Thursday, 2 January 2014

Walking With Wolves

How do you make a cartoon character turn 180 degrees? If you’re Carlo Vinci, you come up with some unique drawings.

Carlo has a neat little walk cycle for “Chiefy,” the mastermind wolf in the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “Sheep-Shape Sheepherder.” I enjoy Carlo’s work on the first season of the Huck show. He seemed to be looking to do something different. In this cartoon, he resorts to full animation when he turns the pacing Chiefy in the other direction. The drawings are used for one frame only.

Chiefy has a high-leg walk as he practically stops and turns. Here are the drawings from the first turn.

The eight drawings of Chiefy pacing are each shot on two consecutive frames but they’re not of a rigid head and body with only the legs animated, which is the kind of animation the studio acquired a reputation of doing. Each has the torso, head and even the cupped hands in different positions from drawing to drawing.

Carlo does save drawings; this is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, after all. The pace cycle (including the turn) is used in both directions, the ink and paint department simply used the same drawings and painted the cels on the other side. And the cartoon may have more of Carlo’s head-shakes than any other he worked on at H-B.

A few other things were re-used, too. Shorty, the henchman wolf, dresses up as a sheepdog. The design, other than the tail and placement of the ears, is identical to Wooly in the Ruff and Reddy cartoons. And the idea of a fast-talking wolf with a Phil Silvers voice was re-used in a number of cartoons and finally re-worked into the Hokey Wolf series in 1961. Carlo had pretty much moved on to the half-hour Hanna-Barbera shows at that point, leave the adventures of Huck to others.

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