Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2 Types of cartoonists-Origin of styles 2 -Rubber Hose animation part B


SPECIFIC VERSUS GENERIC RUBBER HOSE CARTOONS

A very specific rubber hose character created by Grim Natwick-the best of the era.

I used to not like rubber hose cartoons because I thought they were primitive, and in some technical senses they are, compared to what the same animators did in the 1940s.

They didn't have color, lines of action, construction, everyone tended to move the same, not much characterization...etc.

This was true for most of the studios in the early 30s, but one studio more than made up for all these early limitations-The Fleischers'.

One of the best scenes ever in cartoons-from Barnacle Bill
The cartoons they made from 1929 to 1933 were so creative and so resisitant to formula and rules that they stand to this day as some of the most creative and fun cartoons ever made.

Fleischer character-ugly but funny (from Snow White)


By contrast the Disney cartoons of the same period are extremely generic, bland and boring.
Disney himself was such a conservative guy in his tastes that while he kept advancing technical skill, he resisted imagination and creativity.


I honestly don't know how he survived to the mid 30s with the cartoons he was making in the early 30s.

His characters are all pretty much circles and hoses and made up of mathematical proportions.

The Fleischers had a much wider range of character designs and they were hip and they used the biggest jazz stars of the day to do much of their music. Plus they were bawdy and honest. They liked dirty jokes -even rape jokes! They liked funny stuff and surrealism and wanted to please their audience.
Look. somehow the Fleischers can make circles look funny!




Fleischer Crowd Scenes

Disney was always a square.

The Fleischers, interestingly were in New York in the early days, along with Van Beuren and Terrytoons. All these studios early on followed their own whims and weren't swept along by the Disney influence that dominated the Hollywood cartoon studios. Not till later and that was their downfall.


Disney had a very different idea of what quality meant than most cartoonists had or have in thier natural state.

To Disney, "more" meant "better". He was going to make his cartoons have more characters, more details in the backgrounds, more colors, more more more.
4 symmetrical Cannibals drawn exactly the same is 8x funnier than 1/2 of one

Anybody have a frame grab of a hugely elaborate scene from an early Disney cartoon I can use as an illustration?

Disney was kind of an average guy except for his ambition. Most regular folk will look at a highly detailed drawing full of cross-hatching or lots of tiny smooth brush strokes and be impressed. "Wow, that painting looks like a photo! Now that's talent!" That's how Disney thought. Disney himself was a cartoonist but not a very good one.

He was also a guy who loved rules and formulas. He wanted everything to be controlled and symmetrical. He needed reasons for everything. Where rules didn't exist, he and his artists invented them. There's a whole book documenting this called "The Illusion Of Life" written by 2 of his animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. It actually brags about how the studio took the cartooniness out of cartoons.


Rare instance of a funny drawing in a Disney Cartoon
Walt must have been on vacation when this scene was animated!


A regular cartoonist wants to have skills but also wants to break rules. In New York, Disney's influence took longer to grab hold and for the decade Fleischer continued to make fun and imaginative and stylish cartoons from 1929 to 1933 with Betty Boop and Talkartoons and from 1933 to about 1940 with Popeye cartoons.

Popeye funny and kinda gross and full of personality

In Hollywood most of the cartoon studios of the early 30s copied Disney's blandness. In fact many of the studios were founded by Disney animators.
Ub Iwerks-who was Disney's top animator in the early days started his own studio and managed to make some fun stuff.

Harman and Ising founded Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and introduced Bosko and the first talking cartoon. Interestingly, the first few Boskos were very creative, bawdy, funny and had a variety of drawing styles in them, but soon they became standardized and one was drawn about the same as the last.

Disney started the idea that each animator should draw the characters the same way and it became harder to tell one animator from the next. I think this was a huge setback for cartoons, because many animators have strong individual styles and if encouraged to showcase them can add a lot of fun and entertainment to the cartoons. Many later Disney animators were cast according to the way they move things but were still made to keep the characters as "on-model" or generic as they could.

Luckily Tex Avery and Bob Clampett soon took over the creative direction of the Looney Tunes studio. They saved it from being just another bland Disney clone. Most of the other studios tried to become fake Disneys- while dying in the process.

SOME BASIC CARTOON LOGIC OF THE 30S
Whether bland or boring or thrilling and creative all 30s cartoons shared some fundamental good things.
Number 1: all the animators timed their work to music. At first they did it very mechanically-right to the beat, but as they got better their timing became more sophisticated and by the 40s, even non-musical cartoons have an invisible meter going all the time and this automatically makes the cartoons feel good.

http://www.animationarchive.org/2006/04/filmography-al-falfas-prize-package.html

The rubber hose style and the moving to the beats was the greatest way for animators to learn. Drawing simple shapes allowed the animators to learn the fundamental principles of movement without being bogged down with all the time it takes to draw useless details. Doing this to music gave them a great sense of timing. Doing it without a lot of control from non-cartoonists allowed the process of inventing animated cartoons to happen naturally through trial and error. It caused the techniques and the art of animation to grow at the fastest rate of any artform in history.

From 1928 to 1940 the medium went from stick figures to the greatest cartoons ever made. Through the 40s the momentum slowed down a bit but continued in a forward direction. The 50s started a decline.
In the 60s cartoons crashed, non-cartoonists stole the medium from us and we have never again been able to get back on a forward moving path for any prolonged period of time.

The advances in technical aspects of animation through the late 30s brought with it an unfortunate by-product. Many of the animators-especially Disney- wanted to leave behind the best attributes of the early cartoons.

There was one cartoon director of the 40s that really preserved the good points of the rubber hose cartoons while taking advantage of all the advances in cartoon techniques. Bob Clampett.

He continued making his cartoons to music and did it better than anyone from the late 30s till today. He kept the silly, surreal impossible cartooniness of the earliest cartoons and added the squash and stretch, line of action and pear shapes that developed at Disney and on top of all that, he added strong and specific personality to the characters.

Warner Bros. pioneered the idea of cartoons having the director's individual personality stamped onto them. Clampett took it a step further by giving each of the characters a living breathing presence. He added the personality and supreme performances.

More on the 40s later.
Thanks to Max and Clarke and especially Marc for helping me out!

85 comments:

Nico said...

this is best website ever. Thank you John

Anonymous said...

Calling the classic Disney cartoons bland and borring???? Know wonder people say your past your prime.

JohnK said...

>> Know wonder people say your past your prime.

Luckily the people who say it usually can't spell.

Gyrobo said...

You won't find this in any history textbook, that's for sure. Thanks for the article!

Clinton said...

I went to the Art Institute to study animation. I didn't learn much from my "disney" dean, and reading illusion of life; the history of disney and 9 old men. Animator's Survival Kit by R.Williams helped me understand rubber hose, and the 40s "screwball" style I love most of all. But John, not all of Disney's classic cartoons were boring. Classic donald duck was the only entertaining character at the time.

Trevour said...

I think one of the main reasons Disney thrived and kept growing was the simple reason of Mickey Mouse being a loveable character to the masses.

I agree that the Fleischer cartoons were funnier and did more wild stuff (content and technique-wise), but I still thoroughly enjoy the old Disney shorts, even if they were more conservative under Walt's direction.

While I'm a fan of most early Disney shorts (mostly earlier Donalds), I lose less interest as the years go on... by the mid/late '40s, the Disney cartoons were getting too complicated and literally contained zero humor at all. Nothing zany whatsoever... they were all real-life situations where the inconvenience or hardship that the main character experienced was the comedy. I can't think of a specific scene, but I'm sure somebody knows what I'm talking about. I suppose that's a topic for a later post!

Anonymous said...

John,

Thanks so much for writing these articles. I've been a animation fan for years - from the classics you discuss here up to the 1990's, including all of your work that I've seen.

I'm learning a lot from your writings - it's great to read the analysis from someone who's in the industry.

Oh, and is that Larry the Lion on your shelf in the photos? Brings back some good memories.

Thanks for the interesting reading.
Chris

Eric C. said...

John, I heard that Bob Clampett was a crazy fellow.

You've been with him on vacations, what kinds of crazy / funny things did he do ?

_Eric

Taco Jack said...

Killer comeback for commenter #2 John.

Anxiously awaiting the next parts.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Great article.

Boy I wish the audio wasn't out of synch in that Toby the Pup cartoon. I wonder why so many clips on Youtube have that problem.

Mickey was a simple happy perservering character which I think was what a lot of people wanted during the depression. Disney did a great job marketing and promoting Mickey Mouse even in the early 30's. I should make a clip of Mickey singing "When I hear my little Minnie go YOO-HOO" in Mickey's Follies which is what that weird drawing of Mickey is from, it's beautifully animated.

jorge garrido said...

GREAT POST! I currently feel the same way about rubbethose, but I love Popeye, as I said. I gotta check out some more Fleischer.

What clips did John post? All I see is a red x.

Clarke (Csnyde) said...

Another great and incredibly educational post John. thanks for taking the time to give away all of these golden nuggets of onsight for free here on your blog.

Speaking of Clampett rubber hose cartoons... One of my all time favorite cartoons as a kid was Clampett's "The Daffy Doc" I haven't seen it in God nows how many years, and I'd love to hear your analysis of it in relation to these latest post topics John.

From what I remember it was an incredibly wacky ultra-fast paced gag-fest with Porky and Daffy as they were meant to be portrayed.

Maybe someone can upload it to you tube for us? Pretty please...

Anonymous said...

Great post. I agree that this is the best animation blog around, bar none. Perhaps because we're afraid of dissolving the legacies of the field, everyone seems to be afraid to criticize the 'gods.' Did you just swipe at *The* Walt Disney? But he's objectively perfect; everyone knows that!
I think that the East Coast/West Coast animation distinction of the 1930s has a strangely Freudian "anal/oral" dichotomy. Disney was clearly an anal dude--there are anecdotes documenting his fecal obsessions, and his personality (an intense desire for distinct order and comprehensibility) seems to be consonant with this idea. Disney animation is, as John stated, excessively rule- and formula-driven, but sometimes beautiful because of it.
The oral east-coast animation is indulgent, sometimes sloppy, and hellbent on breaking established rules.
They're both cool.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Don't kill me for saying this, but I liked some really early Disney. Sure, they were blandly animated, but they were still hilarious.

Mickey was always abusing animals and giving Minnie wedgies and stuff. Everything was violent and pointless and fun.

Then Mickey turned into a sappy do-gooder and it all went to crap.

Looney Tunes and Fleischers were far better in every respect, I agree, but I don't think really early Disney (1928 to around 1931) was all that terrible.

CW said...

Great stuff! I wonder if Disney's triumph over the other studios had more to do with distribution (reaching more viewers) or being "safe" and not so racey?

I worked on a Disney related project once. They were incredibly anal about how to draw Mickey and staying on model. We decided to look over a bunch of old Disney commercials and found a crazy 'cubist' style Mickey from a 50's TV commercial. We were so excited to see something diffrent! Sadly, they wouldn't let us use it, even though it was an "offical" Disney design.

Anonymous said...

The Loony Toons that john posted was incredible. It's a shame that many of these are banned from TV. I'm curious what everyone else thinks:

would you call the way blacks are depicted in these cartoons "racist?" or is it simply a cartoon being a cartoon.

My opinion is that everything is suppose to be exaggerated to make it look funnier. EVERYONE looks silly in the cartoon world. I don't find these racist; in fact many of these cartoons seem embrace the African American culture.

Kevin said...

John, what do you think of the Silly Symphonies? Are there any specific ones you remember as being more groudbreaking or influential? Didn't the OLD MILL win an oscar or something?

It's clear you are't the worlds biggest Disney fan but it seems you have a certain level of respect for him. I remember hearing that Silly Symphonies were the most groundbreaking cartoons to come out at the time, but then again i think I read this on an advertisement for the DVD set.

Max Ward said...

Hey John,

These are really good articles. Me and the rest of all the wanna-be cartoonist are lucky to have these articles. God damnit John, I am going to work for you one day.

Justin W. said...

Hey John, thanks for posting Tin Pan Alley Cats. I had never seen that cartoon before.

I noticed that some of the scenes were also used in Porky in Wackyland. Which cartoon came first?

Kris said...

I have to agree with some of these guys that the early Disney stuff had a violent, perverse sense of humor. "Steamboat Willie" is even a little disturbing in the scene where Mickey is gleefully stamping on the cat and swinging it around by the tail. The cartoons where Mickey is a total asshole are pretty fun to watch.

I'm surprised you mentioned the Fleischer "Snow White" cartoon without mentioning the most awesome scene in it--the "St. James Infirmary" bit sung by Cab Calloway, featuring an amazing melding of rotoscope and surreal rubber hose.

JohnK said...

>>I should make a clip of Mickey singing "When I hear my little Minnie go YOO-HOO" in Mickey's Follies which is what that weird drawing of Mickey is from, it's beautifully animated.

If you do, let me know and I'll link to it!

That's my favorite Disney cartoon. I also like those 50s commercials where Tom Oreb drew the characters all "cubist" as someone here described them.

JohnK said...

>> Delete
Eric C. said...

John, I heard that Bob Clampett was a crazy fellow.

You've been with him on vacations, what kinds of crazy / funny things did he do ?<<

Well I never stayed in the same room with him, but yes he was a really funny guy. He was sometimes Bugs Bunny and other times Daffy Duck.

He was a walking talking Looney Tune in real life.

josh carrollhach said...

Brother, I like your blog more and more.
I agree with you about Disney's blandness, but I gotta say that many of the Fleisher characters were really unpleasant. Hunky and Spunky? Yikes. Famous was even worse... Herman the mouse was about the gnarliest, unfunniest of all of 'em. WB had the most likable set, all in all... even the heavies were fairly cool.
It's funny, because now at the local Wal-Mart you can buy these huge DVD collections of random cartoons from the 30's, 40's and 50's. There seemsto be no rhyme or reason to the assortment, with Noveltoons next to Superman and 3 Stooges. It's great to see such excellent animation, but I'm appalled at the laziness of the story and character departments. It seems that my favorites arusually the characters that are consistent and consistently engaging. I especially like it when the story situations bring out more in the characters. As you once said, "Ren's an asshole and Stimpy's an idiot," but nobody who has seen more than one episode would say that that's all there is to it.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff John.

Fleischer's early 30's shorts are more fun than Disney, but I think what Disney was doing in the early 30's is much better than what the Fleishcer studio did in the late 30's.

Fleischer went into a decline in the late 30's with his dull and sappy Color Classics. Do you think the reason that they aren't as fun as his earlier shorts is that the Color Classics were trying too much to be like Disney's Silly Symphonies, when the earlier shorts weren't Disney at all?

Brian Romero said...

Thanks for this post John! I enjoy reading your take on classic cartoons. I do enjoy some of those early Mickey shorts where he drinks beer, smokes and punches stuff... you know before he had the life sucked out of him. Overall I agree that Fleischer Studio did much better and more entertaining work from that era. I still find tons of inspiration from the early Betty Boop shorts.

rob gibson said...

John,

I agree with Eddie's earlier comment about these being the best posts so far. I'm really learning a lot about these great cartoons. That halloween cartoon was pretty insane, and insanely creative.

Do you think you'll ever do a tribute to rubber hose? I know that games did that poopy cartoon where Stimpy is an animator, and you said that was originally was supposed to be your tribute. It'd be tight to see your interpretation.

-Rob

S.G.A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S.G.A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S.G.A said...

What about Bimbo's initiation, or Small Fry , or crazy town, I would love to here your thoughts on those cartoons.

JohnK said...

>>What about Bimbo's initiation, or Small Fry , or crazy town, I would love to here your thoughts on those cartoons.<<

I love them all, especially the butt slapping dance at the end of Bimbo's Initiation!

S.G.A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nic said...

Wow, this was wonderful! Thanks for all the great, inspiring info.
:)

dean said...

With each post you scale new heights - thank you, Mr. K.

JohnK said...

Hey here's an interesting fact:
Tin Pan Alley Cats uses a bunch of animation from an earlier Friz cartoon-I can't remember the name-help me out!

But the same footage is way more fun and used better to the music in Bob's cartoon than in Friz'.

You can tell which scenes-the more primitive looking ones-the fat girl dancing, the bartenders mixing the drinks above their heads, some of Cats Waller playing the piano.

Ironic?

Another interesting fact: Famous Disney animator Art Babbit (the mushroom dance and the early Goofy animation) animated some scenes-the first scene of the scat singer and Cats Waller floating in the air wailing "Send me outta this world".

They are the most generically drawn and animated scenes in the new footage.

Shawn said...

Hey John.
Ever heard of Shamus Culhane? He worked at Fleischer's in the early days, and later went to Disney. He wrote a book called Talking Animals and Other People. It's a great book to read, and he tells everyone what an asshole Walt Disney was.

P.S. This is your BEST blog yet!!!

Anonymous said...

John, when are you going to do a book on the history of animation? It would be great. The ones I remember reading (when I was 10-12 yrs old... and this was 20 years ago) were done by movie critics.

Anonymous said...

Hey John K.

How do you feel about the old Oswald The Rabbit cartoons?

Jesse

BrianB said...

Hey here's an interesting fact:
Tin Pan Alley Cats uses a bunch of animation from an earlier Friz cartoon-I can't remember the name-help me out!


Porky in Wackyland as well. Wish I knew the Friz toon though.

Anonymous said...

John, I admire your passion for animation and cartoons, but I can't help but think that your vision of it is very one-sided.

Kristin said...

The rubber hose cartoons look weird and scary!

JohnK said...

>>John, I admire your passion for animation and cartoons, but I can't help but think that your vision of it is very one-sided.<<

I don't know. I've already lauded and analyzed tons of different cartoon styles that are barely even mentioned in the animation history books. I would conclude the opposite if I were you.

There's lots more to come too. I've barely started.

Danne8a said...

John, I love the site!
I wish the powers that be would study and wisen up!
Silly question, Did you ever interview Bob Clampett?
I have the Beany and Cecil DVD and it still just isn't enough BoB!

cableclair said...

Thanks for giving me something worthwhile and valuable to do at my survival job, I have learned more this week than in a long time. It's entertaining and I feel like I actually learn stuff. I'm actually INTERESTED in the subject. If only you had been teaching or lecturing at the art academy I went to I wouldn't have dropped out.

Anonymous said...

it looks like your heavy bandwidth use is killing blogger and youtube.

cableclair said...

oh yea forgot to mention.

The only Disney ones I like are the REALLY old ones where everything isn't anally perfect yet and they were still searching and experimenting and raw and rude! Yes!! after that it just went downhill. I think in cartoons it's usually characters with an edge about them I like best. In movies too, now I think of it. Nothing off and askew scares the shit out of me.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Wow really interesting that Tin Pan Alley Cats would use Friz animation. Too bad youtube is down right now.

I've also noticed that most of Friz Freling's early rubber hose cartoons were tighter than than what everyone else was doing at the time.

flotsky said...

The rubber hose cartoons always made me feel uneasy as a child. Can't explain it rationally, but there was something a little too freaky about them for my little mind.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Here are a couple examples of Disney cheating with symmetry in early cartoons.

Example 1
Example 2

R2K said...

I really love these. The cannibals, the popey, all so interesting and strange.

R2K

Peggy said...

This is a really nice summation of the path from chaos to boredom, and the road not taken out of it! Keep it up. Edit all this stuff into a book once you've got enough; loosely-related essays would be fine. I'd buy it!

I can't remember ever not liking rubber hose cartoons. Maybe it's how I came to them - my first contact was reading about them in Mice and Magic. Glowing descriptions of some of the best Fleischer work made me want to seek them out, but this was damn near impossible for a six-year-old kid in the seventies. When I finally did come in contact with them, I was old enough to look past the shitty transfers and the B&W and see the raw joy of the things. I think it was when I was in animation school that I finally got access to a tape of the best Betty Boops, stuff I'd been waiting to see for years, and it was worth the wait.

I still wonder what animation would have been like if the Fleischers had made features that were full of the same things that made the their 30s shorts great, instead of falling into the trap of trying to be boring like Disney. Some alternate history where they made a crazy hour-long jazz-filled feature, instead of Gulliver's Travels.

glamaFez said...

John, what do you think of David Hand's Animaland cartoons from the late 40s? I can't decide if I like them or not.

JohnK said...

>>John, what do you think of David Hand's Animaland cartoons from the late 40s? I can't decide if I like them or not. <<

The animation is great. The designs are sometimes wonky and the stories are pretty boring.

Gabriel said...

Have you ever seen any of the old japanese rubber hose stuff , based on folk tales?

Japanese rubber hose, there ya go!

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of Shamus Culhane? He worked at Fleischer's in the early days, and later went to Disney. He wrote a book called Talking Animals and Other People. It's a great book to read, and he tells everyone what an asshole Walt Disney was.


-It IS a great book, one of the best. Too bad you've totally mischaracterized it here.
He ALSO tells everyone about how desperate he was to go work for the BEST studio in the world at the time, Disney's---that he drove 3,000 miles during the depression ( no superhighways then) with his wife and MIL in a crummy car without a guarantee of a job, and accepted 50 bucks a week(about 100 less than he had been making)just for the opportunity to work with Walt, that "asshole" and on Disney animation as an IN BETWEENER, rather than stay in NYC where he'd been a director. What does that tell you? How about Walt(who by then was a pretty important Hollywood producer)seeing him on the spot without an appointment, simply as a courtesy to an animator who'd come from New York and whose work he'd noticed and admired in those "inferior" cartoons he was supposedly too "square" to look at?

Or Shamus declaringtruthfully)that the best work of his career was acheived at the Disney studio, working for Norm Ferguson and on "Snow White" and "Pinocchio"? And how angry and itter he was that due to a misunderstanding about a tooth infection, he quite Disney's and moved to the much inferior Fleischer studio in Florida--how about those anectodes? Did you really read the book?

I think Culhane would be furious, Shawn, if he saw you take his thoughts out of context to bolster some argument about what an "asshole" Disney was--a word he never used, and a sentiment he actually didn't have at all. Difficult, yes, but also a genius. jesus.

Pedro Vargas said...

John, I've never seen Tin Pan Alley Cats! You basically saved me! I'm so glad I'm finding all of these musical cartoons and everything makes sense how Clampett was the best cartoon director from Warners. I'm overwhelmed from getting so much cartoon knowledge from you, Steve Worth and other cartoon/animation people. I'm so damn happy! Thanks so much, man! you're one of my heroes!

Pedro Vargas!

ke said...

I always picture John K. as a little old man when I watch his cartoons. Its shocking to see how young he is in real life. Nicolodeon animators are pretty young, too.

Now that I went to the cartoon history link I see why I thought that - the old school animators were old school! My favorite cartoons from back in the day were the ones that had caricatures of famous people, like, in a nightclub or something. I didn't even know who they were in the day, but I loved them.

Claude Peace said...

To say cartoons were "stick figures" before 1928 is to ignore the great work of cartoonist Winsor McCay.
Check out this cartoon from 1911:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=seOGEwx0NfQ&search=winsor%20mccay
Nobody made animation that good for years to come. He hand-colored it, no less! Also check out Gertie the Dinosaur and the Sinking of the Lucitania. Great, early animation!

ke said...

... oops, I meant to say:
"I didn't even know who they were at that age, but I loved them." You could see the actor's personality come through in the cartoon.

jorgea garrido said...

WHAT VIDEO CLIPS WERE POSTED.

Shawn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shawn said...

Anonymous also forgot to mention how arrogant Disney was, and how much crap he talked about Fleischer's studio, and how he made Culhane forget everything he learned at Fleischer's so he could do more realistic/uncartoony animation.

Also, Culhane did groundbreaking animation in specific scenes of Pinochio, which apparently got rave reviews. But since Culhane had to leave Disney (his doctor told him to move to better climate because Culhane was suffering sever pain from a bad tooth), Disney threw a fit like a huge baby, and Culhane's name never appeared on the credit's for the animation HE created.

lastangelman said...

John , you should package all this not as a dead tree book per se but as a multimedia presentation on DVD, with highlight links on texts to audio/visual or graphic examples. The Residents DVD Kettles Of Fish On The Outskirts of Town is a good example (Steven Worth is a fan, have him show show you on his copy), but they did it as Easter Eggs.

Robert Hume said...

Hey John, way back in my first year of college I read on-line an article you wrote about the Flieshers, your views on cartoony animation and alot of other really insightful takes on what's wrong with the animation industry today!
I was so phyched when I first read that article that I printed the whole thing out and forced all of my animator friends to read it. I no longer recall where the article was first published or where it can now be found, but if you know which article I'm talking about I think if would be VERY helpful and enjoyable to people here if you could post a link to it or something. :)
Thanks!

-Bob

JohnK said...

Hey Robert

Ask Steve at animation archive. He has it in his archives. It was the first of a series of articles I did for Animation Magazine.

Steve's link is in my latest post-this one!

Robert Hume said...

Awesome! Thanks John!

josh carrollhach said...

It's funny, but Maltin's critiques of Fleischer and many of the other innovators hold up: they kept doing what worked long after it stopped working. Still true today, really. "We would have gotten away with making shitty cartoons if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!"
Caspar always needed a friend and couldn't find one. Spunky was always in some jam that Hunky bailed him out of (ditto with god knows how many other features).

On another point: Fleisher blew their chance at features bigtime. Gulliver and Hoppity are both fatally flawed for the same basic reason: bad story. In Gulliver this manifested with totally incompatible story and sub-story and, thus, totaly different animation styles for Gulliver and the supporting cast. In Hoppity it was that the story wasn't tight enough end to end. Walt Disney knew movies because he was a big fan of Chaplin and Keaton, directors who principally told stories through characters that were easy to understand. Empathy.

And Walt had some stellar story talent (Bill Peet, ferchrissakes). All these studios had great animators, as there are today.

I think that the big studios are sweating because now anyone who wants to can make a cartoon. You don't need a multiplane camera or the CFB giving you two free years... a copy of Mirage and garage band and you're in business. Maybe you're the next Chuck Jones. Probably not, but there's a chance... and a chance that's not been around since, say, 1922.

Anonymous said...

You know I could be COMPLETELY off base about this, but it seems to me that to make it in Feature Length Films (and sometimes Television as well) you HAVE to be formulatic and contrived, and lacking in any kind of REAL creative or artistic appeal. I mean lets face it, the average movie-goer is stupid and easily entertained, and soooooo much money is resting on these feature length productions that it only seems natural that the contrived and formulatic studios would be the ones to survive and thrive in such an atmosphere. It's sad but how else do you explain studios like Pixar and Disney staying ontop of the world for so long while studios like the Fleischers and Spumco are left struggling in the dark?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that Spumco is struggling, they've had a lot of success over the years with just a string of bad luck here and there... But we wouldn't be talking about them or the Fleischers now if they haddened made a huge impact on cartoons and animation.

.....Besides, Spumco hasn't had the chance to do a feature length movie yet. I'm sure if and when they do get the chance to do one, it will be an industry changing moment, and there success might even trigger a slew of other amazing cartoony films to follow.

I really think people are starving for it!

JohnK said...

>>t's funny, but Maltin's critiques of Fleischer and many of the other innovators hold up: they kept doing what worked long after it stopped working.

No they stopped doing what was working for them and began to copy Disney.

They failed because they tried to copy Silly Symphonies and Gulliver's Travels and the stories weren't any better or worse than Disney's. They didn't have the money and gloss Disney had to polish his fairy tales up with-and they didn't have his marketing talent.

Disney also failed right after Snow White by the way and struggled for years.

Casper wasn't a Fleischer cartoon by the way, it was Famous cartoon.

Hunky and Spunky were terrible because they were not Fleischer's natural style.

Glen Bosiwang said...

Dear John K,

Thanks for posting such a somehow twisted (but very funny, interesting and true in some of our senses!) opinions of Disney and your admiration of Bob Clampett and other idols. I really agree with your points stating that many animation studios are proned to standardize everything and set rules based on what has proven to be successful.

I mean that, Walt Disney took the risk of turning his Disney's Folly into one of the most significant animated movies of all time (I know you never like the works of Disney, since you find them generic! Ha ha ha! Ok, I know how you feel, really). Then everything takes a downhill as if everyone including the executives take the safe path instead of distinguishing themselves and explore more within ourselves. It's the very same I face here (I, as both filmmaker, animator and cartoonist), when I have a discussion with my dad on censorship and what people and clients want and blah, blah, blah (which ends up horribly; my dad doesn't support the themes you and other good filmmakers embrace).

I am furious with the system now being embraced in Malaysia (where I live) where no one can't even make a single decent cartoon show. I've seen these kind of cartoons on TV and they are made as if the animators and directors are under control of the executives and ministries, the same condition you face when you fight your rights against Nick while making Ren and Stimpy. Now, I really understand how it feels to be a true artist, a rebel and a patriotic, saying things that may sound ludicrous but at the same time, true to their interpretation. Because of these controversial things, we as viewers begin to respect these special works they've brought up from their minds and be inspired to inspire more to newer generations.

Perhaps, I hope your sage words will continue to aspire more rebels like me and liven up the fire within us which bears the words 'creativity'. Once again, thanks for your inspiring words.

Yours sincefully,
Glen Bosiwang

Anonymous said...

Hey, what do you feel John about those amazing superman cartoons that the Fleischers did? I personally LOVE them, but I'd like to hear what you think about them.
:D

Anonymous said...

John K or anyone know WHY exactly Disney changed the personality of mickey over the years? was this walts decision? wasn't Ub Iwerks the guy that actually created all of walts famous characters anyways?

Mark Rous said...

I've just started training to be an animator, and it was great to find your blog shouting the virtues of the Fleischer and Clampett cartoons.
Im afraid i'll never find a job in the industry where i'll be able to be involved in such lively and entertainig work like those you show in your blog. I';m terrified of becoming a skilled animator, then spending the rest of my life drawing crap like the stuff Nickelodeon has been churning out for years. Damn the corporate machine

Anonymous said...

Disney Sucks! I like Pinnocio and a few other films, but your right...the Fleischers work at the time was FAR superior and entertaining. Those Skeleton animations look like they were animated by retarded people. Your right, what grown man would come up with an animation like that???

justme said...

Great article, I check your site everyday, you are an inspiration, a big thank you from Portugal!

jorge garrido said...

>>It's sad but how else do you explain studios like Pixar and Disney staying ontop of the world for so long while studios like the Fleischers and Spumco are left struggling in the dark?

Are you nuts? Pixar is the best animation studio today. Pixar and Spumco. PIxar is like the oppsite of a corporate animation company. They're all creative people. They do everythign in drawings first.

David Germain said...

[The Fleischers]failed because they tried to copy Silly Symphonies and Gulliver's Travels and the stories weren't any better or worse than Disney's. They didn't have the money and gloss Disney had to polish his fairy tales up with-and they didn't have his marketing talent

Max Fleischer's massive alcoholism didn't help much either. <:(

Shawn said...

Pixar movies are just a bunch of STIFF, BORING, 3-dimentional characters walking around who can't act! I want to see wacky characters that squash and stretch when they move. I don't give a crap how "real" or 3-dimentional they are. If I cared about that, I'd go see a live action movie. I want to see CARTOONS!
When will this computer novelty wear off?? I'm sick of it. I hope everyone else gets sick of it too. Those of us who like to see animated DRAWINGS don't have anything fun to watch anymore.

jorge garrido said...

>>I don't give a crap how "real" or 3-dimentional they are

You think The Incredibles is realistic? You're thinking of Dreamworks, my friend.

>>When will this computer novelty wear off?? I'm sick of it. I hope everyone else gets sick of it too.

I dislike most CGI, too, especially Dreamworks, but Pixar's films are so good they make me forget they're CGI. They' just amazing. And they do everything in drawing first and it shows.

>>> Pixar movies are just a bunch of STIFF, BORING, 3-dimentional characters walking around who can't act!
There's better acting in a Pixar film that anywhere else. They're not stiff OR boring. And you sound like one of those morons who say "Looney Tunes nothing but frying pan humour!" Generalizations like that are usually unfounded.

:: smo :: said...

one thing i've noticed about the in the fleischer cartoons that is reflected perfectly in the chosen music, is that they're VERY "new york". in the 30's new york was the place for hot jazz! and you can tell they got new york state locals [cab calloway from rochester] to make musical [and sometimes phyiscal] appearances in their cartoons. disney and a lot of the west coast studios had that watered down feel, and a lot of the hollywood studios simply reflected the music of hollywood, which was desperately mainstream.

the sensibilities of hot jazz, and not being afraid to expose it's true performers by using someone 'safe' like "The Original Dixieland Jazz Band," give the fleischer cartoons a lot more attitude and leads them down a path to blatant surrealism moreso than anyone else around. dancing skeletons are nothing to sneeze at, but hilarious? probably not...

on the newest golden collection dvd there's a lot of talk about warner brothers animator's connections to new york and new york city. the brashness of bugs bunny, and the sarcasm of the cartoons in general. a lot of the 'writers' [mike maltese "the slum kid"?] had new york state in their roots. living in inclimate areas makes people more bitter and lends itself to more aggresive styles in animation and music! TAKE THAT HOLLYWOOD! haHA!

Anonymous said...

The name of the cartoon that was done by Friz Freleng and reused in Tin Pan Alley Cats is September in the Rain.

http://looney.goldenagecartoons.com/miscelooneyous/reused/40s.html

Anonymous said...

I don't care much for most of Pixar's films, but I love The Incredibles because of the involvement of Brad Bird (creator the original Family Dog short and Iron Giant) and his team of artists. That film really shows how good a 3D CG cartoon can be when the creative decisions are made by good cartoonists.

Toren Q Atkinson said...

"non-cartoonists stole the medium from us and we have again been able to get back on a forward moving path for any prolonged period of time."

Should that read "unable to get back..."?

Toren Q Atkinson said...

"to make it in Feature Length Films (and sometimes Television as well) you HAVE to be formulatic and contrived, and lacking in any kind of REAL creative or artistic appeal"

That's a lot of hooey. Just because that's the way it's done a lot of the time, doesn't mean that it won't work the other way. It does from time to time.

The GagaMan(n) said...

That early Betty Boop in Mysterious Mose is my favorite design ever.