Animation sites and blogs aplenty are marking the 100th birthday of Charles Martin Jones today. I’ll leave to others an analysis of his evolution as a cartoon director but will remark there was a wonderful period in the mid-1940s to the early-‘50s where he didn’t try to use art to impress the viewer, he used it in an equal measure with comedy and acting, at times very subtle acting. That’s when he made some of best cartoons in Warner Bros. history.
There was no mistaking they were Chuck Jones cartoons, either. They had poses that screamed Jones. For example, would you find this shot in a Bob McKimson cartoon?
That, of course, is Charlie Dog. Though you have to wonder: Jones insisted that each of his characters represented a part of himself. Does that mean Charlie Dog represented the side of Charlie Jones that craved for acceptance but kept being rejected? Was Charlie Dog the insecure part of Jones? Did Charlie disappear from the screen because Jones’ ego overpowered his insecurity?
Oh, here I am analysing when I said I wouldn’t. Let’s look at a cartoon instead.
Charlie Dog was one of several characters developed by Jones’ writer Mike Maltese in that fine period who never became real stars. They headlined a number of cartoons before Jones moved on to something else.
Charlie’s cartoon “Dog Gone South” (released in 1950) featured some smear animation. Ben Washam and Lloyd Vaughan both animated on it and both were known for smears. Here’s one from the start of the cartoon when Charlie is kicked off a train. There’s some nice acting here, too. Charlie sniffs a flower then puts it in his hair.
Smear with banjo. Another fine expression in the last frame.
I like this effect at the end of the cartoon. Brush lines and multiples as Charlie zips into the scene.
Besides Washam and Vaughan, Ken Harris and Phil Monroe animated on this cartoon, along with Emery Hawkins.