Saturday, 1 June 2019

Mark of the Carlo

Limited animation at Hanna-Barbera didn’t necessarily mean an eye blink or a mouth changing shape while a character’s body remained rigid. Not when you had Carlo Vinci at work in the early days.

There’s a scene in the 1959 cartoon Mark of the Mouse where Mr. Jinks (played by Daws Butler) pretends to be afraid of Pixie (played by Daws Butler) who is disguised as the Zorro-like Mark of the Mouse (not played by Daws Butler).

Here are some frames as Jinks moves from pose to pose. Carlo did his own in-betweens and animated the whole cartoon (Mike Lah took on segments of some of the early H-B cartoons, but not this one). Jinks isn’t just inked on one cel with maybe an arm moving. Carlo has his whole body shifting. Complete drawings, just like in full animation.

Jinksie pauses to talk to the audience watching at home. “Am I overacting?” he asks. (He is). His right hand is at the left side of his mouth to make sure Pixie can’t see he’s talking to us.

“Gracious me! I must flee for my life!” exclaims the thespiating cat. Carlo limits his animation during the dialogue by only moving the head. Then Jinks turns and has a neat little half-eye-closed laugh toward the audience in a small cycle.

Jinks turns and then zips out of the scene. Again, these are full drawings. There are no short cuts, other than theatrical animation might be a bit more fluid (and slower as extra drawings take up screen time). See how Carlo moves Jinks’ right hand to the left side of the face and then over. I don’t know what other animator would have thought of doing that.

Carlo seems to have been let loose to do his thing in this cartoon. There are some unique cycles and I really like the shock drawings in the climax of the cartoon. You can see his work in this post


  1. You can also see a little Terrytoons come out in some of Jinx's facial poses (where the directors and the big boss also would let the animators go wild ... as long as they went wild while meeting their weekly footage requirements).

    Once you get past the 1959-60 season, the H-B efforts managed to be more fluid in movement while less expressive in the characters facial reactions (due to fewer unique poses like Vinci's here and the reliance on more stock looks and takes as way to save time and speed up production)

  2. J.L., yes, you're quite right. I've mentioned this before. Carlo's Jinks looks a lot like a Mighty Mouse character in some of the cartoons; the ending of Cousin Tex comes to mind.

    1. Well he worked on mighty mouse so it does make sense for the cat the look like a mighty mouse character