Sunday, May 03, 2009


I have a soft spot in my heart for artists who like to draw large crowd scenes.

It's not because crowd scenes require technical skill to handle perspective, foreshortening and complex interaction.

Gluyas Williams was famous in the 1920s and 30s for his clever drawings of large groups.

And it's not because crowd scenes require the creativity to come up with a wide variety of faces and psychological relationships.

The great Albert Dorne was famous for his crowd scenes. Note how he handled the complex architecture of this mob.

No, what I like most about artists who specialize in drawing crowds is their obvious pleasure in the act of drawing.

Most artists working under a deadline look for shortcuts. They do a good job, but they want to complete a picture as efficiently as possible and get paid. But some artists just seem to love making marks on paper, and they regularly create unnecessarily grand challenges for themselves, like these ambitious crowd scenes.

In this category, I know of no better artist than the brilliant Mort Drucker.

This panel from the MAD Magazine spoof of Beverly Hills Cop is a good measure of Drucker's talent:

Despite the effort that went into this crowd scene, the drawing never looks labored.

This drawing is a complex engineering feat, but it is delivered with the spontaneity of a spring popping out of a pocket watch:

Drucker, like Dorne, Williams and other artists in this rare species, draw with great abundance and generosity. You never get the feeling they are measuring their level of effort against the pay they are receiving for the picture. These are artists who love to draw, and it shows.


Jeff Jackson said...

Yet another great post David. You have quite a collection of great work.

Dylan said...

Wow! The Albert Dorne picture is stunning!

Rob Howard said...

Oh Wow! With so many contemporary realists embroidering their pictures with meaningless detail, these men demonstrate meaningful detail...details and snippets that combine to add to the narrative.

You picked the perfect word in "generous." Looking at the street signs in the Saturday Night Fever piece had me saying..."he didn't need to do that," but Drucker did it anyway. And it adds to the overall story. Also, the subtle distortion of Travolta's leading foot implies something musical.

It was good to see one of Al Dorne's drawings. He was a very big influence on me in my early days and got me started on what became something of a trademark...a concentration on drawing hands (notice the expressive power of hands in Drucker's work, too).

Currently, I'm working on an illustration that could be simple but I've chosen to take the same path as these men...add to the narrative. It has many more figures, structures and accessories than is strictly needed, but T guess that giving back with your pictures is what you do...lots of work but work never killed anyone.

Let me know how I can show it to you while it's still on the board.

Anonymous said...

Rob, oh boy, are you wunnerfull!!!!!

Anonymous said...

... and so generous, aren't you? Really perfectly picked...

Anonymous said...

(what a pity work at least never kills the right guys...)

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for this blog. I rarely comment but visit often.

Seeing the original art from MAD is a great bonus. How did you come about the originals?

Tim Langenderfer

Stephen Worth said...

Other great crowd cartoonists are Harrison Cady, Johnny Gruelle and the cartoonist I'm featuring at the animation archive today, Dudley Fisher.

Thanks for the great examples!

David Apatoff said...

Thanks, Jeff!

Dylan, there are a series of drawings like this by Dorne in the Famous Artists School materials. He was really quite extraordinary.

Rob, I think that's exactly the right point. I don't want readers to think I have become a cheerleader for gaudy detail. To the contrary, I have often suggested on this blog that "less is more" when it comes to drawing. But these three artists are masters of "crowd control" when it comes to detail; they never lapse into mindless busy work. (PS-- I would be most interested in seeing any images you care to send at

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to your contributor that the difference between 'meaningless' and 'meaningful' in terms of detail is so subjective as to meaningless.

Mark Nelson said...

You're a man after my own heart, David! I copied Mort Drucker illustrations for years as a kid. He is one of the most gifted draftsmen of the last century. Thanks for the post!

David Apatoff said...

Tim, thanks for commenting, I'm glad to hear from you. As is often the case in the field of illustration, there is a huge disparity between the quality of the original MAD art and the quality of the published images. The work of Drucker, Coker, Davis and others is fantastic in person.

Steve, I am a big Harrison Cady fan. You are right about those crowd cartoonists. Ralph Barton is another. Sergio Aragones is yet another. It is still fairly select group.

Mark, I agree with you 100%. Drucker is a genius as far as I am concerned.

António Araújo said...

>Can someone explain to your contributor >that the difference between >'meaningless' >and 'meaningful' in >terms of detail is so >subjective as to > meaningless.

For an illustrator it is a very natural question to wonder what details add or do not add something to a piece. Do you sugest that we should be forbidden to discuss the problem until we found some totally objective way of measuring it? If you do, then please come up with that way of measuring it, or just stand aside and let others do their subjective best. We cannot wait forever, we have stuff to do. Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Also, it may seem *totally* subjective - but only to someone who has no practice in drawing.
And such utterances would indeed be probably meaningless coming from a typical "literary" art critic or a know-it-all who never picked up a brush but feels he is just very naturally perceptive about art.

But from someone who actually knows what he is doing, speaking to others who also know at least a bit of the craft, it may become somewhat more concrete. That is why in a blog about illustration we are very interested in reading comments from people who know about the job, because they have actually done it properly for a while. When they speak, we who - for professional reasons or just curiosity - are interested in the craft, actually risk learning something long as we keep an open mind.

StimmeDesHerzens said...

Lovely post, and the comments are always great to read as well. Let me add to anonymous's comment wunnerful... wunderschoen!
It was neat that you gave your name Tim, somehow it lends credence and puts a person to the words. (Perhaps [wrongly] presuming this is the same person who wrote so eloquently and deftly and knowledgeably and convincingly, two posts back)

Anonymous said...

Hi einbildungskraft (what a nice username!), in order not to compromise Tim I need to tell you that he is not the one who made these wunnerfull-comments. (And as writing in English really gives me a hell of a time, I've been rather low key in leaving eloquent comments lately, just a nameless reader - and what a read it could be without Davids new friend!!!)

António Araújo said...

>... and so generous, aren't you? Really >perfectly picked...

As for generosity, I don't know much about Rob except what I gathered from a few posts, comments and his book (if he is the antichrist, I didn't notice), but here's what I think of your wunnerful comment. Rob shares a lot of useful knowledge in his blog and in his posts. He also wrote a book that some of us are very grateful for. Oh, yes, we payed for the book, but we also know that he could have sold it by just revealing merely half of what he did. Teaching - especially teaching tricks of a competitive trade - is a form of generosity. "Oh, it was just an ego-trip" - you might say - or a form of public relations. So what? From a certain cynical perspective, nothing is truly generous. But that cynical point of view is usually the domain of people who are the very opposite of generous. It also ignores some recent investigations regarding altruism and evolution, but I won't go into that. The fact is, he does give something to other people without having a strict obligation to do it. He does benefit some other people with his actions (namely here - I don't know or care what you do in your neighbourhood). And you?

What generosity is there in jeering and acting like a sort of reverse cheerleader/stalker from hell? It is quite adolescent ,self-demeaning, and indeed gets a bit on the nerves of even the casual bystander. It disturbs the flow of comments, adds nothing to the discussion, and makes you sound like a brat who has nothing better to do and defines himself through opposition - which makes you a mere derivative product. Everytime you speak you make people react in non-productive way. Instead of getting a possibly interesting comment on some detail which may have escaped us we have to plough through another justly irritated response from your target - it stops him from giving us something more useful. You are draining energy from people who are more productive than you, and preventing them from contributing usefully. That makes you a force of attrition and entropy. If you somehow use that energy you steal for some psychological internal need, then that makes you a parasite, but even parasites have a niche. If you don't have any need for it, however, and still do it, that makes you a desiase. I think the old usenet word for it was "a troll", and the usenet FAQ advised patrons not to feed the trolls.

I sure as hell hope you are not the anonymous I was talking to in the previous post, or I won't bother to keep replying. I don't discuss philosophy with adolescents, and I don't feed trolls.

António Araújo said...

ps to anonymous: hey. if you are the same troll as the one who commented on "details" (so hard to distinguish one anonymous troll from another)...very apropos of this post, you are one of those details that adds nothing to the composition, and just distracts from the point. Better left out of the picture.

There, was that example objective enough?

Anonymous said...

Come on, what's wrong with being a "force of attrition and entropy"? :-) Anyway my "target" is completely immune, no need to worry.

António Araújo said...

the problem is that you disturb everyone, not just your target. I've just explained that, but you clearly have no reading comprehension.

Anonymous said...

Dear OMH2O, please, give it a break! I think almost nobody can stand this guys bizarre attitude any longer. Mr Howard, that is... And as for Anonymous, I would think, he or she has proven a well enough reading comprehension by giving Mr Howard the only adequate answer to his last comment and no answer at all to your dull little essay on good conduct...
I want to add that reading Anonymous' biting remarks was at least as good a laugh as reading the stuff on the pages of mad magazine David has posted.
I don't feel disturbed at all!


Anon2 said...

>The fact is, he does give something to other people without having a strict obligation to do it.<
I'll say. He gives the benefit of his, over-bearing, self-regarding, out-dated observations on a regular basis...and is then provided with a cordon sanitaire by unquestioning acolytes like OMWO.

Anthony said...

I have to agree with Tim. Seeing the original Drucker drawings via full color scan is fantastic. I love being privy to the blue lines, the pencil underdrawing, and various shades of gray wash we can finally see. And then there's his pen work -- so alive I could almost cry. Mort Drucker is a genius, an American national treasure as far as I'm concerned. And how great is it that this peerless artist works for a publication dedicated to unapologetically irreverent humor for kids! Just awesome.

António Araújo said...

David: Getting a name for being good at crowds can be a curse. People will keep asking for it and don't really pay by the character :)

Edith: glad you are easily amused, next time I'll be sure to bring some dancing poodles.

anon2: don't be a jerk. I'm nobody's acolyte, and that's the kind of argument a child uses to demean whoever disagrees. You are the one(s?) who follow him around like a pack of hyenas, It seems like you can't live without the guy. I don't know what your feud with him is and I don't care, it just looks idiotic from where I'm standing. Just challenge him to a duel, or marry him, or whatever satisfies your weird obsession. And leave the multiple-anon personalities, makes you look like a psycho.

Rob Howard said...

David, as a way of repaying your generosity and until I can get some decent pictures of the work in progress, please go to

This is the non-subscription section of Cennini forum (BTW, before it was a subscription forum, we were beset by Anonymous and other online mosquitoes who feel long as they don't have to pay to utter their calumnies. As a result, we have attracted a relatively skilled level of members who are generous about sharing). Although the trolls cannot post to this section, they can visit it and run back here to make negative comments (naturally, there will never be countervailing examples offered from their hand...naturally. They troll. They don't draw)

What may be of interest to you are the online assignments we give for those interested in narrative art...illustration. Periodically we create an assignment that tries to emulate a professional assignment...usually illustrating a story in a book. In this case it was a section from Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur in which the young Merlin, after being beset by the king, realizes that he has very special powers. In digging up an old section of the castle, two dragons are released and they fight to the death. The illustrator can choose to do a bare bones version of illustrating just the facts or he/she/it can elaborate as much as needed. This personal elaboration is germane to the subject at hand...detail, crowds and drawing for the sheer joy of it.

As the illustrators work on their sketches (like Pyle, I recommend fifty done on index cards) and then their working drawings, color sketches and finished art, there is always a great deal of back and forth commentary from the participants. At the end of any section, I will present sketches, etc...too late to influence anyone. Then we'll submit the finished piece.

This Merlin assignment was poorly timed during the holiday season, so it petered out after the initial sketch stage, but I am one of my assistants decided to take it to finish. Kurt created a dynamic composition that focuses the action with real power. Mine is more concerned with compositional weights...personal choices.

Kurt's initial color sketch is in oils, mine was in markers and gouache. Kurt finished his as a digital presentation. I opted for my preferred medium of gouache. I've been adding figures and details that add to the story. As for scale, the Merlin figure is about 1 1/2' tall, so the whole thing is easily taken in at arm's length.

Now to my motivations: this field has been more than generous to me. Like Al Dorne, I enjoy a lifestyle I never imagined I'd have...big house on a lake, tennis courts and I collect classic Benz's...all from my brush. I say it to show that it is possible and should be encouraged, not to impress anonymous nonentities. I really, truly do not have to do any self-promotion for a few pennies here and there. Life has been (and continues to be) good.

These demonstrations are done for no other reason than to instruct and inspire. Inspiring those artists who have been told that you can't make a living in art is what drives me to teach. Although I no longer run my courses, I can point to the highest percentage of graduates who have become working professionals of any school or teacher I have heard of. That's simply because it is my primary as a paying profession.

For seven bucks a month, artists join the Cennini forum (you, David, get a comp if you want it) where there is a great collection of proven and tested method in what is called The Bible, along with the ongoing help with projects on the easel. As I say, the $7 fee keeps the trolls at bay (they never have the passion when it's not free). As you have guessed, I do not suffer fools gladly and am rightly proud of my accomplishments. That image of the tall cowboy who cleans out the town and says..."aww shucks, ma'am, it twarn't nuthin'" indicates that he's either lying or is an idiot who doesn't know that he just did something special. Yes, those lies make the townsfolk feel better about not having the energy and will to do what needed to be done, but they're really just lying to themselves about their failures.

As soon as this demo is finished, I'll make sure that you see a good picture of it.

Anon2 said...

Al Dorne was an art mercenary, a guy who mastered a technical skill and then screwed it for as much as it was worth. I think he'd be as happy to sell widgets if it gave him financial success, so yes, Al Dorne has been a big influence on the self-regarding Mr Howard,

Anon2 said...

> it just looks idiotic from where I'm standing<
From where I'm standing OMWO I see you curled up in Rob's lap waiting for another pat on the head or another dog biscuit.

David Apatoff said...

Thank you, Anthony, for returning the focus to where it should be, which is on the art. I believe these Drucker drawings are really quite extraordinary. And I agree with you, the fact that Drucker crafted such beautiful work for decades in such an irreverent forum speaks well for him, both as a person and as an artist. One of the main goals of this little blog to shine a spotlight on pockets of artistic excellence that you won't find in museums and posh art galleries.

Thossaporn Chuathong said...

wow, amazing.

David Apatoff said...

Anon2, I think that if you read about Al Dorne and learn something about the hardships he overcame, the terrible price he paid to overcome them, the important philanthropic work that he did, the encouragement he gave to young artists, and you take a hard look at his original drawings and paintings, you will be embarrassed by the way you have dismissed his accomplishments.

David Apatoff said...

Thossaporn, there are so many "amazing" things taking place in these comments, I hope your comment relates to the art.

António Araújo said...


I disagree with Rob Howard's view on modern art, I disagree with his view on ARC, and on the ateliers. Just like with any other people, I find common points and disagreements with him.

I do find myself, I confess, in complete and utter agreement with him on this single point.

You are a despicable idiot.

This is the last crumb you are getting of my attention, no matter what you say, you creature - I will not answer a single word. Your contempt for everyone only reflects upon you. For less than what you said I would punch the man that would dare say it to my face. But you are not a man, you worm. Not even a child, nor a parasite, though I am sure you live a sheltered existence fed by either your mommy or the state. Still, not even a parasite you are.

You don't even exist.

Rob Howard said...

Whoops! I meant to say that the Merlin figure was 1 1/2" INCHES tall. At 1 1/2 FEET tall, I'd be painting this picture until the end of time.

OMWO you are not alone in disagreeing with my attitude toward the so-called ateliers, and you most certainly are not alone in disagreeing with my appreciation of modern art. David had to go to hospital when he learned of the guilty pleasures I take in liking Jeff Koons (can I say that name in print, David?).

Now, to drive the stake further into my own heart, my first real art lessons were with Hans Hofmann. To the atelier devotee, that's the artistic equivalent of being born a crack baby.

All kidding aside, what we are joined by is a genuine love of art and, most especially, illustration. We are especially fortunate to have in David, a dedicated champion of the art of illustration. I am doubly appreciative in that David has keen eyes and elevated taste. Let's not forget that he is our host.

António Araújo said...

>OMWO you are not alone in >disagreeing with my attitude >toward the so-called ateliers

well, my view towards the ateliers is: although I get the point that they teach a limited array of skills, I think I am not wrong to say that they at least teach hard work, perseverance, and a general respect for technical skill. In other times that might be too little, but these days I think it's an important counterpoint to the self-indulgence of art school majors.

And, if they really just teach the measuring and rendering of the single figure, that's still two objective skills more than most art schools...

Now, although I say this, I wouldn't be caught sight-sizing for all those hours for the life of me. It's not my kind of thing, and I don't personally like techniques that rely on such microscopic detailed copy of the stactic model (sight-size the way they do it sometimes just seems like long distance tracing to me). But I regard that as personal preference, and not as a condemnation of the ateliers, while other stuff that happens at art school, I regard as just plain wrong.

Now, I know nothing about the politics of ateliers, so I don't comment on that. But even if there are skeletons in the closets, I don't see how your criticism -on limitations of technique, on damage to the students - wouldn't apply just as well and stronger still to the common art school. Yet it is my impression your criticism of the ateliers is far more violent than any you have towards the contemporary teaching of art.

As for David, it is very true. David, next time (there won't be one) I'll take it outside.Sorry about any broken china on the premises :)

António Araújo said...

ps: Regarding Koons...yes,indeed count me on David's camp :D

Anonymous said...

--"You are the one(s?) who follow him around like a pack of hyenas..."--
As for me (not identical with Anon2, don't you become paranoid!), I've been reading this blog on a regular basis for years now, and since, on a very, VERY cold and rainy day some Rob Howard entered the scene I've slowly but surely gotten the impression that his e n d l e s s self-adulation in some 20 page-filling comments to every single one of davids posts is indeed following me... I find it unbearable to read this stuff. Really. Hasn't this guy an own blog?

Anonymous said...

I love the way you look at art. I loved Mad Magazine as a kid and you sure have given me a new perspective towards some of the art in them. Keep it up, please. I really enjoy your blog.

Anon2 said...

Dorne may have had redeeming qualities but make no mistake his whole drive was for money.In a way, understandably so, but he became a sort of successful worker ant totally lacking in finesse and always 'folksy' because that's where the cash was. A great draughtsman though.

Anon2 said...

Mort Drucker, fabulous.A phenomenal caricaturist.But more, a brilliant artist much copied { Torres, Viviano etc ),NEVER equalled.

Anon2 said...

Travolta's foot is NOT 'subtly distorted', it is in fact a piece of excellent foreshortening by MD. Second, this is an establishing shot so it needs to tell us where the story is taking place so MD DID 'need to do that'.He just wouldn't need to do it all again in the next panel. See Alex Toth on this.Finally, I'm not aware of many artists that DO throw in unecessary detail in their work,to them it is necessary either for narrative or decorative reasons- hence 'subjective'.OK?

Rob Howard said...

>>I don't see how your criticism -on limitations of technique, on damage to the students - wouldn't apply just as well and stronger still to the common art school. Yet it is my impression your criticism of the ateliers is far more violent than any you have towards the contemporary teaching of art.<<

You'll find no cavil from this quarter. The truth is that I was happily putting along with my partners, operating a solid and busy studio. Having a studio is a magnet to young artists and we saw hundreds of portfolios. I am of the belief that there is as much nascent talent now as there was in the Renaissance. But that talent is just what you start with and there's a lot more to it than just hard work. There's smart. work and that was lacking. That and the fact that art schools became the repositories for so many desultory youths filled with the usual angst, intellectual BS and not two original thoughts to rub together.

Any serious students surrounded by that many flesh failures was boaund to be misguided. Top that off with teachers who simply did not even know the rudiments but could talk a good game and sit in a chair long enough to get an advance degree and we saw the results...the tearfully sad results walking through the door.

After hearing me rail about the way the kids were being ripped off, my wife finally said..."put your money where your mouth is." So I found an art school where i could teach one morning a week. Although I knew about my field, I clearly had not mastered the skills of pedagogy (the inverse of the usual situation). It took a few months before I came to understand a lesson plan and other teaching skills but eventually I was able to acquit myself adequately. A high proportion of my students went into the field, much higher than any of the other art schools.
As I became more involved, I began to write books on the subject and take more and more time away from my practice (if you ever want to lose money, write books).

All of this was in direct rebuttal to the standard fare being taught in many art schools and most university art programs.

By that time, the star of illustration was on the wane. I was fortunate to have been in the field when it topped the U.S. Department of Labor's list of lucrative professions. Illustrators were the best paid (by far) of any profession. Better than doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs (Native American Community Activists?). Then, just as the spellcheck convinced people with jumbled thoughts that they could write, the Mac and the graphics programs came along and convinced Everyman that he was an artist...deep, deep inside, and junior colleges began to offer courses in graphic design.

The results were obvious, with Frazatta knock-offs who should have been decorating vans and motorcycle tanks, setting the aesthetic pace. The ateliers are merely a kneejerk reaction to gamer art.

So we find ourselves at one of the numerous periods of deep mediocrity in art. Caught between the technically perfect machine-made giclées and the equally perfect handmade replicas of machine-made art.

Obviously, there will soon be a swing toward work that has a handmade quality...that's the way the penddulum swings. Where we are is like the blind men examining an's like a sanke says the one near the's like a tree says the one near the's like two basketballs in a sack says the blind man who gets crushed.

As an age, we are blind men examining only one part of the problem. I can say that there are lessons from the many areas of modern art that should not be thrown out. Many of them can be applied to realistic art, which by itself is a mere tabula rasa awaiting the input of real content and intellectuality.

Rob Howard said...

>>Dorne may have had redeeming qualities but make no mistake his whole drive was for money.In a way, understandably so, but he became a sort of successful worker ant totally lacking in finesse and always 'folksy' because that's where the cash was. A great draughtsman though.<<
Do you have a problem with people making money in art?

David Apatoff said...

Anon2, I don't know why you say "make no mistake [Dorne's] whole drive was for money."

Dorne was concerned about the treatment of people with disabilities and served for no pay on the President's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped.

Dorne was concerned about ethical standards in the field of art, and became Co-founder of the Code of Ethics and Fair Practices of the Profession of Commercial Art and Illustration (again for no pay).

Dorne was concerned about teaching young artists and donated a significant amount of time to lecturing at art schools, even though he had never been able to afford art school himself. He endowed a professorship in drawing at a local university, and after he died the Albert Dorne Foundation encouraged the arts among underprivileged and naive artists. It is not difficult to find testimonials on the internet from professional artists who recall his personal generosity and state that "Albert Dorne had the gift of encouraging and inspiring everyone who came in contact with him."

And last but not least, Dorne was a substantial philanthropist who remembered how free museums and free libraries had helped him as an impoverished youth, and who was determined to pay back his debt.

If Dorne's "whole drive was for money," I would be very surprised and impressed if any reader of this blog has done as much as Dorne to help his profession in particular and humanity in general.

Anon2 said...

I do have a problem with people whose main motivation is financial remuneration; in chasing that they lose sight of the transcendent potential of art and become 'worker ants'.David, I never said Dorne was a hoarder or a Shylock figure, just a guy who NEVER lost sight of the financial aspect to his work.It's to his credit that he 'put something back', but he sure made plenty.Notice here I make no intimation that these other works may have been for social advancement as I have read.

kenmeyerjr said...

Ah boy...Mort Drucker...imagine how little attention this incredible artist has gotten from the art press in general, merely because he works in comics. The ability to capture personality in 2d form is hard enough, but to do it in dozens of panels in a row while being creative with layout, page design and all the many other disciplines one must have to be a good continuity artist...well, in his case, it is just staggering.

David Apatoff said...

Rob, thanks for the link. I have visited the public portions of the Cennini forum before and found them quite interesting, just as I found the discussion you pointed out to me. I did not subscribe back then, not because I couldn't afford the $7 but because I couldn't afford the time commitment. Although I am in a different line of work, my fingers still itch to draw, and this kind of temptation could create serious problems for my day job. One of these days (in the not too distant future) I hope to be back to subscribe.

António Araújo said...

>As I became more involved, I began to >write books on the subject

Speaking of books, I was looking for a book on gouache ("gouache for illustration")that you wrote and is out of print. It's impossible to get, even second hand, except for outlandish prices.

Are there any plans for a new edition, or any way to buy a pdf version or something like that? I'd love to get my hands on that information, I am curious about gouache since long ago when I used to drool all over Syd Mead's stuff, but I am hopeless with that material to this day - all I found was vague information and people who just make do with it.

Blogart said...

To search and research the Drucker's panel details is one of the greatest joys in life.

kev ferrara said...

Drucker and Hirschfeld were the greatest caricaturists of the 20th century, I think. Hirschfeld's reductive designs make him the more "intellectual" (more in tune with the diagrammatic mind) but Drucker's genius for lovable profusion is equally brilliant. Harvey Dunn said, "Never touch your brush to canvas except to get the character of the thing you want to express." And every touch Drucker made was in accordance with that suggestion. His marks have their own poetry, their own suggestion. So strikingly full of heart for comedy, when it is so easy to be nasty, snarky, snide, cynical, dismissive, or cruel (see Kruger Stars). But Drucker's work is never that way. Its always loving. Its really wonderful stuff. (I can't say the same for the dialogue, which is throwaway.)

There's a truism from screenwriting, that in Drama every word must advance the plot in some way. Tempo is of the essence and the audience's attention must be kept rapt. But with comedy, the flow of the narrative can be stopped at any point for a laugh. Seeing Alf on Axel F's jacket made me think of that. If that Alf-Axelf "joke-about-spelling" isn't "inside" I don't know what is! (Unless I'm missing the real joke? Somebody enlighten me if there's some other reference at work.)

Al Dorne was flat out great. And you can't even get mediocre at art unless your love for the form redlines the needle. So don't give me that "Dorne was only in it for the money." nonsense. It is really important to make money at art so you can do more art and spend your life the way you want. With his drive, Dorne could have made a mint in any field imaginable. And the famous artist courses are a boon to any artist who lays hands on them, and Dorne's sections are the MOST generous of all (IMHO).

Rob, bless your heart, you annoy me in equal proportion to how much I enjoy reading your opinions -- I may in fact, enjoy being annoyed, something I'll have to work out with my therapist! :) --This time out, it was your insistence on Cezanne's compositional prowess that bothered me. There was nothing Cezanne knew about composition that wasn't already known and taught in Paris and Munich since at least the 1820s. And there is quite a lot about composition that Cezanne did not know, or did not exhibit his knowledge of, shall we say. The Modernists, quelle horreur, were cartoonists. They plopped all the symbols and subliminals on the surface and said, "look at my colorful philosophical rebellion!" And the kids said "yeah!" Cezanne is wonderful in his own way, but I prefer Kirby, Vassos, or Kay Neilson... those who could appreciate that the unfathomability of a Rorschach ink blot was merely its unfathomability. And thus had the integrity to be unpretentious about symbolic suggestion.

And your discussion of touch tension was maddening as well, seeing as it neglected to mention context, i.e. hierarchies of graphic tension, which is the real issue... understood by artists since the 1500s at least. (bless your heart)

David Apatoff said...

Blogart, amen!

Kev, thanks for the very, very nice (and sensitive) treatment of Drucker and Hirschfeld. I think you are right on the money. I would add only that Hirschfeld tended to appear in the high rent district for caricature, while Drucker appeared mostly on the wrong side of the tracks, in MAD. Perhaps that's why I love Drucker more.

Antony said...

It's been said here before: another brilliant post about a brilliant illustrator. I've returned to MAD for more visual inspiration than any other publication I can think of. And clearly Drucker is in a league of his own. ¶ I'm so glad this blog exists.

Unknown said...

Mr. Apatoff,
A most excellent blog.
Are you familiar with Burne Hogarth? It may be that your
father knew him. Let's communicate off-blog.
K.A. Ryan

PNWorldwide said...

im actually impressed with the amount of work you have done, where do you find time for all this? what other sites are you with?