Tex Avery



Frederick Bean "Tex" Avery (February 26, 1908 – August 26, 1980) was an American animator, cartoonist, voice actor and director, known for producing animated cartoons during the golden age of American animation. His most significant work was for the Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, creating the characters of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Droopy, Screwy Squirrel, and developing Porky Pig, Chilly Willy (this last one for the Walter Lantz Studio) into the personas for which they are remembered.

Gary Morris described Avery's innovative approach:

Above all, [Avery] steered the Warner Bros. house style away from Disney-esque sentimentality and made cartoons that appealed equally to adults, who appreciated Avery's speed, sarcasm, and irony, and to kids, who liked the nonstop action. Disney's "cute and cuddly" creatures, under Avery's guidance, were transformed into unflappable wits like Bugs Bunny, endearing buffoons like Porky Pig, or dazzling crazies like Daffy Duck. Even the classic fairy tale, a market that Disney had cornered, was appropriated by Avery, who made innocent heroines like Red Riding Hood into sexy jazz babes, more than a match for any Wolf. Avery also endeared himself to intellectuals by constantly breaking through the artifice of the cartoon, having characters leap out of the end credits, loudly object to the plot of the cartoon they were starring in, or speak directly to the audience.[1]

Avery's style of directing encouraged animators to stretch the boundaries of the medium to do things in a cartoon that could not be done in the world of live-action film. An often-quoted line about Avery's cartoons was, "In a cartoon you can do anything."[2] He also performed a great deal of voice work in his cartoons, usually throwaway bits (e.g. the Santa Claus seen briefly in Who Killed Who?), but Avery also voiced Junior from George and Junior and occasionally filled in for Bill Thompson as Droopy.

Legacy
Avery's influence can be seen in modern animated films, video games and television series such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Phineas and Ferb, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Animaniacs, Freakazoid!, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the Genie character from Disney's Aladdin. An Averyesque cowboy character bore his name in the otherwise unrelated series The Wacky World of Tex Avery. Avery's work has been honored on shows such as The Tex Avery Show and Cartoon Alley.[citation needed]

In the mid 1990s, Dark Horse Comics released a trio of three-issue miniseries that were openly labelled tributes to Avery's MGM cartoons, Wolf & Red, Droopy, and Screwy Squirrel. It should also be noted that Tex Avery, unlike most Warner Brothers directors, kept many original title frames of his cartoons, several otherwise lost due to Blue Ribbon Reissues. Rare prints and art containing original titles and unedited animation from Avery's MGM and Warner Bros. cartoons are now usually sold on eBay or in the collections of animators and cartoon enthusiasts. In 2008, France issued three stamps honoring Tex Avery for his 100th birthday, depicting Droopy, the redheaded showgirl, and the wolf.

Today, the copyrights to all classic color cartoons directed by Avery at Warners and MGM are owned by Turner Entertainment, with Warner Bros. handling distribution. (WB owns the black-and-white cartoons directly.) Turner and WB are both units of Time Warner. The cartoons he directed at the Lantz studio are owned by their original distributors, Universal Studios. A few of Avery's WB and MGM shorts are in the public domain, but WB and Turner hold the original film elements.

All of his MGM shorts were released in a North American MGM/UA laserdisc set called The Compleat Tex Avery. While two cartoons on the set were edited versions, these being the blackface gags in Droopy's Good Deed and Garden Gopher, others, including the controversial Uncle Tom's Cabana and Half-Pint Pygmy were included intact (although these were removed from the Region 2 DVD release, now out of print). Several of his cartoons were released on VHS, in four volumes of Tex Avery's Screwball Classics, two Droopy collections, and various inclusions on MGM animation collection releases, with many gags edited out for television showings left in.

Avery's Droopy cartoons are available on the DVD set Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection.[18] The seven Droopy cartoons produced in CinemaScope were included here in their original widescreen versions (albeit letter-boxed), instead of the pan and scan versions regularly broadcast on television.

Also, some of his works could be found on home video releases (from VHS to Blu-ray) of Warner Bros.' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts, and the same is true of his few Lantz Studio cartoons included in the DVD set The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection.