Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Al Ross and His Cartoon Style

I was sick last week, but I did get some fun cartoon books in the mail. One of them was Cartooning Fundamentals by Al Ross (Stravon Educational Press, New York, NY, 1977). Ross was one of the four Roth brothers. Yeah, Ross was a Roth. Each brother's work appeared under a different pen name: Irving Roir, Ben Roth, Salo, and Al Ross. Al Ross studied at the Art Students League. It's still there, just across from Carnegie Hall. His first cartoons appeared in the 1930s.

A brave thing he does in the book is show his cartoons through the years. If he was anything like me, he cringes at his old cartoons! But his goal in Cartooning Fundamentals is to show us how his style changed through the years. Above is a sample of an early Al Ross sale.

Below are Mr. Ross' styles from the 1940s. You can see that he is all ready making some more interesting choices in compostion.

His illustrative brushwork, combined with wash, was very energetic. Even an inanimate object like the car or a chair were now shown at an angle.

Fast forwarding 20 years, in the 1960s he abandoned the brush for the pen.

His characters still have verve. No one ever stands, or sits, perfectly straight.

By the end of the 1960s, a speedy pen line was all that he was using for his finishes. He had left the brush, the wash -- and sacrificed none of the character of the drawings. Even though he no longer would delineate every fold and flutter in the curtains, the lines still do the job.


MStevens said...


Thanks for this, which I just stumbled across on a search for Al Ross. I've always loved his work and want to know more about him.

Mick Stevens

JCD said...

Thanks for posting. I, too, came across your page Googling Al Ross, whom I've always admired. What a line!

And to think that strong, vital hand (and eye) started out as they did. A wonder!

Thanks much again.

FM Hansen said...

This is GREAT! Thank you for this posting. I really love Al's later work much better.