Monday, March 31, 2014


Here's my own version of the Welles/Jaglom restaurant-type dialogue, with Mike as a sort of Orson Welles.  It's a fairly accurate account of what we actually talked about there, but Mike won't allow me to post his picture so I've had to represent him with pictures of Tex Avery's wolf. If you've ever been in a restaurant with Mike you  know how apt that is. The man is never less than fully aware of what the pulchritude in the room is doing. 


EDDIE: "I wish I could remember which actor said that the purpose of the acting in a scene is to make it memorable."

MIKE: "Yeah, like Eli Wallach did with Tuco in 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.' "

EDDIE: "Wow! A great example! Everything he did in that film was memorable. He went way beyond what must have been in the script."

MIKE: "That's what every actor should do. It's an actor's job to bring something to the table that only he can provide. 90% of acting is cast...Uh, Eddie, QUICK! Look at the salad bar! The girl...the girl!"

EDDIE: "Huh? That's not a girl...that's a guy."

MIKE: "No, no, no! Marone!!!! Not him! What's the matter with you? The girl behind the salad bar!"

EDDIE: "Can we get back to..."

MIKE: "Oh, yeah...sure, sure...I didn't mean to interrupt your high tone babbling with something as trivial as a drop dead gorgeous girl. Paaardon moi. So what were you jabbering about, Edward?"

EDDIE: "Acting."

MIKE: "Acting? Oh, right...okay. Well, remember what Jodi Foster said in that Esquire article...the one where they ask a famous person, 'What have you learned?' " She said she learned the most from DeNiro when they were doing the Taxi film."

EDDIE: "Really? What did he say?, Mike, you're not paying attention!"

MIKE; "Did you see what JUST WALKED IN? Did you SEE her? Oh, my Gaaaawd!"

EDDIE: "That's her boyfriend with her. You're gonna get a knuckle sandwich, wait and see."

MIKE: It'd be worth it, it'd be worth it!!!!

EDDIE: "...MIKE! Nearby: oyfriendbay (Pig Latin for 'boyfriend'). Ucklenay andwichsay (Pig Latin for 'knuckle sandwich') coming this way."

MIKE: "Okay, okay. Don't worry about it. Well, DeNiro took Foster out to lunch four times and every time he went over her lines with her. She didn't understand why because she already knew her lines but the fourth time she realized what was going on. He was trying to provoke her to be the character the lines were about, and not just a reader of lines.

He said it was okay to deviate from the lines if she was totally in character and remembered to bring it all back to the phrase that would justify his dialogue, which came next. Foster said she never forgot that."

EDDIE: "That's great! That must be how Woody....."

MIKE: "EDDIEEDDIEEDDIEEDDIE!!!!! Speaking of a WOODY, check out that girl behind the counter! The one with the black hair. OOH, MY GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWDDDD!!!!!!!!..........."


Saturday, March 29, 2014


A new book has come out: "My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles," edited by Peter Biskind. If you're a Welles fan like I am this is must reading. I'll digest a few quotes from the book, and mention that these are Welles' opinions, not my own.


"I recently saw what I've always been told was Jack's (John Ford's) greatest movie, and it's terrible. The Searchers. He made many very bad pictures."


"I hate it, you see? I deeply hate it...the maid's furniture is what it is. I knew that Deco was bad_let me be modest_when I was as young as fourteen! And I was so happy after the World War, when people started building other things."


"I said, 'No he (the Harry Lime character played by Welles) has to be fascinating. You must understand why he's got this city in his hand.' And Carol [Reed] took a flyer on that idea and changed the character completely. Greene's Harry Lime was nothing like the way I played it. Every word that I spoke, all my dialogue, I wrote, because Carol wanted me to. Including the 'cuckoo clock.' "

[Elsewhere he credits Korda and Reed for the film.]


"Chaplin had too much beauty. He drenched his pictures with it. That's why Keaton much better."


"He has to act. He doesn't care if it's a bad movie or a bad play. He has to work. Which is admirable. That's why he went so far beyond me as an actor...he was_and is_a professional, whereas I don't see acting as a profession, as a job, never have. I am an amateur. An amateur is a lover...with all the caprices and the difficulties of love. I don't feel compelled to work. And Larry does. A professional turns up on Wednesday afternoons."


"Thalberg was the biggest single villain in the history of Hollywood. Before him, a producer made the least contribution...he didn't direct, he didn't act, he didn't write...all he could do was mess it up, which he didn't do very often, or tenderly caress it. Support it. Producers would only go onto the set to see that you were on budget.

Now the producer's gotta be creative. The director becomes the fellow whose only job is to say, 'Action' and 'Cut.' [With Thalberg] you were 'just a director' on a 'Thalberg production.' Don't you see? A role had been created in the world."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I thought I'd put up a blog about Topffer, the Swiss artist who's said to have invented the comic strip. All the illustrations in this post are by Topffer. I have a book about the man but I've only spot read in it so far so I hope there's no errors in the chronology.

Let's see....well, in a way the comic strip can be said to have begun in England with lithographic artists like Hogarth, Rowlandson and Gillray. These guys didn't draw serial comic stories but they pioneered the idea of simplified, funny drawings. Before these guys, drawings appearing in print were labored and were expected to have classical artistic merit.

Maybe Napoleon can take some of the credit for the birth of cartooning because the war against him compelled the British to crank up the production of caricatures insulting the French. Cartooning, which was previously shunned as low class, was now regarded as positively patriotic. Of course, after the war a lot of skilled caricaturists were left with nothing to do and once again cartooning began to be perceived as low class.

Enter Rudolphe Topffer, a young university professor in Geneva. He collected wartime English caricatures and was emboldened to try his hand at it after reading a serious book about the shape of people's heads revealing their true personalities. Since caricature was considered beneath the dignity of a professor he had to draw in his basement, out of sight of snooping eyes.

Topffer drew even more loose than the English. Biographers speculate that this is because he had bad eyesight but it may also have come about because he was only an artist in his spare time. Anyway, influenced by his book of heads, he developed a comedic style that didn't depend on political caricature.

It's a good thing he disdained politics because this endeared him to Goethe who hated political caricature. When Topffer published his first book in 1830 Goethe loudly endorsed it, and that opened a lot of doors for the Swiss artist.

Unfortunately his overnight popularity also worked against him. The print run for that book was only a few hundred copies which quickly sold out. After that large numbers of pirate editions were made and a host of imitators sprung up.

One of these was Cham, an artist hired by the publisher to transfer Topffer's drawings onto lithographic stone. Cham took Topffer's serial panel technique, combined it with his own Daumier-type style, and rushed into print with his own books, which sold very well.

In order to compete with his imitators Topffer increasingly put an emphasis on cartoon acting, something the imitators had trouble with. Some of the drawings in his subsequent books looked like still frames from animated fact, you could argue that Topffer was the father of animated cartoons as well as comics. Anyway, his imitators hit back with an English innovation...the word balloon.

Poor Topffer, being a literature professor, clung to the caption and disdained the balloon. For Topffer the incongruity between the sedate caption and the outrageous drawing was what gave cartoons their appeal, but the public increasingly disagreed. Captions lingered on right up to the 20th Century but the word balloon eventually prevailed.

After the mid-19th Century I don't know what happened to Topffer. He was highly regarded by artists but became less known by the public. Maybe his innovations were dimmed by the entry into cartooning of first rate professional artists like Daumier, Dore, Lear and Wilhelm Busch. Maybe his skeptical attitude toward radical politics put people off. I'm not sure.

Anyway, let's raise a Theory Corner glass to the memory of Topffer who did so much to advance cartooning and the comic strip.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Above, a portrait by Ramsey from the Huntington Library in Pasadena. I just visited there and I thought you might like to see what I found. 

I'll start with the exterior, above. This was the house of 19th Century railroad tycoon, Henry Huntington. It's an art museum now. There's a few buildings like this on the estate and collectively they're called The Huntington Library. 

Outside are rambling gardens of different types. This one (above) is clearly patterned after pictures by Fragonard, though you can't get a sense of that from this photo. Wait a sec, let me grab another picture... 

Okay, there! That's (above) the kind of garden it was. And yes, there really are trees like that. 

The centerpiece of the gardens is a small valley containing a Japanese garden. I'm guessing that the gardens are more costly to maintain than the buildings.

Inside the house we get an insight into Huntington's personality by seeing what he chose to collect. Near the door, in a place of honor, is a portrait of James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine.  Good for Huntington! He made his fortune on steam power and he honors the man who made it possible.

The caption on the wall says that Watt's friends thought the likeness was striking, but they remembered him as being much more jovial than he appears here.

Also in a place of honor is this well-known portrait (above) of Samuel Johnson. I'm assuming that Huntington accessed Johnson mainly through Boswell's biography. Imagine that...a rough and tumble railroad guy who found Boswell's book to be useful and inspiring.

Here's (above) Mrs. Huntington. After her husband died she became the richest woman in the world. I was hoping her portrait would convey a haughty attitude,  a "Who let you in here? Did you wipe your feet?"-type expression but no,  she looks like she was a nice person.

The Huntington houses Gainsborough's "The Blue Boy." Gainsborough used to brag that he got his backgrounds from still lifes of broccoli and blankets.

The picture's much parodied in America and the boy's often portrayed as a fop. That's not really fair. The kid looks perfectly manly to me, he's just wearing an outrageous costume that that nobody at the time realized was outrageous. 

I wish I could remember whose bust this was. We both have the Fitzgerald nose.


Boy, there sure are a lot of naked people here.


P.S. I just received a comment from K. Marinov on the 7/30/12 post, CAVES IN THE CLOUDS. Marinov sez:

I was doing a Google image search for "cloud caverns" because I flew through one on March 7, 2008, but was too awestruck to reach for my cell camera (that wouldn't have done it any justice anyway). These paintings are all that I could find.

The cloud cavern I saw was on a flight from Odessa, TX to Houston, TX in the pre-dawn hours. I could see daybreak beginning in the horizon and we started flying through some clouds. A short while later, sun not up yet, we flew into a cloud cavern. I saw pillars, mountains, valleys, ceilings, and plateaus very similar to these images.

It was a dark blue/gray hue since the sun hadn't risen yet. But then, the sun rose...

ORANGE! YELLOW! PINK! RED! I WAS IN HEAVEN! I was just awestruck. I hadn't EVER seen anything like that and I now consider my life complete to have seen such a sight. Thank you for posting these pics!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I'll start with a Neverland map that I assume was sold at Disneyland soon after it opened. It's not all that useful as a map but it's cheery and would look good on a wall.

Here's (above) another take on Neverland. I love this poster. Black and white enhances the effect.

Above, a gangster map of Chicago.

Above, a detail.

Above, still more details.

This (above) isn't really a map. It's done by an artist who paints on maps.

Here's (above) a map showing the progress of the Pequod as it hunted Moby Dick.

I read that the octopus (above) appears on more maps than mermaids and narwhales.

Above, Mussolini as a grasping octopus...or is it? In a comment Sir Pogalot says it's Churchill.

I wonder if this map of London (above) is still in print?

Here's (above) the world without water, committed to paper in 1690.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I thought I'd update my previous post about drawing apps for the iPad mini. Among the apps I use frequently now is "Paper." That's it above. I even use their stylus (see the comments for more on the stylus). I like the pen tool, which actually draws like a brush. It has a nice, fluid line and a beautiful thick and thin.

The problem is that the T&T only appears when you draw fast. If you draw normally with the same brush you get a thin, rapidograph line. That's because the stylus and the program aren't geared for pressure sensitivity. They do support the pressure sensitive Pogo Connect stylus, though comments to the support site indicate that some users aren't happy with the result.

So I start with Paper because that makes the best lines then, when I've got an idea I like, I switch to "Sketches." Sketches is similar to Pencil, but it has more features. The dot  and airbrush tools are wonderful!

I just started using the "Animation desk" program. I'll show you the doodle clips I began with when I figure out how to move them to Vimeo or YouTube.

The program has some annoying bugs.  Drawing with it is like trying to sketch with a tricycle dipped in paint. Lines drop out, become thin, colors change...there's some real stability issues here...but amazingly, even with those liabilities, the program is still a lot of fun to use...and it only costs a few bucks!

Here's (above) letters drawn with Animation Desk's fan brush and transported to Sketches for those cool halftone dots. Haw! I had no room for the "e" in "before."

Hmmmm....let me try an airbrush pass on that. Wow! It looks like a 50s jazz album.

Here's (above) a photo transported to the "Adobe Ideas" app. I haven't used this free program much so I won't comment on it. I'm still curious about "Procreate," "Sketchbook Pro," and "Art Rage." I'm also wondering about "Inspire Pro," which I think is also free. People tell me it has lots of brushes.

 Does anyone here have an opinion about which iPad drawing app has the best brushes for cartooning?

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I thought I'd show a few examples of early newspaper comics you might not have seen. This one (above) is extracted from a page by William F. Marriner. He was a terrific draughtsman and a really funny guy.

He died in 1914 at the age of 41. At first it was believed he was shot after he came home and interrupted a burglary in progress, but a neighbor quoted him as saying that if his wife didn't come home soon he'd kill himself and torch his home, which is exactly what happened.

Can you believe it? Comics strips were used to illustrate serialized books (above). We should do that today.

This comic was printed in a Sunday supplement magazine, This Week. It looks more recent than a hundred years old, but I couldn't resist including it

Imagine being a kid cartoonist and growing up with newspaper comics like this (above). I like the way this artist packs the page with art.

Above, another brilliant Sunday page by Powers.
I can't believe the comics page attracted artists of this caliber (above). Whatever happened to this guy?

Ahhh, refreshed at the fountain of Rube Goldberg (above).

Here's (above) a detail from George Herriman's "Stumble Inn." Fantagraphics says they'll publish a whole book of this strip soon.

Oh, what the heck! I 'll put up the entire Herriman page.


BTW: All these strips were stolen from Alan Holtz's amazing blog, "Stripper's Guide." You can find a link in the right sidebar.