Monday, 17 October 2011

Cow Puncher

Take Tex Avery’s sight-gag puns, mix them with “modern” design and limited animation, and you get ‘Symphony in Slang’ (1951). The animation is by Walt Clinton, Mike Lah and Grant Simmons and the backgrounds by Johnny Johnsen, but the star is designer Tom Oreb. He was between stints at Disney and Tex brought him in for this one cartoon. Why he did it is a bit puzzling as John Canemaker’s book on Avery shows Ed Benedict was already at MGM and Benedict was thoroughly capable of coming up with designs that moved away from the 1940s style.

The “carry on” pun is probably the most outrageous, but my favourite is the one about punching cattle. Avery used it in ‘Detouring America’ (1939) at Warners but it works better in this one because of the limited animation; there’s no extraneous movement, just the punching. And you’ve got to love those cows.

This cartoon must be a favourite of many. You can see screen grabs and layout drawings from it HERE. And you can read the dialogue HERE. You’ll see “John Brown” next to the slang hipster character. That isn’t his name. That’s the name of the actor who is doing all the parts in this short. Brown used virtually the same voice on Fred Allen’s radio show for John Doe, McGee (a songwriter) and a host of incidental man-on-the-street, New York types.


  1. Huh, and here I always thought that was Daws Butler. So does that mean Daws' Snooper voice (which is very similar) was a takeoff of John Brown?

  2. No, Snoop is Ed Gardner doing Archie on 'Duffy's Tavern.' I've read that Gardner apparently really did sound that way.

  3. Oh man, I'm so behind on seeing this post! Thanks for the mention with my SIS Flickr set. Hate that my screengrabs came from what appears to be the only video presentation out there - which is presented so badly with off colors and tones that it simply kills me. I love the images from SIS you've posted here on your blog - I'm curious, how are you getting these? They look color-corrected and from the original film. Many thanks for all your insight on these cartoons here and your Yowp blog. Keep it up!