John K. on Rocky & Bullwinkle

Rocky and Bullwinkle

John Kricfalusi has posted a fascinating visual analysis of the early episodes of Rocky & Bullwinkle. If there’s one bit of advice that contemporary animation producers could take away from his post, it’s this bit of wisdom:

“If you gotta do limited animation, use great drawings I always say. They don’t cost that much. Just hire real designers and don’t step on them.”

In other words, even if you’re working on a limited budget, there’s no reason a piece of animation should ever look this incompetently designed or atrociously drawn.

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  • http://educatedmetalhead.blogspot.com/ DanO

    great post.

  • Joe Horne

    it would do well to pay attention to this…..

  • uffler mustek

    Wow, you totally slammed Phineas and Ferb.

    Such anger.

  • http://thad-k.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    What a great follow-up to Roger Ramjet.
    Next Underdog.
    Then back to Clampett.

  • http://potulentpalaver.blogspot.com/ Kent Butterworth

    Amid – That Disney show is NOT limited animation – It took a LOT of drawings to make it look that good!

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

    As well we all well KNOW this season of oh-my-Gawd poses & looks! It’s like looking at the ’58 Yogi to the ’61 Yogis. Tooootally different!

    And, by-the-way, that site is THE bees’ knees! Great for people to love, study, and/or collect the stills! Beautiful!

  • http://www.octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    It’s true, Rocky & Bullwinkle have a hilarious design. Nowadays’ cartoons are made specifically to be dumb and simple enough to attract all ages and IQs.

    Phineas & Ferb…..Ewwwwwwwwwww.

  • Inkan1969

    I’ve grown to really like “Phineas and Ferb”,…but for reasons other than the art.

    Having seen several episodes, I’ve noticed that the characters have been evolving beyond the premises they started out with ( The sister, Candace, doesn’t get as upset about P&F’s schemes as she once did, and has been getting some benefit from them even. The show’s main villain’s evil plans have gotten more personal, and he now has a family to deal with. ) So I want to see what happens with these characters. The show consists of two plotlines, but each plotline has been very neatly blended into the main plot. I’m impressed then with the characterization and the plotting of this show.

    But I was initially sour on this show because of the drab character design. Very blandly designed characters consisting of just geometric shapes thrown together. A bit like “Family Guy”. The animation looks the same as in most outsourced TV shows. But that means that characters move lifelessly, with little sense of weight or ability to act beyond dialogue. I really miss the much more expressive art of “Kim Possible”.

    Most of the time I find “Phineas and Ferb” a very funny series. But I also think that it could be a LOT funnier if only it was done using more original and imaginative art.

  • Cigs

    funny, I remember several months back when John was talking about Roger Ramjet, he mentioned not liking anything Jay Ward did. I’m confused.

  • Some Guy

    I was genuinely surprised and delighted by this post, I was under the impression that he disliked Rocky.

    I also love how he’s criticized for liking Roger even though before he was criticized for ONLY liking Clampett. Next he’ll be criticized for liking Gorillaz and being TOO open minded. Yeesh.

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

    John pointed out what I’ve said all along. Rocky and Bullwinkle is the reason I got into animation. Funnny drawings and fun stories – his post and the Kidman stuff has really got my fire going.

  • Danny R Santos

    I remember working in a particular studio where my boss had asked me to design the characters a little less appealing, his reason for this was that when they would recieve the design over seas that they wouldn’t be able to draw as well.

  • http://Incoherent-thought.blogspot.com Vincent

    Cigs
    What he said was
    “When I was a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of Jay Ward cartoons, because they were slow and not drawn very funny. I liked the designs and the voices and always looked forward to a new one when it came out, but then was disappointed when I actually would see them.

    Rocky and Bullwinkle had great bumpers (Bill Hurtz) and misic and I loved those parts, but the cartoons bored me. Maybe they were too wordy, I don’t know. Fractured Fairy Tales had great stylish limited animation by some of Hollywood’s best animators, but the stories dragged for me.

    In the mid 60s I discovered Roger Ramjet. I thought it was Jay Ward at first because it superficially looks like it.

    But I was laughing when I saw it. Out loud, which is rare for cartoons-especially wordy ones. Usually with wordy cartoons, the intent is to make you feel smug and self satisfied that you got some obscure reference or joke, but you don’t really laugh out loud much, unlike how you do constantly at a Warner Bros. cartoon or live action comedy.”

  • Andrew

    The first time I saw Phineas and Herb in a static magazine ad, I thought the show was animated in FLASH.

    *shakes head*

  • http://www.myspace.com/brandontoons Brandon Pierce

    Danny R: Oh, so THAT’S why we get stuck with such shi**y cartoon designs nowadays. Bugger!

  • Dock Miles

    Here’s a quote from IMDB, which is consistent with the previous quote, if a bit more generous and just as ideological:

    >(“Was creator Jay Ward an inspiration to Kricfalusi?”): “I’ll let you in on a secret: I can’t stand Jay Ward. Well, I don’t hate Jay Ward. What I mean is, I hate being compared to Rocky and Bullwinkle. It’s just a different style of humor. In fact, I love the drawing style. I think it’s a compliment to me, though (being compared to Jay Ward), because what they really mean is it’s one of the few funny TV shows. There just haven’t been any, so of course they have to drag the odd one there was in. But you might as well say we were influenced by Roger Ramjet. It’s a totally different style.

  • http://thad-k.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    Dock-
    That’s interesting because Ren & Stimpy was certainly modeled after the old Rocky & Bullwinkle show. (Mr. Know-It-All = Dr. Stupid, fake ads, et. al.).

  • Mr. Semaj

    Judging from his previous posts about UPA pieces (mostly those from Rod Scribner), it’s not TOO surprising if John K. likes Jay Ward (or at most, the early Rocky & Bullwinkles).

    Also: Fractured Fairy Tales = Stimpy’s Storybook Land

  • Asymetrical

    Nothing John K did is original which is kinda what’s so funny about him getting angry when people copy his style. John K’s style is HB+WB+Milton Gross+ Jay Ward. Granted he combined them all into something awesome but nothng in it was inherently new. And having just finished watching The Ripping Friends DVDs I got off eBay I don’t think John should be saying much about what’s good and what’s bad. Ewwwww. Talk about crappy drawings and animation! Yikes! At least Phineas and Ferb is inbetweened well.

  • Danny R Santos

    I need to say something about John Kracfalusi, this man should be considered as a phenom. He understood every corner of humor and took it to its extremities. I remember a scene in an episode of Ren & Stimpy where you have these monkey’s on a tree branch wailing their arms and beating their chest. A scene that could be considered simplistic, was in fact in all out the funniest takes. It all has to do with the situation of the story and exploring character performance.

  • dcuny

    As a kid, it bugged me how cheap the animation in Rocky and Bullwinkle was. Each scene looked like it was drawn as quickly as possible by a different artist. The seemingly random placement of Bullwinkle’s mouth was just bizarre.

    So I’m taking what John K. says with a grain of salt.

    I think it’s a great testament to the character design that they can be so off-model and still be so appealing.

    Of course, I didn’t actually let any of that interfere with the enjoyment of the cartoons, either then or now.

  • Adam

    Cartoon Brew is my favorite website, but does something John Kricfalusi posts on his blog really qualify as news?

  • Matthew

    I remember Matt Groening saying that when he first embarked on The Simpsons he was trying to find a suitable style of animation. Disney and WB styles were out of the question according to him because of budgets. He then thought of Bullwinkle which, although jerky and suffering from missing frames here and there, gave him an affordable and effective model to work from (I think he meant the quick, jerky action and the rapid cutting).

    I haven’t studied either series at close quarters for a long, long time so I’m not sure how similar the animation styles are beyond the quick pace. From a design point of view though I’d much rather Bullwinkle. It was in the same bag as Roger Ramjet and Fractured Fairytales for me as a child – eccentric logic and design and great fun to watch.

  • purin

    Phineas and Ferb… I’m not at the level of knowing so much about design that I hate absolutely everything and love what laymen might consider boring or unimpressive, but I’ve always thought something was wrong with the designs in those shows. I guess that’s a different level of bad.

    On the other hand, the show actually is pretty funny (or maybe it seems that way after all those Disney sitcoms I’ve been forced to witness). I agree with Inkan1969 that it does grow on you. Candace’s obsession with catching P&F doesn’t make sense and more often comes off as pathetic, and her love interest is just bland, but Agent P is where it’s at.

  • Stephen

    John K. mentions that some voices have been redubbed, but doesn’t specify – can anyone enlighten me?

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    And having just finished watching The Ripping Friends DVDs I got off eBay I don’t think John should be saying much about what’s good and what’s bad. Ewwwww. Talk about crappy drawings and animation!
    Well to be fair John K has done just that on his blog.

  • PCUnfunny

    Asymetrical:

    Your dead wrong about John K. being not original. Every artist copies off of other great artists to make something new. It’s just common sense. Also, Ripping Friends was sabotaged and was certaintly not by John.

  • Mr. Semaj

    “Candace’s obsession with catching P&F doesn’t make sense and more often comes off as pathetic, and her love interest is just bland,”

    Characters like Candace, unfortunately, has become a prerequisite for any Disney Channel program.

  • Kevin Martinez

    I really don’t see why we have to hold every comment John makes on early TV cartoons up on a golden pedistal. They’re highly interchangable and make almost the exact same points each time. Funny Drawings. Writing. Color. Rinse, Lather, Spit.We GET it, John.

    On the other hand, Colonel Bleep was apparently an influence on Ren and Stimpy, why not talk about that? or the Beany and Cecil Cartoon? or any of the crappy 80′s cartoons John wotked on.

  • PCUnfunny

    “They’re highly interchangable and make almost the exact same points each time.”

    He dosen’t just put a screen up and says “this has good acting”. He criticly analyzes the scene, big difference.

    “or any of the crappy 80’s cartoons John wotked on.”

    Do actually want hear about his work on Strawberry Shortcake or Laverne & Shirley in the Army ? That’s like asking a Vietnam veteran, “Can you elaborate on the POW camp you spent 6 years in ?”. Besides, he has explained how stupid the system was back then before. As for Beany and Cecil, he did a post on the stories he wrote for the show. Don’t forget his numerous Mighty Mouse posts.

  • http://animaencyclopedia.blogspot.com Martin Juneau

    Tough i already use to hate Rocky & Bullwinkle for the Art and character design but watching the movie realised me i could wrong. It’s why the series is brillant and very creative.

    Hmmm… About Phineas and Ferb! It needs to be improved a LOT.

  • Kevin Martinez

    I was referring to the original Beany and Cecil shows from the 60′s. Considering the high regard he holds everything Clampett in, it’s a shock that he hasn’t really posted anything about either the puppet show or the cartoon.

    And I don’t get why the 80′s cartoons shouldn’t be discussed in detail. If John doesn’t want history to repeat itself, wouldn’t thoroughly going over why they sucked (animation-wise mostly) be more beneficial and informative than him posting cartoon stills he googled for at random and expecting everyone to understand perfectly WHY they’re crappy?

  • PCUnfunny

    “I was referring to the original Beany and Cecil shows from the 60’s. Considering the high regard he holds everything Clampett in, it’s a shock that he hasn’t really posted anything about either the puppet show or the cartoon.”

    I think he has. I am not sure.

    “And I don’t get why the 80’s cartoons shouldn’t be discussed in detail. If John doesn’t want history to repeat itself, wouldn’t thoroughly going over why they sucked (animation-wise mostly) be more beneficial and informative than him posting cartoon stills he googled for at random and expecting everyone to understand perfectly WHY they’re crappy?”

    He has explained it million times already. I remember most notably about the “ten stories” rule. Basically, cartoons only have ten stories. For example “the evil twin, ” the value of sharing” etc. He has also explained the retarted system they used back then. No one interacted with anyone at any point for creative input or variety. Also writers who had poor grammatical skills would make horrible scripts for cartoons. There is a lot more but again, he’s already covered this subject. What he is focuses on mainly is what is more important, the value of good principles of animation.

  • The G Man

    I gotta say, that quote of his makes sense, especially when it comes to cartoons like this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVnnv9oY-1o

  • Kevin Martinez

    “John K. mentions that some voices have been redubbed, but doesn’t specify – can anyone enlighten me?”

    There are two instances, both involving William Conrad voices being overdubbed by someone else

    On the first couple of installments in the “Jet Fuel Formula” serial, the narration is redubbed by someone else doing a Conrad impersonation.

    On the opening titles the line “A loop, a whirl, a vertical climb, and once again you know it’s time for The Aventures of ROCKY AND BULLIWINKLE….. and friends” is actually Keith Scott redubbing a Conrad line, with the visuals doctored accordingly (the original presumably had Conrad saying Rocky and His Friends).

    Both are highly, distractingly noticably, and were apparently done for an overseas syndication package prepared around the time of the Universal movie.

  • G. L. Dryfoos

    “(the original presumably had Conrad saying Rocky and His Friends).”

    Indeed it did. I can still hear it:

    A loop, a whirl, a vertical climb
    And once again you know it’s time
    For Rocky [slight pause] and His Friends

    That went away when the show switched networks and became “The Bullwinkle Show”. I haven’t heard the original since I was a kid.

  • David Sadowski

    According to Keith Scott, the Rocky and His Friends pilot episode was done by UPA designers moonlighting for Jay Ward.