Michael Barrier's interview with Robert McKimson

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The "Chase"
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Michael Barrier's interview with Robert McKimson

Postby The "Chase" » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:49 pm

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Barrier-McKimson interview, 'new' Bugs model sheet posted

Postby J Lee » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:50 pm

Mike Barrier posted his full interview with Bob McKimson on his website today, along with asidebar on the evolution of the Bugs Bunny model sheets, from Charlie Thorsen's one for Ben Hardaway to McKimson's 1943 definitive one, which includes a revised Bob Givens model sheet of the rabbit that hasn't been published before.
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Postby J Lee » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:52 pm

Beat me by one minute. (Jon, you can clear mine if you want. Here's the link to the model sheet page, which Barrier also posted.).
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Postby Leviathan » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:57 pm

My brother Tom made the original character sketches on Sylvester, for Bob Clampett.

John K. made this exact same claim, but that doesn't explain how Friz Freleng was able to make two (one of them Oscar-nominated) cartoons with Sylvester well before Bob Clampett directed his only cartoon with (a yellow-eyed and black-nosed at that) Sylvester.

So, what gives?
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Postby Nick » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:22 pm

I felt a bit sad when reading that interview, mainly because its clear that McKimson realised that he was essentially an underdog to both Freleng and Jones (in terms of studio politics). He also expresses his distaste for working with limited animation, which goes a long way to explain why his later work is so inferior.

That comment on the creation of Sylvester is interesting. I imagine McKimson was probably misremembering. Seeing that he was given so much work under Clampett's direction, who can blame him?

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Postby oceansoul » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:02 pm

Yeah Nick, I felt the same way when read this. However, he admitted he didn't really like the way Rod Scribner is animating, which might be a hint why so many animators didn't like how he restrained them to do their jobs.

Interesting thoughts on Clampett's cartoons. So should we give some credit to him for directing such gems like Book Revue or Baby Bottleneck?

And he was right about the storymen. Mike Maltese and Warren Foster were as important as the directors in the spotlight...
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Postby aalong64 » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:54 pm

What an amazing read. This is the first time, as far as I can recall, that I've ever heard McKimson's feelings about his work, the other directors, or.... well, anything, really. Is this the only interview he ever gave? It's startling how easily he remembers everything, whereas most interviews about the Golden Age are filled with "I don't remember the cartoon you're asking about" or misremembered dates and credits. McKimson is pretty much dead-on with everything. He seems to be a pretty reliable source, unlike just about everybody else.

There are so many great nuggets of information in this piece. McKimson comes off as very confident, and possibly a bit full of himself. It's completely justified though, and from what I've read, Chuck Jones was just as proud, if not more so. He was just less willing to acknowledge it. It's sad reading the parts about Rod Scribner though, and how McKimson eventually got his animators "under control" after they'd been used to "over-playing" everything with Clampett. I think it's unanimous that most of Scribner's work under McKimson feels extremely stifled and restrained compared to his earlier Clampett stuff.
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Postby Bugsy-Kun » Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:06 pm

This is really informative like interview. We can feel how things came up in the studio and how McKimson lived with his colleagues friends. I was surprised to the Foghorn Leghorn's origins pretending it was invented by themeselves. I know lifes can be rough for them, even for animators and cartoons producers.

Nice interview!

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Postby Brandon Panther » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:37 pm

Haven't read the interview yet, but I looked at the Bugs model sheets. I wonder why on some of them they added a "tip" on the top point of Bugs' ears (like the black tips he has in "Elmer's Candid Camera"), when he was never drawn with those tips in any of the cartoons.
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Postby Fibber Fox » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:54 pm

I'm very happy Mike posted this. I've been waiting to read it. The only lengthy interview I've seen with McKimson is Mark Nardone's piece in The American Animated Cartoon, where he mentions some of the same things. In that one, he also took a shot as Popeye's animation for looking like a child drew it.

McKimson certainly has mixed feelings about the people he worked with. It's sad because he knew Jones and Freleng were screwing him over but he still respected their work. Conservely, he hated Clampett's style and content and seems to have tried to knock every vestige of Clampett out of his unit when he took over. All he did was end up with static cartoons.

Bugsy, the Foghorn story has been told since, pretty well the same way. Claghorn debuted on Fred Allen's show a little less than a year before the cartoon came out, though Kenny Delmar did a similar voice on the Alan Young show months earlier. Still, if you listen to the earliest Foggys, he's not quite doing the Claghorn voice.

Oceansoul, yeah, I can see why animators and layout people would get peeved at him sending stuff back. But didn't Freleng do the same thing?

Nick, he's talking about TV animation when he's referring to "limited animation." He seems to be blaming his crappy later-Warners stuff on guys like Bonnicksen and Grandpré.

I see he outed Bob Gribbroek in the interview.

I'm looking forward to more of Mike's interviews; I'd buy them in a book if such were available. He astutely talked to people not very long after the Golden Age ended. They're not with us now to tell their stories.

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