Thursday, February 28, 2008


Fascinating pictures on the net these days! On ASIFA-Hollywood's site, Steve Worth just put up some drawings by Clampett's writer, Warren Foster. As you can see, Foster was a pretty good draughtsman.

I talked to John K about these and mentioned with surprise that they seem to have been colored with ordinary crayons... or maybe pastels, I can't tell. John wasn't surprised at all. John once visited Tex at Hanna Barbera and asked if he would sign his copy of Adamson's book. Tex not only signed it, he did an elaborate drawing which he insisted on coloring with crayons. When he couldn't find any he begged John to wait while he hobbled down the hall (Tex was an older man by then) to find some. In Tex's view a drawing just wasn't complete until it was crayoned.

I agree! I love the way crayons enhance a pencil drawing. Crayon, when it's done with a light touch, reminds me of the way watercolors and pencil interact. Each emphasizes the delicacy and grace of the other. When my kids were little I used to give them a new box of crayons with great ceremony and fanfare. I explained that what they were getting was a professional tool, beloved by animation artists. They didn't buy a word of it. They thought I was just being cheap.

And talking about Tex, here's (above) a picture from Mike Barrier's site showing the young and vigorous Tex sitting on a rock with an animator friend. Holy Cow! Tex had muscles...and HAIR!
Look at the cut of his bathing suit, which seems a little high and Gunga-Dinish compared to modern trunks, and check out the shoes (slippers?)!

Looking at this picture, and recalling how cool Red Hot Ryder's low-cut boots looked in the drawings I put up last week, convinced me that men should always wear black leather dress shoes with a bathing suit. Maybe even thin black socks. A sliver of jet black on the bottom of a character really separates him from the ground and makes a solid, here-I-am-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it kind of statement. Look what black hooves did for Porky!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Here's two version's of the Crispian's Day speech from Shakespeare's "Henry V." If you're like most people then you prefer the newer Branagh version (above), which is acted more naturally and some would say more believably. Branagh's is also more filmic, at least at the start. You feel like you're right there on the edge of the woods with King Harry. Me, I prefer the stodgy, static, orator's version served up by Olivier (below).

Watch both and compare. If you have time to watch Olivier's entire ten minute clip then take a close look at the charge of the mounted knights at the end. It's the best charge I've ever seen on film.

I prefer Olivier's version, not only because he was a better orator, but because he had more awareness of the subtext of the piece. In my opinion Shakespeare bought into the Greek idea that the form that language takes coveys meaning, not just the content. "I saw as through a glass darkly" conveys more than "I had difficulty understanding what I was looking at," even though the literal meaning is identical. The first is beautiful and poetic and makes us feel the speaker can be trusted. The first quote gives us pleasure and a glimpse into a better, more aristocratic world. The second conveys only information.

The thing is, that if you're using language that's better than the way people really speak, then you have to deliver those lines in a better way than people really speak.
You have to use artifice that everyone accepts as real, but actually isn't. That's what Olivier did in this film.

Of course Olivier took it to an extreme. He figured that naturalistic sets would seem jarring if they were a backdrop to artificial dialogue, so he made the sets and costumes deliberately stage-like. Everything in Olivier's film is subordinated to Shakespeare's beautiful words. I think he did the right thing. What do you think?

Monday, February 25, 2008


ANNOUNCER:  "Yes, it's THE SMOKER, and a smoker knows many things! Through the wisps of tobacco smoke he sees truth and error...and MURDER!"

ANNOUNCER: "In tonight's episode we find THE SMOKER skulking through the dark corridors of the abandoned farm house. If he's lucky, he'll find the kidnapped girl. If he's not lucky....."

THE SMOKER:  "Who are you? Where's your body? I don't see a body!"

DR. SWEET: "I am Dr. Sweet. I don't have a body any more, but I get along alright..."

DR. SWEET: "...with a little help from my friends."

THE SMOKER:  "Glad to meet ya! What a fine bunch of fellows, yessir!"

THE SMOKER:  "Look, I'm not a cop! Somebody pays me and I do this stuff.  I don't know why you took the girl, and I don't care. "

SMOKER: " Let me take her with me now and we'll call this square.

DR. SWEET: "Square? You'll call it 'square?' That's very funny! He'll call it square! (Laughs)"

MAN CREATURES: (They laugh)

(The laughter becomes a cacophony)

THE SMOKER: "Stop it! Tell them to stop it!"

DR. SWEET: "Stop."

THE SMOKER:  "Look, I got $500 here. That was my down payment for getting the girl."

THE SMOKER:  "Let me walk out of here with her now, and it's all yours. You better make up your mind fast, though, before I change my mind."

THE SMOKER: "No? Are you sure? Gee, that's too bad......then, how about............"

THE SMOKER:  "....How about THIS!!!???" Get the girl NOW! We're leaving!!!!!"

DR. SWEET: "Oh you're leaving?"

DR. SWEET: "Did you hear that? We just met and now he's leaving! Maybe we can persuade him to stay a little longer!"

(The creatures go ballistic! Lots of growls and howls as they go on the attack!)

ANNOUNCER:  "What's going to happen to THE SMOKER!?  Where is the kidnapped girl? Who is Dr. Sweet!? How can he survive without a body? Why are his henchmen hideously deformed? Find out next week when we again present another exciting episode of...'THE SMOKER!' "

Friday, February 22, 2008


MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "Hmmmm.  I can't think of anything to draw."

MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "Wait a minute! Why didn't I think of it before!? I'll let my friend KaKa the Clown out of the ink bottle! He's always good for a laugh!"

MIX FLEISCHMAN: "Let's see......"


MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "Oops! Sorry, KaKa! Tell you what: I feel so bad about dropping you, that I'll let you stay out this time! I mean stay out for good! You're a free man!"

MIX FLEISCHMAN: "So what are you going to with your freedom?"

KAKA:  "You mean me, Mr. Fleischman?"

MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "Yeah, KaKa, what are your plans?"

KAKA: "Well, Gosh Mr. Fleischman, I hope you won't laugh at me.  You see, I've always wanted to get an make something out of myself."

KAKA (CONT):  "First I'd like to get a liberal arts degree with a major in Theater. Then I'd like to see if one of the big New york acting schools will accept me."

MIX FLEISCHMAN: "Wow, that's very commendable, KaKa!  It sounds like a lot of work, though. Do you think you can handle it?"

KAKA:  "Gee Whiz, Mr. Fleischman...I hope so.  Of course I have to support my mother while I work my way through school, and then there's my church activities, but I figure that if I'm thrifty and work hard then everything will work out alright. "

MIX FLEISCHMAN: "Boy, it sounds like you won't have much time for socializing."

KAKA:  "Socializing!? Gee, Mr. Fleischman, I won't have time to make friends.  'Gotta crack those textbooks every night!"

MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "I can help you there, KaKa. What you need is a ready-made friend."

MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "KaKa, meet my pal, Betty Bloop!"

KAKA:  "Betty BlooP?...Um, Er....Hi, I guess. Whatever."

KAKA: (Gasp!)

KAKA:  "Wha...wha...what is that...that thing with long hair and BUMPS on its chest?"

MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "Oh, I forgot to tell you. That's a girl. Half the world is girls. "

MIX FLEISCHMAN (V.O.):  "Come to think of it, a serious student like you won't have time for girls.  There's plenty of time for......"

MIX FLEISCHMAN:  "KaKa, you're not listening!  What about school?"

KAKA: "School? What school?"