Archive for the 'Animation' Category

Rabbit of Seville

Last night, unprompted, J. recited the entirety of The Rabbit of Seville. From memory.

I didn’t think it was possible to love you any more than I already do, sweets. Happy anniversary!

Posted in Animation, Looney Tunes on June 29th, 2012 by Steven

Hot Rod and Reel!

J. has a roller derby game this weekend, so I thought I’d dig up something, anything that involves roller skates. I’ve drawn roller girls a few times, and never really felt like I got it. I think I should make like Wile E. Coyote and push my next attempt as far as it will go. That’s some great posing there.

I was never that big a fan of the Road Runner when I was a kid. In other Warner Bros. cartoons, the dialogue combined with the animation played off of one another to raise the quality of both. That said, I had an assignment in college where I had to animate a scene with Wile E., and it certainly increased my appreciation for what the animators of the Golden Age were able to achieve. Wile E. may be the least appreciated character design to come out of Warner Bros. I love how mangy he looks with all his little tufts of matted fur, and how he has that huge torso that makes him look like a hunchback and accentuates his tiny, malnourished stomach. They really nailed him right out the gate.

Posted in Animation, Looney Tunes on June 17th, 2011 by Steven

Scandalous Pencil Test


I promised myself that I wouldn’t post content found at Andreas Dejas blog more than once a week, but it’s so damn hard to resist. So many wonderful roughs and pencil tests. I just hope he starts pacing himself or he’s going to burn out.

Today’s clip is by Ollie Johnston. The design is unmistakably Freddie Moore, but no one has figured out where the clip is from, if it’s from anything. I love how raw it is in comparison to the other clips Dejas has been posting; the lack of detail or clean-up, the static holds. That and it reminds me of that urban legend about the gag footage animated by Disney artists showing Jiminy Cricket and Tinker Bell getting it on.

Posted in Animation, Disney on June 16th, 2011 by Steven

Barber of Seville

There’s a fine line between crazy and maniacal. Woody Woodpecker takes that line and beats you to death with it. At first I was a little taken aback by Woody’s intensity in this cartoon, but I can’t help but appreciate that willingness to make Woody stand out from the crowd by pushing him further, even if he does come off like he’s a serial killer. It’s interesting to see the changes these characters go through as they are passed around over the years. I like these interim portrayals, when they’ve been refined slightly but not enough to smooth out all the rough edges.

Man, when it gets going, this one tears right into it. The escalating jump cuts and rapid-fire editing add so much to the madness. Director Shamus Culhane is the Godard of animation. At first I found the human characters to be a little soft, but in the end they make a nice contrast to Woody’s angular, manic performance, as if the entire world is sleepwalking until he comes along. That sequence when they’re fighting along the counter is just masterful, and Woody has so many rich poses in this thing.

Posted in Animation, Walter Lantz on June 15th, 2011 by Steven

Little Johnny Jet

Things I Never Noticed As A Kid #312 – Little Johnny Jet’s father should really consider taking a paternity test.

It’s probably a little unfair, but I went into Little Johnny Jet comparing it to today’s crop of anthropomorphized vehicle animation. Right from the start, when Johnny’s dad opens the garage door with seemingly effortless appeal, I couldn’t help thinking that the use of inanimate objects in 3D animation to cover up for limitations in the technology has been a crutch for too long.

Back to Little Johnny Jet; upon watching it a second time I realized that it really works as a condensed movie, like those abridged Castle films you could get on 8mm back in the day. It’s a nice change of pace from Avery’s usual rapid fire wackiness, though he does manage on getting a few gags in as they circle the world. Johnny’s take after passing the Statue of Liberty is priceless.

Posted in Animation, MGM on June 14th, 2011 by Steven

Room Runners

I’m still working on the Mickey Mouse comic strip collection, but one of my favourite parts so far was a complete surprise to me; the earliest strips by legendary animator Ub Iwerks. They’re absolutely stunning, and worth the price of admission alone. Flipping through his strips prompted me to check out one of the cartoons from the studio he founded after leaving Disney.

I had heard some pretty nasty things about the cartoons that came out of Iwerks’ studio, and if Room Runners is any indication they’re all true. There’s something sad about a mischievious cartoon character whose clever ploy to get out of a scrape is to hand his adversary a doorknob. And while I find it hard to fault a cartoon of this vintage for its crude animation, at the very least the best examples I’ve seen from that era tried to do something that justified the medium. Oh, well. At least there was plenty of scandalous pre-Code action.

Posted in Animation, Ub Iwerks on June 13th, 2011 by Steven

Buckaroo Bugs

What’s wrong with me? Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies are not only my favourite cartoons, but serious contenders for my favourite pieces of cinema ever. Yet this is the second Warner Bros. cartoon in a row to leave me a little disappointed. And a Clampett cartoon at that.

At first I thought the reason could be that madman animator Rod Scribner had left Termite Terrace by that point, but the scene right before the robbery seems to be his work, and is arguably the best part of the short. Ryder’s constant, floppy movement has to be one of the greatest representations of pure stupidity in the history of cartoons. And the horse was wonderful, alternating between righteous determination and total panic. Outside of that, nothing really seemed to gel. Recycled gags, plenty of filler, an especially antagonistic Bugs beating up on an idiot, and a scenario stripped down to the essentials. Chuck Jones pulled off that kind of minimalism all the time, but with Clampett I always expect a constant barrage of zany ideas, one after another.

That, or my expectations going into a Clampett cartoon are a little high.

Posted in Animation, Looney Tunes on June 12th, 2011 by Steven

The Lonesome Mouse

So, Jerry’s a bit of a dick, right? I’m not just imagining it? I must have been blind to it as a kid. Anyway, Tom and Jerry was one of the pillars of my cartoon education. Now I’m wondering why that is. I don’t remember if this applies to the series as a whole, but one of the most striking things about this particular cartoon is just how toothless it is. The stakes aren’t very high. Unlike other cartoon rivalries, it doesn’t seem as if Tom is particularly interested in actually eliminating Jerry, and vice versa.

Regardless, The Lonesome Mouse seems to be the epitome of solid draftsmanship as made famous by Preston Blair, which shouldn’t be surprising considering Blair worked at MGM at the time. My favourite bit this go-around is probably the sword fight, just because they look like they’re having the time of their lives and they don’t care who sees it.

Posted in Animation, MGM on June 11th, 2011 by Steven

House Busters

Heckle and Jeckle get no respect. I really wanted to branch out from the usual suspects into other studios, but I had a hard time tracking down a decent list to start from. And when I did finally find the dark corner of the internet where Heckle and Jeckle fans congregate, their suggestions were useless to me as most of them weren’t available on Youtube. Unlike other cartoons that may not have made it online due to copyright enforcement, I have a feeling that the lack of Heckle and Jeckle cartoons had more to do with disinterest.

One of my goals in doing this was to find gems that I had never seen before instead of retreading the same old shorts over and over. Mission accomplished. House Busters is incredible. It would have to be considering animation demigod Jim Tyer seems to have done a sizable amount of work on it. You’ll know his stuff when you see it because nothing on this planet moves the way he animates. That would normally be enough to satisfy me, but the majority of the cartoon bounces along with plenty of funny gags, solid animation and a catchy tune. And the premise is pure gold, a nice change of pace from the usual acts of vengeance and cruelty found in most shorts. It’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t be out of place in a Three Stooges presentation.

Posted in Animation, Jim Tyer, Terrytoons on June 10th, 2011 by Steven

Vicious Viking

Brian Wood’s Vertigo title Northlanders was an easy sell to make to a particular subsection of my friends, what with its Vikings crossed with Battles Without Honor or Humanity conceit. I guess I just didn’t push it hard enough. In honour of Northlanders imminent demise, I present Walter Lantz’ Vicious Viking.

Right from the start I was getting serious flashbacks to a childhood wasted on indiscriminately watching fourth-rate cartoons on television all day, every day. Chilly and Smedley are both so stiff and cloying, then the titular viking shows up and everything becomes a whole lot more awesome. There’s some really nice bits in there, including the Viking’s bite anticipation and his paranoid jumping around once thawed out. There’s also something wonderfully off about having him eat an entire moose head, or stabbing a bomb with his sword like it were a meatball. Sure, the Viking comes off as a cheap knock-off of Yosemite Sam and The Tasmanian Devil, but it works, and I would love to see more of him. And really, if you’re going to watch one cartoon with a surf version of The Ride of the Valkyries today it may as well be this one.

Posted in Animation, Vikings, Walter Lantz on June 9th, 2011 by Steven