Monday, February 18, 2008

Design 2- Style - Chuck Jones' Scaredy Cat


Chuck Jones is one of my favorite cartoonists and a huge influence on me.
I sometimes think of him as two people:
1) The entertainer that made really funny regular folk type cartoons from roughly 1945-1950
2) The stylist/designer who made beautiful soft cartoons from 1938-1945, and then again from 1950 to the rest of his life.

As an artist, I like his experimental and artsy cartoons.
As a regular type guy with normal man needs, I like the 1945-1950 period when he made hilarious cartoons like Pest In The House, Long Haired-Hare, Rabbit Punch, My Bunny Lies Over The Sea and one of my all time favorite cartoons, Scaredy Cat.

Jones is in his finest form in this cartoon. You can tell he really thought about it and worked hard. The drawings and poses are all really strong and solid, the acting is great and he uses a lot of imagination in one particular area of the cartoon-Sylvester's takes.

Jones did his best cartoons-at least in my opinion- when he had a good structure figured out and he could spend his time concentrating on one main creative aspect of the cartoon.

Mike Maltese wrote Scaredy Cat. It's a very funny idea and a funny story, so that part is well taken care of. Now Jones can concentrate on what I believe he thought was the most important part of the cartoon-Sylvester's reactions-his "takes".


Here's a take (above) that's only on screen for a very few frames. Jones' direction in this cartoon is so masterful and confident that he can draw and time his takes with such clarity and power that he barely leaves them onscreen for you to register them - but you do and it's perfect! Some of the takes-like the one above are arrows that lead your eye to the following scene of the mice doing some ghostly gag. He uses the device throughout the cartoon. Very clever indeed.

Jones was a master at drawing poses that really tell you how the character is feeling, in ways that are hard to describe in words. Look at the funny attitude Sylvester has above and below. These poses aren't arbitrary, they tell you more than one thing at once.


If you remember from my post "Design 1" I said Jones was mainly a stylist but sometimes used his design ability. (Design and Style are 2 different things)

He didn't often use it to create new types of characters (he did sometimes and I'll post about that later) but he would use it for funny reactions. For most of this cartoon, Porky and Sylvester are pretty much "on-model". Jones always felt he needed a strong reason or excuse to break from model-or create something new.

Sylvester's extreme fear is a really good reason to create some funny new faces. These use Chuck's design ability.


Go see all the great poses from Scaredy Cat that Duck Dodgers made for us at:
http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/04/sylvesters-takes-from-scaredy-cat.html


Chuck had an odd habit. Whenever he made an outstanding and original cartoon, he would make it again. Sometimes a million times, like The Road Runner Series. Usually the other versions of the same story don't turn out as good as the breakthroughs. I'm not sure why. Maybe, once he made something that really worked, he figured he could turn it into a "stock" idea and every time he made it again, it would be easier and faster and cheaper.

That way he could spend more time on his next firsts. I have no way of knowing, but his firsts tend to have more life and more elaborate animation and lots more custom poses drawn by Chuck himself.

Here are some frames from Claws For Alarm-a remake of Scaredy Cat. Note how the characters are drawn by comparison with Scaredy Cat. It seems like the main creative part of the cartoon is now in the backgrounds instead of the characters. It is still well drawn and funny, but Chuck (rightly) doesn't seem as inspired to make a cartoon that he's already done.





http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/04/sylvesters-takes-from-claws-for-alarm.html

Incidentally, have you ever noticed that every other director's Sylvester is generally funnier and drawn better than Friz'? That's very odd, considering that Sylvester is associated mostly with Freleng.

Friz



Clampett- This is the first Sylvester model drawn by Tom McKimson for Bob Clampett. Below is my favorite Sylvester cartoon ever: Kitty Kornered




http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/01/100-greatest-cartoons-of-all-times.html


Robert Mckimson.


107 comments:

Jason Malloy said...

You can grab some Kitty Kornered frames from this YouTube clip.

Frankie said...

As I got older, and Loony Tunes was played all the time on Nickalodeon, I started noticing the style differences for some directors, and I always disliked Sylvester cartoons outside of the ones that Chuck Jones did. Actually I just didn't like the ones Tweety was in, the others were fine.

Can you suggest any good Tweety Cartoons besides the origional one where he was named Little Orson (if I remember correctly) and he was pink, I did enjoy that one.

sajdera said...

John K, some people call me crazy, but I really like Chuck Jones' Tom and Jerry shorts. Thing is, none of the DVD sets have any of his stuff on them (at least that I have found). It's a major bummer. Do you know where I could find them?

Also, I'm stoked to be able to address you here on your blog (it's my homepage on my browser, too). You've been a gigantic inspiration for me since I was 10.

Rob Gibson said...

Another cartoon director that did that a whole bunch was Tex Avery of course. I swear some of his wolf animation uses the exact same cels, just on a different background. And he'll use the EXACT same gags over and over. I love his cartoons, and they're fun to watch, but a lot of them don't get an honest belly laugh outta me.

sajdera, either you're crazy or I am, but I can't stand Jones' Tom and Jerry cartoons. I remember wondering when I was little, why it was that some Tom and Jerrys looked like absolute shit and others were endlessly entertaining. I've never been able to sit through a whole Chuck Tom and Jerry.

Corey said...

"Scaredy Cat" was always my whole family's favorite cartoon when I was little. We had it on VHS and watched it along with some other great warners stuff. Besides scaredy cat, Chuck didn't do wild extreme takes too often, did he? Are there any other toons of his that stick out as having extreme takes? Or was is that his takes weren't extreme in the same sense as a Tex Avery take?

I always like how Chucks characters would just glance at the audience and make a small tiny little movement with their mouth or eyes. Its just a tiny little thing that always gets a huge laugh.

I was going to ask you John or anyone else here, whats the the name of the very first Coyote & Roadrunner toon?

Thanks and keep posting!

David Germain said...

Can you suggest any good Tweety Cartoons besides the origional one where he was named Little Orson (if I remember correctly) and he was pink, I did enjoy that one.

I'll field that one. :)

The three Tweety cartoons where Tweety was pink are A Tale of Two Kitties (c. 1942), Birdy and the Beast (c. 1944), and Gruesome Twosome (c. 1945). All were directed by Bob Clampett.
I'm not sure what John will tell you, but some of my favourite Tweety cartoons WITH Sylvester are Tweetie Pie (c. 1947 won an Oscar), Bad Ol' Putty Tat (c. 1949), Home Tweet Home (c. 1950), Putty Tat Twouble (c. 1951), Tweety's S.O.S. (c. 1951), Tweet Tweet Tweety (c. 1951), Bird in a Guilty Cage (c. 1952), A Street Cat Named Sylvester (c. 1953), Catty Cornered (c. 1953), Sandy Claws (c. 1955 nominated for an Oscar), Birds Anonymous (c. 1957 won an Oscar), and Rebel Without Claws (c. 1961). All of those (plus many many more) were directed by Friz Freleng. I personally like those because they are quite well done timing-wise AND Tweety was still very much an active character. He didn't just sit back and let either Granny or some bulldog do all the work. (Although, Tweety's not really active in Birds Anonymous either but it is a tour de force for Sylvester and Mel Blanc).

Anyway, John, you forgot to mention my favourite part of Scaredy Cat. I love the part near the end where the angel cat is inspiring Sylvester to get back in that house and save Porky. When he's scared the murky darkness reflects his fear, but as he gets more determined, a bright red sunrise climbs over the horizon to further emphasize this beautifully. (And Carl Stallings strains of Yankee Doodle don't hurt the piece either.)

And, actually, Friz did do some funny and brilliant takes and expressions with Sylvester in some cartoons. Duck Dodgers should find some examples from Dr. Jerkyl's Hyde (c. 1954), Canned Feud (c. 1951), or his Oscar nominated debut Life With Feathers (c. 1945) to show that.

David Germain said...

whats the the name of the very first Coyote & Roadrunner toon?

Fast and Furry-ous (by Chuck Jones c. 1949) Next time, ask something hard. :P

Corey said...

Thanks David! (I wasn't quizzing btw, I actually wanted to know)

So now that I know check it out, I found it on youtube:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=CXzxhXJK_IU

Mike said...

I bought Chuck Jones' autobiography, Chuck Amuck, when I was about 14 years old. The book was filled with rough sketches, and I had never really seen the characters in that form before. The raw sketches blew me away.

BrianB said...

>>Clampett- I wish I had a frame from Kitty Kornered-this is the first Clampett model drawn by Tom McKimson. Anyone have some frame grabs?<<

It's actually in our buddy Duck Dodger's cartoon blog archive. He's got amazing collection of frame grabs to search through. Here's Kitty Kornered, from January 06 archive..

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/01/100-greatest-cartoons-of-all-times.html

Looks much better than youtube, which should always be a last resort.

Btw John, what do you think of "Feed the Kitty"? I thought it worked extremely well throughout as a story, and got downright hilarious towards the end with Marc Anthony's expressions ands some of the gags. Plus, I vividly remember an example of Jones' perfect timing in that cartoon as well. Marc Anthony, where he falls on his huge chest during a run cycle. It was one of the funniest looking runs I've seen in a long time, and makes perfect believable sense.

I'd love for Dodgers' to grab some frames of that.

Duck Dodgers said...

briajnb,

you did read in my mind. i was going to post shots from " Feed the Kitty" in the near future.
With all them terrific facial expressions of the dog.

JohnK said...

>>Btw John, what do you think of "Feed the Kitty"?

I love it.

Duck Dodgers said...

John,
feel free to email me whenever you want, my friend, to ask me to post screenshots from classic cartoons.

Thad K said...

Scaredy Cat is almost a masterpiece, except for the lame, anti-climatic ending. I still love the cartoon though. For years as a kid all I ever saw was Claws for Alarm and I'd think "Why doesn't Sylvester just beat the crap out of those mice?!" Then I saw Scaredy Cat when I was a little older and my prayers were answered. Good ol' Chuck! My personal favorite of Chuck's is either Operation Rabbit or Bee-Devilled Bruin though this one is up there too.

Thad K said...

I also am somewhat a little more inclined to agree with John on his views of Friz now, moreso than in the past. I've come to the same conclusion that Friz's shorts are pretty boring from an artist AND writer's standpoint. I really have no idea why McKimson was considered weaker compared to him. McKimson's always had funnier drawings and more unpredictable stories. And at least he had Rod Scribner for some of his tenure!

I actually am guilty of knowing my Looney Tunes directors as early as the age of 8, but even beforehand I would cheer when a cartoon came on with Sylvester and his kid or Hippety Hopper, but groan when one with Tweety or Speedy came on... At least the Speedys by Freleng... The ones by McKimson are actually pretty funny! I just like Friz's 40s cartoons the best. Just like every other director. One positive thing about Friz though: Nobody could do a musical like him!

BTW, John, I appreciate the plug to my blog and will be sure to add you to the links section (I need to add that in my next post, that if you want a link, plug me!)

Joel Bryan said...

What about Jones' "Tom and Jerry" cartoons? Tom always seemed to share a lot of expressions with the Grinch. I think Jones was the first director I noticed who made his characters "act" in a way I recognized as acting. I think you were probably the second.

Although now I see how other directors were also doing it, especially Tex Avery who was the only other director whose style I learned to recognize even as a small kid.

Anyway, I always enjoyed Chuck Jones' Loony Tunes work more than his "T&J" stuff... I liked the facial expressions but never felt he got the relationship between the two or the tone right... like he wasn't quite comfortable with the ultra-violence. The music cues were a bit distracting too.

But these... "Scaredy Cat" was one of my favorites whenever it would turn up in the rotation. The escalating fear, Porky's lack of appreciation for Sylvester's work and his growing suspicion of the cat's motives... Loved it.

And I do tend to like Sylvester when he's teamed up with anyone but Tweety. I absolutely can't stand Tweety cartoons. The ones where he's a dad trying to teach that emotional little kid kitten are hilarious to me. "Oh, father..."

R2K said...

What about the racist cartoons during WWII?

Bono is Brian Peppers!
Cant play Quake 3

Duck Dodgers said...

John K says :

Clampett- I wish I had a frame from Kitty Kornered-this is the first Clampett model drawn by Tom McKimson. Anyone have some frame grabs?

- Here you have them, man!

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/01/100-greatest-cartoons-of-all-times.html

Anonymous said...

You want effeminate Chuck Jones stuff? Has anyone here ever read his "Crawford" comic strip? Now THAT was frilly... like Tom & Jerry "Snowbody Loves Me" frilly...

Alicia said...

Thanks for posting all the great things about Chuck. I sometimes get sick of listening to people bashing him.

My favourite Chuck cartoon is Bewitched Bunny because it is like a buffet for the sences (atleast for me). I feel this cartoon is a great example of cartoon acting because of the many rolls Bug takes on to try to save Hansel & Gretel and then himself. There are also a lot of great expresions like Hansel & Gretel pigging out and Bugs dying.

Scaredy Cat is another favourite and I was always excited when it came on, which was usually around Halloween. Would you consider Jumpin' Jupiter (another favourite of mine) to be in the same "recycling" department as Claws To Arm?

David Germain said...

What about the racist cartoons during WWII?

Well, they're hilarious of course. Every one of those guys deserved whatever WB, Disney, MGM, or any other studio dished out to them.

Suisho Gagarin said...

Hey again! Speaking of the looney toones they strike me as more appealing than Disney personally... mabey it just because I like more maturely aimed animations... although I was dissapointed when I read the book "Forbidden Animation" (a pleasure reading of course) and found out about some of the stuff they tried to pull off. I think it is insane that animators try to slip such stupid and unnoticed perversion in their cartoons... I also find it funny that cartoons that WERE made for adults such as the ever famous Red Hot Ridinghood is regullarly shown for children on television

Jose said...

Are these backgrouds from Maurice Noble? Could you post on him? He's work in setting the mood for stories is sooo great.

ncross said...

Robert Gribberoek is far superior background layoutman than Maurice Noble. Noble was the best at STYLE but sometimes his designs would overpower the animation....Gribberoek was just amazing at making strong, functional and beautiful layouts that actually made the animation look better!
Just my opinion of course.

p.maestro said...

i'm a huge fan of Chuck Jones' cartoons, (especially his Pepe le Pew). Chuck's drawings in this cartoon are so much better than in Scaredy Cat. i don't know what John K is talking about in that respect. i understand that all the black and red in the backgrounds in Scaredy Cat gave it a more urgent feeling, and the scenes thusly may feel more intense, but this certainly isn't because of the animation.

Claws for Alarm's backgrounds are riddled with colour and while it's visually appealing, it may not suit the mood of the original story. i'm sure Chuck had a reason for going with something new, but i would think it was more likely that he could see his own flaws as an artist in the first cartoon and hoped to improve on them in the second.

the drawings in Scaredy Cat were much looser and to me that makes them bland, cause any animation graduate should be able to make those basic shapes. the animation conventions of doubling pieces and adding streaks of movement may be what inspires John K, and certainly we don't see too much referrence of that in Claws for Alarm. the few frames we see with animated effects were much tamer than the those in Scaredy Cat.

Chuck's wild takes in Scaredy Cat signify his early approaches to animation, learning the limits and possibilities of distorting characters, while the subtle gestures in Claws for Alarm are the result of years of experience at honing his craft.

P.C. Unfunny said...

Two things I liked about old "Chuck Amuck" was his artwork, he was the best artistsicne had suck ownderfully detailed drawings. I also liked the fact that he whould freeze an expression on a character's face long enough so you could laugh at them.As for some of the Friz bashing going on here, he didn't have the art skills like Chuck or Bob but he had extremely sharp comedic timing.And of course, Friz had Yomsemite Sam who was the funniest LT villain.

jorge garrido said...

Those takes form Scaredy cat are crazy! I nevr noticed a few onf these, I'm gonna go pop in my LT Golden Collection Vol. 1 and ch-check them out

Although I disagree with John's assesment of Friz. Some of his animation is awesome and hialrious, especailly in his Emery Hawkins scenes and his Virgil Ross scenes. But I prefer Clmapett to Friz.

I also prefer Jone's 45-50 cartoons than the later or earlier ones. Especially his Bugs Bunny cartoons from that time, where Bugs s really short which makes in funnier when he beats the villain. Like Hare Conditioned where he gets the huge salesman or Hair Riasing Hair, where Bugs' eyes went down past his cheeck and they were really thin and round ovals. Super rabbit is my favourite, though.

Mack said...

I agree whole heartedly with your comment on the Freleng Sylvester cartoons. Hist stuff never resonated for me the way the work of Jones, McKimson or Clampett did. The thing I always enjoyed most about the Clampett cartoons was the heft the characters had to them. A real sense of weight. They seemed to be of a little sturdier stock. All the better to smack someone around, I guess. That McKimson did love to have his characters bitch-slap one another.

P.C. Unfunny said...

Hey John,I would love to read more on Mike Maltese.

Jeff Pidgeon said...

I agree that while the drawing/acting/design in Freleng cartoons isn't as interesting as in most of the other WB shorts, I think he had a very strong sense of timing - good enough that his cartoons are remembered along with all the other directors who were better at designing, or backgrounds, or acting, etc. than he and his crew were. Maybe it was from working on all those singing owl cartoons in the thirties.

"Friz" recycled gags and whole plots more than any other director, but I still like seeing a lot of the variations of dropping drawbridges, stilt gags, brick wall slams and falling down flights of stairs (while not really seeing anything at all).

I might be giving Freleng credit that Virgil Ross and Treg Brown deserve for their contributions, but I still think timing is what makes Freleng shorts work.

Alicia said...

Hey John. I tried e-mailing you about some art but it bounced. Is your box full? Please e-mail me at aliciawishart@rogers.com so I can fulfill your capitalist needs.

Josh Boelter said...

Interesting stuff. I'm not a cartoonist but as an independent filmmaker, I find all of this fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Mr. K
I watched the second one recently with your critical commentary and was compelled to view the earlier one and had to concede you were right on all counts. Many of my favorite Chuck cartoons are from that "middle period" where the animation and gags have the capacity to surprise.

I worked with Chuck briefly once and I mentioned PEST IN THE HOUSE was one of my favorites. He drew a complete blank as I described it (and Mel Blanc's outstanding Daffy work in it). He insisted somebody else did it! I guess it wasn't "classy" enough for him to remember. He also flipped out when I praised the one with Bugs and the nerdy Mohichan indian. I wish I knew who did that hilarious voice but Chuck was too "pc" by then to discuss it.

Chet said...

Nice post,

and in conclusion we can all infer that jones rules and all other fail in comparasson.Thank you for watching,and have a wonderfull day.


that is all....

David Germain said...

He also flipped out when I praised the one with Bugs and the nerdy Mohichan indian. I wish I knew who did that hilarious voice but Chuck was too "pc" by then to discuss it.

That nerdy Mohican in A Feather in His Hare (by Chuck Jones c. 1948) was voiced by writer Mike Maltese. He was also the original voice of Hubie in The Aristo-Cat (c. 1943) before Mel Blanc offically took it over.

brandon pierce said...

I have Chuck's book Chuck Amuck, read it once, an am currently re-reading it with my dad who is now finding it interesting. To be honest, I think Chuck Amuck is like a bible for cartoonists and animators. It really should in the hands of any cartoon fan.
Hey, John, have you read the book? What's your thoughts on it if you have?

Anonymous said...

That nerdy Mohican in A Feather in His Hare (by Chuck Jones c. 1948) was voiced by writer Mike Maltese

Thanks David. I guess it makes sense since its the same voice as the Maltese-inspired character in the deserted island one (I can't remember titles).
Needless to say, no offense to real Native Americans anywhere. The character in the cartoon is so absurdly incongruous that I can't see it interpereted as anything other than harmless mayhem.

P.C. Unfunny said...

"He also flipped out when I praised the one with Bugs and the nerdy Mohichan indian. I wish I knew who did that hilarious voice but Chuck was too "pc" by then to discuss it."

IT'S NATIVE AMERICAN YOU INSENSITIVE BASTARD!!! AHH!!!!!....just kidding ;)

David Germain said...

Actually, while we've dabbled a little in "political correctness" I'd like to share what I think is another great aspect of Jones' work. Because he was such a knowledgable man on pretty much every subject one can name, he also of course had a great understanding and appreciation of other cultures. So, whenever he had an "ethnic" character in his films it was always very much a celebration of that culture. He himself always said "I never did vicious parodies," and it certainly showed. Whether the characters were native (A Feather in His Hare c. 1948), Irish (Wearing of the Grin c. 1951, French (every Pepe Le Pew cartoon), or whatever, the cartoons always showcased the beauty and majesty of the cultures. That's something most PC Censor Monkey Watchdogs have a hard time seeing. >:(

Anonymous said...

I don't remember Scaredy Cat as well as Claws For Alarm cause I don't remember if I have the former taped. However, while I love some of the poses in SC I think you are too passionate and I think Claws For Alarm had some pretty good poses too, even if they are not so extreme. I don't remember the gags in SC, but I think the plot in CFA was also ok. And I don't dislike these "series" of cartoons, I find it entertaining to see the variations of each one of them.

Yeah, I also like "takes" and Bob Clampett's work, but I don't mind Jones even when he's more "conservative". I think his designs were more definitive in Claws For Alarm, in fact, the line of the drawings is more Chuck Jones-esque. Of course it hasn't got that beautiful takes, but apart from that, I wouldn't say the art was boring or uninspired at all.

Anonymous said...

Woh I got confused

I thought I had seen "Scaredy Cat" as I went through the screen grabs, but then later I realized what I had seen was "Claws for Alarm" ... Crap, I didn't know he made the same cartoon twice (why did he do that???)


I feel like I missed out on the better version

-Jordan
www.timwarnermovie.com

Shawn said...

Hey John, you're right! There's different eras of the Chuck Jones cartoons where his styles are different and it's like he's a completely differnt director each time. Although I can appreciate each era, I only like his cartoons between the early forties up to 1950. He did great art in those years, but I never liked the personalities he gave his characters. Bob Clampett is the man who put the "looney" in Looney Tunes, and Chuck Jones took the "looney" OUT of Looney Tunes. In my opinion, he ruined Daffy Duck. And he made Bugs Bunny kind of boring. Also Chuck Jones and Friz Freling are the most unoriginal directors of all time. They made the Warner Bros. cartoons with these set formulas so that if you've seen one cartoon, you've seen them all. Bob Clampett never did that. Clampett never repeated an idea and all his ideas were fresh and original. I think Jones and Friz also took many of Clampetts ideas and ran them into the ground. This isn't the point of your post...just wanted to get that off my chest. I love your blog. Thanks!

brandon pierce said...

Re: Clampett never repeated an idea and all his ideas were fresh and original.
Welllll... maybe not all the way. Clampett's two cartoons Falling Hare, and Russian Rhapsody are somewhat similar, as they both deal with grmelins destroying a plane. Both cartoons were also made during WWII.

jorge garrido said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say Friz and Jones are unoriginal, shawn. They were all brilliant in their won ways.

Of course what everybody forgets is that Tex Avery pwned everthing.

Aimee's Sketch Blog said...

All of this is helping. Starting to learn how to identify cartoonists based on style.

Robert Pope said...

A great post with great insights and yet another poke taken at a dead cartoon great! Come on, Friz wasn't everybody's cup of tea, but he was still a wonderful, solid director who made some VERY funny Sylvester shorts. If you don't think the scene where the cat disguised as Santa Claus is blown out the chimney in "A Mouse Divided," you need to get your head examined. Same goes for "Red Riding Hoodwinked," "Hyde and Go Tweet," and a score of others. Great stuff.

rfr said...

those where really nice cartoons, but tell me: did you do the animation for björk's"i miss you" video?
congratulations for your work on the ren & stimpy show

p.s. can i ask questions here i haven't seen your answers...

S.G.A said...

I don't like the drawings form friz cartoons and even as a kid not kknowing who did what on a cartoon , I know now the cartoons I wouldn't watch were Friz and some chuck cartoons.

Tim Kelly said...

I've always loved the ending to "Scaredy Cat", particularly that picture of Porky feeding Sylvester as a kitten. Nobody can feel guilt like Sylvester.

My favorite Chuck Jones WB cartoon would have to be "Cheese Chasers". The dog's facial expressions at the end of the cartoon are the most priceless reaction shots I've ever seen in a Warner Brothers cartoon.

As for Friz, I've always loved "Southern Fried Rabbit". I think it's beautifully paced, and Bugs and Yosemite's performances are perfect.

Gabriel said...

Well, they're hilarious of course. Every one of those guys deserved whatever WB, Disney, MGM, or any other studio dished out to them.

That's pretty insane, a cartoon bashing Hitler is one thing, but demeaning an entire nation such as Japan is quite weird. We appreciate those cartoons because we can see things in context and the art is damn great, but do you really think japanese people of that time were all a bunch of suicide demons??

TishTash said...

Just one naysayer...?
Friz did some brilliant, funny, beautifully drawn and animated cartoons. Bugs, Sylvester, etc. were as much alive and real in them as in any other WB shorts.

I've seen "Birds Anonymous" with a crowd of hardcore cartoon fans at many times and they never sat there bored and silent at these supposedly wildly inferior cartoons, they were pissing themselves laughing. That's a fucking brilliant short by any measure. Seriously funny ACTING by Sylvester and the other cats. Also recommend to your blog readers(off the top): "Buccaneer Bunny", "High Diving Hare", "A Mouse Divided" "A Hare Grows In Manhattan", "Hare Trimmed", "Racketeer Rabbit", "Rhapsody Rabbit" and "Bugs Bunny Rides Again". Just a start. Friz's musical timing esp. was
like nobody else, including Clampett, who's without doubt a genius. Jones' best is amazing and wonderful, but he was no genius(or maybe I'm just being obstinant, since Chuck was so full of his own good opinion to do for everyone). Friz wasn't a genius either--but he did make good cartoons.

In fact, as far as I'm concerned it's possible to talk forever about Clampett and Jones'--and McKimson and even Art Davis' cartoons without having to at the same time spit on Freleng. I guess there's lots of theories and reasons that you find him lacking, but the end result is what matters to me, and the best ones are both
entertaining and funny.

Robert Pope said...

What HE said! And then some!

TishTash said...

"I thought I had seen "Scaredy Cat" as I went through the screen grabs, but then later I realized what I had seen was "Claws for Alarm" ... Crap, I didn't know he made the same cartoon twice (why did he do that???)"

Weeelll.......
Because he made them SIX years apart, because he had a quotient of 10-12 films to do each year(one a month, basically!)--and after six intervening years of loads of different WB shrts, he rightly didn't think the 1954 crowds watching Bogart in "Sabrina" would say "Heeeey...I've seen
this before, in, uhhhh, 1948--isn't that right, Edna?!" Remember--audiences only saw these things ONCE, for 7 minutes, and then they disappeared forever. Until the early 60s, the WB shorts weren't available even on TV.
Lots of liveaction feature films were remade without too many years inbetween too--if it worked once, and Jones thought it would work again and be fun to do--maybe(I'm sure he thought)better--well, why not?

P.C. Unfunny said...

I found "Bird's Anonymous" a very disturbing and brillant cartoon. Sylvester's addiction of trying get tweety was shown like a drug addiction instead of a regular cartoon.

Elliot said...

I have both of Chucks autobiographies and while both of them are full of terrific pictures, reading them is a little like trying to push a piano across a beach.

Tim Kelly said...

I'll say this about "Bird's Anonymous": That last scream of "LET ME GO!!" is the most horrifying, blood-curdling sound ever to come out of Mel Blanc's mouth.

Anonymous said...

A favorite Jones: "Chow Hound", one of his darkest, especially the fade out where the victims "don't forget the gravy."
Don't agree w/JK about Friz, his timing was pretty flawless, if maybe a little too rote. I haven't seen it in many years, but the one about the dog scaring all nine lives out of Sylvester was an early favorite, "Satan's Waitin'" I believe it was.
I think we can be thankful that Jones at least never remade "One Froggy Evening" he did do a Duck Amuck remake though.
His Tom & Jerry's are diabetes inducing.
Strange, supremely talented man.
Chris

Anonymous said...

"but do you really think japanese people of that time were all a bunch of suicide demons??"

I think what people always fail to realize immediatly is that these cartoons are offensive only in their depections at face vaule when one remains ignorant of the circumstances behind the depections from that time.

That substantially lessens the offensiveness, when put into the frame of mind that we were at war, and propaganda was used as a tool to boost morale of the country.

It dosn't make it right by todays standards, and it dosn't immedatly excuse it, but ultimatly it was a product of that time period and the circumstances around the opinion of people from that time. Not an indication of truth.

Not to mention that the standards of what is acceptable today did not apply then, and it would be ludicrous to assume that it somehow would.

Moreover, any fictional work is indicitive of a personal point of veiw, not an unqualified indication of fact. I have no idea why people insist on thinking that it is.

Simply put, there were reasons, and those reasons stand up with the circumstances of that time period.

That however, has no bearing on the level of quailty and respect that the cartoons themselves deserve, or the work and creativity put into them.

This is true, despite how the depections may or may not have been thought of in the 1940-1950 timeline.. or even further back for that matter.

S.G.A said...

different stroke for different folks, and the freedom to disagree aimiably.
I think what we all respect is Mr. K's passion for animation.

Thad K said...

'tishtash' listed the best Friz shorts. I also really like Rhapsody in Rivets, Pigs in a Polka, Little Red Riding Rabbit, I Taw a Putty Tat, and Fair-Haired Hare.

jorge garrido said...

>>>I think we can be thankful that Jones at least never remade "One Froggy Evening"

He did. "Another Froggy Evening"

R said...

I was just reading Chuck Reducks today; has much more details about his art whereas Amuck is more of a biography.

Of all Bugses, I like Jones' best. Bugs under jones was the Snoop Dogg of cartoons: cool, aloof and unfazed, smoked a fat blunt backstage, etc. The existing characters tended to become more hip, sly and somewhat highbrow with him. Seeing Porky and Daffy scowling and looking tough in a film noir is priceless.

A funny thing about Jones was his habit of drawing the characters in his own likeness. Those look like his eyes on Porky's profile, his eyebrows on the Grinch, his hands on a number of characters.

I don't see anything effeminate about what he did though; he'd combine cute eyes with weird crazy-bum crooked mouths and the character would look either bleak or suspicious.

Quite a talent he was.

P.C. Unfunny said...

"His Tom & Jerry's are diabetes inducing."

Yeah, I really don't care fot hid versionpf T&J. I couldn't stand Tom's character deisgn.

P.C. Unfunny said...

"His Tom & Jerry's are diabetes inducing."

Yeah,I really don't care for his version of T&J. I couldn't stand Tom's character design, it was so damn ugly.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

I think some of the Friz cartoons that Michael Maltese wrote are funny but he's still the poorest of the WB directors.

The good Tweety cartoons are Clampett's, Birdy and the Beast and Gruesome Twosome. I don't like any of Friz's Tweety cartoons. Tweety's supposed to be baby bird, not some canary who just sits there. Tweety might as well be a pie or some other inanimate object.

By the way Clampett remade cartoons too, just not as many. Porky's Badtime Story he remade as Tick Tock Tuckered, substituting Daffy for Gabby Goat. The later version is almost exactly the same except for some great Rod Scribner animation where Daffy shoots the moon! A lot of stuff in that cartoon is exactly the same but everything that changed was an improvement and Daffy's funnier than Gabby because he has a beak!

junior said...

>>I think what people always fail to realize immediatly is that these cartoons are offensive only in their depections at face vaule when one remains ignorant of the circumstances behind the depections from that time.

I think that's what he meant by "seeing things in context".

Anonymous said...

>>>I think we can be thankful that Jones at least never remade "One Froggy Evening"

He did. "Another Froggy Evening"

You're right of course, Jorge. I've (thankfully) never seen it, I'm only considering theatrical cartoons Jones made before he left Warners for MGM in the early '60's.
The only things he created after that that were of any interest were "The Dot & the Line" & "The Grinch"
Chris

Jim Cornette said...

As an important cartoonist, what are your thoughts about one show directly ripping on another show?

Ala the South Park bent on tearing apart Family Guy today.

Anonymous said...

John K.
In your opinion who do you think is the best WB cartoon duo ever.

BUGS & DAFFY or DAFFY & PORKY?

Anonymous said...

MR. Kricfalusi

Will the Ren & Stimpy episode "The Wilderness Adventure" ever be produced? I know it was sopose to be another episode with George Liquor and I love that guy. Especialy on Ren & Stimpy.

Anonymous said...

When I try to compile my list of all-time favorite cartoons, I find that 20 or so were directed by Freleng. They don't have the range of Jones, or they don't zoom into orbit like Clampett, but the best of them are a lot of fun: the jokes are funny, the timing is razor sharp, and nobody can sell a song & dance bit better. I saw "Racketeer Rabbit" for the 50th time last night and I still love it. Besides the big jokes and "set-pieces" there are potent little details like when Bugs bounces a bit on Rocky's bed in an eager "now-he's-mad-this-should-be-fun" motion.

And I love his repeated "deflate the one-man-band" gags.

He was at his peak in the 1940's, his stuff slowly deteriorated in the '50's, but then again, so did everyone's. Jones kept his standards high the longest.

His drawings may not be as "interesting" as some others, but they work for me. I think it's possible to have a beautifully drawn cartoon, but if you haven't got the jokes & the timing, it just lies there, while a merely competently animated toon can still be satisfying if it meets other criteria.

John K, I hope someday you'll detail why you think Friz is such a second-rater. I'll probably never agree with him, but you're so accomplished and knowledgable that it'll be fascinating to read your reasons.

BrianB said...

Thad k said:
>>I actually am guilty of knowing my Looney Tunes directors as early as the age of 8, but even beforehand I would cheer when a cartoon came on with Sylvester and his kid or Hippety Hopper, but groan when one with Tweety or Speedy came on... At least the Speedys by Freleng... The ones by McKimson are actually pretty funny! I just like Friz's 40s cartoons the best. Just like every other director. One positive thing about Friz though: Nobody could do a musical like him!<<

Yeah, I agree. Freleng was frustrating, but not without his moments. Though one Friz Freleng cartoon that looks really good is Baseball Bugs. The animation, design, gags, etc. are all among Freleng's best. I have no clue why the animation would go down from that point. Made in '42, and visually more interesting than anything Freleng would later do that I've seen anyway. It's like a whole different unit did it.

As far as the Claws For Alarm/Scaredy Cat debate - I'm gonna something I heard someone else say before of them. Scaredy Cat really mantains a Hitchcock-esque style throught. It's not only got the amazing gags and storytelling, but it's all told within a true horror picture. Claws For Alarm really switches gears and becomes a Chuck Jones world. Which is fine I suppose, but I really enjoy seeing directors become the picture, rather than the picture become the directors. Let the characters and world tell the story.

Claws For Alarm began so quick and jumped right into "that ole thing". It was less a story and more formulatic. I could never find the appeal in doing such a thing with your cartoons. It always annoyed me more than anything. I'm suprised it didn't annoy them, if they made them for themself as they claim. Seems like a real waste, unless you have a great original idea for a sequel.

Also, on John K simply liking Scaredy Cat for it's 'takes' - I disagree. It had more life, more inspiration behind, more excitement, and believability of character. It gives you a ride with Sylvester & Porky. Claws For Alarm seems cold in comparison. Though Jones' talent for expressions is still there. The pacing is off the mark. It's not just "conservative style vs bold style", there's a lot of differences between the two besides that.

David Germain said...

I'm guessing that this is a silly question but I'll put it out there just to get it out of the way. :P

John, do you absolutely despise Freleng's unit remake of Porky in Wackyland retitled Dough For the Do-Do?

jorge garrido said...

>>>Ala the South Park bent on tearing apart Family Guy today.

I didn't know that! I gotta see that episode!

Gabriel said...

I didn't know that! I gotta see that episode!

Check Cartoon Brew! You won't see the whole thing, but at least that snippet is on youtube!

David Germain said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gabriel said...

Another fine resource for those of us who like to draw: Temple of the Seven Camels
I don't know why the weird name, though.

Gabriel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Philthy Johnston said...

thanks gabrielbr!
that is a great link.

Stephen Worth said...

Take a moment today to wish animation a Happy 100th Birthday!

www.animationarchive.org

See ya
Steve

Mantenna said...

There has to be a way to keep this deuchebag from spamming here...

...not you Steve. :)

Anonymous said...

And Joe Barbera a happy 95th! Again.

Jorge Garrido said...

>>>Ala the South Park bent on tearing apart Family Guy today.

I don't think South Park is in a position to tear anything apart.

I think you should earn the right to satirize by showing the world your own amazing talent and skills first.<<<

Whoah! Harsh. Careful, John, or they'll get you next! I'm going to teh-ell! I'm going to teh-ell!

But seriously, though, I think Looney Tunes are like a fancy steak dinner and South Park is like fast food. I'd rather have the steak dinner since it's made so well but sometimes I just feel like fast food. You know? Like I know South Park has crappy animation but I think the satire is razor sharp and amazing!

Thad K said...

John, be sure to keep an eye on my animator blog soon. I'm going to be doing an analysis of a Friz short soon, so you can link to the clips I put up to show what you think is wrong with the way they're done. I'm not going to be very nice in my analysis either.:)

And happy birthday, animation! You're the only thing that keeps ME alive!

P.C. Unfunny said...

Whoah! Harsh. Careful, John, or they'll get you next! I'm going to teh-ell! I'm going to teh-ell!

But seriously, though, I think Looney Tunes are like a fancy steak dinner and South Park is like fast food. I'd rather have the steak dinner since it's made so well but sometimes I just feel like fast food. You know? Like I know South Park has crappy animation but I think the satire is razor sharp and amazing!


Good analogy jorge.I think it was great parody because South Park pin-ponted everything Family Guy shows in a typical episode.This is exactly how to do a parody right.

bereweber said...

your article is over-graceful and funny, that was one of my favorite episodes, yet consider was doubed in spanish since i grew in mexico city, and helmer was: helmer 'jota' fud, millionario, dueño de una mansion y un barco, hope you get it and your blog damn fabolous, here, enjoying

Thad K said...

Here's my SHOW BIZ BUGS analysis, John. If you guys want to comment on it, please do so at my site!

http://classicanimation.blogspot.com/2006/04/show-biz-bugs-frizs-animators.html

P.C. Unfunny said...

Thad,I thought "Show Biz Bugs" was decent. Daffy's attempts to upstage bugs were done in fairly humorous fashion,especially the use of classic exploding instrument gag.Daffy was a bit more of a jerk but he was still funny.However,it whould have been funnier if Friz managed to get the Bugs and Daffy rivalry right. I don't know why Friz made Bugs so oblivious to the fact that Daffy hates him. The funny thing about Jones' Bugs and Daffy cartoons was Bugs easily outwitting Daffy by simply steering Daffy in the wrong direction. "Show Biz Bugs" made Bugs looked like a dumb rabbit who just got lucky,which is a shame since his wit is present in the Yosemite Sam cartoons.

nate said...

People who aren't talented at drawing have just as many intelligent things to say as people who are talanted do. I don't think it's fair to dismiss what someone has to say just because they aren't talented in the way you think they should be.

Regardless, even if I agreed with your theory, I would say that South Park is illustratiing it perfectly. They have talented writing and that's the exact aspect of Family Guy they are making fun of.

John Pannozzi said...

>Incidentally, have you ever >noticed that every other >director's Sylvester is funnier >and drawn better than Friz'? >That's very odd, considering that >Sylvester is associated mostly >with Freleng.


Sylvester is associated with Freleng because Freleng CREATED Sylvester. And I have to say that I love the solo Sylvester cartoons Friz directed (examples are the one where Sylvester fights a mouse over the key to the pantry, and the cartoon where a mouse causes friction between Sylvester and his bulldog friend).

JohnK said...

>>Sylvester is associated with Freleng because Freleng CREATED Sylvester.

Actually Clampett created Sylvester and his layout artist, Tom Mckimson designed him.

Both Clampett and McKimson told me on separate occasions that they created him as a foil for Tweety and Clampett's unit storyboarded the first collaboration of the 2 characters.

Freleng inherited both characters and the storyboard when Clampett left the WB studio in 1946.

Then Friz proceeded to take the life out of them. He actually admitted this and more to me.

Steve Worth at the Asifa Animation Archive is going to publish my interview with Friz, Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna soon and it's full of wild stories from the golden age of cartoons!

David Germain said...

Actually Clampett created Sylvester and his layout artist, Tom Mckimson designed him.

Both Clampett and McKimson told me on separate occasions that they created him as a foil for Tweety and Clampett's unit storyboarded the first collaboration of the 2 characters.

Freleng inherited both characters and the storyboard when Clampett left the WB studio in 1946.


Then how do you explain the Sylvester cartoon Life With Feathers that was released in theatres on March 24, 1945 and was nominated for an Oscar? That predates Clampett's storyboard for Tweetie Pie by about a year.

Ther's no way Clampett could have created Sylvester. That's just one of the many lies he told people in order to overcompensate for his cartoons getting a lack of exposure on Saturday morning. >:(

P.C. Unfunny said...

"Then how do you explain the Sylvester cartoon Life With Feathers that was released in theatres on March 24, 1945 and was nominated for an Oscar? That predates Clampett's storyboard for Tweetie Pie by about a year."


He got ya there John.

nate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JohnK said...

>
Then how do you explain the Sylvester cartoon Life With Feathers that was released in theatres on March 24, 1945 and was nominated for an Oscar?

Ummm...what does that have to do with anything?

The character was created before the cartoons were made.

P. C. Unfunny said...

The character was created before the cartoons were made.


Iam confused,Clampett created Sylvester and Freleng used him in his very first appearance ?

C. A. M. Thompson said...

I've never seen the first Sylvester cartoon. What did he look like in that one, I wonder.

Anonymous said...

This is what I know:
"Birdy and the Beast" Clampett/W. Foster, animation credited to Tom McKimson, released Aug 19, 1944: Tweety (formerly 'Orson') vs. a dumb, pot-bellied cat, black body with white belly & muzzle, black nose. He does get into some 'Sylvester' situations (chased by bulldog, swallows Tweety who escapes). He is to Sylvester as Egghead is to Elmer.

"Life with Feathers" Freleng/T. Pierce released March 24, 1945. This is first appearence of Sylvester, similar in color to the previous cat but a bigger muzzle & snout and a red 'clown nose'. The personality & voice are there "Sufferin' succotash!" and all. Opposes a suicidal lovebird.

"A Gruesome Twosome" Clampett/W. Foster, Layouts by Tom McKimsom released June 9, 1945. Tweety vs. dumb & Durante cats. The dumb cat resembles resembles "Birdy and the Beast" cat, but is now yellow instead of black & white. We're getting farther away from Sylvester.

"Peck Up Your Troubles" Freleng/M. Maltese, released Oct 20, 1945. Freleng with Sylvester again, this time against a woodpecker.

"Kitty Kornered" Clampett, layouts by T. McKimson, released June 8, 1946. Finally Clampett gets around to Sylvester, but no Tweety in sight!

"Tweety Pie" Freleng/Pierce & Maltese, released May 8, 1947. Finally S. & T. meet. The story goes that Eddie Selzer opposed the pairing and wanted Sylvester to make more woodpecker pictures, causing Freleng to threaten to quit! Selzer then backed down. Was this originally a Clampett project?

As far as Sylvester goes, I think Clampett isn't lying but exaggerating again. He may have created the prototype, the Cro-Magnon Sylvester, but Freleng gave the heart & soul. Rob't McKimson, Arthur Davis, and Jones quickly started to use him as well & added their touches.

joe d. said...

So, Bob I guess told you that he
designed and created Sylvester, then did absolutely nothing with the character at all for over a solid year, waiting until his last WB short to use his own creation? (8-0
AFTER other layout men and animators and a gag writer/story guy had had their way with Sylvester, not once but twice--but both times directed by Freleng, who should get no credit at al for himl? If Bob really invented Sylvester, why didn't he take advantage of his own original creation and put him in "Gruesome Twosome"(the most obvious opportunity) rather than that nameless cat he paired with "Durante"? Were there any other characters he invented and did no cartoons with, giving them away to other directors, or just that one?

Freleng used him first, and anyway, in "Kitty Kornered"(a great cartoon), Sylvester doesn't do anything as an individual except his little speech. In his other scenes he's just another cat. It's not his cartoon, it's Porky's cartoon.

JohnK said...

>>

So, Bob I guess told you that he
designed and created Sylvester

I'm just telling you what some of the old guys said, including the guy who drew the first drawing of Sylvester.

I drew Ren and Stimpy 9 years before they ever made it to the screen.
The Tweety and Sylvester cartoons BTW were based on The Cagey Canary and Birdy and The Beast.It wasn't anything new when Friz did it.

No reason to get all excited about it.

In my opinion, Clampett did better versions of all the characters, not just Sylvester.

They seem way more alive and real in his cartoons.

But you can like Friz, it's ok.

I have a theory that I will post soon about certain personality types liking different styles and levels of creativity in cartoons...

Eddie's heard it.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Personally I think creation of ideas often isn't as important as execution anyway. You can have the funniest idea in the world and it doesn't matter if you don't know how to pull it off well.

It's too bad Clampett left before he could do a Sylvester and Tweety pairing, because remembering his Sylvester from Kitty Kornered, it would have been great.

jorge garrido said...

Who cares who created Sylveter? There's always controversies about these old guys. Clampett just simply used Sylvester really well. He should have used him more, IMO.

David Germain said...

In my opinion, Clampett did better versions of all the characters, not just Sylvester.

They seem way more alive and real in his cartoons.

But you can like Friz, it's ok.


Okay, that clears things up a bit. Sure, Kitty Kornered is an excellent Sylvester cartoon but so is Life With Feathers. John, I can certainly understand your dislike of Friz' work. I'm sure if he were alive right now he'd understand as well. I mean, like you said before, no matter what someone's not going to like your work. But, you shouldn't let these opinions cloud your judgement of giving credit where credit is due. The character of Sylvester was fully formed in Friz Freleng's Life With Feathers (c. 1945). Anyone who watches that cartoon can see that. There's no way anyone can take that away from Friz.

Be careful on how you word things next time.

nate said...

You can have the funniest idea in the world and it doesn't matter if you don't know how to pull it off well.

And vice versa. Form is important, but I tend to think content is more important. The best Ren and Stimpy's did both really well. And, in my opinion, South Park's form works well with it's content.

WIL said...

John K. said:

"I have a theory that I will post soon about certain personality types liking different styles and levels of creativity in cartoons..."

That sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

John K. said:

"But you can like Friz, it's ok."

Thank you, John K., thank you.:0D

I do respect and admire your critiques a great deal, though i don't always agree. I like Clampett AND Friz AND Jones, the way I like Beethoven AND Charlie Parker AND Radiohead, or Filet Mignon AND Lo Mein AND Cheesecake;
there all sort of the same but completely different. You can like early Robin Williams & Jim Carrey AND late Jack Benny & Bob Newhart, they're all funny in completely different ways. I look forward to your analysis of different personality types liking certain cartoons.

Mr. Semaj said...

I don't want to sound like a parrot, but I mentioned in Thad's blog that, while Friz Freleng wasn't a bad director, he tended to have the most generic since of style among the directors.

On a different note, "Scaredy Cat" is the best of the Porky & Sylvester trilogy (although I loved the ending to "Claws for Alarm"). My favorite poses for Sylvester are when he's literally pale, after spending hours in God-knows-where.

Chuck Jones had a pretty neat way of utilizing the Sylvester character. Aside from using Sylvester as a pet, he used the cat as a more humanoid character in "The Scarlet Pumpernickel". Wonder how he would've handled a Tweety & Sylvester scenario?