28 May 2004

Cartoons 'n stuff

Been reading a book called ‘Cartoon Charlie’ about a Manitoban cartoon artist (Charlie Thorson) who worked for Disney and most of the other animation studios about in the thirties. Anyway it’s a good read if you come across it. Also loaned out Maus (Pronounced Maws so a friend recently tells me, not Mouse) and two ‘little lit’ books also by Speilgelman. I know Art cops his fair share of flack but I still think he did a damn good job of Maus. Although it is frustrating that it’s the only comic book that gets mentioned when people talk about adult comics. Which is probably due to comic book artists obsessions to sprinkle their stories with juvenile humor*. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that comics have to be refined and sophisticated, I’ve just noticed a tendency in small press comics to have the token, out of context, x-rated panel (Whoa slow down you’re breaking too many taboos!)

The good thing about comics is that anything goes, and the artist has an opportunity to be a filmmaker without needing the big studio budget, you can draw them in your bathtub.

Another thing I was pondering too is the usual rational behind why comics and cartoons look the way they do, which is usually just put down to reproducibility and reproduction (and or the lack of skill on behalf of the artist), which I think is only slightly true.As comics can be drawn in any style really, after all they are only words and pictures, and a comic artist could choose to copy photos for a super realist approach if they really wanted too. So I think comic style has more to do with the tradition of narrative in art, the language of pictures. I ended up coming up with a rough list of comic artits that I’m interested in and I think deserve mention for inclusion in a possible magazine article. Although this is a highly subjective list that is purely based on my own taste and discernment. I’ve also included some fine artists (One might say the usual suspects) to allow for a validation or in-road to comic type art.


Thomas Nast. (American political cartoonist with tasty cross hatching)

Frans Masereel (The Passionate Jouney and the city, woodcut Picture novels)

George Herriman. (Krazy katz and Ignatz, pure genius)

George Grosz. (newspaper and book illustration ink drawings)

Otto Dix.  (Somehow has that comical essence and sensibilities)

Phillip Guston. (Captures the essence of comics in his later work, c.70-80)

Keith Harring. (A cliché now almost but still he does use a simplified language)

Jean Michelle Basquiat. (Considered becoming a cartoonist before his fine art career)


Robert Crumb. (The missing link)


Joe Matt.           >

Chester Brown. > (Almost like a group of brothers these guys produce high quality

Seth.                   >   stuff)


Marc Bell. (Fantastically intricate drawings, deceptively simply and kooky)

David Collier. (Journalistic comics, pictures drawn with heart and meaning)

Julie Doucet. (Announced departure into fine arts but then returned to comics)

Chris Ware. (Nuff said)

Max Anderson. (Deliciously drawn and surreal comics)

Stephan Balnquet. (probably deserves a mention but I haven’t seen enough of his work)

Peter Kuper.

Art Speilgelman.

Eric Drooker. (great political art and posters)

Seth Tobocaman. (once again deserves mention haven’t seen enough of his work)

R. Sikoryak. (Stylistic chameleon)

Chip Kidd. (Graphic design extraordinaire)


Once again I’ve left lots of people out. Some comic artists, whilst exceptional, have been left out because I feel their forte is their storytelling (For example Daniel Clowes and Ivan Brunnetti). At the same time they couldn’t tell the stories they do with out the art so it’s a little conundrum. And that’s also not to say the artist I’ve mentioned aren’t good at storytelling either. I’ve also left out a number of newer comic artists like Brian Ralph, James Kochalka, Ron Rege Jr, Jeffery brown, Kevin Huizenga and such. I’ve also left out Australian artists I like for similar reasons to the last bunch as well as allot of other foreign artist because I just don’t have the knowledge of them. So I must state once again this is not a definitive list just a few names  to get an uninitiated person clued in a little. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to e-mail them to me.

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