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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tex Avery: Who Killed Who?

Ah, good ol' Tex. Nothing you make ever disappoints me.
Model sheet of Tex.

Now, assuming you didn't know who I'm talking about, Fredric Bean Avery (nicknamed "Tex" by his friends) was an animator from, big surprise here, Texas who completely revolutionized the way we look at cartoons today. To keep it short, here's a passage by Gary Morris who, I think, Best describes Avery's approach:

"Above all, [Avery] steered the Warner Bros. house style away from Disneyesque sentimentality and made cartoons that appealed equally to adults, who appreciated Avery's speed, sarcasm, and irony, and to kids, who liked the nonstop action. Disney's "cute and cuddly" creatures, under Avery's guidance, were transformed into unflappable wits like Bugs Bunny, endearing buffoons like Porky Pig, or dazzling crazies like Daffy Duck. Even the classic fairy tale, a market that Disney had cornered, was appropriated by Avery, who made innocent heroines like Red Riding Hood into sexy jazz babies, more than a match for any Wolf. Avery also endeared himself to intellectuals by constantly breaking through the artifice of the cartoon, having characters leap out of the end credits, loudly object to the plot of the cartoon they were starring in, or speak directly to the audience."

A few examples of what we're talkin' about here. Trust me, there's more. Lots more.  :)

Be sure to find this book! Worth every penny! :D

I think the reason I look up to him is because he and I are actually very similar. Avery was actually a very shy person, but really expressed his true feelings on screen with his films. And while Avery was born in Taylor, I was born in Seabrook (about a 30 min drive from Houston). I think my sense of humor may have come from his cartoons, actually. Tex was wonderful at using sight gags and was just as witty verbally. (See pics above)

If you're interesting in learning more, John Canemaker has written a book all about Avery's best work: at MGM studios. It's a little pricey (from $40 - $130 on, but it's a read that's worth it. It's also chock-fill of model sheets, animation cells and stills, layouts, and more. 

All yours for £ 24.99

It's also a shame that his cartoons aren't restored on a DVD set in America (aside from the Droopy Collection). There's one in France, but I doubt it'sgonna work on a Region 1 DVD player. Oh, and they're censored. I say it's about time those cartoons got the uncensored DVD treatment in the motherland! But if you want it, you can find it here.

Anyway, since it's close to Halloween, I thought I'd post Who Killed Who?, a murder mystery by you-should-know-who-by-now. A great early effort from him, filled with wonderful jokes, fast-pacing, good animation, and Santa!..... Wait, wha?

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