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Location: Cantonment, Florida, United States

Well, uh, hmm...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Remember when cartoons were cool?

I love cartoons. In case you haven't read any of my previous blog entries, I wanted to make sure you knew that. Recently, I've been spending a lot of time over at the blog of animator, John Kricfalusi. I used to be skeptical about a lot of Kricfalusi's claims of what makes animation appealing. I felt, because I tend to focus on writing and verbal gags rather than visual ones, that overly cartoony animation was distracting. After reading Kricfalusi's blog on animation, I've done a reversal. I've tried to look for the concepts he talks about in the cartoons I watch, and it's striking to realize just how right he is about so much. Genuine cartooniness from masters such as Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett enhance the story rather than take away from it. All elements must blend and balance, both the visual and the auditory.

That's not to say I don't still love well written but poorly animated cartoons, it's just that now I'm beginning to recognize the gap that exists when the animation is seen only as a medium for the characters mouths to spout dialogue. Why shouldn't the cartoon be pleasing to look at? Moreover, why shouldn't it reflect the talents, even geniuses, of those who animate the cartoons?

Why not take the concepts that make an acknowledged masterpiece, like Botticelli's The Adoration of the Magi, and place them into a cartoon? The Adoration of the Magi is a wonderful example of balance, geometrical in its design without being blocky and inorganic. The soft triangles that the crowd forms point toward, and exentuate, the baby Christ and the Virgin Mary. The shapes aren't immediately recognized, but are subtle, subconscious arrows pointing toward the focus of the painting. It is breathtaking. Also, the shapes are not perfect and symmetrical. They bend, they flow, like organic structures should. The basic principles of composition structure of this painting could be used in the background of a cartoon. Why not? The shot may only last for three seconds, but an image that draws viewers into the animated world is worth the effort. It's far better than staring at arbitrarily placed objects that have nothing to do with each other.

So, for you animators out there, it may be worth checking out John Kricfalusi's blog. I'm not much of a drawer myself, but I want to be able to recognize good art when I see it. Voice over is my game, but the underlying principles of balance, forethought, and organicness (is that a word?) still apply. I urge you, look at John K's examples, read over his manual on Background Art, listen to his ideas. If you disagree with Kricfalusi, you'll at least find ammo for your arguments. Either way, you'll come out knowing more than you did.

Also, I'm adding the link to his blog on my links page. Easy access! Whee!

By the way, I'm going to start posting bits of guitar lesson type junk on the blog. What's the point of a guitar degree if I'm not going to share what I've learned? That's right, no point at all. Besides, it will force me to practice more. And by more, I mean at all.


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