Thursday, March 14, 2013

Studying Up on Retro Cartooning

Always looking to keep my work fresh I'm constantly keeping my eyes peeled for new inspiration. Like a fancy new liquor I can splash in the martini shaker of my brain, sometimes I find something in the back of of my cabinet shelf that's been there all along, hiding in plain sight, covered in dust and cobwebs. I mix it in with my regular favorites and holy crap- where was this deliciousness my whole life? 
'Gee, willeckers!'
Self portrait in the pie-eyed
style of 20s-30s animation.

I plan on doing a whole 'family portrait' in this style
for eventual 2013 Christmas cards. 

So hey guess what- that thinly-veiled analogy I just used of liquor is actually about retro cartoons, particularly those of the 1920s. I've always been a fan of old cartoons, especially since my first artistic interests laid in the animation industry. I fortunately have SUPER supportive parents as well, who were totally feeling my artistic obsessions (especially since these interests were nice and quiet and solitary when I was a kid) and would point me in the direction of pretty much anything animation-related they came across. In particular the old Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and Fleischer cartoons of their youth and then eventually I moved on to the more obscure works including those of Osamu Tezuka (Unico), Richard Williams (Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure) and Nelvana (Rock & Rule). Even during vacations to Disney World as a child my parents would enroll me in children's animation classes while they were getting to ride Splash Mountain. 

'Cutie Patootie!'
A flapper pinup in the 20's style.

As I got older my interest shifted from animation into comics but I still wanted to keep the clean aesthetic and line economy of traditional 2D animation and I've been chasing that look ever since. And being a big fan of the concept of 'climbing your artistic family tree' for inspiration, I've been researching the works of Ub Iwerks and Max Fleischer, two of the founding fathers of animation. I remember watching so many of these cartoons as a kid and being engrossed in the adorable creepiness.

Fleischer's Bimbo in "Bimbo's Initiation"

Part 1 of "The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story"

I hope these inspire you as well! I hope in the near future to have my pie-eyed portraits available as a commission option!
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