Wednesday, July 04, 2007

When Woody Was Cool

I love the first design of Woody! Here's a character built for comedy.

It's too bad this design didn't coincide with the best period of animation at Lantz.
Lantz' animation in the early 40s was pretty mushy and sloppy.
The animation, drawings and timing really tightened up in the mid to late 40s in the Dick Lundy cartoons, but by that time they were using a less funny design of Woody and he wasn't quite as wacky.









Oh for there to be some animation today that is unashamedly silly and comedic. Does no one who runs studios like kids anymore? Shouldn't cartoon producers be like Santa Claus? Instead of the Grinch?

Imagine what Eddie could do if you let him loose and told him to make kids laugh as hard as possible?

34 comments:

Kali Fontecchio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Merritt said...

No one makes me laugh more than Eddie F! Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get a re-enactment of his infamous Carls Jr. visit - I was on the floor laughing....

http://uncleeddiestheorycorner.blogspot.com/2007/01/i-take-my-snooty-friend-to-get-some.html

Aggie said...

Ooooh, my favourite Woody Woodpecker!! So wacky!

Brian Romero said...

I agree, the original Woody design looked so much better. He was toally insane, like Daffy Duck on acid! Then they 'Mickey Moused' his appearance and persona. Those frames of him pulling the fox's nose are great.

Whit said...

Whatever Eddie would do to make kids laugh as hard as possible should be up on You Tube.

murrayb said...

They didn't reference any of this stuff when they did those cornball "NEW" woody woodpeckers in '99, the design was a mish mash of the late 40s/bad TV designs. It even had his daisy duck ripoff girlfriend and the nephews!

BSP sucked all the wackiness out, he could never smash a window(BROKEN GLASS!!)
Jump off a ledge(COPYABLE ACTION!!)
stick a cafe patio umbrella up wally walrus' nose unless he put it back(STEALING!)

And the scripts were 35 page nightmares, something like this:

" the room is now filled halfway with water. The cookoo clock which now resembles a shark(WTF?!) swims by, woody quickly puts a FIRE BELLOW, POOL CUE, and FORK together and makes an cool, elaborate harpoon launcher! (LOL!!!)Woody overturns the baby crib for a makeshift shark cage.(signature laugh; huh huh hee HA HA)"

.... I guess the secret to cartoon comedy is putting random household items together to solve your problem.

Alan zazlove tried to make it funny, but the bag directors Drew and Jerry presumed to know better then "some old guy"

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0953649/

"everything old is POO again."

Im glad this DVD set is finally coming out.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"It's too bad this design didn't coincide with the best period of animation at Lantz"

Yeah! It's so weird- you'd expect something from this time period to be way better, but this animation is not as intriguing as the stuff that would soon follow in the late 40s, strangely. This is by far my favorite design of Woody as well. It fits his character of being uncontrollably crazy and annoying. Although in later designs he's cuter, I think this fun version outweighs cuteness.

His colors are kind of patriotic.....

Shawn said...

I always liked the early Woody design better too. But even the design from the mid-40's was better than his design from the 50's-onward. His personality was funnier in the early cartoons too.

I would love to see somebody let Eddie go nuts and make kids laugh.

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

Let Eddie loose! Let Eddie loose!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

"Imagine what Eddie could do...!!!??" Wow! Thanks for the thought!

I definitely would like to make funny cartoons and if I could make money at it I'd walk down the street with Kliban's naked show girls and a security guard shouting, "Make way! A cartoonist is coming!"

PCUnfunny said...

I don't care much for the first design.I prefer the late 1940s one.

Bruce said...

Hey John, in case if you are interested, Electric Tiki have recently released a series of statues that are based on the three different versions of Woody. You should deffinately check it out, especially with the 1940's version. http://www.electrictiki.com/classic%20toons/teeny1.html

'It fits his character of being uncontrollably crazy and annoying. Although in later designs he's cuter, I think this fun version outweighs cuteness.'

I somewhat agree, but I personally believe this nut-job is adorable than some of his later incarnations. And hey, you got to love a character who can be a passionate, violent aggressor who pesters innocents, not out of self defense, but simply for the fun of it. I didn’t like it when Lantz hired Disney veteran Dick Lundy to take over the direction chores for Woody's cartoons, because he discarded Culhane's take on the series (and title character itself) and made Woody more defensive; the bird no longer gone insane without a legitimate reason. 8(

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

Early evil insane Woody used to terrify me when I was little! He's awesome!

Joey M. said...

Ech, look at that awful DVNR in the seventh screen down.

lastangelman said...

The later Woody's behavior (and cuteness) almost seems like Lundy was attempting to clone Chuck Jones' take on Bugs Bunny. Woody became less of an asshole, more sympathetic.Later on, for some reason, Woody cartoons got real talky, when it used to be all action, slapstick and pantomime, like silent reels. It is third rate Maltese at best or bad radio banter.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

I always thought Woody's fat legs were pretty bizarre.

It's too bad Emery Hawkins never got to animate this design but even with the later design he did a good job making Woody look psychotic.

Jorge Garrido said...

I've seen far too few Woody Cartoons, the most notable one is Pantry Panic, which is actually two cartoons in one, the first half being with really generic looking cute bird characters. Thye make you wait for Woody's nuttiness.

Thad promised no DVNR on the DVD so I'm holding my breath...

JohnK said...

It's DVNRed. Go look at the preview clips.

Kevin Langley said...

I love Art Heinemann's design the best personally but the first is definetly the funniest design. I know you may hate this but I think Culhane made the best Woody shorts. He may not be as maniacal as the earlier shorts but he was still an instigator. Women, opium references, violence, Woody was still pretty wild in those shorts. Plus, great animation from Emery Hawkins, Pat Matthews (one of my favorites) and LaVerne Harding. Lundy short's are probably the slickest of the bunch. I don't really care for any of the shorts after Lantz reopened and Grace Stafford did the voice. Some funny gags here and there but the quality took a serious dip from Lundy's last shorts.

BTW, what do you think of Natwick's animation at Lantz? I'm not that fond of it, compared to the other animators. Instead of being fun and cartoony some of it just looks rather sloppy. (not that I'll ever be able to do better)

I remember you said you worked for Alex Lovy. When and at for what studio? What did you learn from him? Or not learn not to do? Just thought that might interesting to hear about.

Mr. Semaj said...

The only thing I really think worked about the early Woody design is that it's a sharp contrast to the Disneyesque characters that are putting his behavior into question.

I've always been torn between Woody's mid-to-late 40's design and his early-to-mid 50's design (except when he had yellow gloves in the latter). His color palette was more consistent, and as far as his personality, it was always funny to observe his life preferences (eating a lot, women, etc.), even when he didn't always achieve them.

Hammerson said...

Great cartoon! Here are some more screenshots from it.
While I slightly prefer mid to late 40s Woody cartoons because they're better directed and animated, these earliest cartoons have some particular and unique quality. Woody was completely crazy and unhinged character in his first incarnation, and this design fits him really well - there's no other cartoon character that looked quite like that. The later design may be more flexible and animator-friendly, but this early one is the funniest.
What do you think about early 50s Woody cartoons directed by Don Patterson? They suffer from extremely low budget (compared to earlier Lantz cartoons), but they're quite funny and inventive. After the mid-'50s, it's all downhill for Woody, with very few decent cartoons made. I wonder what would Tex Avery do with him, had he stayed at Lantz for a longer time.

Franky said...

DVNR or not, I'm waiting with baited breath for this new Woody collection. I'm psyched to have the first 45 Woody cartoons and 30 of the early Lantz's. It's nice to have so much in so compact a format.

Early Woody designs rock! I love those thick legs and cankles and the itty-bitty head. My fave of the early ones is the take on the ant and the grasshopper where Death is staring Woody in the face - he's so hungry he wants to eat a stray cat. It's a great two way chase with them both trying desperately to eat each other.

(just call me run-on Franky - I guess I'm pretty excited to finally get these cartoons)

Charlie J. said...

I actually prefer the Lantz animation during this period! There was this one animator who would animate Andy Panda's dad with these crazy facial expressions, anyone know who it was?

Duck Dodgers said...

Hi Jorge,
Thad couldn't have promised no DVNR on the set because he couldn't and he doesn't know about it.
I suspect DVNR was used on the cartoons with more dirt. "Who's Cookin'Who?" was DVNRed because the print available is full of dirt. However, I would have loved the short to be untouched.
Thanks God I already own all the 15 volumes of the Columbia House DVD series. Don't sell them, folks! Some of the shorts DVNRed on the upcoming set could have been untouched in the Columbia ones. (in the Columbia DVDs DVNR is present expecially in late 50s/early 60s shorts).

kevin fitz said...

I'm pretty sure my young mind was molded in some way shape or form because of Woody the Woodpecker.. Especially loved the sign he pecked out.. classic. Thanks for posting!

FU said...

yes, he is very funny =D

Kevin W. Martinez said...

"Thad couldn't have promised no DVNR on the set because he couldn't and he doesn't know about it.
I suspect DVNR was used on the cartoons with more dirt."

Thad pointed out the DVNR on Who's Cookin' Who when he saw it on the Animation Show, but he says the other clips are fine.

There's a little on Who's cookin Who, but from what i've seen, it's no comparison to the much-more damaging overuse on, say, The Droopy set. Plus, it's usually not considered to be a good idea to use compressed-to-hell streaming video clips to gouge video quality, so I (like Thad) would advise wwaiting until the set comes out and actually seeing the DVNR for yourselves.

Tibby said...

I love the original Woody - THAT was truely an original character. It was sad that he became so watered down as time - and artists changed and went on.

I've found that some animators strive on perfection of mechanical technique and others are more loose and organic with their style. This has become a very strong division in animation today. The perfectionists are ridgid and like everything to be straight and smooth. And the others just want to draw stuff and go with the wind. I'm a wind follower - a friend of mine is the exact opposite and is a perfectionist. It is a very strange trade off.

If only we could work together more like the old days instead of being at war with each other. Then maybe cartoons can be fun again.

Duck Dodgers said...

Leviathan,
what I meant is that a guy cannot promise about something he has no pwer on. Thad did not promise anything because he, like us, does not know if DVNR will be present.
So far, it is evident it was used for "Who's cookin' Who?" and I suspect several other shorts, available in Universal's vaults in prints with dirt, will be affected by digital video noise reduction.

Jim Rockford said...

I've got to agree here,that Woody is hands down my favorite.
He looks straight out of the asylum with mayhem on his mind!

Jim Rockford said...

I'd love to own the woody dvd set,but why do they have to digitally destory them?
I hope more people will start to complain to the folks in charge,this really needs to end.
If only we could make them realize they be SAVING money by leaving them alone....

Kevin W. Martinez said...

Andrea,

I knew that Thad couldn't have made that promise (His initial blogpost on the Woody set was tentative and didn't promise anything, BTW). I was just saying that Thad picked up on the Who's cookin' Who DVNR at roughly the same time you and I did.

Haggis McCrablice said...

Walter Lantz was an early influence on my work (one of many). One of my characters, Gort, is essentially some weird amalagam of the classic Hardaway Woody, ALF, and Bob Clampett's Do-Do--like the bastard child that would result if Woody were to schtup a girl from Melmac, I suppose. Here's a page from the Feb 2006 issue, starring that whacky alien:
http://www.freewebs.com/smokingcatcomicsandcollectibles/22-01.jpg

WoodyRamesses said...

I love Woody Woodpecker.