Andrea/Duck Dodgers here. I friendly welcome every fan of animation at my blog. The goal is to support the love and rediscovery of Classic Theatrical Cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation, keeping meanwhile an eye on Golden Age "Funny Animals" Comics as well as on modern animated productions! Every SUPPRESSED ethnic caricature to be sometimes presented here is just for HISTORICAL and EDUCATIONAL purpose and NOT to offend anyone. Stay Tooned and Enjoy the place !

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Mighty's Benefit Plan"

We interrupt our long voyage through the golden age of animation to present something more recent... although made exactly 20 years ago. Yes, I'm going to talk about a cartoon from the dreaded 80s, an awful decade for the animation (and fashion too :)
The majority of Saturday Morning animated TV series produced during that period were based on a toy. The rest were the bastardized and watered down versions of the well known and established characters from the past. It was nearly impossible to launch a series with new and fresh characters, or a series with any new and fresh (not to mention funny) ideas.

However, one series that premiered on September 19th, 1987 as a part of CBS Saturday Morning line-up, managed to break many of the stupid rules imposed on the cartoon world. This series was short lived (barely two seasons) but proved to be really influential and important, and also served as a launching point for many careers. It was based on a classic and beloved character, but treated in such an original and outrageous way that it counts more as a real re-invention than mere remake. Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm talking about...

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was produced by Ralph Bakshi, who in a way returned to the character that marked the beginning of his career (Bakshi started to work at Terrytoons studio in 1959, and animated on the last few Mighty Mouse cartoons produced there). Bakshi's creative input on this new series was relatively minor, but as the producer he allowed a great creative freedom for his crew of crazy cartoonists helmed by a certain young and unknown director named John Kricfalusi who had a big ambition to revive the lost art of making funny cartoons.

John K. was a main force behind the first season of MMTNA, and this show was a big springboard both for him, and for many other talented artists who continued with very successful careers in animation. Some of the names: Jim Smith, Lynne Naylor, Eddie Fitzgerald, Bob Jaques, Bruce Timm, Tom Minton, Kent Butterworth, Vicky Jenson, Andrew Stanton, and many more. Some of these cartoonists will three years later follow John K. into another, even greater and more influential adventure called "The Ren & Stimpy Show", but that's another story.

Here's a extremely interesting interview from 1988, where John K. explains it all. This interview was conducted by Harry McCracken and originally published in ANIMATO magazine:
John K. interview

And this is an interview with Ralph Bakshi from seven years ago. Near the end of the interview, Bakshi talks about Mighty Mouse, and tells a funny story of how this series came to life:
Ralph Bakshi interview

Also, take a look at the post I made last year, about the previous Bakshi/John K. collaboration, the "Harlem Shuffle" music video for The Rolling Stones. Most of the same crew worked both on this video, and Mighty Mouse:
Harlem Shuffle

The series is still fondly remembered today for the wild humor, funny and cartoony animation, anarchic non-linear stories and strange angular design (unseen on TV cartoons at that time). This spirit prevails through the both seasons, though the series occasionally featured some more conventional episodes mixed with the weird stuff. Sadly, The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse remain unseen for many years, without the official DVD release on the horizon (although it is a very popular bootleg item).

In this post, I'd like to present an episode called "Mighty's Benefit Plan", in particular the first minute and a half from it. It's a miniature music-video for the song "Twitch & Writhe" by Elvy and the Tree Weasels (in fact, a hilarious and savage parody of Alvin and the Chipmunks). This part could function as a stand-alone animated music video, and it fits nicely into the group of other music videos directed by John K. during the last 20 years, starting from "Harlem Shuffle" and Bjork's "I miss you", up to the most recent work for Weird Al and Tenacious D.
All of you who enjoy the funny girl drawings will love these screenshots. The female characters were most probably designed by Lynne Naylor , and they show the appealing mixture of cuteness and weirdness that will remain one of trade-marks of Kricfalusi's work even today.

I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into the more recent past. If there's enough interest, I will prepare few more posts with high quality screenshots from this series (especially if any of you have requests for some particular episodes).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard ALOT of prahse from this reintroduction to Mighty Mouse, but I had only seen a few episodes on youtube. (before they were taken down, of course) Also, I was born a year after this series was shown, so it was very unlikely that I would of seen it (the only channel we had was a 24-hour channel that was dedicated to classic movies and cartoons, and the very first animated short I had saw at the age of two was 'Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid').

5:29 pm

Blogger Jon Cooke said...

Elwy and the Tree Weasels! This cartoon was a hilarious send-up of the 1980s "Alvin and the Chipmunks". :-P

8:37 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, when you mean "watered-down" I hope you don't mean Jim Henson's venture to animated muppets (i.e. baibes or the short-lived adult animated Muppets) because I thought those were pretty clever, even if it inspired mainly cheesy, mediocre knock-offs from other studios. Besides, since when in Jim's life was there ever a bad idea he supervised?

9:27 pm

Blogger Lúcio said...

Hi, I'm a big fan of this blog!

When I was a child it was on the tv a cartoon, one of that "sing a long", with the little ball over the lyrics and everything, and it call in portuguese the translation for "The Night". I don't remember it well, but I remember that I thought the music really beautiful!

I'm a musician today and I believe that it has to be also because of this cartoon. Do you have any idea of what cartoon I'm talking about?

Thanks in advance!

12:18 am

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

there are many cartoons like that. Give us a little mode detail about the plot....

7:24 am

Blogger Lavalle Lee said...

wow! i like the expression and animation they did, but im sure it was not a very exciting cartoon

12:13 pm

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

What do you mean with "exciting"?
INMHO, it was a real funny cartoon.

12:56 pm

Blogger Lavalle Lee said...

enough for the kids to keep watching and to keep it going?

2:32 pm

Blogger Lavalle Lee said...

i would like to retract my comments, i watched a few episodes (on youtube) and wow, its great to see the start of john k, im going to study these episodes

3:41 pm

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

See, man?
This series was great!

8:46 pm

Blogger Kevin W. Martinez said...

I haven't seen much of MM:TNA, but what I have seen liked a lot. The Tree Weasels could also be intereted as sort of the artistic primoerdeal ooze that Ren and Sitmpy and Tiny Toons crawled out of

12:05 am


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