Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ken Hultgren on Cartooning

22 years or so ago I was reading the introduction to a book by that William Stout had written and he referenced the name Ken Hultgren. Ken Hultgren? Now, where the hell did I know that name from? I knew I had seen it a lot at some point in my life --But finding out who-did-what in the Hollywood arts was no mean feat in the dark days before the internet if you didn't work there ...and here I was looking for animation answers from the rural south. Still, with a couple of phone calls I was able to find out about his Bambi-era work for Disney, his work for some other Hollywood studios as an animator, layout man and story director, and that he had drawn a lot of old comic books. Was any of this work really what I knew his name from, though?
A year or so later when Dave Newton and I were sharing an apartment after art school, I was looking through a typical pile of Dave's guitar chord books, monster magazines, fanzines, and graphic novels when I pulled out this thin book titled The Know-How of Cartooning. It looked really dog-earred, but before I could even open it to investigate further my eye caught the name of the author --Ken Hultgren! Holy Crap! There it was! Dave said it must've been his dad's (who, like Dave, was also a commercial artist). I checked out the date inside --June 1946. I flipped through the 64 page book --and while I was impressed, I wasn't really blown away by the book's contents like I hoped I would be. Don't get me wrong--It's really nice work, but it struck me initially sorta like Preston Blair-lite (an' some of it seems pretty derivative of that material). Nevertheless, it's some good, solid 1940's cartooning that's considerably more obscure than what we're used to seeing. So, here's a 12 page sampling of, as it's subtitled "a manual of instructions and suggestions on the art of cartooning, including animation. For use of beginners as well as advanced students." Enjoy.

Here's my favorite to draw the feminine figure --60 years ago!

This next page is pretty interesting...just spellin' it out...

BTW --I finally did remember where I knew Ken's name from...It was from all those damn TV Popeyes he directed in the early '60's.
Arf, arf, arf!
(And if anybody's ever seen this stuff reprinted before please let me know.)


Blogger Robert Pope said...

Dangit, Dale; I can't see the pictures! And yeah, some Space Ghost posts would be neat, wouldn't they?

10:40 AM

Blogger C. Martin Croker said...

Thanks, Chet...and Pope. I am working up to that...but I'll probably wind up posting all that kind of material to my [adult swim] blog titled appropriately enough,[adult swimmin']...but don't even go there now 'cause nothing's up yet. I've been starting to scan stuff for that purpose as I get time, so when I get it going I should have a lot of cool stuff up nobody's really seen before --or very much at least. I will be putting some art up on this blog too...But it won't [adult swim] stuff.

2:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang, I forgot all about that book! Gee whiz, I don't even remember what you traded me for it...somethin' tells me you might've gotten the better end of that deal! Oh well, I know its in good hands, and you probably have gotten more out of it than I ever did. That guy's work does look an awful lot like Preston Blair's.

3:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I'm not anonymous! I'm Dave, dammit!

3:27 PM

Blogger MondayMorgue said...

how funny, I just came accross my Preston Blair book last night in my closet and was flipping through it...this one of ken's is very similar, but equally interesting.
thanks for posting it.

8:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I note that some of these pages were reprinted in Hultgren's 1950 book (which is in print by Dover).

9:43 PM

Blogger Stanley Thunderbeard said...

Wow, I had this book as a kid. I went with my parents out to some flee market in the middle of nowhere and it was an animator's heaven. I had this, the preston blair, lots of popey and woody woodpeckers, you name it, they had it. My guess is a collector passed away and they sold his fortune for pocket change.

I was too young to appreciate it though. I used all the books as colouring books and the folks got rid of them when I was done.

Is there any way you could post the rest of the book?

9:27 AM

Blogger Robert Pope said...

Hey Clay;
finally looked at the pics at home; I may be in the minority here, but there were some asubtle spects of the character construction, line of motion, etc., that I actually PREFER to the similar art in Preston's book! I had never, ever seen a lick of that stuff. VERY cool.

9:55 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

More, more! This is wonderful stuff. Thanks for scanning and posting these pages!

10:54 AM

Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

Tohoscope said...
More, more! This is wonderful stuff. Thanks for scanning and posting these pages!

Neat you're interested in this too!

3:52 AM

Blogger Harold Buchholz said...

I'm a fan of Ken Hultgren's comic book work for ACG/Standard in titles such as Giggle and Ha Ha. Many of the characters in this book are his characters in the comic book series, particularly the squirrel and chipmunk characters.

Jack Bradbury, another animator turned comic book artist, told me that Hultgren could turn out a finished page of comic book material from blank sheet through inks and letters in 15 minutes! At $10 a page, this was a lot better income than animation at the time.

I sought out The Know-How of Cartooning a number of years ago when I found a mention of it in the Library of Congress copyright section. It's a nice book, a genuine precursor to Blair's Animation book.

Did you notice that Hultgren's book came out one year prior to Preston Blair's original Animation book (I guess it was called Advanced Animation then).

Did you also notice that apparently Blair borrowed some poses from Hultgren's book? Take a look at the cow on page 23 and the billygoat on page 22 of Hultgren's to see what I mean. Having grown up with the Animation book, those two drawings jumped right out at me.

Thanks for posting this!

6:52 PM

Blogger foist lastus said...

Because of this blog, I was able to purchase a copy online for $8!

While a lot more ideas and concepts are presented in this book, Preston's ' Book refines the lessons and structures them. Why would you want to acquire the whole book? For all the cartoons animal drawings, the perspective examples, drawing the female figure (presented above) and four pages on how to draw different types of dogs.

1:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I bought 2 books of you and I think they are very good, I love your caricatures too!

10:26 AM

Blogger Tom Kidd said...

I'm working on a how-to book and I've been reading some of my favorites. One is "The Art of Animal Drawing" by Ken Hultgren. I highly recommend this book. It's the best book for drawing animals in action I've seen, especially horses and deer.

I wondered if there was some small chance he might still be alive. He died in 1968 at 53 (my present age). My google search led me to your blog. It's nice to see that Mr. Hultgren's work is still sought after. I intend to read more of you blog now. Thank you.

11:29 AM

Blogger Don Cox said...

"The Art of Animal Drawing" is still in print from Dover books for around $8.

Excellent book.

4:19 AM

Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

It would be nice if more of the book was scanned here personally. If anyone has any leads, please let me know!

1:16 AM


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