Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Not Even an Egg

Bugs Bunny may have made his name in the early ‘40s but his best cartoons were made at the end of the decade.

One of my favourites is “Rabbit Hood.” Everything works so well together in it—the violence (and realisation) gags, the score, the phoney Shakespearean English. And the work of Bob Gribbroek and Pete Alvarado is pretty attractive. Gribbroek’s layouts are interesting and he works with Alvarado in providing nice settings that don’t overpower or detract from the animation. The opening’s a good example.

The cartoon starts off with two background drawings being examined by Ken Moore’s camera, saving the animation department some footage. Gribbroek may have liked the desert but he’s designed a very nice castle surrounded by greenery to open the cartoon; he showed sunlight changing the shade of green. Topping the turrets with an orange colour is a nice choice.

The camera pulls back and then pans to the right across the background drawing. Was the stone fence painted with a roller? Jones changes speeds in mid-pan to zoom to the Wanted posters. You can see that Robin is covered up for reasons that become evident at the end of the cartoon.

There’s a cut to the next background drawing, featuring a sign with a corny gag (having the punch line on a second, smaller sign is another effective choice). The camera pans up the stone fence to reveal a carrot garden in the background, then moves in. Having the camera moves at different speeds and in different directions makes the shots a little more interesting.

Alvarado had a long, productive career in animation, comic books, comic strips and children’s books, and worked on some fine cartoons in both the Jones and McKimson units. He was born in Colfax County, New Mexico, and grew up in Glendale. His father, Peter J. Alvarado, Sr., had a bakery on 317 South Broadway in Los Angeles, managed by his older brother Ernesto. There’s a tribute page to him set up by his family with links to some articles and remembrances about him. You can find them HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Gribbroek and Alvarado's layout and painting of the before/after in the King's royal garden with the six-room Tudor in the middle of it is a great fade-out/fade-in gag, even before the animation starts up again.

    It's interesting to compare this to Jones' other Golden Age trip with Bugs back to medieval times, "Knight-Mare Hare". Coming seven years later, Ernie Nordli and Phillip DeGuard's layouts and backgrounds are naturally more stylized -- not as wild as "Broom-Stick Bunny", but they still work well within their context. But the more stylized backgrounds and characters might have weakened the end gag in "Rabbit Hood", where the more realistic 'look' fits in with the idea of Errol Flynn finally swinging into view.