Recently I was wandering through the local Wal-Mart that’s positioned just across the street from my apartment when I noticed a fascinating item on their $5 DVD bin. It was a collection called “150 Cartoon Classics” and had terrible drawings of such notable cartoon characters as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Popeye the Sailor, and Betty Boop. Of course when I looked at the titles on the back, I also noticed a lot of cartoons I’d never even heard of, many of which I have to assume are the sort of ancient cartoons where everyone bobs to the music and there’s plenty of dancing.
So I decided I would start a blog that in general would discuss animation, and create a regular feature where I would chronicle my attempt to watch every single short on this entire collection. You’re reading the inaugural installment of “Cartoon Hell”.
“The Tuba Tutor” by RKO was the first installment on the first DVD, and it’s the exact sort of product I was hoping for when I bought this collection.
Now don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t the classic cat and mouse team popularize by Hanna Barbera, but a series of shoddy Van Beuren cartoons produced in the early thirties. I can’t determine which is which since they never refer to each other properly, but for our discussion we’re just going to say that the tall one is Tom and the short one is Jerry.
The first thing that throws me off beyond the name of the characters is that there’s a huge credit on the title screen for “Synchronization”. I don’t even think they use this term for animation anymore, or perhaps it had a much greater importance back in the day, but Chuck Jones didn’t get this big a credit when he was directing.
The cartoon begins and we see a wobbly boat riding up and down bouncy waves in what has to be the cutest perfect storm ever witnessed. The steam whistle blow by turning into a face with lips, and the ship slows to a stop at an unnamed port.