Monday, 27 April 2015

Tex's Sleeping Bear

Tex Avery must have had some kind of hang-up about sleep. Several of his MGM cartoons and two of his four cartoons at Walter Lantz revolved around someone making noise to disturb someone else who doesn’t want to be disturbed.

One is “Rock-a-Bye Bear,” released in1952, which has a neat little story by Heck Allen and Rich Hogan. Avery loved surprising his audience with unexpected things. There’s a great irony that the hibernating bear that can’t stand noise is the noisiest character in the cartoon. And he lives in a nice, modern home, but suddenly unveils his bed is actually in a cave in a hole in the wall. Unexpected, but logical.

The bear doesn’t drowsily drop off to sleep like in a late 1930s cartoon. He hits the ground an immediately starts snoring. Avery handles this in an eight-drawing cycle, each drawing lasting one frame of film. Here are the individual drawings.

We’ve re-created the cycle, though it’s a little slower than it is in the actual cartoon.

Mike Lah, Walt Clinton and Grant Simmons are the credited animators. The bear’s closed eyes are like the way Don Patterson used to draw them at Hanna-Barbera. While Patterson was at MGM in the Lah-Blair unit in the latter ‘40s, I couldn’t tell you when he left Metro or exactly (to the month and year) when he ended up at the Walter Lantz studio.


  1. Of course, he latter appears in "Tom and Jerry Tales" in the Spike Brandt & Tony Cervone directed episode "Sasquashed".

  2. That silence in golden bit was one of many Avery routines (rivaled in my book perhaps only along with the one step ahead bit that Droopy popularized) used by others..Tom and Jerry, of course, used the big a few times (even won an Acamedy Award in 1945, the third of five or seven, for one, "Quiet Please"), then at Hanna-Barbera Prods. Hanna-Barbera used that "golden silence" rule but not for someone sleeping, but for concentrating and quiet in general ("A Peck O'Trouble" and "It's A Worm Day"), both Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy cartoons on "Quick Draw McGraw" already reviewed (as are now all of the seven minute early HB cartoons in Huck, Yogi, Snooper, Augie, Quick Draw, and Jinks) on the sister blog, Yowp. SC