Thursday, August 25, 2011

Society of Illustrators Profile: Coby Whitmore

Born in Ohio in 1913, Coby Whitmore's early interest in art lead him to attend the Dayton Art Institute, though he was later still undecided to pursue an art career. Fortunate to be working at McCall's print department during the Great Depression, his chance encounter with a dapper gentleman who came in to check on his cover's color reproduction changed Whitmore's life forever. Artist McClellan Barclay visit so impressed the youth that fateful day, Coby quit his job, borrowed some funds and moved to Chicago  to be an apprentice to Haddon Sundblom. After three years under Sundblom's tutelage and attending night classes at the Chicago Art Institute, Whitmore got his first break working as a staff artist for the Chicago-Herald Examiner.

The 1940s ushered a move to New York and work for the Charles E. Cooper Studio where the artist excelled drawing lovely women for various publications. Covers and inside pages of America's most popular magazines including, The Ladie's Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and McCall's soon followed. Sexy, beautifully dressed, classy women were his speciality that made Whitmore a true "star", though his male counterparts were always as dashing and sophisticated. If art imitates life, Whitmore's great success provided him the lifestyle he often created on canvas. Traveling the world, racing cars, was now all within his grasp, even as he moved his family to Hilton Head Island in the late 1960s to finally specialize in painting portraits. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hal Foster...In His Own Words

By profession I am a cartoonist, and my work is displayed through the medium of the Sunday comic section. But in reality I am an illustrator, and my methods are those of an illustrator. A through foundation of perspective, anatomy, composition and color are essential. Like most of the artist who draw story or adventure strips, I spent many years as a commercial artist. Cartooning is the presentation of ideas. The best illustration or the funniest caricature is static unless it is the visual part of an interesting or comic idea. Prince Valiant is written in novel form, corrected, changed and researched. The the page is laid out and the story broken down into captions; the first panel takes up the story where it left off the previous week, and the last panel suggests suspense to be told the following week. The layout of the page is a pencil sketch, so that each panel can be planned to offer variety...the portrait, half-figures and intricate and detailed scenes. Two-thirds of the "novel" is discarded, for the captions must be reduced to a minimum. Nobody ever wants to read a long caption.

The page, 29 x 15 inches, follows the pencil sketch. The finished black-and-white page is then Photostatted and the 'stat' colored. It is this colored photostat that the engraver follows in making the plates. Much research has gone into the illustrations; the costumes and weapons, architecture, harness, even the farm implements must be of King Arthur's period. Even more care must be taken with the story, for each actor must remain in character, and the action must be ever-changing. Too much drama or violent action can be boring, so I try to follow with family scenes, introduce new actors, or add a touch of humor, before the next dangerous episode. There is an old saying among cartoonists, "No one ever sold a funny drawing, but a funny idea illustrated puts meat on the table!" I have emphasized the story idea here, because of all the aspiring young students who have asked my advice, no one has seemed to consider it at all. Their interest was in the pens and brushes, the paper, size, how to draw a funny figure...and would I introduce them into my Syndicate.

Friday, August 12, 2011

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Carl Barks

Carl Barks has spent most of his life drawing, illustrating, painting and telling stories about ducks. He was editor and artist for the Calgary Eyeopener until he joined the Disney Studio in 1935. Barks wrote and drew thirty six early Donald Duck cartoons. Walt Disney was supervisor to his "duck unit". In 1942 he dedicated himself to the art form that made him famous: writing comics books and drawing them. Carl became the preeminent Disney comic book artist and remains so to this day. In 1996 his timeless work has been reprinted worldwide. He is known as the father of Donald Duck as well as the creator of the miserly Uncle Scrooge. Duckburg and most of the duck clan owe their existence to his pen and paintbrush. In 1968 Carl began a new career capturing the duck family in oil paintings. Many Disney Bark's products have been created from his work including silk-screens, lithographs, bronze and porcelain figurines. At 93 Barks went on an eleven country museum tour with his oil paintings. From Iceland to Poland forty of his paintings were received to rave reviews and huge crowds. In Denmark the 3rd grade was let out to meet Barks at the boat. When asked what he would most like to be remembered for he answers "storytelling."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Comic Art Legend: Jesse Santos

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I was fascinated by the colorful painted covers of Gold Key Comics. I later found out that some of their greatest short-lived titles were done by the nicest man in comics, the talented Jesse Santos. Born June 24, 1928, Santos was already an artist at the young age ten with a mural he did that was placed in front of his town church in Tereas, Rizal. At fifteen he he started his career doing portraits of both American servicemen and Japanese soldiers that occupied his small town. Even the Filipino guerrilla fighters sought Jesse out to draw talismans of good luck on their clothing. Working as a sidewalk portrait artist he was soon discovered by cartoonist Tony Valasquez who had the young Santos illustrate his first feature, Kidlat, for Philippines' early Halaklak Comics. When Pilipino Komiks started out Santos teamed up with Damy Velasquez to produce the most famous detective strips ever produced in the country, DI 13.

Later attending the University of Santo Tomas, he soon quit school to fulfill more art assignments for Paraluman magazine, Liwayway, Ace Publications, Gold Star Publishing, and numerous others. Handling magazine and book illustrations, covers, portraits, and movie advertisements, this hard working artist still had time to team up with some of the best talent to produce many new comic series over the years. His success in the art world helped him win awards and serve as as officer in both the prestigious Philippine Illustrators and Cartoonist and the National Press Club. Leaving for the United States in 1969, Western Publications quickly picked up the talented illustrator to draw various sword and sorcery and adventure titles like Davy Crockett, Dagar, Tragg and the Sky Gods, Brothers of the Spear, The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor, and Mystery Comics Digest, just to name a few.

Santos unique style had a loose and rough approach to his heroic characters with both some life-like portrait expressions and realistic but exaggerated and distorted figures, which were a wonderful combination that made him stand out in the comic world. The artist was a member of  many groups including the Philippine Comic Archives and the Philippine Science-Fantasy Society. His fine art paintings have been exhibited by the Society of Western Artists, winning numerous awards while shown in international art shows, universities, museums, galleries, and private collections. A man of many talents he is well remembered by fan and pro alike for his contributions to comic art.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Foreign Favorites: Zagor

Created by writer Sergio Bonelli and artist Gallieno Ferri, Zagor first appeared in his own self-named title in 1961. An American Western hero of the 1830s, Patrick Wilding  was an orphan of an Indian raid that killed his parents as a child. Taken in by a friendly trapper called Wandering Fitzy, the lad grew strong  as he mastered the use of a fighting hatchet. Taking the Indian name of Za-Gor Te-Nay or Zagor for short, this "Spirit with the Hatchet" later trained with a traveling family of acrobats to better hone his skills into the avenger of justice that he is to become. With his trusty and amusing chubby side-kick, Don, our hero set up a fortress in Darkwood Forest to help fight for all oppressed men, no matter their color or creed. Not your typical Western feature, there is often a wild mix of science fiction and horror  that overshadow the adventure strip. An Italian comic with a world following, its popularity grew steadily in the former Yugoslav Republics, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Israel, and many other countries. Zagor's adventures are still being published today to a legion of new fans.