Friday, July 29, 2011

La Feet's Defeat (1968)

As a whole I love the early Inspector shorts. Has wonderful designs, funny gags, and the character interactions between the Inspector and Sgt. Deux-Deux makes it worthwhile. However, half-way through the series Deux-Deux began appearing less and less.

John Dunn, who wrote the earlier shorts with the character, stopped writing on Inspector and the duty went to Jim Ryan instead. Dunn, Tony Benedict, Jack Miller, and David Detiege occasionally filled in during this time.

Unfortunately Jim Ryan was a weak writer. His gags often fell apart and the story can be incoherent, and he never seemed to know how to end a cartoon.

This cartoon marks the only time Ryan used Deux-Deux and it ended up being his last appearance. However he's a completely different character here; while in his other appearances he would play as Inspector's reluctant sidekick here he's portrayed as an eager young recruit. He even has a different voice as well, courtesy of Don Messick.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sir Blur

One of the characters Shamus Culhane tried when he took over Paramount Cartoon Studios was Sir Blur, a nearsighted knight voiced by Allen Swift.

While I unabashedly love most of the Paramount entries from Culhane, I consider Sir Blur shorts to be the weakest of the bunch. The character was essentially Mr. Magoo that takes place in the medieval time period and the jokes can get old fast. Oh well, not all can be gems.

The character managed to appear in four cartoons before being retired. Below are all the films:

A Wedding Knight (Paramount, 1966) by WackyJacky

The Blacksheep Blacksmith (Paramount, 1967) by WackyJacky

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jack Kinney

For years I've only been familiar with Jack Kinney through the god-awful Popeye cartoons he did for King Features in 1960s. What I didn't realize was that he worked as a director at Disney's, working on shorts. I now actually consider him to be one of my favorite animation directors; the Goofy cartoons he did were laugh out loud funny.

This is a good example. I love how it just escalates as the cartoon progresses, complete with what I consider to be one of the wildest cartoon endings I've ever seen. There's also many inside references to Disney staff (click here for a list). It makes me wonder if Al Bertino and Norm Ferguson had real-life animosity.

Here's another short from Kinney. This is also notable because it was co-written by Virgil Partch. VIP was a print cartoonist who appeared in Playboy and other magazines. He also had a few syndicated strips, most notably Big George. VIP worked at Disney for few years but found himself out after the strike. This was his only screen credit.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Here's Nudnik

Paramount had their own in-house animation studio, Famous Studio (later Paramount Cartoon Studio), for years. Even then, however, they had no qualms about releasing animated shorts from other studios, such as the George Pal Puppetoons, Hal Seeger's Muggy Doo, few from John Hubley, and the various shorts directed by Gene Deitch. In fact, they released an entire series of shorts from Deitch called Nudnik.

Deitch recalls making Nudnik with fondness and remarked that they were his favorite cartoons to do. The pilot, Nudnik #2, was nominated for the Academy Award, which may have spurred Paramount Pictures into picking it up.

Paramount released the Oscar nominated short as Here's Nudnik. One big difference in this short than with the rest in the series is the music. According to Deitch Paramount requested that they don't use the blues music (done by SH Quintet, a Czech band) so they opted for the ragtime-ish tune done by Stephen Konichek, who did music for various Deitch shorts including his Tom and Jerry.

Here's the cartoon in question. Note that my copy was very out of sync but I managed to get it fixed before I uploaded it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boobie Baboon

Paramount sold their cartoon lineup to Harvey Comics in the late 1950s. No longer having the rights to Casper, Baby Huey, Herman, Katnip and others they needed to create a new line of characters to star in their cartoons as the 1960s rolled by.

Only, it didn't happen that way. They did countless one-shot cartoons with different characters, all created with the hopes of becoming Paramount's next cartoon star, but none of them stuck. There were recurrers such as The Cat, Swifty & Shorty, Honey Halfwitch, and Goodie the Gremlin (a Casper-expy), but none of them made any impact.

One of the characters they tried was Boobie Baboon, who managed to appear in two cartoons (both 1965) under the creative supervision of Howard Post. Oddly enough, both cartoons involve prisons (in one he's trying to get in, in another he's trying to get out). I wonder what other ideas they had in store had the character continued to appear in more cartoons.

You can judge for yourself. Here are the two shorts. That sounds like Bob McFadden doing all the voices in Solitary Refinement, but in The Outside Dope it sounds like Eddie Lawrence is the voice of Boobie. (See edit below) Can anyone speculate?

EDIT: According to Mike Kazaleh, Howard Post never used Eddie Lawrence in his cartoons. The voices are Bradley Bolke and Bob McFadden

Monday, July 11, 2011

Larry & Steve

I've been thinking of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons (WPT) lately. Looking through them now, it was a mixed bag. Some good, some okay, and some that was just terrible.

Of course, the program led to CN picking up shows that gained popularity. This is how we got Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo, The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and others.

Believe it or not, it was through WPT that we got a version of FOX's Family Guy. Before becoming the king of FOX's prime-time cartoon line-up Seth MacFarlane was a writer at Hanna-Barbera. He worked on all three of the original Cartoon Cartoons lineup (mostly on Johnny Bravo, but he was on Dexter and Cow & Chicken as well). He also did a WPT short called Larry and Steve.

While family-friendly compared to the raunchy, fratboy Family Guy, the short exhibits some of MacFarlane's trademarks. The gags are fast-paced, some of which makes no sense (Nicky the Xenophobic Scottsman), and pop-culture references ("Luke this is your landlord, you still haven't returned my weed whacker."). Not to mention, the two main characters pretty much evolved into Peter and Brian. However, unlike much of the TV show, the short has some level of legitimate storytelling, and while the character designs aren't anything special, it's more appealing than the bland style seen in MacFarlane's more popular TV shows.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Push (1987)

Osamu Tezuka is often regarded as the "Father of Anime". He introduced the world of cartoons with big eyes and small mouths that still lingers on to this day, which ironically enough was inspire by the American works of Disney and Max Fleischer (at the time they were big in Japan).

However, none of those traits are present in the various independent shorts that Tezuka directed, including this one. The theme of the short, war and destruction of mankind, is fairly common in Tezuka's works but it has an interesting style that makes it worth watching. If it wern't for the credits no one would guess that Tezuka did this.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011