Monday, 12 March 2012

Wet Blanket Policy Backgrounds

The Oscar-nominated ‘The Woody Woodpecker Song’ made its debut in “Wet Blanket Policy” (1948), and that’s why the cartoon has achieved a level of fame. But the rest of the cartoon is enjoyable; the late ‘40s Lantz shorts benefited from what you could arguably call other studios’ castoffs. Setting aside Bugs Hardaway’s flat delivery as Woody, the voice work is first rate; Buzz Buzzard was never better than when he was supplied with an evil growl by Lionel Stander.

And then there are the distinctive backgrounds of Fred Brunish. They’re far sketchier than you’d find at other studios but they always seem to work. Brunish always exhibits a good grasp of light, highlight and shade as well. Here are a few of his cityscapes from “Wet Blanket Policy.”

Brunish would occasionally work in a cross-promotion for the Lantz comics in his backgrounds. You can see it in the final drawing above. Whether he worked on the comics, I couldn’t tell you—it doesn’t appear he ever drew characters—but it wouldn’t have hurt his relationship with the boss.


  1. Probably my favorite backgrounds by Brunish. The last few shorts coming out of Lantz right before the shutdown were really something to look at.

  2. I find the backgrounds in the early part of the cartoon really stand out, in part because the dialogue and sound effects were removed by Lantz in order to insert the song to capitalize on its then-current popularity. You don't have anything else but the song on the audio track, and visually the action is slow until Woody slides down the hill, so you've got time to notice Brunish's artwork.

    It really was a shame Lantz ran out of $$$ when he did. Buzz in the three UA efforts really does become a meaner version of what Yosemite Sam was to Bugs, and gave Lunday a chance to move Woody out of the "malicious heckler" category and make his violent actions against his new opponent more satisfying than, say, Woody picking on the Fuddian Wally Walrus.