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Friday, May 26, 2006

Why no rubber hose?

As you may or may not know, rubber hose animation was a novelty in cartoons when they first appeared in theaters in the teens, and into the early 30s. Then, when color became the norm in 1935, rubber hose was considered cheap and unrealistic. John Kricfalusi's discussion on rubber hose on his blog, inspired me. I began thinking to myself why it died out? Was it a restricted dicision? Or did it just abruptly die out the way a fad does? (now that I think of it, stuffing phone booths is something that disappeared for no true explanation).
Here is a picture I took off my TV from Steamboat Willie:
I always thought this was some clever animation. A funny joke too. A cartoony way for Pete to get Mickey's attention. And Mickey rebels by razzing Pete. The antagonist tries to kick the rodent, but he flees the scene, and Pete gets a kick in his own fanny:
This scene used to irk me as a child. Personally any kind of cotortionism (I spelled that wrong, I just know it) still bothers me, but only if it's real. Cartoon body-flexing doesn't annoy me anymore. In fact, it's a great way to deliver a gag! But by the 40s, it was all gone! There was really only one person still doing it by then, and that's Bob Clampett. Watch his cartoon "Baby Bottleneck" and you'll see what I mean. Even his later TV series Beany & Cecil had some flexibility.
But this brings me to an observation on the DVD interview of Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston on Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 1. Johnston comments, that doing rubber hose animation, even doing it today, wouldn't get you a job. You're bosses wouldn't think you were being serious. Well, on one hand, executives today don't know squat, but why would rubber hose be frowned upon?
I know John K. already had a rubber-hose animation discussion, but I'm starting my own. What are you cartoon fans' opinions on rubber hose animation? Should it have stayed, or are you glad it was done with? Or should it have been killed off sooner?
-Brandon "Georgy Girl" Pierce


Blogger Eddie Fitzgerald said...

It should have stayed as long as creative, crowd-pleasing people still wanted to work that way.


6/01/2006 5:39 PM

Blogger BrandonPierce said...

I suppose you're right, Eddie. Maybe it died out, 'cause nobody wanted to do it anymore.
But, I think by the '50s, crowds had forgotten to what it was anyway, and the cartoonists probably forgot about it as well, at least until TV started buying up the oldwer cartoons in the 60s.

6/02/2006 11:35 AM


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