Thursday, December 18, 2008

foghorn smacks dog - big antics for big pain

Here's something that's just plain funny and universal.Solid drawings, great staging, appealing (in a manly way) and speaks to real humanity.
To make big hits stronger, you gotta use really big antics and leave them on long enough to build up power before the actual contact which barely registers onscreen.

This is so well thought out and aims solely to give the audience the biggest entertainment possible. It uses the same principles as Disney, but doesn't overdo it to the point where the action distracts from the acting or the gag. When he uses secondary actions he focuses the action on the main action. A lot of late 30s animation used too many secondary actions happening all over the character and made it hard to see hat the main actions of the characters were. Some Disney animators continued this practice to the end. Pete offered an example of this kind of thing from the Aristocats a couple of posts ago in the comments.
Bob McKimson completely directs his animation and staging to make the entertainment point come across clearly -which makes him a great director.
He doesn't confuse your eye with a lot of extra superfluous overlapping action, or too much squash and stretch and general animator show off stuff. He knows how to communicate with the audience and does it with extreme precision.
I think maybe why McKimson tried to constrain Scribner so much in his cartoons was because he felt Rod would have too much going on in his actions that distracted from the main point. It kind of backfired though, because Scribner in McKimson's cartoons had his characters move around and twitch within McKimson's prescribed "legal area" as if they were trying to wriggle out of a straight jacket. - I have clips of that stuff too. Maybe I'll show that in a later post. It's funny and sad at the same time.

I don't know who animated this, but it's very direct, powerful, to the point and most of all funny as heck.


Niki said...

this is very good to get away from the appeal and unappealing post that whole Delgo 'thing' I think I should watch it to know better what not to do.
I also remember seeing this as a kid was hilarious how Fog kept beating him. Well I'll download it for now but I'll talk about it later cause I gotta go back to sleep, Vintage Natwick, sleeping mid-day I mean.

trevor thompson said...

I have difficulty discerning what Scribner did different when he was working in McKimson's unit, versus Clampett's.

The thing is, I notice Scribner very much in McKimson's cartoons, especially in "Rabbit's Kin" and "Devil May Hare", and the only thing that looks different to my eye is that he's being forced to draw the characters to the letter the way McKimson designed them.

Rod's energy is unparalleled, and as animate as the characters are in McKimson's early cartoons, they don't quite have the same freneticism in the hands of other animators.

I can sort of see what you're saying, John, about Scribner being controlled by McKimson, but I think the reason he didn't last very long after that was because McKimson realized he couldn't control him, despite numerous attempts.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just biased. Scribner is my favorite, after all, and the idea of him being the only animator in Termite Terrace or at Warners who couldn't be tamed seems appealing to me.

- trevor.

Adam said...

Even the sound fx and impact sparks (is there a better term for this?) are funny and point your attention to the impact. This just gets more fun the more I loop the video, ha. Thanks for the post John.

Justin said...

Have you ever seen the 1979 chuck jones cartoon, Raggedy Ann & Andy: the Pumpking that Couldn't Smile?

I thought maybe you could use it to compare with the Raggedy Anne & Andy movie that you posted about last time if that post had to do with appeal.

part 1:
part 2:
part 3:

litlgrey said...

My wholly unedumacated guess as to who animated this authoritative and distinctly post-War sequence?

Either Tom McKimson, or Art Davis.

What I like about this period, even though animators sometimes overdosed on rubbery action and poses at the expense of either character or story, was that unlike the heavily restrained 1950s, NOTHING was droll.

Drollery seems to be death for enjoyable cartoons because very few directors can get away with it. Wait, I will rephrase that. Drollery seems to be the death for enoyable COMEDY because, same sentence ending.

Leeann H said...

Great drawings with big broad gestures; these are brilliant and funny key frames, which still entertain as individual pictures! It's a lost art, this. :(

Hans Flagon said...

I love the screen grabs storyboarding exactly what is ABOUT to happen.

Watching the clip, I'm surprised how much secondary movement and speedlines there are, but it doesn't distract from the solid main movement, which itself foreshadows, without spoiling, in body weight shifts what those big galloot chicken wings are about to do.

If this were done 20 years later, there would have been a cut to a totally useless reaction shot of the dog, going "Oh Brother" or some stupid nonsense.

Breaking the 4th wall Reaction Shots aren't inherently bad, it worked for Oliver Hardy. If even worked for Alan Hale Jr talking to Gilligan, in reference to Laurel and Hardy. But it was one of the Viruses that led to the hated 'tude takes.

animaenagerie said...

"He doesn't confuse your eye with a lot of extra superfluous overlapping action, or too much squash and stretch and general animator show off stuff."

Am I the only one who thinks the sloppy overuse of unnecessary dry brush speed lines every time Foghorn moves his head or his arm in this scene also falls into the category of "general animator show-off stuff" ?

Niki said...

Justin! thank you! that reminded me how I used to love all those old TV specials they had for those adorable comic books! It's determined! I know what I want to do, Mr.John, you brought back the fun, Genndy made action cartoons decent, so I'm gonna bring back good specials! To remind everyone they can be more than just convoluted, and extended versions of a piece of poo!

Iritscen said...

I just want to point out that, to me, the timing is what makes this extra-funny. Not just the movements, but the timing of the actual smacks. The dog has just raised his head to rest it on his paw and look at us when he gets smacked down again. We're not given the chance to see those final smacks coming, because we're watching the dog, not Foghorn, and the unexpectedness and the somewhat ruthlessly quick timing of it actually make me laugh out of surprise -- each time I watch it.

Somewhere along the line, it seems like cartoons lost their timing. Is it just my imagination? A lot of the cartoons I grew up with in the '80s were fun, but watching them now is painful because of the sloppy, out-of-control animation that goes from Point A to Point B with no thought as to timing. So many wasted opportunities there....

David Germain said...

I'd guess it was either animated by Charles McKimson or Manny Gould. Both those guys quite often incorporated quick and/or violent hand gestures into their scenes.

Jeremy said...

Yeah, I'm in full agreement. This is brilliant work I'm really interested in seeing the Scribner work you talked about. Thanks, this helps a lot!

Zoran Taylor said...

I was in the park with my Dad earlier this evening, and I was explaining to him that typical Disney fails as entertainment precisely because the animators treat everything like the thing we happened to be watching - a little dog, ours in this case, flailing around as it chases after a ball through the snowbank. Think about it: what else in reality has that much insufferable cuteness and excessive overlapping action and detail (mussed fur) in one place at one time? I figure Disney animators must've had an unusual addiction to watching animals play, to the expense of doing regular people stuff. Like.....I dunno, getting mugged? Chasing after foxy mature Girl Guides? Yeah, that'll make you, er, "man" enough to be an animator in no time flat!

For me, even the silliest animation will fail at being really funny if it denies itself to the right to be aggressive SOME of the time. Even non-violent actions in real life are entertaining because they have a balance between turbulence and delicacy.
Cartoons simply aren't funny if they don't acknowledge how strident real people are, how much concentrated power goes into the simplest of actions when we're really fired up and motivated. Disney, meanwhile, wanted even the brutal physical BEATINGS in his cartoons to look effete and lighthearted! I don't believe for a second that Cruella actually wants to hurt those dogs, I just don't. She treats every action like she's eating caviar. Where is there a POTENTIAL for violence in that?? Foghorn, on the other hand, could do much NASTIER things then he actually does, and shocked as we might be, we'll believe it all the way.

Caleb said...

I think the understated actions help the cartoon be more repeatedly watchable. Even the dry brush lines are contained and used in just the right amounts. The hard hits are even funnier here because Foghorn isn't even looking in that direction. The timing makes me laugh even without sound.

pappy d said...

The principles are universal, but the timing of the anticipation, action & follow-through is specifically Foghorn's. He makes so many rhetorical flourishes that you usually can't tell just when to duck. Sometimes a big sucker punch will accompany a repetition of dialog for emphasis. He was never that intimidating when he was done with a lower cel count.

It seems to me the whole point of animation is movement. You point out in an earlier post the design similarity of the 2 cooks from "Lady & the Tramp". They do have an ethnic resemblance (as does the cast from "Coal Black") but there's still a lot of contrast in how they behave. Limited animation has to depend solely on graphic design & voice acting to distinguish one character from another. Even the better stuff zips from pose to pose a la CalArts.

Taco Wiz said...

Cartoon Network's getting this new show called Looney Tunes. There's apparantly some Chuck Clampett or Bob Jones working on this.

This is my source. The art for this show looks horrible. Now Family Guy, THERE'S a show with sophistication!

Yeah, everything above was a joke. But Looney Tunes IS coming back, starting with a marathon on New Years Day. AWESOME! Spread the word, Mr. Kricfalusi. High viewers=more reruns.

Rudy Tenebre said...

Using formal theory to substantiate ones tastes is a fine route. Admitting the subjective nature of aesthetic judgments by no means leads to liking the Jackson Five, or Filmation. Like Foghorn, Beethoven is universal. By universal, you mean a certain immaterial concept we call a ‘universal’. That is, a theoretical object. If a theoretical object, then fundamentally unproven, for such is the nature of Theory. There is a profound difference between being objective, and having an objective. Simply because I contest your language doesn’t mean I don’t share your tastes, or admit the effectiveness of your practices.

HemlockMan said...

That's the thing about McKimson's critters, and what makes them so darned funny. They're hambones! They move in broad strokes, even for cartoon characters!!

James N. said...

"Cartoon Network's getting this new show called Looney Tunes. There's apparantly some Chuck Clampett or Bob Jones working on this."

This is good news... let's just hope the cartoons aren't cut to shreds <_<

Hans Flagon said...

"Am I the only one who thinks the sloppy overuse of unnecessary dry brush speed lines..."

I was surprised they were there, I thought they were superfluous, but they did not distract from the main action, and my feeling is, if I were watching this on a 2 story tall screen, it may have provided just the right accent. I can't say it would have been better without them totally. And it may have been a technique they needed to keep in practice for when it may have been more necessary.

It makes me wonder if there might have been some similar live footage with actual blurs that was being studied at some point, or if they just automatically added when ever they knew a movement was going to speed across fewer frames.

The timing is great though. Consider Pixars Presto, in comparison, where there is no breathing room between gags in the rushed pantomime. Or the Toon intro to Roger Rabbit, which I haven't seen since theatrical release.

Anonymous said...

You know if this was made today, Henery would just stand there motionless, maybe with a blink formula. I guess it's supposed to appear natural for everyone to be retarded and not react to something until the other character is finished with their entire speech.

Tommy said...

As a child I LOVED watching Foghorn Leghorn smack that dog around. I also loved watching Sylvester the cat falling down stairs. In my young mind I though, it was so funny because Foghorn and Sylvester's bodies look like adult man bodies. I see now that it is due to solid drawing. Now if I could only get my hand to make the pencil do stuff like this it would be sweet like candy.

Alain-Christian said...

M. R Darbyshire:

What is a blink formula?

Mr. Semaj said...

Just another element that made McKimson's cartoons so funny.

One of my most favorite smacking scenes, from any cartoon was Daffy smacking the mad scientist from "Birth of a Notion".

andy said...


1) I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about voice over.

2) any commentary on friz freleng - specifically Misterjaw, Pancho and Toro "The Tijuana Toads", The Ant and the Aardvark, Crazylegs Crane. Very little I could find online, but some links to some dvd complations.