Monday, 21 May 2012

Ub’s Thumb

The ComiColor cartoons from the Ub Iwerks studio delivered on half their series name. They were in colour. But comic? They tried. I guess.

When Chuck Jones directed “Tom Thumb in Trouble” in 1940, he made what amounted to a dramatic cartoon with a bit of whimsy. When the Iwerks studio got the same character in trouble in 1936, there wasn’t either. And there was no humour, either. Even the end gag was used five years earlier (and better) in a Van Beuren cartoon. The closest thing one can possibly describe as funny are some of the character designs.

At one point, a goofy-looking orange fish (with tail fins that turn like a rotor) eats Tom. But swimming in and out of the scene for no particular reason is a snaggletooth fish wearing a hat. I guess he’s the laugh quotient.

The cartoon’s interesting because parts of it are shot from what is sort of Tom’s perspective; there are shots of the lower part of his parents’ bodies or not much more than a hand (with four fingers). And whoever the de facto director or layout man was went for some MGM-style perspective as a worm twirls Tom in a circle, toward and away from the audience.

There are no animation credits on the cartoon and I don’t know who was drawing at Iwerks at the time.

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