Sunday, 20 January 2013

Inglorious Identification

I know the title kind of sounds like what you might hear from a Quentin Tarantino film - but with that aside; I hope this post will really interest and stimulate you readers. No, not the inglorious meaning 'disgraceful'...meaning 'obscure'. Well, obscure in the semantic field of animator IDs.

Most of us (animation historians, enthusiasts, fanboys) have had an eye for some animator IDs in some cartoons. Sometimes we reveal whose style it is - other times it IS a mystery. But we all treat animator IDs as a debate - we can never be accurate. The different styles in the Warner Bros. cartoons are probably what make the animation in the cartoons rather effective and even fun to watch - where they are largely noticeable throughout the 1940s and even 1950s. The 1930s style is very obscure (hence the first word of the title). We may probably only come across the style of Irv Spence, and perhaps suspected a Bob McKimson scene there and there....but here, is a new animator ID which has been confirmed..which you will find in the Tex Avery cartoons.

The new animator ID of the Avery cartoons is Bob Clampett's own animation style. You may already be familiar with styles that historians have already mentioned (particularly the 'Daffy Duck' scenes in Porky's Duck Hunt) where he was known to have animated the goony duck we all came to love. Of course, Clampett himself confirmed he worked and animated the scenes of the duck - as well as many devoted historians. 

We all appear to love conversations where it involves 'Clampett vs. Jones'. It's been well-known that Chuck Jones was the superior draftsman than Bob was - we all came to know what Chuck's style looks like as its very evident and controlled in his own cartoons as well as in his animation. But what about Bob? What was his style like, and what examples are there to show he is the superior draftsman?

BUT wait...the rest of you folks will probably already be aware of some styles that you may already suspect Bob Clampett worked on...his drawing collection from Bugs Bunny Superstar where hundreds of drawings from his collection were used for the documentary. Particularly the character layouts where it is shown in Clampett's style from I'd Love to Take Orders From You with the scarecrow trying to scare the little crow away. I even believe it was a Clampett scene. Even some stock footage of Tex acting out the scene as a reference.

Thank Clampett for actually saving and cherishing all this rare material in his own collection whereas it would also help identify the style a bit more of the cartoon. Initially, I never actually noticed such a style in the early Avery cartoons before. It was Devon Baxter who caught my attention to it, who actually noticed the styles itself. He even noticed that style in the comments of one of my reviews. But, as we couldn't automatically whose style it was -- we went to look at more styles of what looked - perhaps identical.

Let's start off with Milk and Money - the animation style that we have attributed to Clampett is pretty evident through the early Avery Porky cartoons where it is rather conservative looking - there is the big goggly eyes, and all. Very serviceable animation. Another scene in the cartoon where it is shown is when the boss hires Porky to be a milkman where the facial expressions are very identical looking.

More to look at in the other B/W Porky cartoons: the vice gag when Porky hammers on a horseshoe in The Village Smithy, or even the scene in The Blow Out when Porky manages to win a bag with plentiful of dough. The facial expressions of Porky there are very evident in the example we have seen in Milk and Money.

With the way Porky is handled - let's take a look at possible styles in Tex's early colour Merrie Melodies - already knowing he did the huge crow scene in I'd Love to Take Orders From You - let's see what else is featured. 

How about a look at Page Miss Glory - the fan dance sequence animated by Clampett. Look at the facial expression of Abner's face when he walks over to the lady - it definitely resembles a Porky looking face that I have shown you in the examples - so, there IS another style there. Another look is the scene of the Father Owl shouting "Out of my house you jazz singer, etc." is also shown in that style from I Love to Singa.

That's not all - now to track down with some deeper evidence. Luckily, Clampett also saved in his collection the storyboards for his cartoon Porky's Party where it was revealed in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3 as a storyboard reel - where it already revealed it originally was going to show Gabby Goat and Petunia Pig.

Look at the storyboards, compared to the final product. We know Porky looks very appealing in the final film - as well as the characters. However, in the storyboards you will know that Porky and the other characters are drawn in a much more cruder and even more conservative style whereas they don't look polished in the final film. 

Although, that probably happened with the help of Chuck Jones' character layouts provided for the cartoon - who was the superior draftsman. The style of Porky in that cartoon is THERE - the Porky which we have seen in the Avery cartoons - with the eyes, mouth figure and all. Being that both Chuck and Bob both were converted from the Avery unit towards Clampett's new unit - it would be highly improbable that Chuck Jones provided storyboards. He was a much better draftsman, and he was already in charge of the character layouts as well as being a animator. Clampett, however was known to have worked on his own stories before he even had a writer - so it's a very safe bet that Clampett drew the storyboards for this cartoon.

But - to conclude this animator ID theory - we knew that one person would probably help solve the question: Mark Kausler by e-mailing him. The fact we have figured and brought up the fact the style appears in the early Porky cartoons, Miss Glory and even in the storyboards and drawings from his collection - it was pretty clear it was Clampett's style. However...with authoritative confirmation - Mark Kausler got back to me and mentioned the fan dance in Page Miss Glory was definitely animated by Clampett. It was also THROUGH the help of Clampett's son who had revealed there were drawings of the sequence in the collection - which pretty much comes to conclusion. The whole style in those early cartoons were by Bob Clampett.

I hope this has had some interest to you - even though it probably may not have been a surprise. I MAY not have used up every example - as I have left out the pre-1935 cartoons to suggest this style but I feel I've covered up enough to show. I tried to keep it as informative and stimulating as I could. But I'm not the one who is to be thanked. Thank Devon Baxter who spotted it, and even Mark Kausler or Robert Clampett, Jr. who even revealed and confirmed the style. I'll try and not post too many own posts where it evolves around animator I.D.s but I felt this certain style had to be revealed or at least...known.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is awesome.... really looking good. Kept me from studying for my leaving it its so good :)