Archive for the ‘walter lantz’ Category

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

REFPACK040: Two Oswald Cartoons By Lantz

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Walter Lantz Oswald

Walter Lantz’s Oswald
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"In Alaska" (1930) / "The Candy House" (1934)

Most cartoon fans are aware of Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but not many are familiar with Walter Lantz’s version of the character. At the Disney Studio, Ub Iwerks was the animator supervising the Oswald Cartoons. In New York Bill Nolan was performing the same duties on the Krazy Kat and Felix the Cat cartoons. Both animators were instrumental in refining the technique of rubber hose animation, even though they had never met. Iwerks was aware of Nolan’s work would go to the theater to see the latest Felix and Krazy Kat films when they were released. Likewise, Nolan made a point of seeing Iwerks’ Oswald and Alice in Cartoonland cartoons. A friendly transcontinental rivalry developed.

Margaret Winkler and Charles Mintz pulled the rug out from under Walt Disney, signing a distribution deal with Universal for a new series of Oswald cartoons, and hiring Walter Lantz to replace Disney. And as fate would have it, Carl Laemmle pulled the rug out from under Winkler and Mintz putting Lantz in charge of the Universal Cartoon Studio. Lantz chose Bill Nolan to supervise the series, and Nolan found himself directing the character Ub Iwerks created.

Walter Lantz Oswald

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Walter Lantz Oswald

Nolan was a master of rubber hose animation. One of the earliest Oswald cartoons at Universal, In Alaska, shows how much further he took the character than Iwerks ever had. His animation is loose, rubbery and sometimes surreal; but most of all, it is laugh-out-loud hilarious. As you still frame through this cartoon, check out the funny drawings. Even the incidental characters are amazing to look at.

Lantz and Nolan were partners at first, but Lantz had aspirations to become an independent producer with his own studio. Lantz and Nolan parted company in 1935 and Walter Lantz Productions was established to supply cartoons independently to Universal as a distributor. Lantz negotiated ownership of the characters, including Oswald and proceeded to shift the personality of the character to a blander disposition, more resembling Mickey Mouse.

Walter Lantz Oswald

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Walter Lantz Oswald

The Candy House is a transitional cartoon at the end of Nolan’s tenure at the studio. The difference between this cartoon and In Alaska is stark. The focus has shifted from funny drawings and movement to elaborate backgrounds and fairy tale themes. Once Nolan was gone, the Lantz cartoons struggled to find their own style for a while. Oswald was getting a little too tired to be the cartoon star of the studio, so they set to work developing new characters, like Pooch the Pup, a monkey trio named Meanie Miney and Moe, Baby Faced Mouse and Li’l Eight Ball; but none of them caught on. The Walter Lantz Studio finally found its legs when they started producing color cartoons, and the introduction of Andy Panda and Woody Woodpecker eclipsed Oswald, relegating him to the role of a side character.

Walter Lantz Oswald

Rubber hose animation doesn’t deserve its reputation of being primitive and old fashioned. It’s a valid style of animation that focuses on simple shapes and rhythmic movement, rather that realism and complexity. This simplicity allowed the animators to focus less on how the character looked and more on how they moved. Today, we associate rubber hose with the 1930s, but there’s no reason that modern ideas couldn’t be put across with simple shapes and rhythmic movement. The efficiency and freedom the style allows makes it a good model for internet animation.

REFPACK040: Oswald In Alaska
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MP4 Video File / SD / 05:44 / 108 MB Download

REFPACK040: The Candy House
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MP4 Video File / SD / 08:30 / 78 MB Download

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Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Inbetweens: Bill Nolan at Walter Lantz

Cartoonist William “Bill” Nolan animated many Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons for the Walter Lantz studio. Here is one titled, “Permanent Wave” (1929).

The late Micheal Sporn did a write up on the distortion techniques used in this short (and other Lantz/Nolan cartoons) that can be found on his blog…

SPLOG: Smears, Distortions, Abstractions and Emotions

Bill Nolan Oswald

-Nicholas John Pozega

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Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Biography: Walter Lantz

This posting is a stub. You can contribute to this entry by providing information through the comments link at the bottom of this post. Please organize your information following the main category headers below….

Birth: April 27, 1899, New Rochelle, New York
Death: March 22, 1994, Burbank, California

American animator, painter, cartoonist & philanthropist

Bio Summary
Walter Lantz was born into a family of Italian immgrants in Westchester County, 16 miles from New York City. Watching Gertie the Dinosaur immediately ignited his passion for animation. While working as an auto mechanic by day, he met a shop customer who helped young Lantz start his career as an artist by paying for his Art Studies League classes.

1924 saw the premiere of his first animated short film, Dinky Doodle. Four years later, film producer Charles B. Mintz hired him to direct some Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (a character stolen from Walt Disney) shorts for Universal. Lantz won all applicable rights to the Oswald character in a card game bet with Carl Lammele.

Early Life/Family


Career Outline

Comments On Style




“1899 is the correct birth year. When Walter turned 40 in 1939, he gave himself one more year in his 30s and listed his birth year as 1900 for the trade annuals — then forgot he had been creative, and maintained 1900 as his birth year for decades! Late in life, though, he caught himself, and admitted that 1899 had been correct all along”
-Joe Adamson




Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1973; Awarded Lifetime Achievement Academy Award, 1979

Related Links

Bibliographic References, IMDb profile


Contributors To This Listing
Enoch Allen
Joe Adamson

To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below…

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