Saturday, November 17, 2007

Charles (Tex) Hastings

Popeye looks weird as drawn by the hand of Charles Hastings. There's something about the bloated head and facial features that's odd and stands out. (but not detracting from the overall charm of the gritty Fleischer style) Hastings came from the west coast having worked briefly for Walter Lantz (and possibly WB) and had a short stay of a couple of years animating for the Fleischers. All of his work on Popeye was done for the Bowsky unit.

Below are frame grabs from all the Popeye cartoons that Hastings worked on before leaving the Fleischer Studio. Check out his animation in 'Pleased to Meet Cha!' - there's some really bizarre action of Popeye and Bluto walking from one room and continuing into another. It feels as though they have glue on their shoes.

The Dance Contest - 1934

We Aim to Please - 1934

Beware of Barnacle Bill - 1935

Be Kind to 'Aminals' - 1935

Pleased to Meet Cha! - 1935

Dizzy Divers - 1935

Saturday, November 10, 2007

William Henning

William Henning sure drew ugly. He animated some of the most unappealing and crude looking Popeye I've ever seen. But that said, this is an equal opportunity blog, so all Popeye animator styles that can be identified will be represented here.

Probably the second most prolific Popeye animator next to George Germanetti, Henning's work spanned 3 different periods of the character and can be found in Fleischer, Famous Studio and King Feature Popeye cartoons.

Part of the old guard at the Fleischer Studio, Henning was a senior member of the staff for approximately 7 years by the time Popeye started into production - 1 year longer than head animators Seymour Knietel and Willard Bowsky. Before becoming an animator in 1931, he was head of the inbetweening department.

A member of Seymour Knietel's unit for years, Henning animated on Popeye from 1933 until 1939, when at that time, he was briefly given the job of head animator (de facto director) on a couple of Popeye cartoons. His early Famous Studio years had him working for a short time in Jim Tyer's unit and later with Tom Johnson's unit. In between he did brief stints with Nick Tafuri and Bill Tytla. (whom I believe exercised more directorial control over his pictures than did Knietel and Sparber)

Henning was considered good at drawing and animating 4 legged animals and often given scenes of that kind according to animator John Gentilella.

Once Henning established his animation and drawing style it evolved marginally as compared with the advancement of his peers. Coming into the Famous Studio years, his style looks frozen in time - much of his later work looking like it still belonged in the Fleischer cartoons.

A gossip piece in an issue of the Fleischer Studio's news publication stated that Henning was decorated for his service as a captain in the German army prior to working in animation. I wonder if that sort of regimented military attitude affected his animation.

Seasin's Greetinks - 1933
Check out Michael Sporn's analysis of this animation at his splog (Oct.30 post):

Strong to the Finich - 1934

A Dream Waking - 1934

The Spinach Overature - 1935

Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky - 1936

Bridge Ahoy - 1936

Lost and Foundry - 1937

Protek the Weakerist - 1937

Cops is Always Right - 1938

Ghosks is the Bunk - 1939

Wood Peckin' - 1943

We're on Our Way to Rio - 1944

Puppet Love - 1944

Service with a Guile - 1946

Wotta Knight - 1947

Robin Hood-Winked - 1948

Quick on the Vigor - 1950

Big Bad Sindbad - 1952

Cookin' with Gags - 1954

Gopher Spinach - 1954

Out to Punch - 1956

Butler Up - 1961

Here are 2 examples of Henning's Popeye - 10 years apart with basically the same drawing style and expression:

Strong to the Finich - 1934

Puppet Love - 1944

Next Animator ID - Charles Hastings (the 'off model' Popeye animator)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lillian Friedman (Astor) - Pioneer Woman Animator

And by that I don't mean that she lived in a log cabin, wore buckskin, a coonskin cap, and drew on pieces of birch bark to animate. Actually, I got the title from a small publication made for an ASIFA tribute (researched and written by Bill Lorenzo) to her work as one of the first women animators. (Lotte Reiniger predated her) She was the first woman animator, I believe, to work within the studio system.

Over at the GAC forum a topic was started a couple of days ago regarding woman animators and Ray Pointer noted that Edith Vernick predated Lillian Friedman as the first woman animator at the Fleischer Studio. Even though Vernick did some animation (in particular one scene in Fresh Vegetable Mystery released in 1939), she did not officially hold that position at the Fleischers so IMO it's safe to say that Friedman was the first. In a copy of Fleischer Animated News Vol.2, #8 (no date - from sometime in 1936. Let's Get Movin' had just been finished) there is a one page biography of Edith Vernick that states 'She has done most everything but animate. At present she is head of the Inbetweening Department.' You can draw your own conclusion based on that tidbit.

Back to Friedman - Unfortunately she only animated on one Popeye cartoon released in 1934 - 'Can You Take It'. (working/production title Bruiser Boys) 'Can You Take It' is her first professional known effort as an animator. Awesome stuff for her first outing!!

According to a gossip piece written in a February 1935 copy of Fleischer's Animated News, Lillian Friedman had a dog named Popeye.

Scene 1

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Scene 15A

Scene 19A

Scene 20

Scene 21

Scene 22

Next Animator ID - William Henning