"In thirty seconds of a Bob Clampett cartoon, there are more ideas, original drawings, sound ideas, than in 20 of anybody else's cartoons. They are amazing."If it was Tex Avery who realized that animation can do anything and Chuck Jones who took subtle humor and stylization to new heights in animation, then it was Robert "Bob" Clampett (1913–1984) who injected animation with the good, old-fashioned rubber-hose style it had in the 1930s and gave it a wackier makeover. One of the most popular directors of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoon shorts made by Warner Bros. during The Golden Age of Animation (second only to Chuck Jones in popularity), Bob Clampett was nothing short of a mischief maker, being both a real life version of Bugs Bunny, in addition to being a real life Daffy Duck. (pre-Chuck Jones Flanderization Daffy Duck, mind you.)Being inspired by the strange works of artist Salvador Dalí, as well as the other animation studios like Disney and Fleischer and even newspaper comic artists like Milt Gross, Clampett eventually began working at the Warner Bros. distributed animation unit of Leon Schlesinger, after failing to get a job at the Disney studios. (Disney had wanted to hire him, due to Clampett's excellent drawing skills, but they had all the animators they needed.) There, Clampett and his soon to be mentor, Fred "Tex" Avery, went to work in a crumbling wooden shack assigned to them, not far from the main Schlesinger lot. There, they discovered they were not alone — specifically, said shack appeared to have an infestation of termites. Still, being comfy there, the duo blessed upon the place the affectionate nickname Termite Terrace, which would soon become the unofficial name for the entire Looney Tunes animation studio as a whole.In 1941, Avery left the studio...but Clampett, having learned quite a thing or two from him, began experimenting with his own style of animation — a very wacky, surreal one which combined the early principles of rubberhose animation from The Silent Age of Animation, with the more modern, higher quality principles and art productions of a Disney short. The results were some of the finest cartoons ever made in general, let alone by the Warner Bros. animation unit.After leaving Warner Bros. in 1945, Clampett started his own animation studio and created Beany and Cecil.While for many years he was an esoteric director (his influenced downplayed in favor of the other directors, and his smaller output compared to them) but his cartoons have gained a surprisingly large fanbase in recent years, receiving praise and admiration from professionals like Milt Gray, Eric Goldberg and John Kricfalusi (the latter being his protege and biggest fan, is heavily influenced by him, and is also partly responsible for getting Clampett's shorts back into the limelight). As such, a large number of his cartoons have gained acclaim, with 21 shorts getting not only onto The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes list, but also five of them making it as winners (with five more as runner-ups) on The 50 Greatest Cartoons list.
—John Kricfalusi, gushing about his mentor.
1937: All entries are Porky Pig shorts.
- When's Your Birthday?: 1937 live action Warner Bros. film. Has a brief animated segment that is attributed to be Bob Clampett's directorial debut.
- Porky & Gabby: Allegedly directed by Ub Iwerks, but Chuck Jones claimed he and Bob actually co-directed it, with Ub merely doing the layouts—Clampett denied this claim, however. First Looney Tunes short outsourced to the Iwerks studio.
- Porky's Super Service: Same as above. Second Iwerks Looney Tune.
- Porky's Badtime Story 7-24: A Porky Pig and Gabby Goat cartoon. Third of the four Looney Tunes outsourced to the Ub Iwerks studio. Clampett's official directorial debut.
- Get Rich Quick Porky 8-28: Final Iwerks outsourced Looney Tune.
- Rover's Rival 10-09
- Porky's Hero Agency 12-04
1938: All entries are Porky Pig shorts.
- Porky's Poppa 1-15
- What Price Porky 2-26
- Porky's Five and Ten 4-16
- Injun Trouble 5-21: This short would later be remade in color as "Wagon Heels".
- Porky's Party 6-25
- Porky & Daffy 8-06: First teamup of Porky Pig and Daffy Duck.
- Porky in Wackyland 9-24: One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons, and one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Porky's Naughty Nephew 10-15
- Porky in Egypt 11-05
- The Daffy Doc 11-26: A Daffy and Porky teamup, although Porky is a victim to him. Clampett and Chuck Jones grew to hate this short due to it using an Iron Lung as a gag prop.
1939: All entries are Porky Pig shorts.
- The Lone Stranger and Porky Pig 1-07
- Porky's Tire Trouble 2-18
- Porky's Movie Mystery 3-11
- Chicken Jitters 4-01
- Kristopher Kolumbus Jr. 5-13
- Polar Pals 6-03
- Scalp Trouble 6-24: A Porky and Daffy team-up.
- Porky's Picnic 7-15
- Wise Quacks 8-05
- Porky's Hotel 9-02
- Jeepers Creepers 9-23
- Naughty Neighbors 10-07: Proto-Bugs cameo
- Pied Piper Porky 11-04
- The Film Fan 12-16
1940: All entries are Porky Pig shorts.
- Porky's Last Stand 1-06
- Africa Squeaks 1-27
- Ali-Baba Bound 2-10
- Pilgrim Porky 3-16
- Slap-Happy Pappy 4-13
- Porky's Poor Fish 4-27
- The Chewin' Bruin 6-08
- Patient Porky 8-24
- Prehistoric Porky 10-12
- The Sour Puss 11-02
- The Timid Toreador 12-21: Directorial debut of Norm McCabe, who co-directed this short with Bob.
- Porky's Snooze Reel 1-11: Co-directed by Norm McCabe.
- Goofy Groceries 3-29: Clampett's first Merrie Melodies short, and first oneshot cartoon. Uses the staple "Things come to life in a store" formula. First Clampett cartoon in color.
- Farm Frolics 5-10: Second Merrie Melodies outing.
- A Coy Decoy 6-07: A Porky Pig and Daffy Duck short.
- Meet John Doughboy 7-05: A Wartime Cartoon parodying then state of the art war weaponry. Porky Pig appears as the narrator.
- We, the Animals Squeak 8-09: A Porky Pig short.
- The Henpecked Duck 8-30: A Daffy Duck short.
- The Bug Parade 10-11: Initially directed by Tex Avery, but Clampett finished it.
- The Cagey Canary 11-22: Initially directed by Avery, finished by Clampett.
- Wabbit Twouble 12-20: Clampett's first Bugs Bunny cartoon. Originally planned by Tex Avery, but finished by Clampett. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Porky's Pooch 12-27: Debut of Charlie Dog (or a prototype of him in any instance). Starring Porky Pig.
- Aloha Hooey 1-31: Started by Avery, finished by Clampett.
- Crazy Cruise 3-14: Started by Avery, finished by Clampett.
- Horton Hatches The Egg 4-11: An adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story, with Clampett's humor injected into it.
- The Wacky Wabbit 5-02: Second Clampett Bugs Bunny short.
- Nutty News 5-23
- Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid 7-11: Third Bugs Bunny short he directed. Debut of Killer / Beaky the Buzzard. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, and runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons list.
- Wacky Blackout 7-11: A oneshot Wartime Cartoon, parodying wartime instructional films.
- Eatin' on the Cuff 8-22: Features usage of the Roger Rabbit Effect. Clampett's final black and white cartoon. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- The Hep Cat 10-03: First Looney Tunes short in color. A oneshot cartoon. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- A Tale of Two Kitties 11-21: Debut of Tweety Bird. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes. Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs 1-16: One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons and one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes—and one of the Censored Eleven. A jazzy, deranged parody of Disney's Snow White.
- Tortoise Wins by a Hare 2-20: A follow up to the Tex Avery short "Tortoise Beats Hare". One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- The Wise Quacking Duck 5-01: A Daffy Duck short.
- Tin Pan Alley Cats 7-17: One of the Censored Eleven. Features Stock Footage of "Porky in Wackyland," but in color.
- A Corny Concerto 9-25: One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons and one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes. A parody of Disney's Fantasia.
- Falling Hare 10-30: A Wartime Cartoon, featuring a famous encounter Bugs Bunny has with a gremlin. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes,
- An Itch in Time 12-04: An Elmer Fudd short, featuring a mischievous flea irritating his dog. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Fighting Tools: One of two Private Snafu shorts that he directed.
- What's Cookin' Doc? 1-08: A Bugs Bunny short, featuring Stock Footage from "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt."
- Tick Tock Tuckered 4-08: Shot for Shot Color Remake of "Porky's Badtime Story", but with Daffy Duck replacing Gabby Goat.
- Russian Rhapsody 5-20: A Wartime Cartoon, with Adolf Hitler having an airplane encounter with a colony of singing gremlins. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Hare Ribbin' 6-24: A Bugs Bunny short. Notable for having an infamous alternate ending, in which Bugs murders the dog that was chasing him. This footage was restored for Vol. 5 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection series as the "director's cut" of the cartoon.
- Birdy and the Beast 8-19: Second appearance of Tweety Bird.
- Buckaroo Bugs 8-26: The only short where Bugs Bunny is flat out portrayed as a villain.
- The Old Grey Hare 10-28: One of the strangest Bugs shorts ever made. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, and runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Booby Traps: Second of two Private Snafu shorts that he directed.
- Draftee Daffy 1-27: A Daffy Duck Wartime Cartoon. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- A Gruesome Twosome 6-09: Third appearance of Tweety Bird. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Wagon Heels 7-28: Color remake of "Injun Trouble."
- The Bashful Buzzard 9-05: Second appearance of Beaky Buzzard.
- Book Revue: 1-05: One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons and one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes. A ruthless parody of the "Things come to life in a store" genre of cartoons, and is cited as the short that put the final nail of the coffin of the already Deader Than Disco genre of cartoon.
- Baby Bottleneck 3-16: A Porky and Daffy cartoon. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Kitty Kornered 6-08: A Porky Pig cartoon, featuring a prototype of Sylvester. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, and runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- The Great Piggy Bank Robbery 7-20: A Daffy Duck short, and No. 16 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons, and one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
- Bacall to Arms: 8-03: A oneshot short started by Clampett, but finished by Art Davis (both uncredited).
- The Big Snooze 10-05: Last released Clampett cartoon. A Bugs Bunny short. One of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, and runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons list.
- The Goofy Gophers 1-25: Planned by Clampett, but finished by Art Davis.
- It's a Grand Old Nag: Last theatrical cartoon Clampett produced, for Republic Pictures. For years it was lost until it resurfaced, along with storyboards and a pencil test, on Vol. 2 of the Beany and Cecil DVD sets. See it here, with commentary by historians Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler.
Tropes in the work of Bob Clampett:
- Animation Bump: Shorts directed by Clampett had some of the most fluid, well-drawn animation to ever come out of the Warner Bros. cartoon studio. Even his B&W cartoons had surprisingly good animation, considering he was saddled with shoestring budgets of 3,000$ per cartoon and only had 4 weeks to slam together each one.
- Catch Phrase: Clampett often ended his cartoons with a funny vocal sound effect (usually rendered as "Bee-woop!") that he performed himself. This would end up becoming a Stock Sound Effect occasionally used by other directors, such as Friz Freleng.
- Depending on the Artist: Clampett gave his animators far more leeway in deviating from the model sheets and animating in their individual styles than his contemporaries. As a result, his cartoons are some of the easiest to pick out individual artist styles from.
- Deranged Animation:
- A trademark of Clampett's, even when compared to the works of Max and Dave Fleischer. It's very easy to see why John Kricfalusi (and a lot of other animation show runners and directors who brought Deranged Animation back to kids' cartoons in the 1990s, particularly those who worked on Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat) love the man.
- Two of his animators specialized in this type of animation Rod Scribner and Manny Gould, Clampett said in one interview that these two understood his style the most.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Clampett's alleged unprofessional antics and tendency to steal credit for work earned him a fair few enemies with Termite Terrace. Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc especially spoke derogatory of him. Even those who had a fond opinion of him such as Frank Tashlin and Robert McKimson made no denial that all the stories about him were true.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Even more than his colleagues, Clampett absolutely reveled in this.Robert McKimson: There was one thing that Clampett always did do. He always wanted to try to get by with something. It was an oddball quirk that really made a lot of his cartoons very funny; but it could get him in trouble. He'd do things that would hurt; some guy would fall into a meatgrinder, or something like that, and somebody'd come along and grind him up. These are things that can hurt while you see them. (...) One thing that Clampett was always trying to do was get something that was a little sexy in a cartoon, and some of them went a little overboard. We had to just chop them, because you couldn't put things like that in a cartoon.
- Jump Cut: Bob's cartoons at their peak had very sophisticated film cutting and timing. Some of his fastest scenes, like the scene in "A Tale of Two Kitties" where Catsello is falling towards a pinchfork and the camera cutting back and forth between his reactions and the fork, barely last a few frames on screen.
- Off Model: Clampett was very stylistically liberal and allowed his animators to draw the characters how they saw fit, arguably creating the whole "Less 'on model,' more 'in character'" style of cartoon animation.
- Passing the Torch: John Kricfalusi famously borrowed a LOT from Clampett's style in his own cartoons, as he was John's mentor for several years.
- Screwy Squirrel: Clampett preferred to work with this archetype. His interpretations of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny are notable for being wackier, sillier and more sociopathic than anyone else's.
- Seen-It-All Suicide: A frequent gag in many Looney Tunes cartoons, but especially Clampett's. Notable examples include "Horton Hatches the Egg", "An Itch in Time", and "The Sour Puss". A variant also occurs in "Tortoise Wins by a Hare" (the gangsters shoot themselves after Bugs reveals he's the rabbit).
- Stealing the Credit: According to Robert McKimson:Michael Barrier: Were there any of the Clampett cartoons that were in large proportion yours, because you handled the timing...
McKimson: Well, so many of them were; I couldn't tell you which ones. But I do know that is one reason I had no qualms about going into direction, because I was doing the same thing with Clampett, on maybe three out of every five pictures.
- Surrealism: Many of Bob's cartoons employ surrealistic elements. While his mentor Tex Avery and contemporary Frank Tashlin tinkered with parodies and Chuck Jones tinkered with postmodernism, Bob's films tended to be fun little cartoon worlds that had all sorts of crazy, impossible things happening, yet the characters believed in what was going on, and the cartoons still operated on their own silly internal logic, with only mild hints of irony (but plenty of tonque-in-cheek humor) popping up. Porky in Wackyland and The Great Piggy Bank Robbery are probably the most oft-cited examples of him using this, if just because of how weird they are all around.
- Unintentional Period Piece: A lot of his cartoons (like a lot of cartoons of the era from Warner Bros.) won't be very funny unless you know about 1940s history and pop culture.