Here’s that follow-up I promised. These are marked as copyright of Field Publications, but it looks like they belong to the Dr. Seuss Collection at the University of California, San Diego. They’re from a collection my mom found at a used book store called Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel. It’s by Richard H Minear and was published by The New Press, New York, 1999.
Apparently the good doctor drew political cartoons from 1941 to ’42 for PM, a liberal New York rag, before he joined the service making instructional and propaganda films. Seeing this many of his drawings back to back to back pointed out how clearly Seuss used the silhouette to improve legibility. It’s a classic trick of cartooning and animation, that an action is clearer if it can be judged by the shape of the figure against the background (this is also a trope of character design). So, rather than sipping a drink held in front, cartoon characters turn their heads sideways and gulp it from an uplifted hand. Anyhow, the dude gets it.
I’ve also been reading Popeye and Krazy Kat and Little Nemo comics lately, and I feel like I could stand to incorporate some of the frontal, theatrical nature of old comic strips into my own work. I tend to compose cinematically, with camera angles and a sense of space, but I’m really drawn to the clarity and elasticity when the characters are at the front of the frame, and the scenes are behind them. This is something that’s worked for book illustration since the illuminated manuscripts. But what do I know? Maybe my overly-rendered backgrounds are my thing. Maybe I’m more a product of the movie theater than the stage.
Okay! That’s enough art school blah blah blah for today. Here are those drawings I’m ripping off: