Saturday, January 19, 2008


This is another "theoried" essay-type post about happy cartoon goodness. NOT cartoons by me, however, but by animator heroes of mine! And what's today's topic?


This should be fun!!!!!!

My all-time favorite character, especially in the hands of genius animator supreme Grim Natwick. He drew Betty in the earliest of the early films; the roundest and the cutest, with the funniest animation (plenty of butt slappings!), and with definitely the most personality.


See Betty tap ass!

WATCH THIS CLIP to satisfy your masculine urges!

One of my favorite Betty Boop cartoons is Mysterious Mose, because it contains Grim's best Betty animation ever. Look how amazingly fluid this is:

I love when we get a rare glimpse into the cartoon character's more private life. In "Minnie the Moocher", Betty is suddenly an anguished teenager living with curmudgeony 'ol Mr. and Mrs. Boop!

Unfortunately, as all cartoons had to "grow up" a little bit because of the new set of rules the Hayes Code forced upon Hollywood (which later became today's MPAA), Betty was no exception. Her last batch of cartoons from the late 30s are pretty bland, with stories of Betty doing practically nothing. She's suddenly somewhat of a housewife??

Well, despite a rather short career of truly great films, I'm still Betty's big fan.


I LOVE Chuck Jones' Three Bears WB shorts. Unfortunately I don't have access to most of them (I think there were 5, or 6?), so I don't have much of a variety of pictures.
But hopefully you know who I'm talking about.
Ma Bear is just hilarious to me. She's so terrificly deadpan, and while loves her family, obviously it seems like she'd rather be somewhere else and is pretty much in her own world most of the time.
Pa and Junyer would crumble without her though. She's the Larry Fine of the group.

But the REAL reason I wanted to mention this character is for Ken Harris' wonderful scene with Ma Bear dancing, in "Bear for Punishment". CHECK IT OUT-

What amazing movements. You can feel the weight of this older saggy bear lady, tap dancing around a stage. Ha!

...and as long as we're talking about characters in rather obscure territories, I might as well mention Beaky Buzzard's mother, Mama Buzzard.

This is pretty much a given. Sure she doesn't do much except get howled at, but the dancing sequences are amazing and smoothly animated by Preston Blair.

Cartoons for men!

Tex Avery knew what the boys wanted to see, that's for sure.

okay... OLIVE OYL!
Eddie is gonna LOVE this part! Olive Oyl is without a doubt the funniest lady of the animated screen.

Tall, lanky, self-centered, EXTREMELY fickle, hilarious clothes, arms and legs that resemble wet spaghetti. Lots of animation n00bs are annoyed by her because they don't seem to realize that Popeye and Bluto's endless quest for the affection of someone like HER is how the entire series has worked for nearly 80 years. If Olive WAS a perfect, cheerful, spicy vixen, it just wouldn't be as fun!

Olive getting pissed = Hilarity!

It's also funny how my top two favorite funny cartoon girls were both voiced by the incredible Mae Questel. And as far as animation goes, Olive's was usually nothing short of astounding in the original Fleischer shorts.

But it doesn't stop there. Olive's the only girl cartoon to get the crap beat out of her on a regular basis, ESPECIALLY being one of the series' protagonists. The Fleischers didn't care!!

Different times indeed.

soooooo freaking funny.

Even though the Popeye series lasted much longer than Betty Boop's, the characters were still quite toned down as time went on. Olive eventually became much more lady-like, plus grew boobies.

And then, well...... uh..

Well, I'll end this on a good note. LOOK AT THE RUN CYCLES IN THIS CLIP!!!!!

Sorry for all the video clips in this post being so choppy and pixelated. YouTube doesn't seem to like videos that have lots of movement in them! So I think that's gonna do it for this post. This all just took me a couple of hours and I'm puh- puh- pooped!

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

What I'll always be amazed with the Mother Bear tap dance scene, Ken was able to make her (or should it be it?) the most active she's been, yet still keep the character as impassive as ever before.

The expressions on Papa bear are excellent; a mixture of embarrassment and blistering malice.

“Tex Avery knew what the boys wanted to see, that's for sure.”

Amen to that.

While not in the same category, I’d always loved how Chris Sanders illustrates his women; his pin-up girl’s are something to marvel at, for sure.

Thanks for taken the time to write up this post.

Have a good one

From an inspiring animator/ cartoonist

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Wooooowww!!!!!! A really fun post, full of surprises and beautiful illustrations! Putting up Mother Bear and Beaky's mom as examples of cartoon pulchritude was inspired! Can I plug this on my site?

BTW, I like the other posts on this page too. You have a good blog going here!

Eshniner Forest said...

Very Nice Nico! You always do good work! :)

Kali Fontecchio said...

This was a great post! Your love of women is admirable, I, being a woman and all, love being admired. Betty and Olive take the cake for me!

You're a clever cookie ;)

Brian Hanson said...

that betty boop scene is utterly amazing. WHY IS THERE NOT A DVD YET

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

So, what were your thoughts on the Popeye movie, Nico?

Me? It made me a bigger fan when I saw it at eight, cuz I hated the movie so much.


- trevor.

Nico said...

I sort-of commend the film for taking a bold risk and going the route of the comic strip, moreso than the cartoons, but in the end I don't think the movie really worked. Not only was the film made at a time when classic cartoons were damn near forgotten by the general public, but I hear director Robert Altman is a moron.

I do think that Shelly Duvall is the greatest live-action Olive Oyl anyone could ever be, though. :)

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Altman was a genius, but in the sense that Chuck Jones was, and not in the sense that Clampett was.

Chuck Jones = Robert Altman
Bob Clampett = John Cassavettes

When Altman directed, if the story wasn't compelling and the acting wasn't there, you could see how directed his films were. Cassavettes, just the opposite. The film was always in the hands of the characters' and the actors, and he merely made suggestions and allowed for spontaneity.

As for the funny cartoon ladies, I think you have to be a girl like Katie anymore to do attractive AND funny looking girls in cartoons. Kali, Marlo, and Katie all are really able to do these great girl drawings, and I'm completely behind in the learning curve.

My character Twinklebelly is constantly eluding me, and I try to avoid doing her layouts before doing someone else's just because it's so difficult to ruin the balance between cute / sexy and wild and cartoony.

If you have time, check out our blog. There's lots of fun there, and you can learn a little about our original production that we're working on called "A Little Fairy Tail".

And for the record, yes, I love cartoons!


- trevor.

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Anonymous said...

these all funny cartoons is very nice..........

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