Monday 1 May 2023

Today's Inside Jokes

Since we had a Porky post a few days ago, let’s check out backgrounds from some early P. Pig Looney Tunes.

Here’s a delivery goat opening Porky’s Pet, a 1936 Jack King short. Like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon years later, he cycles past the same background several times. On the left, you see an ad for Burton’s Burpo Beer. Johnny Burton was an assistant animator at the studio who took over the whole operation when Eddie Selzer retired in March 1958. Burton was forced out a few years later and went into business with Mel Blanc.

On the right, we see the Bijou is featuring Millar’s Minstrels with Tambo Armstrong. Mel (Tubby) Millar should be familiar to Warner Bros. fans as a staff writer until the war years. “Tambo” Armstrong is Tom Armstrong, who was in charge of the story department. He lived at 1332 Van Ness; the studio was at 1351 Van Ness. Armstrong seems to have been unemployed for a bit after Warners and before heading to Disney. He was unemployed again in 1950.

In Tex Avery’s The Blow Out, there’s an “Orders” paper signed by Ralph Wolfe. He was another animator at Warners who never got credit and, at one time, wrote comic strips. Chuck Jones claimed his “Ralph Wolf” character who punched a time clock with Sam Sheepdog was named for him.

In the same cartoon, a background is quickly panned and unless you pause the film, you won’t get the gag. We all know what “Termite Terrace” was, but the poster also includes the name “Ralph Gibson.” Lo and behold, Ralph C. Gibson is in the city directory for 1936 as a cartoonist, living with his widowed mother. The following year, the directory has him as an artist. He was unemployed in 1940. Someone matching his name and date and place of birth was in a Los Angeles-area mental hospital in 1950. He had briefly escaped from the same hospital in 1944. Gibson could have been an in-betweener in Avery’s separated-from-the-main-lot unit.

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