Saturday, September 10, 2011

Good Old-Fashioned Cartoon Violence!

There's nothing as satisfying to animate as an old-fashioned cartoon-violent gag! It can be very cathartic emotionally ;-)

I don't want to get into a debate here about violence being a bad influence on our children. There's cartoon violence and there's graphic wanton violence. I'm of the very first generation of TV viewers growing up on continual reruns of the classic, unedited, unadulterated 1940s cartoons, and I knew the difference between real and cartoon at a very young age. Don't tell me that today's children can't tell the difference. For those who can't, there is something psychologically wrong with them that goes far deeper than just being influenced by a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon.

But I will say there is a time and place for cartoon violence. Sometimes, the best place to use it is as a way of showing interaction between two characters...especially if the characters are siblings...and half-human and half-ape at that.

I'll use this type of gag to show how to plan out the interaction between two characters on your x-sheet.

Here's a scene involving two of our studio's Avenging Apes characters: Zaire (left) and Algeria (right). They look alike because they are two-thirds of a set of fraternal triplets. Personality-wise, the triplets are very much like "Three Stooges": Zaire is Moe, and Algeria is an assertive Larry. (The third triplet, named Angola, is very Curly-like with a touch of Stan Laurel. He is very heavyset and doesn't look at all like his two brothers.)

Following the video clip are scene grabs. While watching the video, note how there is enough time for the characters to react to each other, and not "step" on the other's visual "business".

In a future post, I will show the x-sheets and explain my reasons for timing the scene the way I did.






























  1. Ha ha! I prefer this kind of gag to the stuff in modern cartoons which relies more on crude bodily function jokes.

    I got the new DVD for "Herman and Katnip" this week, a wonderfully violent cat & mouse cartoon produced in the late 40s & 50s by Paramount (Harvey Toons). They are kind of the progenitors of "Itchy and Scratchy" on The Simpsons.

  2. Writing and/or animating crude bodily function jokes does not take any talent.

  3. The two violent movements are really done beautifully.

    I look forward to the future post which shows why you timed it as you did. I wondered if there was a track to match. Otherwise, I probably would have done a touch more overlap. Not criticism, just personal taste.

  4. Thanks, Michael. Yes, I will go into detail in a future post, but in short this was a test scene where I wanted to establish a baseline of quality. I wanted to see what the minimum was to successfully put across a gag. I did not shoot a rough pose test. I went directly to cleaning up my rough animation (leveling the bodies, etc.), scanning the artwork into Photoshop, shooting a cleanup test in ToonBoom to check for obvious problems in timing (no changes). Then coloring the levels.

  5. This is more of what I would like to see right here! None of that talent-less crude stuff that is done to death!

  6. Did you animate the Schlepper Brothers in Rock'n'Rule too, John? This is remniscent of Toad and Zip bashing eachother about. I wish I had the temperment to animate like this, -alas!

  7. Kirk, no I did not. The Schlepper Brothers were animated by Chuck Gammage.

    The closest I came to animating Toad is in the air vent scene where I had Cindy Schlepper imitating Toad. "It's just like Toad sez: 'There's wackos out there, just waitin' for sweet young things like you!'"

  8. Cindy had great moments, too. - ass first out the vent, pour example.

    (I'm blocked via my google account again, gottverdummer machine!)

  9. Kirk: The tattoo-on-the-butt gag was a plot point that needed to be made. But I really enjoyed animating that scene introducing Cindy in a memorable way.

    (I don't understand why you're being blocked.)

  10. Ha, ha, - as long as there's a little dramaturgical reasoning behind a bouncing bottom, it's a go! Like Red Hot Riding Hood, she had to be a bit lascivious to explain the apoplexy of the wolf, right?

    This looks like a cool project, I look forward to the x-sheet follow-up. Timing is an elusive thing.

    (I don't think my being blocked has anything to do with your site, for I got through just before, as we can see.)

    Thanks, John.

  11. ...Also, in case there's some confusion, I was just trying out my minimal French when I said "pour example", this was not a typo intending to say "poor example"... can't be too careful. Blog controversy is an easy trigger.

  12. Haha, He-Man meets Planet of the Apes. ;) Very nice line of action going on here, awesome work as always man.

  13. CJ: Thank you. I prefer a cartoon style of design and animation acting...the acting and action more along the lines of a throwback to the first Disney features (Snow White & Pinocchio).

  14. I'm not planning on this being a big comment but I think what happened is in the earlier animation, things like characters stretching their bodies or getting in violent situations without blood or guts or things like that because its understood that the universe is a cartoon universe: anvils fall on heads, eyes bug out of skulls and characters can EXPLODE but be totally fine in the very next scene. It didn't need to explained to the audience because of familiarity. I think the line shifted with more adult cartoons and parent groups seeing that "Oh my GOD, kids watch Tom and Jerry and then DO THE THINGS IN THE CARTOON!" -_-
    Maybe its a sense of explaining away a character's tongue lolling out like a carpet then being rolled up like a window shade in that universe or setting the tone for that cartoon. What are your thoughts?

  15. I agree with you ENTIRLEY! I hate how some adults blame their messed up kids on Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Tom & Jerry.
    I grew up watching cartoon violence and recently (in 2011) turned to watch Dennis the Mennice and discovered a good, well behaved boy with nothing but his dog and a love of rock music as a memory of his former self. Also I heard that they remade the looney tunes, Bugs and Daffy are FRIENDS and there is NO VIOLENCE! SACRALIDGE!