Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid is a 1929 short cartoon directed by Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising. It is the pilot film for the entire Looney Tunes franchise, and the debut of Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid. The film is notable for being one of the earliest (if not the first) attempts at synchronizing spoken dialogue with animation.
The cartoon starts with an unnamed cartoonist (depicted by animator Rudy Ising) drawing Bosko on a sheet of paper, who springs to life in front of his eyes. The cartoon (voiced by Carmen "Max" Maxwell) introduces himself as Bosko, and the cartoonist asks Bosko if he can perform tricks for him and entertain the (offscreen) audience, which he agrees to do.
Obviously, the film won over Leon Schlesinger, and the Looney Tunes series was subsequently greenlit, with the series officially launching the following year with Sinkin' in the Bathtub. The cartoon was never released theatrically, and was only intended to be a privately-screened pilot for the series. It eventually fell into the Public Domain and can be found online, as well as the first volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series. Cartoon Network also aired a cut-and-sped-up-for-time version of this short as part of their ToonHeads special about lost, rare, and obscure Warner Bros. works (ToonHeads: The Lost Cartoons).
- Art Initiates Life: Bosko immediately comes to life after Rudy finishes drawing him.
- Character Title: The cartoon is named after the title character.
- Dreadful Musician: Bosko is not a very good singer. His attempt at holding a long note is so unpleasant to Rudy Ising, that he forces him back into his ink pen just to get him to stop.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Even more so than Sinkin' in the Bathtub, since there's very little music present at all in the film. There's also no opening or ending credits. Most distinctly, the cartoon isn't actually called a Looney Tunes cartoon as a result.
- Incredibly Long Note: Bosko tries this early on, and it makes his head pop of his body like a broken mattress spring. Later on, Bosko holds a very long note while singing "Sonny Boy" near the end, which annoys Rudy Ising enough to make him suck Bosko back into the ink pen from whence he came.
- Jive Turkey: Bosko speaks in an exaggerated form of AAVE in this short, tying in with his roots in Minstrel Shows; this aspect would be tossed out in later appearances in favor of a Mickey Mouse-esque falsetto.
- No Fourth Wall: Rudy and Bosko are both well aware that there's an audience watching them.
- No Name Given: The cartoonist in the film isn't given a name, but it's clearly Rudy Ising, Bosko's co-creator.
- Off with His Head!: A non-lethal variant. Bosko holds a note so long while singing that it randomly makes his head detach from his body like a broken spring. He eventually reattaches it to his body.
- Pilot Movie: For the entire Warner Brothers Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies franchise.
- Public Domain Animation
- Random Events Plot: The cartoon has no plot to speak of. It's just Rudy Ising getting Bosko to do various tricks for the audience, just like in a "chalk talk". Justified as this is a pilot short made as a pitch to Warner Bros. to see if the character would be worth using for their animated shorts and some pitch pilots don't have plots to speak of (and if they do, it's rudimentary stuff made to outline the character or series).
- Roger Rabbit Effect: The film is clearly channeling Out of the Inkwell in the bits where Rudy Ising and Bosko interact on-screen.
- Short Film: Even shorter than the future Looney Tunes, since it runs for less than five minutes.
- Shout-Out: Bosko sings Al Jolson's 1928 hit "Sonny Boy" from The Singing Fool.
- Standard Snippet: When Bosko does a stereotypical Yiddish dance, he also sings an acapella of the song "Khosn Kale Mazel Tov".