Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Overton loyd, and Hirshfeld, two caricature mentors by subwaysurfer

I've guess I have always had it "in me" to do caricature. I think it's something you have to be born with. As much as I loved drawing superheros, comc characters, etc. I was always fascinated by the looks and expressions on the faces. I think its due inpart to some of the great warner brothers cartoons I watched. If you watch the old ones from the 1940's ALL of the characters have such rich nuances of expression. It just never occured to me to draw a character without one.I keenly remember everytime Id do draw and expression I could feel myslef literally making that expression myself and trying to "put it into" the picture I was drawing.

As a kid I used to watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon Every year, not because it was particularly entertaining for me, (even though in all due respect, it is for a great cause) but because of the great caricature logo of Jerry Lewis I used to see from time to time on the show. I was fascinated by the picture and wondered "how does that NOT look like him, AND Look like him at the same time???" I later found out that the picture was done by the "line king" himself, Hirschfeld, and I became an instant fan of his, and picked up everything I could on him. Hirschfeld was the artist to the stars on broadway and his work was constantly featured on playbills, and in the sunday news. I copied line for line his style, happy that I could mimic it a little but still mystified as to how he did what he did. Copying his work did train my had somewhat to do the graceful line quality that Im able to achieve in my pen and ink work.

On the other end of the spectrum was an artist called Overton Loyd.
Overton was the artist responsible for drawing the comics and characters on the Parlaient Funkadelic records I listened to as a teenager. One day, my friedn Dennis came home with a picture that was drawn my Overton at a party he attended. I could not BELIEVE that an artist was able to do something like that with so few lines. I think I decided that DAY thatI would be a caricature artist, even though I had no idea how that was possible.....
Overton was THE only Black Caricature artist/cartoonist that I even KNEW about. His work had that crazy energy that you find in plimpton's animation, and also that "mad magazine-esque quality. Overton's characterization was the perfect compliment to Parliaments lyrics and rhythms and was ahead of its time in terms of marketing and branding. Fro what I understand He even did a few animated shorts back in the day to promote the albums and the personas rapped/sang/played at portrayed in the music. had Clinton come out today with Funkadelic, no doubt there would be clothing, animation, and toys associated with the product.



First Off, I'd like to say that if you are lucky enough to have been blessed with excellent art instruction, than I'm realllly happy and reallllly jealous of you.
I couldn't afford art instruction, and couldn't wait until I got to college so that I could major in art. I was too stupid to major in a good art college, since my parents drummed into me that there was no money in that, so I ended up in Hunter College studying social work and I thought Id minor in art.

The programs at Hunder sucked. The Coolist teacher I had was named Dudek, and he was a conceptual artist that inspired me to do some abstract work which I liked under his instruction, but for the most part, the teachers who were supposed to teach you how to draw and paint were just interested in collecting a paycheck. At least my professors were.

I recall several instances where one professor would throw a bunch of items up on a desk , sit it in the middle of the room, and say to us, "draw that!" then he'd walk out to have a 3 hour cigarette break while we drew and painted whatever crap he threw up on the desk.

Another professor commanded us to complete a painting each time we came to his class and gave virtually NO instruction, guidance, or input what so ever

These experiences disillusioned me with art school, as it just seemed like a place where you were given a block of time to work on whatever you wanted, and then you pay the school to do that!
I figured I could work on my own and decided to go that route instead.

I would have to say that I learned more from my own reading, and experimenting and also from talking with other students, than I did from any teacher.


I discovered Zap Comics by accident. After years of reading Superhero books I began to get kinda bored, while walking through the comic isles I stumbled across a zap comic and opened it up. Now most kids are blown away by the erotic content and irreverent nature of these comics, but for ME, I really didn't care for that. I zeroed in on how SOLID crumbs pictures looked. They were Dynamic and had weight and structure. The characters were full of PERSONALITY and looked like "regular people" in all their quirkiness. I ditched Marvel and started copying crumbs stuff to discover how he did what he did. His art really influenced my caricature/cartooning style later on.
I also discovered Basil Wolverton around the same time, and added that to the mix.
Getting back to Crumb, he has that rare ability to be able to draw cartoons, caricature and photo realism, all equally good. I didn't appreciate his angel food mc spade toons( as an African American, I was outraged) but was able to overlook that and focus on his artistic genius.
Incidentally, my folks never discovered my Zap collection, because I literally destroyed the books once I finished drawing em.

I had a love hate relationship with Crumb. Objectively speaking I love his work as a cartoonist and a draftsman, but the pornographic, provocative, sexist, and sometimes racist subject matter was offensive. Still, I learned a lot by copying his work, and he is "in me" and always will be, I'm afraid...



Not in a very conventional sense. I am mostly self taught, as I've always been motivated to draw. Since Kindergarten, and throughout grade school I won a slew of awards, and by the time I was eight years old, I was awarded a scholarship to study art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on Saturdays. I remember being the kid in the class with all these adults! that lasted about a year or so. My mom, enrolled me in some art classes at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, and that was about it. In both these situations, there was no formal, "this is how you draw the human figure" type of instruction, it really seemed as just a venue for kids to do what they wanted as the teacher thought up an activity for the day.

I got really excited when I learned, after a lot of practice how to draw UNDERDOG , CHARLIE BROWN, and Fred Flintstone. After I "mastered" drawing these cartoons, I felt like I could draw anything!

As I got older I began to read a variety of books on figure drawing, cartooning, anatomy, and painting. One book that made a big impression was Drawing on the right side of the brain. I still feel to this day that it is THE book to go to if you really want to learn how to draw.
I read a lot of Muscle and Fitness Bodybuilding Magazines as well, number one because I had gotten into bodybuilding as a hobby, and two, I figured that it made sense to see waht muscles looked like on a HUMAN BODY rather than copying another artists interpretation. I think learning anatomy THIS way was one of the best things I did for my own education.
I sat in on a few figure drawing sessions at The art Students League and Hunter College where I was majoring in one of the most boring art programs imaginable. More on that later....
Marvel Comics was also a great inspiration. My favorite artist was Gil Kane, and I became a Gil Kane Clone until I discovered R Crumb and Zap Comics.


I've been fascinated by drawing since I was in Kindergarten. That's not unusual at all, since art is the primary tool that elementary school teachers use to keep five year olds from crying, MOMMMY!!!! I WANT MOMMY!!!!! WWWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!! when they first come to school. My earliest memory of drawing was doing a purple finger painting thing in class, and I was fascinated that I could literally imagine stuff in my head and see it seconds later on a piece of paper. I felt like I had a superpower or something! As a result, I NEVER missed home while I was in class and didn't even mind that there were a lotta strange kids around me eating paste and whatnot! Who Cares, I was DRAWING!

THE BIG INTRO Subwaysurfer Interview One

Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling is a certified "sketchaholic" (a termed coined by fellow caricature artist,illustrator, Kenly Dillard) hopeless afflicted with the disease of acute caricaturitus. He MUST draw EVERYDAY or feel mentally, emotional, and of course financially out of balance.
Subwaycommuting is another one of his afflictions, and lucky for him, as a NYC resident, Subwaycomuting is the basic mode of transportation for thousands of New Yawkers daily.
While most commuters endure the daily commute as a neccessary evil that takes them to their jobs, schools, or other activities, Elgin enthusiastically looks forward to every ride knowing that he will have yet another opportunity to visual document human behavior.
We caught up with Subwaysurfer in his Queens Studio for this exlusive interview.