Let Frank Tashlin Teach You His “SCOT Art” Cartooning Method

Frank Tashlin‘s extremely rare 1952 cartooning booklet How to Draw Cartoons has been posted online in its entirety. In the book, Tashlin promotes his SCOT Art technique, which simplifies every cartoon character into squares (S), circles (C), ovals (O) and triangles (T).

Tashlin’s idiosyncratic style is geared more toward print cartoonists than animators, owing to Tashlin’s beginnings as a newspaper cartoonist. Even though his old-school cartooning style was already on its way out when the book was published in 1952, somehow the style looks artful in his confident hands. Throughout the book, Tashlin uses examples from his own illustrated books, including The World That Isn’t, which still holds up as a masterpiece of graphic art commentary.

Not to take this too far off-topic, but if you’re interested in learning more about Tashlin, I’d also recommend this Michael Barrier interview, which was conducted just one year before Tashlin passed away.

Tashlin has never been properly given his due as an animation director, mostly because his career as a live-action director eclipsed his earlier work. But he was easily among the most forward-thinking, singular and influential animation directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Below is a fine example of his innovative directorial style–the 1943 Warner Bros. short Puss n’ Booty.

UPDATE: Cartoon Brew reader Xevo points out that numerous examples of Frank Tashlin’s Van Boring newspaper comic were recently published on Ger Apeldoorn’s Fabulous Fifties blog.


  • J Lee

    Tashlin’s drawing style for the book may be old-school, but the look of his character designs in his final period at Warners, especially something like “Nasty Quacks”, foreshadowed the more angular and modern character designs of the 1950s and beyond.

  • Gerry

    Certain Tashlin cartoons point the way UPA went before there was a UPA. But he only gets credit for being an idiosyncratic cartoonist who became a hit live action comedy director for Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope and others. It’s time for a critical reassessment of Frank Tashlin. He went places not even Jones or Avery ever did.

  • http://oye-studios.daportfolio.com Seni

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Looney Tunes cartoon that was black and white! Pretty great!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Especially for those of us only familiar with those colorized versions (either redrawn or computer-rendered)

  • Scarabim

    I love the Porky Pig sign-off. Pity the new version on the Looney Tunes show is so poorly animated.

  • Fleischer Fan

    The problem for Tashlin is that he had one foot in the cartoon world and one foot in the live action world. Critical reassessment of his work has been slow in coming, but it is coming!

    In addition to his aforementioned work with Bob Hope & Jerry Lewis, perhaps one of his funniest and most cartoon-like live action films was “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” with Tony Randall and the very cartoon-like Jayne Mansfield.

  • SKent.

    pretty cool, I like how he laid it out. Although to be honest, as much as I’m normally a fan of golden age cartoons, I find his cartooning style ugly and dated.

  • eve

    that cat is positively frightening

  • http://sparklepony.blogspot.com Peteykins

    I’ve always maintained that Tashlin’s “Porky Pig’s Feat” was one of the top five Looney Tunes. He’s rarely included in WB surveys.

  • xevo

    Ger Apeldoorn had some examples of Tashlin’s “Van Boring” comic strip here:
    http://allthingsger.blogspot.com/2012/05/mishmash-monday-cartoon-day.html

  • http://whataboutthad.com Thad

    Frank Tashlin is, without a doubt, the most underrated of the great animation directors. In a perfect world, though, Tashlin’s live-action films would be seen as a continuation of his animation output, and all part of the same ouvre, rather than two separate entities. (Tashlin’s Daffy Duck really is a younger Jerry Lewis.) Long live F.T.!

  • James

    I honestly can’t think of a bad Tashlin cartoon. His style is immediately his own. His growth as an animator between the 1936-38 and his 1942-45 is staggering. Each period has a unique lush style and each was top drawer Looney Tunes entertainment.

    And I agree with the above poster with the UPA comment–Tashlin certainly ahead of his time in terms of evolving cartooning styles.

    In terms of his film career, remember that he Did work for Hal Roach studios as a writer for a time in 1935, so his permanent move to Hollywood comedies isn’t exactly out of the blue. If anything it helped in his talent in gag-writing that would later be seen in his later film efforts.

    In closing, I would strongly request availability of Tashlin’s Screen Gems cartoons, as most of them are fairly unknown and certainly a cut above other Screen Gem efforts.

  • Gerard de Souza

    I think the SCOT approach is great for Flash builds.