Tex Avery’s cityscapes

Monday, July 4th, 2011 Horrorthon Posts

Tex Avery’s cartoons combine high-speed slapstick and vaudevillian characterization with existential surrealism, which called for extreme technical and stylistic precision. In particular, the cartoons feature richly-detailed background paintings (until the style was deliberately streamlined in the 1950s) that belie the ridiculous story-lines and somehow make everything even funnier.

You won’t see anything like this in any Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes short (especially Chuck Jones’ stuff, which is always extremely stylized and subdued). MGM’s Fred Quimby gave Avery higher budgets than he’d been allowed at Warner’s, and Avery hired at least two former Disney artists (who were part of a late-1930s mass labor exodus from Disney) who worked on the backgrounds.

Now that I’ve finally got the legendary Intégrale Tex Avery (see my earlier post) I can finally see the incredible vast landscapes in Avery’s animators’ imaginations. And so can you (since I spent some time extracting the backgrounds, starting with my favorite Avery cityscapes).

These are backgrounds from Northwest Hounded Police (1946), Hound Hunters (1947) and Ventriloquist Cat (1950), all of which take place in the sort of anonymous mid-size metropolis you see in cartoons and comic strips. (Click images for much bigger full-size versions.)


And yes, Kilroy was here.