Saturday, March 06, 2010

"New Yorker" Staging

I'd swear that I read somewhere that when Disney animator Marc Davis taught drawing classes at Disney, he told his students to look at old New Yorker cartoons from the 30's and 40's and try to redraw the and improve their staging. Basically, they were always staged so well that it was a nearly impossible task. I don't remember where I read that he did that, or if it's even true...can anybody help me out here?

Anyway, I grabbed these from a CD that came with the big treasury of New Yorker cartoons that came out a few years ago. I'm sorry the quality is so's the way the CD was made so that they can't be reproduced, I guess. But take a look at these and ask yourself what you would add, or remove, or draw differently to make the ideas come across better.

These are by Robert J. Day:

These are Peter Arno's:

Please let me know if these are clear enough to see; also, let me know if you found this interesting or not...I can post lots more if people liked this.


cadguycad said...

Really interesting post and very surprising to me. Only this week i was introduced to the new yorker cartoon after hearing about them on the spline doctors 'splinecast' interview with Pete Doctor and Bob peterson. They mentioned how many of the guys at Pixar reference 'The New yorker' articles daily and also the cartoons.

Its a great interview.

The New yorker has also launched an iphone app this week for their viewing animated cartoons. Brilliant when you have a spare few minutes.

Thanks for the great blog and for 5.5 excellent posts a month!

Matt Cadusch said...

Good stuff, I think Walt Stanchfield mentioned the staging idea from Marc Davis, in Drawn to Life.

Thanks, more please?

pbcbstudios said...

I'd swear that I read somewhere that when John Wayne died.......

40 pounds my friend.... 40 pounds.

Romney Caswell said...

The pictures are a little small but they work fine for the exercise, which is a great one! These strips are so funny and well staged, when you read them you just feel like they exist, or are real, rather than feel like a drawing. How the hell did those guys do it, the pictures feel as if they were already there. Great post.

Stephen Worth said...

The cartoonist that Davis was probably referring to most was Sam Cobean. His gags are always totally clear and staged to read in the perfect order to put across the gag. There are two books on Cobean, "Naked Eye" and "Cartoons by Cobean". I recommend them highly. Cobean worked at Disney as an assitant animator from Snow White through the strike.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of research into the relationship of print cartooning to animation techniques. There's a lot to learn from cartoonists like Virgil Partch, Robert Osborne and Henry Syverson... as well as newpaper cartoonists (Hank Ketcham, Milt Gross, Cliff Sterrett) and early magazine cartoonists (Eugene Zimmerman, John Held Jr, Charles Dana Gibson).

Cartooning is cartooning. Animation could do with getting back to its roots, rather than emulating live action.

Stephen Worth said...

Oh by the way, the cartoonist Lawrence Lariar put out a series of books on 50s cartoons that you can find dirt cheap at swap meets and eBay. If you see, "Edited by Lawrence Lariar" on the cover, it's bound to be good.

Sherm said...

Those single-panel cartoonists were amazing at instant communication, which includes the clearest staging you'll ever see. I just picked up a 1953 book of Grin and Bear it cartoons, and my jaw hits the floor with every page I turn. Reamer Keller is another great great master of staging.

Notice how a lot of those guys force the perspective so it's a horizontal angle at the top and sometimes a 45 degree downshot in the foreground! ...and yes, I would love to see more :) Thanks for an always-inspiring blog!

David R said...

I read that comment too, but I don't think it was frmo Drawn to Life. I can't remember where I saw it, though. I read too many cartooning books.

David R said...


I checked ebay for those books - ouch! Most of them are in the 30 dollar range. I assume that they pop up fairly regularly at different prices?

Hayden Currie said...

I'm pretty sure I read that in the Disney book The Illusion of Life, which is the only book on animation I own, though it's not with me right now. If you have it, check the index. Thanks for sharing your knowledge here.

Stephen Worth said...

DavidR: is your friend!

mark kennedy said...

cadguycad - thanks for the tip! I will check out that podcast. And glad to hear you enjoy the blog.

Matt - maybe it was Walt! Thanks. I'll post more soon.

pbcb - 40 pounds, that's bigger than both of my kids. Gross.

Romney - yeah, they're very good. Those guys were great.

Stephen - Yeah, Cobean is great, thanks for the tip, I'll try to find some of his. Thanks for giving us all some more info on this topic. You're right, abebooks is a great resource, I use it constantly.

Sherm - yeah, I like the style of those Grin cartoons. They're great. Thanks for the comment!

David R - thanks for trying to remember, anyway! I'm surprised nobody knew for sure where it came from.

Hayden - okay, thanks for the tip...I'll pull it out and see.

"Danny" said...

I love these! Can you please post more? Thanks!