Showing posts with label Walt Disney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walt Disney. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Catching up with graphic artist Marty Baumann

by Mike Rhode


We're checking in with Arlington's Marty Baumann again on the publication of Toybox Time Machine, his new book from IDW, . We've featured his work in passing a couple of times in the past, and it's been six years since I interviewed him for the Washington City Paper (which sadly is currently for sale in case anyone reading this can afford to buy a newspaper). He's answered my usual questions again, but in new ways, as well as discussing his recent work so I'm running the whole interview here. Honestly, both Marty and I forgot about that interview (an occupational hazard when you know people personally and socially. I've seen him at the Baltimore Comic Con in September and at a flea market last weekend when he bought some Kirby and Kubert comic books). I highly recommend his new book; Marty is one of the cleverest illustrators I know -- as this interview shows.

Marty has provided the following biographic information:

Marty Baumann is an illustrator, graphic artist and production designer. He has contributed to some of the most popular, Oscar-winning animated films of all time.

Marty has worked as an artist at Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios as an illustrator, graphic artist and production designer on such films as “Toy Story 3,” “Big Hero 6,” “Zootopia,” “Cars 2,” “Planes,” “Wreck-It Ralph 2” and many others. He also helped develop theme park installations, toy packaging and Pixar corporate branding.

Marty has rendered illustrations and developed characters for toy manufacturers, magazines and newspapers, illustrated children’s books, created logos, info-graphics, broadcast promotions and presentation art for Hasbro, Universal Studios, National Geographic, Scholastic Books, Nickelodeon and many others.

Recent projects include his role as concept artist for the new “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” and the visual development of Sir Paul McCartney’s feature film, “High in the Clouds.”
Marty's dog Summer

Marty has been a rhythm and blues singer/guitarist for more than 40 years. He’s shared the stage with Hound Dog Taylor’s Houserockers, Danny Gatton, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Fenton Robinson, John Hammond, Johnny Winter and others. Marty’s sold-out CD “Let’s Buzz Awhile” features 13 original blues tunes.

He encourages everyone to adopt at least one dog.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

As far as personal projects: My influences are primarily of mid-century vintage; the logos, designs, signage and draftsmanship, often combining limited color palettes, stylized figures and crazy type treatments. They communicate fun and excitement in a way we don't see today. I tried hard to emulate that aesthetic in my book, "Toybox Time Machine."

As far as film work goes: Logos, title card design, billboards and signage, magazine covers, posters and general production design and just about anything you see in the background or applied to the body of a character.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I do some pencil roughs, scan them and use primarily Illustrator and a bit of Photoshop. If I'm doing a commission or a personal piece for someone I might print what I've done digitally and finish it with touches of ink.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in Maryland the same year "Invasion of the Saucer Men" hit theaters. Is that specific enough?

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

Jack Kirby comics. He's one of my heroes. It might not show in my style but I started drawing because of him. I've had no formal training.

Who are your influences?

The first books I actually recall buying were Joe Kubert's Sgt. Rock comics. Starting in grade school it was Kirby. Then a friend said, "If you like Kirby, get a load of Steranko -- and I got a load. Then I discovered Ditko, Toth, Meskin. As time went on I became aware of the great magazine, paperback and movie poster illustrators -- James Bingham, Robert McGinnis, James Bama. And then the groundbreaking design work of the UPA cartoons and the logo and title designs of Saul Bass and Paul Julian. Not to mention the great children's book artists, a particular favorite being the great Mel Crawford -- who also worked in comics and fine art.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

Nearly everything! I tell aspiring artists to look at my career path and do the opposite. I wish I'd taken art classes, studied life drawing, studied painting, tried oils, charcoal, etc. I fell under the sway of rhythm and blues and began playing in clubs as a teenager. I was trying to focus on two creative areas. Maybe I should have focused on just one -- but I couldn't! In the end I think they complimented one another.

What work are you best-known for?

I didn't know that I was KNOWN! So I'd have to say my Disney/Pixar work.

What work are you most proud of?

I'll cite this example: I did a TON of work on "Zootopia." My wife and I saw it in a theater packed with kids and they LOVED it. I was kinda proud that I helped in some small way to make those kids happy.

How did you come up with the idea of Toybox Time Machine?

Well, after having one children's book idea after another rejected, I decided to draw whatever the heck I wanted. I love old toys. I have a small collection of old favorites. And I think my real artistic strengths are design, typography and color. I tried to channel the artistic influences mentioned previously and I never had more fun working on a project.

What's the process of conceptualizing and then drawing a toy that never existed?

My wife and I go to lots of estate sales. I buy the stuff nobody else wants: stacks of old magazines, postcards, travel literature. I snap pictures of anything with nifty retro packaging. It seems that in the 1940s and 50s every advertiser employed an illustrator in lieu of using a photo. With inspiration like this the ideas flow.

How did IDW come to publish this?

At the risk of sounding like a name-dropper, Jim Steranko has been something of a mentor since I was a teenager. (When he critiques your work, you KNOW you've been critiqued, and HOW!) He mentioned to IDW that they might want to look at my work, and, as Bogart would say, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

What's your favorite non-existent toy?

That's the one question I'm going to side-step -- because I just don't know! The sci-fi and monster related toys would be near the top of the list. And I love cowboys!

How did you end up working for Pixar?

I had always loved what Pixar was doing. That retro sensibility seemed to be present in everything they turned out. Quite by accident I discovered that they were looking for a Graphic Artist and I sent them some stuff. They called me a couple weeks later, flew me out there, apparently liked me, and within a few weeks, we were living in San Francisco! I know that makes it sound easy, but let me be clear, I paid my dues for years working for newspapers, magazines, ad agencies, toy companies...

How has the experience been?

It's been great -- and also tough. Every artist working there was better than me! So I really had to up my game.

What have you worked on for them?

"Big Hero 6," "Zootopia," "Toy Story 3," "Cars 2," so many shorts that I can't remember them all -- "Hawaiian Vacation," "Small Fry," "Partysaurus Rex". I also worked on installation pieces for Disney resorts and contributed to the development of Cars Land at Disneyland.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

Well, I worked on the visual development of a film with Paul McCartney. It would be cool to work with Ringo one day!

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Writer's block? Let me see. I, um, er -- sorry…gimme a minute...I just can't think of anything to write at the moment…

When did you start collecting comics?

Maybe 1961 or 1962, when I first discovered Sgt. Rock and the Kirby monster books. I wouldn't call it "collecting" in the modern sense of the word, i.e. as if a comic book were a precious object to be preserved for posterity to accrue in value. I traded them, rolled them up and stuck 'em in my back pocket to read again later, and sat down with pencil and paper and tried to copy them. I read my favorite ones until the covers came off. Isn't that how they were meant to be used? Then -- a familiar story -- my mom threw a ton of them away.

What do you focus on? Who are your favorite comic book artists?

I guess my big four are Kirby, Kubert, Toth and Steranko. But there are so many -- the great Jack Davis, Ditko, Mort Meskin, Fred Kida, Wally Wood, and the incredibly underrated and versatile Bob Fujitani. The "Hangman" stories he did for MLJ in the mid-1940s are some of my favorites. I love the books Hillman put out in the 40s, ("Air Fighters," "Clue") and the stuff ME (Magazine Enterprises) published in the late 40s and early 50s ("Jet," "The Avenger"). I've often been asked what, in my opinion, are the best comics of all time. Without hesitation I say choose any issue of Fantastic Four from numbers 30-90. Any one of them is better than anything produced since.

How large is your collection?

It's quite modest. I'm no big-time collector. I buy comics I think I can learn from. I have dealers who save their coverless, moldy, brittle, flaking old books for me because they know I love the obscurities, learning the forgotten history of comics and discovering great cartoonists who have been unjustly overlooked. Mike Roy is a favorite, and Tony DiPrieta, and John Cassone, and Mike Suchorsky, etc. etc.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Do you mean animation or comics-related material? In either case I don't know. What used to be marginal pop-culture interests are big, BIG business now and it's all too complicated for me to understand.

How was your Baltimore Comic Con experience this year? How often have you attended it?

I always have a great time at Baltimore. I was at the very first one! I believe I've been a guest at all of them except for those that I missed when I lived in the Bay Area.

Do you have a website or blog?

www.martybaumann.com 

What's your favorite thing about DC?

That I don't have to commute there.

Least favorite?

The times I DO have had to commute there.

What monument or museum do you like?

Without a doubt Arlington Cemetery. Not only do we have relatives buried there, but it's brimming with history and trivia. For instance: My wife's uncle is buried just a few tombstones away from Lee Marvin -- who is buried right next to Joe Louis! Dashiell Hammett is resting there, and cartoonist Bill Mauldin.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Caribbean Grill in Arlington, hands down.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How about Happy Hooligan? Or Princeton plates?

Here's a Happy Hooligan planter (possibly) I picked up last weekend. It's small - it would fit in the palm of my hand.

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And here's some plates that appear to be aimed at appealing to a Princeton University sophisticate.

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"With his active interests, we'll probably send him to Princeton!" cartoon plate made by Paden City Pottery Company, and sold by College Hall, Tuckahoe, N.Y.

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"She once dated a Princeton man! What's she doing up here?" cartoon plate made http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifby Paden City Pottery Company, and sold by College Hall, Tuckahoe, N.Y.

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Label on reverse of Princeton cartoon plate - made by Paden City Pottery Company, and sold by College Hall, Tuckahoe, N.Y.

Finally, I didn't get anything but the photographs, but here's another of the Disney nutrition posters at DC bus stops - the third I think.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Waking Sleeping Beauty reviewed in City Paper

Fincher's hyper, fictionalized Facebook flick; Disney's dysfunctional family
By Tricia Olszewski
Washington City Paper October 1, 2010

I guess the Disney documentary is playing here somewhere, but it's not on the City Paper's movie site yet.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NY Times continues to be the comics fan's paper

In today's paper - Tom Tomorrow's cover for Pearl Jam - Bad Luck Turns Good: That's Rock 'n' Roll, By BEN SISARIO, September 8, 2009.

In tomorrow's - a story on a Disneyana exhibit - Blowing the Pixie Dust Off Disney’s Archives, By BROOKS BARNES, September 9, 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Post on Scooby-Doo's 40th, NY Times on comics

Hank Steuver thinks the 40th anniversary of Scooby-Doo doesn't deserve a press release - "Enough Already! All '69 Anniversaries Should Be 86ed," By Hank Stuever, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, September 6, 2009, and honestly, it's hard to disagree with him.

Also in the Style & Arts section is a caricature of Jay Leno by Hanoch Piven.

The NY Times, having apparently decided that comic art is just another form of culture had a bunch of articles today besides Ms. Gerberg's marriage.

Two articles on animation -

A Tribute to the Man, Beyond Just the Mouse, By CAROL KINO, September 6, 2009 on the Walt Disney Family Museum -

- and an interview on 9 - "Scrap-Heap Heroes for a Digital Age," By MEKADO MURPHY, September 6, 2009 -

- one on the Berndt Toast Gang, a group of Long Island gag cartoonists that didn't make it into the Washington print edition - "Pen Strokes and Gag Lines, a Stimulus Package for All," By JAMES KINDALL, New York Times September 6, 2009-

- one on a musician comic book writer whose new comic is Fall Out Toy Works- "A Night Out With | Pete Wentz; Song-and-Spoof Man," By TRICIA ROMANO -

- and Jason Lutes illustrated Paul Krugman's article on economics in the Magazine.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Paul Richard on Walt Disney's fine art status

Here's an excellent article - although when these start appearing, you have to worry about the art form having ossified -
"UNDER WALT'S SPELL: Disney Is No Mickey Mouse Figure in the World of Art" By Paul Richard, Special to The Washington Post, Sunday, January 11, 2009; M06. Given the 'fine art' pieces that Richard quotes, which cover a period of 40 years at least, I suppose that argument is already over about Disney.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2006 Disneyland: The First 50 Years exhibit

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A small exhibit was at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art in 2006, in conjunction with the donation of some artifacts from the theme park. I'm ambivalent about these exhibits (or postage stamps) that help advertise an ongoing concern, but there's no denying that Disney(land) is part of American popular culture.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Good stuff in today's papers

"Godzilla's Older, Creepier Cousins: Beings Such as Filth Licker Haunt Japanese Culture," By Blaine Harden, Washington Post Foreign Service, Friday, October 31, 2008; A01. This is about creatures called yokai, who are apparently roughly equivalent to goblins and boggarts. Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt are a married couple have written a book about them, when not translating manga.

The animated movie Fear(s) of the Dark was also reviewed in "Gripped (at Times Loosely) by Fear," By Neely Tucker, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, October 31, 2008; Page C06.

Meanwhile in the Post's Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna's interviewed a bunch of cartoonists about the election including locals Telnaes, Sorenson, and Wuerker in "Who'll Win the White House? Cartoonists Issue Their Predictions" as well as decidedly non-local Garry Trudeau in "Obama Wins? Yes, 'Doonesbury' Calls the Election!"

And on Disney's direct to video movie and Fairies product line is "Disney Hoping 'Tinker Bell' Spreads Fairy Dust on Sales" By BROOKS BARNES, New York Times October 31, 2008.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Disney expands on Blu-ray plans

"At Disney, Blu-ray Sales Team Is a Cast of Characters," By BROOKS BARNES, New York Times August 27, 2008 reports that five more animated films are joining Sleeping Beauty as Blu-ray releases - Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 and Beauty and the Beast.

They also had a mention of Virgin Comics imploding - "Virgin Comics Venture Is Shut Down," by JULIE BLOOM, New York Times August 27, 2008.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back to the future in Disney's Tomorrowland

I've seen a couple of articles before this on Disney's reworking of Tomorrowland, but this is the first I've thought worth pointing out - "The Future Is So Yesterday: In the World of Tomorrow, There's a Very Familiar Feeling," by Joel Garreau, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, July 20, 2008; M01. Garreau's got some interesting points to make and has thought about these issues before as he was an early writer (and coined the term I believe) about 'edge cities' -- the conglomerations of places like Tysons Corner or Bethesda -- not classic suburbs, but not cities either.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kung Fu Panda's reception in China


The Post picked up a story idea that's been making the rounds of the newswires and did some more reporting to provide an interesting take on China's feeling that Kung Fu Panda mines their heritage. Off course, Disney already did this for all of Europe (and in fact there's a book and an exhibit on those borrowings), a bit of South America (The Three Caballeros), and North America so they shouldn't feel special. "'Kung Fu Panda' Hits A Sore Spot in China: Why a Quintessentially Chinese Movie Was Made in Hollywood," By Maureen Fan, Washington Post Foreign Service, Saturday, July 12, 2008; C01.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

In today's Times...

Disney on Ice lets the company slide into new markets - "A Solid Surface for Disney Success," By BROOKS BARNES, New York Times July 5, 2008.

On the editorial page, James Stevenson's got another one of his great Lost and Found New York pages - Best Rocks of the Bronx.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

July 12: "Tim Rogerson's World of Disney Color" at ArtInsights gallery in Reston

Co-owner Leslie Combemale posted on their website:

Also, we have Disney interpretive and 2006 official olympic poster artist Tim Rogerson coming to the opening weekend of his show "Tim Rogerson's World of Disney Color". Not sure honestly how many originals we'll be getting for the show as he just had a baby, but what we are getting is wonderful, and there'll be color concepts for his newest works which my clients get first dibs on, and the originals they are sending are really cool! He has a website of his Disney and non-Disney art, www.timrogerson.com. Let us know if you are interested in some of the art you see, and remember you can commission him when he's here!

The show starts on July 12th, and he'll be here 2-6 pm, along with Merrie Lasky, who has worked for Disney for many years and is now with Collectors Editions, who represents all Disney interpretive art. She will not only be helping out with orders for Tim, but will be onhand to explain the new Disney Fine Art Glass we just started carrying, that is gorgeous and very intricately designed and created.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Post on theater's animation adaptations

"A Roaring Success and Its Effects on Broadway: 'Lion King' Changed Everything, and the Stampede Isn't Over," By Nelson Pressley, Washington Post Sunday, June 29, 2008; M03.

To be honest, when these adaptations started they seemed like a really, really dumb idea. Why try to bring something to an earthbound stage when you've got unlimited imagination in animation? Not having seen one yet, I'm still unsure. But comic strips have been adapted to the stage and screen since forever (or the 1890s) so why should animation be any different?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York Times on Disney.com

"In Overhaul, Disney.com Seeks a Path to More Fun," By BROOKS BARNES, New York Times June 25, 2008.

The Walt Disney Company, concerned that its main Web site is too corporate and not fun enough, is moving once again to overhaul Disney.com.

Barnes is rapidly becoming one of my favorite animation writers.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Times, The New York Times

The Times continues to have more on comic art than many other newspapers, oddly enough.

On their website, they've got Meatpacking District: Animator Gary Leib's short history of Manhattan's Meatpacking District.

Whilst illustrator David Chelsea is missing from Sunday Style's Modern Love column today, my favorite illustrator Guy Billout has illustrated an editorial.

In Business, we find Disney and Pixar: The Power of the Prenup By BROOKS BARNES, June 1, 2008. Two years in, the merger of Disney and Pixar is notable for how well the two companies have made it work.

And in the Magazine, Jason's Low Moon appears to be wrapping up as "Checkmate" is heard.

And in Travel, Fantagraphics gets a photo in "Surfacing | Georgetown, Seattle - From Brewers to Baristas in Seattle," By MATTHEW PREUSCH, New York Times June 1, 2008.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Marvel business story in Wash Post? Nah.

Dirk Deppey over at Journalista had linked to what he said was a Washington Post story, which made me wonder how I missed it. Actually, it's a wire story on the Post's site - "Marvel Entertainment: Super Hero Stock?" Anne Kates Smith, Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger.com, Thursday, May 15, 2008. We'll note it here for posterity.

Also this story was in the paper today, although I can't decide if it's comics or not: "Kid e-Land: Disney's DGamer Enters the Crowded Virtual World," By Mike Musgrove, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, May 16, 2008; D01.