Friday, 30 March 2012

"War Dogs" Animator Breakdown

Hello folks; I've been busy with school work and will have little time to update the blog but I'll pop back once in a while if I have something interesting to write about. Since I've gotten into the kick of animator breakdown of Hanna-Barbera animators at MGM; I've become pretty good with the Tom and Jerry animator identifications and I feel that I ought to attempt to breakdown the 1943 cartoon "War Dogs".

War Dogs is a patriotic short directed by Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera and it was also their last cartoon made before directing nothing but Tom and Jerry cartoons up until 1958. The cartoon has dated gags here; it's an alright short but entertaining in some sequences. The dream of the dog attacking a Jap soldier was cut from television but luckily the uncut version exists on YouTube. The animator on this short in the screen credits are Kenneth Muse, Irven Spence, Pete Burness and Jack Zander, although Ray Patterson did minimum animation. Here's the breakdown:
0:31-1:29: Pete Burness
1:30-2:14: Ken Muse
2:15-3:03: Irv Spence
3:04-3:12: Jack Zander
3:13-3:35: Ken Muse
3:36-3:59: Pete Burness
4:07-4:58: Irv Spence
4:59-5:25: Jack Zander
5:26-6:20: Ken Muse
6:32-6:41: Ray Patterson (uncredited)
I'm still pretty uncertain with the scenes; such as the air plane sequence because I don't know if Spence did ALL of it; but it has Spence's rubbery mouth so it's obviously him. The tent sequence is likely to be Kenneth Muse with the on-modelness but it's hard to say since there's a lot of volume changing in the drawings. It appears to be that Jack Zander did little animation on the cartoon and the only scenes which I'm positive he worked on was the dog testing the new helmet; and the two dogs as messengers before the sequence starts - although I don't know if that's all he did but these were the only scenes I found that didn't look like Ken, Spence or Pete would work on; Zander was pretty rubbery as an animator so I found them.
Pete Burness' animation in that short at the very beginning is pretty good stuff although it's roughly almost one minute of animation which is roughly 90 feet of animated footage. This must've taken him at least a month to have worked on that scene since the footage rota for MGM animators was 25 feet a week. Pete Burness had the knack of drawing characters that would bounce with weird poses; he tend to draw mouths with no edge parts attached together - this probably doesn't sound clear but see for yourself. He did a funny scene too with the dog on the novelty air plane. His poses weren't very snappy but was a fine animator with the movement.
Kenneth Muse did the most animation in the short although mind you; he was Hanna-Barbera's favourite animator at that time so don't expect less animation. He did a great scene of the line of dogs with the general ordering the dog to do these random positions; as well as the tent scenes; and the tank scenes. He is the most on-model animator; his animation is more meticulous than the other animators; and probably the most Disney-looking of them. He's one of the fancier looking animators as well as being the most productive. Greg Duffell told me how that Kenneth Muse would use to animate all the time; and even at the beach. He drew mouths in an off-model way and drew teeth grins rather snappy.
Irven Spence is of course a great animator in terms of timing, movement and comedy. He never focused on how the character should look and didn't intend to bother. He drew very funny drawings for his animated scenes which looks a delight once it's seen on the screen. He wasn't a straight ahead animator; he always planned out his scenes carefully which makes him a great animator. He got a fair bit of animation in this short including that one whole shot of the dog and the slide show presentation. The scene where he rips off the paper finding a picture of Hitler is just priceless since it feels just like looking at Spence drawing random poses and placing them in the scene. The airplane sequence was hard to figure out but it has his rubbery mouth and loose movement which is also a pretty funny scene. I like how he drew the dog in this short with it's tongue sticking out; he really gave the dog a "REAL" dog personality with its tongue sticking out and behaving like a dopey dog.
Jack Zander was another rubbery animator who we used to think did the cute, curvy baby looking scenes in the early Tom and Jerries but it turned out to be George Gordon. His work is small work but I imagine this was because of Zander left MGM Studios while this short was still in production and also did minimum animation in 'Yankee Doodle Mouse' which probably resulted to why he didn't do as much. His animation was pretty good at MGM with some pretty good loose stuff.
The last animator here of course is Ray Patterson but he is of course uncredited. He only did those minimum scenes of the dog inside the kennel and nothing else. I imagine that his was his FIRST scene he did with Hanna-Barbera when he arrived at MGM in 1942/43 when this cartoon was probably still in production finishing up with animation and Ray was just given (probably) a leftover scene or maybe the scene was animated by somebody else and was called to redo it; who knows? His first screen credit for Hanna-Barbera was on 'Baby Puss' where he got a fair part of animation. Ray Patterson in MGM apears to be the type of animator that focuses on drawing. He draws lots of details on the characters with wrinkles coming out on parts of the body; like the mouth, ears, etc. He would draw mouths on thee side of the character's cheeks in dialogue and draw them in a gummy way; he drew pouty faces, too. He's probably the type of animator that would go through the action of  the scene but redo it again to make it pretty. He has a neat style although his drawings and scenes are more suitable for acting and dialogue scenes which he was great at.
I'm afraid I'm going to leave that until now but I hope you've enjoyed the commentary I've put together and I hope to post soon but I guarantee it will be a while.


joecab said...

This is great, thanks! Spotting animtor's styles on H-B's TV cartoons is easy but I'm still trying to do it reliably on MGM shorts. At least there's no mistaking Ken Muse and Irv Spence.

Steven Hartley said...

Ken Muse and Irv Spence are easy to spot; Ray Patterson and Pete Burness draw similar sometimes - although I used to mistaken Ray's scenes for Ken Muse's scenes in the later shorts but it's easy to tell his scenes.

Sanek said...

Wondrerful, Steven! I can only identify Irv Spence in some scenes...
I hope that I can do mosaic for it when I reach that cartoon on my MGM blog.

Dimond mine said...

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