John Hubley’s Navy Films

INSIDE MORGAN'S HEAD model sheet

After posts about Flora, Blair and Kimball, how could I resist posting about another cartoon design genius, John Hubley (1914-1977), the director of ROOTY TOOT TOOT, MOONBIRD and the main creator of Mr. Magoo. These are model drawings he drew for a 1945 UPA training film for the US Navy called INSIDE MORGAN’S HEAD (click on images for larger versions). I’ve never seen the film and have no idea whether it even exists anymore, but I love the fluid, loose quality of these drawings: the character’s pursed lips, his ridiculous frantic wing-like hands, the foot wrapping itself around the other foot – pure, crazy, inventive drawing that looks deceptively simple.

Hubley was involved with well over a dozen Navy training films during the mid-’40s (as both designer and director) and he made the most of this opportunity, experimenting liberally with styles and techniques. The model sheets for another Navy film he directed, IDLING MIXTURE CHECK, have very Robert Osborn-ish characters. And FLAT HATTING is a classic of stylized animation – a film that was conceived as something of an “animated lithograph” according to Hubley’s co-director on the film, Bill Hurtz. A handful of the films – like FLAT HATTING – still exist, but sadly, most of them were probably lost long ago.

INSIDE MORGAN'S HEAD model sheet