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Tytla’s Little Audrey?

J.J. Sedelmaier recently had a visit from John Canemaker at his studio in White Plains. J.J. sent them in with this note:

“We had a chance to go through some of that art I was given years ago from (animator) Jan Svochak. As we’re rummaging through the stuff John says, “Wait! That’s a Tytla sequence!” John saw Tytla’s extreme drawing “X” marks in the upper right hand corner. When you see the way he’s gesturally thrown the anatomy together so effortlessly, it becomes clearer. . . I’d forgotten he worked on Little Audrey…”

Interesting find. Thanks to J.J. for sharing these with us. These drawings are from a scene in Surf Bored — released well after Tytla left Famous Studios, in 1953. Click thumbnails below to see the drawing closer.

Update from John Canemaker: “Oh, the dangers of the instant communication age. In a casual and (I thought ) private conversation with JJ, I commented that the well-made Audrey drawings resembled Tytla’s work and — “oh look — there’s an “X” in the right hand corners, just like Tytla used to make on his extremes”. There was no further research into dates of his employment, etc. Thank you, Richard, (in the comments) for your vigorous defense, but Thad may very well be correct. I am sorry for any misunderstanding.”

Below is an actual Bill Tytla Audrey drawing:

  • I’ve always liked cartoons like “SURF BORED” as a vehicle for LITTLE AUDREY because it is a kid being a kid but, kind of slightly off topic and leaning more toward a previous entry, there are some very dark LITTLE AUDREY cartoons. I don’t know if Tytla worked on them, but there is “SEA-PREME COURT” and, especially, the LITTLE AUDREY update of Max Fleischer’s “SONG OF THE BIRDS”, much darker than the original in its “guilt” sequence as Audrey has to face the fact that she killed a living thing.

  • joecab

    Yikes! How can you forget Tytla worked on Little Audrey? That was my first and most influential contact with his work as a kid, and when we saw Pinocchio I remember picking up on his style.

  • Tom D.


  • Holy Moly! This is GORGEOUS! Thanks for sharing! :)

  • AdrianC

    These look great! Maybe I should just watch some Little Audrey cartoons just for the animation.

  • Thad

    I’m sorry, but it’s highly unlikely that Bill Tytla did these. Even with the backlog, the earliest these could have been done is mid-1951, long after Tytla was gone. I’m not an expert on Audrey, but it’s more likely this is the work of Steve Muffatti or Nick Tafuri. There’s a myth that Tytla was the only one in NY who could do animation or drawing of this caliber, and it’s incredibly unfair and just plain wrong.

  • Christopher Cook

    As cloying as Audrey’s cartoons were, admittedly she was adorable as a character.

  • Thad, if John Canemaker says its a Tytla drawing -it’s a Tytla drawing.

    I doubt there’s a more keen or sensitive eye to the hand of individual animators anywhere on earth.

    Your underlying point is valid, that we fetishize the work of “big name” artists when there are many others capable of equally compelling work.

    Unless you can palpably demonstrate that Canemaker is wrong you’re assertion is unfounded.

  • Thad

    This is for a cartoon well after Tytla left the studio. It’s not Tytla.

  • “This is for a cartoon well after Tytla left the studio. It’s not Tytla.”

    There are several possibilities:

    1.) Work on that Audrey cartoon was started at an earlier date (when Tytla was still at Famous) , then shelved for a time, and completed later, after Tytla himself was no longer working full-time at Famous.

    2.) (more likely) Tytla did the work on a freelance basis when things were slow in his commercial business , or he needed some extra cash to buy a new washing machine, etc. This is very common in the animation industry. There’s a lot of cross-pollination between the different studios, though it is often not documented officially.

  • One more comment related to mine above:

    Even if it is understood that animators frequently did freelance work under the table for studios where they were not officially employed , there is one small detail that perhaps argues against these being Tytla drawings:

    top pegs.

    I don’t know many Disney men who would have been top peggers, unless Tytla reverted to east coast working methods when he moved back to the east coast. Of course there are times when technically the animation needs to be put on top pegs to facilitate extra cel levels or a camera move , etc. , so I’ll trust John Canemaker’s eye on this and accept these as Tytla drawings that were probably done when Tytla was moonlighting , however it would be unusual (but not impossible) to find a former Disney artist using top pegs.

  • Tom D.

    the left leg turned to an extreme in the top left drawing is something that steve muffatti often did. as is drawing dogs that are disproportionately small to children (check out the covers of little dot #1 & #2).

    it doesn’t prove anything. just pointing it out.

  • Well, if John Canemaker says it’s not a Tytla -then, by golly, it’s not!

  • Oh, to give up so quickly … we could have dissected this one for another day or so . ;-)

    No one liked my “Tytla moonlighting at Famous” theory ? (Tempo Productions where Tytla was working full-time in the early 50’s was located close to Famous … and I’m sure Tytla still had contacts at Famous … It’s plausible. But no takers, oh well.)

    It was the top pegs that gave me the most pause.

    The drawings sure are nicely constructed and certainly could be Tytla, but as Thad K. correctly pointed out , there were several fine animators at Famous such as Steve Muffatti , Nick Tafuri and others, who were capable of producing work of this caliber. Thanks for the reminder , Thad.

  • (Is it OK to come out from under this boulder yet ?)

  • Thanks for sharing these, they are truly beautiful drawings.

  • julian

    nice….please post more.

  • Tyler Ware

    Very nice, I love Little Audrey cartoons.