Monday, June 11, 2007

Warren Batchelder

Via Golden Age Cartoons, it appears that a classic Warner Brothers animator may have passed away recently: Warren Batchelder died this past February.

I recall Greg Duffell saying that Batchelder was Virgil Ross's assistant for a number of years, but it took him a long time to be promoted to animator; he finally joined the Bob McKimson unit as an animator in 1958 and stayed there until the studio shut down. Unfortunately I'm not familiar enough with his style to pinpoint which scenes he animated (maybe someone else can help), but if I'm remembering Greg correctly, some of the best animation in those 1958-1964 McKimson cartoons are probably his. Certainly the animation quality of McKimson's cartoons, which had been quite poor ever since he lost his top animators in the mid-'50s, improved quite a bit in 1958, and by the end, his cartoons were probably better-animated than Friz Freleng's. Batchelder deserves a lot of the credit for that, especially since he appears to have become the workhorse of the unit, able to turn out a lot of footage very quickly (again, according to Greg's alt.animation.warner-bros posts from a few years back).

8 comments:

Thad K said...

That's a shame to hear. I wish I had known Batchelder was still with us, as I would have loved to speak with him. By all accounts he was the only animator doing any competent work in McKimson's later cartoons.

Oh, FYI, Friz's cartoons were definitely better animated during that period. Chiniquy became stiff and mechanical (as would his assistant Bob Matz), but Ross and Davis were still as great as ever.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Oh, FYI, Friz's cartoons were definitely better animated during that period. Chiniquy became stiff and mechanical (as would his assistant Bob Matz), but Ross and Davis were still as great as ever.

Yes, but Art Davis left Freleng's unit in the early '60s (after one last fling with directing on "Quackodile Tears"), and from then on to the end Freleng's cartoons were dominated by the Chiniquy/Matz style. I like the animation of McKimson's cartoons better in that period.

McKimson did have at least one other good animator in this period, Tom Ray, but the Jones unit snapped him up pretty quickly.

Thad K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"I recall Greg Duffell saying that Batchelder was Virgil Ross's assistant for a number of years, but it took him a long time to be promoted to animator."

This was often the case . Even more so at Disney's. If a guy was a good assistant then the animator's didn't want to lose him and the production managers needed to keep him as an assistant to supervise the less experienced assistants and keep the footage moving. Those factors conspired to keep many good assistants down , preventing them from moving up to full animator status even though they had the skills.

Anonymous said...

My father was warrens best friend .He was an exquisite artist and an incredible human being that will never be forgotten.He told us about his wonderful career and accomlishments.He will be seeply missed..

Anonymous said...

^
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deeply ...btw.
For those who type way 2 fast.lol.

Anonymous said...

I wish anonymous would contact me - Mr. Batchelder was my grandfather's first cousin and traveled to Illinois to visit family.

Anonymous said...

I was DESPERATE to meet with Warren Batchelder when I was working for Chuck Jones in 1995. I contacted the Union and got an address, but it didn't work, and I have regretted not having met him ever since.

Mr. Batchelder did some amazing Pink Panther animation, particularly in "Pink-A-Boo", a great Hawley Pratt directed cartoon. Batchelder did fantastic expression work on the Panther (him trying to crack a pesky egg). Batchelder made the Panther very naturalistic. Check out his animation in "Drink Pink" when he takes the little asterix and puts him in a trash bin. Also in the Mckimson cartoon at Warners about a puma breaking into Fudd's house using his claw as a glass cutter.

Greg Duffell