Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rekindling Kliban

Via the Comics Reporter, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about a revival of one of my cartoonist hero's work, B. Kliban, on Go Comics (the on-line arm of United Press Syndicate). His single-panel gags remain the genre equivalent of Rembrandt, as Kliban's work was a creative milestone in transitioning from editorial/political panels to modern gag panels. By way of comparison, if Schulz can be critically credited with transforming the contemporary cartoon strip, all professionals in the field owe Kliban a similar debt of gratitude.

Also showcased on the Go Comics site are Kliban's iconic cat pieces, a sample of which is posted above. The only criticism I have is the "Ted Turner" effect at colorization, which in my opinion unfortunately diminishes the power of the original image by detracting from its strength: the power of line and use of texture that is Kliban's signature technique. A nightmare example of how this can effectively poison the legacy of an artist can be seen with the nauseating treatment happening to Peanuts. One supposes it's only a matter of time before the inexorable and inevitable animated version appears, which would be thoroughly depressing.

When it comes to embracing change, put me down in the curmudgeon camp of advocating for preservation of the old ways, as most of the time you can't improve upon perfection. That said, I still sport the annual calendar every year for the studio wall, and any effort to further preserve the legacy of one of greatest cartoonists to ever touch pen to paper is worth supporting.

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