Thursday, October 30, 2008

40s Cartoons - Daffy Duck Hunt - Extreme Sarcasm

This is a real typical McKimson attitude and expression. Pure sarcasm and disdain for your fellow creatures. Most of McKimson's acting is done with gestures, motion and posing, not a lot of facial expressions. McKimson's most specific expression is this sneer. You can see it in his scenes in Clampett's cartoons too, only on cuter character designs.
The face is basically symmetrical except for the mouth - a frown that is tilted up and to one side.
This attitude pretty much sums up McKimson's whole world view. His cartoons are built around a bunch of hard bitten abused souls who are looking to take their own turns at abusing other hapless creatures. McKimson's world is literally a dog -eat -duck place, pretty much like the real world before hippies made us lie about ourselves. This is a total refreshing departure from the naive Disney world view that dominated cartoons in the mid to late 30s.
Even Porky is a hard-bitten middle aged jaded soul who has seen the true ugliness of the real world and knows there is only one way to survive.
Daffy Duck Hunt is a funny cartoon, but not quite as slick as "The Foghorn Leghorn". I have noticed 2 basic styles of McKimson cartoons in the 40s. One very well drawn and fluidly animated, the other stiffer and with a less appealing drawing style.
I'm not sure why that is. Maybe he had an assistant who did layouts on the cartoons that were more stock stories? I've noticed this about Chuck Jones' cartoons too. Maybe they just drew some of them faster and used a more shorthand drawing and animation style so they could spend more time on the more innovative or special cartoons. Who knows?
Anyway, I love this verbal gag. It's pretty shocking actually to hear it in a cartoon.
I think this was written by Warren Foster. I wonder how he and McKimson worked together. Foster wrote for Clampett, McKimson and Freleng and was considered the funniest storyman at Warner's. You can tell he had to adapt his own humor to the world views of his directors. He and McKimson created a sort of simplified caricature of Tex Avery's WB cartoons. They focused in on one element of Tex' work - his man-on-the-street attitude, added more acting and avoided the abstract pure cartoony stuff.
This stuff kills me. It's a celebration of how ignorant and base we humans really are. It boils it down to our essence.


John S. said...

I love this cartoon. I always liked McKimson's cartoons. The frenetic energy in his posing always appealed to me, and I've always thought that louts were funny. there is also something particularly painful about the way he had his guys animate violence. In order of preference, my favorite Warners directors were Clampett, Tashlin, Jones, Mckimson, Avery(I like his MGM stuff better than his Warners stuff), and then Davis. With the exception of a few of his 40's cartoons, Freleng always bored the shit out of me.

mike f. said...

I love McKimson's dog character; he was as perfect a foil to Foghorn Leghorn as Elmer and Yosemite Sam were to Bugs.

I think he's referred to as "Mandrake" in this cartoon. (Or maybe it's in ONE MEAT BRAWL where Porky calls him Mandrake, I'm not sure.) Anyway, for some reason his name was never used again and at WB Licensing, he's known simply as "Barnyard", or Barnyard Dawg.

Whatever he's called, I've never been allowed to draw him. He's not considered "core", or some other exec-speak nonsense - which basically means unemployed unwed mothers (who make up the majority of the marketing testing) don't remember him.

If you've ever wondered why some of your favorite characters seem to slip through the cracks and never get licensed, (like Porky Pig, Beaky Buzzard, Hubie & Bertie, Pete Puma, Snooper & Blabber, etc.) it's because some stupid Focus Group didn't like them, or didn't recognize them.

Warner's considers their opinions infallible, for some reason. All objections to the contrary are shot down immediately; so if you're waiting for that cool Bob Clampett "Gemlin" T-shirt from FALLING HARE, forget it...

Shawn said...

One of my favorite eras for Daffy (aside from Clampett's Daffy)! Plenty of sarcasm in these cartoons, but he was still a good natured heckler. He was still fun and energetic! This is back when Daffy was still my favorite character...before they turned him into an asshole and ruined him.

Daffy's design isn't "cute" in this cartoon...but it's funny. This is when he still looked like a duck, instead of a tall angry man. Seeing him go from making wise-cracks, to playing dead in a dog's mouth is hilarious!

>>if you're waiting for that cool Bob Clampett "Gemlin" T-shirt from FALLING HARE, forget it...<<

Oh man! I wish!!!!

Chip Butty said...

Thinking more about McKimson it seems like he was really capable with the subtler, harder-to-pigeonhole characters like Foghorn, Porky, Sylvester (and son)...they all benefit muchly from sarcastic, scowling annoyance and shouting.

Also surprised to find he directed "Daffy Doodles," I always thought that was a Clampett. That's one of the best Daffys ever!

"I eh-eh-eh-eh-HATE that duck"

oppo said...

There's also a great scene where, after Daffy is removed from the freezer for the second time (I think) and he starts saying: "What a trip! Blizzard all the way...". When he reaches the end of his tirade he becomes so emotional that he yells and his head gets so big it practacaly takes up one fourth of the screen. I think that was animated by Manny Gould.

Caleb said...

I love this grumpy dog with his extended beer belly that hints at his laziness. He reminds me of Abbott; a good balance for the silly characters. Foghorn Leghorn isn't as funny when he's not pissing this guy off.

Thanks for the scoop, Mike. Focus groups seem like a great way to dull down any edge a show may have had. Kids just love safety in their cartoons.

Mandrake seems like a name Porky would give him to sound refined and respecta-dee-dee-da-respecta-da-da-dee...distinguished.

stevef said...

Focus groups. Bah! What do they know? "Dawg" is the first WB character I could draw with any proficiency. He's good and lumpy.

I remember laughing out loud when I watched this cartoon as a kid. There's some great nonsense in this cartoon that sticks in the memory: why does Daffy arrive in a giant duck decoy? The blizzard in the deep freeze. And the debate within the dog's conscience that ends with the angel telling the devil, "Aaa shaddup!" That scene probably sums up the McKimson/Foster world view better than any.

McKimsons' cartoons had some of the best punchlines. "When I get to California, I'll have his valves ground." And, "Sooner or later she's going to try to get him out of that dog suit, and when she does, WHOOOOAAA NELLY!"

AAAAAAAAAAron J said...

John you need to write a book and compile all these analyses, comments, thoughts, etc including your own work. I'd buy it in a heart beat, even if it were 100 bucks (which I'd wait for it to come down and buy it on amazon instead)!


PCUnfunny said...

"I love McKimson's dog character; he was as perfect a foil to Foghorn Leghorn"

The Foghorn Leghorn cartoons IMO shattered the formulaic rivarly of cartoon characters. A loud mouth chicken, a grumpy, new yorkie, street smart, dog, and a niave little chicken hawk. You could never write that dymanic down on paper and expect someone to understand it, it's just so bizarre and it works.

"and at WB Licensing, he's known simply as "Barnyard", or Barnyard Dawg."

Oh I always thought that was his name. Well since they came up with it, I'll never address him in Barnyard Dawg again.

"All objections to the contrary are shot down immediately; so if you're waiting for that cool Bob Clampett "Gemlin" T-shirt from FALLING HARE, forget it..."

Yes appearantely the unfalliable minds at Warners feel people want gay Tweety and Taz as a stoner teenager.

Rudy Tenebre, esteemed secretary. said...

Yep, the unassuming career of McKimson certainly has nothing to do with how great his directorial work was.

When the dog tries to shush Daffy in the kitchen, with real urgency, and Daffy thwarts him suddenly conscious of the dog's worries, and speaks louder and more obnoxiously (!)--anyone with brothers has played out this scenario, quite naturally, time and again.

Brothers: those who pummel, obstruct, stymie, and occasionally sympathize with one another, certainly appeals to your social Darwinist worldview, J.K.

(of what extraction is Kricfalusi, anyway?)

Roberto González said...

Hey, mike f.

I have always wondered why they never use Porky in the merchandising. I mean, he's not that obscure. Another odd thing I have noticed is that Space Jam used characters we never see in merchandising like Porky, Beaky Buzzard, Sniffles, Hubert and Bertie...

However in Back In Action we only see Porky during one minute and there are less secondary characters. I mean, I love Marvin the Martian and Taz, but Porky has always been a more relevant character in Looney Tunes history.

About this particular short it has been a long time since I watched it, I remember it was fun but I should rewatch it. Yeah, this designs are actually cuter than later McKimson's models. He used Daffy in an enjoyable way.

pappy d said...

Chuck Jones once explained the uneveness of Warner Bros. cartoons by saying they had favorite projects & would crank out some cartoons so they could lavish more attention on the ones they liked.

Nowadays, they plan on packaging cartoons for syndication & this sort of thing is a sin against homogeneity.

mike f. said...

Roberto, don't ask me to explain executives - I can't. There's always been a palpable hatred of Porky Pig at Warner Bros - for no reason that I can fathom.

He's one of my favorite characters, and one of the most important characters in animation history. And he works beautifully composition-wise, with his broad contrast to the other characters in shape and color, and in texture and personality.

You've accidentally hit on a sore point with me - the cause of many a testy argument. I've been yelling about this to no avail practically since I've been there. Every time I draw Porky, he is mysteriously but deliberately "removed".

Other sore points:
*Lose useless corporate non-characters like Lola Bunny
*Reintroduce the funny, unangry Daffy
*Go back to the Clampett wartime models
*Get away from the same 5 "core" characters all the time
*Go back to the wiseacre Bugs Bunny
*Give Elmer and Yosemite Sam back their guns *Explore funny one-shots like The ROVER BOYS and the Gremlins from the Kremlin for licensing
*Release the black & white cartoons
*Explore limited series like Charlie Dog, the Three Bears and the (early) Goofy Gophers for licensing
*Explore funny incidentals like the cats from KITTY KORNERED, the Crusher, Pete Puma, and the Duck Twacy villains for licensing
*Rediscover neglected, formerly star characters like Foghorn Leghorn, Sniffles and Porky Pig
*Stop airbrushing the characters
*Put a cartoonist in charge of designing the DVD packaging, etc

...Now you know why I'm not invited to meetings anymore!

Roberto González said...

That's sad, Mike. I hope you get away with some of that in the future.

I have my own explanation about why they don't use Porky, maybe they think he's a little old-fashioned or too naive for modern audiences while more aggressive characters like Taz or Marvin seem more "hip" (although Marvin is not really that aggresive but he can be drawn with a bad attitude). That's probably their silly explanation. But that won't stop them for the overusing of Tweety's naivette and "gay" traits.

I just remembered I actually see a guy wearing a pretty odd Porky T-Shirt the other day. The shirt had a red/dark background and it includes Porky's face (a Clampett like Porky) and the Merrie Melodies logo.

I'm not sure whether I liked the shirt or not, the color seemed kinda more adequate for girls instead of guys, but I loved seeing a classic character design and a classic logo in LT merchandise for once.

PCUnfunny said...

Mike F., two questions:

1. Why use Sniffles ?

2. What was your reaction to
this line of merchandise ?

"(although Marvin is not really that aggresive but he can be drawn with a bad attitude"

I don't understand why Marvin the Martian is used for merchandising at all. He isn't funny unless Bugs or Daffy is fighting him.

mike f. said...

PCUnfunny - some answers to your reasonable queries...

1. Sniffles is for moms and little tots, not for studs like you and me. (Even so, I'd much rather see Sniffles merchandised than "Baby Looney Tunes." Fair enough?)

2. The line of product you linked to was developed independently by an outside licensee firm - the head of which conveniently happened to be the son of Dan Romanelli, former president of WB Licensing. (I think it was supposed to be horrific. My opinion? It is.)

3. I don't know who's quote that is concerning Marvin Martian, but it isn't mine. (BTW, if I never hear the word "attitude" applied to a cartoon character again, it'll be too soon.)

Roberto González said...

That line was mine, but I was just saying what I thought the executives think. I promise I won't use the 'tude word anymore.

I find Marvin funny and he's a nice looking character, however making an entire movie about him without Bugs or Daffy seems pretty risky, and I think pcunfunny is right about him being mostly a reaction character, but he is also funny, I can almost imagine a short with only him and K-9 working (I mean, especially if they had done it in the classic days) , but a movie seems a little too much.

PCUnfunny said...

Mike F. :

Thanks for the responses. Yeah, I can see Sniffles would be an ideal character for little kids, cute and innocent. As for the line of merchandise with the mad doctor theme, I must admit I do like it but mostly because of the funny character designs.