Van Beuren cartoon characters in the early ‘30s were poorly and inconsistently drawn—and that’s a good thing. It adds to the odd and impossible things that take place in their cartoons.
One of my favourites is Gypped in Egypt from 1930 featuring Don and Waffles. The opening is great. Our stars are skipping along the desert sand with a weirdly-drawn camel.
They spot a little oasis. The camel tries to get some water but first his head is tied up, then he’s punched to death by Waffles.
A bizarre-looking bird drinks the water while all this is going on then flies away. The animator gives us swirling lines and flashing exclamation marks.
Then the best part. From the distance, the sphinx moves into the midground. Then his head stretches into the foreground (all in perspective) and says “You killed him.”
The sphinx fades out then swirling pyramids fade in and are double-exposed over our heroes. Is it desert madness? No! It’s a Van Beuren cartoon. (As usual, Waffles is petrified. Don couldn’t care less).
That sets up more nightmarish sequences that are, at times, poorly drawn but fun to watch (on the West Coast, heads and bodies were spherical shapes. I think the Van Beuren had trouble drawing a circle).
John Foster and Mannie Davis get a screen credit for “by,” while Gene Rodemich puts together another of his neat scores.