"For some reason or other - perhaps because cartooning is a humorous art, and perhaps because of all the "cartooning-is-easy" catch-penny books the world has been flooded with of recent years - the general public seems to have the erroneous notion that the drawing of funny pictures is not a serious business."
"And it often comes as a distinct shock to the would-be cartoonist to learn that his work isn't eagerly snapped up by art editors the moment he decides to unveil his talent. What looks to be a cinch turns out to be a toughie."
"The bald fact of the matter is that cartoonists such as Charles Addams, George Price, Virgil Partch (ViP) and all the others worthy of their salt are excellent artists and very fine draftsmen judged by any standards. Theirs is an "art that conceals art" and behind every line stands years of development and experience. The drawing in the work of these humorists is very good drawing, and it isn't nearly as far removed from the kind of drawing Leonardo da Vinci used as a casual observer might think."
One need look no further than the remarkable piece below by Hank Ketcham to appreciate the veracity of these words Richard Taylor wrote in the October 1950 issue of American Artist magazine. Look at the two pieces at top - both of which are terrific in their own right - and see how in the space of just a couple of years Ketcham developed a remarkable sophistication that is at once expressive and admirably reductive. Ketcham says a lot with very little - and does it with grace and confidence. This is "art that conceals art"... this is very good drawing... and this is not easy to do.
Here's another from a couple of years later. I included it because it provides an easy comparison with the similar piano playing scene at top ( but also because a famous Ketcham character makes a cameo as a bit player here! )
Finally, an amusing, esoteric find: Hank Ketcham schilling for an art correspondence course in cartooning. Certainly not a "cartooning-is-easy" catch-penny book - Art Instruction Inc. has a long history of training professional illustrators and cartoonists and, like the Famous Artists School, is still in operation to this day -- but in the context of Richard Taylor's article, I thought it was kind of amusing.
This week: some great mid-century cartoon art by some of my favourite mid-century cartoonists, along with Richard Taylor's reminder that "cartoonists are artists" - and don't you forget it!
* My Hank Ketcham Flickr set