Thursday 17 May 2018

Limited Tex

Tex Avery has a reputation among animation fans for overblown, outrageous takes, but he could come up with reactions that were a little more subtle, but equally effective.

The frames from Crazy Mixed Up Pup below don’t give you an idea of Tex’s great timing in the scene, but they do give an indication of the style he was using. The milkman calmly asks Maggie to call off her dog. The milkman lifts his leg. The surprised Maggie realises it’s not a dog, it’s her husband. The milkman then realises who it is. Sam turns back into a bit of a human and lifts his hat in greeting. Cut to the “wild” reaction.

Tex is using limited animation to its best effect. Only the characters that need to be reacting are the ones who are moving. The others are held in place. Your attention to directed to what Tex wants you to see as there is no extraneous movement. He saves movement for the scenes where there really needs to be movement, such as the dog/Sam fight.

Tex’s unit at Lantz was La Verne Harding, Don Patterson and Ray Abrams; Abrams had worked for him at MGM earlier.


  1. Sudden, sharp movement in limited animation situations works as a take, as long as there's more fluid animation around it to provide contrast. Tex would also use it for some of the takes in his two Chilly Willy cartoons, and even on the East Coast, Al Eugster would adopt that style as a way to get around the problem of the bland timing of the mid-1950s Famous Studio efforts, in order to show some sort of reaction without busting the budget.

  2. This sequence was animated by Don Patterson.

  3. ...And Tex did this apparently with only one eye's worth of vision; that is the astounding thing. When I did have limited vision, I tried to "animate", although I never had the opportunity to "play" with cells, but I could never get the hang of what it took to animate believably--that is make the whole body move in live action human fasion but with the outrageous exaggeration that animation should provide. Tex did that so well. I remember the bulldog yawning in the CHILLY WILLY cartoon, "LEGEND OF ROCKABY POINT". That film almost worked better as a silent film as a recalled imagining an MGM soundtrack throughout.