Friday, September 21, 2007

Cartoon magic

Chris Ware

Chris Ware

Robert Crumb

Richard McGuire

The adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, by Rodolphe Topffer (1799-1846), inventor of the comic strip

John Updike wrote, "in the thirties and forties, when I was growing up, the cartoonist occupied a place in the cultural hierarchy not far below that of the movie star and inventor. Walt Disney, Al Capp, Peter Arno - who, now, could attain their celebrity with just pen and ink?" (From McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Issue 13.

The pictures above are from some well-known artists that I like. Slightly less well-known is Jeffrey Brown. I didn't include a picture of his work mostly because his drawings don't photograph well, and you need to read a few panels to appreciate their charm. His characters tend to be socially awkward and self-conscious, and he has a sparse, wobbly drawing style. This is what he says about his style:

"Basically when I did Clumsy I was in the middle of my MFA at School Of The Art Institute here in Chicago. I was in the painting and drawing department and I was kind of trying to reject a lot of things. I wanted to draw comics like I did when I was a kid. So I tried to forget everything about rendering to react against a lot of things at art school. I wanted to create something completely human and honest to try to have a purity of expression... It has less to do with the skill than what you are trying to express. I found that when I was drawing in my sketchbook that the stuff that was speaking to me the most was this crude simple cartoony drawings much more then the heavily rendered realistic stuff which people tend to like. But I felt those drawings don't say as much."

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