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Woodies with Walter Lantz

Jerry on the Job

Back before Walter Lantz created Woody Woodpecker, he liked to draw ‘woodies’ of a different kind. Animator Marc Deckter offers an appreciation of the skewed cartoon logic in the 1920 silent “Jerry on the Job” short called Swinging His Vacation. Crudely drawn and animated no doubt but still oddly entertaining.

  • Walter Lantz was the Seth McFarlane of the 1920’s.

  • OM

    …I developed an appreciation of Lantz’ Woody Woodpecker shorts in two eras of my life – 1978 and 1989. In the first era, a classmate and friend of mine had a father who worked at one of the local TV stations, and the recently-cancelled kids’ show had the entire run of Woody shorts on 16mm film. Once a week he’d bring 2-3 reels with him to run during lunch in order to raise money for our Media Communications class, with me collecting the proceeds at the door and the local adminsistration turning a blind eye to kids taking their lunch from the cafeteria and eating them in the classroom. We raised about $500.00 USD that year, which came in handy because the pitiful excuse we had for a school board cut our budget and back then reel-to-reel videotape for a Sony Port-a-Pack weren’t cheap by a long shot, and we wore those tapes out pretty quick. We didn’t show Woody the next year because the classmate graduated *and* the station manager at the time – a royal jackass who was fired about a year later for being a royal jackass to the new owners! – put a stop to borrowing the cartoons even though it was for a good cause. He also put a stop to our annual tours of the station where we basically had free run of the station for an entire day, but luckily was gone by the time I became an intern there in ’80.

    …In 1989 I went to work full time as a video engineer. About two days after I started, I got stuck with what would be two years of steady weekend work – transferring and archiving 16mm and 35mm films from the news and entertainment vault, as well as a whole ton of 2″ Ampex VTR reels, all to 3/4″ Beta and 1/2″ Beta-1. The prime reason for the transfers had to do with the fact that the station was retiring both the film chain and the 2″ RCA machines – the former had actually been retired about four years eariler, and they finally needed the room it was in for a new Master Control room, while the latter had been semi-retired for about a decade and was only needed for regular playback of three important archival reels – the JFK coverage, Apollo 11 EVA, and the UT Tower shooting.

    …Although the 2″ tranfers were a bitch and a half due to the 2″ RCA deck constantly dying and having to be repaired at least once a week, the film chain was far more fun because the Woody collection had actually been *PURCHASED* by the station and not just “borrowed” as most syndicated toons were. In addition, with only a few exceptions, all of the films were in really good shape. Those few exceptions had either been chewed up by the film chain years before – one of which I actually remember happening on-air, to which the kids’ show host did an ad-lib that was a perfect parody of the “We are experiencing techincal difficulties. Please stand by!” VO that he’d already done for the station as it’s official voice! – or had some major “red shifting” for reasons we never really did figure out. All of the cans were tape-sealed, kept in a room that was a constant 68F, and the discolored ones were on the *bottom* of the box they were found in. There was no record of any sort of water flooding problems, but we still tried some color corrections during the transfer that helped a little, but not enough for my tastes. Still, it was fun watching all those Woody shorts again, especially since I was getting paid for it!

    …The sad part? Not only did I *NOT* get a VHS copy of them for myself, I was unsuccessful in getting the station to allow me to keep the films for myself. Turns out they’d already gotten a cash offer from one of our advertising clients who was an avid collector of old 16mm films. Not that I had a projector to play them back on for myself, but at the time I thought they were just going to toss them in the garbage as they were the only non-news 16mm films we had archived.

    Ah well, such is life where transferring from obsolete media is concerned. Which is why I still have one PC with a combo 5.25″/3.5″ FDD installed, even though I’ve not actualy used it in about 4 years now…:/

  • OM

    …On a side note, anyone else struck with the initial thought that the bald guy looks like he’s hiking his leg to mark his territory? :-)

  • OM, re: marking territory, Jerry tells me that Mr. Givney *is* very protective of his girlie posters. The man has no life.

  • OM

    …I wonder if being “very protective” means he never holds those posters with just one hand :-P