Theory: Live The Fabulous Lifestyle Of A Hollywood Cartoonist

Cartoonist Party

Wrap party for “Toot Whistle Plunk & Boom”

John Kricfalusi posted a blistering post this morning about popular culture and the upside down meaning of the words "liberal" and "conservative" today. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out. Here is my own take on a similar theme…

BingBingThe other day, a student at Woodbury volunteered to help build out our database. His name is Jo-Jo. He told me how much this blog, along with Eddie Fitzgerald’s and John K’s, has opened his eyes to how great cartoons were in the 30s, 40s and 50s. He had a sketchbook full of Preston Blair drawings and enthusiasm for Fleischer, MGM and Warner Bros cartoons. So I asked him what kinds of music he listens to…

“David Bowie mostly.”

My jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I gave Jo-Jo the best tip he’ll ever get…

Cartoons aren’t the only things that were better back in the first half of the 20th century.

Roy SmeckRoy SmeckMike Fontanelli stopped by later and pointed out that somebody should write a book titled "The Golden Age of Everything". Sure, there are things today that are incredibly great… computers, the internet, iPods, frost-free refrigerators, etc… but music, dance, illustration, writing, movies and cartoons were all better back then. Cartoonists should be aware of this, and they should absorb all of the greatness of the past. It will make them better cartoonists.

Today, I’m going to talk about music…

Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

I know that someone out there is going to post a comment saying that there’s still great music being made, it just isn’t mainstream. I’m fully aware of the fact that there are talented musicians working today. But in the 30s through the 50s, incredible talent was a given. Performers, from the top of the heap to the bottom- from most popular to least- were all capable of making you do a double take and say “wow!”.

Fats WallerFats WallerWhen I ask kids what kinds of music they listen to, I usually get the response, “All kinds.” But “all kinds” usually turns out to mean a million shades of the same color… current rock music. There are so many names today for the same kind of music. For the life of me, I can’t tell the difference between rave, techno and electronica. In the past, there really were a million kinds of music… pop vocals, hot jazz, country western, big band swing, folk, rhythm & blues, bluegrass, mambo, dixieland, rock n’ roll, sweet orchestral, be bop…

I could talk for hours about this subject, but the best proof is seeing what I’m talking about…


Lucky Millinder

Lucky Millinder & Sister Rosetta Tharpe
"Four Or Five Times" (Soundie/1941)
(Quicktime 7 / 5.5 megs)


Collins And Maphis

Larry Collins & Joe Maphis
"Under The Double Eagle" (Tex Ritter’s Ranch Party/1959)
(Quicktime 7 / 5 megs)


Collins And Maphis

"Gray Goose" "Pick A Bale Of Cotton"(1950s)
(Quicktime 7 / 10 megs)


Les Paul

Les Paul & Mary Ford
"The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise" "Amuka Riki" (Grand Old Opry/1959)
(Quicktime 7 / 12 megs)

If you are a student planning to be a professional cartoonist, listen to music that relates to your work- read books that inspire cartoony ideas- watch movies to learn cinematic techniques that can be applied to cartooning- LIVE THE FABULOUS LIFESTYLE OF A FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD CARTOONIST!

By the way… Jo-Jo is a big Fats Waller fan now! And that’s not all… He graduated from college, trained with John K. and is a professional in the animation business working full time on Bravest Warriors now. Way to go, Jo-Jo!

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources


This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

3 Responses to “Theory: Live The Fabulous Lifestyle Of A Hollywood Cartoonist”

  1. Good stuff, Steve! Are you going to be reposting stuff from the Animation Archive here soon? That’ll help a lot! I’m trying to get a classical animation program started at my college next year, and this site will be instrumental in my teachings! Keep up to good work, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  2. Passing Anon says:

    Interesting post. You bring up some very valid points however, it all goes far broader than just “everything was just better back in the 20s”. (That statement leans a little on the opinionated side even though I can *definitely* see where you’re coming from.)

    Artists should draw inspiration from anything and everything that speaks to him/her, regardless of era as it is important to draw from our past and our present. I use my senses. If I hear/see/taste something that appeals to me, I save it and come back to it.
    I can’t just collectively ‘like’ everything from whole genre of music just because I like some songs/musicians from it. Myself? I tend to like like things of Jazz, New Age, Reggae, Ska, Metal, Pop, Chiptunes, video game stuff, R&B, Synthpop, Bluegrass (I played in a bluegrass band once!), Classical…. I know I listen to a lot of Rock music. I might not be able to tell you all about the genres but I find things I like in them. Just being able to switch on the Music Choice or Pandora stations and listening to them while I work, I never know what I’ll find next!

    But I do rather like what you’re getting at here. It’s very good to get back to the roots.

  3. I recognize songs like ”A Cup of Coffee A Sandwhich and You” because over the years, I eventually heard it again on a player piano at the ‘Old Town Music Hall’

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