Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Pigs is Pigs

Pigs is Pigs
Directed by Jack Kinney
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - Disney Rarities

Well, the last few days we've been doing shorts that don't feature an animation studio's regular characters, so we might as well keep it up with this entry from Disney.

The 50's was an interesting time for Disney animation. There was a lot of innovation going on in the shorts this time. "Pigs is Pigs" has a very unique style. The character design is somewhat geometric in nature. This style is used in other Disney shorts of the time, including one of my favorites "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" (we'll cover that one in the future). You can look at the characters and see the basic shapes used to created them. The guinea pigs are pretty much just pink beans with faces. This general style has influenced me personally in the way that I design many of the shadow puppets that I have made for some of my programs. The backgrounds and color scheme also really set this cartoon a part.

The film is based on a short story by Ellis Parker Butler. Told in rhyme, it concerns a railway agent who receives a shipment of guinea pigs and is confused by whether to charge the pet rate or the livestock rate (because they're pigs). While the paperwork trying to find out a answer circulates around the corporate offices, the "pigs" multiply and soon overrun the station. It's quite possible that this basic story served as some inspiration for the famous "Star Trek" episode "The Trouble with Tribbles." One has to wonder if there wasn't a bit of commentary going on about the sheer size the Disney company itself had grown to by 1954 in this film as well.

This is a pretty funny short, but it's really the unique animation that makes this film worth a look. People often comment about the "Disney style," yet it's films like this that show he wasn't afraid to let his animators explore and expand their talents.

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