Ray Patterson? Irv Spence? Hack animators, pure and simple. They never came close to the wit and charm of a drawing like this:
No, I can’t do it. I was going to do one of those facetious April Fool’s Day posts. You know, the ones that expound on the greatness of Sam Singer’s “Pow-Wow the Indian Boy” or list Scrappy Doo as the Most Popular Animated Character Ever (including Anime). But I just can’t bring myself to do it.
The ugly drawing you see above is from the Tom and Jerry short “Landing Stripling” (1962), one of the most wretched-looking shorts ever made. It was the product of Gene Deitch, who took a team of Czech animators unfamiliar with the characters and half the budget that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera got and proceeded to try to revive the Tom and Jerry series for MGM.
None of the 13 Deitch cartoons are very good, let alone have the grace of Patterson or the outrageousness of Spence, though there are fraternities of “so-bad-it’s-great” and “anything’s-better-than-boring-Chuck-Jones-MGM-cartoons” fans who find some enjoyment in them. Actually, I like the elephant design in “Sorry Safari.” And Allen Swift is funny in the “Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit.” But if I had to pick Deitch’s worst, this may be it. For whatever reason, there’s reverb and tape loop noise everywhere, including on some kind of electronic didgeridoo sound given to the bird character. The symphonic music is drowned in muddiness at times. And the worst sound may be a boink-boink-boink vocal effect (by Swift?) made when a burned Tom quickly hops to and from the background.
The animation is jerky and character poses get lost at times. Here are some more frames:
Do I detect a hint of the influence of Jack Zander in that last pose? Uhhhhhh, no.
It’s a shame. Deitch could be very creative, as he proved with other cartoon series. Tod Dockstader, who I suspect had something to do with all the 15 ips tape loop effects, was an electronic music innovator. And storyman Eli Bauer enjoyed much future success. But all their talents added up to a big fat zero as far as Tom and Jerry were concerned.