This is another of Tom Oreb's gag drawings of Ward Kimball. This one is particularly interesting to analyze. At first glance it's hard to decipher why it works, yet it undeniably does. So I'll dive in and try to figure out what is going on here.
Without a face to draw the viewer's eye or a clear center of interest Tom relied on other things to make sure you look at the right things in the picture.
Again, this one has a very strong control of values. Again, black against white draws the eye and it seems to me that Tom placed black against white in a kind of circular pattern that draws your eye around the picture. When you look at the drawing, your eye starts at the top and travels down to Ward's figure and back up to the top in a nice circular composition.
Now maybe this is a bad scan or scan of a copy, but it appears that he put black against white in these areas: right above the top of the drawing board, to the right, above the stack of paper, the top of the drawer, under Ward's prone figure, On Ward's rear end against the legs of the chair, the back of the chair, and above the left-hand stack of paper.
Now at least when I look at it, that's how my eye experiences it. My eye flows from one area of black against white to the next in a clockwise way.
The drawing is mostly made up of rectangles and square shapes. The lamp, the wastebasket and Ward's inert form stand out because they are all organic shapes which contrast with all the squares. Those contrasts draw your eye and also seem to lead your eye in a circular pattern around the frame. And the space underneath the desk and the chair legs create a frame for Ward's torso and legs. That's a very brave choice, and one that people are usually hesitant to make: breaking up your main figure by putting foreground elements in front of it. We are usually inclined to put our main figure "in the clear": silhouetting it clearly so all of it can be seen. Tom didn't put everything on the clear, but he put the important stuff in the clear: the hand, the suspenders, the shoes, the pant cuffs and the waist line are all well drawn and very clear. When placed in the right proportions to each other they add up to a solid-feeling figure. The pant cuffs, waistline and wrinkles all do a great job of describing how the form lays in space. The suspenders wrap around the form well too. Even the simplest drawing can seem to exist well in space when done right.
This drawing follows a "rule" I read once somewhere: that a good tonal scheme for a drawing is to make it 50% grey, 25% black and 25% white. I can't help but think of this as the "Neopolitan" rule, because I made a chart of it once to help remember it, and it looked like Neopolitan ice cream:
For those of you who don't know, this is Neopolitan ice cream. Man, who likes that stuff? Why mess up perfectly good chocolate ice cream with Strawberry and Vanilla?