Friday, July 18, 2008

CARTOONIST PHILOSOPHERS (AND WHAT A CHAIR IS FOR)

Billy Debeck put soooo much effort into this sheet music cover (above). It's as if the act of drawing was a sheer delight to him and he couldn't bring himself to stop.


A beautiful girl strokes an old man's beard (above) and he's in seventh heaven. Can any other graphic art portray happiness as well as cartoons can ?


I stole this (above) from John K's blog (original clippings from Marc Dekter). Milt Gross never seizes to amaze. The people are funny, the spaces are funny, and the character relationships are funny...but he doesn't stop there. When you enlarge this you'll see that the whole strip is a celebration of the simple fact that rooms and staircases exist. You can spend years cultivating an awareness of little things like that in a Tibetan monastery, or you can read Milt Gross for a nickel. Gross make us glad to be alive by celebrating the commonplace.


Haw! For Opper (above) everyone has a uniform including hobos, and when you wear the uniform of that profession or personality type then you act accordingly. We want to play roles and the uniform gives us an excuse.


Goldberg, like Gross, is capable of expressing profound loving relationships between people. Here (above) the wife threatens the husband with a rolling pin, but you get the feeling that the real reason he gives her what she wants is because he loves her. She's fat and plain-looking but he loves her anyway, and she loves him. Cartooning is an incredible medium. It can express the deepest emotions with just a few lines.


Bud Fisher (above) celebrates open space and, amazingly...the nature of chairs (!). Fisher made me realize what a chair is for. They're obviously for comfort but they're also for reflection, which we apparently have to do frequently. We sit and think about everything we just saw, then after a minute we pop up, ready to see new stuff. We walk around seeing more things, then we plop down and think about the new stuff we just saw. It goes on and on like that. Apparently the indoor world is so strange and unnatural that we have to spend part of every day talking ourselves into accepting it.


Here (above) Herriman's characters gather outside the mysterious wall. Cartoon characters can't bear to stand around randomly. When there's nothing to do they organize themselves into a group pattern. The closely-knit clump of creatures walks from place to place, occasionally releasing one of their own to perform a real-world task. When the task is done the lone creature returns to the clump.



Here's (above) a couple of Herrimans stolen from Mark Kausler's site. According to Herriman we love to sit in containers and put everything, including ourselves, on top of mounds. How would we know that if it weren't for cartoons?

19 comments:

Mahala said...

I love that style of drawing. It reminds me of the old cartoons that can still be found on AMC late at night.

Anonymous said...

If I had any money at all Id build a cartoon museum and make you the curator

TentCamper said...

I love those old cartoons. I acually have several from the 50's (cartoons and ads) framed and up in my house.

Jenny Lerew said...

Eddie, did you ever see the DeBeck drawing I have that was a gift to Mabel Normand?
It's here:
Billy DeBeck drawing of Jenny's

As always it's a treat to read your woolgathering as regards various images, but I'm afraid I see absolutely no trace of deep "love" in that henpecked homunculus under the huge rolling pin...I think it's just flat-out comedy depicting rank fear, LOL. ;D

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: Woolgathering? I was serious.

Anonymous said...

That Happy Hooligan example must be from the era when it was funny to depict the Irish as unwashed, drooling morons, always good for a belly laugh. How times have changed! The Irish aren't funny at all today.

Jenny Lerew said...

I know you are being serious; I just like the term "woolgathering".

I haven't looked it up but I define it as "blueskying" or simply ruminating or riffing on a given topic. It probably means something
not quite that but also--
I just plain love how it sounds. ; )

trevor said...

God, I miss Mutt & Jeff!

- trevor.

Max Ward said...

Isn't that Rube Goldberg drawing weird? The bodies are realistically rendered and then have cartoon heads on top. I like it!

Aaron said...

You can tell there's some love there, cuz they're right up against each other. In art, one must assume that every decision an artist makes is delibrate. He if he was trying to communicate fear I think he would have put some distance between them, or something, but he put them right up against each other, and the man's expression isn't fearful, it's just kind of like, he's some dumb guy with a forceful woman.

Anonymous said...

If anyone misses "Mutt and Jeff" just watch a couple of their silent cartoons. Those things are guaranteed to cause less missing.

William said...

This is one of my favorite posts so far! It inspired me to upload a few of my drawings for the first time and briefly woolgather on them.
artistruth.livejournal.com

No, I don't think this post is woolgathering. But mine is and I'm really glad to find a new word.

Anonymous said...

I love the work by all those cartoonists you mentioned! I treasure a Rube Goldberg "Pepsi and Pete" newspaper clipping that I found in an antique shop. 28 bucks, and worth it.

Jenny Lerew said...

Oh, heck--let's all just gather some skeins, shall we?
; D

Anonymous said...

Greetings Eddie my name is Victor. i met you and had the pleasure of talking with you for about 2 hours, along with my girlfriend Sevonne and my friend Alex at the Bakshi exhibit about a month or so ago. sorry for taking so long to respond but here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28786077@N04/ is a link of pictures from that night.thanks oh and my email is victortillas2@yahoo.com .

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Victor: Holy Cow! Thanks a million for the pictures! It was really nice of you to send them! That was a great night! It was so good to see Ralph get some of the recognition he deserves.

John A said...

The "cartoon clump" appears to be one of those ideas that was hijacked by writers of modern animated cartoons. Anything resembling actual philosophy was jettisoned long ago.

praveenboss said...

good work ... great goin... visit mine...link1

Eshniner Forest said...

the folks drawing these drawings had a totally different perspective going into there drawings. Its hard to understand the point of origin. It was a different world back then. I wish I could capture some of these elements in my own drawings.