TUESDAY in LA: “Tex Avery vs. Jay Ward”

My Animation Tuesday screening this month is the first in a new series of semi-regular face-offs: The Heavyweights of Cartoon Comedy. We will periodically pit two titans of animation anarchy against each other — and this month we’ll be comparing and contrasting the work of Tex Avery and Jay Ward.

Who was funnier: Avery or Ward? Does it matter? Avery was the “King of Cartoons” with his series of MGM theatrical shorts of the ‘40s and ‘50s. His animated masterpieces practically invented the language of cartoons, and are rife with exploding bombs, eye-popping doubletakes and girl-hungry Hollywood wolves. Jay Ward, the prize-winning Bay Area producer, revolutionized TV toons in the ‘60s with witty dialogue, funny artwork and zany characters like Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and Super Chicken. This big-screen contest will screen some of the best of the best (in rare 35mm film prints) – and the audience will be the real winner! The showdown begins at 8pm on Tuesday July 5th at The Cinefamily (aka The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax) in Hollywood. Advance tickets on sale now!


  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    Compare and contrast ? Good idea !
    “Who’s (as opposed to who WAS) funnier ?” Like you said, who cares ?
    Gonna do that with Marx Brothers/Laurel & Hardy ? Chaplin/Keaton ? Dan Quayle/Sarah Palin ??

    • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

      No contest Sarah Palin is the funniest one of them all!

  • http://richardsmithstudios.webs.com/ Richard

    I like Avery for his wild exaggeration, but I also like Ward for the use of funny dialogue and references.

  • swac

    Has anyone out there ever seen the Super Chicken pilot? Legend has it Don Knotts did the voice the first time around, before Bill Scott took it on for the regular series.

  • Lucy

    I think they were both funny, but in different respects. Avery was more for site-gags, Ward was more for dialogue-driven humor. Sorta apples and oranges, almost, I’d think. I dunno, that’s just me ^^

  • http://www.portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    and i was about to SAY “apples/oranges”….thank you, Lucy!

  • Toonio

    Talking about one side fisted fights! ;)

  • Ignatz, Brick Pitcher

    Precisely! Avery vs. Chuck Jones or Ward vs. Jones are better matches as Looney Tunes cartoons had high-brow humor, crash bang up anarchy and hilarious physical gags. Then again, who cares? LOL. These animators were gifted to influence and stir up this debate.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    These two are the biggest reasons I got into animation. I wish I could attend as for me the fight would be a DRAW! (insert moans here) – thank you Bill Scott!

  • Keegan

    Tex Avery had the better animation, but Jay Ward had the better design.

    Kinda hard to choose.

  • The Gee

    “apples/oranges”?

    I was gonna just write:

    Bananas!

    It might seem like thin reasoning but both had great characters who served the purpose of the story and made what happened funnier. Ward and Avery’s characters acted way differently from each other, like everyone knows, but the humor was different, so it fit.

    It’s like MAD magazine and the National Lampoon. Different approach but they did satirize a lot. I guess that applies to Ward/Avery, too. With Avery’s “_______Of Tomorrow” shorts. And, less importantly, there’s that mountie overlap between Droopy and Doright, isn’t there?

    Seems like a great program though. Loads of entertainment and bonus points for Jerry being brave enough to non-chalantly use the word Zany. It gets so little respect these days.

  • Gerard de Souza

    Love them both but Tex wins in my books.

  • stumpyuncle

    TEX!! TEX!! TEX!! TEX!! TEX!!! Simply the best. Better then all the rest.

  • FleischerFan

    Agree with those who say this really is an “apples & oranges” comparison. Avery had the nice, full, big budgets of theatrical animation while Ward made do with the small budgets and limited animation of made-for-TV cartoons.

    They both were the best in their respective arenas. So it should be a great program!

    swac:

    The Super Chicken pilot is available on the George of the Jungle DVD set. No, Don Knotts did not do the voice. It’s Bill Scott – but he does more of “Thurston Howell” snob voice than the scratchy voice he settled on for the regular run of the series.

  • Scarabim

    They were both classics, with different senses of humor. Jay Ward’s Moose and Squirrel were more cerebral, to wit:

    Bullwinkle: “You just leave it to my pal Rock. He’s the brains of the outfit.”
    General: “And what does that make you?”
    Bullwinkle: “What else? The executive.”

    While Tex’s creations were visual all the way. His characters’ takes were the stuff of legend. Nobody squashed and stretched like the ol’ Tex.

    In related – and sadder – news, Butch Hartman has just been signed by Classic Media to “revive” Fractured Fairy Tales.

    Jay Ward is rolling in his grave…

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Why can’t they just simply leave things be?

  • Jim Engel

    Ward was funnier than Avery, but Roger Ramjet was funnier than Ward.

    • Marvin

      I have to disagree. Avery and Ward were both funny. But Roger was funnier than Ward

  • Adam

    Tex Ward is clearly the best creator of these two.

    • The Gee

      Perhaps he is the best of the two but I do believe that the relatively unknown French director JayAvery might be even better.

  • david

    which is funnier with the sound off? uh oh.

  • tom

    I agree- apples and oranges. One I quote in conversation, the other I show to small kids. They’re completely different animals.

  • The Gee

    okay…hypothetical:

    since the Illustrated Radio aspect is being invoked, how would some of the output of the two work as silent shorts? I’m particularly considering how title cards could supplant dialogue and narration. Obviously, for Ward’s R & B that still might not be enough because of the holds and limited animation. But…I dunno…

    I do think it could be said that silent films and serials did play a large role in influencing R&B and probably some early TV animation, like Ruff and Ready. In terms of story, plot and whatnot. But, I could just be hungover.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    I think if the guys and gals at Ward Productions had the budget and schedule to animate the series like they had for the commercials and bumpers, then there would be a lot more visual gags. I have some of the Bullwinkle cheerio commercials which are very well animated as are the early Quisp and Cap’N'Crunch.

    That’s what I like about the series though, and same for Roger Ramjet. They knew the limitations they had to deal with, but still created memorable funny characters that still make folks laugh.

    • The Gee

      “…if …Ward Productions had the budget and schedule to animate the series like they had for the commercials and bumpers, then there would be a lot more visual gags. ”

      Yeah. You are probably right. It isn’t like anyone involved there was incapable of visual gags. It probably was the result of an Economy of Style thing combined with something else.
      (BTW, I like the R&B cartoon shows a lot and can’t say enough good things about it)

      I do wonder if the fact that the box was in the living room and the audience being Right There, not in rows of seats or in the dark, but Right There Up Front, led to those early TV cartoons and kids shows talking directly to the audience. Those shows, especially the ones for kids, often broke the fourth wall. Obviously, the ones with more solid narratives didn’t and just spun the narrative.
      Those, shows, like the Flintstones, were probably later and what I’m considering were probably mostly productions from the 50s.

      Often when I see TV cartoons/kids shows from the 50s, it seems like the humor, that wink and nod stuff, seems to come close to being a bit too aware of the audience. Not all of it did it but a lot of what I have seen seems to. I guess that wasn’t bad as people are still nostalgic about that era.

      That written, my speculation is possible pointless but whatever. I’m just throwing it out there. Mainly, as always, I’m curious as to how long these non-feature oriented, not-so controversial threads can go.