Thursday 12 December 2013

The Skeleton Violin

There’s really no excuse for putting skeletons in the story of Jack in the Beanstalk unless you’re writing for a New York cartoon studio in the early ‘30s. New York cartoons loved skeletons back then. Skeletons singing. Skeletons playing the piano. Skeletons crashing into each other. It’s all good fun.

“Beanstalk Jack” is a 1933 Terrytoons cartoon with a great little sequence of a skeleton transforming into a violin, then a piano, then a trombone, then a tuba (which swallows up Jack). That’s not all. It then becomes four dancing skeletons, with the bones transforming into two skeletons when necessary to fit the vocals of the giant song that takes up the scene.

Here are the skeleton-to-violin drawings. Note the shadow.

And for fans of those New York cartoons where characters’ mouths join together to form one mouth, that happens here, too.

My thanks to Devon Baxter for the very nice screen grabs of this scene, which he tells me was animated by Eddie Donnelly, according to Terry expert Milton Knight.

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