Sunday, August 17, 2014

Geekdom Madness: TRG - Animate Me

It is time to work for toons!

Let's reacquaint ourselves with the combatants:


Daffy Duck was created by Tex Avery and Bob Clampett for the 1937 Warner Brothers short "Porkey's Duck Hunt" and has been a staple of the Looney Tunes roster ever since.

One of the first "Screwball" cartoon characters, Daffy was refreshing to audiences as a protagonist who was assertive, off-the-wall and even aggressive towards his antagonist. As the years went by, Daffy not only became more anthropomorphic, but also had his personality shifted greatly depending on who was directing a particular short. Under Clampett, he was as zany as ever. Under Robert McKimson, he was more savvy and restrained. Under Chuck Jones, he became a greedy gloryhound and perpetual screwup. Modern interpretations tend to mix all these disparate traits into something resembling a self-obsessed cloudcuckoolander.

Daffy Duck was played by "Man of 1,000 Voices" Mel Blanc in all official appearances until Blanc's death in 1989. Blanc said that Daffy's signature lisp, which also became more pronounced over time, was implemented because of Daffy's "extended mandible" likely inhibiting speech (though rumor has it that producer Leon Schlesinger's own lisp may have also been an influence). Blanc's Daffy voice was often pitched or sped up in post-production - At normal pitch/speed, the voice is identical to Sylvester the Cat's (making their confrontation in 1950's "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" all the more interesting on a meta-level,

Since Blanc's passing, many other talented voice actors have tried their hand at Daffy. In most official appearances from the 1990s onward, Daffy has been played by either Jeff Bergman or Joe Alaskey. Other performers include Greg Burson ("Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs"), Maurice LaMarche ("Taz-Mania"), Frank Gorshin ("Superior Duck"), Dee Bradley Baker ("Space Jam"), Samuel Vincent ("Baby Looney Tunes"), Jeff Bennett ("Attack of the Drones"), Bill Farmer ("Robot Chicken"), and Keven Shinick ("MAD"). For a gag in "Night of the Living Duck," Mel Tormé provided Daffy's singing voice.


Ariel was created by Ron Clements for the 1989 Disney Animated Canon film "The Little Mermaid," based loosely on the 1837 Hans Christian Anderson fable of the same name. Clements felt that Anderson's protagonist was far too tragic, prompting Ariel's personality to become more spirited and rebellious. 

Supervising Animator Glen Keane based Ariel's design on a combination of his own wife and then-16-year-old actress Alyssa Milano. While the studio wanted her to be a blonde, the creative team strove to make Ariel a redhead because A) It was easier to color for the different lighting and environments, B) It matched the green in her tail far better, and C) because the film "Splash" had recently been released featuring a blonde mermaid and they wanted to do something different.

Ariel has had some of the most mixed critical reactions of any of the "Disney Princesses," for while she is one of the most independent, strong-willed, and three-dimensional female protagonists the company has ever produced, her storyline of giving up much of herself for a man she's hardly met and getting what she wants despite the trouble she's caused carries unfortunate implications.

In all official appearances including merchandise, Ariel has been played by Jodi Benson. Benson would ask for different lighting in the recording booth in order to get into character, particularly while recording the song "Part of your World". Writer/Actress/Comedian Sherri Stoner also provided some live-action animation references. 

Final Thoughts
I've always felt that Disney created the best feature film animation while Warner Brothers created the best short animation. Which one do you prefer?

As always, make sure you're viewing the WEB version of the site and vote in the poll on the right-hand side of the screen. Poll closes Friday, and results posted on Saturday. Feel free to discuss your pick in the comments below.

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