Thursday 27 August 2015

Tex Avery, Literally Speaking

Tex Avery’s literal masterpiece is Symphony in Slang (1951), where idioms were visualised naturally. A year earlier, Tex tried out the concept in The Cuckoo Clock (story work had begun by early 1948).

There’s a great opening, reminiscent of Avery’s Who Killed Who (1943) with a dramatic narrator who loses his echo chamber when he’s revealed to be a house cat with the standard Avery design. The kitty narrator tells us..

There was a ringing in my ears.

I kept seeing things.

My eyes were big as saucers.

I couldn’t keep a thing on my stomach.

I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

I was down in the dumps.

I kept blowing my top.

I felt myself going to pieces.

I had to pull myself together.

Here’s a great drawing of the cat declaring he is going mad.

I believe Avery changes animators during the sequence with the last three drawings handled by Grant Simmons. Mike Lah and Walt Clinton are the other animators with Rich Hogan helping with the gags, Johnny Johnsen providing backgrounds and Daws Butler as the cat.

1 comment:

  1. Avery's cat design has always been the go-too design for most of his M.G.M pictures ("The Cat That Hated People", "The Counterfeit Cat", etc...), but, it's one of my favorite character designs in animation history. I think it somewhat showed that Avery was more concerned on making any gag work than creating characters. I believe some of his Warner Bros. cartoons did Literal gags as well.....