The Man From Wackyland.
"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
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
artist Salvador Dali
, 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.