paul julian 2

14 10 2009

I really like a lot of the WB animated shorts, I love ’em because they have a different kind of humor. mel blanc’s voice characterisations are funny anyway. but – when you look at a lot of them single-frame-wise, you will find some of the worst drawings, in animation and in BG. lots of very ugly backgrounds, badly painted, wrong shapes, no composition, colors a disaster. they were apparently not done for ‘art’-reasons, just to have something behind the animation. no wonder, only very few BG’s survived. they threw ’em away. there is such an indredible gap in quality between these BG’s and the disney ones, where you can see that the artists were searching for a special look, were improving their quality, short after short. the only ones from the WB archives where I want to do some ‘restauration’ work are the BG’s PAUL JULIAN did. and even there are a few… well, you will see yourself. just sloppy work! as if they had been in a hurry. this is very interesting for me, because I never really noticed it so badly until I started this archeological restauration work. quality-standard-wise we see a lot of better artwork today. the problem is, most of our s t o r i e s don’t work.

a n y w a y – the recreated ones following are PAUL JULIAN’S backgrounds. he doesn’t have a credit in this short, but his style – even in 1944 – is clearly recognizable. DUCK SOUP TO NUTS, directed by FRIZ FRELENG, a very, very funny cartoon. daffy duck goes over the top…

duck soup to nuts.title1944

duck soup to nuts.pan 2

duck soup to nuts A

duck soup to nuts D

duck soup to nuts C

duck soup to nuts B

duck soup to nuts PAN 1

duck soup to nuts.pan 3

© WB



4 responses

15 10 2009
John Park

Really awesome posts.

Will be back for more.



from hans -
amazing designs on your blog!

19 10 2009
Drake Brodahl

I was lucky enough to catch a Looney Tunes exhibit last April. They had various original BGs on display from Paul Julian, Richard Thomas, Phil DeGuard and some Maurice Noble concepts. Julian’s and Noble’s work really stood out among the paintings in the exhibit… obviously a lot of care and detail went into them, despite the rushed nature of TV scheduling. Julian’s paintings in particular are finished very nicely and have more airbrushing, subtlety and realistic lighting than the others.

Regarding the comparison to Disney feature BGs, of course they will seem sloppier. Where a Disney artist might have 2 – 4 weeks on a single painting, these guys were likely delivering multiple paintings per day, weren’t they? I would imagine 2 or 3 days would be the maximum they’d have on any single BG. I’ve also heard that shooting the paintings for TV is very forgiving, so perhaps that was a factor as well.

from hans –
first of all, these shorts were for theatrical release and not for tv, we are talking about the late
forties. and I referred to the disney shorts, not the features. besides that a disney artist never had 2 – 4 weeks on a BG, they had to finish one in about 2 days, pans a bit longer. and when I look at most of the WB-BG’s, I would finish one in about an hour and it might look better. I was talking in my article not necessarily about talent and quality-work, I meant ‘sloppy’ work. most of the stuff looks like as if they did not care.

20 10 2009
Drake Brodahl

Sorry for my misunderstanding, Hans. It seems my reading for comprehension has slipped here. Anyway, perhaps many of the artists didn’t care about all the paintings they did as you suggest… after all, sometimes a job is just a job. Work and a paycheck. I wonder if the WB artists weren’t pushed to explore as the artists were on the Disney shorts or if it was simply a lack of motivation.

BTW, I’ve spoken to ex Disney feature painters about their timelines and only know what I’ve been told… that they had 2 – 4 weeks working on a BG toward the beginning of the production and quicker turnaround time (a couple days per) toward the end.

26 10 2009
David Nethery

I agree that the BG’s in some of the Schlesinger/Warner shorts were sloppy. The BG’s in the 30’s and early-to-mid 40’s are all over the map in terms of quality , some horrible, some very good. Later as the studio settled into the three unit system of Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, and Friz Freleng, the McKimson unit and the Freleng unit tended to have much more pedestrian BG’s to begin with (although Freleng occasionally had someone of Paul Julian’s caliber painting BG’s for his films and they took a step up in quality) but the Jones unit usually had very interesting, well-drawn layouts and BG’s by artists such as John McGrew Gene Fleury, Robert Gribboroek, Phil DeGuard, and Maurice Noble. Of those artists Maurice Noble is the only one who seems to have had a lot of acclaim for his work on the Warner Bros. shorts (well-deserved) , so I’m glad to see you featuring the work Paul Julian who should be more widely known.

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