Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Iwao Takamoto 1925-2007

Hanna-Barbera loses another great artist.

Takamoto was known for his ability to draw quickly, as if his pencil were merely revealing an image obscured in the paper. But he was also able to create personality on the page, turning a Great Dane into a goofy neurotic pal we can all love. He apparently created more than a hundred characters for the animation studio, many not making it to the screen.

It's interesting to me that he began his cartooning while interred at Manzanar during WWII. He was 17 then, several years older than my family friend K., a great ceramicist who, I believe, began the fourth grade at that godforsaken place. K. was just over at the house by the beach on Sunday, telling some stories about her studio. Interestingly, and sadly, my brother recalled the family tale of one of my uncles being approached by a lynch mob of Scots-Irishmen on his Wisconsin farm. He was taken out to a tree on his land, and was told that if he didn't stop speaking German (at home, and, I supppose, in town with other German speakers), he'd be back there, hanging. WWII wasn't all that long ago. Lots of wasted energy on mistrust and intolerance.

But at Manzanar there was enough idle time that arts and crafts classes were organized by internees who had a talent for these. It's nice that children were given this outlet, but it's not as if there was a lot of paper or materials to use. Furniture, crafts, and paintings from the camps can be seen today as coming from fruit crates and even the paper notice to leave for internment.

Anyway, thanks, Iwao Takamoto, for sticking with your art. I saw a flag at half mast yesterday, and as far as I'm concerned, it's for you.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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