Yearbook Drawings of Bob Clampett

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Someone is selling Bob Clampett’s 1930 high school yearbook on eBay. Clampett, one of the best known short cartoon directors of the Golden Age of Hollywood animation, directed dozens of Warner Bros. cartoons including Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid, A Tale of Two Kitties, A Corny Concerto, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery, and The Big Snooze, as well as created Beany & Cecil.

As a member of the yearbook staff, Clampett created numerous drawings for the 1930 volume of The Scroll, the yearbook for Glendale’s Herbert Hoover High School. He would have been sixteen years old at the time. Never being known for his drawing skills, Clampett’s early drawings bear that out and are cruder than the high school artwork I’ve seen for other Golden Age animation artists. His skills and abilities were elsewhere.

We’ve collected his yearbook drawings after the jump.


Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Bob Clampett Yearbook

Also, here’s a look at one of Clampett’s drawings from when he was twelve years old.


  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    Looks like he worked on the yearbook with a Betty Scribner. Did she have a brother Rod?

  • http://blackwingdiaries.blogspot.com Jenny Lerew

    I have to demur-I think Bob drew pretty well for his age and that time. It’s the style that does him no favors in our eyes.

    As a comparison, here’s an example of Fred Moore’s high school-aged work:
    http://blackwingdiaries.blogspot.com/2006/01/on-another-sunday-78-years-ago-today.html

    When I first saw some of these I was shocked that a celebrated draftsman like Moore would draw so crudely, but this was in the days when Moon Mullins and Mutt & Jeff were kings of the funny pages, and these guys were kids who loved drawing cartoons, not necessarily knowing or caring about the demands of classical draftsmanship.

    I can’t say I’ve seen tons of Clampett drawings from the 40s, but what I have seen-roughs-were full of charm and brio. Both Bob and Fred just needed to be working on different, more demanding stuff to improve drastically.

    • amid

      Jenny, The comment I made was taking into consideration the styles of the day. Bob’s work still strikes me as amateurish compared to other student cartoonists I’ve seen at the time who later became animation artists. Even the Moore drawing you reference is, in my opinion, better staged and drawn.

      On the other end of the spectrum was Ward Kimball who was ambitiously studying cartooning outside of school. Below is a drawing he made at sixteen, the same age as Bob’s artwork.

      Early Ward Kimball

      • http://blackwingdiaries.blogspot.com Jenny Lerew

        There’s no question in my mind that Ward was a superior draftsman in every way at that age-and continued so. Ditto Kahl(whose pre-Disney work is pretty astonishing), Davis, and I’m sure Johnston and many others. I don’t see that Fred was much more adept, based on the examples I’ve seen, than Bob(there’s a contemporaneous yearbook drawing by Fred on my blog), but that’s just a personal take.

        It’s interesting to me because it shows how people’s influences help or hinder their development, but in the end people just have different learning curves, too.

      • amid

        Just for fun, Jenny, here are some student paintings by Bambi background painter Bob McIntosh. Talk about being on a different learning curve. =)

        At age 18:

        Bob McIntosh

        And a couple from age 19:

        Bob McIntosh

        Bob McIntosh

      • Jenny Lerew

        Oh…wow. Okay, going off to cry now.
        In a good way. Jeez, what beauty.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I’m jealous!

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

    These are really good! I’m surprised.

    I was never a fan of Bob’s drawing style at Warners, but his directing of funny cartoons was un-matched.

    And comparing these to Fred Moore’s (*at that era), I feel like Bob had a bit more of a solid style.

    Not to take anything away from Fred, he still rocked it at Disney!

  • Seppucrow

    Wow! I’m not just amazed by the drawings but also how old these guys look for their age!

  • Chuck Howell

    Interesting discussion – we all know Walt wasn’t an incredible draftsman either, but I think he and Clampett definitely had other talents in common. I’ve harbored a very fuzzy theory that Bob wanted to be the next Walt. He did interact with him at a tender age through his role in creating the first stuffed Mickey dolls, and the cutting satire of the Beany & Cecil episode BEANYLAND does emit just a whiff of envy…

  • Rick Farmiloe

    I agree with Jenny. Bob’s drawings look very much like the style of the times. I knew Bob and he never considered himself a great draftsman or animator. What he was, was a brilliant, inventive DIRECTOR who created some the most memorable cartoons ever made!…as well as being a great guy personally! I think of the Warner Brothers directors, Chuck Jones and Bob McKimson were the best draftsman. Clampett was basically a cartoonist, not a classically trained artist. But it’s really fun to see his sense of humor and budding style in his high school days. Thanks for posting this.

  • http://www.oddbirdarts.com Daryl Boman

    I think Clampett’s drawings are great given the times that he lived in. They look above average to some of the yearbook cartoons I’ve seen in my day! :)

  • Jorge Garrido

    I’d give my left hand to draw this well with my right hand. And now.

  • Martin Juneau

    This drawings are just amazing and beautiful to look at. He’s have a individual style which came as unique as was André Franquin style before his Gaston heydays.

  • http://chippyandloopus.com/ John Sanford

    His drawings are lively and confident and exhibit a talent that is only in it’s infancy.
    It is odd that he and his classmates look so old. Check out Glendale in the thirties in that photo of his highschool! Where is that highschool now?

  • http://behiboe.blogspot.com Betsy Bauer

    I sure hope that if I ever make it big that my high school yearbook drawings aren’t shown off! Yeesh!

    But I do like these! Thanks for sharing, Amid!

  • John

    Now all we have to do is wait for the inevitable John K. post that calls these the greatest drawings of all time.

  • Upstanding Citizen

    An advertiser named Jack Jacks?

    Now there’s a cartoon character.

  • Ju-osh

    So no one’s going to mention the Racial stereotypes?
    Oh, wait – that’s just the way that “everyone” joked back then, right?
    Right…

    • HR

      What’s your point? That there were cartoon caricatures in 1930 that featured racial stereotypes? As a matter of fact it was the way everyone joked back then. It’s not news.

      • Michelle L.

        HR: I think it’s safe to say that Chinese people (making up a HUGE portion of the Earth’s population circa 1930) did NOT make “Chink” jokes. So that kills your “matter of fact.”

      • HR

        Michelle L: I specifically meant the people populating Bob Clampett’s life and that world as he knew it in 1930: teenagers, Glendale, Southern California,USA. I thought that would be implicit, sorry. So my “matter of fact” lives.

        If you have data and knowledge of the cultural and social tenor of that time and place that refutes what I know about it, by all means let’s hear it.

      • Michelle L.

        Expecting everyone to know that you “specifically meant the people populating Bob Clampett’s life and that world as he knew it in 1930: teenagers, Glendale, Southern California,USA” when you simply used the word “everyone” might be asking a little much, no?

      • HR

        No.

        By “everyone” I meant everyone in the daily life of teenager Bob Clampett. It should go without saying that he only ever expected his fellow high school students to look at and laugh at the caricatures drawn here. It’s an annual yearbook for a provincial audience of kids, not the population of China.

        But to the point you were trying to suggest, I think it’s more than safe to say that even Chinese people had their own “stereotyped” humor directed at other strata of their society and especially at other races in 1930, in some form.

      • Michelle L.

        Before we take up too much more of Cartoon Brew’s bandwidth, let’s go all the way back to your initial comment for a little bit clarification. Was the point you were trying to make:

        a. Racism is acceptable so long as it’s widespread and/or considered the social norm.

        b. Racism needn’t be noted so long as it’s widespread and/or considered the social norm.

        c. Any sort of perceived political correctness rubs you the wrong way, and possibly forces you to take the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ position.

        Cuz I’ve gotta admit, our back-and-forth now seems more about semantics than the actual “So no one’s going to mention the racial stereotypes?” subject matter.

      • Ju-osh

        HR: What’s the point in pointing out the racism in Clampett’s High School cartoons? I guess I thought it was worth mentioning because for years, animation fans have been debating the evilness/innocence of the racist caricatures in Clampett’s ‘Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.’ (http://ow.ly/3YsGu) The two most common defenses seem to be yours (“Hey, everyone was doing it”) and the mind-bendingly bizarre “Bob Clampett can’t be a racist. He loved jazz.” (http://ow.ly/3YsM3)

        Well, now we have a few more examples of Clampett’s racist caricatures, both of which are used solely to demean the races portrayed, and with nary a mention of the wonders of jazz or the deliciousness of Chinese cuisine. I guess I was curious how the Clampett apologists were going to explain away these early examples of Clampett’s racial…insensitivity? Ignorance? Bias? Unfortunately, despite the fact that these recently unearthed examples of Clampett’s boyhood bigotry do indeed add a new element or two to the ‘Was Bob Clampett a racist?’ debate (e.g. he has a history of racist caricatures; his racist caricatures were not always misfired but well-meaning tributes to the races depicted), nothing new was added to the debate.

        Keep in mind, please, that I am not trying to damn the man or negate the great work that he did by pointing out the crap jokes he told. In fact, I’d say that an uncensored, unapologetic look at Clampett the man can only serve to deepen one’s understanding of his work as an artist. A guy can be a bit of a bigot and still draw the best Daffy Duck.

      • HR

        It’s not semantics. It’s about whether it’s sensible to judge a high school cartoonist in 1930 drawing cartoons that include ethnic caricatures by the standards of 80 years later.

        My point was in response to someone thinking they were being oh-so-sharp by saying “isn’t anyone going to comment on the Racial stereotypes”? What were we supposed to say? That Bob was racist? Do you think this proves that?

        To me that suggests the original poster is saying we’re supposed to react that way to Bob Clampett’s drawings. My reaction was “this was common, if “low” humor then and did not have the import it does now. It’s not controversial or even worthy of comment, because it had a different context then than today”.

        This has zero to do with political correctness. I would find a kid today calling someone a “chink” unacceptable and repugnant. I’m pretty certain Bob Clampett, a liberal guy, also lived plenty long enough to stop using that term.

        What I think is dead wrong is to sit here at a computer in 2011 and place our more enlightened standards of treating ethnicities and different people on people in a totally different time and place. I NEVER said racism was acceptable. I also take issue with what you call “racism” which to me implies enmity, hatred, towards another race. People back then laughed at jewish jokes, black jokes, chinese jokes, swedish jokes, and italian jokes. Jews, irish, italians and black audiences laughed too, at themselves and others. American was a melting pot, vaudeville and popular culture through the 30s at least reflected that and everyone was fair game.

        Humor changed, the world changed and post WW2 this sort of thing wasn’t very funny to anyone anymore. The world grew up pretty fast in that period.
        That’s where I was coming from. I think it’s misguided to use a 1930 caricature as any kind of “racist” teaching tool for today. It’s ignorant of history and too easy: shooting 1930 teenage cartoonists in a barrel. Pretty weak battle to pat yourself on the back over.

      • Professor Widebottom

        People of the future will look back on us and think we were incredibly barbaric. Most of us, had we lived in the early 20th century, would have also been products of our time. With some notable exceptions most people conform to the stream of culture. We can be glad for the improvements but much of the ugliness has just been re-routed; new safe scapegoats to ridicule. Watch cable news, you’ll see.

    • http://www.caricaturesbydave.com Dave Stephens

      Hmmmm… Well, not “everyone”, more like 99.99% of everyone in those days… ;)

      In a great many wonderful countries (mostly non-western) they STILL joke exactly like that in their day-to-day life and in their cartoons and advertising… Do you think those countries are “evil”? Or do you think that if only they could be shown the error of their ways they would come to understand how terrible and awful such behavior is?

      Because they haven’t changed in my lifetime. And I’m thinking they won’t be changing in a hundred lifetimes. Until all countries are a total mix like the good ol’ USA (that would be “never”.), this exact kind of humor will continue, worldwide and non-stop.

  • dr. truth

    wow!! This is a true find!!

  • John K ( not really )

    These are the greatest drawings of all time. Nobody wrote these drawings. What’s the matter with the world today, with it’s rap ‘music’ and weird looking sports shoes? Look I’ve drawn a pussy.

    • Jorge Garrido

      Cool strawman, bro.

  • http://dmgermain.blogspot.com David Germain

    That is one racist cat.

    Some of them have rather awkward poses, but they are nicely drawn. This is indeed a great find.

  • Brandon Pierce

    Millie Barnes is cute.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    They may not be the most skillful looking drawings, but there’s still a love of caricaturing and exaggeration very much evident, and a sophomoric view of life that he never shook himself of ’till he left the planet. You see very little of Clampett’s own drawing style past his earliest classics (Porky’s Party, Porky in Wackyland, Porky in Egypt), when he became vitally dependent on the McKimsons and Rod Scribner for giving his works visual vigor. But, whatever he lacked in actual physical drawing skills he made up for by putting every other fiber of his being into the films. I sure would rather watch the worst of these than anything by the people who could draw perfect landscapes and figures at age 17 but never dream of putting their POV in a cartoon.

  • A.C.

    This is awesome. Especially given Bob’s legacy later. Too much pressure is put on aspiring animators nowadays to be able to draw as well as Leonardo. I know I felt it back in highschool, despite the great ideas I can come up with in contrast. :-/

  • Pogo Bock

    I find it remarkable that, 80 years after his professional debut, Clampett remains so polarizing, just for committing the unpardonable sin of being a singular, original talent.

  • Doug Drown

    It was . . . what? A seven- or eight- year jump between these yearbook drawings and Clampett’s quite sophisticated animation for his “John Carter on Mars” experiment. Didn’t he do most of that work himself?

    BTW: Who drew the picture of Beany that accompanies Clampett’s photo at the top of this page?

  • Steve

    Charles M Schulz had his submissions for his Yearbook rejected so a least Clampett could feel pleased that his work was printed.In the case of Schulz this disappointment seemed to add to his sense of being overlooked, rejected and on the outside all the qualities that later fueled so many Peanuts strips.

  • GMAN

    In 1929 and likely earlier Bob Clampett attended Glendale High School as well and drew cartoons for their yearbook (The Stylus). My dad and mom both went to Glendale High and I stumbled across Bob Clampetts name, pic and listing as a cartooner for the yearbook on ancestry.com while doing research. Bob Wian of Bob’s Big Boy restaurant fame (the chain of stores later sold to Marriotts) also attended Glendale High. The legendary creation story about the “Big Boy” character in checkered overalls was that a friend/cartoonist/customer created and drew “Big Boy” for Bob Wian. I wonder if it was Bob Clampett?

  • GMAN

    On racism – it wasn’t right but it was rampant. I looked through the entire 1929 Glendale High School yearbook and later yearbooks. I found – there were no black students, there were no asian students, there were few hispanic students, there were jewish students, there were a few students of middle eastern descent. There were what we today would call racist jokes about chinese. There were other jokes that today would not be P.C. There were plays put on with whites portraying blacks as servants and the whites were wearing blackface (definitely today not right). It was a different era, a different time, with different mores and practices. A different America in the 1920′s and 30′s – not to say it was right but for the time it was the norm. And it wouldn’t change until the 1960′s and only after demonstrations, marches, protests, riots and people giving their lives for the cause of equality. Sad but true.