Monday, 25 April 2016

Fox-Terror Backgrounds

A number of animators and other artists never got screen credit on Warner Bros. cartoons, even after the studio started putting “full” credits at the start of the shorts. And a few appear only briefly and then disappear.

One is Bob Majors, who provided backgrounds for the Bob McKimson unit after Dick Thomas left. He worked on Cheese It, the Cat, Fox-Terror and Boston Quackie, all released in 1957 and then vanishes from the screen.

Here is some of Majors’ work on Fox-Terror. It’s pretty straight-forward, similar to Thomas’ backgrounds for McKimson. The opening art is fairly flat while the remaining backgrounds have some dimension to them.

Majors was born in 1913 in Ottumwa, Iowa to William W. and Martha (Janney) Majors. His father was a candy salesman in Iowa but was selling life insurance for his father-in-law in Ontario, California by 1924.

The San Bernardino County Sun of April 10, 1955 described Majors as "an alumnus of Chaffey High School and College, the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles and the University of Hawaii at Honolulu. He worked in the Walt Disney studios and the RKO Studios, designing sets, and has done furniture illustration in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He has done murals for Bullocks Pasadena store, the new Clark Hotel, Los Angeles and for a number of night clubs and restaurants and in private homes." A Los Angeles Times story of July 3, 1938 reported he was a member of the Screen Cartoonists Guild.

During the war, some of his art was featured in Life magazine, which stated he was a sergeant who had worked on “Fantasia” at Disney. During the War, he was assigned to the Signal Corps Photographic Unit on Long Island. In 1955, the Times reports he was exhibiting his watercolours in Ontario, where he had returned after the war.

What happened to Majors? Why he did leave Warners after three cartoons? The latter is open for speculation. As for the former, he died an early death. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs reports Robert Janney Majors, born May 23, 1913, died on May 14, 1960 and is buried in Honolulu.

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