Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2 Types of cartoonists-Origin of styles 2 -Rubber Hose animation





If you didn't read the first article on this subject, you might want to start here:

http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2006/04/2-types-of-cartoonists-origin-of.html

BALLS AND TUBES BECOME RUBBER HOSE
The beginnings of production line cartoons were really spinoffs of the comic strip-in particular, the cartoony style of comics-the balls and tubes style of unrealistic comic strips.

http://www.animationarchive.org/2006/04/media-cliff-sterretts-polly-and-her.html

In fact the earliest animated cartoons were drawn by comic strip artists.
In the 1920s Paul Terry was the main developer of this style. Many other young animators looked up to him and his techniques-especially Walt Disney.
I'm not an expert in all the details of the very early period of animated cartoons. Look to Mark Kausler, Steve Worth and Jerry Beck if you are interested in learning more!
Here's how to find Jerry (look on the left side and scroll down to "classic shorts" and click whatever studio you want to learn about:
http://www.cartoonresearch.com/

These early cartoons are even simpler in design than the comic strips that spawned them. There is a good reason for this. A comic strip artist only has to draw 4 panels a day. An animator in those days had to do between 12 and 24 drawings for every second of film!
Animation from the 20s to the early 50s was both very logical -and at the same time the most creative time in animation history. Why? For a very simple reason: Animators and Cartoonists invented it and developed it, and at a time when Western civilization believed that the practicioners of a profession were the ones best suited to create, develop and grow the business. And that they did. This is the complete opposite of how things are done in the modern corporate and mystical west today. Nothing is logical. Common sense is a thing of the past.

20S CARTOONS
During the 20s the style of animated cartoons started to slowly diverge from the style of still cartoons and comics. The mere act of having to move drawings makes you learn things you might never have to even think about when you draw still drawings. As good and creative as many of the comics were, they were generally very stiff. The poses were unnatural and a kind of picture shorthand. Walk poses didn't flow or have weight. Characters were only drawn from 3 angles-front, side and 3/4 and in most comics, the characters didn't even open their mouths to talk! It seems that comic strip artists never even thought to have a character do what seems so obvious to an animator-to open your mouth to speak. The few that did, just barely opened the mouths and the shape of the mouth didn't describe any particular phonetic sound.

In my opinion, the animated cartoon really exploded with creativity in the late 20s and all through the 30s-once sound was added to the moving pictures.

SOUND CARTOONS-MOVING TO THE BEAT
With Steamboat Willie the sound cartoon era officially started. It wasn't the first sound cartoon, but the first to cause a sensation. What was special about it? Not much. Except one really important thing: The whole damn cartoon was synchronized to music!

This simple innovation was so magic and appealing that it caught on and soon everyone was doing it. And doing it better and better.


ANIMATED CARTOON THE HIGHEST FORM OF ART
For some reason it seemed so natural and logical to all the animators at every studio, that moving your cartoon actions to musical beats became not a creative choice but a fundamental axiom in how to make a correct cartoon. And it is one of the things that made cartoons just about the highest artform in history. It combines the two most pleasurable senses-sight and sound and makes it's goal to make your eyes and ears happy.

This is so logical to me that I can't believe that this simple concept is lost today. Most cartoons today punish your eyes and your ears.

ONE MORE MAGIC INGREDIENT: FUN!
What makes cartoons different than other forms of art? They take art which was meant to pleasure your eyes and distill the pleasure-they take out any cumbersome details that don't lead to immediate satisfaction. Cartoons are candy for the eyes. That was the whole philosophy of early cartoons and I guess was also the reason that they never got serious consideration as an art form-not until they started taking the fun out! UPA is about the first cartoon studio to be taken seriously by a lot of critics-and it's mainly because the cartoons removed the element of fun from them.

In the 20s and 30s the animators experimented with their art and would make the cartoons do impossible things that could never happen in real life.
Why? Because they could. And the audiences loved it. We all love magic. Well, all of us except executives.
Strangely, one particular animation studio of the rubber hose period had conservative forces at work.
More tomorrow...

Hey guys, send me the links to your sites that have rubber hose stuff up and I'll send folks there!

Mark Deckter has some great rubber hose posts here!

44 comments:

Marc Deckter said...

SWING, YOU SINNERS

THE PLOW BOY

BARNACLE BILL

FLEISCHER CROWD SCENES

Kyle aka Scout said...

Wow I love that old Betty Boop cartoon when she was still a dog. Thanks for all the insights into animation John, i've learned so much from reading your stuff. I'm getting into film and hopefully animation myself and take so much from what you say. Can't wait to see your new Weird Al video, always enjoy your stuff.

Sincerely
Kyle

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Holy Crap! "Mysterious Mose" made absolutely no sense at all, but it was incredible!

Thanks for all the knowledge!

Anonymous said...

Hey John K.

Would you and the boys at SPUMCO ever make a Rubber Hose or 1920's style looking cartoon? Something that would look like the real early Micky Mouse cartoons but with the sence of humor from WB, Tex Avery and Ren & Stimpy cartoons. Other people who make cartoons that can't draw for shit do the Rubber Hose style SO BAD!!!! I mean look at the Animainiacs! I know that only you and the guys at SPUMCO would do the best 1920's style looking cartoon.

Jesse

JohnK said...

Hey Marc

I wish I could afford to have you on staff!

Thanks a million!

Wanna have lunch at least?

David DeGrand said...

I loved reading this article, rubber hose cartoons are so amazing to watch and at the same time kinda depressing because we all know nothing of that caliber will ever be done again, except of course by Mr. John Kricfalusi, the only cartoonist around today that has the talent and knowledge to pull it off. Can't wait to read more articles!

Tony Danza said...

Im glad i saw these today. I always knew rubber hose cartoons, but i didnt know they were called that or that it was such a popular style.

John have you seen a lot of the Silly Symphonies? Or Mickys Haunted House which was like a spinoff of Skeleton Dance. The sound and feel of those cartoons are just so similar to the Mysterious Mose i just watched, I wondered if the same people made them or the style was just copied.

Marc Deckter said...

Hey John - I'm happy to contribute!

Sure, lunch would be great. I'm at the Archive every Thursday, or you can reach me at "deckter@gmail.com".

Scott Warren said...

Those "Swing, you Sinners" designs are really great.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

It's amazing how well some of these rubber hose cartoons work when a lot of these Mickey Mouse cartoons are just two circles (Mickey's head and body, connected by a stretchy tube) dancing and bouncing around to the music.

Screen caps don't quite do them justice because they're really magical when you see them with the music.

This cartoon is fun to watch too!

Trevour said...

Great to see these posts - as a matter of fact, I'm working on a top secret project right now that uses '20s/30s cartoon styles and concepts... here's hoping the crowds will like it when it's all done.

Shawn said...

This is such a great post! I love rubber hose cartoons! I think the "fun" is the most important ingredient. Although Gertie the Dinosaur was one of the first cartoons, it wasn't rubber hose and it's pretty boring and pompous. A great cartoon is The Hot Air Salesman. It's a Betty Boop cartoon from the 30's with this dumb ass salesman named Wiffle Piffle. Damn it's funny!

Hey John, can you tell us about Raymond Spum sometime? What did he do?

Stephen Worth said...

I am working on the Hanna/Barbera/Freleng interview, and I need an image. Does anyone have frame grabs from Joe Barbera's first cartoon at Terry? It involves Kiko the Kangaroo and Dirty Doug. If you can identify the title and perhaps pull some frame grabs for me, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks
Steve Worth
sworth@animationarchive.org
Director
ASIFA-Hollywood
Animation Archive

Rob Gibson said...

Hey John,

I love the old Rubber hose stuff, it's the cartoon in its purest form. You're very informative, gotta keep my eyes and ears open around here.

This is the first time I've ever uploaded an animation on the net in my life, but I think its kinda relevant to what this post is about. Its a short intro I made for my school's animation festival called "the Reel Thing" and I was aiming to do a rubberhose tribute thing with my character "fosko" (like bosko get it? haha). Anyway, take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbSfHgIvrSE

-Rob G

Kitty said...

Nice! ^^ I knew "Steamboat Wille" had SOMETHING to do with what you mentioned. I like this rubber hose style myself. (Betty Boop=WIN). I just never knew what to call it till now.

Kitty

:: smo :: said...

i based my senior thesis at school on rubber hose animation set to the music of raymond scott. now that my skillsets are better i'd really like to go back and try another similar project!

i love some of the crazy twists those old cartoons take! one of my favorite modern renditions was in the squirrel nut zippers' music video for:

the ghost of stephen foster

it borrows directly from bimbo's initiation [betty boop's first apearance] and that betty boop cartoon where she runs away and cab calloway appears as a ghost walrus...?!

check it out if you get time, it's pretty great for something made in recent years!

R2K said...

I love the rubber hose :)

R2K

joshB said...

You really need to get a copy of "Dancin on the Moon" for so many reasons.

Joel Bryan said...

"Animators and Cartoonists invented it and developed it, and at a time when Western civilization believed that the practicioners of a profession were the ones best suited to create, develop and grow the business."

That's now one of my favorite quotes. It makes so much sense, and it worked for years and years and everyone was happy.

Why did we get away from that?

David Germain said...

Hey, John, you should have given a tiny shout out to Harman & Ising's Looney Tunes in your post. Steamboat Willie was definitely the first cartoon synchronized to sound but Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid was the first cartoon which synchronized mouth movements with the words spoken. I'd consider that a major innovation.

Other than that, very informative post. I can't wait to hear more.

JohnK said...

>>Hey, John, you should have given a tiny shout out to Harman & Ising's Looney Tunes in your post.

I do in tonight's post.

But feel free to add or correct any dates and facts!

Thanks

Taco Jack said...

Hey I finally remembered the title of the Porky Pig one: Bob Clampett's "Porky in Wackyland" from 1938.

Porky's not drawn rubber-hose style, and it probably doesn't quite qualify for many other reasons, but a lot of other characters (the Do-Do birds) are definitely rubber hose based:

http://www.sensesofcinema.com/images/directors/04/34/wackyland.jpg

http://www.cinemavii.com/images/dodoimages/woowoo.gif

http://www.alicreative.com/uploaded_files/porky.jpg

Peter said...

Hey John, you should check out my friend Tom's thesis!

http://rockitpack.blogspot.com/2005/11/good-morning-cephalgia.html

He was going for something like the 20's animation style. Doug TenNapel said it was rubber hosey too... all in all it rocks. Thanks John!

Taco Jack said...

Found some higher res screen grabs from 'Porky in Wackyland'

http://www.cartoon-factory.com/pic/warner/lst_dodo.jpg

http://www.cartoon-factory.com/pic/warner/woo-w.jpg

http://www.cartoon-factory.com/pic/warner/sling.jpg

Peter said...

sorry to double post but the link looks cut off. Tom's thesis is here:

good morning cephalgia

Caniel Carter said...

Hey John,

Great stuff! One question, from someone who knows very little about animation history: what was happening in Europe or Asia at this time? Did America invent animation, or were we following in the footsteps of some great, unknown French animator or something?

billy west said...

Rubber hose animation didn't completely die out by the 40s, it should be noted. Bob Clampett was still doing it in the mid-40s. Did John mention that? I didn't read the whole thing.

xtracrsP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Duck Dodgers said...

Taco Jack,
them are paintings inspired by the cartoon, not screen grabs.

Dr. Strange-Q said...

The right topic at the right time. R&B animation needs to come back to the modern world. I've been kickin' around an R&B show idea, and this is GREAT inspiration! I can't get any work done though, I keep watchin' that crazy Betty boop cartoon! The music is so good, too.

Anonymous said...

Nice post! The picture of Olive Oyl certainly demonstrates that a drawing can be constructed and volumetric and still be funny. And look at that inkline!

The Betty cartoon was amazing! What a difference a good soundtrack makes! The sfx at the start were brilliant and "Mysterious Mose" is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Marc's Swing You Sinners frame grabs were awesome! Why can't we do stuff like that now!?

I'm dying to hear more of your music theories. These rubber hose posts may turn out to be your best yet. Hey, why not do a post on the zombies-in-hell crowd paintings that you see in B&W boxing cartoons?

-Eddie Fitzgerald

Taco Jack said...

Hey DD - yeah I see that they are reproduction cels... thanks for pointing that out.

jorge garrido said...

Billy, is that really you?

What were the two cartoons posted? I can't see imbedded youtube cartoons but I can see tehm on youtube.

>>Other people who make cartoons that can't draw for shit do the Rubber Hose style SO BAD!!!!

2 stupid dogs. It was like a bad parody of clihces of silent cartoons, silent films, and rubber hose, EXCEPT THERE WAS SOUND, but they didn't speak for some reason. Yeah, I'm sure it was supposed to take place after Steamboat Willie but before Bosko The Talk-Ink Kid... *rolls eyes*

I really prefer Popeye to any other rubberhose out there. I don't know why.

Trevour said...

Here's some Foxy & Roxy stills at ToonZone (click on the 3 individual episode links on the bottom of the page for grabs from each short):

CLICK HERE!

Eric C. said...

I like these Rubber hose. There Cool and fun to watch. Especialy the classic Popeyes.

What's that combo of a dog and a human ?

_Eric

Chloe Cumming said...

John, I love your logical use of the word ‘logical’.

And I like it when you argue for cartoons as the highest art form.

I wrote my accursed dissertation sort of about cartoons and pre-code Fleischer joyfulness specifically but I didn’t get much sympathy from anyone at the time and I hope no one ever reads it. But my heart was in the right place. I had some of my favourite screen captures that I could have donated but more conscientious folks got there first.

I remember reading in a book that might have been called ‘seven minutes’… the author used the word ‘multimorphic’ to describe the way that inanimate things come to life in those cartoons and jiggle along with the jazz rhythms. I can’t remember if it’s a word invented by the author or if it was in general usage. I liked it at the time and I think I made a big thing out of it.

Those early Fleischer cartoons are some of my very favourite artefacts created by human hands ever. Pure exuberant joy-mongering.

JohnK said...

Hi Chloe

If you have different frame grabs than the ones we posted, why not put them up anyway and I will add a link to you?

Anonymous said...

Something that these early cartoons had going for them, and what makes them so cool to look at, is that the animators often worked "straight ahead" - This means the animator started with drawing #1, and then made the next drawing, and the next, etc. The animator had timing (musical beats) and sometimes a piece of dialog to sync to, but basically the animation was like a performance: Bimbo has to run in, grab the doorknob, strain on it pulling for awhile, and then the keyhole opens up and swallows him - The animator wasn't necessarily "aiming" at hitting a particular pose drawing (like in a Chuck Jones cartoon) - more like "performing" through a scene - it's a spontaneous way of working where you figure out the action as you go along. The problem with this kind of animation, is that it's harder to change things after it's done, since each drawing is working out of the previous one - if a creative executive wants Bimbo to stop and sing a song before he grabs the door handle, then that would break up the whole "flow of action" that the animator was doing. With the use of "pose to pose" animation, the characters move from one "held" position to another (like TV animation today) and the animation scenes become more "modular" - it's now easier for the creative executive to make changes: "Let's eliminate Bimbo's smile at camera and have him give the audience a 'thumbs up'" Now someone can "cut & paste" the animation to accomodate the creative change.

That's progress!

Kent B

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Well Popeye is a lot more advanced than normal rubber hose and the characters are more interesting to look at. Plus Popeye himself had the most character of any cartoon in history. To me it was always hilarious how they constructed Bluto's body out of a sphere in the really early Popeyes and he's just like this massive globe-shaped bearded man.

Ted said...

Jorge, do you mean the "Hobo Hounds" episode of 2 Stupid Dogs, or do you have the wrong show? Because they talk (normally; and little dog does have a vocal exclamation during Hobo Hounds, as does the villain cat, several times) and aren't rubber hosey normally.
(And silent films weren't silent; there was music and in some theaters for some movies, there were even sound effects, some done by hand, some on the film sound systems that went back as far as 1901.)

Anonymous said...

" "Animators and Cartoonists invented it and developed it, and at a time when Western civilization believed that the practicioners of a profession were the ones best suited to create, develop and grow the business."

That's now one of my favorite quotes. It makes so much sense, and it worked for years and years and everyone was happy.

Why did we get away from that?"


Short answer: because the practicioners never footed the bills, alas. He that pays calls the tune.

S.G.A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Becky Dreistadt said...

I came across Joel Trussell's animated music videos and I think that he does a great job of syncing music with animation. And I completely agree that all animation should be like that, not always a music video per-se, but the music should enhance the cartoon and be just as necessary as the art itself. As I watched these I realized that the music wasn't as powerful without the visualizes and vice a versa. I also want to thank you, I've always loved Ren and Stimpy as a kid and still do. And I've learned a lot from your blog and I think what you're doing is great. It has really inspired me to try to push my drawings more, making things more exaggerated and try to show tension and make things more organic. I want to do comics and I think everything you say can be applied to that, I've always wanted my art to look more animated and you're helping me greatly. I just want to thank you!

jorge garrido said...

>>>Jorge, do you mean the "Hobo Hounds" episode of 2 Stupid Dogs, or do you have the wrong show?
That's the one!

>Because they talk (normally; and little dog does have a vocal exclamation during Hobo Hounds, as does the villain cat, several times) and aren't rubber hosey normally.

Yeah I know, but it's like they wanted to do a tribute to early rubberhose cartoons but they weren't willing to actually make it silent so they pulled in lame cliches of the silent era like the piano music that was never recorded to match the film while it was happening. Either do a silent cartoon or do a sound one, and if you do a sound one, make the characters talk!

>>(And silent films weren't silent; there was music and in some theaters for some movies, there were even sound effects, some done by hand, some on the film sound systems that went back as far as 1901.)
But it wasn't popular until 1928 wiht Steamboat Willie.