Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Wow! This first one (above), the one where my hair is like a flaccid condom, is great! Let's see if John's trademark touches are there: shovel nose, giant wart, Ubangi earlobe, buck teeth, non-existent chin....check! They're all there!
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Even today primitive tribes are occasionally discovered in some remote corner of the world and, prompted by the books, I'm in favor of leaving them completely alone. My reasons for believing that are mainly humane and scientific but also because they're almost as much of a threat to us as we are to them. I hate to say it, but...primitive people are often not nice guys.
Maybe that's because the idea of universal human rights is alien to so many of them. Their loyalty is to their family, clan or tribe. Outsiders may have no rights at all. Killing outsiders, even when a state of war doesn't exist, isn't even considered murder. Deceiving them and stealing from them is admired. Enslaving them is okay, so was cannibalism in some places.
In recent centuries Europeans brought a lot of this grief on themselves by wandering into primitive areas, sometimes with evil intent, but you have to wander, how many normal traders were caught up in all this weirdness? We'll never know.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
By far the most exciting front page newspaper format I know of was that of a weekly British tabloid: "The Illustrated Police News" which ran from the 1840s to 1938.
The paper was lurid to be sure, but it was immensely popular and it spun off a host of imitators. Of course you could argue that the Police News itself was an imitator.
It was a much more exciting and densely illustrated version of The London Illustrated News (above). It also benefited from traditions laid down by the Penny Dreadfuls and the broadsheet tradition of The Newgate Calendar. Even so, the IPN had a flair that its rivals couldn't match.
Illustrated news naturally favors the type of news that lends itself most readily to illustration, namely violent crime and sex.
Wow! Now THAT's (above) a front page!
The Graphic sold well but it lacked the pizazz of the Police News. It relied on realistic etchings and on photography when that became available. In my opinion that was a fatal decision.
Photography is too literal, too limited to what the camera can actually see.
Not only that, but it doesn't reproduce on pulp paper very well. Photography is a fine supplement to illustration but it doesn't do much to help the newspaper that it dominates. In my opinion photography never worked in pulp newspapers and only came into its own in glossy-paper magazines like LIFE.
Friday, May 13, 2016
The beach picture at the very top used models and was taken on a soundstage. Prager spares no expense to get the photos she wants. I read that she used 150 models for one of her shoots.
Maybe she can afford to do that because her pictures are reproduced large and are sold alongside paintings in fine art galleries.
I'm not normally a fan of Bleak Minimalism (my term for it) but I'll make an exception for Prager.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Until I saw a documentary on the subject at Steve's, it never occurred to me to compare the National Lampoon to Mad Magazine. After all, the two magazines were aimed at different audiences: Mad to high school kids and the Lampoon to college students and twenty-somethings. I liked both for different reasons, though Mad had already slipped into a rut by the time the Lampoon came out.
Later on, the Lampoon got in a rut as well but that didn't stop them from declaring war on Mad. Yes, war! They said Mad wasn't funny!
Well, I guess it wasn't by the time the Lampoon skewered them.
Yikes! NL's parody of Mad (above) was scathing. It drew blood! The Mad people must have had a bad day when they read it.
Mad took the criticism (above) to heart, however and, though it took years, eventually Mad adopted the Lampoon's adult, drug culture, dead baby joke, Republicans-Are-Mentally-Defective stance.
The problem was, that approach was obsolete by the time Mad adapted it. Generation Y and the Millennials weren't averse to radical politics but they preferred to wrap it in a different kind of comedy.
Mad lost its way.
Since I'm a fan of the old Harvey Kurtzman Mad, I thought I'd mention a couple of things that magazine did right.
Also, Kurtzman's Mad put an emphasis on the unique artwork. The Lampoon was a writers magazine that used artists; Mad was an artists magazine that used writers. Too much of the Lampoon art was generic.
Mad also had some first-rate artists in their best years, artists like Don Martin (above), Wally Wood and the young Jack Davis. The Lampoon had artists too, but they were mostly there to illustrate writers ideas. The writer was the star.
Why that is, why cartoon art works best when addressing the human condition in general, I can't explain. Haw! I can already think of exceptions to what I just said, but for the sake of brevity I'll stick with my point.
Saturday, May 07, 2016
I saved this because it made me realize that there's something surreal about walking in a world where everybody else is walking at the same time. Anyway,
nothing ever came of this because it would have required too much animation.
Above, the same timid dog we saw in doodle form, a little later in the cartoon. Even squirrels push him around. Once again, this is a fragment of a visual script rather than a storyboard.
I love writing prose but scripts work best when they're drawn out rather than written. There is one drawback to that technique, though. You can unconsciously lose your feel for structure when the story's drawn. That's why it's useful for an artist to outline a story first with words, if only in bullet points.