My Life in Pictures Part Seven

Early Influences

One early influence on my drawing style, were several reprints of Thomas Nast’s early cartoons for the Harper’s Weekly Magazine, which led to the downfall of ‘Boss’ Tweed. I probably discovered these on the library shelves back in Durand, Michigan, and I can see where I got a lot of my early fascination with caricatures, and dense cross-hatching techniques.

I was also struck early on by Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations for the ‘Alice’ books. Similar dense crosshatching, and use of caricature methods, but with a better sense of black/white balance. Interestingly, Tenniel was also primarily an editorial cartoonist, who did a lot of work for ‘Punch’ magazine, and who snuck a lot of political likenesses into the ‘Alice’ illustrations. I remember copying this illustration for an art class assignment in high school, and it was very helpful in dissecting the way the picture was put together.

Another editorial cartoonist who I was fascinated with from an early age (and my admiration continues to the present day) is Pat Oliphant. I first came across his cartoons as syndicated reprints in the Flint Journal back in the early 70s, probably around the time of the Watergate scandals. His work has only gotten better over the years, and I had the good fortune recently of attending a showing of his original work (from the Bush years primarily). Seeing them at the original size was an eye opening experience. A lot of his beautiful line work is diminished on the newspaper page, and I was really impressed with the drawings for their own sake (the acerbic wit goes without saying – and I found myself laughing out loud several times while browsing the displays, even though I had seen many of these before).

I get a big kick out of the little details that don’t necessarily hit you right away. The ‘extra punchline’ that is usually delivered by his little penguin mascot ‘Puck’, or little throwaway running gags like the purse that Bush Sr. would frequently carry, or the ‘bats in the belfry’ that often circle Gov. Palin’s beehive hairdo.

To be continued . . .