Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation (Anglais) Relié – 17 août 2006
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Et c'est ça qui est chouette,c'est varié dans la qualité et le talent, un livre super pour avoir de bonnes références
amateur de vieux cartoons américains,
vous serez comblés.
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I'm not sure when my respect and interest in minimal/modern animation returned in a changed form, but I think it had to be in the mid 80s, when the best of UPA appeared suddenly on a couple of VHS tapes: Gerald McBoing Boing, The Tell-Tale Heart, Unicorn in the Garden, Christopher Crumpet, The Rise of Duton Lange, Family Circus, etc. On the rebound, the '50s fine art/graphic design style of these cartoons knocked me out. After seeing these shorts, I started seeking out more examples of this style of animation in old TV commercial reels, and then started noticing the style spilling over into point of purchase, packaging design and magazine ads of the period. By this point, I was a fatally hooked "modern."
This book will throughly scratch the itch of those baby boomers whose earliest TV memories may include those brief Tom Terrific segments from Captain Kangaroo, as well as the younger reader who will feel the irresistable draw of a very strong retro style. The pictures (and there are a ton of them) are pretty, and instantly evocative, and the text hits a smart median between scholarly and entertaining.
Five stars. If you have anyone with any level of popular art/film/animation/graphic design interest on your Christmas list, I'd bear this book in mind.
Parenthetically one should note that this pared-down look also dominated commercial illustration, notably the early Andy Warhol and Tomi Ungerer. Of course, it was probably still-illustration that influenced animation rather than the other way around. When the commercial-art fashions changed, around 1960, the UPA style of the 50s began to look old-hat.
When it first took hold, animators and producers regarded this style as modern and contemporary, and insisted on painting everything with a UPA flavor. Terrytoons, best known for endless cat-and-mouse antics, experimented with minimalism and came up with the spindliest doodle of all, the "Tom Terrific" segment from "Captain Kangaroo."
The style subverted even the conventional product of the Disney animators, as can be seen in old Mickey Mouse Club animated segments (go to YouTube and find Jiminy Cricket's "Encylopedia" song) and in "101 Dalmatians." Here let me make an intriguing segue: the visual style of "Dalmatians" was also influenced by the loose, sketchy line drawings of Ronald Searle. Searle's line came to dominate the 60s and 70s, in both animation and editorial cartooning. The old UPA look, with its spindly lines and 50s minimalism, got swallowed up into that. Probably this was because the dense, inky Searle look was adaptable both to illustration and to animation, while the UPA look was not. You could not draw political cartoons in the style of Mr. Magoo. Illustrators who maintained a 1950 style into the 60s were few and far between. Virgil "ViP" Partch was avant-garde in the 40s and 50s, but his "Big George!" strip of the 1960s never got out of the second-string comic-strip league. When Dave Berg of Mad magazine began his "Lighter Side of..." series in the late 50s, he used a commercial-art style that was a perfect synthesis of Partch and Hubley. Within a few years Berg shed the 50s look for a self-taught naturalistic style.
It should be noted that most limited-animation projects never looked much like either Hubley or Searle. Seamus Culhane, a traditional cel animator from the 1930s, created his own pared-down style. Looking at his old commercials from the early 50s ("I Like Ike," "Ajax the Foaming Cleanser"), you are not aware of any modernistic minimalism. Similarly, Jay Ward, and Hanna and Barbera used the technical shortcuts of the process without drawing attention to them.
Most of the animators covered in this book, and arranged in loose alphabetical order, are forgotten today. The book is fun to dip into and browse through, letting your eyes run over the endless ad stills for cat food and soda pop, drawn many years ago by tiny one- and two-man studios, all working very hard to look like everyone else.
First of all, the majority of content here is biographical information about the artists who created this art. As such a nice piece of scholarship and research, and giving these artists their just rewards is a Good Thing. But that's basically all there is.
Yes, there are some images, even quite a lot, but the artwork isn't large or arranged in a manner to make any sense (other than as biographical material). There are a few tantalizingly good images, but the vast majority are small, rather pedestrian and, oddly enough, not particularly indicative of the style of the period.
The author sets great store by "unconventionalism", but in point of fact the art of the 50's and 60's did become conventional -- it became its own convention. And this kind of historical perspective is sorely missing here, in large part due to the way the material is organized (it's strictly a studio by studio look -- no timeline or growth of the art is presented in any way. Each studio is given a page or two, and the studios are listed alphabetically).
If you are into cartoon history *facts* then this book will be a goldmine of information for you. If, like me, you are more interested in the visual aspects of the art then I'd strongly recommend skipping this and spending the money either renting or buying some of the cartoons from that time period that are available on DVD (contrary to the author's opinion, much of the stuff IS available: once again, his bias towards the unconventional means that he overlooks the majority of work of that time period).
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