Friday, 1 June 2012

Woody’s Lantz-formation

Parodies of radio and TV shows in cartoons don’t stand up if the parodies do little more than make fun of the source material. If you’re not familiar with the originals being parodied, you’re sunk because there’s nothing else left.

Don Patterson directed a cartoon at the Walter Lantz studio called “Under the Counter Spy” that started out and finished as a “Dragnet” parody but the rest of it went off in its own direction. And if you’ve never seen “Dragnet,” you won’t get the hammer gag at the end because it’s not all that funny on its own. (Before that, Homer Brightman comes up with an ending that has no logic).

Maybe the best little bit is when Woody unwittingly drinks a secret formula and transforms from a tired weakling into an indestructible crime-fighter. Patterson uses colour throughout the cartoon to indicate Weak Woody vs Strong Woody and during the transformation scene. Some drawings are on twos, others are held just long enough to establish and in-betweens are on ones.

Something else that’s cute is an inside joke when the detectives (They’re named after days of the week. Get it?! Hyuk, hyuk) rummage through a filing cabinet to find their suspect.

Bill Garrity was the production supervisor. Joe Voght (note the spelling) was an assistant animator for seemingly ages at Lantz. Mickey Batchelder was the studio cameraman and Paul J. Smith was a cornball director (Herman Cohen seems to have become “Herbert” in the drawing). Garity also makes an appearance in the wretched “Fat in the Saddle” (1968), along with Lantz employees Floyd Brooks, Al Glenn and Bob Miller.

The backgrounds and layout were by Art Landy and Ray Jacobs, while the credited animators were Ray Abrams, Ken Southworth and Cohen.


  1. "Kids are watching too much television."

  2. This sequence of the Woody's transformation was animated by Ray Abrams.