Thursday, 22 August 2013

Hugh and Rudy's Cow

Some familiar gags adorn the first Warner Bros. cartoon, “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub” (1930). It shouldn’t be a surprise because the artists who created and worked on it (Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising) were the same ones who animated the Oswald cartoons for Walt Disney.

One example is the munching cow, recalcitrantly blocking the route of travel. Here’s a crudely drawn one in Oswald’s “Trolley Troubles” (1927).

And here’s the one Bosko encountered.

Both our heroes in cartoons get around the cows. Both cows indignantly walk away with their noses and tails up.

And the same cow routine got used again in “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile” (1931) with Foxy. In fact, the same animation was used.


  1. Both Leonard Maltin and Michael Barrier noted the self-defeating nature of the Harman-Ising cartoons, in that there never was any way to get ahead of Disney because Hugh and Rudy were always cribbing themes and entire gags from Disney. And while they were waiting for the next Disney innovation, they simply tread water by using the same gags over and over again.

    The only surprise is Hugh didn't return to MGM in 1938 and try to come up with some easy-to-anger anthropomorphic animal to compete with the rising success of Donald Duck (though I suppose by '38 he was more fixated in sharpening his crew's animation skills for that future feature film he'd make to compete against Walt).

  2. I recall reading somewhere that the boxer underpants were added on the Foxy cartoon because there'd been patron (and thus exhibitor) complaints about the udder shown in SINKIN' IN THE BATHTUB.

  3. Could be, Michael. That makes sense to me.

    J.L., I'm not surprised. Hugh, from what I gather, wanted to impress people with art, not comedy. He'd rather have audiences ooh and gasp at the intricate and elaborate animation of nature, little animals and so on. Laughter just gets in the way. He swallowed the "illusion of life" idea more than movie audiences did.