Friday, January 21, 2011
Wow! I discovered this on YouTube: it's Clampett's original Wackyland cartoon, side by side with the later color remake by Friz, "Dough for the Do-Do." Many thanks to "wecanstopnwo1" for taking the trouble to post the cartoons this way. It makes it lot easier to compare and learn from.
Of course, the original black and white version is better, that's obvious. The reason for comparing the two is that the same mistake in BG styling that's in the flawed color version is still with us today, all these years later: The color backgrounds aren't funny. No doubt producers believe that it's not the BG artist's job to be funny, but that's a mistake. Producers need to know that funny people are needed in all aspects of production, including backgrounds. Come to think of it, I wish they'd undertake more projects that would require funny people.
The newer BGs are technically more polished, but they're too literal, too unimaginative, too lacking in humor. Also, the color version horizons are too high. Why all the wasted space in the foreground? It's more ignorant, and therefore more funny, to place the character lower in the scene in a graphic-intensive story like this one.
I also like the newspaper strip feel of the earlier backgrounds. I'm seeing hints of Sterrett, Gross, Seuss and even a little Smokey Stover in the original BGs.
I like the way B and W Porky's plane is lower (and more ignorant) in the frame when we first see it, and I like the demented row of B and W trees more than the colored mountain silhouettes in the next scene. The first time we see the Wackyland sign on a long shot (above) works better in the B and W, and the path the B and W sign is sitting on is more dynamic and ignorant, as are the trees.
Check out the next scene, which is a close-up of the sign (above). The energetic lettering and tonal contrasts in the B&W version make the scene funny, even with no animation. The color sign, on the other hand, is simply information. What a pity that this film fell into the hands of a humorless designer!
Well, a full comparison would take up too much space. I'll just close with one more point, which has nothing to do with backgrounds: namely that black and white is easier to make funny than color. It shows off funny drawings better. You'd never wish that Clampett's "Coal Black" and "Great Piggy Bank Robbery" were colorless, but aren't you glad his "Porky's Surprise Party" (above) was done that way? Good old Bob! He doesn't get credit for it, but he developed two successful styles, the first one for the better cartoons done by his B and W unit.
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 11:32 PM