You Can’t Go Home Again

Dover Boys

As much as I love classic animation, I rarely (if ever) enjoy modern-day revivals and tributes to classic animation styles. I shudder every time I see a Tex Avery “take” imitation, a stylized “cartoon modern” character design, a Milt Kahl-ish performance, or yet another rubber-hosed Fleischer-style animated piece. Of course, building on these elements to achieve something new is fantastic, but too many animators view the act of recreating and referencing past styles as an accomplishment in itself. It’s an artistic dead end, explains animator and teacher Mark Mayerson in this must-read blog post. He analyzes a relatively recent Tom & Jerry short The Karate Guard to illustrate his point. It all boils down to this, he says:

Creative works are not only the product of people, they’re also the products of a time and place. As the world keeps changing, it is impossible to recreate something from the past. While artists often wish to duplicate what they love, they can only approximate it. Paradoxically, the closer they get to it, the more they’ve succeeded in doing nothing more than an good imitation. And since the originals are everywhere to begin with, is an imitation necessary?


  • Grant Beaudette

    The picture says it all. That show was nothing but mindless aping of classic cartoon gags with seemingly no knowledge of what made them funny in the first place.

    • wever

      Know who’s in the biggest trouble for doing just this?!

      DISNEY.

      They managed to bring back hand-drawn animation two years ago since 2004, and yet, both their 2 films like this were retrauxes, and now that Mort’s canceled, there is no further announcement for any future hand-drawn releases! There are rumors of a proper Mickey Mouse feature film in the works, but still, IT’S MICKEY MOUSE, and they’re sure to mimic some piece he starred in from the past somehow!

      Animation needs to evolve. I’m sorry that trying new things was what nearly killed their animation division in the early 2000′s, but they need to realize that “looking to the past and embrace the present at the same time” does not mean “do what we did before!” Looking to the past doesn’t give you any success! That past already happened! We need people who can find new ways of doing things!

      • Conor

        I’ve heard this a lot about Disney, but personally, I kind of think that when a creative entity with as rich a tradition as Disney’s goes off path, taking a few steps back to see where you went wrong isn’t a terrible choice to make.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    Of course I doubt that anyone will remake “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.” Still, it pretty much demonstrates the limits of looking to past animation, even to the work of the masters.

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ Mick

    This is very true. The past can teach us nothing. I steal all my ideas from MTV and yoof culture-centric internet content. I have a show idea about a caustic tongued metro sexual who shows you round his house for 20 minutes (“a room JUST for sneakers??? You gotta be kidding!”)

    Who’s Ted Avery ?

    • amid

      Mick, Neither Mark Mayerson nor I ever suggested that the past can teach nothing. Are you trying to troll this post or did you honestly not understand Mark’s point?

      • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ Mick

        Perish the thought…. ‘trolling’ indeed! That’s a young man’s sport isn’t it? Just a simulated spouting reactionary comment aimed to provoke laughter. Perhaps one of those yellow face winky emoticons would clarify my intent. The internet is a wonder and a curse, from either viewpoint a lighthearted approach is essential.

        If you insist on talking about what we are talking about then i would say that Mark’s point is valid but hardly revolutionary. It can be applied across the board from art to confectionary, and I would agree in all cases

        Let’s not get too serious, this is real life after all

      • joe

        ….what?

  • Bob

    I appreciate the argument, but cannot entirely agree. A great example (outside of animation) would be the Indiana Jones films. The goal there was to imitate something from the past, and they were hardly an artistic dead end. Ditto Shakespeare, who updated older stories and infused them with his own language.

    I think the more cogent argument would be: if you are imitating (or adapting or revinventing) you could do it well or poorly. Much like everything else in art.

    • Neil Emmett

      I think there’s an interesting distinction to be made here: in both the cases you named, the originals weren’t that good. Indiana Jones was inspired by those old Saturday morning cliffhanger serials, which were incredibly crude; Spielberg took their basic charms and added glossier prouction values and a more assuredly tongue-in-cheek tone, while Shakespeare took the dry narratives of Holinshed’s chronicles and added new levels of psychological depth. This 2005 Tom & Jerry cartoon here is something rather different – an out-and-out attempt to imitate the original Tom & Jerry cartoons, nothing more or less.

      Bit of a paradox in the end: the better the original, the less potential in the revival…

  • spur

    If only Amid and Mayerson would combine their critical powers and create a handbook for animators on what exactly we should be spending our time making! That way, nobody’s time is ever wasted!

    • david

      Because the reason why i got into animation and cartoons is because I wanted to make short animated films for Amid and Mark. And if I don’t have their validation or approval I might as well go crawl in a hole and die. There is no other reason to draw than to have my short film featured on this site and have it top off at 10,000 views.

      I better get to work. I am wasting time writing this comment.

      • joe

        david, I’m pretty sure spur was being sarcastic….

      • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ Mick

        Joe, I’m pretty sure david was being sarcastic….

  • http://altrokradio.com Sean Carolan

    So, relative to this, what might one say about the 2007 Goofy theatrical short, “How To Hook Up Your Home Theater”?

    Personally, I laughed out loud…but I think it also proves the point, because while there were many anachronic touches, they didn’t cloud the fact that it was of its (2007) time and place nonetheless.

  • Rajesh

    The way the conclusion is reached is based upon a handful of cartoons created as “one shots” and the conclusion drawn from them is far too overreaching based upon those examples. Unlike those glorified past cartoons, the creative teams never had a second chance beyond that one shot.

    If we were to judge these cartoons (Tom and Jerry, Winnie the Pooh, etc) against their predecessors first attempts, it’d be a more fair comparison.

    Chuck Jones first cartoons sucked. As did some Bob Clampett and Tex Avery Cartoons. And for all the love rubber hose cartoons get, some of them are god awful.

    And even the best cartoons from the 30s, 40s, and 50s have flaws and aren’t perfect. I remember you criticizing most classic Disney shorts for not being entertaining just the other day.

    While I agree with the premise that “you can’t go home again”, it’s because every product is a result of its contemporary influences and limititations/freedoms. The Tom and Jerry short exemplified shows that clearly with the title (“karate”), reference to ghostly senseis (a la Star Wars), animation techniques on the dog, and use of digital tools.

    That inclusion of those elements don’t make it a bad cartoon. It’s the lack of second and third chances that prevent those creative teams from reaching their own stride as well as, as Mayerson pointed out, the constant comparison to the past.

    But Ren and Stimpy was constantly compared to past cartoons as well. Critics are never satisfied. And artists are our own worst critics.

    While most creators, know intuitively they’ll never create a perfect imitation, I’d argue they’re not trying to. Paying homage to your influences is only natural. But creative teams must be given the chance to look at their product critically as well as a chance to improve upon it if we’re to have any growth in animation, be it classic 2D properties, or original concepts. It’s called a “body of work” for a reason.

    • Rick R.

      Well said, Rajesh, and I would add there’s another factor.

      90% of everything is crap, or so the adage does. But if you make lots of it, the odds of you making something good and memorable increase dramatically.

      I see this all over in entertainment. Used to be the studios produced 104 movies a year, give or take. It was an ‘A’ picture, a ‘B’ picture every week. And a cartoon to go in front of them. Dunno they managed every single week, but the output was definitely much higher than now. Even in the 80s and 90s, studios did at least 20 pictures a year. Now it’s more like 13 I believe.

      TV shows? Gilligan’s Island did 99 shows in three years. It now takes five to reach that point, because shows get mostly 22 episode orders.

      It’s exactly what you are saying: Make less stuff, you have fewer chances to get it right and polish your craft.

  • Rajesh

    Upon further reflection, the most perfect imitation, paradoxically, would not look like an imitation at all. It would rely on imitating principles (contemporary music, solid but modern drawing styles, lively expressionistic drawings and acting, modern graphical representations of emotions, contemporary references and gags, etc), not surface details and conventions from 70+ years ago.

  • w

    “We need people who can find new ways of doing things!”

    We just need to find people willing to foot the bill.

    • John A

      Agreed. Outside of Disney, none of the greats were writing their own paychecks.

      • NC

        … well outside of animation Steve Jobs and Wozniack were paying their own checks. The truth of the matter is people are to scared to do stuff for free because they fear that it they will have ended up wasting their time. The GREATS did stuff without being paid to do it and in the end found a way to live off what they do. By this digresses from the original topic.

      • John A

        The GREATS did stuff without being paid to do it??? That’s nonsense! They were employed by a studio, it was their job, they got a paycheck.They had schedules, they had deadlines, they filled out time cards. Even the stuff they did for the Dept. of Defense, they were paid. A lot of them learned their craft while on the job. This doesn’t happen anymore.

      • NC

        Ok.. then give me a better example then Jobs and Wozniack. Clearly you aren’t aware of the basic Laaw of Increasing Returns “Do more than what you are paid to do and you will reap more than what you produce.” Basic business, problem is no one else does it. It’s this sort of lazy attitude that separates the ok with the great.

      • John A

        NC, I don’t think you’re getting it. Look up at the original comment—”We need to find people willing to foot the bill”

        Of course, people should strive to do remarkable work all the time, but it still costs money. Now you , you might be independantly wealthy and able to finance a feature on your own dime, but as I was trying to point out, for most people, even the people that animated some of the best cartoons of the past 70 years didn’t have that luxury, they did their best work while they were working for someone else. and in most cases that someone else was a producer, a private financier, or a studio.

        I don’t know why you chose to pull Jobs and Wozniack into the argument, i was refering to the output of actual animators.

  • Optimist

    I completely agree with Mayerson’s assertion. But is he cautioning artists? Because in 99.9% of the cases of what he describes-from TV shows to features-it’s absolutely not something that’s stemming from an artist’s vision or prerogative. It’s something that comes the people and companies who commission the work: huge corporations and others who want to exploit existing, well-known properties. It doesn’t matter if it’s Bugs Bunny from the 50s, He-Man from the 80s or a Disney feature from 1937, the goal’s the same: make maximum money from name recognition and take no risks.

    No one’s going to change the minds of the people who call the shots. I think most artists agree with the sentiment already, and would happily never touch Bugs Bunny if they could help it. But making a living drawing is what it is (in California, where most of it’s done at least), and I’m sure they try to make them as good as they possibly can, for what it’s worth.

  • Hulk

    This is an interesting discussion. I’m glad we’re having it here. Personally, I got in to animation because of those old shorts and not because of the stuff that came later. I loved Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy, the Silly Symphonies and classic Mickey’s. The stuff I loved watching the most were the cartoons from the late 30′s to the late 40′s. People often say what great designs were done in the 50′s and I agree but I feel an overlooked design and animation sensibility happened before. Some of my favorite character design and animation ever done were in “Johnny Appleseed”, “Pecos Bill”, “Der Fuhrer’s face” and “WIllie the Operatic Whale” to name a few.

    I think the art form’s growth was stunted in the 50′s by the death of theatrical shorts and the advent of limited animation. Those of us who love those old shorts want to pick up where they left off, and move the art form forward from there to continue its growth. John K. tried to do that with Ren and Stimpy, and pretty much everything else he’s done since. I can see why there aren’t as many people also doing it because John K. seems to have had a difficult go of it since the early 90′s.

    Still, we should also remember that in any art form, things are cyclical. When Ren and Stimpy was 1st popular, every show copied it. This classic style may very well come back in a real way that moves the art form forward. I know people keep trying. One of them just has to have a breakthrough.

  • fred ferdman

    But it’s ok when John K does it.

    • joe

      John’s art style isn’t new, with influences ranging from The Three Stooges to early HB cartoons, and neither are the titular characters of Ren and Stimpy, but I’d say that it’s better than that Tom and Jerry short for the fact that it was trying to progress cartoons rather than live in the past. And that’s exactly what Ren and Stimpy did, like it or not. Spumco wanted to make new, good character based cartoons, with the combination of multiple influences and styles rather than one specific Bob Clampett short or UPA cartoon.

      I’d rather see stuff like that than living from the past.

      • SJ

        Perhaps thats why his own creations are more successful than his re-creations (Beany and Cecil, Yogi Bear). John’s animation style (a clever conglomeration of past influences) works better with original characters instead of ones from the past.

      • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

        I thought Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures worked well artistically, but then, John K. and Ralph Bakshi had a team of talented people behind him. It also helped that Terrytoons didn’t have the reputation of, say, Beany & Cecil or late 1950s/early 1960s Hanna-Barbera.

      • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

        Yeah. John K. has said the same Mayerson says a couple of times, that it’s better to use new characters instead of recreating the classics. When he makes Ren and Stimpy or his other characters he follows his own advice. He uses the knowledge of classic cartoons to make contemporary characters with a different spirit.

        However he has also made remakes of Mighty Mouse and Hanna Barbera classics. He usually explains that H-B had more ‘cartoony’ potential and that he wouldn’t recreate Looney Tunes cause you can’t top Bob Clampett. I think his H-B cartoons are just ok, but I see them as one shot parodies, sort of a “Mad Magazine” spoof of the originals, with a more adult tone. I wouldn’t probably like a whole series with that orientation and I’m sure a few people see them as a sacrilege as big as any other cartoon revival and wouldn’t blame them for that.

        Also I really doubt that John K would decline if they’d offer him to do something with Looney Tunes.

  • http://jadering.blogspot.com Jordan Scott

    It’s still not necessary, but if only classic animation and appreciation of it were everywhere – in cinemas outside of animation festivals, on TV and in the public eye and conciousness and better treated on home video, instead of locked up in both literal and metaphorical vaults. It can’t help regarding this that most of the audience are so ignorant as to not recognise such clichés as such when they see them.

    As things stand, I admit to joy at the prospect of a new film I’ll be able to see in selections of the current crop seemingly in homage to Ivan Ivanov-Vano’s Battle of Kerzhenets, for example, as I’ve no prospect of seeing anything better than an old badly interlaced and non-anamorphic DVD of the original.

    • Iritscen

      Don’t take this the wrong way, J.S., but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a comment that was so grammatical and yet so hard to parse :-)

      I think I get your gist, though I would argue that people don’t need to know the old stuff in order to appreciate (or depreciate) the new stuff that might imitate it. Quality work, from people who understand the principles they’re employing, stands on its own, regardless of whether it borrows from old work and regardless of whether the audience recognizes the principles being borrowed.

  • joe

    I agree fully. That’s the reason I didn’t like Animaniacs or Tiny Toons when they first premiered a couple of years ago, they feel like fake cartoons to me. Blind immatations, right from the character designs to the terrible orchestration! I think that’s the incorrect way to be influenced by old cartoons.

    Unlike Ren and Stimpy and Dexter’s Lab, which had the same influences as Animaniacs and Tiny Toons, but created entirely new characters, gags and stories to go along with the influence.

    • whippersnapper

      “when they first premiered a couple of years ago”…For the record it’s been about 20 years. Heck, Tiny Toons has been around longer than I’ve been alive. And say what you want about the style and animation of TT and Animaniacs, but the writing and music were great.

      • joe

        Eek! Twenty years? Sorry, sometimes I forget how old these shows are. It feels like they happened so recently.

  • Scarabim

    The Muppets are attempting to do the same thing – recreate the past, for a world that’s moved on. Which is why I’m avoiding that movie like the plague.

    • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

      I completely disagree. The movie can be good or bad (I think it looks great so far), but precisely The Muppets is an entire different story. I think you can make them feel exactly the same, cause there is not animation involved and the characters are physical and can look like they look in those days.

      Maybe it’s me but I enjoyed Muppets Tonight as much as I enjoyed the original Muppets Show. And in certain episodes I enjoyed it even more.

    • wever

      So… you are exemplifying the world IN THE FILM that has moved on?

      Clever trick, the writers pulled.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I both agree and disagree. Yeah, that Tom and Jerry cartoon isn’t exactly like the originals, and it’s worse than them. But it’s still pretty good as it were most Brandt/Cervone efforts with Tom and Jerry. They’re doing too many movies now but I thought it was interesting to see the Nutcracker one, just to know how they would work in a long feature.

    Duck Dodgers series were entertaining even though it wasn’t a classic.

    I actually don’t mind if they try and do something good and entertaining. Does it really mind that much if it’s not exactly like the original? I mean, this Tom and Jerry short is still much better than the ones done by Gen Deitch and probably better than some of those by Chuck Jones.

    So I generally agree that you can’t duplicate these things or made them exactly the same, both because of the change of production methods, the change of times and influences, and the difference of the people involved, but you can still do a decent job, and a good job is good, no matter which characters are you using. Should they have put those efforts on doing a cartoon with new characters? Probably. But maybe if they weren’t recreating a classic they would have put less effort. Sometimes the guys doing these revivals don’t understand anything about what made the cartoons great or they don’t care. Other times they understand it and even though it’s not possible to do it exactly the same, they still can make something entertaining for those who love the characters and have already seen the original shorts too many times.

    I don’t see that as such a bad thing. Don Rosa started drawing Scrooge McDuck stories cause he loved Carl Barks’ work. He did an awesome job at it. He could have created his own characters, but maybe he didn’t want to. He liked these duck characters and that’s why he got into drawing comic books at all. His stories are different to those of Carl Barks’ , of course, but they are really good on their own right.

  • http://www.toonocity.com fremgen

    One big thing not mentioned about this is, the ‘original’ cartoons were made but animators working in one studio, who often timed their own scenes. These new cartoons are created by planners in American and animators in another country. As good as they may all get, they will never be as good as a one team studio.

    Now does this mean cut them a break? Or they should just stop trying. Not sure. I like sequels and new shows of ‘old friends’- but if they aren’t good, I’m not watching them.

    • John A

      I think it’s a good argument to bring production back under one roof. Maybe that roof needs to be somewhere outside of Hollywood, where the cost of living is cheaper, but with all the new digital innovations making production faster and cheaper, it makes more sense to bring American style animation HOME.

  • uncle wayne

    I think that these are as abominable as “The Andy Griffith Show” (starring Ken Berry), or “You Bet Your Life” (but with Bill Cosby!) Don’t fix what ain’t broke! Duhh!! (Plus i think it’s a damn sin that people think it’s a sin to view 40, & 50 (& even 60) year old films!! Hello!??????

  • uncle wayne

    I think that these are as abominable as “The Andy Griffith Show” (starring Ken Berry), or “You Bet Your Life” (but with Bill Cosby!) Don’t fix what ain’t broke! Duhh!! (Plus i think it’s a damn sin that people think it’s a sin to view 40, & 50 (& even 60) year old films!! Hello!??????

  • http://www.lawrencejackson.com/ Law

    innovation = usually good
    imitation = usually bad

  • dbenson

    The time and place thing needs to be expanded upon. It’s more than a matter of wartime humor or a fortuitous gathering of talents.

    The shorts at Warners and MGM thrived when they had sufficient (but not lavish) resources, limited adult supervision, and a very special outlet: curtain-raisers for films in theaters with mixed-age audiences.

    There was a sense they were doing disposable work, so there was minimal concern over the long-term prospects of any one cartoon so long as it cleared a profit on first release (almost certain when it was simply part of a package). Disney was the big exception in realizing a bigger investment could pay long-term dividends, not only in re-releases but in building towards features. Hence the lavish productions with non-risky gags.

    Now, any studio short is an event (witness the Pixars and the three Roger Rabbits). What once was product knocked out by a small unit, experimenting and plussing for their own enjoyment, is now a major project for everybody involved. Executives get involved. Imagine a production blog and website for “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery”.

    What we need are mass outlets for the indies and others who are doing the really interesting stuff. You’d think some cable channels would schedule a regular hour or half-hour (Cartoon Network actually had a Canadian Film Board series, but it slipped away).

  • eeteed

    Mark Mayerson said “…While artists often wish to duplicate what they love, they can only approximate it. Paradoxically, the closer they get to it, the more they’ve succeeded in doing nothing more than an good imitation…”

    naw. sometimes the student exceeds his master.

    dave stevens’ rocketeer, for example.

    bruce timm’s avengers 1 1/2, for another.

  • http://www.toonradio.com Robert

    It doesn’t happen often, but successful remakes exist. How about these examples: ThunderCats, Voltron, Transformers, G. I. Joe, and My Little Pony, among others. There might be a reason properties like these can do it, and others such as Tex Avery’s stuff can’t, and it maybe in how the remakes are made.

  • Jeffy Lube

    All I can say is keep imitating until you find your own voice. Chuck Jones was imitating Disney until he found his style. McKimson used to work for Disney and did his own thing. The old guys had a regular gig and honed their craft. I bet some even had those legendary things called pensions. The modern day downsized animator doesn’t have such a luxuries.

    Nowadays, you’re on your own. So, you might as well do something original. The big organizations want a known property with a built in audience. All you artists out there create something independent and regurgitate the old classics for The Man to pay the bills. Then maybe someday your new thing will be rehashed by someone else.

    In the past, animation creators put liens on their homes to make a film. We can at least rev up the computer and make something together. The soap box has been put away.

  • Gerard de Souza

    I’ve just watched the cited T&J cartoon at work with the sound off and I don’t know what the problem is; it’s amazing and bang-on!
    There’s just no pleasing us, is there?
    It’s probably the best T&J in almost 60 years.
    Of all the bad incarnations out there, this one is made an example?

    I can be pretty forgiving with revivals and reboots but the thing I tend to look for first besides acheiving the animation quality, timing, directing and etc is are the characters true to their personalities? I would say character design falls second. I didn’t see T&J with hyper-attitude and muscles. The rest of the stuff I can forgive becasue the originators are all dead.

    But I would say this T&J is almost flawless.

    And as long as these old characters are owned by corporations, the corporations will want to exploit them and will need someone to animate them. They’re not about to let them die as long as they can sell products around the world and be a source of revenue. That’s the way it’s always been since Walt put Mickey on Post Toasties.

    And who of us if offered the chance to animate our favorites, which is like an animator working with old stars, would say, “Nope. Against my religion. We can never go back!”?

    Riiiiight.

    • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

      My only gripes with this Tom and Jerry cartoon are the premise (not very original, derivative of other Tom and Jerry cartoons, just making Spike a “Kung Fu” guard instead of just a bodyguard) and the designs of the sensei ghost, who doesn’t look like a Tom and Jerry design.

      There are other Spike Brandt/Tony Cervone shorts in Tom and Jerry Tales that I like more cause their premise is more original, though this one has more production values and looks closer to the originals at certain points.

      While I agree with some things Mayerson says I can’t understand some of the comments. So Jerry makes a ‘Chuck Jones’ face at a certain point. And certainly he wouldn’t do that in a HB short. So what? It’s still a well drawn expression. They are imitating the old style but I don’t mind if they add new expressions or a kinda different drawing style (there are subtle differences in the way Tom and Jerry are drawn in all the Brandt and Cervone shorts and the way they were in the H-B shorts, but they were also changing all the time in the old days).

      Of course if some design seems too different in style like the old sensei here, that’s gonna look weird, but the fact that they include some different facial expressions doesn’t make the cartoon any less entertaining or badly drawn. If you watch it with the attitude of nitpicking everything that’s different then you’d find differences. But some of those differences are good. I like one episode from Tom and Jerry Tales cause Tom and Jerry appear with Droopy and a Tex Avery caricature. That would have never happened in the originals, but it’s cool to watch it, especially if the cartoon is well drawn, contains good gags and the personalities of the characters are well reflected, like it happens in that one.

  • Gray64

    While on the whole I must say that I agree, if you limited creative output in any medium to only those who have something original to say, the VAST majority of creative art would go away. I believe it was one of the founders of Gainax who once said “It’s better to be good than to be original,” and there is, perhaps, something to that.
    It is perhaps important to remember that most of those “Golden Age” animators weren’t trying to push any envelopes, they were trying to do what they felt was good work that made people (or at least themselves) laugh. It’s just a shame that so few production houses will let their people just run loose and do their thing in the way that produced all those great works whose magic they’re trying to recapture.

  • Steve Ramírez

    Hey Amid ,lets see you animnate an extreme take, I bet you couldn’t do it.Youre the eunuch at the orgy.

    • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

      A moronic thing to say as a comment. Amid is an art historian, not an animator. Can you “animated an extreme take” successfully? And who cares? That has nothing to do with the excellent review that Mark Mayerson wrote of a second-rate shallow imitation Tom & Jerry.

    • joe

      And what would that prove?

  • Steve Ramírez

    I agree with what Mayerson said, the comment doesn’t have to do with that.

  • Snagglepuss

    So does this mean Gennedy Tarkatovsky animes can stop being compared to rotoscoped Betty Boops?

    • joe

      That has nothing do to with what Amid’s talking about, but yeah, that comparison was unfair (and kinda creepy).

      However, that doesn’t mean that classic animation and modern animation shouldn’t be compared. The thought that we can’t match the quality of the classics in the modern day just because they’re the classics is just what’s keeping us from doing great work. If animation was able to evolve so elegantly from the 1920′s to the 1950′s, who’s to say that in a couple of years that we can’t come back to that quality if the networks let the artists be artists and fix the broken system?

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

    Which begs to ask… do we really need to replicate the Looney Tunes to a modern day version??!

    • Gray64

      Well, to be fair, no one is really replicating the Looney Tunes to a modern audience. Warner Bros. is using the characters in an animated sitcom, which is really vastly different from the iterations of those characters as they appeared in the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts. I’ll admit, that’s somewhat akin to taking the characters from Gilligan’s Island and doing a police procedural with them, but it’s not really imitation so much as, well, exploitation really.

      • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

        Imitation, exploitation… what’s the difference?

        I don’t really want the old Looney Tunes drawn up again in a modern way in WHATEVER capacity (*sitcom OR cartoon shorts) It’s like butchering good art.

        But that’s just me ;)

      • Bassett

        If Warner Bros. had a theme park chain or other outlets with which to exploit the original Looney Tunes without having to make new films or TV cartoons, I am sure they would do that. Aside from scattered shorts and the “House of Mouse” show, Mickey and Donald have had very little new content over the last 20 years. Goofy got a bit more, but not a great deal. Disney concentrates more on developing new content, and even during the direct-to-video days, they were more interested in rehashing princess films and more recent movies from the 90s than they were the Disney Trinity.

        Warner’s doesn’t have as many channels to promote the Looney Tunes as icons/idols without making new content involving them. Disney doesn’t need to do more Mickey or Donald shorts because they are established as icons. Warner’s tries to do the same with Looney Tunes clothing, toys and other merch, but it’s nowhere near the scale of Disney.

        Since Warners seems less interested in creating entirely new franchises than they do rehashing Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes and other H-B classics, we get “The Looney Tunes Show” rather than the next Powerpuff Girls or more ambitious stuff like Symbionic Titan. At least when Hanna-Barbera was its own studio, they occasionally created a new classic just because of the sheer volume of new shows & characters constantly being launched.

    • Manny

      Well, you can. Just don’t give it to modernists who want to be artsy and escapistic. Basic lunacy has never been artsy and escapistic. It’s provocatively simple and mundane. It’s a here&now mindset that has been banned from mainstream media since the mid-60′s.

      • GW

        Often it’s these very people dismissed as being artsy who are less interested in escapism. The Hubleys are a blatant counterexample.

      • Manny

        Well, being artsy is already a big leap towards escapism. Surrealism is already pretty artsy and when you add Romanticism to it, Disney style, it becomes the pure embodiment of escapism.

      • GW

        I should have mentioned this in my last comment. I also disagree with the idea that escapism prohibits the possibility of lunacy. Ward Kimball’s alien life segments of Mars and Beyond should be proof of that.

      • Manny

        Well, if I put it this way.

        Lunacy (Warner) is the result of actual thoughts put into real action and the logical conclusions that follows. Often relatable and somewhat uncomfortable.

        Escapism (Disney) is the result of extensive dreaming to something more and unpredictable. Often utopian and comforting up to a certain point.

        What Warner needs to do now, is to rediscover psychoanalysis to be back on track.

        Disney needs to be rural and simple again. Dreams thrives better that way.

  • Manny

    Well, we can’t imitate too much. Like architecture, there’s always pastisches. Good pastisches always lays on a very stable and thick ground based on the old ones and then, new ideas, styles etc. can be built upon.
    But modernists seem to forget the base and just asume that they have one when they really don’t have one.

    “The Looney Tunes Show” lays on a very thin unstable ground where every “new” idea laid upon seems to break the whole house apart instantly.

    “Pink Panther and Pals” however lays on a very thick stable ground where even the zaniest idea doesn’t even break a nail.

  • Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    T&J Tales is great! If it’s not as violent as the original that doesn’t bother me one bit!

  • http://drunkduck.com/anecdote Marbles

    I understand Mayerson’s point, but to me it’s too hard-line. Personally I love it when old characters are given new leases on life. The problem is, of course, that the majority of the time it’s not done very well. Sometimes it’s even done so terribly that you wonder if the filmmakers were even familiar with the source material at all. But there have been “comebacks” that were good, and even some that were great. (“Mickey’s Christmas Carol” is one that I would describe as being the latter, even though of course it’s hardly “new” anymore, and while the 1990s Looney Tunes theatricals were uneven, some I thought were terrific.)

  • BApe

    Like everybody said, the humor are sometimes too fast or unpunctual to understand.

    Even not wacky enough and the animation is too symmetric.

    Typical for Warner Bros animators, today everything animated by them are balanced even the slapstick cartoons.

    Can I ask something, are most of them animated by overseas Studios?