Saturday, January 12, 2008


Here's some sketches by my very favorite caricaturist, Max Beerbohm. Beerbohm was part of Oscar Wilde's circle and is best known for his humorous essays. He's a terrific writer, very dry and understated: "A tense and peculiar family, the Oedipuses, were they not?" I imagine that I can see his influence on people like Noel Coward, Peter Cook, and Stephen Fry.

According to Wikipedia, Beerbohm's gifts bottomed out when he hit middle age. That's odd. You'd think a dry wit would hit a peak at that time of life. I wonder if he became a stay-at-home like Peter Cook, who's said to have spent his middle years in front of the TV set.
BTW, I may be off the net for a day or two. I just got a new Apple computer but I'm a Windows guy and it may take me a couple of days (or more) to get everything hooked up and running. I'll still continue to read comments, even if I'm unable to reply.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I'm not an animation historian and I've done no original research on the subject. If I had to make a guess I'd say some scripts must have been written because it's inconceivable that penny-pinching studio owners would have always, in all situations, resisted the common practice of live action, which was to use scripts. Also, just guessing again, I'd say that scripts couldn't have been very common. If they were, then where are they now? Why did books and articles written at the time (like "Art of Animation", above and below) emphasize story boards as the preferred way to write stories? Walt himself is on record in print and film saying that he didn't use scripts.

Bob Jaques says he owns a Fleischer script and Floyd Norman said he saw scripts being written while he worked at Disney's. Mike Barrier interviewed non-artist Bill Cottrell who wrote for Disney, and Mike put up Cottrell's script for "Cock Robin" on his site. Steve Worth was not impressed and says Cottrell's script was probably written after the storyboards were made, as a sort of handy synopsis or recording script. Mike disagrees and wants to throttle Steve, but Steve remains adamant. Here's an example of Cottrell's script, below:
It certainly looks like it was written after the story was already made and shot, at least as a Leica reel, but Mike says it contains things that weren't in the finished film, so it must have originated earlier. Maybe it was made from an early Leica reel. Gee, if a script this detailed and anal-retentive was written early, at the creative stage, it would certainly lead me to pity the poor animators whose creative input would have been zilch.
Steve says no scripts (meaning, I assume, creative scripts by non-artists that were more than just dictation) were written during animation's Golden Age. I winced when I heard that because there are exceptions to every rule, and I could imagine someone pulling out that exception from an attic somewhere. Mike says "Snow White" used scripts in addition to storyboards. Animation critic Charles Solomon says no scripts were used at Disney until "101 Dalmatians." I'm not an historian so I can't comment.
Myself, I think scripts are an absolutely terrible way to write animation, but I imagine that I can occasionally see the influence of non-artist writers in some classic films. "Lady and the Tramp" looked beautiful but the writing was full of cliches that are still used by non-artists today. "Aristocats" made after Walt's death, had an abundance of them. I simply can't imagine artists coming up with ideas as visually impaired as these. But maybe I'm wrong.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Man, I should get the Mother Theresa Award for Taking IT on the Chin for Humanity. Why? Because nobody but a world-class altruist would ever share such a spectacularly withering and unflattering caricature of himself with the public! I do it to further the sacred cause of caricature, and to do penance for my sins.

The artist, of course, is John K. Click to enlarge.

BTW, I'm not offended and the reason is that the picture is so doggoned insightful. John's best caricatures always seem to ridicule nature even more than the person he's drawing. The picture shows someone who's full of self importance and doesn't seem to grasp that he's a shapeless bag of guts, doomed to live a pathetically short lifespan and turn to dust. The viewer laughs at the caricature then realizes that he himself is in the same boat.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Here's a picture of Clampett animators Rod Scribner and Manny Gould (click to enlarge). No doubt you've already seen it on Mike Barrier's site or, duped from Mike, on John K's blog. It's making the rounds, no doubt about it.

I reproduce it here out of gratitude to a friend who has a laser printer and who gave me a copy on the best possible glossy paper. The picture reproduces so big that it required four letter-sized prints to get the whole thing, which I promptly taped together to get one poster-size picture. During the week I'll find a nice frame for it.

I'm in heaven! A picture, beautifully composed, of the greatest funny animator and animation cartoonist who ever lived, Rod Scribner. It doesn't hurt to have ace funny man Manny Gould leaning over him. Gould's smile is radient. He must have been a real nice guy. Thanks, Mike, for putting this up!

While I'm at it, I should mention the "Pink Elephants" board (above) on Michael Sporn's site together with some Great Steig and Popeye (Below). And what about John K's recent post analysing the takes in "Tale of Two Kitties"? This is a great time to be on the net.

Friday, January 04, 2008



(It's kind of clunky, but it's 4:15 AM and I've gotta get to bed)


Princess: "Whaddaya think!? I bet you never saw me wear this dress before! It was expensive but I couldn't resist it! It's better than anything that slut Suzy wears, but she'll never admit it!

Princess: "Anyway, I'm really not in the mood to hear what Suzy thinks about anything, and what about Sonja and Jezebel!? Janie and Valery went shopping yesterday, and Sonja invites herself along...can you imagine that!?

Princess: "Of course Suzy's always hitting on Marvin and Marvin deserts me with the lame excuse that he had to go out of town on business! I told him to go ahead, see if I care...and he did! I said 'Fine, go! Good riddance! See if I care!' "

Princess: "Hey, I'm a princess! I could have Suzy's toes pulled off......Haha! Just kidding!"

Princess: "Why are men such jerks!? They always want just one thing!"

Princess: "Men should be like Giants! They never think of doing the nasty!"

Princess: "Anyway, Marvin can rot for all I care! If he came and begged me to take him back, what would I do? Nothing! The big zero! He can have Suzy if he wants her because I'm past all that!"

Princess: "I'm a princess! I'm rich! I could wear two new dresses every day if I wanted! What do I need men for!?

Princess: "Here, take these shoes!"

Princess: "Everybody thinks you find happiness by finding one special person that you share your life with, but I don't think that's how it works. Look at all the people who believe in that, they're all still looking, you know what I mean?"

Princess : "Here, take this scarf!"

Princess: "Me, I don't need the Marvins of the world. I'm a free spirit! I have a brain and a body and that's all anyone needs!"

Princess: "I greet life with a smile. I feel the sensation the of morning dew on my skin. I wait for Mr. Sun to come up and fill me with...with love energy!"

princess: "Get rid of this, will ya? Where's my other dress?"

Princess: I should write a book! I'd call it, 'Why I don't Need Marvin!" No wait... how about, 'Why Marvin Sucks!' "

Princess: "There's no perfect person who can make you whole, that's what I learned."

Princess: "If you wait for another person to fill you up, you could wait for years! A girl has to rely on herself! I want to be filled up now! Now! I say, 'Fill me up now!!!!!' Hmmm.... where's that blue dress?"

Princess: "It's all about karmic energy! The only way you can ever feel strong and secure is when you're giving it to others instead of wishing they would give it to you!" Give it to others, I say! Give it to others!!!!"

Princess: "Give that energy!!! Give!!!! GIVE!!!!!"

Giant wordlessly mouths, "Thank you, God! Thank you!"


Continued below.....



Giant: "Huh!???"

Princess: "Huh!?"

Princess: "Marvin!!!! Is that you!!? I thought you had left town!"

Prince: "I did, my darling..."

Prince: "...but I couldn't bear being away from you!"

Prince: "I couldn't think without you! I couldn't sleep!"

Princess: I-I know how you felt, Darling! I couldn't sleep either! I couldn't even keep down a cheese sandwich!"

Marvin: "Oh, I can't tell you how it feels to hear you say that!"

Prince: "M-Maybe it's time we made this permanent!"

Princess: "It always was permanent, Darling, it always was! Let's find a grotto somewhere and hold hands."
Princess: "Giant, clean this place up while we're gone will you? It's a mess!"

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I'm an admirer of Freud now but I wasn't always. I used to feel uncomfortable with ideas like childhood sexuality, the centrality of dreams, and the existence of the subconscious. I'm not aware that the fantasies and dreams I had when I was a kid had any influence on my adult life, and I just couldn't see any evidence for a subconscious. When I read that Freud was an advocate of cocaine, that tore it, I just dropped him from my thoughts. Now I'm beginning to wonder if I was too hasty.

When you think about it, psychoanalysis is an interesting idea. Modern methods of counseling nudge the patient toward normal behavior. They aim to produce a functioning citizen, and that's all. Psychoanalysis on the other hand, attempts to take the patient on a weird and fantastic journey through uncharted territory. The patient becomes Odysseus or Jason. He matures and deepens and sometimes even becomes heroic through conflict with demons from the netherworld. When the cure is arrived at the patient can look back on his trip as one of his great life experiences. The goal is not simply to create a citizen but to create a brave, powerful and wise human being.

Of course analysis is expensive and time-consuming and I imagine that a lot depends on the character of the analyst. Probably over time analysis became somewhat dry and formulistic. Maybe that's because society changed and shed its romantic roots. The analysts thought they were following Freud's rules because they stuck to what he said in print, but they neglected to add the flavor and feel of the romantic era that produced Freud. Some of the rules for psychoanalysis were unwritten because in Freud's time they were taken for granted. Things like the love of heroism and the passion for adventure were the common belief of everyone then living. You can't undertake analysis without a strong sense of this, yet it might not appear anywhere in the writing.

I know what you're thinking. All that journey stuff is fine but when it comes down to it, what really matters is, does it work? Was Freud right? My answer is that it probably doesn't work a lot of the time, but who cares? The journey is enriching all by itself, regardless of the outcome. You may come out of it a neurotic, but you'll be a more interesting neurotic.

All of us in the arts have something to be grateful to Freud for. He influenced all the arts, maybe literary novels and acting especially , but also painting, photography and even genre fiction like horror, sci-fi and thrillers. And what about politics? Freud's emphasis on sexuality and looking inward was one of the cornerstones of the 60s.

Freud is a gold mine of inspiration for writers. It must be a lot of fun to write scenes like: "I dreamed I was in a room with two tables, each with a vase of flowers and a clock. I tried to smell the flowers but I was overcome with a feeling of dread, as if the flowers didn't want me there, and the clocks began to tick, louder and louder . Outside I heard a car slam on its brakes and a loud crash. I tried to run to the window to see what happened, but..." And you have to admit that Freud-influenced screen plays provide much-needed work for Theramin operators.

It would be hard to over-estimate Freud's influence on the modern world. He took a lot that was over-the-top about 19th century literary romanticism and repackaged in the form of therapy for the 20th century. No small feat, that. Maybe Freud was the greatest of the Romantics.

It's a stretch, but you could argue that Freud was one of the people who saved the West from communism. Marxism was spreading like wildfire among intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th century and it only hit a stone wall when it came up against Freud and the nationalist romantics. Freud's ideas weren't antagonistic to Marx, but they represented another systematic way of seeing the world, which existed completely outside of Marxism. After Freud, Marxism was not the "next new thing" was just one of a number of new things.