Thursday, 17 October 2013

Skunk of Tomorrow

As best as I can tell, Tex Avery either came up with the spot-gag cartoon format or moulded it into such a success that other studios tried to do it as well. And Tex Avery imitations are always pale indeed.

Mind you, Tex had some real misses with the format, too. The last in his sub-set of “Tomorrow” spot gag films—“Farm of Tomorrow” (released in 1954)—was dubbed by Avery historian Joe Adamson as “Perhaps the unfunniest cartoon ever made” (evidently Joe hasn’t seen Columbia’s “Tangled Travels”).

The cartoon’s of interest to see how Avery treated limited animation; a good portion of the cartoon consists of static shots of outlined characters on a background drawing while Paul Frees narrates. The gags come in a variety of corn qualities (it is a farm film, after all). Here’s one involving a smello-meter to determine the freshness of eggs.

Uh, oh. A bad egg conks out the machine.

The egg is swept down a chute.

And here’s the reason for the bad egg smell.

The skunk toddles off with its nose in the air and it’s on to the next gag.

Ed Benedict was the designer and his buddy Joe Montell painted the backgrounds. Mike Lah, Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Bob Bentley got animation credits. Incidentally, Avery’s first spot-gag cartoon was “The Isle of Pingo Pongo” (1938), written by Canadian-born George Manuell. His last was “Field and Scream” (1955), with the story by Heck Allen.

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