Friday, June 18, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Runaway Ruth

Probably the first of the Russell Patterson magazine cover series, Runaway Ruth started sometime in or before March and ran until June 23 of 1929. It was distributed by Hearst's International Feature Service.

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I probably should be grateful that illustrations like this do not appear in newspapers any longer, otherwise my house would be filled to the brim with them. Absolutely breathtaking. I notice even tons of comic book artists nowadays have very amateurish styles.
Artists in Patterson's day learned in the classical way, how to draw figures and objects in the realistic representational manner, from which they could simplify it to their own personal styles, to give the clean, elegant artwork that became fashionable in the early 20th century.
Today a cartoonist starts from the simplified line and has little to develop, so they mostly all draw the same way.
Yes, professional cartoonists, when they were children, often copied other cartoonists styles, then they developed a style of their own. An excellent way of learning to draw is by drawing from real life or photographs, then developing your own style from that.
In general, I think I agree with the idea that cartoonists should be privy to a traditional education in drawing. On the other hand, I wonder if such an education would have prevented us from ever knowing E.C. Segar's Popeye, with his biceps somehow located just above his wrists ... :)
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