Tex Avery
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A major new study of the work of animator Tex Avery

Floriane Place-Verghnes examines the work of this great American animator. Focusing primarily on four facets of Avery's work, the author first concentrates on Avery's ability to depict the American attempt both to retrieve the past nostalgically and to catch the Zeitgeist of 1940s America, which confronts the questions of violence and survival. She also analyzes issues of sex and gender and the crucial role Hollywood played in reshaping the image of womanhood, reducing it to a bipolar opposition. Thirdly, she examines the comic language developed by Avery which, although drawing on the work of the Marx Brothers and Chaplin (among others), transcended their conventions. Finally, Place-Verghnes considers Avery's place in the history of cartoon-making technique.



Publié par
Date de parution 09 août 2006
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9780861969197
Langue English

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Tex Avery: A Unique Legacy (1942–1955)
To my parents.
Tex Avery: A Unique Legacy (1942–1955)
Floriane Place-Verghnes
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Tex Avery: A Unique Legacy (1942–1955)
A catalogue entry for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN: 0 86196 659 7 (Paperback)

Ebook edition ISBN: 9780-86196-919-7
Ebook edition published by John Libbey Publishing Ltd, 3 Leicester Road, New Barnet, Herts EN5 5EW, United Kingdom e-mail: john.libbey@orange.fr ; web site: www.johnlibbey.com
Printed and electronic book orders (Worldwide): Indiana University Press , Herman B Wells Library – 350, 1320E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA www.iupress.indiana.edu
© 2016 Copyright John Libbey Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Unauthorised duplication contravenes applicable laws.
Chapter I     The Cartoon-Making Technique
1.  The Story-Board
2.  The Model-Sheet
3.  The Lay-Out
4.  Soudtrack/Offstage
5.  Animation
6.  The Colouring, the Scenery, and the Shooting
Chapter II     The Cartoon Before Tex
1.  Early Animation
2.  Winsor McCay (1869–1934), Father of the Cartoon
3.  Raoul Barré (1874–1932)
4.  Max (1883–1972) and Dave (1894–1979) Fleisher
5.  Pat Sullivan (1887–1933) and Otto Messmer (1892–1983)
6.  Walt Disney (1901–1966) and Ub Iwerks (1901–1971)
7.  Tex Avery (1908–1980) and His Associates: A Cultural Nexus
Chapter III     Tex Avery’s Americanness: An Attempt to Retrieve the Past
1.  A Hymn to the American Language
2.  Chauvinism: Eulogy or Satire?
3.  Racism, or When Tex Supersedes Avery
Chapter IV     Facing Contemporary Politics
1.  The Psychological Consequences of History
2.  The Second World War and Propaganda
3.  The Postwar Greed for Money
Chapter V     Tex Avery’s Unique Viewpoint on Good, Evil, and Morality
1.  Violence
2.  Survival
3.  Tex Avery vs. Walt Disney: An Axiological Theme
Chapter VI     Freudian Pansexualism: Concepts of Activity/Passivity
1.  Sexual Urges: A Definition of Male Normal Behaviour
2.  Shaping Female Identity or Hollywood’s Guilt
Chapter VII     Reduction of Womanhood Into Two Types: The Destructive Power of Women
1.  The Sex Symbol
2.  The Anti-Sex Symbol
3.  Male Supremacy
Chapter VIII     Oedipal Relationships and Their Consequences
1.  Disparaging the Mother
2.  Equating the Lover and the Father Figures
3.  Flawed Relationships
Chapter IX     The Burlesque Heritage
1.  Caricature
2.  Excess: The Marx Brothers Syndrome
3.  A Frantic Rhythm
4.  A Pattern of Mannerism
Chapter X     Towards a Pragmatic Relation With the Audience
1.  Structuring a Gag: Circularity and Analepses
2.  A Process of Mise en Abyme
Chapter XI     The Provisional Nature of the Averyan Universe
1.  “Cosmos Lost”
2.  The Logic of the Absurd
Filmography – Tex Avery’s Cartoons: The MGM Years (1942–1955)
Bibliography/Further reading
T he first thanks should go to my brothers Alban and Flavien for leading me astray onto the path of lazy Sunday mornings spent watching cartoons instead of doing academic work. I would not have acquired such a knowledge of the subject had they not insisted I appreciate “these pure jewels of hilarity” in their company.
I would also like to thank Alain Suberchicot for providing constructive critiques of my work within an extraordinary short amount of time, or simply for being an excellent supervisor, this book being an extended – and I hope improved – version of my Master’s thesis.
I am grateful to the whole armada of people who not only believed in me (my publisher, John Libbey, whose trust, kindness and patience kept astonishing me), but also proved incredibly helpful throughout the research process: Pierre Floquet and Robin Allan for their intelligent suggestions, Alister Robson for showing me how to use tricky editing machines, Heather Fenwick for providing general help in an extraordinarily sane way, Patrick Brion and Manuel Alvarado for guiding me onto the slippery path of copyright permissions, Alexandra Cappigny and Emilie Boucheteil for running to various libraries when I was either too busy or too forgetful to do so. Last but not least, I am deeply indebted to those who took the pain of carefully re-reading and correcting my frequently approximate English: Catherine Rooney and James Waine. Extra special thanks to Eleanor Chuck, who not only proofread this book three times, an unbeaten record, but could easily have earned a place on the front cover as main editor.
I reserve a particular sentiment for Warner Brothers Inc., without whom and their point-blank refusal to grant copyright authorisation, this volume would have contained multiple images from Tex Avery and others’ cartoons in support of the textual content.
“Throughout my long career in the cartoon industry, I have created a humorous universe whose richness is dazzling. But my congenital modesty forbids me to allude here to these pure jewels of hilarity.” Tex Avery (1908–1980)
W hen I decided to choose Tex Avery as the subject of my research, those who thought I would fail to achieve my goal were numerous, not to mention those who did not take me seriously at all. At any rate, I do not think I have met more than ten people who did not smirk at such a challenge. My supervisor, Alain Suberchicot was one of them and I wish to thank him warmly for trusting me from the start without questioning my aims. For Tex Avery has this curious effect upon people, just like many other cartoonists. Cartoons are for children . How many times have I heard this biased statement? First and foremost, I defy anyone with a touch of common sense to put a five-year old in front of a cartoon by Tex Avery, unless they want to show him the crude realities of life. However, it is true that the invasion of cartoons on television, broadcast mainly during the week-end and on Wednesday afternoons, has largely contributed to endow them with a certain quality mostly associated with childish naïveté. Secondly, I also believe that many an adult has lost this childish capacity to wonder – and even to laugh.
Above all, we are too apt too ignore the childish element, so to speak, latent in most of our joyful emotions ... Indeed, it seems possible that, after a certain age, we become impervious to all fresh or novel forms of joy, and the sweetest pleasures of the middle-aged man are perhaps nothing more than a revival of the sensations of childhood. 1
As most adults look down upon cartoons from the aloofness of maturity, cartoon studies have generally been regarded as worthless; and consequently, critical approaches to Tex Avery’s works are scarce. Although this last decade has seen the multiplication of hard-back books containing more illustrations than text (the said text usually consisting of a few biographical elements merged with a detailed synopsis of each cartoon), critical studies are still drastically lacking. In other words, while the bibliography of books on cartoons aimed at collectors is vast, it proves very deficient for a more academic audience. However, the field of research dedicated to Tex Avery is not totally bare: Robert Benayoun’s various articles provide a deep insight into the cartoonist’s art and Sylvie Voyzé-Valayre’s study on the Averyan women has launched an academic interest in his work. To my knowledge, the most comprehensive critical study so far is a doctorate thesis by Pierre Floquet (unpublished at the time of printing).
Tex Avery’s characters have known a new lease of life since 1980, the year of their creator’s death, notably by being associated with by-products or by being used in commercials (cf. the French “Père Dodu” advert using the wolf and the girl to sell chicken nuggets and the like). Just as so many geniuses whose fame came posthumously, Tex Avery was in his lifetime utterly unknown overseas, but for a small group of French intellectuals, from which the already mentioned Robert Benayoun, editor of the cinematography magazine Positif , without whom French people would probably still be as ignorant as the rest as the world as regards Tex Avery. Also to be noted is Patrick Brion’s daring attempt in programming a couple of Tex

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