The Colored Cartoon
Black Presentation in American Animated Short Films, 1907-1954
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
My writing of The Colored Cartoon has been a labor of love. I thank God for the opportunity. I am grateful to my editor, Clark Dougan, for his encouragement and support. He has patiently and sensitively guided me through transforming early versions into a publishable book. ...
Note to the Reader
The Internet is an invaluable resource for animation research. Images from many of the films mentioned in The Colored Cartoon currently appear on webpages created by scholars and aficionados of the genre. Typing the name of a cartoon character, film title, producer, or studio into any search engine will yield a list of possible sites where still images and even film clips can be found. ...
Introduction: The Blackness of Animation
American animation owes its existence to African Americans. This is not to suggest that African Americans were involved in the technological development of animated film or even that they played an active role in the creation of the first cinematic cartoons. The connection between African Americans and animation was more subtle and indirect than that but nonetheless intimate and unmistakable. Early cartoons are ...
Chapter 1. The Silent Era
During the first two decades of American animation (1907–27), the medium evolved from a vaudeville act to a film genre noticed by respected critics and exploited by a few Hollywood-based distribution companies. These cartoons were produced mostly in New York City, at first by individual animators but later by teams of illustrators working in studios. ...
Chapter 2. The Arrival of Sound
Between 1928 and 1934, the animation industry redefined itself with the introduction of sound synchronization. Although America’s movie industry quickly embraced sound after the phenomenal success of the first “talkie,” The Jazz Singer, in 1927, animation studios greeted the new technology with mixed feelings. Producers Walt Disney and Max Fleischer...
Chapter 3. Black Characterizations
In 1930 the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (MPPDA) enacted the Motion Picture Production Code (henceforth the Code) for filmmakers to follow. Throughout the 1920s civic and religious groups, furious at the increasing sexual and violent content of films, had called for either the movie industry to censor itself or the federal govern-...
Chapter 4. Fred "Tex" Avery and "Trickster" Animation
Frederick Bean “Tex” Avery, who directed cartoons for Leon Schlesinger Productions from 1935 to 1941, often gave them a very unlikely African American aesthetic. No scholarship on animation reveals the remotest familiarity on Avery’s part with black culture. A white man from Texas, he frequently resorted to ethnic stereotypes—especially African ...
Chapter 5. Black Representation and World War II Political Concerns
From the very beginning of America’s involvement in World War II, the blackface image contributed to the war effort of the U.S. animation industry. Leon Schlesinger Productions started work on the war bonds commercial Leon Schlesinger Presents Bugs Bunny in late November 1941, completing it only eight days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on ...
Chapter 6. African American Representation and Changing Race Relations
As World War II ended, the movie industry offered fewer roles for African Americans. The popularity of the all-black musical had waned. Because of mounting criticism from civil rights activists about servile characters played by blacks, roles for maid and butler characters in movies dried up. Meanwhile, leading roles for African Americans in dramatic ...
Chapter 7. United Productions and the End of Animated Black Representation
Changes in African American imagery in the animation industry corresponded to a period of change in race relations which the nation entered after World War II. As African Americans began serving in integrated military units and playing on major-league baseball teams in the late 1940s, some independent cartoon producers used their films to ...
Conclusion: The Legacy of Animated African American Expression
As animation studios struggled to stay open over the next two decades, they tried to retain their formulas for caricaturing blacks without drawing black figures. Having served as the foundation of the theatrical cartoon industry for over fifty years, African American culture had become inextricable from animation. When Friz Freleng sought to modern-...
Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2007
OCLC Number: 794701592
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