Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

A blog dedicated to the making of the first animated Christmas special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New book on Bob McKimson!

I wanted to let all my readers know that there's a new tome out on Robert McKimson, probably the most overlooked of the main Looney Tunes directors.  The book, I Say, I Say...Son!, written by his son, Robert Jr., tells the story of not only his father’s life and career but also covers the stories of his uncles, Tom and Charles, both of whom were also deeply involved in Warner Bros. Cartoons.  Tom was a layout man and character designer in Bob Clampett’s unit, the first person to draw Tweety Bird and Beaky Buzzard and Chuck animated on many of his brother’s cartoons through the late 40s and into the early 50s.

Under Bob’s direction, the world was introduced to Foghorn Leghorn and the Tasmanian Devil, both integral parts of the Looney Tunes pantheon.  Bob was an amazing draftsman but, by all accounts, was also a quiet and unassuming man and consequently lost many of the political battles waged by other directors.  He often ended up with castoff talent, artists that other directors maneuvered out of their units, yet many of his cartoons are viewed as classics to this day.  Hillbilly Hare with its violent square dance routine (inspired by the cartoon studio’s embrace of square dancing by a large portion of its staff), Rabbit’s Kin (the introduction of Pete Puma with Stan Freberg’s unforgettable vocal characterization) and Little Boy Boo (with the silent but methodical Egghead Jr., the perfect foil for Foghorn Leghorn’s incessant jabbering) as well as many others. 

While the book has the requisite limited edition images, created from images drawn by Bob before his untimely death in 1977, it’s also chock full of great vintage art, most of which has never been seen before-animation drawings from some of Bob Clampett’s films, character layouts for a number of Bob McKimson’s own cartoons and even his lobby card drawings, done to help publicize his films in theaters.  There’s even a section on Tom McKimson featuring art from his Western Publishing days.  Even if you’re familiar with the history of Warner Bros. cartoon studio, there is still much to be gleaned from the text (like how Bob became such a prolific animator, doing 2-3 times as much footage as any other animator in house).  I think it’s worth picking up just for both the art and the history of the brothers.  However, in the interests of full disclosure, I was asked to consult on the book as well as write an introduction for it. You can buy it here.

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