Saturday, April 06, 2013
UPA and the not so Jolly Frolics
There has been a lot of mystic built around United Pictures of America, better known as UPA, in animation history. Books like “When Magoo Flew: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA” by Adam Abraham have shed some light on the politics and cultural environment that created the studio and touched on it’s transforming influence of what animation could be outside the Disney mold.
UPA’s bold graphic approach certainly had its impact on television commercials and theatrical shorts. It definitely influences my work as an artist, too. Now, just recently I’ve had a chance to watch Turner Classic Movies three-disc set of 38 theatrical cartoons “UPA Jolly Frolics DVD” from my local library.
Unfortunately I found only a handful of the 38 films to be any good. There seemed to be more ugly garish poorly animated unfunny boring cartoons than not. Even so the six or seven gems may be reason enough to understand the reputation and trans formative power the studio produced within the animation industry.
Of the 38 films my favorites were: “Gerald McBoing Boing”, “The Ragtime Bear”, “The Oompahs”, “Madeline”, and "Rooty Toot Toot". I kind of liked “The Unicorn in the Garden” which was from a James Thurber story and mirrored his drawing style, and “Robin Hoodlum” just because it was an unexpectedly funny fox and crow cartoon.