“Why was E.G. Lutz and his work important?” Several people who have written about Edwin’s books and career have kindly offered their opinion here.
Michael Barrier, animation historian and author.
The following passages are from Michael Barrier’s books and are provided here with his permission. These examples demonstrate that Disney’s animators relied on Edwin’s book Animated Cartoons through the 1920’s. The first excerpt was taken from his book Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age.
Hugh Harman, who began working for Disney in the summer of 1922, confirmed that “our only study was the Lutz book; that, plus Paul Terry’s films…”
And, the following is from the book The Animated Man. This passage was created from an interview in 1975 with Wilfred Jackson, who worked for Walt Disney for over thirty years starting in 1928. In speaking of the Disney Studio’s “library” Jackson said:
It consisted of a folder of clippings of magazine and newspaper cartoons, along with two books—Lutz and Muybridge, or something very similar—like those that had been his instructors almost a decade earlier.
James Gurney, Creator of Dinotopia and Author of Color and Light.
There was an old copy of Drawing Made Easy on the shelf of my home when I grew up. It belonged to my mom when she was little and the cover was hanging on by a thread. When I was just 7 or 8 years old, I was fascinated right away by the funny character types and the old fashioned locomotives and automobiles. I was also intrigued by the method of drawing that it presented, illustrated with a very clear series of steps. The method struck me then—and it still strikes me now—as a sensible way to draw anything. By starting with simple shapes and straight lines bounding the outside of the form, you can subdivide the geometry of anything down to smaller and smaller details. It really does make the process of drawing much easier. As I’ve learned more about art and how it has been taught over the centuries, I keep coming back to Mr. Lutz’s clear-headed, practical, and whimsical approach as being the best doorway into the world of drawing.
Caitlin McGurk, Associate Curator, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
The research presented here by Frank Lutz on his great-great-uncle Edwin Lutz is truly a gift to the cartooning community, as well as to historians and fans at large. I first discovered the work of E.G. Lutz by chance in 2012 while working at The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. At the time, I was highlighting lesser-known items from the collection on the Billy Ireland blog, and in order to find new inspiration I would just choose a box from the archive at random to open up and explore. Although there are innumerable “forgotten” cartoonists, Lutz stands out as a particularly painful oversight. I believe it was his work for the sweet and captivating Book of Magic children’s section of the Seattle Post Intelligencer in 1922 that first had me hooked. That, along with Lutz’s surreal drawings for The World and Life magazine, gave me the immediate impression of a cartoonist who was working many steps ahead of his colleagues – and one who was invested in expanding upon the formal elements of cartooning.
Lutz was an innovator, and the ideal turn-of-the-century cartoonist: a ravenously curious, inventive, and talented artist working at a time when both newspaper comics and animation were fresh and ripe for the kind of experimentation he intended to do. When I learned of Lutz’s many educational/”how-to” books, most importantly “Animated Cartoons” and the documented impact it had on Walt Disney, it put into high relief how long-overdue Lutz was for exposure and inclusion in the canon of cartoon history. It is my hope that more of Lutz’s works can be brought back into publication, and that his impact will be expanded upon from the work included on this site.
Darren R. Rousar is an atelier-trained artist and art teacher, and author of books that teach people how to see using an approach called Sight-Size. He has written six books, the most recent being The Sight-Size Cast. Darren has been teaching students how to see since 1988, both in the States and in Florence, Italy. Every other week he publishes an article on SightSize.com.
The best way to learn anything is to begin with the basic concepts, master those, and only then move on to the more complicated ones. E.G. Lutz had a gift for doing just that, as well as for being able to effectively teach the process.
My first exposure to Lutz’s book, Drawing Made Easy, came as a young teenager. My father, when a young boy himself, was given a copy of the book by his parents. Noticing my interest in drawing he mentioned it to me. A number of years later I began formal art training, from teachers who traced their lineage back to the nineteenth-century French École. Lutz had a similar and direct foundation through Julien’s in Paris. I immediately noticed similarities between the instruction I was being given at school and Drawing Made Easy. In both cases, initial simplicity reigned. My fellow students and I were taught to ‘block-in’ the larger shapes first, then break those down into the smaller shapes. This is exactly what Lutz demonstrates in all of his books about drawing.
I have taught art to private students and in art schools for over 30 years. I have always followed the same principles: big shapes first, then smaller shapes. At present my students range in age from 8 to 70. The younger ones receive my instruction based directly upon Lutz’s Drawing Made Easy. I believe that every child who has an interest in drawing should be given that book. The process is timeless.
J.J. Sedelmaier, President/Director J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. – Director/Producer/Author/Educator/Curator and user of reversed virgules.
In 2012, I wrote a profile for Print Magazine’s “Imprint” blog about the 1920 book, Animated Cartoons – How They Are Made Their Origin And Development by E.G. Lutz – How Walt Disney Used his Kansas City Library Card. I felt that having been an animation industry producer/historian/educator for over 30 years, I owed this early landmark edition the attention it deserved. To my knowledge, there was no other book published previously that covered the process of making/producing an animated motion picture so extensively as did Lutz’s publication. There were chapters in books about motion pictures (How Motion Pictures Are Made by Homer Croy 1918) that were dedicated to animation, and some articles (Scientific American 10/14/1916, Motion Picture Magazine XVII 5/1919) pamphlets and booklets (How To Draw For The Movies by John R. McCrory 1918, Illustrating & Cartooning Division 11 – Federal School Applied Cartooning Series – “Lesson One” by Winsor McCay 1919), but it was only Lutz who covered the entire process and industry so comprehensively.
As a final testament to the thanks we owe E.G. Lutz for his Animated Cartoons tome, is its mention in so many of the different profiles on animation history – especially when it comes to profiles about Walt Disney. It’s common knowledge that Disney referred to Lutz’s book early in his career as a young cartooning filmmaker in Kansas City. Unfortunately, Disney’s daughter Diane mistakenly credited E.G. as “Carl” in the 1957 The Story Of Walt Disney biography of her dad, and this error remains in many references of E.G. Lutz’s Animated Cartoons in subsequent books by other authors. Regardless, Animated Cartoons by E.G. Lutz has garnered a coveted position as one of the most important volumes ever to be written about the craft, and the industry.