When I was a kid we never had any Dr. Seuss books in our house, except "Green Eggs and Ham" and "Cat in the Hat", I think. We never had Bill Peet's books either. We had a lot of books, of course, but I don't really remember much about any of them except for the ones by Richard Scarry.
I loved his books as a kid and I loved his drawings especially. They are interesting for this discussion because his characters don't tend to have a strong line-of-action. Look at this one - even in really extreme action, they tend to be straight up and down. By this period of his art, he tended to draw all of his characters that way.
It's a pretty common convention in animation that you shouldn't draw your characters straight up and down - they should always lean to a diagonal or a horizontal to break up the monotony of characters all standing upright all the time. And also in animation it's desirable to have the limbs and torso of the figure flow in and out of each other along one line of action. And you're supposed to have the hips tilt differently from the head and shoulders and add twists and turns in the figure for life and variety.
The thing is, Mr. Scarry breaks all of those rules...a lot. I always think of his stuff as a "paper doll" school of drawing, because it sometimes looks like the head and torso are one solid peice and the arms and legs are connected by brads to the shoulder and hip connections, so that they all move independently. His stuff is always very clear. A stronger pose or gesture wouldn't sell his ideas any better. The attitudes and emotions of the characters always come through loud and clear. And they have an undeniable charm. I think that has a lot to do with his poses.
This technique works particularly well for big characters, like bears. They don't look right if they have a really extreme line of action because they are big, bulky and full of muscle. They're not lithe, so they don't hit sleek and flowing gestures. If you draw a bear with balletic, graceful poses then you are saying something that doesn't feel bear-like, and you should only do that if it's your intention!
Also short characters might not have as much stretch and flexibility in their skeletons as a tall character. You might want to keep little or short characters more contained in their line-of-action. A tall character can stretch out more when they move and hit more graceful fluid poses than a little squat character can.
Some of his stuff almost has the quality of Egyptian art. The head gets turned to profile while the ahoulders, pelvis and torso face the viewer straight on. Then the feet are both turned out to profiles (see the cowboy bunny below with his hands in the air). This could easily look incredibly stiff, but the variety of his shapes and the rhythms of his lines keep his stuff very appealing and (to me, anyway) his drawings have a lot of life and personality to them.
These are from a book of his that hasn't been in print for a while (to my knowledge) called "Tinker and Tanker". It's a lot older than some of his stuff and the characters have a little more variety in their gestures. But even when firing guns and leaping into the air with alarm they stay pretty contained and straight up and down.
Anyway, I post this stuff as the couterpoint to the earlier line-of-action stuff. It manages to be very clear and energetic while breaking some generally accepting ideas about animation drawing. Obviously you could compare it to a lot of television animation where the body is reused and only the arms and legs move. Maybe Scarry was influenced by those animators or vice-versa, I don't know.
Anyway, take a look and see what you think. Even more to come on this topic!