Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snoopy VS. Lawn Chair

Here's a little something to tide you over until I post more about juggling:

I respect all animators, no matter how simplistic or crude their tastes may be. But I have even greater respect for animators who can take an assignment where they have to adapt to draw in other people's styles from project to project. John Lounsbery from Disney is one example. Lounsbery was the only animator who could replicate Milt Kahl's designs the closest. He took every assignment that was thrown at him & made it work out right, no matter how abstract or "designy" they were.

Another animator that comes to mind is Bill Melendez.

Melendez worked at Disney & Warner Bros. during the Golden Age, & he later worked on what he is probably most remembered for: the Peanuts films & TV specials. As any cartoonist might know, Peanuts characters are some of the hardest characters to draw. Charles Schulz had a distinct style that was (& still is) nearly impossible for any other person to copy exactly. I have never seen anyone who could draw Charlie Brown, Snoopy or any other Peanuts character like Schulz could. Bill Melendez took the challenge of not only drawing Schulz' characters, but also transmitting them into animation.

Here's my all-time favorite scene from any of the Peanuts specials: Snoopy battling the lawn chair from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973). Animated by Bill Melendez (he also provided the voice of Snoopy, too!).

The drawings by themselves may look crude & flat when seen one at a time, but when they're in motion it's an amazing sight! Very fluid & funny stuff.

Take a gander at his filmography. Start from the botton & work your way up the list...

Just imagine: Bill went from working at Disney on classic films like Fantasia & Bambi (uncredited), then on to Warner Bros. to work on some of the greatest cartoons ever to come out of the studio (Baby Bottleneck, Falling Hare, & The Great Piggy Bank Robbery just to name a few), then on to UPA, animating on Gerald McBoing-Boing & Madeline, then ending up animating & producing some of the most memorable TV specials of all time. What a history! & HE'S STILL GOING STRONG!

Check out his official site HERE. Thanks for everything, Bill!


jennthebenn said...

Snoopy's battle with the chair is my second-favorite moment in Peanuts animated history, right behind his boxing match with Lucy in "Snoopy, Come Home". It wasn't the fluid marvel of the Thanksgiving fight, but the combination of absurdity, hilarity and a boisterous soundtrack make it a classic to me.

Michael J. Ruocco said...

The boxing match is one of my favorites, too. I especially like Snoopy's break in the midlle of the fight. That alway's makes me chuckle.

Thanks for stopping by.

sandy@sopwithart said...

Thank you to all who admire the genius of Bill Melendez and the artists that created dog vs. man's contraptions! Snoopy and the cabana chair is perhaps how we all feel when we can't quite get those #!%%##@@ things opened! Bill's love of life is seen in his work!

Hal said...

I have a original cell from this scene.
I bought it in Michigan in 1987 and it aired in 1974 in the Thanksgiving special.
The cell has a pencil drawing of Snoopy and another drawing of the lawn chair in a envelope stuck to the back on the framed cell. It is stamp signed by Bill Melendez. The cell drawing is in color but clear. The background of the yard and driveway are on a different cell I guess. Pretty amazing how much hard work and time was put into these special and all cartoons before computers.I love looking at this drawing over the years.
I plan on selling it now that I'm starting to downsize my home.
cell 440-781-1789