Tuesday 23 July 2013


Smog jokes were pretty common in the early ‘50s; you’d hear them all the time on network radio shows.

The best-known one in a cartoon is in the Chuck Jones opus “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957) but Tex Avery and writer Heck Allen pulled off one in a string of sight gags in “Little Johnny Jet” (released 1953). Little Johnny helps his obsolete prop plane father win the big race by zipping past various landmarks. In this cartoon, they go so fast, the smog over Los Angeles is dragged away in their wake.

I’ll bet those orange groves are long gone. The background drawings are by Johnny Johnsen. It’s conjecture on my part that Ed Benedict did the layouts.

Ray Patterson came over from the H-B unit to help animate this one, along with Bob Bentley, Mike Lah, Walt Clinton and Grant Simmons.


  1. "I’ll bet those orange groves are long gone."

    Isn't it always? :-P

  2. But to be fair, the smog has been drastically reduced in L.A. Being a 'basin', where moist air 'fog' can be trapped for days on end, mixing with far dirtier automobile emissions (pre-catalytic converter and pre-lead-free gasoline), along with agricultural and industrial pollution (when California still manufactured things) made L.A. pretty nasty, although not as nasty as Pittsburgh and other steel belt cities.

    I'm sure these type of jokes will return, except it will be Beijing or New Delhi.