Wednesday Morning Inspiration: Bill Hurtz/Bob Dranko

Look Who's Driving

I love these images from the UPA industrial film LOOK WHO’S DRIVING (1954). The design is spare, yet artful. More importantly, it’s a lot of fun to look at. There’s an easy-going quality to the design which one rarely finds in designed animation nowadays. The shapes and colors are inviting and none of the visual elements feel forced or contrived. The film doesn’t employ this white-background technique for its entire length, but there is terrific design and layout throughout, and the added bonus is that it moves beautifully too. The film’s design credit went to Bob Dranko, with color styling by Dranko and Michi Kataoka, and direction by Bill Hurtz. (Judging from the way Hurtz worked on other films, he likely collaborated with Dranko on the layout and overall visual direction of this film.) Hurtz was also one of the designers on GERALD MCBOING BOING (1950), the quintessential example of a UPA film that reduced its backgrounds to the bare essentials. LOOK WHO’S DRIVING perhaps doesn’t reach the classic status of GERALD — it is, after all, a driving safety film commissioned by Aetna Casualty and Surety Company — but it is no less entertaining and has much to recommend. Unfortunately, it’s also quite impossible to see nowadays, unless you happen to own a print of the film. Documenting obscure animated projects from the 1950s, like LOOK WHO’S DRIVING, was one of the goals for my upcoming book on 1950s animation design. So many stellar cartoons from that period are all but forgotten today, and I’m hopeful this book will play a small role in reintroducing some of the great “lost” cartoons of that era.

Look Who's Driving

Look Who's Driving