Jerry’s Jazz band

Since I’m on my honeymoon this week, enjoy some of the finer stuff I’ve collected on my tumblelog over the last 4 years or so.

The Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry shorts are somewhat overshadowed by their more famous forefathers, but as a kid, I had a particular fondness for Rock’n’Rodent. Mostly for the music, but it’s funny nonethless.

Tom & Jerry: 72 Years Old Today

Yes, the original cat and mouse duo are 71 years young today, February 20th. Back in 1940, the short Puss Gets The Boot was released and featured the two characters who would quickly become the characters that are so beloved today.

So now I’m curious, in 1940, was stuff from 1869 as popular and as widely known as Tom & Jerry are today?

Character Sundays: Spike The Bulldog

Today’s character of discussion is one that should be immediately familiar to almost anyone who watches cartoons.

Spike the Bulldog first appeared in the 1941 short, Dog Trouble, where he gave both Tom and Jerry a hard time. While that was his first appearance, it wasn’t until 1944’s The Bodyguard did we hear him speak.

Spike represents the stereotypical bulldog, immensely strong, undeniably tough and with an extremely sour humour to boot. Throughout his appearances, Tom is constantly getting on his nerves while Jerry often wins his protection.

With the introduction of his son, Tyke, things take another turn as the plot often revolves around Tom and Jerry interrupting Spike and Tyke, for which Tom is almost always on the receiving end of Spike’s foot.

Spike is essentially the voice of reason within the series. He attempts, sometimes pleading for, a degree of sanity from the other two. While he is not Tom’s foil to the degree that Jerry is, he is not averse to resorting to Tom’s methods when necessary.

Spike is very obviously the next logical step in the progression of cartoon animals, as witnessed and explained by Poochie the Dog in the Simpsons episode, Itchy, Scratchy and Poochie. Together, the trio of Tom, Jerry and Spike form a trio that effectively cancel each other out but at the same time, are always playing catchup to each other.

As far as bulldogs go, does Spike represent the epitome of the species?

Of course not! Bulldogs are well known for their mild temperament.

Mark Mayerson Is Right!

Due to my abysmal levels of energy this morning, Amid Amidi beat me to it, but Mark’s post is nonethless right on the money.

It’s a 2005 Tom and Jerry, co-directed by Joe Barbera. In some ways, it does a remarkably good job of duplicating the look and feel of the Hanna-Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoons of the 1940s and ’50s. However, in other ways, it doesn’t…..

Mark does an excellent job of running down the issues with the short, starting with the opening credits that would give any designer nightmares and going on to talk about the animation styles. There are some great comments so don’t forget to read those too.

So just what is the point of so attempting to recreate the old timey feel of a Tom & Jerry cartoon? Oh sure, it wears its loyalty to the source material on its sleeve but what does that prove? That it’s the ‘rightful successor/continuation’ to the originals? That it somehow legitimises the cartoon as a real “Tom & Jerry” short? Or is it that the creators are acknowledging the value to be had in the old shorts?

The answer is more likely that it doesn’t feel “right” to see Tom & Jerry in any other setting than the ones we’re used to. The problem is that the original shorts were a product of their time, the 1940s and 50s. Everything was different then, and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera played on that. Just think of how many jokes they got out of that ironing board. Regardless of how many times the rehashed the same joke, they were at least using contemporary society for inspiration. Who has an ironing board like that now? No-one! As Mark says (emphasis mine):

Creative works are not only the product of people, they’re also the products of a time and place. As the world keeps changing, it is impossible to recreate something from the past. While artists often wish to duplicate what they love, they can only approximate it. Paradoxically, the closer they get to it, the more they’ve succeeded in doing nothing more than an good imitation. And since the originals are everywhere to begin with, is an imitation necessary?

And rightfully so. That’s partially why The Simpsons of today is so radically different from the early years. The show has changed but society changed even more. The first few series’ simply reflect the culture of the time (the early 90s); today’s episodes are much more post-September 11th/global recession in tone.

So the real question is, why are studios/producers reluctant to move older cartoon properties beyond their established norms? Are they afraid of the risk? I mean, Lunatics Unleashed can’t be that scary an example of what can happen, right?

Iif you’re going to go to the effort of updating properties, why not just do something new? It might be a bit more expensive, but risks can be mitigated, and you’re far more likely to have a stronger product that isn’t constrained by the pre-conceived notions of ” the old version”.

At the end of the day though, David OReilly says it best:

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