Wednesday, April 08, 2009

April 8, 2009
For the longest time I had this idea of doing a movie on paper. Obviously, I wasn't alone as numerous graphic novels in the past several years have attempted to do the same. Some are extremely well drawn but, for my tastes, they don't really get traction in terms of narration. Let's face it, when you are competing against a camera, continuity is a very tough thing to sustain from scene to scene.

There is a new Western comic called Caliber. Here's a taste of the art by Garrie Gastonny:

Pretty sweet stuff. The female character Gwen is rendered with extreme skill. In fact it pushes the boundaries of photo realism. In the end though, it's not as compelling to me as much cruder renderings of characters by Milton Caniff, Burne Hogarth or Frank Miller. My theory is that this is because cartoons are mainly symbols. We don't need to have the drawings resemble photographs. We can totally relate to whacked out heads or exagerated body types with three fingers! In fact, they seem to work better on paper than the photo stuff.

This got me to thinking about the level of detail in my own work. How much is too much? Someone, I think it was Charlie Parker, said a good musician is someone who knows what to leave out. Too true for school. Anyway, is less detail better, or stronger?

Here are today's sketches:

The head in the lower, right-hand corner is one copied from a Remington sketch done in wash, or half-tone style. The other heads are attempts to maintain that face without so much shading. Although I am handicapped by my own limitations there is no doubt in my mind that Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon) could and would easily render this cowboy with a minimum of lines and make it believable.

And speaking of Milton, here's an anecdote of him taken off a classic animation website that Bob Steinhilber turned me onto:

Milt told me when he was switching from Terry And The Pirates to Steve Canyon that he had to get William Randolph Hearst's OK on certain aspects of the strip. Milt said he flew to Los Angeles, took a plane to near San Simeon and was driven up to Hearst's castle. He was shown into the dining room where Hearst sat at the opposite end of a long table drinking a cup of coffee. Hearst asked Milt questions such as what he had in mind for Steve and how much money he wanted. Milt said to himself, "You ungracious bastard!" and told Hearst what he had in mind for the strip, asking for double his present salary and all the fringes- plus ownership of the copyrights to his strip. He related how Hearst said, "You're a high-priced son of a bitch." and got up and left the room. Milt left and two weeks later was informed that Hearst had agreed to the terms.

Well, anyway, after all is said and done, not much gets done. Ha. Gee, I wonder what old Engels has to say about this?

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory."
—Friedrich Engels

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