Stephen Kroninger
May 2012
 By Popular Demand---the complete FRANK TASHLIN'S HOW TO CREATE CARTOONS, published 1952.
 Frank Tashlin had achieved recognition as a children's writer when he entered the film industry to work in the animation units at Disney and Warner Bros. Both of these early careers would have decisive import for the major films that Tashlin would direct in the 1950s. This early experience allowed Tashlin to see everyday life as a visually surreal experience, as a kind of cartoon itself, and gave him a faith in the potential for natural experience to resist the increased mechanization of everyday life. Tashlin's films of the 1950s are great displays of cinematic technique, particularly as it developed in a TV-fearing Hollywood. They featured a wide-screen sensibility, radiant color, frenetic editing, and a deliberate recognition of film as film. Tashlin's films often resemble live versions of the Warners cartoons. Jerry Lewis, who acted in many of Tashlin's films, seemed perfect for such a visual universe with his reversions to a primal animality, his deformations of physicality, and his sheer irrationality. Tashlin's films are also concerned with the ways the modern world is becoming more and more artificial; the films are often filled with icons of the new mass culture (rock and roll, comic books, television, muscle men, Jayne Mansfield, Hollywood) and are quite explicit about the ways such icons are mechanically produced within a consumer society. For example, in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, the successful romance of Rita Marlow (Jayne Mansfield) causes other women to engage in dangerous bust-expanding exercises to the point of nervous exhaustion. Yet the very critique of mass culture by an artist working in a commercial industry creates the central contradiction of Tashlin's cinema: if the danger of modern life is its increasing threat of mechanization, then what is the critical potential of an art based on mechanization? Significantly, Tashlin's films can be viewed as a critique of the ostentatious vulgarity of the new plastic age while they simultaneously seem to revel in creating ever better and more spectacular displays of sheer technique to call attention to that age. The Girl Can't Help It, for instance, chronicles the making of a non-talent (Jayne Mansfield) into a star, viewing the process with a certain cynicism but at the same time participating in that process. These films are vehicles for Mansfield as Mansfield, and are thus somewhat biographical. As with Jerry Lewis, serious treatment of Tashlin began in France, especially in the pages of Positif, which has always had an attraction to the comic film as an investigator of the Absurd. Anglo-American criticism tended to dismiss Tashlin; for example, Andrew Sarris in American Cinema called him "vulgar". In such a context, Claire Johnston and Paul Willemen's Frank Tashlin had the force of a breakthrough, providing translations from French journals and analyses of the cinematic and ideological implications of tashlin's work. DANA B. POLAN



Porky Pig’s Feat contains the first use of the music "Powerhouse" in a cartoon. Composed by Raymond Scott, "Powerhouse" became iconic through its use in over forty Warner Bros. cartoons

“According to Georges Sadoul, Frank Tashlin is a second-rank director has never done a remake of You Can’t Take It With You or The Awful Truth. According to me, my colleague errs in mistaking a closed door for an open one. In fifteen years’ time, people will realize that The Girl Can’t Help It served then — that is, today  –  as a fountain of youth from which the cinema now — that is, in the future — has drawn fresh inspiration ….To sum up, Frank Tashlin has not renovated the Hollywood comedy. He has done better. There is not a difference in degree between Hollywood or Bust and It Happened One Night, between The Girl Can’t Help It and Design For Living, but a difference in kind. Tashlin, in other words, has not renewed but created. And henceforth, when you talk about a comedy, don’t say ‘It’s Chaplinesque’; say, loud and clear, ‘‘It’s Tashlinesque’.“--- Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du Cinéma, July 1957

"Canter through Coventry" original oil painting by Frank Tashlin.
Q: It seems that compromise is an essential part of pictures.
Tashlin: Unfortunately, it's nothing but compromise until you earn the right not to have to. Censorship, producers, stars. I get pretty morose when something goes wrong, so I go home on weekends and paint. I love to paint. Doesn't matter if it's good or bad. If someone tells me, "I don't like that yellow,' I can say, 'Screw you.'

Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin: Tashlin is finally given his due in this career-spanning survey. Tashlinesque considers the director's films in the contexts of Hollywood censorship, animation history, and the development of the genre of comedy in American film, with particular emphasis on the sex, satire, and visual flair that comprised Tashlin's distinctive artistic and comedic style. Through close readings and pointed analyses of Tashlin's large and fascinating body of work, Ethan de Seife offers fresh insights into such classic films as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Girl Can't Help It, Artists and Models, The Disorderly Orderly, and Son of Paleface, as well as numerous Warner Bros. cartoons starring Porky Pig, among others. This is an important rediscovery of a highly unusual and truly hilarious American artist.

Antonio Frasconi
The Bull (My Turn), 1952, from a series of woodcuts THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN showing common scenes and situations in reverse.

Antonio Frasconi. Frasconi was born in Argentina in 1919, raised in Uruguay, and moved to the US in 1945. Working in woodcuts, Frasconi is well known for his powerful, often politically inspired, book and magazine illustration, but he also generated a wealth of innovative work geared toward children, heavily inspired by the birth of his two sons, Pablo and Miguel. Among the items on display in this exhibition are elegant alphabet books, intricately cast plaster blocks, and original artwork from a few of Frasconi's best loved children's books. The ease with which Frasconi transfered his passionate art-making from intensely serious adult subjects to playful, thought provoking children's themes speaks volumes about the quality of his work, and the dedication of his character as an artist: there's no question about which projects he throws his heart and soul into - they simply permeate everything he makes."
 This is a gernerous helping of his work but it only scratches the surface of this prolific artist.

Caged Man, from a series of woodcuts THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN showing common scenes and situations in reverse.



View from Brooklyn

The Fulton Fish Market, 1953

The Fulton Fish Market, 1953
Fishing, from a series of woodcuts THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN showing common scenes and situations in reverse.

Shepherd, from a series of woodcuts THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN showing common scenes and situations in reverse.

In the Doghouse.Woodcut, 1952.

from a series of woodcuts THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN showing common scenes and situations in reverse.

Guns, 1962, from Oda a Lorca

from the series VIETNAM, 1967

from the series VIETNAM, 1967

from the series VIETNAM, 1967

from the series VIETNAM, 1967

from the series VIETNAM, 1967

front and back cover of Christmas card published by The Museum of Modern Art
cover of Christmas card published by The Museum of Modern Art

cover of Christmas card published by The Museum of Modern Art. It's almost a crime to present this in black and white, I'm sure the colors are amazing, but it's all I have.

Maurice Sendak 1928 – 2012

 A lot has been written and said about Maurice Sendak since we all learned of his death on May 9 but I thought it was only fitting that there be a space on Drawger for all of you Drawgers and non-Drawgers alike to share your comments, thoughts, reflections and recollections.

 I met Maurice Sendak on a couple of occasions over the years. The most memorable was at a small private party at Simon & Schuster to celebrate the re-publication by Margaret K. Elderry Books of his and Beatrice Schenk De Regniers' WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A SHOE? The party was to be for the staff in the children's book division but I begged and begged until they agreed to sneak me in. At the party Mr. Sendak graciously signed books for everyone. When it came to me I asked him to sign it to me and my wife, Aviva. He heard me incorrectly and began to write down a different name than Aviva.  When I corrected him, instead of simply crossing out the misspelling and completing the inscription, he turned his mistake into this drawing of a Wild Thing. It was the only drawing he did that day at the signing. I was honored and have treasured the book ever since. Like everyone, I'm a huge fan and a great admirer of his work.
 I added a few images to balance out the post but I'm sure his work needs no introduction to any of you.
"Tzippy," pencil sketch on vellum tracing paper. Sendak named the Wild Things after his uncles and aunts: Tzippy, Moishe, Aaron, Emile and Bernard.

Max, Moishe, Tzippy and Bernard.


The following four images are sketches from 1988 for a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.

VARIETY 1997--"Dayton's Santabear is outfitted like a "Nutcracker" toy soldier this year and his companion, Miss Bear, is dolled up as a Sugar Plum Fairy, all cuddly and adorable. But you can almost hear children's book illustrator Maurice Sendak, whose version of "The Nutcracker" is the centerpiece of Dayton's holiday celebration, barking out a few "bahs" and "blahs."

Sendak's non-cuddly "Nutcracker" stage designs and book illustrations were used for this year's animated holiday display in Dayton's downtown Minneapolis store. It's a typically elaborate affair with 150 characters and 22 walk-through tableaux - not to mention the Sendak shopping bags, cards and ornaments tied to the annual display."

Terrific collection of interviews dating from 1989 to 2011 Terry Gross: Fresh Air Remembers Author Maurice Sendak
This Godless Communism
The Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was a Catholic comic book published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio and provided to Catholic parochial school students between 1946 and 1972. THIS GODLESS COMMUNISM was featured in ten bi-monthly issues from sept 1961 to June 1962. The series was illustrated by Reed Crandall. Click here to see examples of his work for Blackhawk Comics in the 1940s and EC in the 50s.

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