Saturday, 17 November 2012

Prod. 3-14 - Gruesome Twosome draft

I'm only down for a short weekend - but I've felt inspired to make a post of this. What you are seeing above is the animator 'draft' of 'A Gruesome Twosome'. No - I do not own this copy. This is just a draft that was used in Jerry Beck's Sylvester & Tweety book which he wrote years ago...I just cropped the draft so you could take a look for yourself. It's inspired me to write this as Hans Perk is also posting the draft to the Disney film 'Peter Pan' - which you should see your yourself. Check it out for yourself - there is great animation there by Frank Thomas, Norm Ferguson, etc. so far.

Yes - this is a handwritten draft and I imagine that it belongs in one of Clampett's many collections. Robert Clampett's son told me in an e-mail that only roughly eight or ten animator drafts survive as many of these drafts (even from other directors) are pretty much lost. The animators on the first page - are of course the four main animators that appeared in the screen credits: Bob McKimson, Rod Scribner, Manny Gould and Basil Davidovich. I believe that the notes in this document were all hand-written by Clampett.

The draft is rather a mess, and as the handwriting feels scattered and it can be difficult to follow through (particularly which scene number, artist and particular screen footage) but I believe I've managed to follow it. The credit also credit effects animator A.C. Gamer but the first page of the draft doesn't credit him for any effects scene (although there is no single scene with effects animation). However, I also know that many of the WB drafts don't credit effects animator that answers that. Don't forget that the book only features the FIRST PAGE of the draft. It only goes up to the scene of the Jimmy Durante cat mentioning of using 'strategy' to the dumb cat. So, the sequence with the horse costume is rather a mystery, unless it exists in the archives of Clampett's collections.

Bob McKimson gets top billing in the credits although the draft of the first page only credits him for two scenes (although it probably is the only sequence he animated as the scenes following with the horse costume do not resemble his style or drawing). Even though only being credited for two scenes - the second shot is 124 feet and 15 frames long. Altogether that is 1999 frames and it's 01:23:07 in. It's also three week's work.

Bob McKimson sure got some hard assignments to do from Clampett. That animated scene with the Durante cat beating up the Stupid cat during the interruptions is probably my favourite animation that he has done for Bob Clampett. I love how when the Durante character just beats him up and it's all very funny animation. That very first scene where the Durante cat whacks him with a frying pan is just hilarious animation and it's really worth analysing. Bob McKimson really brings a lot in that 125 feet scene and his characters look very on-model. If I forgot to mention; he is credited for the silhouetted scene of the dumb cat meowing.

Rod Scribner animation of the dog acting rather excited (although I never, never understood the reason for that scene - and why the dog kisses the cat. I just don't see the charm) is rather solid animation and you can definitely feel the weight and power Scribner puts in his drawing. However, when I took a look at that draft - what really stumped me was the scenes of the cat's proposition for the two cats as they fight. That is some really odd Scribner drawing. The scenes of the cat's finishing their fight and especially the scenes with the female kitten doesn't look like Scribner's work.

Looking at the poses of the cat's from the fighting - is that really what Rod would draw like? However, more suspicion was the scenes of the cat. The cat is rather sloppily animation and it nearly resembles Scribner's trademarks. Do you really think he would draw like that? However - the cats whistling together look a little like Rod did it. Although, the draft credits the scene to Scribner alright - perhaps those scenes were infested from clumsy assistant work. Other than that - the rest of Scribner's animation in the cartoon is mostly the close-up shots of Tweety (even later on with the horse costume sequence) - he is also credited for the fighting scenes of the cats during Tweety's 'I Tawt a Taw a Puddy Tat' song.

Manny Gould animates quite a number of the shots so far as it appears but probably not as much screen footage as Rod or Bob McKimson appears to have had. His main animated scene - as it appears to be is of Tweety's catchphrase as the two cats look at Tweety's nest on top. He animated mostly the nest sequence (except for the mallet scene which was by Scribner).

We even get to see some of Gould's traits of this cartoon, particularly the scene where the cat's scream from the mallet reaction and just before their fall where he twins the poses. He likes to have the arms and legs together as he twins them - he even has the knack for drawing large mouths in reaction or action scenes. He was a bit like Rod Scribner in terms of drawing but Rod was much more solid, and Manny animated much quicker than Rod. Another Gould trait in the Clampett cartoons is he mostly animates speech scenes - you can see that for yourself in the 'strategy' scene.

Last but not least -- Basil Davidovich. Basil was one of the ex-Disney animators who fled over to the Schlesinger Studio after the Disney strike. He later returned to the Disney Studios in the 1950s as a layout artist on the features and remained there until his death in 1971.

His style isn't easy to identify in the Warner Bros. cartoons (although he is mostly associated for animating on a few Chuck Jones cartoons and also for Art Davis) but he started off in the Clampett unit in 1944. I think the first cartoon where he did animation was on 'Buckeroo Bugs'. Anyway; I haven't got too much to say about his animation output in this cartoon but I can say that the animator has really nailed Clampett's timing in the iron gag sequence which I think is some very funny animation. However, as for drawing - the cats look rather on-model and a little cutesy, only a little bit of Disney-esque animation even though that was where he was. His timing was very good and I think he was a very good, comedy animator for the WB cartoons.

As for the overall footage output: Bob McKimson animates the most footage so far animating over 150 feet of animation. Followed by Manny Gould who animates a bulk of that first page - then followed by Rod Scribner, and Basil Davidovich. I know that Rod did more animation later on in the cartoon - but perhaps Basil did more footage later but we will only know if the second page of that draft still exists. Of course - no footage credits Ace Gamer - but we can assume he did the effects animation in the animated shots done by the character animators.


  1. It seems the characters have (unofficial) names (i.e. they address each other by). Durante is "Colonel" and the other one is "Snooks". (They also use the standard "Bub", "Son", etc. but those other two names are more unique and definitely fitting for the characters).

    Snooks was actually the same cat in the previous Tweety film, "Birdy and the Beast". They just changed him from black to yellow.
    In fact, in that next to the last frame shot, that whole segment (the bird's nest) is reused animation from Birdy and the Beast (Tweety even regains his pink color from the older film). They just recolored Snooks and added Colonel.

  2. I wonder why "Captain" and "Snooks" never appeared in another picture? Did Schlesinger or even Big Jack not like them or what? While one of my favorites, this is a pretty weird picture even by Clampett standards. It's violent as hell and the plot seems as disjointed and deranged as the animation (how does putting on a horse suit help catch a bird, is what I wanna know). Ol' Bob was on pretty thin ice with the Warners brass right around this time, I believe-- he would resign three years later and go on to create the wildly successful "Time for Beany" show.