In search of style

Partway through tinkering with my bestiary, I made a transition. I began to feel like a more western cartoon style had begun to slip from the world, and desired to pull it back into my art. You can see it in the difference between these pictures:

My human, placed for size comparison, is roughly anime, or manga in on the left, and draws more from the font of Chuck Jones on the right.

Maybe it’s reading Asterix as cartoon research. Or watching Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry with my kid. But my personal cartoon style was forged, initially, by Looney Tunes, was refined by badass pictures of comic book superheroes, and was boiled down by video game graphics.

And now… now I feel like I want some of the original wellspring back in.

You can kind of see it in Awesome moments. My finished art looks like chiseled game characters with clear eastern influence, but my storyboards have bubble eyes like an ancient western character.

Jesse White, the guy who sold me on the Windsor and Newton Series 7 which I probably no longer use, was recently professing that we need a little more Chuck Jones and a little less weeb nonsense in our lives. He seems to have removed the offending tweet for whatever reason. I wish he hadn’t. I found the conversation helpful and clarifying. I am not opposed to anime or manga at all, but it solidified something I’d been considering for my own art.

So I’ve been doodling in various variations on what I would consider a more classical cartoony style. Drinking from the wellspring in my spare time.

Anyway, today is my “day off,” so I wasn’t permitted to work on my RPG. I really wanted to. I’m super hyped for that project at the moment. But, casting around for things to do, and not being allowed to do the one thing I wanted, I seized on my folder of study pieces. Art I find ’round the internet that represents some stylistic factor that I want in my own work, and therefore have saved to dissect. Figured I’d do a study.

And I saw this:

Obviously, not the Popeye house style. This is, I’m guessing, made in the style of Nintendo (Japanese, alas!) art back when the big N was trying to imitate Popeye back in their arcade days?

(For those who don’t know, a little bird tells me Nintendo tried to create a Popeye game and reskinned the characters when they couldn’t get the license. Popeye as the carpenter Jumpman, who would later be renamed Mario, Bluto as a gorilla, Olive as some dame…)

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOREVER: SATURDAY SUPERCADE: DONKEY KONG

I dunno. Something about this Popeye 64 DS art spoke to me. I had to try drawing Popeye, and then a couple of my own characters, in a facsimile of the style. So I gave it a few practice shots, and then produced this:

This feels like the right direction. I need to practice with it some more. Maybe do some sculpts in 3D, see if I can get some forms going I like.

The question is, if I push my art in this direction, what of my existing projects?

Well, my favorite Jump the Shark art already has this feel to it, to be frank.

That’s one reason I like it. It feels like I’m starting to consciously recognize things I’ve been unconsciously seeking for a long time.

But what about Awesome Moments, the project I will probably take up again in less than a week?

Well…

I don’t hate it. It feels a little odd, a little potentially disrespectful, and I’m super leery of that. But I kind of sort of actually like it.

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