A Scrappy cartoon – but first, an update. Over here at Thunderbean, it’s been a week of sending things back. We’ve been packing up many borrowed things, especially a group of Nitrate, and are happily returning all to where they belong. I’m especially happy to send the Flip’s back, because it means the final set of films can now be delivered/transferred.
Happily, the announcement last week of the possible death of the Telecine here in Michigan was pre-mature. I’m happy to report that as you read this, I’ll be back, transferring the rest of the things that were scheduled for last week. Having the Telecine here has been invaluable for Thunderbean in both proximity and affordability.
The ‘Special’ unofficial discs:
Over the last five years or so, we’ve transferred a whole series of cartoons that appear on ‘unofficial’ sets. Most of these have been available for a short time only on the Animation Internet Database (IAD) forum. Several have been mentioned and available here, but most have not. There have been some things on these discs that eventually appear on an official set, and many (most even) that never will.
Since I’ve been getting so many requests as of late (and because we have many things going through replication right now) I’ve decided to offer all of these sets again for just a handful of days only. There are 20 of them- available as BD-rs only (none are available on DVD). They’ve be available through Monday.
You can find out information on them at at IAD forum here:
Now, onto a Scrappy Cartoon!
Something to notice about the Scrappys from the early 30s is the evolution of Dick Heumer’s comic timing. I think aspiring animators should especially study these ideas- and this film is a great place to start!
The Wolf at the Door (1932) is fun little fun, featuring the popular Canadian Mounties as a theme. Scrappy, the boy who does adult jobs with no adult ever in sight, is somehow in charge of a desolate post, with his toddler brother being the only hope in saving a goat in peril. Scrappy, ultimately, as pseudo- parent, really should be arrested for sending Oopy out in sub-zero weather in what appears to be only a nightshirt.
Layout/ shot composition is pretty standard in this early 30s short- the real highlight here is the personality-driven character animation, timed sharply and varied throughout the film. Huemer times very quickly into the key poses/ holds compared to many contemporary productions, contrasting the fast movement often with staggers, holds or cycles, phrasing around poses to help emphasize the moment further. Some of the timing reminds me of the early Kokos in execution as well (see the scene where Scrappy starts up the plane, going from one tight, clear pose to another and breakneck speed). At times this serves the personalities of the characters in this comedy well- at other times it feels like you are flying through poses. Some of these timing ideas continue under the Sid Marcus-directed shorts, although not as consistent or continuously sharply timed.
Of course, Dick Huemer was already very experienced in animation timing. I think his early 30s Scrappy cartoons are well ahead of many of the studios in the same period in animation timing. I wonder if they’ll ever find their proper place in history. This film and others in the series clearly are taking a cue from both silent and early sound 2-reel comedies- and succeeding.
A less seen, not quite missing link are the Mutt and Jeff shorts from the mid-20s that Huemer directed. They’re often much fun and deserve a wider audience.
Huemer is a pivotal person in the history of character animation. I always wonder how Hummer would have refined his own style had he stayed at Mintz rather than going to Disney. Happily, his talents were utilized well at Disney.
Clearly Huemer’s timing ideas have been evolving since the silent years at the Fleischer studios. The Scrappy films often contain moments that share a kinship in posing and timing to those early silents. Heumer is expert on character moments. The interplay between Scrappy and his brother, in this film and others from this period, is charming and funny, and while individual personality animation is similar between characters (rather than timed related *to* their personality.
Enjoy the cartoon (in HD!) and have a good week everyone!