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Sunday, August 04, 2013

Cartoon Warns Of Too Fast Progress!


Robots Swarm Scrappy's Farm in Technoracket (1933)

Another "life on the farm" cartoon, this by Charles Mintz by way of Columbia release. How many comic variations are there on milking a cow? Mintz tests limit of that, then varies well-milked formula by way of "technocracy," that loony spin on 30's modernity flogged by funmakers till wrung-out by season's end. Scrappy was a little boy that sought not viewer sympathy, gags crowding out character niceties a Walt Disney would have tended. Guys like Mintz and even the Fleischers were scared stiff of animation less than maximum funny, often throwing out babies with bathwater. Scrappy is active but not likeable, treating his livestock in martinet manner and coldly replacing them with robots that run amok for the finish. That last is more creepy than comical, but creepy carries greater currency than cute, at least for the curious today (is there another "c" word I forgot for that sentence?). Inventions were invariably threats in an era when most patronage was rural-based, too much mechanics their idea of shortcut to disaster. No good could come of nut-and-bolt cows issuing bottled milk, or metallic seeds that yield canned vegetables. Technoracket served its market fine, there being no disgrace to distant second behind Disney (or in Scrappy's case, double-digits behind). WD could not, after all, supply every theatre with cartoons. Interesting was fact that Columbia had been distributing Mickey Mouse in addition to Scrappy up to Technoracket's release season, a point where Roy Disney sought increased cash advance for shorts and the company turned him down, Walt/Roy's jump to United Artists the result.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

SCRAPPY is to 1930's animated cartoons what NANCY is to mid-century comic strips; a character so generic, so aggressively typical of his medium and era that he achieves a nearly abstract quality of perfection largely detached from anything resembling actual humor and/or wit. Or so says me. Love those 'toons, and while we are at it we should mention Dick Huemer, Art Davis, and Sid Marcus, the actual guys who did the real heavy lifting on the darn things rather than producer Mintz. Folks who have an once of curiosity on the subject should also head to Harry McCracken's wonderful site http://www.scrappyland.com/blog/

12:32 PM  

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