straight hair. He also had remarkable eyebrows that were shaped like upside down V's. You can see everything but the 'eyebrows' in the pasteup at the head of this post. They were too light to photograph.
Friz wasn't lizardlike at all, though he does appear to have a slightly sloping forehead. The receding hairline is probably his most prominent feature. He does not have a large nose. (he was always drawn with one!)
Part Two of this article continues above: the finished illustration is shown below. You'll figure it out, which is more than I did when publishing this stuff.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A couplea Books

Book cover design and caricature by Nancy Beiman
Caricatures (L To R, top ) Tex Avery, Friz Freleng
Bottom: Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones
Editor: Didier Ghez
Publication date: 2008

Hans Bacher's DREAMWORLDS will be published in English by Focal Press on December 7.

The book was copyedited by yours truly, but Hans did the real work assembling treasure trove of artwork from dozens of films. His color sketches from BALTO, LION KING, MULAN and other well known animated films are here, and there are some splendidly restored multiplane backgrounds from BAMBI under a section called 'Masters". This is the first book of its kind written by a working art director. It's not a history book--it shows you how to think out color and design when creating an animated world.

You can see the preorder form here:

Hans has had several blogs that show excerpts from the book, but I think his latest blog is the best. It's called animation-treasures 1 and can be viewed here. Hans showcases the work of many art directors and reconstructs pan backgrounds from everything from a Fleischer tabletop setup to a Zagreb short.This gets my vote for one of the most marvelous sites on the Web--the analysis of the color scripting in WHAT'S OPERA DOC is priceless.

Read. Learn. And marvel at how many wonderful artists worked in animation. It's a great medium when people are allowed to be creative!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Funny Stuff

My friend Gizmo the cat has introduced me to the very funny, crazy feline world. I had always thought cats were dignified, aloof creatures, not dependent like dogs--

Well, cats can't be generalized as a species; the personality of the animal, like that of a human, is pretty much is determined by its family upbringing and genetics. In other words,cats must be judged as individuals, not en masse. And some cats, such as Gizmo and a few others that I have met, love to play, look silly, cuddle, and generally act like a dog. Gizmo even runs to greet me whenever I come home. This is a nice treat and I'm grateful for it.

There is a very funny website called I Can Has Cheezburger? featuring ridiculous captions to photos of cats. Some vary in cleverness. Some are hilarious, some just rude or stupid, but most are a very entertaining way to start the day.

Curiously enough other animals besides cats are sometimes featured, including the "Lolrus" and various rodents with corms. My fave was the bunny eating cookies. If you visit the site, look under 'foodz' or 'cookie' at the bottom of the page to see the cookie thief.

Cookies are a major theme on the site.

The picture in this post appeared on the site recently and I thought it was a hoot. It's captioned in proper English, which is unusual for the lolcats: usually they speak a weird lingo distantly related to Krazy Kat's Yiddish-influenced prattle...the Lolcat language fuses Southern slang, text messaging, and onomatopoeia. Some terms are already becoming 'standard'--at least within a small group.

Do not want!


I has a....

I'm in yr....

Nom Nom Nom (sound of cat eating) This one is my favorite.

Anyway, here's a famous image from the site. The lolcats are guaranteed to raise a smile.