“Warner Bros owns one of the most inspired and influential bursts of cartooning greatness ever made by an animation filmmaker: the output of Tex Avery at MGM between 1942-1955.” –Amid Amidi writing for the website “Cartoon Brew”
Avery was an American animator and animation director during the “Golden Age of Hollywood” animation. This 40-year period began in 1929 when sound cartoons were introduced and shown theatrically; it ended around 1969 when animation appeared mainly on television, then a newer medium.
He did his most significant work for the Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in the 1940s and 1950s. He created Daffy Duck, Droopy, and Screwy Squirrel, was crucial in the evolution of Bugs Bunny, and developed Porky Pig and Chilly Willy. Avery's effect can be seen in modern animation, including “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” and “Animaniacs.”
I watched Avery often when I was a kid. I found his shorts utterly engrossing and I barely moved as I sat in front of our family's TV. They were shown in half-hour blocks during weekday afternoons on WKBD-TV Channel 50, the one-time independent station in my hometown of Metro Detroit. (Channel 50 is now CW owned and operated.) An independent outlet was a good fit for his unconventional style.
Avery's animation and comic sensibilities had an influence on me as it was much different than anything else I had access to when I was a child. In contrast to Disney’s more sentimental fare, his shorts were hyper, edgy, and sarcastic – a character’s reactions were exaggerated, his/her movements were intensely sped-up, he/she would break the “fourth wall” by speaking directly to the audience.
My favorite segments include:
At various points, Rover tells both Sam's wife, Maggie, and her pet poodle, Fifi, in a deep, manly voice, “You’re a good kid!” I loved saying that line when I was a kid.
One of my favorite moments occurs when the stoic and monotone warden dances around maniacally as Spike acts as a one man jazz band. It's a very “Averyesque” moment.
My favorite line comes from the show’s manager, Pepito, who speaks in a highly exaggerated French accent. He thanks patrons who buy tickets with “Meeer-ci! Meeer-ci!”
I also enjoyed that line when I was a kid.
On a final note, here’s an interesting tidbit I came across while doing some research for this post. Avery was the one who came up with Bugs Bunny’s iconic catchphrase “What’s up, doc?” It was how the animator and his high school friends would greet one another, and he made the suggestion when his colleagues were in need of something Bugs would say to his nemesis, Elmer Fudd. So, even if you haven’t heard of Tex Avery until now, know that you’ve honored him if you’ve ever uttered that famous saying.
I'm Eli Natinsky and I'm a communication specialist. This blog explores my work and professional interests. I also delve into other topics, including media, marketing, pop culture, and technology.