Zachary
  • Zachary
  • Advanced Member Topic Starter
2022-03-09T01:53:57Z
As promised, here is a post detailing what Mark identified correctly and incorrectly in his commentaries on these films, based on my own studying... make of it what you please. Now, back to other (less nerdy) responsibilities to attend to...!

The animation styles of Dick Huemer and Sid Marcus can be determined through examination of this series, their animation in the early sound Fleischer cartoons (including the Screen Songs they solo-animated... interestingly, Sid's star characters in a couple of his films share the same self-caricaturing pompadour as Toby), and the Scrappys, with occasional external drawings by Huemer also helping. Davis's is reachable by deduction, and examination of the earliest sound Krazy Kat cartoons, on which he was an animator.

Again, he attributes some films (The Museum, The Milkman, Halloween) as probably directed by Sid Marcus, and others (Circus Time, Down South) as probably/maybe by Dick Huemer. This conflicts with Huemer's published recollections (he always credited himself, Sid Marcus, and—apart from in Joe Adamson's interview—Art Davis with co-directing, writing, and animating their films during his time there), and the "By Dick Huemor–Sid Marcus in collaboration with Art Davis" credits on surviving original titles and a surviving series poster support his recollections as far as the Toby cartoons go (credits recorded in the Cumulative Copyright Catalog, where present, always leave out Art Davis, but that goes for Circus Time as well, so Davis was more than likely credited onscreen the same way on the others as well). As do the Tobys themselves to this observer: I can't rule out the stories reflecting one artist's sensibility overall more than the others, but there isn't *that* much variation in the cartoons' overall sensibility or style to suggest to me that individual cartoons were directed by one artist, rather reflecting a more collaborative yet divided approach like Huemer and Marcus recalled, including the animators evidently directing their own animation, and some of the gag choices and incidental characters also seeming to reflect their authorship over their scenes. (Again, things start changing after the beginning of the Scrappy series.)

- The Museum: Mark correctly asserts that Huemer animated the scene with the lion giving Toby the broom (Huemer's animation in this cartoon especially exhibits stylistic hallmarks consistent with his Fleischer work), and I can affirm with certainty his guess that Sid Marcus animated the following part with Toby mopping in the museum. Later, he incorrectly observes that the part with Toby playing the harp is probably Huemer's, while I'm pretty sure it's actually Art Davis's. Hmmm—well, it wasn't an assertion. I do concur with it apparently being Davis on Toby playing the skeleton. He asserts that the statues with the floppy shoes dancing is Huemer's, while I'm less certain: it's trickier to ID the scenes with just the museum pieces, but in this one, certain drawing hallmarks (such as the way the eyes are drawn in the closeup) always suggested Davis to me... although that the statues here mostly directly look at the camera does seem more like Huemer's approach...

- Circus Time: Mark correctly asserts that Huemer animated the section with Tessy in the tent. But then he asserts that the sequence with Tessy performing was animated by Marcus—huh? It clearly is not. I'm pretty sure it's also Huemer's animation, from the drawing hallmarks and tell-tale snappy timing, even though Tessy is drawn with a bit less detail. Later, he asserts that Toby confronting the ringmaster is Davis's animation, which is also way off the mark. Davis animated the scenes preceding it (save Huemer's brief shot of the ringmaster holding Tessy), but this scene and everything that follows are all unmistakably Marcus's distinctive handiwork in timing and animation.

- The Milkman: This has been a trickier one overall to ID, due to the odd stylistic variety/evolution therein, apart from Sid Marcus's work. Although the seventh cartoon released, in February 1931, a July 1930 news item  mentioned it as the "third" cartoon in the series and that animation had been completed. From the looks of it, presumably most of the cartoon up through the tree entering the house was animated earlier on but got held up for some reason, and the rest was made later (after their styles had evolved considerably) before finally being released. I'd be more comfortable if another early entry or two in the Toby and/or Krazy Kat series became available to help exhibit the artists' stylistic evolution. Anyway, Mark guesses incorrectly that Sid Marcus probably animated the initial scenes; this looks like it's likely Dick Huemer's animation. He also incorrectly guesses when Toby is delivering milk that it is probably Davis's animation, yet later correctly says he's pretty sure Marcus animated Toby dressing up for lunchtime; *all* of that footage is Marcus's. He may be right in saying that Davis probably animated the scene with the car's tires shrinking—not completely sure myself. I suspect he's right in thinking Davis animated Toby fleeing the storm—this looks like a match to some great distinctive animation in the Krazy Kat cartoons Jazz Rhythm and Honolulu Wiles (and not in any later available entries), which strongly implies Davis, although it hasn't been as clearly his to me (frustratingly) as some of his available earlier and later animation... I may be overlooking something. Later, he incorrectly asserts the penultimate scene is Art Davis's animation (citing the pompadour), when it's actually clearly Sid Marcus's (as other hallmarks establish).

- Down South: Mark asserts that Art Davis animated the opening scene with the steamboat, "because you can tell, he loved doing machinery"; I would say this is probably Davis's on the basis of the timing and the way the jumping fish is drawn. Mark thinks Dick Huemer animated the part with the little flute player; it isn't, and I'd say this is Davis's work, from the drawing style and timing. Later, during Sid Marcus's portion with Toby shaking hands with boarding passengers, he says regarding the passengers that "you can tell [they] were all designed by Dick Huemer, even though he may not have animated them here; [but] it's typical of his designs..." There may have been some collaboration or influence between the artists in this regard, and I need to get into those Koko cartoons more, but as a rule, the incidental characters in this series strike me overall as reflecting the designs of the animators behind them, and in this case it isn't apparent to me that Sid didn't design them (cf. some of his work at Fleischer). Oh, and Fleischer's Up to Mars was made after Huemer's departure. I can confirm his assertion and guesses about Huemer animating the scenes with Tessy dancing, and the scene with Toby being knocked up in the air and falling down. I also agree about Davis animating the scene with the mouse and the fish. Later, though, he asserts that Huemer animated the underwater shot, when this is also Davis's work; I do concur on the following scene being Davis's, though.

- Halloween: Mark asserts correctly that Dick Huemer animated the opening portion. All of the scenes from Toby going to the piano through him playing the goat's belly, except for what looks like Art Davis doing the brief close-up of Toby dressed as a pumpkin (and possibly Toby dancing as the pumpkin in the preceding shot, excluding the background characters), are by Sid Marcus; but Mark incorrectly asserts in parts of it that it's Art Davis's animation, and that the closer shots of Toby playing are Huemer's (the hallmarks he mentions may bear resemblance, but various others prove otherwise), but at least more correctly that the goat and the apple is probably Marcus's work at least in the gag idea. In discussing the music during the witch sequence, he misattributes the later Scrappy cartoon Puttin' Out the Kitten as directed by Marcus, when that is evidently (from studying those later films) actually one of Art Davis's cartoons after he was directing on his own. Later, he correctly asserts that Huemer animated the part with a curtain falling on Toby and him battling the ghosts. For the cartoon's final scene, he asserts that Huemer animated Toby, while Davis probably animated the ghosts in the background, but I don't see any sign of Davis here—the whole scene sure looks like Huemer's work to me, including the ghosts' two-frame take that Mark perceptively notes prior as a Huemer hallmark.
S. C. MacPeter
2022-03-09T04:07:34Z
Good work Zachary on this, and I do agree to disagree on some on this; I think the work in writing the Tobys was collaborative, but it seems the final direction of a short might've been swapped between Marcus and Huemer. Also, from my own notes on these shorts, and with what you said, it seems they liked assigning Davis to mostly non-Toby scenes, and I'm not sure why that is. My main theory is simply because he was third ranking of the animators and thus wasn't first for the character scenes. Keeping in this mind, I think Davis might've split the statues scenes in Museum with Huemer, with Davis doing the majority of them, and switching to Huemer's animation during the scene of the mummies. I noticed the main way to detect whether or not it's Huemer or Marcus is the eyes; Davis draws a large, hard oval that remains in each frame, while Huemer will switch between pupils and circular eyelids depending on expression (a technique Davis picked up in Scrappy, and possibly in the final Tobys)
Zachary
  • Zachary
  • Advanced Member Topic Starter
2022-03-09T22:47:47Z
One thing to note is that I did not mention all the scenes in these cartoons that can be positively identified, but mostly just stuck to addressing Mark's IDs (the post was running long enough). Also, with further time spent going back over these films, I might be able to upgrade some of my own less-than-certain observations... it's been a while since I was last really going over these, so I'm being careful about what I declare with certainty. I probably should just deduce that everything Huemer and Marcus didn't animate is Davis's, but I'm not aware of external proof that there were *always* just the three animators on this series, so I have to be careful and go by the actual traceable stylistics in the films as well.

Funnily enough, the way eyes are drawn is one of the first animation traits I learned to notice too, but there's a *lot* more to this than that, and you'll pick up on them too over time if you keep at this. (And all three of these guys did the mix of pupils and outlined eyes in their own ways at various times...) The facial features are a primary facet to consider, but the rest of a character varies in the way it's drawn and posed as well. There are "licks"—the unconscious idiosyncrasies in how someone does something, even if they're trying to be consistent with a model sheet or other instructions—and there are also conscious stylistic choices making up one's style in the way things are drawn and the way things move and are timed. One also has to watch out for the possibility of mixtures of styles depending on the situation: in the Krazy Kat cartoons, there are scenes where Ben Harrison's style clearly underlies another animator's work, and scenes where the animator changes in the midst of it. Studying and identifying styles in other series with even greater individualism on display in certain aspects or others has really helped train my eye over the years, such as the early Fleischer Talkartoons and Screen Songs and the Lantz Oswalds. There's always room for improvement in this pursuit.

On who did the direction, I'm allowing the possibility that Mark has a solid basis for his thinking on this. He had to get that idea from somewhere, however accurate it is or isn't, and I also have to bear in mind that he had years of experience in the animation industry and might just recognize a thing or two in this regard that I'm overlooking. He is the King of cartoon nerds since long before I was even born! But I am still leaning pretty far toward it being close to Huemer's recollection in this case. It's the inverse of the situation beginning in the mid 1930s, on which it's been commonly said that Marcus and Davis were co-directing, yet actually studying those films demonstrates otherwise by and large.