Friday, 20 July 2007

Cartoon Style vs. Comics Style

So before I draw another picture, I'd like to talk to you about character design. Right now I'm dealing with it on two fronts: animation and comics. Comics have a rich history and are undergoing a quiet renaissance right now. There are so many styles and types of storytelling, a lot moving away from the trappings of aping film and the gen-x plotless scribbling that overshadowed the black and white boom.

This is due, in part, to comic artists doing magazine illustrations, Maus winning the Pulitzer, or other works gaining litererary attention and controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cartoons have a very specific style and really are homogenized. I've been thinking about this recently thanks to John K. (inventor of Ren and Stimpy and other such works of genius). Cartoons are an industry, animation is bigger than ever (what was the last big movie you saw without CGI?) and Flash has made it easier than ever for kids to put together something funny, whether it be on Adult Swim or youtube. Lack of talent is covered up by trying (and failing) at being weird.

But most amateur animators get excited when they make things move (myself included) and end up with the industry side overshadowing the creative side. In a nutshell; boring style.

Comics, on the other hand, are really going for it right now. Caveat emptor, because a lot of independent comics are trying to be too serious and "heavy" to try and be art. But we're talking design here, and there's still a ton of great artists with their own style. Dan Clowes, Julie Doucet, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (their new stuff is INCREDIBLE, btw), etc. etc.

What I'm trying to get at is animation is boring and derivative when it comes to style, whereas comics are more daring and interesting than ever. This is a huge factor in why The Simpsons became so popular when it came out. We don't think about it today, because it's just become part of our culture, but The Simpsons were based on a comic strip (Matt Groening still does Life is Hell {now called Life is Swell}). It was a totally new style. But now it's emulated by a slew of cartoons that have followed. Namely The Family Guy, which is the most derivative. And see above.

What looked like this before 1991? What looks like it now?

Character design in cartoons means sketching, literally sketching, to bring out traits in their design. And to bring out traits that work against who they are.

Design design design!!! It's not easy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

these are the questions that will make you a great artist. keep at these question and drawing everyday.


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