Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ward Kimball - Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

There's been a flood of Disney animator's drafts lately, and myths regarding a lot of Golden Age animators have been clearing up. It is great to know though, that Ward Kimball did an awful lot of excellent animation on both the shorts and movies.

Here's his animation from "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" ('38), one of the few attempts Disney did at a real Warner-style cartoon for many years. It seems like all the animators were having fun with this short, but Kimball's animation stands out as the most slick and beautifully cartoony.

Go buy the new Silly Symphonies set if you haven't yet... It's worth it for this one alone!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)

What happened to the good ol' days when a cartoon could abandon its plot to break out in song and become a spot-gag picture?

Here's one with a hit song from Walter Lantz in 1941... "Racial imagery" to follow.

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Uploaded by thadk

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Tale of Two Mice

Am I the only one who thinks that this Frank Tashlin short is one of the most brilliant cartoons ever made?

"A Tale of Two Kitties" gets all the attention for being another excellent cartoon (and the first appearance of Tweety), but this one is just as funny and has some great animation in its own right. There's lots of examples of Tashlin's "sophisticated exaggeration", like the cat slamming into the wall or his paw.

I absolutely love the staging of the Art Davis (?) scene of the cat flipping [Rat]stello in the air towards the end. A really unique and underrated cartoon from the Golden Age of animation.

A Tale of Two Mice
Uploaded by thadk

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Night Before Christmas

I don't think anyone should go the holiday season without viewing this short. It's sort of startling how well-defined Bill and Joe had the characters in only their third starring cartoon.

The Night Before Christmas
Uploaded by thadk

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bill and Joe Tribute Pt. 2

Here's one of my favorite chase scenes from "Springtime for Thomas" (1946). This is beautifully timed and hilariously animated by Irv Spence (the last two shots in this clip are Ed Barge's). It's funny how I was struck stupid when I found out later in life that these Tom & Jerry cartoons were high-budget films... You'd think Bill and Joe would make guys like Spence adhere to a modelsheet or layout! But all the animators on the Tom & Jerry films had their own style, yet they don't look disjointed, but very slick. That's definitley a sure sign of great directors.

Hope you enjoy this one. Scott Bradley's music works great with this scene too.

Springtime for Thomas
Uploaded by thadk

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Joe Barbera R.I.P.

I'm sure everyone's heard the terrible news that Joe Barbera has passed away.

I think my favorite memory of Joe was reading how kids would go up to him with pictures they drew of Tom & Jerry, Huck, Yogi, and Fred for him to sign... Sometimes they brought Bugs. In a world where a lot of "animators" would flip out if you brought them a competitor's product for them to sign, it takes a real man to just let it go.

Some day I might go on in great detail on why I love the Tom & Jerry series so much, but for right now a few clips over the next few days will do.

It's probably no surprise that Ray Patterson is one of my favorite animators, but I don't think his animation would be as great without Bill and Joe's direction. (Actually, that's true - his animation at Columbia in the early 40s and on Lundy's MGM shorts is great, but his best work was on the Tom & Jerrys.)

Here's a clip from one of my very favorite Tom & Jerry shorts. Moments like this separate good from great animation.

Texas Tom
Uploaded by thadk

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bill Melendez - Hurdy Gurdy Hare

Mike Kazaleh wrote in to inform me that this piece of animation is NOT the work of Williams but Bill Melendez... I figured it was a former Davis animator, but I guess I was wrong. Thanks Mike!

David Gerstein tells me this is his favorite Bugs Bunny scene. You'll have to ask him to elaborate.

Hurdy Gurdy Hare
Uploaded by thadk

Lots of criticisms now arise saying McKimson's Bugs is better than Clampett's. Uh, sorry, no.

Easter Greetinks

Animated by Art Davis

Happy Easter!

Celebrate it by reading Carl Barks' "The Easter Election", the greatest comic book story about Easter ever made. If you don't have a copy, go buy one now! It'll be the best three bucks you'll spend all week!

Carl Barks Rules

Do yourself a favor too, and watch EASTER YEGGS (1947), the greatest cartoon about Easter ever made! And now you'll be able to tell who animated what!

Charles McKimson animated Bugs reading his sex book. Look at that great expression of embarrassment! Izzy Ellis picks up with the scene of the Easter rabbit telling Bugs of his trouble. He was a pretty loose animator and you can tell he's being held back in this scene.


Izzy also does this scene of the rabbit finding the bomb Bugs has left on him... And then Chuck picks up with that great toothy laugh before the iris out. Richard Bickenbach animated on this short too, but I'm not really sure what he did exactly, because his style is only just a little looser than Chuck's stuff.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sibley - How to Be a Detective

Here's a piece by John Sibley from one of my very favorite cartoons, How to Be a Detective (1952). This scene is a bit later than most of the Sibley animation that's usually highlighted, but it's still wonderfully timed and drawn. I like the cartoons that Kinney and Hannah did during the closing days of the Disney shorts department and think they're underrated. (And yes, that's June Foray as the bride.)

If you folks don't own a copy of The Complete Goofy (it came out in 2002, so it's pretty hard to find now) I seriously pity you and wonder how empty a childhood you want your firstborn to have without that set.

How to Be a Detective
Uploaded by thadk

(Thanks to Matt Yorston for the identification.)

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.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Robin Hoodlum

Here is the first cartoon UPA did, directed by John Hubley. It's too bad the attitude was that they didn't want to do Fox and Crow, or any animal-oriented, cartoons because this and the other two Fox and Crows are genuinely funny and well-drawn shorts.

Mike Kazaleh (the Bobe Cannon expert) writes in:
"Pat Mathews did most of the scenes with the Crow and the King. Bobe Cannon did most of the scenes that had Robin Hood in them. Rudy Larriva animated the Merry Men."

Robin Hoodlum
Uploaded by thadk

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Convict Concerto

I am in debt to Mike Kazaleh for introducing me to the styles of many of the 50s Lantz artists, and would like to thank him publicly for this. Many folks don't see the value in the Lantz output, and thankfully Mike (and others) isn't one of them.

Don Patterson's time as a director at the Lantz studio was unfortunately short-lived. Lantz showed his poor taste when he kept relative Paul Smith in the director chair and had Don knocked back down to exclusively animating (No wonder he'd leave the guy to go to the dreadful Hanna-Barbera studio with Lovy in '59!)

Patterson's pictures are a lot of fun to watch and show that you can do some great looking animation with a weak budget. Convict Concerto (1954) is arguably one of his best. Don would sometimes do actual animation on his pictures in addition to directing! The only time I know of this going on at a West Coast studio was when Bob McKimson had to rebuild his staff in the mid-50s.

While I think Don's animation is hilarious (he draws my favorite version of Woody after Emery), Herman Cohen (ex-Warner animator) does some really well-drawn scenes here. Cohen drew a definitive modelsheet of Woody around 1955, and a photostat of it went for over $500 over at Heritage Galleries. I saved the scan of it, but that is on my old harddrive I don't have access to at the moment. If anyone else still has it, let me know!

Rhapsody Rabbit (1946) and The Cat Concerto (1947) get all of the attention, but Convict Concerto plays on a very similar theme, and I think it's much funnier than either. Animation veteran Hugh Harman freelanced the story for this stand-out cartoon.

Convict Concerto
Uploaded by thadk

- Fade in to Mugsy on the phone: Herman Cohen
- Mugs on the phone : Don Patterson
- Mugsy again : Cohen
- Cop sniffs Woody to bullets dropping out : Ray Abrams
- Woody pointing to piano and Mugsy ducking back in : Cohen
- Cop checks Woody for money to him sitting on money : Abrams
- Woody trying to warn the cop to the mugs walking into the store : Patterson
- Cop smells money to piano falling off truck : Abrams
- Woody playing the piano in the air to fade-out : Patterson

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Giggle Comics: Ken Hultgren

Once in awhile, I'll post something off-topic, but not totally unrelated to animation. I love Golden Age funny animal comic books! My focus of interest has been on mainly the artists who drew the Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Disney, and Fox and Crow comics since they were at one point animators or layout artists on the shorts.

But I recently got into collecting the Giggle Comics line from the 1940s. These books are simply amazing! Just about every story features artwork animators, like Dan Gordon, Jack Bradury, Bob Wickersham, among others.

One of my new favorites is Ken Hultgren, who I unfortunately do not know much about. I believe he was at Disney's as only an inbetweener, but his artwork on stories featuring "The Duke and the Dope" is absolutley great!

WARNING: These stories are scanned at a high resolution so it may take a while to load.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Remembering Sid Raymond

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Sid Raymond on Cartoon Brew Sunday. Here's a cartoon featuring the gift he gave the world. Say what you will about the animation (which I think, especially Marty Taras' scenes, is very good) or the plotline, but Sid's vocal talent is absolutely great.

This one might be my favorite just for Huey's singing and for the scene towards the end with the Fox shoving a gun in Huey's face... Any idea who animated that scene? (It wasn't Marty)

Swab the Duck
Uploaded by thadk

Monday, December 4, 2006

The Sleigh

In my opinion, Shamus Culhane was Lantz's best director after Tex Avery. The Lantz cartoons are good in the early 40s, but they don't get great until Shamus came in to direct. He really used those animators, like Emery Hawkins, Pat Matthews, Verne Harding, and Don Williams to the best of their abilities. Lundy got the cartoons to look prettier, but Shamus' are much faster, funnier, and more well-put together.

Here is a great scene from one of his best shorts there, Ski for Two (1944), primarily animated by Emery Hawkins. This is such an amazing scene from a hilarious cartoon. I want a flipbook of drawings Emery did for the piece where he jumps right at the camera to get a grasp on how he achieved it.

Ski for Two
Uploaded by thadk

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Solid Serenade

Here's an animator breakdown for one of the most popular (and funniest) Tom & Jerry cartoons ever made, Solid Serenade (1946). I recently bought a 16mm print of this one (so it will be at MANC '07) and am in awe of all the wonderful animation in it. Ken Muse of course steals the show with Tom's rendition of "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't My Baby", but there is some beautiful Ray Patterson animation. Mike Lah animates a lot of footage on this one, and it features many of his hilarious walk cycles.

Ray was uncredited on this picture as he briefly left MGM to go to England, to train animators for David Hand on the ANIMALAND series. (That doesn't surprise me, as the designs of a lot of those characters look like something Ray would draw.)

- Dog sleeping to Tom bouncing off on bass: Ray Patterson
- Tom starts singing to Jerry stomping off upstairs: Ken Muse
- Jerry puts iron into pie: Ed Barge
- Tom gets iron in face: Muse
- Tom chases Jerry through kitchen to dog coming back to house: Barge
- Dog puts in bigger teeth to Tom running on 'front legs': Patterson
- Tom runs behind wall to Tom slamming the dog on the ground after wooing him : Mike Lah
- Tom scurries behind corner to iris out : Pete Burness (this is not subtitled correctly in the video)

Solid Serenade
Uploaded by thadk

The bit by Muse with Tom getting angry, not at the fact that he got hit in the face, but that someone is heckling him, is the kind of thing that I feel separates good from great animation.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Jekyll and Hyde Cat - Bill Tytla

Talk about getting knocked down! When Disney's top animator, Bill Tytla, left after the strike, he ended up doing animation in NY at Terry and Famous! Poor devil!

But that doesn't mean none of Tytla's amazing skill didn't end up in those films. At Terry in particular, he added a sense of dramatics to the Mighty Mouse shorts that was not there before or after. I believe the transformation of the cat in this scene, from Jekyll and Hyde Cat (1944), is Bill Tytla's work. There is no way in Hell any regular at Terry could pull that scene off. It looks like something directly pulled out of Snow White!

Jekyll and Hyde Cat 1
Uploaded by thadk

I'm not sure how much Tytla did in this clip. He may have been responsible for the cat's dead body, which is the most disturbing thing I know of in a Terrytoon (outside of the music). Cool to see Mighty get a few punches thrown at him too.

Jekyll and Hyde Cat 2
Uploaded by thadk