Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Max: missive 5

The end.
I could go on posting these Max sequences until I get through the entire book, but I think I'd better put him back in his cage for a while and post something else. Blogs, after all, need variety - so I'd better go and find some.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Max: missive 1

Max again. This time he's trying to write a letter, which would seem fairly straightforward. Notice I'm posting these two at a time otherwise this sequence would last ten days, which is stretching it a bit too far. The final drawing, however, is well worth the wait.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Off the shelf: Bob Gill

I have a link to Bob Gill in that I was taught by an ex-student of his, and also by his ex-wife, Bobby. He's probably therefore my strongest influence.
These slipper-carrying dogs come from a job he did for Pirelli in 1965 when he was based in London and a third of Fletcher, Forbes, Gill. They're scanned from the book, 'Forget All The Rules You Ever Learned About Graphic Design. Including The Ones In This Book,' published by Watson-Guptill in 1981. Its dedication reads:
'If this book helps only one
designer get only one original
idea, then all the months
I spent putting it together
will not have been worth it.'
The book was my bible for a while (at a time when graphic design was treated as part of the cosmetics industry). It was full of the kind of unexpectedness that snaps you (temporarily at least) out of automatic thinking patterns. Gill's idea was that if you ignore what you already know and focus exclusively on the problem you're working on, redefining it according to its unique attributes, you can't help but come up with a unique solution. He illustrates this with his own work.
These dogs have the caption:
Original problem:
Counter display for slippers.
What can hold a slipper and be fun to look at?
So you could call them a bad illustration of his 'method'. However, the idea is terrific and one of my favourites and, no matter how familiar to anyone who's ever flicked through a book on the history of graphic design, it's still worth seeing again.
There are a couple of interviews with Bob Gill here (Eye) and here (Graphis), and a biography here (Art Directors Club).

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

It's only a mouse...

...it won't hurt you. In fact it's not even a mouse. It's just an old drawing which was once ironed onto a shirt, just above the pocket.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Max: Dressing up 5

Paint? What cunning plan is the Hamster up to now? Find out same time, same place, same - tomorrow, when all will be revealed...

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Max: Dressing up

Time for another slow motion dose of Max. This sequence was my favourite when I was small, because of the transformation at the end, but we'll get to that... in five days.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Off the shelf: W Steig

This drawing, 'Ma'aruf, the poor cobbler, is tormented by Fatimah, his shrewish wife.' is by William Steig and appeared in the New Yorker in 1989, in a series called 'Scenes from the Thousand and One Nights,' introducing colour to the editorial pages of the magazine for the first time since 1926.
Steig started as a cartoonist for the New Yorker in 1930 and produced over 1600 drawings and 121 covers. In his sixties he added a new career as a children's book author and illustrator, and is perhaps most famous for the story of Shrek! He died in 2003 at the age of 95. A full biography can be found on the William Steig website.
Steig's career covered 70 years and he produced an extraordinary range of work, some of which I find difficult to appreciate, and some I like very much indeed, such as this drawing. It's scanned from 'The World of William Steig' by Lee Lorenz from 1998, which collects together the full gamut of his work. Many of his New Yorker drawings can be found at Cartoonbank.
Ma'aruf the Cobbler is one of those stories from The Thousand and One Nights that never really caught on in the West. The plot is roughly as follows: Ma'aruf escapes from his nagging wife to a faraway city where he pretends to be a wealthy merchant awaiting the arrival of his caravan of riches and is offered the daughter of the Sultan's hand in marriage. After many adventures, including being found out, the discovery of an underground chamber full of treasure, the reappearance of his nagging wife, a magic ring and Jinns galore, the invented caravan actually turns up, and they all (except the baddies) live happily ever after.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Field guns

With plenty of hammunition.

There are eight million cartoons about swine flu, and this has been one of them.
Bang on time as usual.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 6

When I called this Duck supper, I meant Duck! Supper!
So ends a Maxism. Pretty much straight slapstick in the end, albeit in slow motion. Perhaps this isn't entirely typical of the Max canon, but I thought it would be a good one to start off with. More to follow soon, but not soonami.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 5

You would have thought that he would have plucked it first, but apparently that's not what hamsters do.
Last one of this sequence tomorrow - the denouement. The suspense is building to fever-pitch.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 4

After four days a duck finally appears. I can't help thinking there ought to be adverts between these drawings.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Monday, 7 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 2

Hmm, he's lit his fire and got his pan ready. What's he doing with that gun?
Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of 'Max and the Duck Supper'! (I wonder if the title is giving away the plot).

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 1

This is no.1 of a series of six, where Max is in cowboy mode. Sit back as Nonstick goes into slow motion.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Off the shelf: Giovannetti

If any book has influenced me to end up as a cartoonist it must be this one, 'The Penguin Max', published in paperback by... Penguin, in 1962. It belonged to my dad and it sat on a shelf behind glass, in his bureau, among various highbrow books on Plato, Emerson, Shakespeare, etc. It must have been a gift from someone as my dad was hardly a cartoon fan - it was the only cartoon book in the house when I was a young child.
If I was careful with it and had clean hands I was allowed to sit quietly and 'read' it, usually at Christmas. In it's pages were silent stories of a hamster called Max trying his hand at various activities, usually getting over-excited and ending up the worse for it, though now and then coming out on top. Many of the stories, and Max himself, made me laugh out loud, and still do.
'Max' is by Pericle Luigi Giovannetti. I can find nothing about him on the internet, and yet he created one of the best characters in cartoonland. In the front of the book is a biography of Max:

Max was born in Punch, London, in April 1952. Before his tenth birthday he had achieved an international reputation and is particularly well known in Great Britain, the United States, and Japan (where he passes under the name of Mr Makkusu-san). After service in the R.A.F., in which he reached the honorary rank of pilot officer, he transferred to the Royal Navy and was appointed mascot to H.M.S. Birmingham in 1953. In 1957 he was an honorary member of the Mount Kenya Expedition and that year, in order to underline his neutrality, joined the Swiss Air Force as heraldic beast of Jet Fighter Squadron No. 21. In 1958 he was placed on Enzo Ferrari's desk.
Max receives and deals with innumerable letters from his public in almost every country of the world. In addition to the present volume he has also published Max, Nothing but Max, and Max Presents, which he edited. Max receives minor assistance, such as drawings etc., from Pericle Luigi Giovannetti, who lives at Ascona in Switzerland.

... and that's it. If anyone knows anything more please let me know.
I should warn you that this blog may, for a while, become the Max Appreciation Society. Over the next few days I'm going to post, perversely perhaps, a single drawing a day of one sequence. Then follow that up occasionally with other sequences. I know it would be more intelligent to post whole sequences at once but each drawing is worth seeing large and you won't have to click on it to see it properly - and it will take up more days for this blogger, who is struggling to find new things to post from an ever-dwindling supply of material... So there.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Off the shelf: Sempé again already

As a sort of fill-in today, due to lack of preparation, here's a drawing which shows another aspect of Sempé. It comes from 'Displays of Affection', published in the UK by Methuen in 1982, and it probably has one of the longest captions in cartoon history (translated by Edward Koren):

'It would have been wonderful if you were a poor and sick artist when I met you. I would have taken care of you. I would have helped you all that I possibly could. We would have had discouraging times but we would have had wonderful ones, too. To the best of my powers, I would have protected you from the daily problems of life so that you could devote yourself completely to your art. And little by little you'd have become known. You would have become a great artist, admired, respected, adored; and one day you would have left me for a younger and prettier woman. It's for that I'll never forgive you.'

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Off the wall: J O Héron

My brother picked this up somewhere on his travels when he was in the Navy. He thought it would appeal to me, and it does - it's been on my wall for years. It's called 'Comment naissant les bateaux' or 'How the boats learn to float' and it's by Jean Olivier Héron, part of his Metamorphoses series. He has a site selling his work here, but there's precious little information about the man himself and some of the page links don't work.