"que de sang caillé sur mon chemin griffé de lumière, l'or défunt des réverbères"

Tag: Norman Klein

Daffy Duck

“He was essentially an early thirties rubber-hose design (not a full anatomical character) – mostly two circles attached by a cylindrical neck, inked entirely in black, not much volume, mostly skin without bones. In early cartoons, he would pull his skin back to show he was just skin and bone, but there would be no clear sense of an anatomy inside.”

Daffy Duck in 1937

Daffy Duck in 1937


“He was virtually dematerialized, able to hop across water as if he had no weight whatsoever, or the water were simply a drawing. On various cels, he was also inked with a blur along his back, one of many devices [Tex] Avery used to accelerate sudden bursts of speed. Slowed down on moviola to one cel at a time, these blur drawings suggest a body disintegrating under its own momentum, or a body intentionally incomplete, as if part of the outline were missing.
There were advantages to being boneless and incomplete. Daffy was designed to move as improbably as possible, the first of many such characters that Avery developed – enigmas who lived outside the rules of plot, space, and time.”


Norman M. Klein – 7 Minutes. The Life and Death of the American Cartoon.



The Ideal Animator (1915 for Pathé News)

“An animated cartoonist must be able to talk English, Irish and Swedish, must know the Ten Commandments, the law of gravitation, locomotion and its uses, mind over matter, psychology and its action on cheese, the rules of the road, “cohesion,” and its lifting capacity, navigation, [be] a strong believer in Darwin, [know] the art of tuning a bass violin, the internal combustion engine and its use in the home, how to fry an egg, many innumerable things touched upon so lightly by our famous men and, above all, the animated cartoonist must have a one-track mind.”


Quoted from Norman M. Klein – 7 Minutes. The Life and Death of the American Cartoon.

Cited as: Bert Green (cartoonist on Pathé News), “The Making of an Animated Cartoon,” 1915, on file at Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Norman M. Klein on the Use of Sound in 1920s Cartoons

“Sound could not damage the integrity of the story in a cartoon. Quite the contrary. The cartoon was already a fractured narrative. Instead of the shot or the motivated character, the atomic unit was the gag – and the flimsiest excuse justified a gag. Sound enhanced the broken narrative within the cartoon. The characters could be stopped in mid-crisis by a shift between voice and music: a sort of Tin Pan Alley alienation device. The false note was more important than the true. There was tinny music (later called Mickey Mouse music), as disembodied voices, creaking stairways offscreen, ghoulish laughs, boop-boop-a-doops.”

Versatility of the drawn line in silent cartoons:

“New visual gags were possible. Inanimate objects could not only look alive, they could sound alive as well. Animals became as versatile as Felix’s tail. A turtle was sprung like a couch; trees could mumble to each other in the wind; skeletons could tap out xylophone music; knees could shake rhythm to a tinny rag. On the other hand, some advantages of the silent cartoon were lost. Music replaced text as the ideogram. […] Felix could no longer turn a question mark into a skyhook with the same effect, or tip his head or turn his tail into a valise. The graphic ideogram was replaced by syncopation.”


Norman M. Klein – 7 Minutes. The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon.