There's been a image shared throughout the internet for years now titled "Cartoons Then Vs. Cartoons Now". It compares various faces from Hanna Barbera and Warner Bros era cartoons to "CalArts" cartoons (Steven Universe, SVTFOE, Gravity Falls, Clarence, etc), and it implies CalArts style is two circles for a head and big eyes and that all cartoons now are like that, compared to more diverse and artistically wholesome styles of the "old days".
Okay, this is the image we’re referring to:
I hadn’t seen this meme before. Very interesting! I could see the point they’re trying to make, but only on the surface. Once you deconstruct it you realize it’s silly…
Caveat: I graduated from Calarts, and I worked on two of these shows, so it’s pretty likely I have a bias toward defending the “cartoons now” stance. So there you go. But I had lunch with my peers today and we discussed this very topic, and we come from both Calarts and non-Calarts backgrounds. And we all agreed this meme was just…annoying. Here were some of our points:
First of all, I’m construing that the people who made this meme are arguing that cartoons today look too similar. Is this the same thing as the “calarts style?” If it is, then their “argument” is off to a bad start. Two of these current shows were created by people who didn’t attend Calarts. (Steven Universe and The Amazing World of Gumball) And the two that DID had the same character designer contribute to the designs for a time (Phil Rynda).
Secondly, it’s comparing 80+ years of cartoons vs. cartoons from 2011-2015; just 4 years. Pick any 4 years since the beginning of animation as a storytelling medium and my hypothesis is that they, too, followed a somewhat recognizable trend in style and quality, right? Although I still feel like each of these shows is stylistically very unique and stands on its own.
Thirdly, if this is what people are calling the “calarts style” then it is choosing to ignore the other 99% of animation that comes out of that school. Every year there are new innovative styles of storytelling and character animation that push the envelope–and not just from that school, from ANY animation school! So no, there is no “calarts style,” not in my book, and to me it’s kinda disrespectful or ignorant to assume that there would be.
It would be fun to pull this apart even more, but I think I’ve put in my two cents worth… I would tell the people who complain about a “calarts style” to just go make your own cartoons if you don’t like what’s out there.
Thanks for the fun topic!
(P.S. that dipper is off-model)