There are certain cartoons, studios and creators that are so universally beloved that to merely mention them in a blogpost insures a zillion hits. Last week I referred to them as 'The Usual Suspects' and although I appreciate them as much as anybody, as time goes by I find less and less to say about them that hasn't already been said, and often more astutely than I could say it.
Instead, here's a salute to a some cartoons that I feel are too often overlooked and under-appreciated; many are from the NFBC, aka the National Film Board of Canada. I was lucky enough to snap up a couple DVDs worth a dozen years or so ago, none of which seem to be widely available any more. Happily, YOU TUBE users step in to fill the gap and provide uploads of some of them.
First up is GET A JOB, by Brad Caslor. This came out around 1985, well before ROGER RABBIT, and it pays a sterling tribute to the golden age of LOONEY TUNES, (particularly Bob Clampett) with impeccable style, clever writing, and drop-dead perfect timing and posing. There's a segment around 6:20
where 'Bob Dog' more than triples in size and it is done with amazingly sophisticated camera work, layout and staging. The 'old-timey' homages are noticeable but lovingly done, and more than made up for with original ideas. Ostensibly an "educational" film, it makes its point with great humor, hectic energy and non-stop kinetic buoyancy. I love this cartoon.
Next is THE BIG SNIT (also mid-1980's), probably my favorite NFBC cartoon. Daft, unpredictable, dark and silly all at the same time, the Scrabble opening even inspired the opening scene of one of the first SIMPSONS (according to my recollection of Matt Greoning's commentary). I suspect the wife character's hairdo might have influenced Marge's coiffure, (though hers also suggests Dr. Seuss as well). Directed by Richard Condie.
SNIT's yelling couple put me in mind of HOT STUFF, by Zlatko Grgic, another "educational" short ostensibly about fire safety from the early 1970's. This one used to show on Chuck Jones' CURIOSTY SHOP (ABC Saturday Morning answer to SESAME STREET) and I met the author and voice star Don Aroli many years later when Chuck Jones was making CHARIOTS OF FUR. The timing and acting (both voice and animation) are quite funny without owing much of anything to previously made cartoons. That alone makes it worth watching. The embed code was disabled, so please copy & paste this link:
Cartoonists and animators in my age group will recall these films both fondly and readily, but I am surprised how many younger artists I meet have never heard of them. If you haven't--give them a look--it looks like they were done with a lot of talent and love.
UPDATE 2/22/11: YOWP directs us to the NFB online database, which has added many animated titles since I last visited a few years back--check it out for more Canadian wonders... (Thanks YOWP! and Amir...)