Friday, June 12, 2009

Flippin' The Bird

No, the title of this post is not a tune from the Complete Savoy Recordings of Charlie Parker (I have it on double-album vinyl, so I can assure you.) However, I do know at least 4.8 Spectorphiles who can tell me which cartoon this is from. (Yes, I know too, but I'd rather you empty your valve spit in the comments section.) This picture used to hang on the wall above my dad's basement hovel animation desk on Long Island. It's larger than my scanner plate, hence apologies for the seam. And, he signed it, something he rarely did, and so was apparently satisfied, even with the professionally antiqued coffee drips.

A few years later in L.A., in one of my newly-adolescent moments, I noticed and mentioned to him that some of the musicians were flippin' the bird, giving the finger...or however you care to express it. This came as a surprise to him, and he said something to the effect of, "Oh God, they ARE!" He'd no idea (let's not get too Freudian about it all). And then he laughed.

(BTW, I realize the blog has lately been slower than usual. I'm currently in life's grip but hope to gear-up shortly)


Mike Kazaleh said...

The orchestra is from the Paramount cartoon "The Shoe Must Go On"

What a cool drawing!

p spector said...

Give the man a cigar! Thanks Mike. I believe in the cartoon there's actually a short pan across the orchestra pit. What especially struck him about it I don't know. Yet here ya go.

Dave Mackey said...

On the topic of music I'd really like to know what kind of working relationship Spec had with Paramount's musical director, Winston Sharples.

Winston had a unique method of working: he composed and prepared his scores at his home in Massachusetts, then took the train into NYC every other week and recorded the scores. Then the directors would give him new bar sheets and he'd go back home and compose some more. I can't really tell how closely he'd work with a picture's director or head animator or writers from this description. At some point, Paramount would have abandoned the Fleischer method of recording everything at once after the animation had been timed out and completed.

Everyone talks about Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley and Frank Churchill in vaunted tones, but for my money Winston Sharples was one of the most talented men working in scoring for animation.

Eric Noble said...

Great drawing. It looks like a magazine cartoon (before magazine cartoonists started to really suck)

I like it.

p spector said...

I don't know that my father had any type of working relationship with Sharples; I don't recall hearing him mention his name. Even in the later years when Paramount became more of a "factory" and some of the veterans were pretty much the de facto directors, I think Seymour must have just handed it off to Sharples to go do his thing.

J Lee said...

The drawing definitely has that angular late 50s-early 60s look to it (If you go through the full Paramount catalogue from the early 60s, the cartoons your dad did tended to have characters that were more abstract/angular in the body designs than what was being laid out for some of the other cartoons, where the designs retained a little more of the old-style roundness. "The Inquisit Visit" is another example of the really angular character design).

As far as Sharples goes, he was probably the best musical director at creating original stand-alone cartoon "hooks", many of which were burned into the brains of yutes during the early 60s not just from the Paramount cartoons but though the Hal Seeger, King Features and even some of the Total Television shorts. (It's also interesting that while the animation budgets for Paramount were cut drastically in 1957 and showed in what ended up on-screen, if there was a major cutback in the music budget Sharples did a great job of hiding it in the original pieces he did do for the studio's final years. You definitely can't say that about the post-Franklyn Warners shorts)

Will Finn said...

Hi Paul--cool drawing, love the Freudian finger positions too. I keep checkin my work at the office to see if I am making any subconscious comments of a similar vein.

ALSO: Loved seeing CHEW CHEW BABY on CB recently. I was going to comment, but everybody beat me to the punch with theirs. I had nothing additional to add, other than the usual: the ruff art by your father still stands superior to the finished film (although a very good one it is).

p spector said...

Hey Will, Freudian or not, I'll have to revisit "The Shoe Must Go On" to see if the "bird" made it's way into the orchestra pan in the finished cartoon. It hadn't occured to me that you people had to check for stuff like that.

Thanks for the CHEW-CHEW ruff art and cartoon comments. It's tough to say why that cartoon came out as well as it did (for Paramount); I guess it's just a confluence of things. And while it has been mentioned, and likely true, that my dad was writing some of the more "adult oriented" stories for the studio, I can safely say that to him -- and maybe other cartoonists of the National Geographic 1950's -- the idea of pygmies was just a funny notion, and cannibalism a cartoon plot device (unless you happened to be in the Donner Party). I guess you can't do that anymore :)