Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Subject Of John K Influences

I should address this topic early on, because I'm sure if I succeed in reaching a wider audience down the road, the comparisons will continue, and I'd like to be clear on my creative intentions. I'm not trying to rip him off or do "his style". Yes, I'm certainly a fan, but I'd hate to have him consider me just another imitator.

He's 6 years older than me, and since I grew up with older brothers as an influence, that shortens the gap because they influenced me more than my own age group. What this amounts to is I grew up at the same point in history, and the reference points are largely the same.
That would account for a smaller piece of the equation, though. The bigger one is who stood out the most to me. For me it was Bob Clampett, and early Hanna Barbera (particularly the first 2 seasons of the Flintstones), & the Fleischer Popeyes. That's what turned my lights on initially. Sound familiar?

I can remember at very young age, watching Beany and Cecil cartoons and being struck by an intensity no other cartoons seemed to have. And in my house, we always waited and hoped whatever Looney Toons showcase that was on would show "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", "Book Revue", or "The Big Snooze". These were my earliest and strongest influences.

When the new "Mighty Mouse" debuted, the dying candle was relit. Same as when the new Beany and Cecil flew by, and then Ren & Stimpy threw open the doors. I watched it with the simultaneous feelings of "I can't believe they're doing good cartoons again" and "I wish I could go flying off to join the team". And then he got booted off his own creation, and again I felt like the business had no place for my way of thinking.

By that point I was 30, and picking up and following unlikely dreams becomes less impulsive a choice. Plus I still had never animated beyond a flip book. I had studied plenty. As soon as I had a VCR I was going though classics frame by frame and studying technique. Did I check out every frame of Daffy's "Oh Ag-O- NEE, Ag-O-NEEEE" meltdown? Sure did! (if you're not picturing the scene just from that line, you don't know it well enough).

So then comes Flash (and if he did indeed have input into the very program as I've heard then thanks for that too!) giving me the ability to wrangle a mechanical version of the process that actually can give you the ability to construct animation at home. And if you have put all the automation of it in it's proper place you can get full animation out of it.

So now I can put my ideas in motion. The first thing I attempted was adapting a 5 page comic story that was meant to feel like a cartoon into one. It has "first attempt" written all over it, but it came out well enough that I threw it on up on the YouTube, and in no time it's compared to John K. It's not surprising, because we went to the same "school" at one time.

So, yes. There's a similarity, because there should be. We were taught the same principles. I draw my characters the way I drew them in 1991, 1986, or 1975 (only better with practice). Not all of them in the same style. I try not to have a "style". Perhaps an imprint, but not a steady constant approach. And I absorb influences into it. So if John's look is apparent in mine, it's layered on top of what I got from Barney Rubble, Uncle Captain and the Gremlins from the Kremlin.

I'm not sure what the dynamic would be like if I were working for him. I think I'd enjoy the team atmosphere, but I am used to full control as well (another reason I didn't strike out early to apprentice somewhere, Mr. wanna know it all wanted to start at the reins). I would like to get his attention long enough to see some of the clips. And it would be a major boon if he wasn't not impressed with it to a degree and offered a suggestion or something that could be incorporated enough to warrant a "consultant" credit on it in the end. That would be a jewel for it's homegrown crown.

To wrap up, I set my blog up here so that I could also participate in his. I'd be both honored and a little nervous to be on his radar, but I'd rather have him be aware of me if people are going to make the comparisons online.

Does this look like the face of someone who would steal?...

1 comment:

J C Roberts said...

I don't mean to suggest with this that I personally think my stuff is that close to his. There are many similarities, and now that I've been spending time going over the lessons on his blog and reminding myself to use the principals they stress, it may get closer, but I don't see them as being interchangable.

I also find myself deliberately trying to avoid things I might do that could look too much like I'm stealing his approach. Certain timings and deliveries, things that have gotten to a point where I'm not even always sure if it's my own reflex or his influence popping into my mind. It's not just a case of me being inspired by his approach, I already had been picturing things paced the way he does them, and then he came along doing it before I even got the chance to try myself.

The main reason I posted this topic is the comments I've gotten a few times on YouTube brigning up John's name. Even "Flintstones Forgery" got one of these comments, and I was obviously going after a Hanna Barbera look for that, not Spumco.

The other reason I post so much babble about this is I have to spend way too much time at work, and there's a fair amount of "down time" where I can go online. So I can't work on anything, but I can yak about it here to keep me somewhat engaged.