Sunday, May 24, 2009


I'm back, with another tops list! You know, one of the earliest elements of animation is the cartoon "take". We've all seen them; heads shrinking or expanding in shock, tongues stretching outward, and of course eyes bugging out with plenty of pulsating veins. But what are the most creative, outrageous, and CRAZIEST takes to ever be animated? Today's post aims to find out. It's...

Donald Duck
in Der Fuehrer's Face

A crazy cartoon take from the Disney studio's animated library was actually extremely hard for me to find. In fact, compared to most of the takes that'll be in this list, this is pretty tame. The truth of the matter is, Disney just wasn't as outrageous as the other Hollywood cartoon studios. The ending of this World War II-themed short dares to be different however, in which Donald is having a nightmare that he is a factory worker in Nazi Germany. As he starts going mad, his head stretches up like E.T., then as he starts babbling he suddenly gets extremely wonky and wiggly! Even though it's not too weird, it's definitely one of the most insane scenes to ever come out of Disney.

Homer Simpson
in Treehouse of Horror V

Now I know what you might be thinking... how the hell did a clip from The Simpsons manage to get on a list like this? Well, just take a look at it. As Homer goes mentally insane a la Jack Torrence in The Shining, he suddenly starts getting really crazy-looking. Look at the animation and how exaggerated, rubbery, and well, actually CARTOONY he gets! Definitely a very rare moment for the normally-static Simpsons, and definitely deserving a spot on this list. BTW, Homer's scream at the end of the clip slays me!

Screwy Squirrel
in The Screwball Squirrel

Ah, what's a list about great cartoon takes without Tex Avery? Definitely one of the highest masters of animation, Tex practically invented the cartoon take. Here we see an early MGM short by Tex, featuring his short-lived character Screwy. When he suddenly realizes that he's played a gag on Meathead Dog that has gone too far even for HIM, Screwy grows multiple heads and- oh, just watch!

Wile E. Coyote
in Operation: Rabbit

Out of the dozens and dozens of films that Wile E. has appeared in along with the Roadrunner, my favorite appearances of him are by far only the couple of times in which he's been Bugs Bunny's adversary. There's so much more to his character in these ones, as this complete egomaniac who's obsessed with his own "super genius".

The reason his take is so great in this particular clip is that it ISN'T a big crazy reaction. He's completely still, except for his pupils shrinking. It's so simple, yet we can all tell the fear he's experiencing right here. I think one of Chuck Jones' biggest strengths was his ability to communicate a character's thoughts, feelings and motives while they barely have to even move. It's kind of the opposite of Tex Avery, in a way. Genius, or dare I say, super genius!!

Betty Boop and Bimbo
in Mysterious Mose

Would you ever believe that Betty Boop could have a cartoon take? You bet she can, especially while under the helm of the brilliant animation of Grim Natwick. Grim's Betty cartoons consist mostly of her earliest films, where she's not quite the Betty that the public is as familiar with today (she's not human in these, but a girl dog!). These cartoons are surreal, stranger than all hell, and downright works of art. This first clip is of Betty's reaction to Bimbo's crazy horn playing... look at the SIZE of her eyes as she looks on in complete terror!!!

And for good measure, and also because I couldn't possibly pass this shot up without sharing it here, another scene involves Bimbo doing a crazy dance in which his head flates and deflates into a multitude of different shapes. Ahh, pure cartoony goodness.

Roger Rabbit
in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

This scene from the movie is not only a great bunch of takes all back-to-back, but the entire sequence of what happens when Roger takes a shot of bourbon is one big homage to all the cartoon characters who have ever flipped out from a drink that's a bit too stiff (a.k.a. The Alcohol Take). Popeye, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Tex Avery characters- you name 'em, and they've most likely had a scene like this. So, Roger definitely deserves a spot on this list for an all-around fitting tribute, from an all-around great movie.

Daffy Duck
in Draftee Daffy

Here's a short (directed by my hero Bob Clampett) that definitely needs to be freeze-framed. As Daffy is trying to escape the Little Man From the Draftboard, to avoid being drafted into the US Army, he in constantly foiled time and time again as he simply cannot lose the little bugger. All of Daffy's freak-outs are brilliant in this short, but this one takes the cake.

Let's freeze-frame that sucker!

Tex Avery's Wolf
in Northwest Hounded Police

The same concept, from a different director. The Wolf tries to escape Sergeant Droopy of the Mounties, and no matter where he hides Droopy is right there waiting for him. This results in completely freaking the Wolf out more and more each time! But the biggest and best comes during this scene, where Droopy surprises him at the plastic surgeon's office. Look at those eyeball veins! Listen to that horrifying wild pig squeal! This might just be the creepiest cartoon take ever!

Tex Avery's Wolf
in The Shooting of Dan McGoo

You can't go wrong with Tex Avery's Wolf, as he grabs both numbers four AND three on this list. Here is an example of the "pretty girl take" (complete with wolf whistle), which we have all seen countless times again and again. But this is one of the very first ones, therefore the penultimate "pretty girl take"! It's the one that started it all. Beat it boys, ya bother me!

Ren Höek
in In The Army

Ren and Stimpy are known for bringing bulging eyeballs, throbbing veins and displays of complete insanity back to cartoons in the early 90's. But what can I possibly say about this take? It might be one of the most insane drawings ever put onto the animated screen. When Ren gets caught being lazy by the fearsome army sergeant, his skin literally MELTS off of his skull, which proceeds to explode outwards and is paired up with the most blood-curdling shriek you've ever heard. When I first saw this as a kid, I didn't know what to even think. It literally blew my mind. I think all I can remember saying was, "...can I watch that again??"

and the #1 greatest cartoon take is...!!

Daffy Duck
in Book Revue

Another tally for Daffy, another tally for director Bob Clampett, and one big fat shiny award for my favorite cartoon take ever. I think what is truly remarkable about this take is the sheer simplicity of it. Daffy doesn't lean back and his eyes bug out all crazy. Nor does his tongue stretch out or his body goes into twisty convulsions. Nope, none of that. Daffy simply transforms into ONE. GIANT. EYEBALL. That's IT. It's so sudden, so surreal, and yet so simplistic, that it's incredible to me. Do the honors, and enjoy for yourself!

Thanks for reading, and for watching!


david gemmill said...


a nice write up of cartoon TAKES oH YEAH

david gemmill said...

i did a porky one eye take when i saw this post.

Sean Worsham said...

Nice collection. I'm glad you included the wolf (twice)

Trevor Thompson said...

This is a good list. I like that the list has a Spinal Tap Factor added: it goes to eleven.

- trevor.

Shawn Dickinson said...

Holy crap, this is a great post! It's now #1 on my list of "The Eleven Greatest Nico Posts".

My favorites on this list are:

-Wile E. Coyote (very subtle and very funny).

-Roger Rabbit (I love that one-bloodshot-eye-pop at the very beginning of that take).

-The Tex Avery Wolf at the surgeon's office (that pig squeal, along with that face, just kills me).

...My other favorite wolf take (not included in this list) is the one in Wild & Wolfy (I think) where his eyes pop out of his head and roll along the table like marbles, haha.

-AND that Daffy Duck take from Book Review DESERVES to be #1 on this list! I agree with you 100 per cent on that one!!! Not only is that a great take, but the entire SCENE is completely flawless cartoon genius!

Great job, buddy!

Hey, let's get Lido's soon! I've had a craving!

Tim said...

Northwest Hounded Police has a lot of great wolf takes. I also crack up at the one where he reels back and levitates and convulses while making those horrible swine noises.

Molly said...

Great list! It must have taken forever to find all of those clips. #1 is so awesome, good call!

Niki said...

I only get to watch Homer cause my comp is screwy but I'm sen most of the others before and I know how good they really are! great choices! I can't wait to see the rest!

also I realized that the program I had thought was adobe illustrator was a complete different thing!

and I would really enjoy an art trade! but you have to give me a little so I can get my laptop from my dad's house.

Benjamin Anders said...

Mysterious Mose would be my fave out of all of these. Funny drawings of when Betty was a fun and cute character.

Great post Nico!

Tinker Ramone said...

Great list! Tex Avery was the master of the cartoon takes. And every time I hear Bob Clampett's name I still singing it like on Beany and Cecil. heh.

I love, love, love, your lists!

Jeff Cook said...

Mighty Awesome post Nico.
Thanks for putting this one together!

Anonymous said...

That Homer scene was animated by David Silverman. I think a better one was his heart attack, if you can call that a take.

The only one I'd really dispute is the Roger Rabbit one. I think even some of the South Park takes from their 9/11 episode were better. I'd replace it with one of the takes from Bacall to Arms.

Shawn Dickinson said...

Whaaat??? I really don't understand what some people have against Roger Rabbit. To compare SOUTH PARK to Roger Rabbit is sacrilegious.

Nico said...

David- OH DAMN, that Porky one is a good take! I forgot all about that one. Consider it a #12 spot!

Sean- Yeap, the Wolf deserves at least two spots. Thanks!

Trevor- Haha, good eye. Glad someone caught that. :)

Shawn- Thanks buddy!!! Yes, we need to get some lido's pizza IMMEDIATELY. How about this weekend?

Tim- Haha, totally. I think half of the reason it's so outrageous is because of the terrifying noises he makes!! shhhudder

Molly- Thanks Molls! Although, it didn't take as long as you might think! I actually captured all these clips myself- from my DVD library :D

Niki- Wait, so what was the program you thought was Illustrator? If you don't have Ill, definitely invest in getting it. Great for digital inking. Also, art trade sounds cool, IM me sometime

Benfo- Thankee! I write this blog for you, buddy. And yea, I miss how bland and normal Betty got as time went on. I miss her crazy doggy-eared days!

betty? ---> q("O u O")p

Tinker- Aw, thanks! I love, love, love, your sweet comments!

Jeff- My pleasure, thanks for reading!

Jorge- Interesting opinion! I love Roger Rabbit though, I dunno why most cartoonists today have so much hate for it. You'd think it would be praised.. for, oh I dunno, being the first cartoony thing to be made after nearly 3 decades of horrible animation! Or something.

OH for the record, I love South Park :D

Justin said...

Great list, but in reality, it could go up to like the top FIFTY cartoon takes.

Niki said...

It was Corel painter, I never use it and I don't know what it's for!

Pedro Vargas said...

Really cool job on this list and thanks for sharing those clips!! That wolf squealing like a pig is my favorite. I guess it's 'cause it's so freaky and funny! I love how his tongue is animated. Super great list overall!!!

Kali Fontecchio said...

My favs are your top two and those Betty ones- genius!

Amir Avni said...

Awesome thread Nico!

Draftee Daffee and Mysterious Mose are my favorite of the bunch

my vote for number one is Ren in "Man's Best Friend"
the vein pop on his tongue, combined with the body and BG counter-staggering along with John's scream and SFX is brilliant.

Nico said...

Sure thing Justin, I'll get on that right away. (notttt)

Niki- For painting! i hear it's good

Thanks Pedro!

I love them too, thanks Kali! <3

Amir- oh man, that's a good one too! John does the greatest screams in cartoon history

HenriekeG said...

I actually wonder who came up with that Screwy take?
Ah, so many more takes I could put in this list... and they're all great.
On an unrelated note, how much do you ask for commissions? I'm a little out of money right now but definitely interested. It's great to see different takes on one character.

Dennis Cornetta said...


Richard P said...


Thanks for posting this, wonderful. I agree with you on the #1 ranking.