With two young kids I spend a lot of time consuming children’s entertainment, and thinking about what made an impression on me as a kid. Around age 10 I recieved a book on Looney Toons animation that had a very in-depth view into the making of the cartoons. It was then I realized some directors were better than others, and some cartoons were actual ground breaking milestones. The single best cartoon of all Looney Toons was, in my mind, Chuck Jones’ 4th-wall-breaking torture of Daffy Duck in “Duck Amuck.”
It’s still very much taken for granted that subject, background and sound combine to communicate a singular concept in a video sequence (the same goes for photography, but minus the sound). “Duck Amuck” takes those segments apart and reassembles them so when Daffy opens his beak, strange animals sounds spill out, and he notices it but clearly doesn’t have control over his own body. A few minutes later, the film frame splits, creating two Daffys who are instantly antagonistic to each other. Maurice Noble’s background art styles use sometimes realistic paintings, sometimes flat shapes with sketchy lines that evoke smoke the way my 5 year old draws them. Writer Michael Maltese and voice actor Mel Blanc ranges Daffy’s emotions from rage, fear, frustration to reasoned bargaining to pure joy and back within a few minutes. Tie this tour de force with director Chuck Jones’ immaculate sense of timing and camera techniques and it’s such a tour de force I want to watch it over and over.
I look back at my photography from the last 3 years and see the huge impact this cartoon had on it. People are shredded and reassembled, unreal elements are added to prints (like paint and embroidery) that interact with the “real” elements. Sometimes there’s literal cartoons within the images. Odd juxtapositions, like a very dark element in a light scenario, or vice versa are common. I’ve even gone for flatter, more graphic design type of backgrounds in the last few months instead of 3 dimensional environments.