Monday, July 4, 2011

Cartoon Logic at Work

Cartoon logic is a unique aspect of animation in the way that our minds are able to connect improbable actions and things that could never take place in real life. One of my favorite bits of cause and effect cartoon logic is a sequence of events that happen to Bluto in the Famous Studio Popeye cartoon 'Too Weak To Work'. (1943)

For those who have not seen the cartoon, here's a short preamble: Bluto feigns sickness to get out of doing work on the battleship and ends up in the hospital. Popeye catches Bluto in his sham, and after setting his mouth ablaze, gives chase to Bluto through the hospital. The following chain of events start when Bluto runs into a steam room to escape from Popeye.

Here's some cartoon logic and cartoon physics at work -
Popeye shuts Bluto in a steam room and Bluto shrinks. Take away mass.

Animation by Ben Solomon

Popeye inflates Bluto with oxygen to return him to normal size. Add mass.

Animation by Ben Solomon

Bluto has a mishap with a rain cloud and his inflated body is burst like a balloon by lightning - his deflated body falls to Earth. Take away mass.

Animation by Abner Kneitel

A husk that needs to be filled + the need to get Bluto back to work….

Animation by Jim Tyer

… calls for Popeye to pump Bluto full of spinach. Only an industrial sized can will fill the space left by the escaped air. Add mass + strength.

Animation by Jim Tyer

Bluto, full and powered = ready to work. It all makes sense.

Animation by Jim Tyer

Cartoon logic in action:


J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

I love the naturalness to the outrageousness of the gag (inflating/deflating mass). A modern cartoon might belabor the point (with fancy or complex staging, camera moves etc.) that seems to come naturally from the story's action in 'Too Weak To Work'. There's never a moment of the layout or animation needlessly drawing attention to itself. It really seems like it's happening to Popeye & Bluto! When the stylistic shifts do happen (like Tyer's crazy 'choo choo' animation) they seem organic and totally appropriate.

Amir Avni said...

Cartoon logic is one of the top 5 most absent elements of modern-day animation. Thank you for saluting this very important element! :)

Bob Jaques said...

Amir - what are the other 4 elements you consider missing from modern animation??