Wednesday, January 09, 2013


I DON'T PLAY WITH MATCHES is a "Fire Safety Learning and Activity Book" for kids. It's copyright 1995, 1990 by Syndistar, Inc.The artist is uncredited.

There were a pile of these inside the vestibule of my local public library. While I am in favor of telling kids of the dangers of fire, I am not in favor of seeing awful, lackluster art.

Here are a few pages.

This is "Grandpa Joe," when he was a kid, holding the melted remains of a beloved fire engine truck toy. Wearing those suspenders and the hat, he looks like maybe he was an Our Gang extra.

And here he in the modern day, telling us about fire safety.

 Many pages have the floating head of Grandpa Joe cut and pasted on.
What drove me crazy was the absence of fingers -- except when necessary. Those little nubs at the ends of arms were unsettling. 

One of my favorite pages. Who has a phone like this nowadays? And there's more cut-and-paste Grandpa Joe. Isn't it a cheat when you can see that there has been as little drawing as possible in a publication?

Whoever did this book does have skill. The inanimate objects are rendered on-model. But the people and that dog! Yipe!

Again, good advice. But the form is lacking ... big time.

1 comment:

Dan Reynolds said...

I don't look at this as art as much as graphic art. These are unstylized cookie cut outs. These have more to do with function than form.

They are lifeless, zombified cartoons that are soulless and can best be describe as bland. They also reinforce the notion that anyone with a piece of paper and pen can be a illustrator. A gag cartoon using this style would be excruciating. Then again, looking at some of the stuff that makes it these days, maybe it would fit right in.