Comic Art &Commentary 30 Jan 2008 09:25 am


- I had thought I’d comment on the Will Finn / Michael Barrier fracas, but it’s pointless. I think there’s been a bit of misunderstanding on Will’s part. His original thought about Chuck Jones’ later years is spot on, and I think Mike said as much. I do understand that Mike had to respond to Will’s nasty volley, and I thought his response was finely measured. It seems moot for me to comment on it further. However, the original thought about aging animators is something that interests me. Several of my key influences, here in New York, are older artists, and it’s interesting to watch how aging affects them all differently.

I would have liked to have seen how John Hubley would have changed as he got older. I’m sure his interests would have been more about the story than the drawings. That’s where he was going at the time. Faith Hubley’s solo films got richer as she got older.
Their two brilliant key animators, Tissa David and Ed Smith are still going strong. Their output is probably less than in the past, but they’ve had less to work on. Having worked closely with both in the last year, I have to say that both are just as strong.

Finally, I think of myself and how it’s affecting me as I grow older. I’m a little lazier as far as animating goes, but just as excited by the medium (or my version of it) as I was 20 years ago. Story and design have grown even more so in importance, while the world’s view of animation has gotten slicker. We’ll see what a few more years brings.

- To continue this theme, I’d like to post something I’d put up back in November of 2006. James Stevenson did a brilliant cartoon about a comic strip artist who was losing it. The piece appeared in his book, Something Marvelous Is About To Happen. It’s a great take on comic strip cartoonists and the relationship they have to their strips.
Here it is, The Last Days of Tootie and Fred.

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______(Click any image to enlarge.)

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2 Responses to “Aging”

  1. on 30 Jan 2008 at 4:16 pm 1.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    I’m delighted to hear that Tissa David and Ed Smith are still going strong. I know some people like that too, and it’s very encouraging to the rest of us. Even so, my guess is that even artists who are exceptionally agile in their old age are working under a handicap, it’s just that they were so far beyond their peers when they were young, that even at half strength they’re still serious competitors.

    Lately I’ve begun to wonder how much of the mental impairment we associate with age is actually due to deterioration of the brain. My neighbor is in his 80s and acts a little spacey sometimes, but he takes a dozen pills a day, and a lot of them have dizzyness warnings on them. How much of his spaciness is due to the pills?

    How much spaciness comes from social isolation and not having useful work to do? How much comes from having to reduce your physical activity? How much comes from difficulty with vision, sex hormone deficiency, lack of sleep, or problems with gadgets? Being good with computers requires a certain amount of networking because all you need to know isn’t in books, but older people don’t have a large network of friends.

    It’s a scary thought, but some of the impairment we associate with aging brains might have a lot to do with the old person’s external environment. Even so, some of it must be physical too.

    I don’t think old people necessarily get crotchety. My guess is that ones who had a short fuse when they were young get even more testy with age, and the ones who were shy and mild when young get even more withdrawn with age. A large number of older people get too confident and feisty about their opinions and they need to be challenged by younger people rather than condescended to. Challenging them isn’t disrespectful, it’s a recognition that they’re thinking persons.

    The best book I’ve ever seen on the subject is B.F. Skinner’s. His advice is to change careers as you get older. The necessity of coping with new and unfamiliar challenges wakes you up and forces you think. Of course, that’s not an option for a lot of people, but a solution that only works for some is still valuable.

  2. on 30 Jan 2008 at 4:32 pm 2.Michael said …

    Amusingly enough, I feel like I’m learning a new career with these confounded computers. The odd part is that I really like some of it and see ways to exploit it that I haven’t seen as yet. Unfortunately, they’er always changing the damned things, and it’s hard to keep up. Never mind the cost of doing that; just the reeducation time makes me feel old. Impatience on top of impatience. Neither Tissa nor Ed use computers for their animation.

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