Thursday, December 06, 2012

Bob McKimson Tribute at the Aero on Friday

Hey the Aero theater in Santa Monica is presenting a Bob McKimson retrospective Friday evening and you should go if you can.

Bob was one of the best animators ever. He drew better than just about anyone and had a completely unique way of moving his characters. He was the lead animator at WB in the 30s and early 40s and taught many of the other animators. He set the overall style of the studio's look and animation.He designed many of the Warner Bros. characters and animated the best acted, best looking Bugs Bunnies while working in Bob Clampett's unit.

This is a beautiful and hilarious sequence animated by McKimson for Clampett's "Hare Ribbin". 


Bob McKimson was also one of the top cartoon directors of the golden age - and maybe even the most popular one among regular folks (as opposed to historians and critics). I know that when I was a kid, my friends and I imitated his cartoons more than anyone else's. We acted out the genie in "A - Lad - In His Lamp", sang the square dance song from "Hillbilly Hare", acted out the cat's begging in "Early to Bet", Daffy Duck as the ghoul in "Prize Pest" and on and on. My Dad laughed hardest at his cartoons, especially "that big chicken" - and that's a true test of the entertainment value of a cartoon.

Here are just a few of my favorite McKimson films:

Walky Talky Hawky (1946) – first great McKimson Cartoon that is uniquely his voice

Birth of a Notion (1947) – This is a great cartoon! 

Crowing Pains (1947)

Easter Yeggs 1947

Hot Cross Bunny (1948)

The Foghorn Leghorn (1948)

A-Lad-in His Lamp (1948)

What's Up Doc? (1950)

Hillbilly Hare (1950)

Pop 'im Pop 1950

Hare We Go (1951)

Early to Bet (1951)

The Prize Pest (1951)

Thumb Fun (1952)

Rabbit's Kin (1952)

Plop Goes the Weasel 1953

Devil May Hare 1954
Bugs Bunny changed considerably once McKimson started directing - as did all the other WB characters under his supervision. Bugs went from being a young mischievous prankster to maturing into a middle aged grumpy curmudgeon with a pot belly and short stubby legs.

 In fact almost all the characters in Mckimson's cartoons were grumpy middle aged curmudgeons.

It's a really funny world view that you only see in his cartoons. The main contrasts in the different characters' personalities was in how smart or how stupid the various curmudgeons were.

In "The Windblown Hare" Bugs is the cleverest curmudgeon, the wolf is a gullible curmudgeonly idiot and the 3 dumpy pigs are just all out mean and and cynical curmudgeons.

I love this stuff. Bob McKimson showed the world to be a hornet's nest of swindlers and wiseasses who go through life shouting, manhandling and pushing each other around - just like real life would be if we were unfettered by political correctness and insincere manners.

Watch this hilarious cartoon:

BOOK SIGNING - 6:00 pm

Get your copy of the new McKimson Bros. book signed by Robert McKimson, Jr. and I think maybe by Darrel, Jerry or me - even though we didn't make any of the cartoons - but are all huge fans!


Great animator/producer Darrell Van Citters, world  famous cartoon Historian Jerry Beck, Robert McKimson Jr. and I will be having a panel discussion where we'll invade each others' space and push and poke each other in our middle aged paunches. 
Robert McKimson Jr. aside a portrait of him as a lad, painted by his talented father.


...and best of all, we can watch a bunch of great cartoons on the big screen, the way they were meant to be shown!

...also I will be bringing Jim Smith, Eddie Fitzgerald and you could maybe get them to shove you or smack your butts with a wooden paddle.

Where: Aero Theatre 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
(310) 260-1528
When: Friday, December 7th, at 7:30 p.m. (booksigning begins at 6:00 p.m.)