Saturday, 26 March 2016

Mark of the Mouse Cycles

I really enjoy the way Carlo Vinci handled cycle animation in the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons. In a bunch of cartoons, he had different kinds of cycles with something interesting going on; it wasn’t just the same old six drawings showing a character running every time.

To give you an idea, here are a few cycles from Mark of the Mouse, a 1958 Pixie and Dixie cartoon. Dixie disguises himself as the TV character named in the title, a Zorro-like character, who is easily dispatched by Mr. Jinks until the real Mark shows up.

Dixie is given a four-drawing run cycle. Notice how Carlo rolls Dixie’s head. In other run cycles at H-B, on Jinks, Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone and even George Jetson, he would give characters a butt roll. The angle of the right leg/foot in the third drawing can be found in Carlo’s animation elsewhere at the studio.

Now the drawings in a cycle, slowed down somewhat from what is in the cartoon.

This is a four-drawing run cycle of Mr. Jinks. The head looks like it’s in the same position but you can see in the cycle, it’s not. Carlo has made four separate drawings of the cat running with the sword.

Again, this is slower than in the actual cartoon.

This is a four-drawing run cycle of Mr. Jinks, too. But Carlo doesn’t use the same one. In the cycle above, Jinks is angry. Below, he’s kind of hamming it up because he’s pretending he’s afraid of Dixie as the Mark of the Mouse.

Here it is in an endless, slower loop. I love the churning fists. The head is on a separate cel. Carlo used this cycle only once, in this cartoon, and never again. If this cartoon had been made at Filmation, the cycle would have been used in every single cartoon. Maybe three times.

Here’s a six-frame cycle of Jinks bouncing using three drawings. Note the low crotch in the second drawing. Again, the muzzle is on a separate cel. Drawing one is on one frame, drawing two is on two frames, drawing one is repeated, then drawing three is on two frames. That’s the cycle.

Now, the completed cycle.

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned electric socket gag, is there? This cycle has two drawings of the electric lightning over top of two different drawings of Jinks, creating a four-frame cycle. The drawing of Jinks is held for two frames while one version of the lightning is used in the first frame, then the second version is used in the second frame. Then the wavy version of Jinks is held for two frames while the two lightning drawings are re-used.

And the finished cycle, slightly slower than on screen.

My favourite animation is a little later in the cartoon when Carlo draws a skeletal version of Jinks alternating with a silhouette version. I won’t post a cycle version, just a couple of the drawings. You’ll notice the same yellow electric lightning is used behind Jinks that’s in the previous cycle.

The animation in this cartoon isn’t as smooth at it became in Pixie and Dixie cartoons even a year later and Carlo doesn’t stick anywhere close to a model sheet, but that’s part of what makes these early cartoons so much fun.


  1. Now who else thought we'd be getting a review of Yakky Doodle's "Easter Duck" today?

  2. I thought we'd get it TOMORROW (Actually Easter Sunday)! C'mon, Yowp! There's still time!

  3. Vinci's work was still more effective, and the characters more recognizable than in the hands of some other Animators. My late associate, Ken Southworth commented on Lewis Marshall, who is credited on some of the poorer cartoons as being a mediocre Animator who was promoted at MGM after having been an Assistant for so many years.

  4. YOWP do you have any info on who did the voice of the Mark of the Mouse?

    1. Yowp's own speculation in his long-ago review of the cartoon guessed Howard MacNear, who'd be best remembered as the fluttery, bumbling Maryberry, R.F.D. N.C. barber Floyd Lawson on the original "Andy Griffith Show" in the early 1960s (d.1968) and by Hanna-Barbera themselves as a similiar doctor in three Flintstones episodes:"The Split Personality" and "The Hyponist" in Season 1 and the first with the definitive Flintstones theme/visuals, "Invisible Barney", in Season 3, and in between, Season 2, as a slightly similiar doctor in "Kleptomaniac Caper" by John Stephenson, a la Edward Everett Horton but with clear signs of the MacNear/Floyd character (with Stephenson in just before, "The X-Ray story", with the Edward Horton doctor without much MacNear like goofiness and a more wiser persona). UPA had MacNear doing some dcartoons voices, the same way. It sounds like MacNear as Mark of the Mouse after reading Yowp's update to the Mark of the Mouse article (but no one knows for sure, but to my own ears it sound alike it.). Only experts like Andrew Leal or Keith Scott may know for sure, or Joe Bevilacqua, since he worked with Daws Butler (and maybe Don Messick.) :)Steve

  5. Love the cycle breakdowns, love Vinci and LOVE yowp

  6. Not Howard McNear. Not Daws or Don. They voice is not familiar to me.