Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cartoony and Proud, Dagnabbit!

Giveaways that this is cartoony: shading for 3D; elbows and 
knees become curves; and feet floating above a stairway 
as if gravity has been turned down. From Li'l Nyet.
Every comic artist knows those genre checklists when they register their work at a major comics web site: horror, romance, real life, science fiction, etc.
Also in there is anthro, which I recently learned means humans with animal features, and furry, which mean animals that act like humans. Furry comics have a big following, deservedly so, but they carry some unfortunate baggage in that for some people, wearing animal costumes is a sexual fetish.
Normally, that would just give me a giggle and that would be the end. I do two comics, and both of them fit the furry definition. Only, that's wrong.
The style Pug and I draw is called cartoony. Here's a definition of cartoony comics:
Cartoony Comics: a comic art style characterized by animation mannerisms: bouncy walks, flexibility instead of rigidity in commonplace items, stretching of the laws of physics and a degree of three dimensionality achieved through shading and anatomic comic techniques. Generally, curves are emphasized over straight lines and right angles and arrangements are often wonky.*
What we would like is to have "cartoony" be a checkoff item along with all the other genres.
One reason is because we like cartoony comics, and it would be nice if they were easier to locate.
Another reason is that our all-ages comic, Scratchin Post, is listed as kid-safe on web sites like Family Web Comics. Googling the word "furry" on moderate safe search brings up terms that are incompatible with our family friendly comic. Yet, "furry" is where we are assigned. Yeah, it's kind of nit-picking, but when you feel left out these little things take their collective toll. is the first comics list site to add cartoony (Woo! Thank you!). I hope others who "get it" will join me in casually promoting the term wherever genres are listed or comics described.
And we hope our furry friends won't take offense. No one is rejecting or judging them, and of course we recognize that the controversial stuff doesn't apply to them. We just want our identity the way they want theirs -- we're all still comics, after all. We just come in a lot of different flavors.
Even cartoony has a golden age, a silver age and a modern age. "Popeye" in the newspapers was an early "golden age" example. A character like Caspar the Friendly Ghost would be "silver age" and "Skadi," accessible through Dumm Comics below, is modern. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a comic is cartoony or not, as artists develop innovative new styles. Debating it is half the fun.
Further reading:
Dumm Comics - a mostly cartoony collective
Cartoony Comics - a web site about cartoony comics and listing a bunch
John K Stuff is the blog to read for deep thoughts on animation and to a lesser extent, cartoony art
* As defined by John Kricfalusi here