Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sometimes the ridiculous is sublime

I think a blog has to have, if not a subject, then certain core subjects that are visited again and again. Since I can't draw worth a tinker's dam (and that's dam, folks - look it up), I live vicariously through the efforts of others.

Here we have an example of early Disney, well before Mickey came on the scene and stole the show. I never liked Mickey Mouse: too bland, too ordinary, even though it could be argued that he was the Harold Lloyd of animation, just a regular mouse. Disney experimented with all sorts of strange things, including a series of Laugh-O-Grams, combinations of live-action and animation which were so bizarre that they almost worked. The star of these was a little girl named Alice, with Pickfordesque corkscrew curls.

It's interesting to see the evolution of Disney from a run-of-the-mill animator with an uninteresting character (Oswald the Rabbit) to the so-called king of animation. It's kind of fashionable to diss Disney now, maybe because of what happened with his empire, the way it evolved into a mega-corp which often seems to lack heart. But the animation goes on, including the mega-blockbuster Frozen which FINALLY provided some strong, interesting female lead characters.

I'm fascinated with the early jumpy, smudgy, quivering, flickering images, post-Gertie the Dinosaur who was supposedly the first real cartoon. I'm fascinated with Fleischer and his surreal clown Koko jumping out of the inkwell. I like the early, gritty Popeye cartoons with their gorgeous rotographic/ stereo-optical backgrounds, which my grandchildren are now fascinated with. They want me to sing that weird skeetin-scattin' Popeye song, which I can't.

(Just look at this, from 1934! A very early Popeye cartoon called King of the Mardi Gras. The background was actually built by hand and mounted on a turntable, then slowly revolved and filmed. Somehow or other the animation was layered on top of it. Who needs 3D?)

I don't know if all this goes back to my childhood, when I sat on the floor (I was probably just a toddler then) and watched the Mickey Mouse Club, which came on every day and padded the live-action clubhouse segments with Spin and Marty episodes and VERY old Disney cartoons. I sat there drooling down the front of my bib and absorbed it all. It was a little bit scary, and it still is, primitive, with a spooky magical energy. Pen-and-ink drawings come to life.

Now we have YouTube, with just about every cartoon ever made, and I drown in it sometimes. My husband growls at me to get out of my office and enjoy the day. And I should.

(Note my radically new ad campaign. I doubt if it will work any better than the old one, which I am not discarding. But at least *I* had fun with it, or some of it. Took me most of the day, in fact. Damn. When I get to the end of it all,  I guess I'll say, . . "Too late.")

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
         It took me years to write, will you take a look. . .

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