Bear Safety Service - What a mess-cot.

In 1949, cars needed a lot more attention. If I recall, You had to change your spark plugs every ten miles, and, when driving, you had to continually adjust the carburetor via an arm-hole in the dashboard. So, there was a real need for Bear service stations dotting the nation as Starbuck's does today. By the time your car's tail lights left the station, the front of the car needed service again. So, at one time, all bear stations were almost exactly one car length apart.

I see the problem with that car right now, and I don't need a giant alignment rack to tell me, either. The car has no fenders. Without wheel arches, the front wheels can't steer at all without rubbing. It's a miracle it was driven to the shop. The owner must live in a perfectly straight line in front of the service station. Lucky for him/her! That  Bear "garageman" had better install some fender holes, stat!

"Take your garageman's advice." A "garageman"? There's a term that obviously totally failed to catch on. Back in time, it was acceptable to take your vocation and tack "-man" on the end of it, and use that word to describe yourself. "I'm a signman." I'm a lumberman." "I'm a teachman". "I'm a gazelle washerman." For some reason, this has only persisted with "fireman", "garbageman" and a few others. Despite the popularity of  Mad Men, I doubt there are many in advertising who call themselves "admen". There's also the fact that it's kind of completely sexist to imply that gender helps define your career.

Anyoldhoo, check out that horrible bear mascot! What happened to him? Well, for starters, he looks like he has a hangover. Second, he has an arm growing out of his chin. Third, his posture makes him look about ninety. That's, uuh, 405 in bear years. It's no wonder his back hurts. He has a safety flag jammed into his spine! That's some cruel irony. Good thing that cross with the picture of Action Crewcut Jesus is hiding his left arm. He's probably holding in his abdominal hernia. This mascot is in bad shape.

This bear drawing has "traced drawing syndrome". You see it a lot in small-time business logos and school mascots. Once upon a time, a decent artist was hired to draw up a character. Since then, it's been traced and re-traced, crumpled up, enlarged, shrunk, and traced again by a string of quasi-artists that don't understand what the lines are supposed to look like. This is how you get a bear with no line separating his chin and his arm. Call it a prehensile goatee. Even though it's just a cartoon, it still needs to have structure. Each line has a job to do, and when the lines are reproduced by someone who doesn't understand what they're looking at, it introduces noise and craziness born of visual illiteracy. In the case of this bear, it looks like the tracer was concentrating on making him look fluffy and/or shaggy, to the exclusion of all other concerns. As a result, he looks like he's partially melted. Let's give this tortured creature some rest and replace him with a better-drawn version.

I took ten minutes and scratched out a new bear. I'm slightly creeped out by how much it looks like a Care Bear. I probably should have drawn it larger than in the ad (4" tall bear), or worn my glasses. Ah well.

On the left is my tracing the bear mascot from the ad. I hesitate to call him the "original" bear, because when this ad was printed, the original drawing either no longer existed, or was at the bottom of a filing cabinet with coffee rings on it. I drew through the cross thingy, trying to show where the lines probably "originally" were.

On the right is my slightly disturbing care bear. He has a younger posture and looks more awake than the pink bear from the ad. A posture hunched over forwards looks negative and tired. A posture bent slightly backwards opens up the character's attitude and makes it look happy. You can exaggerate the posture in either direction for effect, because it's a cartoon. The whole thing is an exaggeration.

He could be iterated and improved with a few more drawings, but you get the idea. He looks like he's built out of squishy sausages and has volume. He has structure. I added a little thumb to his hand to help him with his "Vannah White" pose. Bears don't have thumbs, but then they don't smile and promote automotive maintenance either.

To make a character look furry, you don't make the entire outline wiggly. You choose where to add tufts. The sides of the muzzle, elbows / knees and the top of the head are good places to add a few "soft jaggy" lines to indicate fur.

The lines at the corner of the mouth and under the eye should cooperate to describe the rounded muscles in the cheek. That's how you make the whole face look like it's smiling, and not look "painted on". For more on this, I suggest buying "Cartoon Animation", by Preston Blair. He's one of the old timers from Disney who worked on Fantasia, and that book has just about everything you need to know about drawing characters of any kind.

You could maybe buy this book for some son/daughter/niece/nephew for Pointy Tree Day, assuming first that the kid has any interest at all in drawing. You could also buy him/her a Action Crewcut Jesus doll. Your choice. But, if the child learns to draw, he/she could draw all the Action crewcut Jesuses they want, couldn't they?


Anonymous said...

I remember that bear on signs from my childhood, and it always creeped me out. So did the Pep Boys. Oh, and the logo for Thrush that looked like the evil Woody Woodpecker chomping on a cigar.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and here's the story of the bear:


PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Wow! NIce find, Anon. Looks like that bear has changed a little bit over the years, having been traced a few more times since then. Wonky or not, they're probably likely to hang on to the current design because of tradition and stuff. I wonder what mutations we can look forward to in the future!

Thanks, Anon!


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