Warner Brothers Cartoon Innovations Essay

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Warner Brothers Cartoon Innovations

Since the 1930’s cartoons have been a source of entertainment for both children and adults alike. For a long time, the Disney Corporation was the pioneering force in the cartoon industry. At the same time there was another company that was exploring cartooning, Warner Brothers studios. The earliest Warner Brothers cartoons were considered mediocre, but in time they matured into a leader in cartooning, developing many innovations in the cartooning world. The Warner Brothers cartoon studio opened in 1930 with Leon Schlesinger as manager. Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, Jack King, and Friz Freleng directed a series of middle-of-the-road cartoons featuring Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid and Buddy. With Tex Avery’s onset at the studio and the entrance of Termite Terrace, they gave birth to a new era of insane cartoons that captured the hearts and laughter of fans around the world. In future decades star characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck became prominent figures of the studio’s image. One of the many innovations pioneered by Warner Brothers was the use of parody to broaden the possibilities for cartoons. They started to use gags that contradicted reality. Even as early as 1936, they started incorporating this into their work. For example, in Milk and Money, Porky the milkman throws empty milk bottles into a container and then they pop out as full bottles (Barrier 332). One way this is possible is through the use of speed. When a scene is sped up, it gives viewers less time to disbelieve what is going on. As cartoon historian Michael Barrier explains in his study Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age, Tex Avery understood that “many gags were more appealing the less time he allowed his audience to think about them” (332). The trick to these gags is to surprise the audience. “Everything happens quickly enough to surprise, yet not so quickly enough that the clarity of the action is compromised” (332). In addition, the use of these types of gags allows people to expand their imagination on what is not humanly possible, and convert it into cartoons. People are drawn to this type of entertainment because it’s an escape from the limits of reality. Warner Brothers enhanced the affect of the gags on the audience by accompanying the gags with music. For example, in the 1937 cartoon, Porky the Wrestler, creator Tex Avery used a portion of “California, Here We Come” to compliment the gags that follow the champion’s evolution into a choo-choo train. The get up and go tune escalates the momentum of the action and helps tie all the gags together. This fusion of visual images and musical orchestration worked to brilliant effect, and created a paradigm shift in the cartooning industry. Porky the Wrestler was also groundbreaking for another reason. It gets the most laughs out of the metaphor. The scene begins with the champion accidentally swallowing a spectator’s pipe. The champion presses his stomach and out of his mouth comes smoke. This is when he starts to chug like a train; then Porky and the referee take hold and around the ring they go. The bell that signals rounds starts swaying back and forth, like at a railroad crossing. As spectators move around the arena, the floor beneath them sways. A spectator opens a window and sees scenery passing by. Eventually the train swallows the champ, then Porky, then the referee, and finally the rest of the arena (Barrier 333). Director Avery realized that once the audience was willing to suspend their disbelief for the first strange occurrence, they were willing to go along with an entire switch