Friday, 10 July 2015

Picnics Are Fun But This Cartoon Isn't

Okay, I get it. UPA was the anti-Warner Bros., the anti-Disney. But its cartoons became anti-entertainment.

I’ve just sat through “Picnics Are Fun” (1957). The only thing “fun” is the word in the title. The only audience it could possibly appeal to is those who want to drown in a vat of whimsical cuteness.

Fans of UPA artwork will enjoy the backgrounds. The background artist isn’t even credited.

And here are some backgrounds where I can’t snip out the character.

And whoever did the story (there is no story credit) tossed in an inside joke.

The animation’s as limited as anything you’d find in a Ruff and Reddy TV cartoon made around the same time. Lots of cycles of feet. And water from a hose (two drawings on twos, alternating, just like at Hanna-Barbera).

Lew Keller directed this. He went on to work with Rocky and Bullwinkle on of the funniest TV series ever made.


  1. Watching the later UPA one-shots, you get the idea they were made to please about a dozen or so high-brow film critics and possibly the panel comic editor at The New Yorker. How the paying customrers felt was of secondary concern to the staff, but not to Columbia, which decided Hanna-Barbera could do something just as entertaining at far less cost.

  2. The perspective of Hattie in pic #3 doesn't match the building.

    1. Thanks for identifying the character.

      I'm familiar with Hattie from the later series but had forgotten about her...

      Cutsie ironically was common to both UPA AND Disney, so it seems that they'd be the anti-(take your pick):Warner, MGM, Paramount (the Herman and Katnip/Baby Huey,etc.).

      Only being artistically anti-Disney would apply to me.

      So for UPA to be (in staying AWAY from Disney cute, as they put it, as Chas.Solomon mentioned in his 1989/94 "Enchanted Drawings", long for an update), anti-Disney would to ME, at least, seem ironic.:)

    2. And the "Drink Popsi" ad shows that they were not at all themselves above a little uh, "rival studio" style fun with trademark names.:)

      Dave K, I also just now saw your ID of the above as being Ham/Hattie. I gotta say, if not always guessed from how I started this reply, that I sort of like these too..

  3. Sorry. I like all four of the Ham and Hattie double features. Low key stuff that, indeed, was not funny but, no doubt, gently entertaining to a certain slice of the intended audience. Later UPAs were more miss than hit but, by and large, they were interesting misses. And at least, great to look at for six and a half minutes.

  4. Just a note: this short is from 1959, not 1957.

    It was also a double-feature with "Dino's Serenade"