Friday, June 30, 2006
This cartoon is a tribute to the 3 Stooges. We crammed this full of more jokes per second than any other cartoon I've ever made. Lots of different kinds too and some just plain surreal.
Mike Kerr and Eric Bauza added a few and Jeff Aimey and Nick Cross did some great storyboarding-Vincent Waller too.
Kristy Gordon did the BG color styling.
It's like one of those episodes that starts with Moe beating the crap out of his best friends, but then he hears a woman crying and decides to help her out of the goodness of his soft heart. I love that incongruity.
So the story actually has a plot (and heart!), but lots of surprises happen along the way.
The animation was done at Bigstar in Korea and it's pretty damn good for foreigners.
Oh yeah, and we experimented quite a bit with the "sound design".
Buy "Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes" Here!
This is a nice example of very subtle acting and strong personailty of Bugs Bunny from a Bob Clampett cartoon.
It's Bob McKimson again.
Oh and here is a nice letter from Milton Grey, an animator, cartoon historian and....timing director on the Simpsons! This guy has his finger in every cartoon pie, so listen to his ass!
"Hi John, Thanks for your e-mail. I gather from it that you have seen my two articles on Bob Clampett (actually, one about Coal Black) that Mike Barrier posted a couple weeks or so ago on his website.
I've gotten quite a few compliments from people for the commentary I did for Gruesome Twosome on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3 DVD set. They said they liked the way I described Clampett's working methods, which led to the unique results he achieved in his cartoons.
I'm surprised how many times I keep hearing, even recently, from people complaining that the later Clampett interviews that Mike Barrier and I recorded have never been published. I guess people don't know that I made all those interviews available in 1999 on the Beany and Cecil DVD under the heading of The Bob Clampett Oral History. I wish more people would listen to that, because what Bob actually says is so different from what people think Bob says, people who have only heard Chuck Jones' lies about Bob.
You are so absolutely correct about Bob's cartoons being ignored by critics, simply because his cartoons are so much more difficult to describe in words than other cartoons (like Jones's) that just follow formulas that have already been described in words. In that regard, I saw a great quote in the March 13, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, by Richard Schickel. I will paraphrase the quote slightly here for clarity, since I'm quoting this statement out of context:
"Filmmakers are at least sometimes trying to make movies whose meanings are carried primarily through imagery. Films of this sort are often harshly criticized for their inarticulateness. That's because movie reviewers are essentially literary people, condemned to summarize in written language a medium that often produces its greatest effect through purely visual means. The critics naturally love snappy dialog -- in short supply lately -- and complex, novelistic narrative structures. Also, I can tell you, it is easier to quote a few good lines than it is to describe the effect of a subtly orchestrated sequence of images."
Myself, at the risk of sounding like a flake, I spend very little time on the internet, due to an awfully busy work schedule, and I never visit chat rooms because so much of those (I've heard) are just the drivel of very uninformed people. But recently Mike Barrier urged me to read the proceedings of a chat room because a lot of it was about one of my Clampett articles on Mike's website. This "thread" went on for sixteen pages, and it is guaranteed to make your blood boil, as it is basically a rant by about a dozen dedicated Clampett bashers, accusing Bob of, among other things, allegedly taking credit for things that I have never heard Bob trying to take credit for. (And along with Clampett, you and I were also mentioned frequently as over-zealous Clampett disciples.) The chat room, if you want to sit through it, is at
Maybe sometime soon you and Eddie and I, and maybe a few other people, should get together and collect all of our articles on Bob's work, and brainstorm some new things to try to describe Bob's work -- and how Bob really advanced the art of cartoon animation far beyond anyone else in his day -- so that no one of us has to feel singled out as a zealous disciple. I hope Eddie has already told you, but recently I printed, in a small private publication called Apatoons, the transcript I typed up for Mike Barrier of the comments made the day in July 1979 that you, Eddie, Rick Farmaloe, Bob Clampett and I got together for the purpose of trying to put into words what makes Bob's cartoons so unique. Even today it is a fascinating read, and I'll give you a copy if Eddie hasn't already. But I really agree with you about the value and importance of continuing something like that, because if we don't do it, probably nobody else will -- just because it is too difficult for most people, even most cartoon fans, to articulate.
Wow, it's getting late, so I have to go. But let's talk some more about these things, and see what we can do.
By the way, I have a sketchbook of my recent drawings at the printers right now, which should be printed in about another week, and I'd like to give you a copy. I don't have your mailing address, but I can give a copy to Eddie to give to you. Also, at some point, I'd like to introduce to you a really sincere fan of yours, who is the guy who directed and produced the cartoon "The Ghost of Stephen Foster".
Anyway, I gotta go.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Well I'm running out of Wally stuff for the moment, but here's a look at his 3 zany nephews. He hates them. We never figure out exactly who they are related to-him or Petunia. Neither one actually has any place they could actually come out of. I think cartoon nephews must come about by spontaneous generation. Cartoons are like Christian science.
Maybe we can do a flashback to their births in petrie dishes. Wally can be practicing alchemy in his lab of ungodly activities.
My friend Mike Kerr suggested we leak a sex tape of Wally and Petunia onto the web and it becomes a huge viral hit like Paris Hilton's. Wally and Petunia would gain instant fame and notoriety. They could then charge $20,000 to appear at your party for 15 minutes. I love the idea but I fear it would hinder Wally's success as a kiddie cartoon.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Here is another trailor that Eric Bauza made.
It's from Firedogs 2. This is a story that I wrote as a sequel for Firedogs in 1990, right after it aired.
The firechief in Firedogs one was inspired by Ralph Bakshi. After I got a lot of fan mail from it I decided to do a sequel where the Firechief invites Ren and Stimpy to move in with him and be his partners-just as Ralph once offered me to be his partner.
Almost all the scenes in this cartoon happened in real life. It's more of a documentary than fiction.
Incidentally, everyone who likes modern cartoons-cartoons after 1998 or so owes a big debt to Ralph. Ralph saved cartoons and cartoonists and gave us back our medium.
He started the whole revolution in TV cartoons in 1987 with "Bakshi's Adventures of Mighty Mouse". Those were the first "creator-driven" cartoons done in 25 years.
The show broke a lot of ground and hugely influenced everything that followed-Ren and Stimpy, Roger Rabbit, The Simpsons, Tiny Toons-even Batman. (Bruce Timm was my assistant and then a top layout man on Mighty Mouse and that's when he first got a taste of angular, stylized drawing.)
I instituted a new TV version of Directors' units to produce the cartoons, rather than using the crappy Hanna Barbera factory system that everyone else was doing on TV.
I combined the TV factory system with the old Warner Bros. system and then 2 years later refined it to produce Ren and Stimpy.
None of what followed Mighty Mouse would have happened had Ralph not protected a bunch of cartoonists from the hazards of network executives and cartoon "writers".
Many of the scenes in Firedogs 2 are scenes witnessed during the year and a half that Mighty Mouse was produced.
If you hate poo jokes, you will hate this, but a story about Ralph would be a lie without a good load of poo.
Incidentally, this cartoon suffers from some piss-poor timing, because we had just started the new episodes and were trying out a new system of shooting storyboards and timing them to music. A lot of the gags would play better if I could go back and cut them tighter.
I apologize in advance! (Just run it in fast forward!)
BTW, Ralph did his own voice in the cartoon. The guy has a great sense of humor!
Buy "Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes" Here!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
In these next 2 cartoons, the directors are still using the Bob Givens model sheet, yet they still manage to assert their own styles on top of the standardized studio one. This is illegal today.
Elmer's Pet Rabbit - Chuck Jones
This is the first time the rabbit gets called "Bugs Bunny".
Bugs walks all hunched over like Groucho Marx in Chuck's early cartoons. He is still part animal.
Marc Deckter sent me this and says it's a Bob McKimson model. Maybe it is, but it's not too different than the Bob Givens rabbit yet. I'm not sure which cartoon it goes with. Anyone know for sure?
Bugs is drawn really solidly in the cartoon and his personality is pretty defined, but it's a slightly different personality than what he became shortly after. I really like this period of Bugs. All This and Rabbit Stew and Heckling Hare are two more great Tex Avery Bugs cartoons in this style. Then Clampett's Wabbit Twouble. I guess this Bugs lasted through Wacky Wabbit. Then Bugs Bunny Gets The Boid was a transition to the more triangle headed and older rabbit you see in Falling Hare.
Clampett later remade the tortoise and hare cartoon, as if he wasn't satisfied with how it came out the first time. It's great to compare this to Tortoise Wins By a Hare to see how two different directors use the same story and the same characters and get a completely different experience out of it.
And then if you are a real man and love Friz, check his own remake to see just how he brought the cartoon "back down to earth" (his own words).
What's the name of that cartoon you Friz experts out there?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
This youtube clip doesn't do the scene justice. Is there anyway you can make a clip at a larger frame rate? You can't really see all the overlapping action the way this looks now...Thanks!
This is my favorite kind of animation!
It only existed for a short time-between 1939 and 1942 or so.
It's round and bouncy, has tons of overlapping action and is just super lively. It's a way of moving that can only be done in drawn cartoons and makes animation a world unique to itself.It's just automatically fun just by itself. But then in context of great gags, direction and pacing, it's thrilling.
I wish real people could be so bouncy and floppy all the time-and there should always be a great jazz soundtrack happening behind you.
This, by the way is by Bob McKimson. He is not normally known for this kind of thing. His normal strengths are solid and powerful looking characters (as the Queen is here). His creation, Foghorn Leghorn epitomizes his style.
In 1942 this kind of animation is a bit of a throwback. Clampett loved to hang on to earlier cartoon styles and take them further than anyone else thought to. Gruesome Twosome is a caricatured throwback to characters from 1938.
Another nice example of this style is Elmer's walk in Elmer's Candid Camera - he's walking along, and his hat is bouncing up and down on his head. So fun!
Brad Caslor did a great cartoon in the 80s called "Get A Job" where he brought back Clampett's style of motion. Maybe it's on youtube...go look, it's wonderful!
I sure wish there was a way today to do stuff like this. Animation today seems to be ashamed to be animation, it just doesn't use its power to create magic anymore.
You would think with all the animated features and the ton of money they sink into them, that SOMEONE would want to revive and maybe even build on this great style of movement.
Boy, if anyone ever gave me the money to do full animation, you can bet you'll see this come back pretty fast.
I've been stuck in TV Land for 2 decades trying to figure out how to revive some semblance of techniques from the 40s, but having to use tricks to simulate what could be done easily and naturally back when you had your own animators sitting in the room next to you.
I'll tell you something-the prime time TV cartoons they make today that look like they cost 50 bucks to produce... They actual spend a fortune on them-waaaay more than Warner Bros. cartoons cost-even counting for inflation, and could easily afford to do all the animation in North America and do it fully too.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
These are words Wally loves to say:
“Why won’t you die??!!”
“You thtop chewing my wiwes!” (wires)
“You better fix my wiwes, you wascawwee feathered wodents!”
“Why won’t you die tho I can get on wiff my pwogwam? Die fathter!”
“I’m gonna bwain that thicken wiff a pop bottle!”
“Feth Up you wowwee (lowly) cweature you.”
“Did you pway a pwank on Pwetunia?”
Wally’s traps for animals make no sense.
He makes a box trap and hits them with it.
He thinks chickens eat baby kittens so he lures Billy with kittens in traps.
Wally’s job is stressing him out. He’s a wig salesman at a department store.
Wally takes a hunting vacation to relax. He figures if he causes stress for helpless forest creatures, that will ease his stress.
“There’s nothing more Wewaxing than cauthing thtwess for helpleth fowest Cweatureth!”
There he meets up with Billy Chicken the zaniest creature in the forest.
Wally’s Mom, Mrs. Man, demands chicken soup for dinner so Wally has to catch a couple chickens and bring them home. They don’t cooperate.
WALLY THE METROSEXUAL
My friend Corky just came up with tis idea today:
Wally gets a date with Petnia and she's finally ready to kiss him, when....Yikes!!
She notices something awful about him! His bowtie is droopy and wrinkly. She puts her lips away and tells Wally "I'm sorry Wally, but I only like smooth young boys."
Wally is devastated until he finds an ad for a dermatologist who does peels. Wally goes and gets microdermabrasion-all over!
The doctor dips him into a burning searing chemical soup.
Wally comes out all read and swollen.
There is only one spot left untouched-a light thumbprint above his buttcrack where the doctor held him while dipping him.
He tells Wally that he will shed a few layers of old skin and in 4 days he will be as smooth as a baby's butt. So Wally plans a date with Petunia in 4 days, expecting to be pink and smooth.
On the date, Wally shows up covered in blisters and bloody scabs, with hunks of flesh just falling off of him like potato chips.
We haven't come up with an ending yet, so feel free to create with us...here's an extra idea...you know that little 'V' with the line in the middle just above your butt crack? I call that a "butt pussy". Maybe after Wally heals, he finds that his new skin is invulnerable-all except for his Achilles Butt-Pussy and he becomes a super hero and Petunia falls in love with him until some super vilain fins his weakness and punishes the butt pussy, defeating him...
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
This is the first year where Warner Bros. cartoons really got "looney". They got sarcastic in 1935 when Tex Avery started directing, but the animation didn't really get crazy until Clampett started directing. Before him, the animation in Warner Bros. cartoons was very conservative and basically was there just to get you from one gag to the next in avisually expositional way.Clampett was the first animator's director.
Take a look at the lineup of cartoons from all the directors. Clampett had the most amount of crazy cartoons and the only truly fast-paced ones.
I urge you to see all these cartoons and watch how much in advance of the other units Clampetts' was. The irony is, he had the most handicaps of all the directors.
He had the youngest, least experienced animators. He was only allowed to make Porky Pig cartoons and only in black and white.
The other directors could work in color, had bigger budgets and could use any characters and subjects they wanted, yet none of them even came close to the amount of fresh ideas and imaginative animation that was in the Clampett cartoons.
No one used animators better than Clampett-in his cartoons the animation does a lot more than merely connect one gag to the next as it does in Avery's cartoons at the time.
The way the characters move in Clampett's cartoons is pure entertainment in itself-even with the ton of gags that already exist in the stories.
Take a look at "Porky and Daffy", a most generically titled cartoon with a most ungeneric style of animation and crazy gags.
The story is simple and has been done a million times-a weak character has to fight a professional boxer for cash. This time it's Daffy versus a big cock, with Porky as Daffy's manager.
The true focus of the cartoon though is-get this-a ballsack! In 1938!
Clampett designed a pelican to be the referee and gave him a one-nut sack for a chin.
Look at the amazing attention to the animation of this fluid package. The pelican's chin steals the scene all through the cartoon. It flops around, gets dragged across the canvas and each gag gets bigger and crazier until everything just goes insane at the end of the cartoon.
The great tasteful Chuck Jones did a lot of the animation of the nutsack!
I can just see Bob acting out the scenes by plopping his own package on Chuck's desk and dragging and bouncing it around while Chuck studied it and then animated it in a frenzy of creativity.
You have to compare the animation in this cartoon to the animation in Jones' own cartoons the same year and the next few after that. What a contrast!
By the standards of the animation industry in the 1930s, Warner Bros. was one of the most conservative of all the studios.
Clampett changed all that and soon the rest of the studios followed Warner Bros rather than Disney.
Side note: Some of you may wonder why I focus so much on Clampett in my posts on classic animation. Someone has to! He has been almost completely neglected by animation historians - even though he was the most influential and popular of the wacky cartoon style directors of the 1940s.
Had I never discovered Clampett I would be writing lots about Jones and Avery. They were my favorites until I found out about Clampett's 40s Warner Bros. cartoons. Plus there already is a ton of literature devoted to Jones and Avery.
The historians tend to pass over Clampett because the cartoons are just too rich and inventive and filmic for them to understand them. They like to write about things that are more obvious - like the concept behind a cartoon rather than the execution or performance and skill and entertainment value-let alone the animation itself!
Eddie and I have a theory that every person has a certain range of entertainment that he or she can sense or absorb. Kind of like how different animals have different ranges of the spectrum of light that they can sense.
Some people like just a little bit of entertainment and have a very small range of entertainment and sensory spectrum. They are easily satisfied with Friz or modern cartoons. Some like a few belly laughs and some cartooniness and go for Tex Avery. Some people are a little more sensitive to style and pomposity and love Chuck Jones. I love Jones and Avery too, but Friz is just too bland for me and you can tell that he doesn't care much about his cartoons anyway-it's just a job to him.
Then there are folks like me and Eddie and others who are greedy and can sense many different things happening at the same time, or in rapid succession. I want as much entertainment and sensory pleasure as someone great can throw at me. That's why I love Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jolsen, The Three Stooges, Monty Python and Bob Clampett. These people give their all. They don't hold back. They know they are entertainers and their responsibilty is to put on as orgasmic a show as possible and tittilate as many of our senses as they can in as large a dose as they can deliver.
Clampett's cartoons can be watched over and over again and you continue to find gags and visual treats that went over your head the first 20 times you watched the cartoon.
Most historians tend to be dry pseudo-intellectual types and their senses are limited to what creativity they can justify in words. One historian who wrote a very famous classic animation primer confided in me at a party at Clampett's that Clampett was by far his favorite director, but that he couldn't just say that in his book. He never explained why he couldn't say it.
I'll say it. Clampett has more skills and life than any other cartoon director in history and that's why I love his cartoons so much.
Eddie, you better comment! Milt too!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Hands look complicated when you look at real ones. You see tons of details and the more details you think about, the harder it is to draw something.
Look at this beautifully simplified page of hands by Preston Blair.
Copy each and every one of these. Learn to draw complicated things like hands by understanding the bigger shapes that they are made up of.
Don't draw a hand by starting with the fingers. Contruct the hand by drawing the two main parts (1-the palm and 2-the fingers) in the position or gesture you want. Then draw the fingers into part 2.
If you learn to draw cartoon hands like these, you will then later be able to draw more detailed, complicated hands if you choose to.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Buy "Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes" Here!
Here's some more crap.
It's one of those "psychodramas" I do from time to time. Some folks love them, some hate 'em.
They are based on my love of old film noir movies. Dark and rich with character. A lot of great artists worked on this-Nick Cross, Helder Mendonca did outstanding work. Eric Bauza did some killer voice work for Stimpy. Kristy Gordon painted the backgrounds-Nick did some too.
My Dad plays Ren's Dad in a scene basically right out of my life. (I didn't torture frogs though). I got caught smoking and the scene where Ren's Dad lecturing Ren and Mom crying is a reenactment of my getting caught smoking.
Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong's magical Carbunkle studio did a great job of animating this very difficult cartoon.
I hope no one thinks I'm condoning Ren's behaviour! I hate people who torture animals! That kind of behaviour belongs only in cartoons, not in real life.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I think the early Bugs cartoons are the best and showed his personality at its richest and most entertaining.
Elmer's Candid Camera by Chuck Jones is the first cartoon where Bugs really seems like Bugs. He doesn't quite have the voice yet, but he is basically underplayed. This is almost the exact same cartoon as Tex Avery's A Wild Hare, except that Elmer has a camera instead of a gun.
To see more images from Elmer's Candid Camera, go visit Marc Deckter's "Cool, Calm and Confident" post at the legendary DUCK WALK.
The same situation as Porky's Rabbit Hunt, but now Bugs is less manic than when he was first born.
He has an early version of the familiar voice, he says "What's Up Doc" for the first time but he still doesn't have his name.
There are many routines that became staples of his act. Tons of variations were done of them in later cartoons-to the point where Bob Clampett told me that Bugs became a formula, and he started to feel trapped.
Bugs fakes dying. This is a new kind of humor for cartoons. It's funny because it's so serious. It's animated by Bob McKimson. Clampett later lampooned all the situations from the classic Bugs Bunny shorts that he helped gag for Tex.
Bugs is a fag. Is everybody mad now???
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
She is bald too except for pigtails on her butt.
She is very temperamental.
One minute she likes Wally and the next he’s done something wrong or offensive but he never knows what he did.
She makes him jump through hoops to please her.
She loves animals and demands that any love of hers better be kind to dumb animals.
Wally has to pretend he likes animals when she’s around. Billy Chicken takes advantage of this by helping himself to Wally’s food, hospitality and love.
Wally is allergic to fur, feathers, beaks, combs and wattles.
Whenever he is near animals he sneezes, breaks out in hives and has asthma attacks. He has a big inhaler that he breathes into to rid his lungs of dander.
She makes him prove himself before she accepts his love.
He has to prove that he is:
Billy Chicken is heckling Wally one morning and driving Wally crazy. (Need heckling jokes)
Vision of Beauty
All of a sudden Wally is distracted by a lovely vision of smoothness: Petunia Man.
Love takes: what are they?
Wally loses interest in Billy and goes to meet Petunia. He polishes first.
Petunia tells him: ”My man has to be sensitive. He must love all God’s creatures and be kindly and share his fortune with them.
Wally tells Petunia,”Oh I wove dumb animalth! I wove them even more than wiches or fame!”
Billy Chicken overhears Wally’s lie and calls him on it. He rubs around his legs and purrs and helps himself to all of Wally’s material possessions:
Wally gets Asthma attacks
Every time Wally does anything with Billy, he starts gasping for air and coughing up feathers.
He keeps pulling out a giant inhaler and taking puffs from it in-between trying to pretend to indulge Billy and wanting to hit him.
Billy Misses His Litter Box
Petunia notices something stinky and thinks Wally farted.
Wally is embarrassed.
Petunia says, “That’s a very rude thing to do on our first date Wally Man!” I like to get to know a man first, before I inhale his most private secrets.
Then Wally realizes what happened: Billy crapped on the potato chips.
This is Wally’s chance to discipline his pet!
“For shame you wittle thicken! Did you cwap on the potato chips? Did you?”
Wally’s menacing shadow creeps over Billy as Billy backs against the wall.
Petunia Catches Wally punishing Billy
Wally pushes Billy’s beak towards his dirty deed and spanks his bottom.
Petunia freaks out!
“Wally Man! Are you being cruel to that poor ignorant beast? He’s only following his nature! How dare you! You apologize to your special friend.”
Wally reluctantly apologizes while holding Billy’s beak tightly and pinching him hard.
A huge burly thug from the humane society comes and beats up Wally and brands him an abuser, then leaves.
Then Petunia sees the brand and gets all lovey-dovey, “I love a man with a tattoo”.
So now Petunia is ready for romance. She says, “”Well aren’t you gonna kiss me you great big hunk of shiny skin, you?”
Wally takes a huge puff from his asthma inhaler.
Just as he close his eyes and puckers up, Billy plucks a couple feathers and stuffs them up Wally’s nose.
He kisses Petunia. She squeezes him hard.
We see Wally’s nose begin to twitch. He fights it! His eyes start watering.
Billy scratches his comb and chicken dander falls into Wally’s eyes.
The eyes turn red and swell up.
Hives break out all over Wally.
They stop kissing and Petunia opens her eyes softly to gaze at Wally’s twitching face.
She says, “That’s the best kiss I eever…”
“Aaaaathchoooooo!!!” Wally sneezes into her face.
“Well I never!!” says Petunia (covered in slime) who slaps Wally’s face and leaves in a huff. “You’ll never be my boyfriend, you slovenly brute!”
Wally chases Billy
Chasing and puffing on his inhaler as they run off into the distance.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Buy "Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes" Here!
OK, so check this out. Eric Bauza made trailors of all the APC cartoons.
As you can see from Stimpy's Pregnant we try lots of different things in every cartoon.
Each sequence has a different point, a different pacing and lots of new ideas.
Some scenes are about the subtlety of the acting and personalities some are action sequences some are cartoon firsts-like the onscreen live birth in this cartoon.
All the sequences further develop the overall point of the cartoon story. They are in context. The story has construction just like the drawings.
See how many different styles and ideas you can detect from this small portion of clips from the epic Stimpy's Pregnant -which BTW was written in 1990 for Nickelodeon. It's really a first season episode that we didn't get to make for 12 years.
Want to see more trailors?
Monday, June 12, 2006
I do however have a respect for highly skilled conservative practices, and here are two examples of such from America's Golden Age.
They are both Bugs Bunny scenes from the 1940s, and from Warner Bros.' 2 top directors-Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones and each of their top animators, Bob McKimson and Ken Harris. At first glance you might think there isn't much different about the approaches to both these scenes. I will explain the vast differences in approaches by the directors and the animators. Better pay attention. These are tricky concepts to grasp.
Both these scenes are what you would call 'subtle' animation. "Subtle" is a very misunderstood word today. Most people think it means the lack of anything happening-and they think that's good. It actually means that lots of things are happening but they are happening not blatantly obviously and they are conveying meaning even though each individual subtle move is hard to detect.
This scene is from a Bob Clampett cartoon: Falling Hare. It's animated by Warner Bros.' best animator, Bob McKImson. The combination of the greatest director and the greatest animator is pretty powerful.
First, let me explain how they worked together. Clampett worked differently with McKimson than he did with his other animators. For most of his animators, Bob would draw rough "energy sketches" indicating where he wanted the characters to move within the scenes, what their important expressions and poses would be and how extreme or subtle he wanted them to go.
Clampett more than any other director really cast his animators. He knew what each of their strengths were and really took advantage of them. Unlike Jones, he would not restrict them to animate only what he himself could do.
Every other director had turns using McKimson, and McKimson's strong dynamic and solid style is always recognizable, no matter who he animated for.
But in Clampett's cartoons he would do things no one else ever realized he (let alone anyone else) was capable of.
Not only was McKimson a great solid draftsman, but Clampett quickly realized he had a photographic memory and figured out a way to take advantage of it.
Clampett understood Bugs Bunny more than any other director and realized that the key to his personality and believability was that unlike most cartoon characters, he was like a real down to earth guy - someone you might know and want to hang around with. The way to make Bugs seem so real was to not only write down to earth dialogue but to have him move and act like a human, rather than relying on stock animation moves.
When you draw, you tend to rely on "animation poses" and expressions, but when Clampett directed McKimson, instead of doing that, he just acted out the scenes in real time in front of him. He would act out the scenes like a human, using human gestures and street poses and expressions. McKimson instantly memorized every move and expression Clampett made and then sat down and drew the whole thing out-with no roughs!
Watch the scene again. Look at every head move, every hand gesture. Notice that every single move communicates a meaning of what Bugs is trying to tell you. He isn't relying solely on the dialogue to tell you what he thinks about the gremlin business. "Oh Muuuurder" he says flopping his hand towards camera and rolling his eyes. Look at how he holds his knees and laughs calmly and sarcastically. And all this subtle stuff is drawn completely solidly.
There is no overt exaggerated Disney-esque squash and stretch, no overly floppy blustery hand gestures like Bill Tytla or Freddie Moore would automatically inject into every scene because "that's the way animation is supposed to move". This McKimson-Clampett style of movement and acting is completely unique in cartoon history. It has never been done by anyone else.
McKimson never in his own cartoons had scenes so convincingly natural as this and likewise Clampett never had scenes like this except with McKimson's animation. Every animator at Warner's did his most outstanding work with Clampett and they all animated in their own styles-styles they weren't even aware they were capable of.
Again-look carefully at every head move and gesture Bugs makes-you can describe in words what each one means. It is a visual language-more powerful than the words accompanying them.
I'm going to be posting more McKimson scenes soon. He is one of the all time greatest animators and completely unique. He is strangely underrated by cartoon "historians" and it kind of makes sense why. Most cartoon historians are not artists, let alone animators, so when they write about cartoons they don't write about the drawings and animation, because they don't know what they are looking at. I'm going to try to correct this blatant disregard of one of the most amazing talents in animation history.
There are some talents-like McKimson, Scribner, Jim Smith, Katie Rice and a tiny few others who learn things that aready were discovered by other artists, and can be analyzed and explained to an extent to other artists, but then on top of that they have something else that just can't be explained in any logical sensible way - magic.
Bob McKimson's ability seems just supernatural.I can make you aware of some of the things he is doing, but the rest...well..just look and be dumbstruck by the heights that some humans are able to achieve.
This next scene is from Rabbit Punch - a Chuck Jones cartoon. Jones directed very differently than Clampett-not just in the kind of content that he chose, but in the way he worked with his talent. Basically, Jones was the star of his cartoons. He really only used his animators as glorified inbetweeners. They are there to link the poses that Jones himself draws. In his earlier cartoons-from 1938 to 1940, the animators had more leeway to animate their own ideas-particularly Bobe Cannon and Ben Washam, but Jones soon evolved a style of pose to pose animation which was more creatively comfortable for him.
Jones is a stickler for every pose in a cartoon looking like he drew it himself. It is somewhat possible to tell the different animators apart if you study very closely, but it is harder than picking out Clampett's animators.
Jones is satisfied as long as the action is fairly smooth inbetween getting from one of his drawings to the next. I would imagine this would be frustrating to creative animators, but maybe some animators like having all the creative work spelled out for them, I don't know.
This scene from Rabbit Punch is pure acting. There are no backgrounds, just Bugs standing alone delivering his lines.
Every pose and expression that conveys a meaning was drawn by the director, Chuck Jones.
Now inbetween these main poses, Harris animates subtle movements of Bugs' head rolling around. These extra movements though, unlike McKimsons' scene - convey no meaning. They are just happening to "keep the scene alive". Like smacking a bobblehead.
This is an actual animator's term. Keeping a scene alive is to protect the scene from being labeled as the derogitory terms "limited animation" or "illustrated radio".
To me keeping a sceene alive with random movements isn't any better than limited animation. Any drawing or idea that doesn't have meaning or entertainment value in of itself is a waste of time and money. If it doesn't add anything, why pay for it?
Harris, also unlike McKimson was not a good draftsman. (Everyone, including Jones says so) He couldn't control solid forms moving slightly and slowly through space. If you watch the scene again, see how Bug's eyes and head shape and features warp and float around-now go back to McKimson's scene and look at how solid Bugs looks throughout.
Subtle animation is a very dangerous thing to do if an animator is not a good solid draftsman. That's why there are so many full-animators -especially today- who use tricks to avoid the problem of any of their drawings reading as moving holds. Animation that overly squashes and stretches way past the key poses means no pose is held long enough to establish itself as a non-stock-animation pose or expression. Poses that zip from pose to pose and everything is "snappy timing". This kind of stuff to me is all animation cheats. It's all over modern "full-animation".
It takes brave men like the old Warner Bros. animators to commit to their poses and expressions and not run from them as in modern Disney movies or Cats Don't Dance.
Go to Thad's great site to see more Harris and McKimson and other great old-time animators' scenes and look upon them with new eyes!
Friday, June 09, 2006
Here are some teasers for you:
He tells Sammy to be sure to lose the race.
He figures Tortoises always win so everyone will bet on the tortoise, so Billy bets on Wally. The odds against Wally are 136 to one so Billy figures he’ll clean up.
Sammy Tortoise cheats to lose.
Wally is so stupid though that he loses the race anyway and the ugly mob of animals that Billy bet against chase him at the end of the cartoon.
Wally is left dumbfounded.
Billy Chicken discovers a fleshy protuberance sticking out of the ground and rubs it, thinking that he will summon a magic genie to grant his chicken wishes.
No genie appears but the lump does get shiny which seems promising. He tries wishing upon a shine, but still nothing happens so he gets mad and hits the lump.
A bump appears on the lump and this time he knows he’s on to something.
He rubs the lump and sure enough out pops the enchanted Genie of the Lump.
In the end it turns out that the shiny fleshy lump is the top of Wally’s bald head. He has been buried in dirt for a week.
Everyone laughs as Wally chases Billy and the genie, sputtering dirt out of his impedimented lips.
They are stealing sap from Maple trees, and striking terror throughout the animal kingdom.
Officer Wally Man of the undercover squad tracks them to bring them to justice.
A hard-boiled thriller.
He loves to watch nature shows about animals in the wild.
All of a sudden his reception goes haywire.
He goes outside to see what happened and finds wild animals chewing his cable lines and he goes crazy!
Wally tries to rid himself of his pests so he can go back to watching the wonders of nature safe inside his man-made environment.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
What makes something cartoony?
Partly it's exaggerated proportions.
Here is your basic generic 1940s cartoon bulldog.
It's not very cartoony.
Because the proportions are too even.
The chest is big but not too big.
The butt is small but not too small.
His head is split evenly into 2 parts: the cranium and the jaw.
Here's a Tex Avery bulldog and look how much more cartoony it is!
The basic construction is the same as the Hanna Barbera bulldog, but the contrasts in sizes of the shapes is much greater.
The chest is REALLY big.
The butt is REALLY small.
The chin is waaay bigger than the cranium.
The eyes are tiny.
The front legs are way bigger than the back legs.
CONTRASTS in proportions=exaggeration=cartoony=funny.
*Interestingly, the only contrasts in this design are contrasts of size. The character is completely constructed of ovals. Varying the size contrasts alone makes it an appealing funny design.
Here's another Tex Avery bulldog.
This design has the same basic construction as the Tom and Jerry Bulldog, and the contrasts are slightly more exaggerated than the first bulldog but not as exaggerated as the first Tex Avery bulldog.
BUT! It has some other variations from the generic bulldog:
It's eyes are on angles-they are wider apart at the top than at the bottom.
The back legs are bowed apart, while the front legs are pigeon-toed.
His head is more triangular, with the point on top, rather than an evenly shaped oval.
So it has not only contrasts in sizes of forms, but also in shapes of forms and directions of forms.
So these variations on the basic evenly shaped and proportioned Hanna Barbera (I think it's Hanna Barbera) bulldog make it a particular design, whereas the Hanna Barbera mutt is merely generic.
Generic means even and inspecific. To qualify as a design, there has to be a set of specific variations on a basic set of forms.
Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett and Tex Avery are such big stars because they all have very specific styles and their cartoons make all kinds of specific statements and they constantly experimented.
This is why you can so readily recognize their cartoons as being theirs.
Most people in every field are generic types. They don't have individual statements to make.
Humans are naturally attracted to very individualistic people with charisma. Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart and most stars of the past.
In the 1940s when Avery, Jones and Clampett really stood out from the rest of the animators, we also had very generic animators like Friz Freleng, Hanna Barbera, Harman and Ising and Walt Disney. They believed in "quality" of course, but were very conservative about style and statements.
Today, almost everything is generic - only it's generic without the skill and high standards of the 1940s.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
It's the first time I ever got a chance to animate and design a sexy girl. I had always wanted to but in Saturday Morning Cartoons it was completely taboo to draw women who were good looking - because it would set a bad example for young girls.
Well I love to set a bad example.
We did this at Bill Kroyer's studio around 1987 or 88.
Jim Smith and I did the layouts. I animated Shelly Long with the flashlight and some other scenes. I think Jim did some animation too - he drew the scene in the canoe and other scenes as well.
Mike Kazaleh animated the girls with the wine bottle and corks. Kent Butterworth animated the scenes with the bear at the end.
There were probably a couple other folks who worked on it but I don't remember. Eric Stefani?
Some guys in the midwest did some animation too, but I don't think I ever met them. If you're reading, post a comment and let me know!
I was reminded of this cartoon by a gal who had a printout from it and she got me to sign it at the show last week. You should post it and let me link to it!