Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoons!

Road (Runner) Rules!

Road Runner/Coyote cartoons were among my favorites growing up. I loved how they played with physics and I loved the lack of dialogue. This was my first introduction to silent comedy. What I find fascinating about these cartoons is that the plot never changes and, yet, they're all wildly creative. Developing these was a highly collaborative process that required the animators to come up with rules. This helped focus the brainstorming and saved time. And while not using the words "yes, and..." the environment was very much that. All ideas were accepted and explored. No such thing as a dumb idea with this creative team. On the end result side of things, it helped create a very specific world for these two characters to inhabit.

I reread these every few years if only to remind me that rules aren't always a bad thing in creativity and can be very helpful in developing characters and scenes.

Chuck Jones on Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner, from Chuck Amuck:
Here were some of the rules we obeyed in the Coyote-Road Runner series:

  • Rule 1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "Beep-Beep!"
  • Rule 2. No outside force can harm the Coyote - only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products.
  • Rule 3. The Coyote could stop anytime - if he were not a fanatic. (Repeat: "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." - George Santayana)
  • Rule 4. No dialogue ever, except "Beep-Beep!"
  • Rule 5. The Road Runner must stay on the road - otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner.
  • Rule 6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters - the Southwest American desert.
  • Rule 7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  • Rule 8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.
  • Rule 9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
  • (Rule 10.) The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.(Joe - Apparently, this was a more unofficial one and probably more accurately reflects the feelings of the animators.)
Whoa, Be Gone! was made by Warner Brothers in 1958 and contains all my favorite Road Runner elements; rockets, dynamite, ACME products and multiple falls off cliffs.