If you don't think the world's weird, you're not paying attention.

Cartoons: Themes and Variations

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This post is part of The Short Animation Blogathon.


Hollywood cartoon director Frederick “Tex” Avery, was born February 26, 1908, in Taylor, Texas. At Warner Brothers’ Termite Terrace in the late Thirties and early Forties, Avery helped define such characters as Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck, but, more importantly, he helped create an alternative to the dominant Disney world of sentimental cartoon realism:  a wacked out, yet logically consistent world where an escaped convict wolf can run out of the film frame or an ocean liner can fall from the sky.

Here are two of Avery’s best films. “Northwest Hounded Police,” released by MGM five years after “Tortoise Beats Hare,” one of the last films Avery made for Warner Bros., is a re-working of some of the themes found in the Bugs Bunny short. A re-working, but not a re-make. Just as Avery like to structure individual films as variations on a theme, he also liked to develop even more variations on these same themes from film to film. Avery had a degree of control of his films that would have made other film directors envious, if they had not been prejudiced to dismiss the cartoons as not really being films. But for those of us who understand that cartoons can be art just as much as any live action film, Avery was a film auteur in the best sense of the word. If only the system allowed more like him to exist.


Written by David Kilmer

February 26, 2012 at 9:50 pm

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