Thursday, May 24, 2007

Foghorn Leghorn - McKimson's realistic world view

Disney aimed his cartoons at Moms, but thank God someone thought of Dads too. That was Bob McKimson.

Mckimson had a funny worldview.

To him, all men are assholes. They are all dumpy, middle aged, loudmouthed schnooks and they all take advantage of each other.

He treated all his characters that way, Bugs Daffy, Elmer, it doesn't matter. Everyone is a sarcastic reality-bitten bully-even Porky Pig!

I find that hilarious because it's so true.

"Walky Talky Hawky" (1946)

Bob Clampett told me all about McKimson. He referred to him as his top animator. He said he was a timid little British guy - mild mannered and soft spoken, very conservative. The opposite of his characters!

That instantly explained his worldview to me. To a mild mannered little British guy, American cartoonists (at least the WB ones) must have seemed like the brashest, vulgarest, most boorish loud mouthed louts on the planet.

Being of a practical nature, when he got his chance to make cartoons, he gave the audience what he thought they wanted - characters who were just like how his cohorts appeared to him. His idea of what a Warner Bros. cartoon was a lot of yelling, brute punishment and slapstick. Some historians fault him for that, but I can tell you that his view was right.

Most guys love Foghorn Leghorn because he represents what we all want to be. Foghorn is a typical Dad type character. A guy who wants to be in charge and uses force when possible and guile when necessary to get his way.

My Dad used to laugh his ass off at "that big chicken". Pepe Le Pew did nothing for him.

By the way, look at the great drawings and poses!

McKimson used difficult angles and perspective more than the other directors.

His sense of scale and hugeness is amazing too!


The McKimson commandments
Thou Shalt covet thy rival asshole’s women
Thou shalt covet thy rival’s property
Thou shalt smack thy neighbor’s buttocks
Thou shalt trade punishment for greater punishment
Shove and thy neighbor as thou might be shoved
Thou shalt play vulgar practical jokes
Thou shalt make the rules that only thee don’t have to obey
Thou shall not ever speak the truth
Thou shalt take advantage of the stupidity of others
Thou shalt sneer and disdain thy fellow assholes

McKimson might have been a miquetoast sort of guy himself, but he had good enough business sense to make cartoons for regular folks. He knew his duty and dood it.

Coming up: UPA - when Milquetoasts rebel!
See what happens when pantywaists rebel against the public and make cartoons for other pantywaists...


Kali Fontecchio said...

Haha- nice commandments- very true!!!!!

That's hilarious about him being a quiet, reserve guy from England. That's probably how the whole world views us in America! The United States of Foghorn Leghorn hahaha!

Max Ward said...

GENIUS!!!!! I've been wanting to hear your theory on McKimson since you last mentioned it. I didn't know McKimson was British. Was he straight-off-the-boat British, accent n all?

JohnK said...

Hi Max,

I don't think so. He may have been born here. Maybe some expert will tell us more about him.

I wish they would write more about the guy. He's a major super talent!

Mark 2000 said...

I understand you are moderating these comments so this is just a personal message to you, John. I just finished a cartoon I think you'll get a kick out of if you have three minutes to spare.

I've been doing freelance animation for a few years now and this is the first personal project I've gotten done in a while. Hope you enjoy it.

JohnK said...

Hey Mark,

that was funny. Nice lip synch too!

Mr. Semaj said...

I am so using those commandments for some of my future stories! :D

Rose said...

i also agree with the commandments xD
man, i would love to be able to animate like that aswell.

i think my favorite part about Foghorn was how he DID act like dads, it was hilarious, thanks for the clip

Katie Rose said...

i am so eternally grateful i found this blog, i have always been interested in old cartoons and know some things here and there, but my knowledge of this stuff so little compared to this. Oh man I'm all shits and giggles over this.

keep it up john!

Mark 2000 said...

Sorry, that file had no sound. This one works:

DTN said...

Clampett must have meant that McKimson's mannerisms reminded him somehow of a reserved British fellow , because McKimson was not British. He was born in Denver,Colorado.

Maybe his parents were Brits... or Canadians (also known for their meek and mild attitudes ...I say, that's a JOKE , son ! I made a funny ! )

David Germain said...

I always assumed this loud mouthed display from Foggy and other characters in McKimson's toons came from an estranged relationship with his own father. I got into that a bit in my McKimson essay back in July. I guess if Bob had this feeling then it would be obvious that his brothers Charles and Tom would have had similar feelings too.

I wish more would be written about the McKimson brothers. Maybe that's a book idea Jerry Beck could start.

Duck Dodgers said...

Sorry if I go OT (by the way, I love your last posts!), but are there any updates about the Ultimate Ren and Stimpy DVD set?

Robert Pope said...

Whatta way to start the day-Brilliant observations! Foggy is tops!

PCUnfunny said...

I loved Foghorn Leghorn's belly and how he used it knock down people while he yelled at them.

Craig D said...

Any thoughts on ARTHUR DAVIS' cartoons..?

Anonymous said...

My dad hates cartoons but he likes Speedy Gonzales and Foghorn Leghorn.

I also didn't know he was British.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Brilliant post! This is exactly the kind of thing cartoonists should be talking about!

Thanks also for opening up my eyes to McKimson! I under-rated the man before but no more!

Roberto González said...

I , like Eddie, used to under-rate
McKimson, but I see he has a lot of great stuff. I enjoy Foghorn Leghorn a lot (incidentally, does this name means something in particular? I have always wondered, here in Spain we call him "Gallo Claudio". (Daffy Duck is called "Pato Lucas", pretty much all the other remain with the same name)

The thing with McKimson is that I don't like the designs of the characters in some of his cartoons. For example in Easter Yeggs Bugs seemed pretty fat, and though it has solid animation, it seemed weird and ugly to me. However I think he looks good in Hilbilly Hare (even though the animation is perhaps more limited).

The other thing is some of McKimson's cartoons have a plot I really enjoy and others I find a little meh, not very memorable. That never happened to me with Clampett or Jones, almost every one of their cartoons is memorable for different reasons. It does happen with Freleng, who, I think, have some memorable stuff too...I may be guilty of underrating McKimson but I think John under-rate Freleng a little (A Hare Grows In Manhattan, Slick Hare, Three Little Bobs or Bird Anonymous are all super-classic in my books) . But yeah, nowadays, especially after reading this blog, I think McKimson was quite better than Freleng.

I enjoy the Sylvester-Sylvester Jr dynamic a lot too. While the basic plot of those cartoons is a little tiresome and reiterative, I think the dialogues are brilliant and hilarious. Cats Aweigh is a great one. His cartoons usually have a lot of funny dialogue, actually. And his characters, except for Tasmanian Devil, talked a lot.

Ardy said...

Mojo Nixon always said that Foghorn Leghorn was part of his personal Holy Trinity (along with Elvis and Otis Campbell), and Mojo Nixon was as big an asshole as any man. Plus he was awesome.

Check him out.

Jon Brown said...

Here is what Leonard Maltin's book has to say about McKimson:

"A fine animator, McKimson turned out to be an uninspired director. Working alongside Jones and Freleng, with the same characters and access to the same talent pool, he missed the mark with alarming frequency."


"He was capable of making good cartoons, and sometimes did, but there is no question that his were the weakest entries in the Warners' output."

I never understood why everyone can be so critical of McKimson's cartoons, but praise Freleng's. The Freleng cartoons in the 50s and 60s were much more bland uninspired than McKimson's.

HemlockMan said...

I always liked McKimson. He seemed to excel at making the Warner Brothers character supreme smart-asses. Smart asses who glowed with self-satisfaction at their smart-assendness.