Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Uncle Eddie got this recipe directly from John K. and I got it directly from Uncle Eddie! This is the real McCoy, the world's manliest cartoonist burger."
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Here are the earliest funny magazine drawings that I have. They're from a bound collection of Punch, the British humor magazine. The date is 1842. They're still a bit primitive and they're not as funny as Punch would print only a few years later, but they beat most of what you can find now. Click to enlarge.
Here's a nice one that emphasizes foreground/background contrast. The original was reproduced tinier than what you see here.
Just for contrast, here's a strip, as much of it as I could fit on my scanner, from last week's Sunday Comics section in The Daily News. What a difference 165 years make!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I read "Double Indemnity" and was amazed to see to see that Cain gave his brilliantly-conceived characters the short shrift and spent most of his time on trivial details of the crime. I also read the novel of "Mildred Pierce", and that had the same problem. Once again the characters and situation were brilliant, but Cain didn't know what to do with them. That's OK. He was still a brilliant writer.
He had six famous writers (one of the was Faulkner) take a shot at it before he got what he wanted. It was frustrating because combining two separate genres isn't easy and he didn't know how to go about it. He just had a feeling that he'd know it when he saw it.
Sometimes he had three writers working simultaneously and completely separately on the same project, a practice that makes writers furious. One writer "broke the spine" of the improved story, but was too slavish to the book in the details. Two others added too many fantastic and implausible elements, and made the story too long. One made the story too violent. Wald believed melodrama couldn't support too much violence. One murder was enough.
Finally he had enough interesting scenes to make a good story. Every writer contributed something of value, but it was still too long. With the shooting date approaching he took the bold step of getting a radio writer to condense the story. Radio people were experts at telling long stories in short formats. The radio guy, Ranald MacDougal, accomplished miracles and tied it all together deftly.
At one point in the story Mildred marries a guy and one minute later -- one minute! -- she decides to divorce him...and it works! Now that's compression! MacDougal did it by making the audience hate the guy and want to see Mildred divorce him. We're actually impatient to see Mildred dump him and when she does it, after only a minute of screentime, our only reaction is "Well, it's about time!" MacDougal actually makes the guy appealing in certain other parts of the film, he just emphasized the negatives in this section to smoothe over the story compression. Wow! Is that expert writing or what!?
I forgot to add that Wald hired Curtiz to direct the film, which was a brilliant choice. Curtiz injected humor into the story to smooth over the sometimes fuzzy logic, and it worked beautifully.
I'm not aware that Jerry Wald did anything else that was particularly distinguished, but in 1944-5, when Mildred was made, he was definitely cooking with gas. The womans' film/noir synthesis he created is now one of the most common types of film.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I wish I could recommend a book of anatomy for artists but I can't. There are a few passable books on the subject but no great ones. Some of the manga books are good for cartoony girls' anatomy, some of the older books are good for illustration reference, but no book I know of discusses the human body the way it really is.
Where a lot of books fail is that they rely on simplified muscle charts like the one above. Nobody has a split calf like the one in the drawing above. I'm sure the drawing is accurate but in real life some additional muscles, ligaments or fat must cover the two parts of the calf and make them seem like one.
Look at the drawing of the sternomastoid muscles on the left, above. According to the drawing charts they form a big "V" in the neck. You can only see half of them here but you know what I mean.
Now look at the photo on the right (above). The "V" is clear enough when the neck is normal but when it's strained as it is in the picture, or the face grimaces, the V becomes an "A." That's because muscles the drawing doesn't show cover the sternomastoid and they also have an influence on the way the neck looks. The muscle charts are incomplete. They leave out muscles just to have a tidy drawing.
Before I leave the subject here's a couple of photos (above) to prove that most people have long torsos in relation to their legs. You could almost say that long legs are an invention of artists.