Raid spot by Tex Avery Raid spot by Tex Avery

Raid spot by Tex Avery

Mark Evanier posted this Tex Avery-directed Raid commercial on his blog and I couldn’t resist linking to it as well. At the risk of offending pretty much everybody I know, let me say that I could watch hours of every single current animated series on CN, Nick and Disney, and not find five seconds of cartoon animation as beautifully executed as the animation in this spot. From the second these characters appear on the screen, everything about them exudes personality—their posing, distinct styles of movement, and little bits of personality animation, like the big bug scratching himself or the little bug readjusting his cap. The movement is timed funny, and their designs have appealing contrasting shapes (look at the big bug’s lumpy body, gangly arms and couple-sizes-too-small jacket).

What’s amusing is that this Raid spot is not what anybody would ever consider a classic piece of animation. It was probably knocked out by Avery and a couple freelance animators in a few weeks, and viewed by them as little more than a job. But boy, do their years of experience show. The guys who animated in the Golden Age had nailed the art of funny cartoon animation down to a science. Today, even with plenty of animation being produced in the States again thanks to Flash, there are few animators pushing themselves to elevate cartoon animation to this prior level of excellence. Everything I see in the mainstream is generic and blandly animated—as long as it moves across the screen, it’s good enough. It saddens me to look at what we had before, and how funny and entertaining even an inconsequential bit of animation like this Raid spot could be.

  • DanO

    I would have never guessed from the animation that it was Tex Avery.
    …but wow, how about the liberal use of that bug spray. The lady is shooting it around like it’s an air freshener!

  • You’re not the only one who gets sad when he turns on the TV set and looks at what passes for cartoons nowadays. I feel like a crabby old man sometimes; but to fight it, I work on getting the word out to the up and coming crop of animators. It’s up to them to bring great animation back.

  • Good gracious! Many many thanks for posting this.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I’m saddened to think of where it has gotten to as well. I’d personally like to see someone out there for once try something a tad bold and daring in a commercial besides the usual grind.

    I’m reminded in the western section of Germany, there was a popular series of commercials (supposedly totaling 500 in all), featuring a man often called “HB-Männchen”, the ads were for a brand of cigarette called “HB”, and the character gets into a problem resulting from his actions, leading him to explode into the air, and a voice goes “Stop my friend, why go nuts, have an HB cigarette instead.” These ads were aired on TV from the late 50s to the early 70s when cigarette ads were banned on German TV, but continued on in the cinemas until ’84. Here’s a sample…
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

  • Bob

    I agree with you and Stephen. It’s saddening to see that most animation today doesn’t come close to the quality of the old stuff. But hey, as one of those (hopefully) up and coming crop of animators I’m going to do my damnedest to bring it back. :)

  • Now, I loved that short. But to bring that kind of quality back, you will have to do a LOT of things in this culture, which quite frankly can’t happen unless bad stuff start to happen. (I’m not sure if its from the 1960’s or 70’s). It is only then when people who care and I mean truly care will shine.

    It comes back to modern art vs 15th-19th century art- those type of arguments. Until we have an definitive answer, and the process of cutting the wheat from the chaff trully start- we wont have this type of simple but great animation again. Its gonna be some 15-30 years before any body can be compared to Jones/Avery etc again honestly.

  • On a similar note, take a look at these great Starkist tuna commercials. Both the Raid bugs and Charlie Tuna were great favourites of mine. Today, the only thing that appeals to me are those rather charmin’ Charmin ads with the bears.

    • Hi Pete,

      Obviously haven’t had any luck with my comments below. Since it sounds like you share my special love for the bug characters, I’m hoping that you and I can get some communication going either on my group or elsewhere. Yes I gave my link below, but I’m hoping they will send this reply directly to your E-mail address. Here’s the link:[email protected]/ or my E-mail address is [email protected].
      If you get this, check it out if you like!

  • Floyd Norman

    Great stuff. I was lucky enough to work with Tex at Hanna-Barbera back in the eighties. He truly was a funny guy.

    I’ll take this stuff any day compared to the over animated, over rendered junk that passes for animation today.

  • Speaking as an unoffended animator for one of the companies you mentioned. No one can compete with the wonderfulness of Tex Avery. It would be nice if you and others who compare commercial and classic theatrical shorts to modern TV animation, remind the folks that the budgets and time per footage were and are more generous. Even today most of the better animation is in commercials. A fairer comparison would be TV animation of yesterday vs. TV animation of today. Same goes for commercials and features. All and all, I believe series animation has improved while feature and commercial animation has either stayed the course or slid a bit with exceptions on all counts. Anyway great posts as always.

  • Mark Kausler

    Tex directed this at Cascade Prods., about 1968-69. It was animated by Irv Spence, just look at that classic take and zip out! Irv was a great animator and a good teacher.

  • Kyle

    Yeah, hindsight is 20/20. I agree with Bob for the most part. The thing is, Cartoon Network has a look, they call a style. I’m willing to bet that the problem is not the animators fault, it’s how cartoons for TV are produced. There seems to have been a lot more artistic freedom given to people like Tex Avery, after all, when he was working on Looney Tunes he was able to have a lot of creative control. Clients, budgets, and schedules dominate the reason why TV animation is not the hand-drawn crafted animation before. But there are a ton of what I would consider well animated Flash and commercial animation today.

    The picture is bigger than just young animators “not pushing themselves”.

  • Great post! I’m 52 years young and several years ago gave up practicing medicine after 20 years to switch careers and concentrate on animation and music, two loves that were on the back burner way too long.

    When I started in the early 1990s I was doing hand-drawn pencil animation and working with some great talent. Now it’s “faster, cheaper” like it’s never been before. I’m a 2D guy and always will be and learned FLASH to keep on working. Just finished a stint on a kid’s TV show in NYC. One-half hour to produce every 2 weeks with a crew of no more than 6 animators. It was entirely symbol-based – which does have its own charm if done properly. It reminds me of digital puppetry. When I’m working on a FLASH animation, I look over at my animation disc and pegbar and just sigh! When I’m able, I try to hand draw and scan some animation directly into FLASH for that classic look.

    I still do my own thing – the traditional way in pencil – for my own personal growth as an animator. There is so much more control this way. Look at the great Milt Kahl scene Mike Sporn posted on his SPLOG today!

    Again, great post!

    • Rudy,

      We share a bond in that I let a lot of talents go to waste sitting around doing nothing just getting by and earning a decent living. Not only my talents, but my heart desires like for these bug characters, watching them get killed EVERY TIME for about 25 years watching the commercials.

      Hoping I can put together some stories with the bugs as the good guys showing people their plight, not only based on the cartoons, but real stories such as one from my own home. Books, films, plays, anythings possible. I’m wondering if you and I can hook up if you’re interested.

  • Greg Marshall

    I grew up in the 70’s watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, the Muppets, the Flintstone’s etc. I’d say a large section of my brain contains images of exploding cigars, penguins crying ice cubes, anvils landing on people’s heads etc. Anyway as a kid, there was always lots of quality entertainment. In the 80’s animation became more limited and crappy…I remember watching shows like Spider man and Rocket Robin Hood and feeling ripped off that they kept repeating the same animations. Shows like GI Joe, Carebears etc. have to represent a cartoon low point. At least the Cartoon Network has reintroduced a level of artistry to cartoons. Shows like Samurai Jack and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends are beautifully designed (some of those backgrounds blow my mind). Maybe we aren’t living in the hey day of the Warner Brothers era but it’s not 1980 either.

  • What sort of a psychopath sprays Raid outside?

    • Gavin,
      I agree that Raid should not be sprayed outdoors. I’m not sure what your reasons are, but mine are that the bugs are NOT a health threat outdoors like they are indoors. They might chew on a few plants outdoors, but big deal people live with it!! Around 1976, they came out with a Raid commercial where a bug had moved outdoors to escape from the Raid indoors. I call the bug “Muffy”. Muffy was living in a flower bed eating daisies and thought the flowers would protect her from being sprayed, smiling at one when she holds it. The voiceover torments her with “YOU LOSE BUG!!” and explains how the Raid kills bugs dead indoors or out but won’t harm plants. Someone comes outdoors with the Raid and kills Muffy anyway. HOW SADDD!!!!!

  • Tom

    “Everything I see in the mainstream is generic and blandly animated—as long as it moves across the screen, it’s good enough.”

    Then you’ve never watched “Ed, Edd & Eddy.”

  • The Tex Avery commercial is nice, a great treat to see, but I really love the unobjective Nick/CN/Disney Channel ragging. Wonderful return to form, Amid.

  • Stella Babirz

    There’s a much-loved Australian animated commercial from 1962 for Mortein fly spray. It stars a dirty fly called Louie with the a bad wiseguy accent done by an Australian.
    Just saw this Avery Raid ad for the first time, and it doesn’t seem clear which year it was made, and whether it was one of a series starring the same characters. Wondering which came first, Louie the Fly or Tex’s Raid bugs.
    On an unrelated topic: love the Cartoon Brew redesign, which Jerry Beck’s book on animation could also do with. It’s very well-written and deserves much better layout.

  • Jeffrey Juli

    I grew up watching Raid commercials and I agree those bugs WERE great animation and much more. I watched from 1972-1995 and that’s when the characters were most beautiful, especially in the early 90’s when they gave the roach characters a brighter green shade. Those commercials are not only cute and exciting, but heart-tugging too since no matter how the poor bugs try to hide, escape, resist, etc. the Raid destroys them EVERY TIME. They would do some of the cutest things like sometimes their feet would patter like children running barefoot (ex. roach trap commercial 1980). One moved outdoors to get away from the Raid indoors only to be killed with it outdoors (house and garden bug killer ad 1975 or 76). A couple times the bugs hugged each other before the Raid blew them away. In the mid 80’s they started sticking their tongues out and laughing at people beginning with the 1985 roach foam ad. One thought he was just too tough and wasn’t afraid of nothin’ (general Raid ad 1985). The three mother roaches in the 1987 Raid Roach Controller ad tried to pick up their eggs and run but got crushed with the box for trying to protect their unborn. Though those bugs are not real, I can’t imagine anyone who pays close attention can avoid getting at least a little emotional witnessing all the drama and constant tragedy. Well don’t want to make this too long. More comments at a later time.
    If you know a site were I can find the commercials I described and more from my watching era, please let me know. I looked on youtube and found the 1985 roach foam one, but none of the others. And yes please post my comment on your site so others can read.

  • Jeffrey Juli

    First I want to apologize for giving a sermon the other day. It is great to finally have a place to chat about my most loved characters of all time and I got carried away.
    Now I have read all the responses above and have some personal messages. I’m glad to see that the Raid bugs were one of Pete Emslie’s favorites. I’m hoping maybe him and we can set up a chatline about them if he’s interested. I identify with Rudy Agresta in that I have gotten into the rut of just making a living and getting by and have put talents I have such as writing and story imagination on the back burner. I’m thinking him and I could get together and make cartoons and childrens’s books. And I agree with Gavin’s comment about using Raid outdoors. Not sure what his reason is, but mine is that bugs should be allowed to live outdoors since they’re not a health threat as they are indoors. All they do outside is chew on a few plants which I don’t feel is that big a deal.
    I’ll let that be it for now. The fact that I wrote a book last time is probably why no one has responded.

  • Yes it’s me again. Mainly wanted to tell you folks about my new website which I don’t believe I had when I posted last month. Yes, it’s about the Raid commercials. I have heart-tugging stories about characters Pierre, Needles, Muffy and Mugsy. Also, 3 files about general Raid commercial history and how to find some of the commercials and other items. The link is above.
    Just now I noticed that the last comment on this spot before me was in Feb. 2007! No wonder I’ve had no responses. So I guess the only ones that will see this are those of you who run this site. I’ve invited MANY to my site on 2 or 3 other cartoon network sites, Deb Funk, Jack Davis, and even S.C. Johnson themselves and ABSOLUTELY NOONE has joined or contibuted yet. If you folks are interested, please check it out! THANK YOU.

  • Hi again. It may have been a mistake the last time to only give my link in the box above, cause it is hidden from any visitors to the site. Though no one has commented on this page in three and a half years, you MIGHT still be getting visitors who take a glance but don’t comment. By the way, i mentioned this page in my posting “Nifty Things Found On Yahoo”. If I can get any visitors to MY site, maybe I can rekindle interest in your page.
    Anyway here’s the link again:[email protected]/
    Gonna try and hold off on too many more stories until I get some members. There is already 13 postings and no one has commented yet.