March 26, 2009

I’m not an animator, but I also don’t know of any commercial illustrator in the past 30 years that will not admit to having started drawing because of the Warner Brothers cartoons they watched as a kid on Saturday mornings- something they hardly do any more. My favorite director of those is Chuck Jones, and this isn’t a debate about who was/is the best, but rather about one cartoon he did. The other night on TCM they did a fantastic retrospective of his work, that included a short documentary. I was only familiar with his Tom & Jerry work at MGM, but one of the shorts they showed was an MGM short based on a children’s book called “The Bear That Wasn’t”, and it’s incredible. I wanted anyone who hasn’t seen it to check it out. The UPA influenced design in this is incredible, and you can see hints of the Grinch in it as well. The office scenes are especially fascinating for me because of the “acid-nouveau” elements (as I call them). The Morse Code quality of the line work set in french curves, and exaggerated proportions to the objects, must have freaked me out as a kid, or swirled my imagination somehow. Born in 1970, I caught the tail end of this design movement, filtered out of the works of Milton Glaser and others, who brought that hand drawn quality back to graphic design. On a side note, if you haven’t rented or seen the film Helvetica (yes, about the font) then find it. The film discusses the organic design reaction against, and the return to, the aesthetic that is embodied by that font, and the influence it had on pop culture. 

For now, enjoy this incredible cartoon. Thank you Chuck, we owe you. 


One Response to “Brilliant”

  1. Joanie said

    I’m really digging this. Thanks for posting.

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