Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Al Eugster

Here's the only bit of Popeye animation that I know was animated by Al Eugster - and that info was given to me by Mark Mayerson. Mark worked with Al years ago and, IIRC, the following clip from 'House Tricks?' was the only bit of Popeye animation Al could remember doing.

Al Eugster's animation from 'House Tricks?' (1946)

Al was one of those rare individuals who kept a ledger of his animation work - unfortunately there are no particulars of what he animated, just titles with the month and year noted. Below is a cut-in from Al's ledger showing 5 Popeye titles - the top three he was credited as head animator/de facto director, the bottom two he was an uncredited animator.

Copy of Al's ledger (copy from Mark Mayerson)

Like many of his colleagues at the time, Al drew comic book stories - an example of his work below. Unfortunately this is the best image I have - it was grabbed off of ebay and published in Cryin' Lion #1. If anyone out there in the blogosphere has a copy and cares to share, I would love to see the rest of the story.

Click on image to enlarge


J Lee said...

Aside from his animation, Bluto's redesign from a strong-but-fat character as the Fleischer's used him to the more ueber-muscled one that became the standard Famous Studios look really began in Eugter's "Hull of a Mess". It also gives the character a more angular look around his beard, and by the mid-50s Eugster would be sneaking angular reaction shots into his Popeyes, while really trying out more UPA-like designs in the one-shot Noveltoons.

(Given how toned down Famous' pacing had become by the time Al's group became the No. 2 Popeye unit behind Tom Johnson in the 1950s, having a more traditionally-designed character go partially UPA even for a section at least qualified as some sort of change-of-pace 'take' that could generate a laugh. But he really didn't push the envelope on the Popeye shorts until he did Olive's reaction to Bluto chasing her along the carnival boardwalk in his last Popeye short "The Crystal Brawl". No point in not letting it all hang out if the studio wasn't going to use the characters anymore.)

Charlie Judkins said...

Great post! There's an animator in the early Talkartoons/ screen songs whose work looks very felix-esque. I'd imagine this is probably either Al Eugster or George Cannatta, as both had worked as assistants at the Sullivan studio two or three years before joining Fleischer. Cannatta Jr. once described Eugster to me as being like "a barefoot country boy".

Brubaker said...

I noticed one limited animation trick in the Howard Post shorts that Eugster worked on. Basically whenever a character looks up or down, Eugster did just one drawing, with instructions for the cameraman to tilt the drawing to make it look like they're looking up. This cheat mostly shows up in the Honey Halfwitch shorts he did.