Monday, July 16, 2007

Best Animation Team Ever

Here's a pointless parlour game for animation fans: what's your choice as the best team of animators ever assembled for a short cartoon?

This is distinct from the question of what cartoon had the best animation (though it overlaps, of course; you wouldn't pick a cartoon with four once-great animators past their best). The question is more akin to those baseball questions about what was the greates infield of all time; what cartoon assembled the best group of "players" at the peak of their skills?

Mine is a very conventional choice, but I think it's hard to beat the team assembled for Bob Clampett's Looney Tunes short "Book Revue." The credited animators were Robert McKimson, Rod Scribner, Manny Gould and Bill Melendez. That's four truly great and unique animators, each one in his prime. Also if you want to take into account the overall career achievements of the animators (sort of like taking into account the "career value" of infielders), two of the four went on to important careers as directors, McKimson and Melendez.

Oddly enough, though all four of those guys were associated with the Clampett unit, this is one of the few cartoons (perhaps the only one?) where all four of them worked together, because McKimson was promoted to director almost immediately after Melendez re-joined Warner Brothers, and when Melendez was working for WB earlier, Gould wasn't there yet.

Other choices?


Anonymous said...

Hard to beat that one, in terms of both names and what they were doing at the time. If you're just going on names alone, Avery's 1936 unit with Clampett, Jones, Bob Cannon and Virgil Ross is hard to beat, while the animators Avery used for "Little Rural Riding Hood" -- Grant Simmons, Walter Clinton, Bob Cannon, Michael Lah and the uncredited Preston Blair -- is pretty high-powered as well, and at the top of their game just before budget cuts began forcing the studios to turn out less than their best animation efforts.

Thad said...

"Rabbit of Seville" is fairly strong, with Emery Hawkins, Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Phil Monroe, and Lloyd Vaughan.

Anonymous said...

"Coal Black" with Rod Scribner, Robert McKimson, Manny Gould, Tom McKimson and Art Babbit.

(Clampett liked to joke that they gave Babbit the easier scenes, such as the "Buck Buck Bucket" bit because he was new.)

Anonymous said...

Jesus, I forgot Virgil Ross!

Thad said...

Manny Gould was definitely not at Warners on "Coal Black", and I don't believe Tom McKimson was either.

Anonymous said...

Never trust IMDB for animation credits! I had a feeling Manny Gould was suspect, but I KNOW Tom McKimson was there, but I'm not 100% sure if he animated on it.

Tom McKimson drew the model sheets for Coal Black, so yeah, he was there.

Now that I think about it, one of the scenes usually attributed to Tom was actually done by Art Babbit... So White eating the Apple. It's a very off model scene, a bit awkward and doesn't look like the regular WArner Style. Could Art have done the other scenes that people say Tom did? I'm going to hvae to rewatch that.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

1. Clampett's unit -- Rod Scribner, Robert McKimson, Manny Gould, Bill Melendez, with pinch-hitters like I. Ellis and Art Davis thrown in for good measure.

2. Art Davis's unit -- Emery Hawkins, Basil Davidovich, Don Williams, and Bill Melendez, again.