Monday 29 October 2012

She Sends Me Back a Wire

David Germain writes that we should check out the walk cycle by the messenger in Tex Avery’s “Symphony in Slang.”

It’s not an actual cycle in that the same drawings are sequentially used over and over again. Tex or his animator varies the drawings so different ones pop up, making the walk jerkier and funnier. Here are ten consecutive frames to give you an idea of the kind of drawings that were made.

We’re back to drawings one and two in the next frames but then the animator starts tossing in different leg positions that you see don’t see above.

This is Avery’s version of limited animation, though there’s still a different drawing per frame of film. And the fact the messenger’s completely stiff other than his rubbery legs makes it funnier than if the rest of his body were animated.

Avery’s regular crew of Mike Lah, Walt Clinton and Grant Simmons receive the animation credits.


  1. Avery seemed to grasp far better than UPA (assuming UPA was trying to make funny cartoons) that modern animation and limited animation could be funny if they were used as contrasts with fuller animation. The stylized movements in the flashback part of "Slang" or the from-out-of-nowhere hyperactivity of the Paul Frees-voiced stoic warden in "Cellbound" are funny because they're unexpected and at odds with what came before it.

    The motion is funny because it's not standard. If you start out the cartoon with goofy walks or sudden changes of pace, you've lost the element of surprise to do it later and get a laugh from the audience.

  2. I have strong doubts UPA was trying to make funny cartoons outside of the Magoo series (and after the first two Fox and Crows were forced on them by Columbia). At best, they were going for whimsy. I can't imagine anyone laughing at something like "Baby Boogie."
    Your last comment reminds me of the end of the first Droopy cartoon, although Avery never allowed the character to get that hyper again.