Thursday 2 March 2023

Saving Walter's Money

Animating frame-by-frame takes time. That costs money. It’s only, natural, therefore, that studios look at ways of cutting down on animation to keep within a budget.

One way of doing it is by using still drawings. All that’s involved is a click of the camera for as many frames as the drawing is held. You might think of it as a trick for TV animation, but it was used in the Golden Age of theatrical cartoons, too. Think of the drawings of all the villains in Bob Clampett’s The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.

Don Patterson saved Walter Lantz some money in Wrestling Wrecks (1953) with the same technique. Gag drawings were used of various wrestlers appearing on the card (the ring announcer is played by Dal McKennon).

“The Pincher will wrestle The Spider.”

“Hammerhead Harry will try to nail The Vice.”

“And Hatchet Man will chop away at The Octopus.”

“In a tag-team match, Cauliflower McHugh and Muscle Brain team up against Legs O’Houlihan and The Wringer.”


“Man Mountain will trade dirt with Quicksand Joe.”

“The Phantom will contact The Smog.”

All this takes up 38 seconds of screen time with no animation. Lantz, who constantly complained about how little money he got from theatres to run his cartoons, must have been delighted.

There were animators on this short. La Verne Harding, Ray Abrams and Ken Southworth are credited; I wonder if Harding is responsible for the early footage of Woody Woodpecker pulling on his Great Dane’s tongue.

Art Landy or Ray Jacobs would have been responsible for the still drawings.

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