Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fox Pop (1942) - Bobe Cannon-Chuck Jones

In early Chuck Jones cartoons, Chuck gave his animators a lot of freedom to move things in their own styles. They had to use Chuck's key poses, but each animator had his own way of breaking them down and getting from one pose to the next.

This is an animator that I really like to watch-I'm not 100% who it is, but I'm assuming it's Bobe Cannon because it looks a lot like animation in earlier Clampett cartoons when Cannon worked for him.

If anyone knows for sure who this is, let me know!



















Whoever it is draws great and moves everything in a very flowing way-almost like liquid wrapped in a tight elastic skin that can bend and stretch when moving fast.

Nothing moves directly from one Chuck pose to the next-it moves in complex figure 8 type formations and waves, or it "smears".

It's not exactly what you would call funny movement, but it is beautiful and artistic and very distinct.

It makes Chuck's early films very entertaining to watch just from an animation point of view. When I first discovered this style, I was mesmerized-I guess I still am. It's a reason to animate, rather than just trying to imitate reality, or worse- to have no animation skill or fun at all, like today's cartoons.

Chuck's later cartoons were more restrictive in terms of movement, and for that matter, oddly enough, so were Bobe Cannon's.

Cannon's style (if this is him) gradually got stiffer, first in Tex Avery's cartoons at MGM, then in Cannon's own cartoons for UPA.

Fox Pop (1942) - Bobe Cannon
Uploaded by chuckchillout8

Clampett told me lots of stories about Cannon, how he got his name, how mild mannered he was, yet he was athletically built.

By the way, doesn't Chuck draw weird hands?? There's something perverted looking about this one, even though it is very well drawn.


65 comments:

Thad K said...

I believe that is Cannon's animation. His animation tended to look more rubbery than the other Jones animators. The ending of My Favorite Duck is his work - and there's a lot of Cannon in Pvt. Snafu vs. Malaria Mike, which mainly takes place on Snafu's bare ass.

THAD

Rodrigo said...

So, when you do your cartoons, do you do this same technique? Key poses and then creatively fluid in-betweens?

I ask this, because I've started on a animation test, and that's the route I'm going with right now. Coincidentally, I found out today that these arcs/figure 8's you mention are incredibly important. I had a shitty looking transition between 2 poses, but after some tweaking and aligning the main masses to respective curved paths, it looks pretty slick (if I do say so myself.)

I only got 4 seconds of animation, but it's been a hellavu learning trip.

Danne8a said...

Chuck was a wonderfui artist indeed!
But there definately seems to be something phallic going on with that hand!

Evan said...

Oh man I remember loving the way that fox was animated has a kid. great cartoon.

Peggy said...

It's so full! So much overlap and settle. This is such a simple design but it's handled so fluidly.

Ultimately it feels oddly lacking in pep for what I think of as how a WB short should look, but I'm wondering if this is a result of the Flash video compression screwing over subtleties in timing - I felt like I was seeing some smears that should've vanished into the motion, now and then.

Ted said...

How is "Bobe" pronounced? Bowb? Bowbee? Bowbay? Bobby (bahbee)? Bob (bahb)?

JohnK said...

Clampett told me they used to call him "Bobo" and I guess that got shortened to "Bobe" after awhile.

Anonymous said...

John,

Did Bobe invent those smear inbetweens in "The Dover Boys"? I heard from one old timer that it was Bobe who figured it out but don't know for certain.

Tom Minton

jert said...

awesome post, theres allways something new to look at on this blog

Ryan G. said...

Yeah, That hand is a little wierd.. I think its the way he draws the Knuckle, using parenthases ( ) to define the shape. Also the hair on the hand is ever so creepy.

Anonymous said...

I actually think the animation is better on shows like family guy.

Cannon and Chucks stuff may have more "artistic merit" and "craftsmanship" but family guys really about presenting ideas in the funniest way

JohnK said...

That's about as idiotic an admission I have ever heard.

JohnK said...

Hi Tom.

I used to think so, but I've found lots of smears in 30s cartoons, at Disney too.

He may have come up with the idea to make them huge and noticeable.

Anonymous said...

Well think about it, when people talk about animated shows they dont say "you wouldnt believe South Park last night! The animation on Cartman had a really unique flow to it, and the composition was fantastic!"

Animators are just tools for writers, you can say "hire me 40 brilliant animators" and have it granted in an hour, and then throw them in the trash when you're done with them. You can't replace geniuses like Seth Mcfarlane, and Jon Swartzwelder however

JohnK said...

>>Well think about it, when people talk about animated shows they dont say "you wouldnt believe South Park last night! The animation on Cartman had a really unique flow to it, and the composition was fantastic!"<<

They sure as hell don't.

>>Animators are just tools for writers, you can say "hire me 40 brilliant animators" and have it granted in an hour,<<

Ridiculously stupid.

>>You can't replace geniuses like Seth Mcfarlane, and Jon Swartzwelder however

<<

They are a dime a dozen. Anyone can make up pop culture references. Those shows look like they are written by high school kids.

It takes tons of talent and years of practice and experience to be a good animator. Let alone a cartoon director.

Max Ward said...

Did Chuck Jones draw all the keys for all of his cartoons? Did many cartoon directors do this?

Anonymous said...

good writing is more than just "pop culture references"

Do you even know who Jon Swartzwelder is?

cemenTIMental said...

Yet another anonymous troll, what a surprise...

JohnK said...

>>good writing is more than just "pop culture references"<<

Tell that to your heroes.

>>Do you even know who Jon Swartzwelder is? <<

I don't know who "anonymous" is either or what brilliant things he has written that give him the authority to tell an accomplished writer what's what.

Oliver A said...

This anonymous guy is obviously a troll. His flame baits are way too obvious.

Oliver_A said...

As music should belong to musicians, animation should belong to animators alone. Series like South Park and Family Guy claim to be animation, yet, they are hardly more than very poor illustrated radio plays. Considering the "writing", especially South Park and Family Guy relate mainly on pop culture feferences, which no-one will understand in 20-25 years from now on. Simpsons used to have great writing in the past, especially the John Schwartzwelder episodes, but it could also work as a live-action series. Nothing really specifically designed to benefit from the powers of animation.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"good writing is more than just "pop culture references"

Do you even know who Jon Swartzwelder is?"

Why does it matter? This is a post about Chuck Jones, Bobe Cannon, and actual animation, you know, cartoons. Who cares that Swartzwelder is some Simpsons writer, contributing to today's mindless mush people like yourself call entertainment. Jeese.

Anonymous said...

The hand does look perverted mr k. It looks as if it could be used as an alternative to a dildo.

Kevin Langley said...

actually think the animation is better on shows like family guy.

Cannon and Chucks stuff may have more "artistic merit" and "craftsmanship" but family guys really about presenting ideas in the funniest way


Presenting ideas in the funniest way?!?! Having a character stand there motionless is the funniest way possible? Don't even fall for this douche's bait. This is the reason people enable comment moderation. I nice post about Bobo Cannon will be replaced with some moronic nonsense about the "brilliance" of Family Guy.

Neutrinoide said...

"hire me 40 brilliant animators" and have it granted in an hour,

That's why they aren't genius and stupid thing to say.
Why they spend money to hire that much animator when the only thing they work on it's the writing. Wouldn't make more sens to just put a radio show or a book?

Wouldn't be more brilliant to make sure your try to actually create something that use all the aspect of an animation medium.

Art F. said...

smear inbetweens are the freakin' best! and i like my cartoons to actually move and not just be glorified finger puppets.

Anonymous said...

cartoons are meant to be an objective interpretation of how objects move in 3 dimensional space. Any embellishments and "artistic exxagerations" confuse the eye and are distracting.

This is another reason why family guys animation is superior since the characters never do anything you wouldnt see real human beings do

JohnK said...

Real people are a lot more animated and caricatured than Family Guy.

So are trees.

Ted said...

C'mon John, Anonymous has created some of the best material ever, from Gilgamesh to Froggy Went a Courtin'...

So Bobe is pronounced like earlobe?
(only now, at this late hour, do I realize bowb can sound like bow and arrow or take a bow...)

Anonymous said...

its pretty ironic that you dismiss all modern cartoons as pop culture references while writing longwinded essays about pop culture from over 60 years ago

JohnK said...

It's even more ironic that you read them all.

Anonymous said...

its pretty ironic that ripping friends got cancelled after 6 episodes and you never post any comments critical of your own work

Ryan G. said...

>>This is another reason why family guys animation is superior since the characters never do anything you wouldnt see real human beings do<<

Whats the point in animating it then? It should be a sitcom. Animation should utilize the fact that anything is possible..squash and stretch, exaggeration, etc.. Which is not so much found in shows like Family Guy or King of the Hill. Im not going to say that Ive never watched Family Guy and laughed my ass off at some of the jokes, but the animation is stiff and lifeless and all the jokes are old and predictable. John's right, no one will be laughing at this shit 20 years from now.

JohnK said...

>>its pretty ironic that ripping friends got cancelled after 6 episodes and you never post any comments critical of your own work<<

There are 13 episodes. It didn't get cancelled and the last post is very critical about the show.

You need to get a job so you can move out of your Mom's basement and stop worrying about things that are over your pointed head.

NARTHAX said...

For the record, John Swartzwelder is one wacky Simpsons writer who, at one point, donated a ton of his personal fortune to the American Nazi Party.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"its pretty ironic that ripping friends got cancelled after 6 episodes and you never post any comments critical of your own work"

Check the last post anonym.

Oliver_A said...

>cartoons are meant to be an objective interpretation of how objects move in 3 dimensional space. Any embellishments and "artistic exxagerations" confuse the eye and are distracting.<

Even more reasons for absolutely not watching those series like Family guy. The drawings are flat, there is hardly any movement and the colours are so bright and exaggerates, you can hardly watch a whole episode.

>This is another reason why family guys animation is superior since the characters never do anything you wouldnt see real human beings do<

Yeah, sure, it´s so real, including talking dogs and babies... Again: VERY lame attempt to derail this thread and make it into a flame war. ;)

David Germain said...

I believe that is Cannon's animation.

I'd have thought Chuck would have gotten Ken Harris to handle a scene such as this one. With his technique of cranking out scribbley drawings really fast he could've finished this rather long sequence way under record time. Ken would have been my first guess.

But I know John & Thad have keener eyes than me about spotting animators so I'm taking their word on this being a Bobe Cannon scene.

Yes, Tom, I believe Bobe did pioneer the smear technique.

As for Mr. Anonymous, I'll reiterate what David Gemmilll said to a similar anonymous putz on an earlier occasion: "It's beacuse of people like you that crappy cartoons are allowed to be made."

I'd also like to kindly ask this anonymous contributor to follow the suggestion of the man in the blue shirt in this drawing. >:P

Shawn said...

>>It's not exactly what you would call funny movement, but it is beautiful and artistic and very distinct.<<

That's right. Animation is an art form. It doesn't ALWAYS need to be there just to get laughs. It can just be beautiful, or artistic, or even just a great performance, regardless of how many laughs it gets. Clampett's cartoons are funny, but I also consider them to be beautiful performances as well. There's nothing funny in Disney's Fantasia, but there are some cool movements in shapes and colors. I think Bobe's animation contributes to a beautiful performance through the characters, especially with those cool smear drawings. Nobody can say that about the Family Guy, which is hardly a performance of any sort, and it sure as hell isn't beautiful.

>>Why they spend money to hire that much animator when the only thing they work on it's the writing. Wouldn't make more sens to just put a radio show or a book?<<

It isn't even worthy of being a radio show or a book because any true fan of the show is probably incapable of creating their own pictures in their mind, and probably too stupid to read.

JohnK said...

In order to have a good radio show you have to have good voices and maybe some gags to come out of the characters' personalities.

JohnK said...

Hey does anyone wanna talk about how cool Bobe Cannon's animation is?

I'm sorry I distracted everyone by beating up on a defenseless timid little moron. I won't post any more anonymous comments that are off topic.

akira said...

um i don't think south park ever claimed to be great animation, in fact isn't it supposed to look like it's done by kids or at least amateurs using paper cutout (not hand drawn cartoon) techniques...
i think it's silly to compare with looney tunes. the fact that it is so contemporary and won't be as funny as time goes on, is maybe why some people prefer to watch it as opposed to the looney tunes. it makes fans feel hip and cutting edge or something? obviously most people would rather have something "new" than something good, and the easiest way to make something seem new is by using pop culture or recent news references. (the hard way is actually working to come up with something original). if you think cartoons are bad, see also: Saturday Night Live.

anyways, i just tallied up the new looney tunes golden collection 4 directors ...
Tashlin-15
Chuck Jones-14
Friz- 14 (2 with Hawley Pratt)
Robert McKimson-14
Bob Clampett-2
Arthur Davis-1
on the plus side a whole Frank Tashlin disc and Eddie Fitzgerald commentary...
on the negative side a whole Speedy Gonzalez disc and no John K Commentaries...

Hopefully if they do a Clampett Disc next year, they'll get their "restoration" act together and John K will be back on board

Anonymous said...

Does the rough animations of Cannon exist any where? I'd like to see them. To see how he composed an sturctured the chartacters and how he determand the weight and line of motion.

Juan Carlos said...

Yeah, the finger looks very phallic, very much like what I've seen of Mr Kricfalusi's animation. All tubes are very phallic and all spheres are very "mammary". :)

Juan

J. J. Hunsecker said...

My guess would also be that Cannon animated those scenes. He tended to animate characters like they were made of uncooked dough; very fluid and loose. My favorite Cannon animation is from this early Jones period.

Cannon's animation for Avery doesn't look stiffer to me. It's not as experimental as his work for Jones, but it was still cartoony and expressive for Avery. My faovorite scenes are from "Wags to Riches".

Strangely, Cannon hated the cartoons he worked on at Warners and MGM. He didn't like slapstick. He thought his best work was the genteel cartoons he did for UPA.

John K -- learn to control your anger. Anonymous was just pushing your buttons. I doubt he even believed in the things he wrote. He was just having fun at your expense, trying to start a flame war, and you fell for it. Try counting to ten next time before you feed the trolls.

Mitch K said...

That smear is pretty cool looking. A working smear isn't easy to do.

The anticipation and jump are super cool to watch too. The whole scene where the trap shuts is really really cool! I think that's my favorite.

That human only has four fingers... haha

queefy said...

John you fucking steam rolled that kid. Another reason you're so awesome.

<3

Sean Worsham said...

Was Bobe Cannon the first to make use of smears and squash and stretch? How long was he around?

Jorge Garrido said...

When they were putting toegther Termite Terrace, they had 4 of the rebellious guys in mind: Tex Avery, Chuuk Jones, Bob Clmapett, And Bobo Cannon. I would have liked to see Bobo's directing at Warner's. Maybe instead of giving the job outright to McKimson and Davis (who both showed GREAT promise with their early catoons), they should have let alot of animators have a chance to direct a few when they were still young and full of crazy ideas.

>I'm sorry I distracted everyone by beating up on a defenseless timid little moron. I won't post any more anonymous comments that are off topic.

Don't apologize, people like that need to be sent into the sun.

>um i don't think south park ever claimed to be great animation, in fact isn't it supposed to look like it's done by kids or at least amateurs using paper cutout (not hand drawn cartoon) techniques...

They acknoledge that it's crappy all the time (unlike FG which Seth says is "inherently" funny since their expressions are blank. He actually said that blank expression are inherently funny in cartoons, his examples he gave ar teh FAr Sied, but imagine if every character in Buster Keaton was LIKE BUSTER KEATON?!?!) They said the stop motion cutpouts gave it a "novelty" aspect and in the movie Cartman complains that his favourite cartoon's animation is "all crappy" as they do a walk cycle animated on 24's. Their influence was Monty Python "animation."

Gabriel said...

funny, liquid wrapped in a tight elastic skin is almost exactly the expression i used this week when describing Jim Tyer's stuff to a friend of mine. Now I'm not so sure, i guess it applies to Cannon, but Jim Tyer is more like jelly balloons.

David Germain said...

On the topic of smear:

Back in animation school one of the teachers stated that smear is for wimps.

I think it's a fine technque myself although it does have the potential to overused as a crutch. What's your take on the above statement, John?

Kevin Langley said...

I love those smeared inbetweens. I guesss anything could be overused, but they're really effective when going from one pose to another quickly.

There's some great smear inbetweens in "Big House Blues" at the end when the woman great Ren and Stimpy. John, was that Lynn Naylor's work?

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Family Guy but Seth MacFarlane is hardly a genius and the show is one of the ugliest I've seen.

I don't really care said...

I enjoy Family Guy but Seth MacFarlane is hardly a genius and the show is one of the ugliest I've seen.

If I can blend a few points that have been recently under discussion, Id like to talk about the fox trap in the Jones scene. I love the way it goes into the foreground, in deep perspective --a gaping, jagged maw that feels like a tangible threat throughout the sequence.

When cartoons are begun by people who have no visual skills and who don't even bother to consult with people who do, you never get a detail like that. The intellectual depth necessary to produce it will never be there. When the artists finally get it they will either be disinterested in or discouraged from doing what they are supposed to do, which is maximize visual effect.

The viewer loses.

Anonymous said...

Family Guy has become the new cult for stoners. In my first college year, one of my room mates, a marijuana addict, invited his fellow marijuana addict buddies round for... marijuana and Family Guy. That's all I recall them doing the whole year... sorta put me off Family Guy a bit, as has the notion that every art school asshole thinks it's the shit. Don't get me wrong, alot of the sketches are funny, but very few cartoons have the wacky genius to make you laugh out loud like a clown on helium. Most of the sketches rely on sarcasm too, which is meant to be the lowest form of wit.

The people who've shown the most interest in this particular series from my experience have been stoners. Seems to be the thing to do- gather round the tube and light some joints. There's something seriously wrong with the world today if you NEED marijuana to you laugh... even at Family Guy

The animation is flashy and cheap, but that's okay because the show is wrote really fast and with no real agenda. This also allows alot more episodes to be made all at one time using pretty much the same character templates, etc.

The characters are much easier for people who can't draw to copy than the likes of the Simpsons also. For some reason or another I find alot of the humor to be really obnoxious and irritating. The general message if you watch all the DVDs for a month or more...or a year, is that the world is nothing but insanity and chaos, and that's what life is all about.

bada bing bada bang bada boom boom boom

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know where to get the whole cartoon, i'm a big fan of cartoon foxes and i especially like this one and his voice

Russell H said...

>>Id like to talk about the fox trap in the Jones scene. I love the way it goes into the foreground, in deep perspective --a gaping, jagged maw that feels like a tangible threat throughout the sequence.<<

I agree--it makes this scene of one character and an 'inanimate' object work: the trap is made to seem almost 'alive' in the way you describe.

I'd also like to point out the subtle details on the fox's face that give him personalty, such as how whenever he's surprised, he blinks very rapidly. And even though there's no dialogue from the fox, you can tell just what he's thinking from the ways his eyes change shape.

Craig D said...

If my memory serves me, I think FOX POP was the first cartoon the Jones unit did right after THE DOVER BOYS, which would explain the stretchy smeary stuff.

Eddie F. is a big proponent of the "Jones Hands" syndrome, isn't he?

(If you think dat's bad, remember the time I went pearl-diving with David Hasselhoff and J-Lo?)

Russell H said...

>>If my memory serves me, I think FOX POP was the first cartoon the Jones unit did right after THE DOVER BOYS, which would explain the stretchy smeary stuff.<<

I don't have the book in front of me now, but I do remember reading in Beck & Friedwald's WARNER BROS. CARTOONS that FOX POP was released right before THE DOVER BOYS.

I don't know how things worked at Termite Terrace; i.e., whether the release date also represents which cartoon was made first, but I suspect that FOX POP came first inasmuch as the rest of it has more "conventional" character designs, backgrounds, etc. and the "smeary stuff" is used much less frequently than in DOVER BOYS.

So I'm guessing FOX POP was the "test-run" for this kind of animation, which was then put to much greater use in DOVER BOYS.

In DOVER BOYS, it was actually more effective, I think, since the characters would often "freeze" in poses between takes in emulation of stiffly-posed 1890s-era photographs, enhancing the "old-time melodrama" parody elements.

Kevin Langley said...

I'd like to know where to get the whole cartoon, i'm a big fan of cartoon foxes and i especially like this one and his voice

John posted a link under the clip to a DVD on Amazon that has it. It also pops up on some of those dollar DVDs so keep your eyes peeled. The prints might not be the best though.

I don't really care said...

I agree--it makes this scene of one character and an 'inanimate' object work: the trap is made to seem almost 'alive' in the way you describe.

And what I really wanted to point out, now that I think of it, is the element of tension that it adds. It's a subtle thing to be able to do. Family guy or Southpark could never do it. All they could do is reference tension through familiar film cliches.

Sealab could not even do that. They could only use their stick puppets to ironically mock cinematic cliches of tension. Ironic mocking is about the only joke they have (having put on my share of stick puppet shows as a child, I know that their histrionic range is limited).

Jones ia able to build a scene of an entirely different kind. It depends on visual things, staged, rendered and timed well.

My point is that as a filmmaker, without a display of skills there will be gaping holes in your cinematic vocabulary. If enough people find what remains entertaining enough, they may never notice or just not mind, but whatever you may still accomplish, it is basically as a cinematic illiterate, appealing to illiterates.

I don't mind that and I have nothing against it. It can be fun. I mind when that's practically all I can get.

I want to see skill.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it's unfair for the artist of this cartoon to mention a non share-programme source where you can download the whole "fox pop" episode when it's available on DVD (if you already tried so you possible found out it's hard to find)...

But you can't buy the episode alone by itself and by offering it for free more people would notice the creator.
I'd first like to hear JohnK's opinion on this

Anonymous said...

"I don't know if it's unfair for the artist of this cartoon to mention a non share-programme source where you can download the whole "fox pop" episode when it's available on DVD (if you already tried so you possible found out it's hard to find)..."

This cartoon is in the public domain. If you have a copy you can do what you want with it. No one has sole rights to it.

:: smo :: said...

hey john! i love this clip! i just looked back on it again and it spurred a few thoughts!

i can definitely see jones' keys here, but there's so much more followthrough and more little flourishes, especially on the closeup, than you'd normally see in a jones picture.

if jones' primary form of direction was keying every, say 12 drawings or whatever it was, and clampett's was to let the animator run with a scene...what was the workflow like?

it's so hard to tell because of the wonky credits in looney tunes.

did everyone work with assistants? would bobe fully animate everything or hand some things off to an assistant? especially in a situation like this where he was working with jones' keys?

listening to the golden collection commentaries again lately i took note that at one point bill melendez was rod scribner's assistant. looking at scribner's work i'd think he'd do a lot of straight ahead? what would his assistant's role be? how would work be broken down between animators and assistants, especially if chuck was doing keys?

i'm just trying to figure out the hierarchy and what people would do in different positions at the studio. Especially for someone like Bobe who jumped to different directors. any help here would be awesome!

-smo

paul said...

Well Johnny, I think that the scene in Fox Pop is animated by, not just Bobe; but, Ken Harris and Benny Washam.

I theorize that Washam did the realistic man hand pointing to the trap; he was a superlative draftsman, next to Bob McKimson. It's lead me to believe that he finished one of Cannon's scenes in that sequence.

Furthermore, I think that Harris finished one of Bobo's scenes.

Whaddaya think? What can I do to make it better?