Friday, 14 October 2011

Hare-Brained Backgrounds

It appears Paul Julian painted the woodsy backgrounds for ‘The Hare-Brained Hypnotist,’ a 1942 Warner Bros. cartoon.

What’s odd is not the backgrounds themselves but how they were used. Here’s the scene: Bugs is in his hole. There’s a cut to a shot of Elmer in the sky above him, then a cut back to Bugs in his hole. But, as you can see, the setting has changed. The same background drawing should have been used.

This is an enjoyable cartoon. Director Friz Freleng and writer Mike Maltese are already making fun of the Bugs/Elmer formula, two years after it was created. The self-parody is much more satisfying and likeable here than in Freleng’s later ‘Hare Brush’ (1955).

The cartoon was laid out by Bob Holdeman, according to author Graham Webb. Robert Logan Holdeman was a graduate of Chouinard who had been at Disney in the ‘30s. Newspaper stories indicate he moved north to the Bay area by early 1955, where he was a landscape architect, designer and a faculty member of the California School of Fine Arts. His watercolours graced a number of showings in the San Francisco-Oakland area. Like Lenard Kester, John McGrew and Gene Fleury, he was another artist of the early ‘40s who never received credit in a Warner Bros. cartoon.


  1. Interesting stuff. I thought Lenard Kester was painting then, with Owen Fitzgerald layouts, and Paul came after. Maybe they were tag-teamed, ala 1950 Chuck Jones, with Pete Alvarado and Philip Degaurd.

  2. Could be, Zartok. I'll stand corrected about Julian but he was gone from the Jones unit by then, wasn't he? Gene Fleury came over to do backgrounds in the unit when 'Fantasia' finished production.
    I can't speak about Holdeman; I'm only relating what Webb wrote.

  3. Careful using the Webb book... he made a lot of stuff up.

    This may be one of my all-time favorites, and is at least as good at nailing Bugs as Gets the Boid did.

  4. Julian was with Friz's unit at least by the time "Notes to You" came out.

  5. Yeah, Thad, about all I can do is post the source info.
    The timing of the balloon bit is great. And I like how the bear unexpectedly returns.