Thursday, December 06, 2012

Bob McKimson Tribute at the Aero on Friday

Hey the Aero theater in Santa Monica is presenting a Bob McKimson retrospective Friday evening and you should go if you can.

Bob was one of the best animators ever. He drew better than just about anyone and had a completely unique way of moving his characters. He was the lead animator at WB in the 30s and early 40s and taught many of the other animators. He set the overall style of the studio's look and animation.He designed many of the Warner Bros. characters and animated the best acted, best looking Bugs Bunnies while working in Bob Clampett's unit.

This is a beautiful and hilarious sequence animated by McKimson for Clampett's "Hare Ribbin". 


Bob McKimson was also one of the top cartoon directors of the golden age - and maybe even the most popular one among regular folks (as opposed to historians and critics). I know that when I was a kid, my friends and I imitated his cartoons more than anyone else's. We acted out the genie in "A - Lad - In His Lamp", sang the square dance song from "Hillbilly Hare", acted out the cat's begging in "Early to Bet", Daffy Duck as the ghoul in "Prize Pest" and on and on. My Dad laughed hardest at his cartoons, especially "that big chicken" - and that's a true test of the entertainment value of a cartoon.

Here are just a few of my favorite McKimson films:

Walky Talky Hawky (1946) – first great McKimson Cartoon that is uniquely his voice

Birth of a Notion (1947) – This is a great cartoon! 

Crowing Pains (1947)

Easter Yeggs 1947

Hot Cross Bunny (1948)

The Foghorn Leghorn (1948)

A-Lad-in His Lamp (1948)

What's Up Doc? (1950)

Hillbilly Hare (1950)

Pop 'im Pop 1950

Hare We Go (1951)

Early to Bet (1951)

The Prize Pest (1951)

Thumb Fun (1952)

Rabbit's Kin (1952)

Plop Goes the Weasel 1953

Devil May Hare 1954
Bugs Bunny changed considerably once McKimson started directing - as did all the other WB characters under his supervision. Bugs went from being a young mischievous prankster to maturing into a middle aged grumpy curmudgeon with a pot belly and short stubby legs.

 In fact almost all the characters in Mckimson's cartoons were grumpy middle aged curmudgeons.

It's a really funny world view that you only see in his cartoons. The main contrasts in the different characters' personalities was in how smart or how stupid the various curmudgeons were.

In "The Windblown Hare" Bugs is the cleverest curmudgeon, the wolf is a gullible curmudgeonly idiot and the 3 dumpy pigs are just all out mean and and cynical curmudgeons.

I love this stuff. Bob McKimson showed the world to be a hornet's nest of swindlers and wiseasses who go through life shouting, manhandling and pushing each other around - just like real life would be if we were unfettered by political correctness and insincere manners.

Watch this hilarious cartoon:

BOOK SIGNING - 6:00 pm

Get your copy of the new McKimson Bros. book signed by Robert McKimson, Jr. and I think maybe by Darrel, Jerry or me - even though we didn't make any of the cartoons - but are all huge fans!


Great animator/producer Darrell Van Citters, world  famous cartoon Historian Jerry Beck, Robert McKimson Jr. and I will be having a panel discussion where we'll invade each others' space and push and poke each other in our middle aged paunches. 
Robert McKimson Jr. aside a portrait of him as a lad, painted by his talented father.


...and best of all, we can watch a bunch of great cartoons on the big screen, the way they were meant to be shown!

...also I will be bringing Jim Smith, Eddie Fitzgerald and you could maybe get them to shove you or smack your butts with a wooden paddle.

Where: Aero Theatre 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
(310) 260-1528
When: Friday, December 7th, at 7:30 p.m. (booksigning begins at 6:00 p.m.)


Paul B said...


Joshua Marchant (Scrawnycartoons) said...
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OMC said...

Got the book and two tickets! Last time I saw a WB cartoon retrospective at the Aero, Virgil Ross was in the audience! Tomorrow is going to be a great night.

SparkyMK3 said...
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Jesse Oliver said...

I love McKimson's design for the Gambling Bug from "Early to Bet"!

Erik Butter said...

I love McKimsons cartoons!
especialy The foghorn leghorn and
the cartoon where Bugs Bunny fils up the grand canyon becouse he's angry about that rabbits are only worth
2 cents.
I thought that was a very funny cartoon but i don't remember the title.

Archie said...

Good ol Bob!

Zartok-35 said...

Well said, Mr. K, McKimson directed some fine cartoons before the shutdown.

Esteban said...

John, Im a big fan of you :D I love every drawing you make, your style and your bizarre way are amazing to me, it would be a pleasure to me if you read this :D and even, more pleasure if I can contact you :D
You are my hero, my big inspiration, im 17 years old and I have worked for newspaper and TV. Grettings from Argentina !

OMC said...

It was a great night; nothing like seeing classic cartoons on the big screen!

James Robert Smith said...

Wow! I wish I could go!

I've talked about this before, but I reckon it bears mentioning again.

The older I get the more I appreciate what a great animator/director McKimson was. And even when I was a kid I thought his cartoons were especially funny. His characters moved the funniest, and his cartoons were the best loud-mouthed louts ever! McKimson was great!

Pokey said...

Erik.."Rebel Rabbit" was the title and yes, Bugs being a Napoleon-like rascal commiting international damage WAS veyr funny..!!

Erik Butter said...

@Pokey Thanks! i already figured it out in the meantime and watch it again and made me laugh :)

Bugs Bunny's Wise assnes going way to far :P
You won't see that in a Chuck Jones or Friz Freleng cartoon.

Lamont Cranston said...

watching this morning cartoons, there was a loony tunes filler between the regular shows. It must have been a Jones or Freleng one from the 1950s, Elmer chasing Bugs around a tv studio with a lot contemporary tv show parodies going on.
Might have been amusing then but today people would be left scratching their heads, I only got the references to Liberace specials and Groucho Marx You Bet Your Life.

fabiopower said...

always caught my eye folds of skin in this age of cartoons of Warner Bros
Who is the master of this technique, in your opinion?

Joshua Marchant (Scrawnycartoons) said...
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Elana Pritchard said...
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Victor Amore said...

Hi John, I'm a fan of you, from Argentina too! Here Ren and Stimpy are very beloved, and make everybody laugh. Thank you!

PD: Is the John Kricfalusi from Facebook really you? Sorry for the off-topic comment.

kurtwil said...

Thanks for interesting McKimsom info, and for Kickstarter update. Glad to hear George L.'s getting mega love and attention!

Triadsense said...

It is good to have you back. I have been tiding myself on your General Mills blog. I miss these posts on the history of cartoons.

I am starting a blog of my own and have posted about;postID=6410408460933185219

Anonymous said...

greenhorn gallery: John K

As I think of Fine Artists I appreciate I'll add them to my "Fine Artist" label on my blog. I was looking for a Coffee Table on Ebay and came across a crap load of John K items. Junky toys! I like Ren & Stimpy. I posted 2 of the John K Ebay items in my blog due to the inflationary price and 1 was a winning T-Shirt Design. I don't think the current John K Store has the right T-Shirt Designs? It's like taking a picture of someone. You have to weed through and pick the best one. Someone was giving/selling antique battered wood pieces. That's what I might look at for making an Original Coffee Table. I appreciate the Video links in this posting. My own Mom asked me this morning on the phone, "not to come over for Christmas!" Not being accepted on a Blog is normal.

Triadsense said...

I'm out of practice John Kricfalusi and Animation

Pokey said...

Lamont, that was a McKImson, "People are Bunny", with impressions of Frank "Yessss"Nelson (the producer with the "Yogi BEar Brit Hunter" tartan jacket), with Liberace, Billy "Busy, Busy" De Wolfe, Art Carney as Ed Norton, and Groucho Marx impressions (Bugs Bunny).

TV shows spoofed, include to name JUST a FEW:
"You Were There"
"The Medic"
"You Bet Your Life"
and various hunting show.

[while in the meantime my owner Gumby and I didn't do a lot of TV spoofing in OUR series!]

Review said...

Hey John, I don't know if this is the right place to post this, but check out this trailer for an upcoming short film from a young animator. It would be interesting to see what you think of this little sneak peek if you don't decide to ignore this comment.

J C Roberts said...

Nobody quite used dramatic perspectives on characters like McKimson. When his characters are telling somebody what's what and giving them what for, they stretch back and loom forward in such an exaggerated way they all seem like angry inner tubes snapping toward the camera.

It's a bit sad his later period with WB lost much of this, but in the great cartoons listed in this post, he was the only director at Termite Terrace who could have given us Foghorn at his best, both a loudmouth blowhard and a violent bully happily doling out lumps with a two by four at the ready and a chest to thrust right into your nose like a third fist.

He wasn't the best fit for Daffy (no one can handle Daffy better than Clampett case closed), but he did Bugs justice while putting his own mark in.

I'd be tempted to say second only to Clampett if you compare all the directors at their respective peak periods.


Awesome post! I too love McKimson's work. So much good stuff it's hard to site it all. Pete Puma in Rabbits Kin gets me every time.
Great there is finally a real book about this great man.

paul said...

Merry Christmas, John K., to you and all of your friends and family inside and outside the cartoon business, Happy Holidays, Καλά Χριστούγεννα, καλές διακοπές, ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος , and may all of you have bright, happy, prosperous, and a productive New Year.

The Greek Versions of Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year were just for the sake of diversity.

Your Friend and Protégé,

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 AD
8:10:24 AM EST

paul said...

Johnny, I'm sorry that I've gotten off topic, I'm wishing you a Happy Holiday!


Elana Pritchard said...
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Elana Pritchard said...


Elana Pritchard said...

From what I saw of your cartoon, it lacks humanity. People don't look like they are actually talking to each other. They just look like animation tricks sitting in chairs on separate plains.

It lacks the warm glow that Ren and Stimpy, and your Simpsons intro had. This glow goes beyond slick animation tricks.

Listen to me or don't. Hate me, think I'm terrible, I don't care. As long as you keep going the path you are going your cartoons will never have that glow again. You just can't fake it.

30's/40's animation had it. Cartoon characters actually connected with each other.

But what is my opinion worth?

Elana Pritchard said...

Nothing, according to you.

Elana Pritchard said...

How can I explain how to have more humanity? Its kind of an abstract concept.
First, you have to recognize that you are human. You have to understand that the people watching your cartoons are human beings on the same level as you, not beneath you.
You have to hire people with life experience. College kids are great because they are cheap and are great at following orders, but they probably have never experienced much hardship or fallen in love. This will show through in their work. They will never disagree with you.
Like I said, explaining humanity can't really be done in a few paragraphs. You have to live it.
Its kind of like jazz music. Compared to something like Motzart it sounds primitive, yet it speaks to our inner soul in a way Motzart does not.
And if you have to ask, you'll never know

Elana Pritchard said...

Let me make something perfectly clear. I think you are an amazing person. I fell in love with who you are, your humor, your creativity. But when you shut me out and are rude to me, all I can see is the ugliness inside you. It's like there is a shell of fear around you.

If you would just be yourself when I was around, all I would see is your beauty. Because it's there, your not allowing me to see it.

And you need to take at least one day a week off for your own good. It's doable, just make your other days more efficient.