Thursday, January 25, 2007

Influences: Wallace Tripp

Wallace Tripp
I only have one book by Wallace Tripp, called "Wurst Seller", but I must have read it five hundred times.

This was before I had any sense of the variety of tools that a cartoonist used to create artwork, so what it was about his work that I liked was that, like other artists I've mentioned, he gave his characters and his illustrations a sense of weight and depth that made the world they were in seem that much more real. As a young cartoonist, I struggled with making my drawings seem three-dimensional, and any artist that could draw me into a panel like that got my immediate attention.

He also (and I appreciate this far more now than I did then) made economical use of his pen strokes-- using tight, controlled lines on the characters and important elements, and making more gestural shapes on background or inessential details.

But most of all I liked his ability to anthropomorphize animals and make them into interesting characters that were engaging without seeming forced, and resisted looking like the Disney and Disney-derived too-cute cartoon animal aesthetic. Like Bob Clarke Jones (who famously drew the Exxon Tiger), Wallace Tripp's work had a certain reality to them-- more like caricatures of animals than cartoons, if that makes any sense.

I subconsciously absorbed from his work a sense of line and shape, as well. The characters he draws are all derived from simpler shapes, and usually follow a strong, simple line in their motion.

I believe it was largely Wallace Tripp who gave me the sense of what it was that a cartoonist did as opposed to an illustrator (along with Bill Peet, the subject of a future influences page): to capture the essence of the subject, be unabashed about exaggeration where it serves the purpose of the drawing, and to CREATE the character on the page, rather than merely depicting it.



At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to make a small correction: the Exxon tiger was lovingly drawn by Bob JONES, not Bob Clarke. Thank you.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Wow, I know this comment is a bit after-the-fact when you posted but in doing a search for Wallace Tripp I came across your blog. I just wanted to add that I have Wurst Seller. I bought it years ago and it's been one of my favorites that I keep going back to. I'm a graphic designer by trade, dabbler of humorish illustration by desire. I love his sense of humor I see so much of myself and my own silly love for the pun in this book!

At 6:52 PM, Blogger tina kugler said...

we absolutely adore wallace tripp, i can't believe so many of his books are out-of-print! if you can find them, "sir toby jingle's beastly journey" and "a great big ugly man came up & tied his horse to me" are must-haves. also, "'stand back!' said the elephant..." (written by patricia thomas) IS still in print, get it while you can.
ps. where is the image of the man with the elephants from?? that's great!

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Zander Cannon said...

The image of the man with the elephants (with the caption "Orator in sudden burst of elephants) is from Wurst Seller. That illustration, I felt, was one of the ones that made me think about dynamic motion. Those elephants don't just blast forth unidirectionally, they spray outward (semi-) unpredictably, and the freeze-frame illustration shows exactly that.

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hye, I have some original art by Wallace Tripp...he is a gift, for sure. If anyone is interested in purchasing a piece of original tripp art from Pawprints or his books, just let me know.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger David Nethery said...

Thank you for posting these drawings by Wallace Tripp. "Wurst Seller" is actually one of the Tripp books I don't own (must find a copy soon).

He is one of my influences , too. Like you, I also return to his work again and again . Never get tired of looking at it .

Does anyone know how Wallace is doing these days ? I know he has not been active as an illustrator for many years due to health reasons, but until the last couple of years the website was still being maintained . However, it's been down for a while now , with just a placeholder page where the site used to be.

I hope he is ok. If anyone knows how to get in touch with him I'd love to send him a letter thanking him for his books over the years and the continued inspiration.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Señor Tripp said...

I was researching one of the mighty Tripp books and found this (older) post-- I'm his son, and it's gratifying to see he's got such kind fans.
He's undergone two brain surgeries and a lot of medication -- he can't work any more from the Parkinson's Disease, but he's usually in a very good mood.
Anyway, there you go -- he lives on!

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Dear Señor Tripp! Please let your dad know how much his wit and whimsical illustrative style has meant to so many fans. He does indeed live on! My very best to him and you.

Dave Aldrich
Lincoln, RI


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