Segments in this Video

Distinctive Cultural Export (03:11)


Cartoon art was once considered a lower form of art and cartoonists were not respected artists. That changed, and cartoons are now considered an important part of American culture. The Museum of Comic Art in New York houses works of thousands of artists.

Dagwood and Blondie (03:39)

Created in 1931 by Chic Young, "Blondie" is an extremely popular cartoon. After Young's death, his son Dean and another artist continued the strip. Dean describes his entrance into working on comics with his father.

Domestic Duties (02:28)

Dean endeavors to keep the "Blondie" comics relatable to people all over the world by sticking to scenes that all people understand, like eating, sleeping, making money, and raising children. For instance, tennis and golf are activities Dean avoids, instead confining Dagwood to duties that more people can relate to.

Getting Into the Business (01:58)

The comic business is extremely competitive. King Features Syndicate receives over 2,000 comic ideas per year, and only two or three are selected. Aspiring comic artist Denis Lebrun visits Dean for assistance and support.

Encyclopedia of Comicana (02:13)

Mort Walker, author of "Backstage at the Strips" breaks down cartooning into symbols which he says are learned in childhood and used internationally. Walker details some of the lesser known shapes and symbols in comics, like the agitron, which indicates a surprise reaction.

Liberties with Language (03:08)

There are a wide range of symbols in comics that describe who, what, where, and when. Thought balloons use many effects to communicate different situations, like small letters for quiet or muffled words, and hearts for romance or affection.

Social Significance (03:23)

Following World War II, a new breed of comic artists erupted on the scene, including Walker and his own strips "Beetle Bailey" and "Hi and Lois." Comics also became newly interesting to psychologists, and the comic "Doonesbury" was the first to receive a Pulitzer Prize.

Art in High Form (02:10)

Animator-director Ralph Bakshi of the 1978 "The Lord of the Rings" series, was influenced by comic art. He created the "Amazing Spiderman" television cartoon series. Esteemed science fiction author Ray Bradbury articulates the purpose of cartoons for humans.

Pulse of a Culture (02:26)

Director of "Star Wars" George Lucas is a longtime comic fan and collector. Interested in cultural anthropology and sociology, Lucas finds comic strips to be indicative of the cultural status and mental occupations of society.

Cartoonists Draw Themselves (credits) (03:16)

The magazine "Heavy Metal" has roots in a comic strip called "Little Nemo in Slumberland." Walker recalls the birth of "Hagar the Horrible" by Dik Browne which has become successful enough to be translated into many languages worldwide.

Giants of the Comic World (02:55)

Live-action films like "Spiderman" are derived from comic art. At the Museum of Cartoon Art in Rye, New York, the largest collection of cartoon and comic art is housed, including many styles, which are often determined by the story. The two largest names in comics are DC and Marvel Comics.

Comic Book Hero (03:26)

Comic artist John Romita describes the differences between comic books and a daily newspaper comic strip. Will Eisner, another comic artist, is credited with pioneering the use of comic art in training manuals, and discusses the importance of the heroes in comics.

Comic Collaborations (04:13)

Hal Foster's "Prince Valiant" original drawings are now collected as fine art. Foster, semi-retired, has relinquished the some of the work of drawing the comics to John Cullen Murphy, who demonstrates the way he collaborates with Foster over the phone and through the mail.

Reader's Imagination (04:33)

Artists including Eisner focus on one story at a time, in this case, "The Spirit." Eisner uses symbolism in the way a cinematic director might use props in a scene.

Borrowed Techniques (03:16)

Eisner uses perspective to communicate certain scenarios in his cartoon work. The "camera" he uses is placed at a worms-eye view or a birds-eye view, allowing for the maximum amount of action in his static drawing. Another element he uses is the montage or muralist effect to make up for the small frame space that he has to work with.

Finances of Comics (02:40)

Before Milton Caniff, almost all comic artists did not own their creations, instead working for others. Caniff altered this pattern and describes the procedures he took to do so.

Homogeneous Sameness (05:03)

Sean Kelly, editor of magazines "National Lampoon" and "Heavy Metal," discusses the effects of censorship on comics. John Romita describes the changing levels of prestige in the industry and the pride he now has to be in the comic business.

Credits: The American Comic Strip (00:49)

Credits: The American Comic Strip

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The American Comic Strip

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This video features a survey of American comic strip art with comments by well-known artists and scenes of them at work. Commentary by Mort Walker, comic artist ("Beetle Bailey", "Hi and Lois") and president of the Museum of Cartoon Art in Rye, New York. Scenes and interviews with Dean Young and Jim Raymond, Ralph Bakshi, Dik Browne, Ray Bradbury, George Lucas, Will Eisner, Milton Caniff, John Cullen Murphy, Sean Kelly, Johnny Romita.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL128511

ISBN: 978-1-64023-144-3

Copyright date: ©1978

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video customers.