Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Ya' Ever Pick Your Feet in Poughkeepsie?"


I actually had sketched this out in pencil a couple months ago, but decided to ink it up and post it today in honour of Gene Hackman's birthday. Gene's 78 now - can you believe it? Looking at his filmography on IMDb, it seems he's slowed down a bit in the last few years but was still pretty active leading up to his great role in "The Royal Tenenbaums" in 2001. Many of you may think back with fondness to his fun, campy Lex Luthor in "Superman" back in 1978. I still think his greatest film, though, was "The French Connection" in 1971, which really put him on the map, as it really was one of the landmark films that ushered in the gritty style of moviemaking in the 70's along with such films as "The Godfather", "Serpico", "Taxi Driver" and Hackman's other masterpiece, "The Conversation", to name but a few.

Hackman plays Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, an out of control narcotics cop, who on a hunch tails a suspected smalltime drug dealer who turns out to be mixed up with a major drug kingpin from France. Doyle and his partner, Buddy Russo, played by Roy Scheider, get deeply involved with what turns out to be more than they originally figured, culminating in that famous scene where Doyle appropriates some poor schmoe's car to chase down the kingpin's murderous accomplice who's on an elevated train. Whereas "Popeye" Doyle is a rather manic and tenacious cop, Roy Scheider as Russo is pretty calm and levelheaded, trying to keep his partner in check. Scheider would of course go onto greater fame himself in 1975 as the police chief of a small coastal town in "Jaws".

I really enjoyed doing this caricature of these two guys, not only because of my admiration for this film, but also for the visual contrast between Hackman and Scheider. Gene Hackman has a rather doughy quality to his features with all round bulbous forms and a horizontal thrust to his nose and chin, whereas Roy Scheider has a strong vertical design to a face that looks like it's chiseled out of rock with all those straight lines and blocky shapes. I'm always onto my Sheridan students to try to get greater contrast between their characters for more visual interest and appeal. Here's a good example of such characters from real life.

11 comments:

Bitter Animator said...

Nice. The Royal Tennenbaums is one of my all-time favourite films. An ode to bad fathers everywhere and I though Hackman played the role brilliantly.

Craig Zablo said...

Another nice 'un! Keep 'em coming, sir!

Weirdo said...

Holy mackerel, how do you keep pumping out these great caricatures? You are an amazing artist, and your use of line is impeccable. I saw "The Royal Tenenbaums" and thought he was hilarious. I want to see "The French Connection"; is it any good?

Dan said...

Pete, as I always say, the crazy thing about you is that, even if you draw a finger, it is cute! it is appealing!
i think my work is getting more and more loosen up now, which is awesome.
and please go and check out my blog! I just updated it as my portfolio blog, so all my best work are on it!! (ya...i work my ass off on it for bloody 2 weeks...) and let me know what you think of the "scary movie" one. i mean, is it confusing and stuff. if it is not good, tell me it is not good! i need audiences' point of view.
although i almost kill myself on that piece, so far i am happy about how it comes out, and I am thinking to move on to next personal project, like a short acting piece kind of thing. thinking about it now. I am happy that I finally kind of know what I am doing now...

Kevin Kidney said...

Hey Pete!

Your work is as amazing as ever. Not only with technical finesse, but imbued with great humor.

Wish we could work together again!
-Kevin

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>"The French Connection"...was one of the landmark films that ushered in the gritty style of moviemaking in the 70's along with..."The Godfather", "Serpico", "Taxi Driver" and..."The Conversation", to name but a few.<<

Amen, brother! That's one of my favorite periods of filmmaking. In addition to the movies you've mentioned, I would add Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Long Goodbye.

Oh, and off topic, I noticed you asked on John K's blog... "John, do you know who did the great colour illustration that graces the museum programme at the top of your post?"

It was by Lynn Naylor and some guy who calls himself John K.

Bitter Animator said...

Roy Scheider died yesterday. That stinks.

Mitch K said...

Fantastic, Pete! I love your brushwork.

How long did it take you before you started to become satisfied with your own drawing skills?

Pete Emslie said...

Bitter Animator - Thanks for letting me know that, as I hadn't heard about Roy Scheider's death. I just looked up the news item and I'd not been aware that he had been battling cancer of late. This is very sad news - Roy was such a familiar face in the movies I grew up with.

Mitch - From about the age of 13 to sometime in my mid-20's is when I feel I was making the greatest leaps and bounds in my ability. I reckon it was sometime after I started working at Disney when I was 24 that I felt I'd hit my stride in both drawing and inking. Ever since then I feel I've been on something of a plateau, ability-wise, with only incremental improvements with each passing year. Ironically, the more polished my work has become, the less I tend to draw or paint for the sheer pleasure of it. Before I started doing art commercially, it was a lot more fun and I took far greater risks, not worrying about the results. Not any more, I'm afraid...

Bitter Animator said...

Yeah it's a real shame about Roy Scheider. He was one of my faves and had such a presence on screen. Jaws, of course, is a classic as is The French Connection. Oddly, one of my favourite performances by him is in 2010. For me, he and John Lithgow completely made that film and brought the film well beyond a level it would have been at with anyone else in those roles.

He'll be missed.

By the way, do you ever sell prints of your work? I'd love to get a copy of that Roy Scheider image. While it wouldn't have been your intention at the time, it's now sort of a really nice tribute to the man.

Elizabeth said...

Roy Scheider certainly will be missed, but he's absolutely going to go out with a bang. I just saw the trailer for his last film Iron Cross, and seriously, I cannot wait to see it!!