clash of the titans

The latest eeTeeD/Jed war is raging here. It's not as great as Skinny Benny vs Mildon (see Runaway Comic #2) but it's pretty interesting.

eeTeeD: I will post the pics, but please clarify what the debate is. You think E.C. Segar is a two-dimensional klutz, and Jed thinks Reed Crandall is a sissy illustrator? What exactly is the "issue" here?

Also - Be aware that I will post here, but I will also post on The Comics Journal Message Board. I don't mind hosting these debates, but the "bloggers" that you hope will chime in will not materialize here. According to my unscientific bigfoot calculations, there are MAYBE 50 readers of this blog tops, and most do not comment. You're just not going to get any satisfaction until you come out of the closet and publicly engage the larger comics community.


eeTeeD said...

as i see it, the debate is this...
on the subject of e c segar, jed says this: “...And you can know the rules and still choose to break them. I don't know that Segar's work shows an ignorance of those things so much as the fact that proper human preportions and correct anatomy were pretty irrelevant to what he did. And if you think he lacked a knowledge or facility with layout and composition--why you sir, once again, are high. I would definitely look to Segar if you want to see how to layout a beautiful page...”

so jed is saying the e c segar was an extremely talented artist. he knew all the rules of art and all about the elements of design, but segar consciously chose to break them to help express his unique vision. and if there WAS anything that segar didn't know, these were things that he simply didn’t NEED to know, and this POSSIBLE lack of knowledge in no way adversely affected his work.
he also says that segar’s work is a thing of beauty to behold, and that it is well composed and well laid out.

i’m saying that what we see is what what we get. we know from segar’s personal history that he had virtually no artistic training, and his work shows it. segar’s work is the work of untrained hands. it is simplistic, crude and unrefined.

i am also saying that i am not high, and that my opinions are based on my formal education in art, my former certification and experiences in teaching art, my 13+ years of working full time as an artist, and my life long interest and studies in the art of cartooning.

if you post this stuff over on fantagraphics i would guess that everyone would see my opinions as sacrilege... but what is, is. jed is the one who takes issues with things i post here. i’d like to see jed’s comments on the comic i showed you, and i’d also like to give my comments on it and compare it to the work of steve mufatti.

Jed said...

But you're saying you're able to devine Segar's ignorance of anatomy and proportion from images that aren't intended to represent formal anatomy and proportion. Perspective, similarly, beyond your basic, stuff that's far away gets smaller, is pretty moot here.

Yes, I do contend that Segar is an extremely talented artist. That doesn't mean he's a technically proficient draftsman by the measurement that you're holding him to. I never said he was. I speculated that there was nothing, based on his work, to say that he wasn't, based on the criteria you were presenting.

There are no "rules of art" there are principals of design, and there's the Western European tradition of representational illustrative rendering. Many other cultures don't share these traditions, and that doesn't make the art that those cultures produce, crude, or ignorant.

Simple isn't the same as simplistic. Segar came up with a very complex vocabulary of iconic characters, and had a simple, and--dare I say it--refined as in distilled way or representing that cast of characters and their adventures.

I don't see much purpose in comparing single comic strips from one artist to another, strips that YOU choose. I could take some random Picasso painting and compare it to a Thomas Kinkade, and find the excercise equally useful.

And yes, Crandall drew pretty, but I wouldn't consider him any great innovator of the medium.

And it's great that you've got all that good edumacation and stuff, I congratulate you sir, but your argument really needs to stand on it's own. Declaring yourself an experienced authority doesn't do it.

Jed said...

Also: Steve Muffatti's Popeye cartoons at Van Beuren, sucked. He had no affinity for the character, and I find most of those Van Beuren cartoons pretty unwatchable in general. There was a certain polish and cleanness to the animation that reflected the polish that I think you're referring to when you're talking Little Audrey. And sure, by contrast, Popeye may seem crude to you, but its better cartooning, and better story telling.

You know, you're probably right. Segar was a self-taught cartoonist with a limited range of technical ability at his disposal. But it's what he was able to do with what he had that's really impressive. And I guess I didn't care for how you chose to measure the quality of his work, based on what you perceived he lacked in technical ability. And I definitely disagree with you about his sense of design and layout. But I don't want to over argue the point, or argue against what I actually believe to be true.

eeTeeD said...

popeye animated cartoons were made at fleischer/famous studios.

Jed said...

The Fleischer stuff is awesome and is very different from the Famous studio cartoons. So with a little googling, what I've been able to gather is that Muffatti did animating for both Fleisher and Famous. It looks like he only directed one cartoon for Famous, and it wasn't Popeye. I meant to make a distinction between Famous and Fleisher, and some how I ended up with Van Beuren instead.

So here's Muffatti's rap sheet:

The Fleisher bros had nothing to do with these later Popeye cartoons from Famous, and I made a big assumption about Muffatti's work on Popeye--but it is true, most of his animation work was done for Famous, not Fleisher.

So, yeah, I probably should've looked that up first.