Wednesday, December 13, 2006

John Sibley - How to Be a Sailor

I don't think it's entirely fair to detract the greatness from a Golden Age animator just because they were tied to a few characters for most of their career.

Ray Patterson was tied to Tom & Jerry for most of his career before he started his own studio. Johnny Gent did almost exclusively Popeye and was well-known for it. Both of these guys can hold their own against any animator from any era.

John Sibley is no exception.

Sibley was at Disney for his whole career, earning him the title of the "Tenth Old Man", doing animation almost exclusively for Jack Kinney's unit. He was known as the Goofy animator, and IMO, it's his best animation.

I'm afraid I am new to the subject of Sibley (Pete Docter wrote an article on him for Amid Amidi's Animation Blast #9), but what I know is his animation is absolutely great.

As a kid, my favorite cartoons were always the Warner and MGM shorts, but Disney was next in line. Nearing adulthood, many of the Disney cartoons don't hold up well as entertainment for me (Chip n' Dale are pure nostalgia, that's it), only for animation and technical aspects. Most of the cartoons directed by Kinney are the most blatant exception to the rule.

Part of the enjoyment of Kinney's cartoons comes from the fact that Goofy is believably stupid enough to get himself into crazy situations. Sibley's animation helps this aspect tremendously, making Goofy a caricature of sort of a vaudevillian, holding the same clueless expression throughout the gem scenes.

Here is some of Sibley's best animation from Kinney's How to Be a Sailor (1944).

How to Be a Sailor 1
Uploaded by thadk

How to Be a Sailor 2
Uploaded by thadk

More on Sibley later.

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