Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Grandeur That Is "Jazz Mad"!

All the bones in Farmer Alfalfa's fingers were broken (and three severed completely) in a terrible threshing machine incident in 1929. 

What do you get when you combine jazz music, slow motion dog racing and dancing animal carcasses?  Why, you get 'Jazz Mad': a Terrytoon released to an unsuspecting public August 9, 1931! There isn't much to say about Terrytoons of this vintage. It's a bit like witnessing a hit and run: aside from the general make of the car and a couple license plate numbers the whole event is traumatizing and rather difficult to describe. Now that's what I call "The Spice Of The Program"! 

Prepare for confusion.

Monday, May 25, 2009

High Hat Vs. Low Brow

It's not been easy to get around to updating this blog as I should but today I am posting a fascinating article not on cartoon animation but on the 'respectability' of jazz published in 'The Literary Digest in October, 1926. In fact a  similarly ridiculous debate has hounded animated cartoons for years. I have no idea why. Of course Paul Whiteman's main significance to animation history is that he is the subject of the Walter Lantz segment of 'King of Jazz'.  I find a few of his observations insightful and rather prophetic actually. Read on, McDuff ...

Paul Whiteman's switch from Victor to Columbia Records in 1928 was greeted with much fanfare in the music publications of the day.

(click pages to make big now)

Paul Whiteman appeared later as a balloon in the 1933 Krazy Kat cartoon 'Out of the Ether'. His shape and stature inspired many cartoonists and animators of those times.

Flip the Frog as Paul Whiteman in the 1931 cartoon: "The Soup Song" 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scrappy in: 'Sunday Clothes'

Well, I'm back as promised with an even creepier, er, I mean less creepy Scrappy. Owing to the post below it seemed only natural that I should do some sort of post on a pretty great cartoon, Scrappy's third in fact, "Sunday Clothes" (1931). Columbia seemed kind of unsure of what to do with Scrappy. In fact just about the whole history of the Mintz and the  later Screen Gems Studios seems based on indescision. Is Scrappy a wholesome figure worthy of 'Boy's Life' magazine or sadistic cigar smoking despression era profiteer? 'Sunday Clothes' takes the former path as Scrappy is seen engaging in good clean fun (which evidently washed away a piece of his anatomy) of the 'Our Gang' variety - a series which I think came to bear strongly on the plots of many Scrappy cartoons. Let me tell you - even at 16mm size, which I have been fortunate enough to see, the scene of Scrappy swinging past the camera on the man hole cover is incredible!

Can skid marks be beautiful? Scrappy cartoons ask the tough questions.

I love the depressed denizens of Scrappy's world. Personally I think the Mintz crew animated chaw phlegm better than anyone in the business.

Why an italian is living in a man hole beneath a giant puddle of mud is a mystery to me. Christopher Columbo!


For the 'How To Make a Cartoon' book the italian gains a hat. Whassamattahyou?

Mama Mia! There's two of them!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Prepare to be creeped!

The creepy last paragraph of 'How To Make a Cartoon by Scrappy' (invented by a New York copy writer - the films were made in Los Angeles) and the only illustration of the character to appear in that book. 

An unrelated but equally creepy drawing from the set of "models" which came with the course (copyrighted 1932). More (less creepy) Scrappy coming soon!