Tuesday 6 December 2011

Kiss of a Gruesome Twosome

One of the great things about cartoons on DVD is, interlacing aside, you can stop them whenever you want and check out individual frames. That way, you can appreciate Rod Scribner even more.

Scribner’s animation in the Bob Clampett unit at times wasn’t really so much animation, where one drawing grew out of the other. It was a series of stark, at times rubbery, poses, one for each frame, that eventually led to a conclusion. Scribner seems to get credit for all these drawings, as if he never had an assistant (we know he did, as Bill Melendez was one of them for a while).

Here’s one of many examples. This is in ‘A Gruesome Twosome’ (released in 1945) that’s almost two cartoons in one. Warren Foster wrote in a similar structure later, especially at Hanna-Barbera, where the plot changes direction in mid-cartoon. The stars are a pair of cats, one a rip-off of Jimmy Durante, and the half-first of the short sees them vying for the attention of a girl cat. Then she disappears and the pair vie for possession of Tweety.

The first half features one of those interrupt-the-action-and-talk-to-the-audience bits that Clampett loved. The cats are somewhere off camera fighting. A dog rises up into the shot, he’s designed like something in the Clampett unit of the later ‘30s. He looks very average.

But the dog goes nuts because he has a chance to kiss the babe. And Scribner’s animation goes nuts. Just some of his drawings.

Then the kiss. Just one of the drawings.

And then the reaction. We even get a butt shot at the camera.

The other credited animators on this are Manny Gould, Basil Davidovich and Bob McKimson; Melendez’ name appears on Clampett cartoons before and after this so why he’s not on this one is a mystery.

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