Tuesday 29 May 2018

Naughty But Mice Background

Here’s another sigh of regret that background artists never got their due in Warner Bros. cartoons until the mid-‘40s. Paul Julian painted the backgrounds for the Chuck Jones unit from 1939 to 1941, so he very well could have been involved in Naughty But Mice, released May 10, 1939. I don’t want to make a judgment from the lighting highlights in the opening background.

Due to colour variations, I can’t re-create the attractive opening panned left to right. So here are some frame grabs of it.

Julian left Warners for WPA work. As you likely know, he returned to work in Friz Freleng’s unit before quitting to work at UPA.

Since someone will point it out if I don’t, this was Sniffles’ debut cartoon.


  1. It WAS his debut cartoonb. And Jones's first regular series.SC

  2. Warners' background artists of the 1937-39 period really did love their Art Deco designs (mainly in the Jones and Tashlin units which if the background artists by then were being assigned by director than it could have been the same person who just went to work for Chuck after Frank left for Disney).

  3. Without proper credit or evidence, we can't say this particular work was Julian's with complete certainty. But as a fan of his work, I see several indications that it was. Julian loved to play with interesting angles, especially involving architecture. He played with lighting effects, especially around corners and through windows, and loved to include signs in his backgrounds.

    1. Matt, how much of that staging would have been worked out in layout before the bg ever got it? Or maybe even indicated on story sketches?

  4. As I recall, Stalling has "Deep in a Dream," a nice version, going while this background is being panned across.

  5. Hans Christian Brando2 June 2018 at 11:58

    That's partly because the Chuck Jones cartoons of the time, dismissed by the experts as his "Disney cute" period, or really the late 1930s Warner cartoons in general, tend not to get their due. (I better watch it, though: Jerry Beck banished me from his blog for such heresy.)