Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hare Ribbin' - McKimson - pinch




If you listen to the dialogue track you can hear the ups and downs in Mel's voice. Listen to the accents. Mel is a great actor who knows exactly how to vary his voice, use contrasts in volume, pitch and pace that he gives 10 times the meaning to the written words and makes them funnier and more dramatic. A good animator can then take that and add even mnore meaning by further emphasizing what is inherently there in the writing and the track.

Bob McKimson puts his animated accents to match the dialogue track. When you hear an accent in the track you also see an accent in the motion. This gives great emphasis to the meaning of the dialogue. He also matches the drawings of the expressions to the inflection in the voice, rather than relying on stock "animation acting". This may sound simple and it is. Hardly anyone else does it. Then or now.

Ken Harris for example, doesn't. He bobs the head around seemingly at random, and not in time with the voice accents ... at least in the scenes that animators tell me are animated by him.

Nowadays, most voice tracks are done by amateur actors and have very little accenting in the dialogue. Very monotonal droning is what I hear, so the animators have to sort of randomly bob the head around just to "keep the scene alive".


Also, look how solid every action is in this scene from Hare Ribbin'. The pinches really feel like the dog's fingers are grabbing thick bunny flesh.

This couldn't be done the way people draw fingers today. Paper cut out flat fingers cannot give you visceral effects. They can't make a scene really feel like it's happening.

Flat drawings and animation put the viewer at a distance from the actions and characters on screen.

Some people have the theory that why my cartoons are so emotional-whether people love them or hate them, is because the scenes are so vivid and real. (Not every scene of course) South Park can get away with bloody murder because it is so obviously not happening.

George Liquor in "Man's Best Friend" pissed off a lot of people who hate men because everything he does seems like it is really happening. The Nickelodeon ladies hated him so much that they took the show away from me. Had I drawn it flat and lifeless and used crummy flat music that didn't emphasize the moods and scenes and didn't draw expressions that matched the voice track, they probably would have accepted it.

Clampett and McKimson and the rest of the crew make the best cartoons because they are so controlled. They make you feel what they want you to feel. They don't leave anything to chance. It takes a lot of skill and confidence. This is a good practice in my opinion.

Let's go back to that philosophy sometime, ok?

97 comments:

Brian Romero said...

Let's go back to that philosophy sometime, ok?

I'm practicing!

The Butcher said...

This is a great cartoon. It sucks I haven't seen it in so long. Thanks again for the lessons John!

Anonymous said...

John: The Lost Episodes really seem to bear out the theory of enhancing the vocals with killer acting. I had only seen part of Onward and all of Firedogs 2 on Spike and was left with an indifferent opinion. However, the DVD blew me away. I think your lessons here are giving me something deeper to look for this second time. Thanks!

I like Stimpy cursing while sobbing in the beginning of Ren Seeks Help. It reminded me of Jack Mercer slipping in brilliant stuff as Popeye.

On a side note, I'm rediscovering McKimson. Like a lemming, I ignored him per the "experts" analysis in the animation "history" books. Boy, there's a lot to admire in his work that you alone have been pointing out. Would you say Preston Blair would be McKimson's closest peer in cartoon animation?
Brian

JohnK said...

>>Would you say Preston Blair would be McKimson's closest peer in cartoon animation?<<

Preston Blair is a very different kind of animator. He is sort of the ultimate "animation-style" animator.

He is all about the principles and general formulas that were around at the time.

His animation of the original Red Hot Riding Hood has some very specific and original ideas and expressions.

He is great to learn from because he is so generic. He doesn't have a style that will distract you from the basic animation principles.

McKimson is a total original and in his own league. His acting is much more human and effective.

Anonymous said...

On a side note, you should contact Dean the producer at The Bob and Tom Show (bobandtom.com) and get on the air to promote your new DVD. I can't imagine Bob not loving Naked Beach Frenzy since he loves big boobs. Good Lord, they had Billy West on to promote that CG Popeye eyesore last year that they ought to feel honored to let you talk about adult cartoons! Your DVD ought to fit in with their, and their audience's, interests.

Art F. said...

>This couldn't be done the way people draw fingers today. Paper cut out flat fingers cannot give you visceral effects. They can't make a scene really feel like it's happening.<

So true. That's one of the many things I love about your cartoons, John. The fingers speak volumes.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what I've been saying about you and your cartoons John... How you really make people FEEL something. My review for the lost episodes dvd on amazon that I posted yesterday said this exact same thing!


When Stimpy is swallowing that giant booger in "Onward and Upward"...that wouldn't be gross unless it really feels real, like it's actually happening. You can feel it in your mouth.

Me and my friends sat down to watch a few "lost episodes" last night and we were screaming. Ren Seeks Help blew their MINDS. The froggy hand followed by mom throwing up on the cat was the clincher. We had to pause the dvd until we stopped laughing. As my friend said about the cat - "he's got a piece of carrot on his head!!"



-Jordan
www.timwarnermovie.com

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

I watched Mans Best Friend the other night and love the intensity of the scenes. It does feel real, and as a viewer, you feel afraid of George. In my opinion, this episode also has the very best subtle acting. A few examples that I love, are when after Ren beats George with the oar, Stimpy is crying and starts sniffing and tells Ren, "You've dont it now" and "Dont touch Me.." Also Ren says something like "doggy treat" and and very subtlely, You can see Ren's toungue come from his mouth to the back of his teeth to stress the end "t" in the word "treat".. (I hope I explained this well enough).. Well the point is, that you will never see any kind of this attention to detail or subtle acting in modern cartoons.. You rock John..

Jorge Garrido said...

>the animators have to sort of randomly bob the head around just to "keep the scene alive".

Animaniacs and Pinky & The Brain, anyone?

>South Park can get away with bloody murder because it is so obviously not happening.

At least it TRIES to have animation acting, unlike Family Guy. They change expressions and move with their hands and bodies. One episode of South Park has more expression, acting, and better animation than Family Guy, but that's not saying much. Voice acting in South Park is better than The Simpsons and Family Guy, too, since they often to over the top acting and dialogue parodying action movies or dramas and serious scenes. (like in the episode where the dad gets obsessed wiht his sons's baseball team winning. "IT'S BECAUSE I'M SCARED, ALRIGHT!") John, if you animated an episode of South Park you could at to that, they'd sure to receptive to it. Call Mike Judge to, er... arbitrate.

>Flat drawings and animation put the viewer at a distance from the actions and characters on screen.

I agree, but what about flat stuff you do like, as with Deputy Droopy?

The most visceral scene in R&S is Ren at the bed in Stimpy's Fan Club, in a stunning soliloquy that showcases Ren's insane violent side. I also like Ren's BRIEF expression of cautious happiness after he says "I'll do it for you" in Ren Seeks Help. I completely understand his thought process. He thinks he's going to fix it quickly by saying that and his hopes are dashed by Stimpy's outrage at this notion.

>Good Lord, they had Billy West on to promote that CG Popeye eyesore last year that they ought to feel honored to let you talk about adult cartoons

He does a great Popeye!

Jorge Garrido said...

>John, if you animated an episode of South Park you could at to that, they'd sure to receptive to it.

Sorry, that's "you could add to that" but what I meant was that John would GREATLY improve the small amount of acting in SP.

John Park said...

The running and biting scene reminds me of Dirty Dog chasing Cigarrettes the cat in Weekend Pussy Hunt. Am I correct in assuming you based that off of this?

Anonymous said...

The voice on the dog was always one of my favorites. It makes me kind of sad that it was never used again, but it does fit very well with the dog himself.

David Germain said...

This couldn't be done the way people draw fingers today. Paper cut out flat fingers cannot give you visceral effects. They can't make a scene really feel like it's happening.

Flat drawings and animation put the viewer at a distance from the actions and characters on screen.


I remember reading Joe Adamson saying a similar things about Tex Avery's cartoons. The ones he did at MGM in the early 50's suffer because of the contemporary UPA style that was coming into it's own at the time. During the 40's the characters were designed to look 3 dimensional and seem real using the techniques the animators learned while working at Disney's which made Tex Avery's outragious gags really pack a whallop on the viewer. But, when the style turned to flat and angular in the early 50's, the gags just seemed to happen in front of the viewer with a much softened imapct than before.

Personally, I like Tex's early 50's stuff, but I do see where Adamson is coming from.

Yes, I hope to be one of the few who manages to help bring back great animation like McKimson's up there. B)

Matt Greenwood said...

I think South Park gets away with what they want, because they've never said anything objectionable to anyone with sense. Everything is in context. They're not being edgy for the sake of being edgy.

Not that I'm saying your cartoons are edgy for the sake of it, or that any violence or dirty jokes are out of context, just maybe you can get away with more if it's more of a satire on cultural or political things rather than something more character based.

I don't agree that it's because the drawings are flat and lifeless.

Jorge Garrido said...

>I don't agree that it's because the drawings are flat and lifeless.

I'd say it's both but leaning toward John's theory. To give a specific example, in one episode of South Park they use the sh-word 162 times, which sounds edgy, until you relaize the point of the episode was to demonstrate how overuse of shocking words can lead to boredom of them.

"The episode questions whether there is an empty significance to taboo words and ridicules the relationship between television networks that use shock and the viewers that are predictably captivated. ABC's NYPD Blue, a show known for controversial network television firsts, is specifically parodied within the episode when a show named Cop Drama on "HBC" first introduces uncensored "shit". The creators of the show argued that they were angry because "if a drama or a serious show breaks the boundaries, it's 'bold' and 'artistic', but if a comedy show [like theirs] tries it, it's just stupid. or shitty. or bullshit." "

Anonymous said...

>>You can see Ren's toungue come from his mouth to the back of his teeth to stress the end "t" in the word "treat".. (I hope I explained this well enough).. Well the point is, that you will never see any kind of this attention to detail or subtle acting in modern cartoons.. You rock John..<<

John had nothing to do with that action. That was a flourish added by animator Ron Zorman. (if it's the scene I think you're referring to) A lot of the subtleties were added by the animators, not the layout artists or director.

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

John, I have a perhaps ignorant question.

If youre such a stickler for making a character look solid and constructed, why do you have Stimpy's eye often intentionally drawn right over top of his nose (as if they're pasted on the drawing afterwards)?

I think the expressions would be more effective if Stimpy's eyes acted like real eyes instead of floating flat ovals (a point you made in a previous post).

Are you saying that construction is only important MOST of the time, but can be thrown out for the sake of an individual expression? This seems to go against what you've been teaching us all along...

Sorry if I'm asking stupid questions...I have no intention of offending you.

Anonymous said...

I don't think one can fully "feel" the same emotions of someone else to a tee. Emotions are too complex for that.

Nico said...

John-

I didn't know if you had already answered this in a previous post, but I remember you saying that there was some kind of inside joke behind the entire cartoon, with the animation as great as it is, happening underwater, therefore "disrupting" the animation. Can you explain this??

JohnK said...

>>If youre such a stickler for making a character look solid and constructed, <<

I'm not. I'm for creative license- if it is on purpose and done by someone who can already draw well.

I'm not for "styles" that are just piles of drawing mistakes, like The Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows.

Styles that are excuses to not have to have any control over what you do.

JohnK said...

>>but I remember you saying that there was some kind of inside joke behind the entire cartoon, with the animation as great as it is, happening underwater<<

Hi Nico, no I don't know any secret story about that. Why would it need one?

I never thought about it until I read animation historians making a big deal out of it.

Lots of cartoons take place underwater, don't they? Betty Boop isn't a fish, but I've seen her in stories at the bottom of the sea.

JohnK said...

>>John had nothing to do with that action. That was a flourish added by animator Ron Zorman. (if it's the scene I think you're referring to) A lot of the subtleties were added by the animators, not the layout artists or director.<<

Carbunkle had great animators and I'm glad they took advantage of a director who allowed and encouraged them to add their own touches.

No one ever did that for me when I worked at other studios, I'll tell you that! That's why I had to start my own studio.

Nico said...

That's cool! Yeah, I thought I read in a previous post (it might have been someone else's comment) that there was some kind of joke behind the entire thing being underwater. oh well!

This is one of my favorite Bugs Bunnys too. That dog is one of the best Bugs villains ever.

Peggy said...

Every scene I've done to dialogue starts with listening to the track until I can hear the music of it. The timing, the pitch. Those accents are there just asking to be hit.

Well, maybe not every scene - there've been deadlines - but I really don't see how anyone can call themselves a cartoonist and not do that as much as possible.

Unless they just have the damn script to board from, which is combined with half-hearted head-bob timing direction overseas by someone who doesn't even speak the language. sigh

Ryan G. said...

>>John had nothing to do with that action. That was a flourish added by animator Ron Zorman.<<

Wow! I guess I just figured everything was intentional and worked out in John's vision before being sent out to anitmate. Its great that individual animators would put their own little blurbs into the animation. In this case it was great.

John, Would animators add their own things that did'nt work for you?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Awesome post, John! I don't take any voice actor seriously who doesn't know how to accent dialogue. I can't stand naturalistic acting either in live action or in animation. It's OK for an actor to make us believe he's being natural but he should use artifice to do it. Good dialogue is a form of music.

gir said...

Hey, did mel Blanc do the voice of the dog in that clip too?

lyris said...

Yeah, I've always thought that was true about South Park and other barely drawn cartoons - the fact that the drawings are so recycled and cold and "basic" (polite term) stops you from really connecting with it.

JohnK said...

>>I can't stand naturalistic acting either in live action or in animation. <<

I don't know any cartoon that uses "naturalistic" acting. Most modern cartoons have normal people holding their noses and squeaking when they do the voices.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what I want to see.. another cartoon show with college age kids where the main character always has his hands in his pockets and evertime someone says something to him, he looks totally uninterestedand bored, stares at the person for awhile, and then answers in an uninterested and sarcastic tone. itd be great for Cartoon Network. it's what the world needs. Beavis n Butthead, look out!

Anonymous said...

i believe i just described Clone High or some other shit like that. I wasnt comparing it to Beavis and Butthead, because B&B was hilarious.

Brett W. Thompson said...

So fascinating!! I'm going to study that clip and remember what you said here for when I next try to do dialogue.

I love the emotional intensity behind your work, John :)

I think you're inspiring and teaching the next generation of animators :) So amazing. We hunger for this kind of thing and it makes us so happy to eat it up :)

Brett W. Thompson said...

Ahh, I just wanted to mention that the black and white slow-mo of the paddle impacting and twisting George Liquor's head is one of the most hilarious series of images I've seen!!

Comparable is the yak's incredible freak-out (inspired by "Porky in Egypt"?) in "Canadian Kilted Yaksmen". My friend and I as kids rewound and rewatched that one part a whole bunch of times, absolutely laughing our asses off.

I don't really care said...

...Not that I'm saying your cartoons are edgy for the sake of it, or that any violence or dirty jokes are out of context, just maybe you can get away with more if it's more of a satire on cultural or political things rather than something more character based.

I don't agree that it's because the drawings are flat and lifeless.


Here's why I'd say that's wrong:

When you discard the visceral component, i.e. competent, detailed rendering, you reduce your subject to an abstraction --a kind of diagram. A coroner uses a diagram to show exactly what grisly death befell a victim, but it's a lot less disturbing to look at than a photograph of the same deceased. Why? Because of your detachment. You understand intellectually that the diagram represents the same thing, but you have no visceral connection it.

here's a scene I saw on FAMILY GUY: Meg was about to engage in teenage lesbian sex while a pervert with a camcorder was hiding in the closet.

I suppose you could call that a satire on culture, but it's really character-based. It's just that the characters are not handled with any real talent or conviction.

Imagine if a director like John imbued that scene with real feeling --somebody with enough rendering power to enhance and exaggerate the scene's elements to the point where you are no longer even sure you should be watching it. What if the pervert felt like a pervert instead of just representing the abstract idea of an apparently "benign" one? What if the underage lesbians seemed like they might actually be getting excited, or if it even titilated you?

It would never make air, that's what. It's only their lack of any commitment to the scene that lets it play in primetime mainstream. I doubt if they even know that they got away with it primarily because, visually, they didn't really mean it.

But if you are going to really commit to finding maximum visual and visceral comedy impact in things like shit and vomit and boogers, and sex, and violence, or whatever is culturally taboo, some people are always gonna say you went too far. It might be funny as hell to me, but it's gonna be sick to somebody, and the better the artist, the sicker they will say it is.

Anonymous said...

great point about the quality of drawings adding a disturbing touch. My 1st viewing of Mans Best Friend was very unsettling and actually hard to sit through; something i've never expected from a cartoon

tim kelly said...

The most visceral scene in R&S is Ren at the bed in Stimpy's Fan Club, in a stunning soliloquy that showcases Ren's insane violent side.

This is exactly the scene I was going to mention. John's vocal performance is tops here, especially the line "How easily I could... end the farce." Probably the most frightening visual in an R&S cartoon, what with Ren clutching his swollen head, the fire, and the broken window.

Craig D said...

Quote: "Nowadays, most voice tracks are done by amateur actors and have very little accenting in the dialogue. Very monotonal droning is what I hear, so the animators have to sort of randomly bob the head around just to 'keep the scene alive.'"

You hear droning; I hear non-stop shouting. Either way - Monotony! I guess one way to break into cartoon voice acting these days is to be the series creator and insist on doing key voices. (Of course, that sweeping statement lumps you in with the likes of Disney, Mike Judge, Parker, Stone, etc.)


Quote: "Flat drawings and animation put the viewer at a distance from the actions and characters on screen."

That simple sentence really sums it up! Lots of meat in this post - THANKS!

David Germain said...

Ken Harris for example, doesn't. He bobs the head around seemingly at random, and not in time with the voice accents

One example of this is in 8 Ball Bunny (by Chuck Jones c. 1950) I beleive. In the scene where Bugs has just met the penguin and is shouting at him "What's the idea of coming here in the middle of the night and disturbing a rabbit's slumber?" The head bobs back & forth quite a bit.
I tried it this way for lip sync assignment back in animation school and the teacher told me it was wrong. So I redid it with much fewer pose drawings and without the head bob and he was satisfied. I would love to put that example on line but the file doesn't quite work for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I just want to second the comments about Stimpy's Fan Club. When I was a tyke and R&S was in its prime, I absolutely loved it, especially the hilarious psychodramas like Space Madness (very quotable for a 3rd/4th grader). However, Stimpy's Fan Club scared the living shit out of me. Ren's soliloqy was truly disturbing, and all the bruised colors and incredibly effective music really sell the scene. I watch it nowadays and love it, but I had trouble sleeping for at least a week after that one came on. Where were those dyke Nick execs on that one?? Oh, and "How easily I could... end the farce" is officially the most Peter Lorre-esque line John's every delivered.

Anonymous said...

>>His animation of the original Red Hot Riding Hood has some very specific and original ideas and expressions.<<

I see what you mean. I wonder, too, if Blair drew the wolf's expression that appeared early in that cartoon... the one where the wolf does a slow take/burn listening to the sickening narration. I can't recall a take featuring that subtle but effective expression happening in the remainder of Avery's MGM cartoons (or at least none that stick with me).
Brian

Dr.Awkward said...

>>
here's a scene I saw on FAMILY GUY: Meg was about to engage in teenage lesbian sex while a pervert with a camcorder was hiding in the closet.
I suppose you could call that a satire on culture, but it's really character-based. It's just that the characters are not handled with any real talent or conviction.
Imagine if a director like John imbued that scene with real feeling --somebody with enough rendering power to enhance and exaggerate the scene's elements to the point where you are no longer even sure you should be watching it. What if the pervert felt like a pervert instead of just representing the abstract idea of an apparently "benign" one? What if the underage lesbians seemed like they might actually be getting excited, or if it even titilated you?
It would never make air, that's what. It's only their lack of any commitment to the scene that lets it play in primetime mainstream. I doubt if they even know that they got away with it primarily because, visually, they didn't really mean it.
But if you are going to really commit to finding maximum visual and visceral comedy impact in things like shit and vomit and boogers, and sex, and violence, or whatever is culturally taboo, some people are always gonna say you went too far. It might be funny as hell to me, but it's gonna be sick to somebody, and the better the artist, the sicker they will say it is.
<<

That content itself is used merely for shock value. MacFarlane is simply too lazy to think up actual good jokes, so he resorts to cheap "sex" jokes. Why in the hell would John waste his time with "Family Guy" ideas?

To me, it's hard for something to be "sexy" and "funny" at the same time. NBF used "sex" to stimulate you, not necessarily to make you "laugh". The acting/REacting, as well as the well crafted dialogue, is what makes you laugh.

Family Guy, on the other hand, tries to use sex as the joke itself, and fails, because you're actually laughing at the poor attempt to rouse you with the shitty drawings of the girls. They aren't very "sexy", because they are poorly drawn.

I agree with The Butcher: the REAL reason people laugh at shows like Family Guy isn't because it's so "funny", but because it's such bullshit that they pity it. That's embarassing! They won't admit that, though.

P.S.- Why do some men rave about "hot lesbian action" in the first place? It's not "hot" to me! I don't even find bedroom scenes with a MAN and a woman arousing (for obvious reasons)! You don't hear WOMEN raving about "hot FAGGOT action", do you?

Spizzerinktum said...

South Park can get away with bloody murder because it is so obviously not happening.

George Liquor in "Man's Best Friend" pissed off a lot of people who hate men because everything he does seems like it is really happening.


You and Eddie are giving me goosebumps today, with your excruciatingly true observations, put so simply.

Ren's Toothache, more than any other Spümcø cartoon, still makes every bone in my body snap in half after all these years. It is timelessly cringeworthy.

Is there a reliable biography of Mel Blanc anywhere? I've always wondered what he was like in person, and am looking forward to more posts about him.

Also, who worked with Mel on the manipulation of the voices? Or did he do all that his own self?

Brett W. Thompson said...

Spizzerinktum, if you're curious about Mel's life, you should really check out his autobiography, "That's Not All Folks!".

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446390895/104-8873454-2919938?v=glance&n=283155

It's got some really great stories in it, such as where Mel came up with Woody Woodpecker's laugh :)

P.C. Unfunny said...

"Is there a reliable biography of Mel Blanc anywhere? I've always wondered what he was like in person, and am looking forward to more posts about him."


"That's Not All Folks !" written by Mel Blanc and Philip Bashe and released in 1988.

P.C. Unfunny said...

That content itself is used merely for shock value. MacFarlane is simply too lazy to think up actual good jokes, so he resorts to cheap "sex" jokes.

Exactly Doc. Family Guy's "humor" is either just plain shock value, random pop culture references, or idiotic rambling between characters. I can't stand when people come on this blog in and tell John should work on Family Guy or South Park, John is far above them. Telling John K. to work thoae shwos whould be like if you told Norman Rockwell to finger paint with eight-year olds.

Spizzerinktum said...

dr. awkward said,
I don't even find bedroom scenes with a MAN and a woman arousing (for obvious reasons)!

What are these obvious reasons? Did I miss something? Are you a 17th-century Viennese castrato? :-D

Or maybe you're like me: You can't get turned on by porn if you're forced to look at poorly lit butt acne.

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

Cool! Thanks, brett and pc!

Anonymous said...

>>Wow! I guess I just figured everything was intentional and worked out in John's vision before being sent out to anitmate. Its great that individual animators would put their own little blurbs into the animation. In this case it was great.<<

You'd probably be amazed if you knew all the uncredited contributions made by the animators. All the talk focuses on the layouts and none on the animation. Without good timing and animation, the jokes would blow.

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

This is a great topic.

I was thinking about this the other day when I finally saw Onward and Upward. This was the episode I'd been hearing about whenever anybody spoke of APC, and I gotta be honest, everybody I knew hated it. And the complaints were generally the same. "The gross-out jokes were extreme and pointless", "The homoeroticism went too far", "It's nothing like the old series", etc. I saw a clip of the bed-room scene - out of context - and it was strange seeing Ren is a strangely affectionate, seductive mode.

So all this propaganda had settled in, and I came into the cartoon with low expectations. After watching it, I felt as though I had just seen a Ren & Stimpy cartoon. What the hell were people on about?

The idea of Ren and Stimpy substituting one filthy mode of existence for another - in an effort to climb the social ladder - is hilarious. It totally puts all the gross-out stuff in context. People were harping on the content but totally ignored the presentation. (My favorite bit was when Ren "gives a rat's ass", with his mumbled aside to the audience. It seemed very Popeye to me.)

People usually see this "distancing" effect as a virtue, and will defend certain things on those grounds. I Don't Care's example with Family Guy was perfect, and it's one of the things I find so unsettling about the show. I guess you could call it nihilism. It's significantly more nihilistic than South Park.

Though South Park does indeed get away with murder.

Jeremiah said...

>> You don't hear WOMEN raving about "hot FAGGOT action", do you?

Have you spoken with many women, Dr. Awkward?

katzenjammer studios said...

Thanks for everything at Comic Con John! We really enjoyed seeing You, Katie, and Marla! We posted a drawing you did on our blog at KatzenjammerStudios.com. My buddy also got a photo op with the amazing Jim Smith. Hope you could link us up. Thanks man!

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on! Family Guy is pretty damn funny.

The problem with going on and on about the art in R&S is that there is no other to compare it to. So yeah, its gonna look good.

Franky said...

You don't hear WOMEN raving about "hot FAGGOT action", do you?

It's called Yaoi. It's quite popular.

I don't really care said...

Why in the hell would John waste his time with "Family Guy" ideas?

Not the point, at all.

Dr.Awkward said...

>>
What are these obvious reasons? Did I miss something? Are you a 17th-century Viennese castrato? :-D
<<

I don't wanna see "more than one" anything, ESPECIALLY if I have to look at a MAN's genitalia!

>>
Have you spoken with many women, Dr. Awkward?
<<

I'm sorry, but I don't talk sex with strangers, not even if they're female. I'm not from San Francisco. : P Therefore, I've never heard of "yaoi", as Frankie calls it. I didn't even know what the hell a "golden shower" was until someone told me, and now that I think about it, I wish they never did!

>>
Not the point, at all.
<<

You missed MY point, which I stated above the quote you picked.

Jeremiah said...

>> I'm sorry, but I don't talk sex with strangers, not even if they're female.

Suffice it to say, a lot of women are very turned on by it.

Just more information you didn't want or need.

Louisa The Last said...

Just have to say...I LIKE Family Guy. I just like it for different reasons than I like things like classic Looney Tunes. They have different goals, and it's fine with me...I'm not going to give Family Guy any awards for expressive animation, but that doesn't mean I can't find it funny. Don't like the jokes? Okay, but plenty of people don't get or like the humor of Ren and Stimpy, either.

In fact, when I was a kid, I would change the channel instantly when R&S came on. Looking back, I can realize that the reason for that is exactly what we've been talking about here: the animation was so effective that it all felt way too real, and it was disturbing. I love it now, but back then...ugh.

I never understood why Nickelodeon took it on as a kid's show... except maybe because "it's animated! That's for kids, right? Oh look, this Jhonen Vasquez guy draws comic books about a kid, maybe we should give him a show too..."

Anyway, John, be proud. Your show made me gag as a child.

Ben Pixen said...

Wow, great cartoon. I have never seen it before.

I have been going through some of your old posts and I dont understand what you mean by "flat cartoons", do you think you could explain it?

Anonymous said...

John,is there any chance in hell of you ever getting to do some new looney toons? Would you even want to?

Anonymous said...

>>George Liquor in "Man's Best Friend" pissed off a lot of people who hate men because everything he does seems like it is really happening. The Nickelodeon ladies hated him so much that they took the show away from me.


Aw...is someone bitter? Just an eeeensy bit?

Dr.Awkward said...

About "Yaoi",

"Quite popular"? "Alot of women are very turned on by it"? I must live a sheltered life, 'cause nobody ever told me about it. I'm glad they never did!

I said it once, and I'll say it again:

"I'm not from San Francisco. : P"

JohnK said...

>>You'd probably be amazed if you knew all the uncredited contributions made by the animators. All the talk focuses on the layouts and none on the animation. Without good timing and animation, the jokes would blow.<<


Well, they're not exactly uncredited.
I talk about how great Carbunkle's animation is all the time and every animator has a credit on the show.

I agree that bad timing can kill jokes. Some overseas studios just inbetween our layouts and don't add breakdowns.

I had to teach the last studio I used how to animate and do interior timing and then they produced Stimpy's Pregnant which has great animation in it.

A lot of the timing is dictated by the drawings themselves that we do in the layouts. The Carbunkle animators are good at understanding the meaning of the poses, so they know how the timing should feel. Overseas studios usually don't sense the drawings and just time by rote. (Rough Draft excepted) Actually, most LA studios use formula timing too.

I'd love to know which animators did what scenes at Carbunkle, so if you know, share the information!

I can only talk about art that I witnessed happening in my studio.

BTW, snappy timing by itself without expressive drawings doesn't amount to much either!

Anonymous said...

What about pilots?

Franky said...

to bring the topic back -
Thanks for another great post, John.
The weight in every movement is amazing. It's posts on your blog that have made me go back and reexamine my Looney Tunes collections and look at the cartoons in a very different way.

Ryan Kramer said...

great post. That theory seems to hold true...draw flat,audience is distanced, you can get away with anything. draw solid, audience relates more, and are thus easily offended.

lyris said...

>> ">> You don't hear WOMEN raving about "hot FAGGOT action", do you?"

Welcome to the 1950s!

The Butcher said...

"BTW, snappy timing by itself without expressive drawings doesn't amount to much either!"

A cheap laugh maybe. And I can totally see what you mean about these shows just batting dialouge back and forth. Once you bring these things to light, you realize how annoying it is. If you find something funny, there's no time to laugh or you'll miss a shitload of other jokes.

I think any comedian with his head on straight will tell you that timing and delivery is the most important thing when telling jokes. Maybe someone should tell Carlos Mencia.

the clownninja said...

i think part of the reason cartoons are all angular these days is because curves are trickier to animate than straight lines. an arm drawn with a compound curve that describes different tensions in the form, makes the animator have to control each of those curves as they describe information for the entirety of the shot. while an arm drawn with a dead line from wrist to elbow doesn't. There are plenty of animators that can do it, i was just watching Home on the Range, which bored the shit out of me because of its tepid story, but the animation is amazing, why don't we focus on the flip side of the coin. What made that movie suck? It wasn't the animators.

Jorge Garrido said...

>Let's go back to that philosophy sometime, ok?

God bless you, John K.

Roberto González said...

Great post. However I also find South Park style effective for the reason he gave. Sometimes I think it's funnier if you think it's really not happening and otherwise it would be too disturbing. I think this works for South Park and not for Family Guy. Family Guy is in a kind of middle road, in which they seem to add more expression and dimensions to the drawings but they are in fact more boring to look at that the ones in South Park.

This is not a gross scene but in the South Park movie I really like the scene with Kenny in Hell and that realistic backgroung in Maya. There is not any attempt of combining the 3D with the 2D and Kenny himself looks very flat, but that's what makes the scene visually funny for me.

Still, I'm playing devil's advocate a little here since I actually enjoy some South Park moments, but I find a lot of episodes and gags from that show bland or boring as hell too. And I obviously prefer the style John is defending...except when the scene is really gross. In that scenes, I'm ok for realistic drawings but it is also more subtle if the action takes places off. Sorry to bring this again, but I'm not for the poo in Firedogs 2 Part 2...I prefer scenes like the one in Fake Dad when Kovalsky take his pants off. Everything seems real and nasty enough...but we don't actually see Kovalsky's butt. I think that would have been disgusting and it would have actually killed the joke, cause I can imagine how horrible the imagine was looking at Ren's face.

Dr.Awkward said...

>>
There are plenty of animators that can do it, i was just watching Home on the Range, which bored the shit out of me because of its tepid story, but the animation is amazing, why don't we focus on the flip side of the coin. What made that movie suck? It wasn't the animators.
<<

Home On The Range is a bad example. It was angular, dialoue-heavy, and used stock expressions/poses, just like any other Disney movie or animated movie in general of these days. So therefore, it WAS the animators who "made that movie suck"!

>>
Great post. However I also find South Park style effective for the reason he gave. Sometimes I think it's funnier if you think it's really not happening and otherwise it would be too disturbing. I think this works for South Park and not for Family Guy. Family Guy is in a kind of middle road, in which they seem to add more expression and dimensions to the drawings but they are in fact more boring to look at that the ones in South Park.
This is not a gross scene but in the South Park movie I really like the scene with Kenny in Hell and that realistic backgroung in Maya. There is not any attempt of combining the 3D with the 2D and Kenny himself looks very flat, but that's what makes the scene visually funny for me.
Still, I'm playing devil's advocate a little here since I actually enjoy some South Park moments, but I find a lot of episodes and gags from that show bland or boring as hell too. And I obviously prefer the style John is defending...except when the scene is really gross. In that scenes, I'm ok for realistic drawings but it is also more subtle if the action takes places off. Sorry to bring this again, but I'm not for the poo in Firedogs 2 Part 2...I prefer scenes like the one in Fake Dad when Kovalsky take his pants off. Everything seems real and nasty enough...but we don't actually see Kovalsky's butt. I think that would have been disgusting and it would have actually killed the joke, cause I can imagine how horrible the imagine was looking at Ren's face.
<<

I can't wait to hear what John has to say about this...

I don't really care said...

You missed MY point, which I stated above the quote you picked.

You said McFarlane did it for shock value. But it wasn't shocking at all, it was so bland that it barely registered as what it actually was. That's my point.In the hands of somebody capable, content like that would have set off all kinds of alarm bells, and he'd get tarred and feathered.

Louisa The Last said...

I like South Park. I like Family Guy. I like old episodes of the Simpsons, I like Futurama...I even like Aqua Teen. On the flip side, I also like R&S, Looney Tunes, classic Disney, Ub Iwerks...I mean, is there a reason I can't like both? I like Citizen Kane AND 50 First Dates.

Back to the topic of the post...I'd like to see some examples of "flat fingers." I can almost picture that, I'm just wondering what shows in particular are guilty of it, and how it got started as a style.

Oh, and Dr. Awkward? Come on, I'm from Amish country Pennsylvania, and now I live in Texas...and I'm a lesbian who's known what yaoi was since I was 14. If you don't talk about sex, why bring up your views on it?

Jorge Garrido said...

>in which they seem to add more expression and dimensions to the drawings but they are in fact more boring to look at that the ones in South Park.

Wrong, the charatcers in Family Guy never change expressions except for adding eyelids when they're mad. The only two poses are standing and standing while putting their hands on thier hips. South Park has a much greater dimension and more expressioons. (I'm not saying it's good, only that it's alot better than Family Guy)

The extremely limited stop-motion stock acting of South Park is the opposite of what McKimson achieved in Clmapett's cartoons. I completely agree with John, his characters are cartoony yet seem so real that when they get violent it's much more visceral and provocative. Add to that aesthetically pleasing, and a dash of movie magic and you have the recipe for great animation!

Everyone makes a big deal about the "edgy" look of Ren & Stimpy but it's all from old cartoons, that rubbery, fleshy, wrinkly look. I find it ironic that I was never allowed to watch Ren & Stimpy when I was a kid (in addition to Simpsons, South Park, Animaniacs, Rugrats, Dexter's Lab, SpongeBob, and lots of others) so my superior alternative was a tape of PD classics like Falling Hare and The Machanical Monsters.

Roberto González said...

Well, I say "they seem to"... They actually have more "dimension", I guess, they look a little less flat. I'm not sure if South Park has more expressions...probably, even if they are all drawed in that "peculiar" style.

Anyway we both agree SP is funnier to look at than FG, even it both are bad drawings SP seems to take some advantage of it while FG is just copying Simpson style less all the good elements in that series.

I don't really care said...

Just for the record, I never intended to turn this thread into a long discussion of the merits of either Family Guy or hot teenage lesbian action.

Jeremiah said...

Whereas I had had every intention of steering this discussion toward the merits of Family Guy and hot teenage lesbian action.

stiff said...

I dunno if this'll be seen since there's been another post already, but since this post is about voice acting syncing up with the animation, I had a question about exactly that in "Ren Seeks Help":

Does anybody else think Bauza's acting in the opening scene is almost too good for the animation? When I watch it I kinda feel like the animation undersells Stimpy's infuriated voice; not that the animation is bad, just that Bauza's acting is so passionate in that scene that it had to be near impossible to make the animation right.

Dr.Awkward said...

>>
You said McFarlane did it for shock value. But it wasn't shocking at all, it was so bland that it barely registered as what it actually was. That's my point.In the hands of somebody capable, content like that would have set off all kinds of alarm bells, and he'd get tarred and feathered.
<<

I agree that FG is bland; it's a poor ATTEMPT at shock. But John doesn't care about "edgy"! How many times does he have to repeat himself?

He doesn't NEED to use recent controvercies that already recieve shitloads of publicity and attention. He doesn't NEED to put "emotion" into cheap lesbian jokes to tell the story, because he comes up with his OWN ideas, which are much BETTER than the stuff FG shits out for each of their episodes. His sex scenes don't NEED to go all "Brokeback Mountain", trying to "understand the feelings of poor, discriminated individuals of a different sexual orientation"! The Butcher already pointed out that R&S don't HAVE a specific, constant sex or gender (or was it just Stimpy?)!

>>
Oh, and Dr. Awkward? Come on, I'm from Amish country Pennsylvania, and now I live in Texas...and I'm a lesbian who's known what yaoi was since I was 14. If you don't talk about sex, why bring up your views on it?
<<

I didn't say I NEVER talk about it, I just said I don't talk about it with complete strangers! Would you do that? If so, then have you no shame? Have you no soul? Were you raised by DISCIPLINING, LOVING PARENTS, or by COMMUNE-STYLE "BUDDIES"? I doubt you yourself were raised in an Amish household!

Louisa The Last said...

"I didn't say I NEVER talk about it, I just said I don't talk about it with complete strangers! Would you do that? If so, then have you no shame? Have you no soul? Were you raised by DISCIPLINING, LOVING PARENTS, or by COMMUNE-STYLE "BUDDIES"? I doubt you yourself were raised in an Amish household! "

You're talking about it with complete strangers right now. On the internet, no less. Why are my parents coming into this, not to mention comments about Brokeback Mountain and derisiveness about anti-gay discrimination? In short, dude...what does this have to do with animation?

Anyway...personally, I love how Stimpy seems to randomly switch genders and sexualities...it reminds me very much of classic cartoons, with Bugs dressing as a woman, or kissing Elmer Fudd. It allows the writers to play with male/male and male/female dynamics without adding new characters.

I don't really care said...

He doesn't NEED to use recent controvercies that already recieve shitloads of publicity and attention. He doesn't NEED to put "emotion" into cheap lesbian jokes to tell the story, because he comes up with his OWN ideas, which are much BETTER than the stuff FG shits out for each of their episodes.

Once again, this is not the point. I'm not talking about what John should do or what McFarlane should do. I'm using an example to illustrate how crappy drawings distance you from the content and thereby allow a show to "get away with murder", in service of the topic. That's all. The end.

Anonymous said...

It`s funny how jealous John K is of South Park. Is it because you never were or never will be as succesful as South Park, or do you still have disillusions of Trey Parker and Matt Stone stealing Mr Hankey from you, the self-proclaimed inventor of talking poo?

Dr.Awkward said...

>>
not to mention comments about Brokeback Mountain and derisiveness about anti-gay discrimination?
<<

I wasn't talking to you.

>>
It`s funny how jealous John K is of South Park. Is it because you never were or never will be as succesful as South Park, or do you still have disillusions of Trey Parker and Matt Stone stealing Mr Hankey from you, the self-proclaimed inventor of talking poo?
<<

R&S wasn't successful? How "succesful" is South Park, really? It's only been on for about half a decade!

I'll let John sort this one out.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, jealousy. That explains it. LOL.

Talking turds are everywhere. Just look in the mirror.

Ted said...

South Park premiered on Comedy Central in August 1997. which os more like about a decade than it is like about half a decade.

Dr.Awkward said...

I'm sorry, that was Family Guy. THAT'S only been around for about half a decade. "The Simpsons" took at least 5 seasons to grow stale. SP & FG have been stale pretty much since the beginning.

Jorge Garrido said...

"Such a "gag" invites a kinesthetic response, and not a pleasant one"

-Michael Barrier, speaking of the Alice Comedies, parodied by Stephen Worth on the Lost Episodes DVD. It seemed relevant. He was speaking of the hairy tongue gag in Naked Beach Frenzy. This is exatcly the kind of "visceral gag," as Worth calls it, that makes Ren & Stimpy so great and everything else NOT...

Joshua A. said...

Dr. Awkward, for the love of God shut up! So you don't like Family Guy or South Park. Most of us who watch cartoons do like those shows.

I'm not saying that the animation is a good as John's, but the shows still amuse the hell out of me.

And the fact is, even though I love Ren & Stimpy, and I love John's work, he is not as successful as the other cartoons we have been mentioning. He probably could be if he sold out, but he won't, so he isn't.

JSL said...

Let's be realistic.

The problem many people have with John K.'s cartoons is that the shock humor is actually meant to shock you.

-JSL

Jorge Garrido said...

>The problem many people have with John K.'s cartoons is that the shock humor is actually meant to shock you.

Quite the opposite.

Jonathan Weiner said...

I may be wrong, but I think that McKimson was one of the more underrated animators at Warner Bros. Clampett and Jones seemed to get a lot more recognition than he did, and while I am also a huge fan of Clampett and his wonderfully surreal and rubbery style, I absolutely adore McKimson.

One of the biggest reasons is how he handled dialogue. I loved his style, which seemed to emphasize wonderfully "jowly" gestures and pronounced action in the bottom lip and jaw. This is especially evident on the Tasmanian Devil, (who is unfortunately, annoyingly overexposed in current culture, but was still a wonderful character.) as well as "Dog" from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. And of course, let us not forget Pete Puma. I think Stan Freberg was brilliant in his voice acting for that character.

I think McKimson had a very similar philosophy to yours, and most likely avoided ever drawing the same facial expression twice. (Quite unlike Jones.)

David Germain said...

Hey, Mr. Weiner. If you like McKimson, then you'll love the post I made about him on my blog. B)

Jonathan Weiner said...

David, great post! I'm so glad you mentioned Rebel Rabbit! I love that one!

"Stop steaming up my glasses!"