Animation - Test 4


"Hell Bent for Election" - dir Chuck Jones


Informational/propaganda film targeted to unions

Supported FDR's re-election

Strongly political cartoon

Produced by the predecessor to UPA

UPA Formed


Incorporates Zack Schwartz, John Hubley. Their goal is to create animation "that's never been seen before."

Influenced by Gyorgy Kepes' "The Language of Vision" ("Train the eye and thus the mind.") and the Bauhaus movement ("form follows function")

Takes up modernism in American animation

Animation style reflecting the expression of the artist

Triumph of the art directors – lots of art-school trained animators influenced by European art movements.
(Hubley was an art director / layout designer)
->in UPA films, background drives the story (there is an interaction) unlike in the Disney style.
Incorporated drafting techniques, such as multiple exposure, flat backgrounds, no rendering, and colored outlines.

This movement in animation (via Hubley) started at Disney, but it didn't fit the prevailing Disney style.

Colors produced by lithography (from multiple exposures) -> very different techniques to create blacks and whites than with paints.

"Gerald McBoing Boing" - dir Canon


Based on a story by Dr. Seuss
Produced by John Hubley
Animation: Bo Canon

Distributed: Columbia Pictures

A metaphor for an artistic outsider (i.e. leftism) vs. overwhelming conformism

Lines are separate from forms --> flattens space
Colors bleed outside the lines
High horizon line similar to Felix-era cartoons, no ceiling or ground lines

Heavily influenced by Fauve and Surrealist and Cubist art

Metamorphism in transitions, colors used to represent mood

Hubley Blacklisted, Leaves UPA


Held prior membership to the Communist Party, but was not so much Communist as Revolutionary

Forms Storyboard Studios (1955)

"Rooty Toot Toot" - dir Hubley


NOT a political film (like "Gerald McBoing Boing" was -- Hubley does not incorporate politics ever again)

Use of the "nasty proofroller" to create a textured background, convey a mood

The woman's hair is textured too (not just the background)

Colors and designs influenced by ballet

Creates its own space (like cubism), not dependent on traditional perspective

"Adventures of an Asterisk" - dir Hubley




"Moonbird" - dir Hubley


Academy Award for best short film
Animation by Bob Canon and Ed Smith

Uses Hubley's children as the voices

Multiple exposure used for lithographic press-like effects (9-10 passes) -- along with parallax gives the film its 3D effect

Wax resist technique (oil paint over wax --> pushed away) is used

White images against black backgrounds are used

The characters are rarely actually painted in color (most color comes from multiple exposures)

All the elements are on different layers.


Harman-Ising Signs with MGM


Create the Happy Harmonies series

"To Spring" - dir Hanna


Similarly elaborate to Harman and Ising's films.

Hanna had worked at Harman-Ising since the Schlessinger days. He was not an animator, but he mastered the use of Bar Sheets and coule read music.

Incorporation of the sympathetic fallacy: spring is brought on by underground creatures

Colors are paired with sounds

Perfect lip sync, elaborate effects (e.g. airbrush, soft focus)

An analogy for industry (specifically steel manufacturing): gnomes manufacture the colores of spring

Harman-Ising Contract Cancelled


Because of budget overruns for Happy Harmonies

Katzenjammer Series


Based on a newspaper comic.

Series is a flop.

"The Blue Danube" - dir Harman


Amazing effects animation, but hugely overproduced

A "high class" film in accordance with MGM's lush, glamorous style (cf. WB's provocative style)

Story: how the "blueness" of the Danube was made

Heavily influenced by Silly Symphonies and Albert Hurder (a rationalized world)

In the Rococo style (offshoot of Baroque Style; late 17th - early 18th century) -- e.g. seashell spiral: elegant, French art in the pastoral tradition
Lighting effects, atmospheric effects, aerial perspective are used at high levels of rendering.

Harman-Ising Return to MGM


Failure of MGM to produce their own content spurs a new contract with Harman-Ising.

"The Lonesome Stranger" - dir Harman


Part of Happy Harmonies, but imitates the Avery style.

Has the same problem as all other Harman-Ising films: overanimated at the expense of comic quality.

Tries to incorporate audience alienation, but has repetitive gags and a poor interpretation of Avery's timing.

"The Milky Way" - dir Ising


Rationalization of the Milk theme (a la Albert Hurder)

"Mother" cat bears a design resemblance to the (upcoming) Tom from Tom and Jerry series.

This film is an adult representation of what children are like (cf. "Moonbird") -- voices are done by middle-aged women

Amazing special effects, including drybrush, speed streaking, transparent watercolor

"Mouse Trouble" - dir Hanna-Barbera


Wins academy award

1st Tom and Jerry cartoon.

MGM's animation head Quimby combines Hanna and Barbera for new unit to produce this series.

A Harman-Ising "shell" – beautiful detail (Hanna)
with excessive violence (Barbera, who trained with Paul Terry), including piercing gags (which were abandoned long ago by Disney)

Use of foreground objects to make the scene look more 3D

Harman-Ising Leave MGM for Good


Tex Avery Hired Away from WB


Goal: replicate the WB style (and success)

Reality: Avery created a new, different (and also successful) MGM style

"Blitz Wolf" - dir Avery


Incorporates features of propaganda and educational films.

Combines features of Tex Avery animation:
-absurdist elements (burlesquing of camera movements, actual elements of World War II [e.g. B19 1/2, "The Stinka"])
-sex humor (e.g. long artillery gun
-talking to the audience
-effects animation used for gags
-parody of Disney style and "The 3 Little Pigs" in particular

with a lavish animation style (based on the animation of Preston Blair), which runs somewhat counter to Avery's style.

"Who Killed Who?" - dir Avery


More explicit techniques of fragmentation (consistent with Avery's MGM style, more extreme than in the WB style).

Mock setups: false audience warning at the beginning.

Gag-driven humor, explicit audience alienation, literal interpretation of ideas, manipulation of space for the gag (satires all forms of spatial representation, especially 1 point perspective).

Simple design (cf. detail of "Blitz Wolf")

"Northwest Hounded Police" - dir. Avery


Introduces the Droopy character

Timing further improved (sped up overall, repeated gags go by faster).

Paranoid fantasy: Droopy character is like G-d – everywhere at all times.

Incorporation of the Avery Double take: character shows emotion with body in extreme ways (violation of body coherence).

Avery extends gags to the point of ridiculous – door slamming gag breaks the comic rule of 3.

"King Size Canary" - dir. Avery


Refined: precise, directed gags

"Cold as an asteroid hurtling toward earth."

"Slap Happy Lion" - dir Avery


Emphasizes poses as a way to speed up timing even further.

At this point, Avery uses his own layouts/story drawings, does everything (bar sheets, exposure sheets, etc) himself, giving him full control but exhausting him in the process.

Rough animation, less naturalistic than the Disney style.

"Little Rural Riding Hood" - dir Avery


Avery's clearest treatment of sexuality.

Uses takes to show male sexual arousal.
bordered on problematic for the censors.

Some sped-up timing.

Avery Leaves MGM


WB Events

Clampett joins Harman-Ising, WB


Loves popular culture -- influences his gags. Influenced by George Lichtenstein "Lichty's" style (from the Grin and Bear It comic series), referring to moments of high emotion.

Often paired up with Rod Scribner (animator) – style derived from Lichty: 3D quality derived from various lines, influenced by cubism (unintentionally) and its constructed realities: time is not fixed.

Clampett is the Emotion director – it drives his gags and influences his animation style. His characters are also driven by emotion (especially Daffy).

He directs from feeling.

Typically uses mese-en-scene direction.

Chuck Jones Joins WB


Self trained, but studied at Chinard

The Logical director – builds logical problems, cartoons solve them in "intellectual examinations"

Use of stylized backgrounds, which often contrast with the action.

Interested in character development – turning the character on its head – violating expectancies for the character.

Valued building a coherent film over gag construction.

Switched between mise-en-scene and montage over time

Organic use of modernism (with Noble: "I don't believe any cartoon is successful when you force a style onto it." - a jab at UPA).

Harman-Ising Leaves WB


Schlessinger Hires Tex Avery


Almost immediately, makes Daffy Duck and Porky Pig the stars they are today (gave them their defining characteristics)

Had a major effect on the WB Style: emphasis on timing ("Timing is everything."), character style, and fluid sexuality

Tashlin Comes to WB


Sets up shots like live-action film. Had a distinct style and look

Heavily influenced by Art Deco.

Tashlin leaves WB


Clampett Leaves WB


Maurice Noble Joins WB


Robert Gribbrock (the primary WB layout artist at the time) retires.

Noble becomes Jones' primary layout artist in 1953.

Graphic style "push[es] ahead of reality." – a burlesquing of backgrounds. e.g. the extreme proportions of rock formations in the Roadrunner cartoons.

His style was already developed when he came to WB. He employed modernist techniques, but not based on any specific artistic discipline.

Believed designer should "have fun" in the designs to assist the total enjoyable effect of the cartoon. The backgrounds generate gags and unite them. "Visual giddiness."

Saw animation as a new (temporal) dimension in graphic design – including background action, camera movement, and shot length.

Provided detailed notes for his painter (Phillip DeGarde), allowing high control for a stylized texture in the backgrounds.

WB Animation Closes (Chuck Jones Leaves)


WB Films - Avery

"Porky's Duck Hunt"


Birth of Daffy Duck: begins as an insane duck with some human characteristics, becomes (under Clampett) a passionate anthropomorph with some duck characteristics.

"A Wild Hare"


Won Academy Award.

The mature WB style is now visible.

(earlier) Egghead character (inspired by Dopey) becomes Elmer Fudd.

Bugs Bunny is also insane. His original design and personality are inspired by the rabbit in Disney's "The Tortoise and the Hare," but the later redesign by Bob McKinson leads to his anti-neotenous appearance.

Incorporation of synecdoche (hand for Bugs), sexual note (runs finger erotically over the carrot), fluid sexuality (Bugs vamping Elmer in drag), and a mock death.

Bugs is a "city character," while Elmer is a rural, neotenous character.

Includes a gag where Bugs "goes off model" (i.e. substantial change of the character's structure [e.g. Bugs stretching as he leans toward elmer] for the sake of a gag).

"The Heckling Hare"


Avery's last film at WB – he leaves because Schlessinger cut one of the lines.

Animation by Bob McKinson (who created Bugs's model sheet).

Features fully-developed Avery timing, largely anthropomorphic Bugs and Daffy, both of whom are full cartoon "actors" – they play roles (i.e. Bugs Bunny playing a character) in their films.

WB Films - Tashlin

"Porky in the North Woods"


Largely a montage film (cf. mese-en-scene films)

Imitates the angles and lighting effects of live-action features.


Use of both handpainted and transparent shadows (which use more expensive double exposure techniques).

Animator Volne White incorporates art deco and streamlining.

Filmic techniques of growing traps throughout, long pans, a montage sequence inspired by Battleship Potemkin.

"The Case of the Stuttering Pig"


Incorporation of melodrama.

Volney White's design of the evil lawyer is art deco-inspired (especially around his eyes), stylized, streamlined.

Effects: use of flashes (with double exposure)

Filmic: incorporation of extreme close-ups

"Stupid Cupid"


Use of long pans.

A mature Daffy Duck – primarily shown as passionate, not insane.

The Glass Bottomed Boat (live action)


Tashlin became a live-action film director, but his live films have the same gag-driven structure and similar comic techniques as his earlier animation.

WB Films - Clampett

"Coal Black & De Sebben Dwarves"


Scribner's animation: use of a constructed reality (a la cubism). No in-betweens are used, instead 3 key drawings are fused in the viewer's mind to convey an emotion and make the scene more real.

Radical changes in form (departures from model) to show an emotional state -- shows the character's mind in a very different way than Norm Fergusson.

When the Prince is about to kiss Snow White, we see the simultaneous expression of all his states of mind -> allows us to perceive what he's thinking.

"Buckaroo Bugs"


The cowboy is inspired by Red Skelton – Bugs torments the cowboy.

Some gags "go beyond the ick factor"

Important gag: horse runs off cliff, but comes crawling back to its edge – a classic Clampett gag.

"The Book Revue"


Daffy's anthropomorphic character is playing Danny Kaye (in his Russian accent for the singing sequence).

Daffy is not crazy, but passionate – he is provoked.

This short is heavily inspired by pop culture (with the various book titles/gags) and employs character shifts and gender switches.

"The Great Piggy Bank Robbery"


Heavily influenced by Dick Tracy novels.

Lichty in its realizations.

Use of passion, model distortions when times of high emotion, no logical underpinning.

"The Big Snooze"


A film with Bugs and Elmer.

Elmer is tired of playing the hunter, tears up his contract, and Bugs has to bring Elmer back by invading his dreams and tormenting him (a new reality).

Elmer's sexuality is especially fluid in this short.

WB Films - Jones

"The Dover Boys"


Animator: McGrew – similar emphasis on background (violates the Schlessinger style), shows an interest in art deco design.

Deconstructing the hero – is the dumb character.

Low horizon, flattened perspective.

Hugely stylized character designs, movement. Non-mimesis, exaggerated colors of his style would become more mainstream during the war.

Rube Goldberg references (which would be more common in the Roadrunner films).

"Inki and the Minah Bird"


Layout artist: John McGrew – was interested in the effect of the background on the animation.

Introduces the notion of the supernatural, which drives the film – somewhat unusual for Jones (cf. Roadrunner, where the chase drives the film).

Minah bird's surrogate is the bush, the haystack – function as the same thing.

Heavily stylized background characters, exaggerated hills.

Lots of irrational events (uncharacteristic)

"Wackiki Wabbit"


Bernice Polifka as layout designer – had a background in art, emphasized graphic conflict between foreground and background. Pushed a very aggressive layout design. For example, when Bugs lowers the chicken on strings, the chicken's color is present in the background and it becomes an outline only once it passes over this part of the background (Gaugin's influence).

Reincorporation of strong poses, which violate the Disney style common at the time. These poses allowed the body's shape to convey ideas as caricatured thoughts and emotions.

Dancing invades the sailors' mentality suggests the influence of Tex Avery.

"Long Haired Hair"


Writer: Michael Maltese becomes influential at WB. Develops Bugs Bunny as an adult, a "counterrevolutionary" who fights against changes being imposed upon him.

An example of WB's shift to stories with 2 opposing characters.

Antagonist is an arrogant, short-tempered bully (the typical foil for Bugs, who is typically provoked, as opposed to in earlier cartoons where he is the aggressor).

Features the phrase: "Of course you know this means war!"

"Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century"



Detailed textures (e.g. textured transparency for glass)

Extreme colors, highly stylized, humorous futuristic design, expressivism.

Jones' autodidactism informs the elaborate gags.

"From A to ZZZZ"



Backgrounds are even more recognizably Noble's – more expansive, more fun.

The layout designs separate the fantasy and real worlds: fantasy is more colorful, has more contrast, and is brighter than the real world.

"Zoom & Bored"



The Roadrunner cartoon structure is inspired by "The Fox and the Grapes" (dir Tashlin at Columbia): fox goes to increasingly over the top lengths to get the grapes.

The Roadrunner cartoons demonstrate the Freling 2 character structure.

The Roadrunner is supernatural – he is immensely fast, and has perfect timing to avoid the Coyote.

The Coyote is vain – he wants to show off (to the audience) – but he is inept.

The shorts consist of "spot-gags" – those which do not last the entire film.

There is a separation between the pursuit and its objective – at some point, the Coyote wants to capture more than to have captured the Roadrunner.

The Roadrunner series is guided by logic. All episodes adhere to the following tenets:
1) The Roadrunner never leaves the road.
2) The Coyote is never injured by the Roadrunner; he injures himself.
3) The setting is the American Southwest – this allows the characters to be alone, and it conveys an ideological meaning (making the Coyote's struggle an "American struggle.")
4) There is never any dialogue.
5) The Coyote is never hurt or in pain; he is insulted.
6) The sympathy of the audience is always with the Coyote.

"What's Opera Doc?"



Noble's design includes extreme lighting, values creating forms (e.g. forms of trees and bushes made from the shapes of real bush/tree shadows), highly forced perspective (reminiscent of high contrast under stage lighting), balletic background design (reference to tutus: flesh tones and pinks).

Considered to be one of (if not the very) best cartoon ever made.

Includes 141 cuts – 3 times the normal number. The cartoon was much more lavish than other cartoons, so it had to be completed on the side.

Logic: the film is a satire of an opera, so it must follow the operatic conventions:
(except for the front of the stage)
e.g. the ending where Bugs turns to the audience and burlesques the sad ending (in this case, the death is not a mock death) of the cartoon.

Many references are made to Richard Wagner's symphonic opera: a General Work of Art (which uses multiple media in creating a greater result). This includes certain songs (e.g. "Ride of the Valkyries") and actions/plot elements (e.g. the plump horse riding in with the love interest [here, vamping Bugs]) from Wagner's operas.

Other Events

Paris Retrospective: Van Gogh / Gauguin


Boldly handled, simply mixed colors (bright, unadulterated)
"The 19th century at a higher temperature."

Paris Retrospective: Fauvism (The Wild Beasts)


Divisionism (dots or strokes)
"Post-impressionism plus"
Includes Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck, Braque, Marquet
Use of strokes of color

Paris Retrospective: Cezanne


Influenced all subsequent modern art


1907 - 1914

Picasso, Braque (influenced from Cezanne's retrospective in 1907)
Ignores spatial conventions of the academic pictorial space
The first abstract art movement of the 20th century
New Realism – synthesizes a pluralism of realisms
"The point of cubism is to paint what you know is there, not what you see." - Gertrude Stein



"French Dada" (where Dada is German, influenced by World War I and blaming it on the bourgeoisie)

Influenced by Cubism

Stridently anti-bourgeois, emphasis on mechanical expression (=automatism) -- especially marks that occur automatically

A new reality constructed from mingling reason and unreason, uncontrolled by aesthetic or moral consideration

Adherence to chance effects

A fasciation with dreams and the unconscious

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Disney)


At this point, Disney begins making features at the expense of shorts.