Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Video: Ron Cobb Cartoonist, Motion Picture Art Director

TVDays has this early 1980s interview with editorial cartoonist/production designer Ron Cobb (1937 - 2020). Ron created visuals for movies like Alien, Star Wars, Back to the Future and others. He also created what is now known as the ecology symbol. His extraordinary career, which began as an editorial cartoonist with no formal art training, touched so many movie productions, beginning with Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959), that they are hard to digest. 


©2015 Ron Cobb All Rights Reserved.


 Here's the TVDays description of his career:

"Ronald Ray Cobb (September 21, 1937 – September 21, 2020) was an American-Australian artist. As well as being an editorial cartoonist he worked on numerous major films including Dark Star (1974), Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Back to the Future (1985), The Abyss (1989), and Total Recall (1990). He had one credit as director, for the 1992 film Garbo. 

"Cobb also created a symbol which was later featured on the Ecology Flag. He was born in Los Angeles but spent most of his life in Sydney, Australia. 

"By the age of 18, with no formal training in graphic illustration, Cobb was working as an animation "inbetweener" artist for Disney Studios in Burbank, California. He progressed to becoming a breakdown artist on the animation feature Sleeping Beauty (1959). It was the last Disney film to have cels inked by hand. 

"After Sleeping Beauty was completed in 1957, Cobb was laid off by Disney. He spent the next three years in various jobs — mail carrier, assembler in a door factory, sign painter's assistant — until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1960. For the next two years he delivered classified documents around San Francisco, then signed up for an extra year to avoid assignment to the infantry. 

"He was sent to Vietnam in 1963 as a draftsman for the Signal Corps. After his discharge, Cobb began freelancing as an artist, contributing to the Los Angeles Free Press for the first time in 1965. 

"Edited and published by Art Kunkin, the Los Angeles Free Press was one of the first of the underground newspapers of the 1960s, noted for its radical politics. Cobb's editorial/political cartoons were a celebrated feature of the Freep, and appeared regularly throughout member newspapers of the Underground Press Syndicate. 

"Although he was regarded as one of the finest political cartoonists of the mid-1960s to early 1970s, Cobb made very little money from the cartoons and was always looking for work elsewhere. His cartoons were featured in the back to the land magazine Mother Earth News. 

"Among other projects, Cobb designed the cover for Jefferson Airplane's 1967 album, After Bathing at Baxter's. 

"In 1972, Cobb moved to Sydney, Australia, where his work appeared in alternative magazines such as The Digger. Independent publishers Wild & Woolley published a 'best of' collection of the earlier cartoon books, The Cobb Book in 1975. A follow-up volume, Cobb Again, appeared in 1978. 

"Cobb is credited with designing the "Hammerhead" creature seen in Star Wars (1977). 

"Cobb returned to cinema work when he worked with Dan O'Bannon to design the eponymous spaceship for the 1973 cult film, Dark Star (he drew the original design for the exterior of the Dark Star spaceship on a Pancake House napkin). 

"After contributing designs for Alejandro Jodorowsky's uncompleted film adaption of Frank Herbert's novel Dune, Cobb was engaged by Lucasfilm to produce conceptual artwork for the space fantasy film Star Wars (1977). Working alongside artists John Mollo and Ralph McQuarrie, he created the designs for a number of exotic alien creatures for the Mos Eisley cantina scene. 

"In 1981, Colorvision, a large-format, full-colour monograph appeared, including much of his design work for the films Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979), and Conan the Barbarian (1982), the first feature for which he received the credit of Production Designer. Cobb has also contributed production design to the films The Last Starfighter (1984), Leviathan (1989), Total Recall (1990) (and also appeared in the film in a brief cameo), True Lies (1994), The Sixth Day (2000), Cats & Dogs (2001), Southland Tales (2006), and the Australian feature Garbo, which he directed. 

"Cobb contributed the initial story for Night Skies, an earlier, darker version of E.T.. Steven Spielberg offered him the opportunity to direct this scarier sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind until problems arose over special effects that required a major rewrite. While Cobb was in Spain working on Conan the Barbarian, Spielberg supervised the rewrite into the more personal E.T. and ended up directing it himself. Cobb later received some net profit participation. 

"In 1985 Cobb received credit as 'DeLorean Time Travel Consultant' for the film Back to the Future. 

"During the early 1990s, Cobb worked with Rocket Science Games. His designs can be seen in Loadstar: The Legend of Tully Bodine (1994) and The Space Bar (1997), in which he designed all the characters. 

"Cobb also co-wrote with his wife, Robin Love, one of the (1985–1987) Twilight Zone episodes, Shelter Skelter. 

"Cobb designed two swords for the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian (the 'Father's Sword' and the 'Atlantean Sword'). Cobb's original drawings of the swords are now used, in cinema merchandising, to mass-produce and sell replicas."

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