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Original Sylvester & Tweety storyboard surfaces

March 31, 2020

This past month, someone on the Cartoon Research FB group posted the “Evolution of Sylvester & Tweety” video by a YouTuber named Dave Down Under. Right in the middle of it, when discussing the period when Bob Clampett left the studio, it actually shows a portion of a storyboard for his version of Sylvester and Tweety, which was said to be “recently uncovered”.

I first heard about this way back in Jerry Beck’s I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat: Fifty Years of Sylvester and Tweety, on p45 where he says “When Clampett left Warner Bros. in 1946, he was working on Tweety’s next film, pairing him with the cat (later named Sylvester…)”. p.38, he mentions a size comparison chart drawn by Clampett unit layout artist Tom McKimson that was the first sketch to show them as a pair. Lenburg’s Cartoon Encyclopedia p.140 also mentions that a “preliminary story” had been done by Clampett, but I didn’t know if that meant simply written out (text), or a storyboard. So here now, we get six panels of an actual storyboard! And we also even get a title: “FAT RAT AND THE STUPID CAT”!

At the time I first read these books, I was just getting married, and we didn’t have cable yet, but reading this and the Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies guide the Sylvester & Tweety book was scaled down from, was becoming more interested in the “pre-48” Looney tunes, which were never shown on the network TV shows I was familiar with, but by this time were strictly on Turner cable, including the brand new Cartoon Network, and which I was awaiting.

I had vaguely remembered the pre-48’s from syndication on ch.5, which I would generally be forced to watch whenever me and my ENTJ cousin were in the same house. So I saw the early Bugs, and the early Elmer, including him being fat at times, etc. Pepe Le Pew actually pursued a disguised female dog once! (I didn’t remember his first film, where it was a male cat in disguise!) There were many things in the early years that were so different from the popular later stuff. I remember Bugs and Yosemite drawing higher numbered “shooters” on each other, until Bug pelts him in the nose with a “pea shooter”. They also had some post-48’s mixed in, such as the obvious title idea “Hare Brush”, the one where Elmer is in a psych ward pretending to be a rabbit and switches places with Bugs to avoid going to Alcatraz for tax evasion, and the one with Baby Faced Finster (Baby Buggy Bunny), and several with Bugs and Daffy competing on TV shows. (Their “Tea for Two” tapdance from “Show Biz Bugs” was cleverly used as the opening sequence. Sort of paralleled the network “This is It” opening).

But a certain batch of post-48’s were always kept on the CBS or ABC Saturday morning shows, and these included the big Oscar winners, such as Sylvester and Tweety, and the later Bugs vs Yosemite Sam series. (Director Friz Freleng grew tired of Elmer, and wanted a stronger character to go against Bugs, so Elmer eventually fell by the wayside). It was these that I took notice of in the late 70’s (when it was the huge 90 minute “Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show” on CBS).

Very dialogue-oriented compared to the Tom & Jerry’s I had become a huge fan of, there was a lot of verbal ingenuity, and I was fascinated by the Rabbit Fire trilogy (where Bugs and Daffy try to use verbal or visual schemes to get Elmer to shoot each other), or Foghorn trying to talk his way out of being eaten by the chickenhawk or weasel and send them after the dog instead, or struggle to understand the brainy little chick who writes out the math formula for every impossible thing he does. (I remember him once explaining to the weasel. “I could have told you, to get at those chickens, you have to get rid of that dog”. I wished there had been someone to explain that to Tom sometimes, when Jerry would be using Spike as refuge!)

“Windblown Hare” cleverly fuses the story of “The Three Little Pigs” with “Little Red Riding Hood” and the wolf, common to both stories (and rather Sylvester–like, in this one), has to read the books to know how to play out his roles, as Bugs Bunny gets caught up in one story and changes it to the other.
The Oscar-winning “Birds Anonymous” (where Sylvester goes on a 12 step program to avoid eating Tweety), and the similar “Last Hungry Cat” (where he thinks he’s eaten him, and is plagued by his conscience, stoked by the Hitchcock-esque narrator) were truly ingenious! (In this last one, he passionately pleads “Other cats have eaten birds; why pick on me? Why, Why?!”) In another film, yet another “Lennie” (Of Mice and Men) caricature explains his inaccurate addressing: “But I can’t say ‘Sylvester’, George!” And when his son accuses him of being “inhuman” for devising a plot to catch a bird; “Of course I’m not human! I’m a cat! And cats catch birds!” (Not to mention all the times he’s said “I’m a cat— I think. Meow! Yep, I’m a cat”!)

But as I discuss here: the series overall, aside from these moments of brilliancy had fallen into a bit of a rut, as nearly everything had become patterned after the Sylvester and Tweety or Coyote and Roadrunner chase. The former winning the studio its very first Oscar, that became the winning formula. WB cartoons were then dominated by specific repetative premise series (like Hippety Hopper being mistaken for a mouse, Pepe LePew thinking a cat is a skunk, etc.) most of which followed these formulas (and increasingly with hard “win/lose” endings, rather than more funny neutral punchlines like earlier on), to the point that even Daffy ultimately became a Sylvester or Coyote-like stooge to Bugs!

So (the point I’m getting to), it was interesting to see that Tweety had a life before Sylvester (once they were paired, Sylvester was determined to be the only other character Tweety could work with for some reason —even though he didn’t talk in the first cartoon, and could have been played by any cat).

The different animation units and the origin of the duo

Each director tended to have their own characters, except for the biggest, oldest stars: Bugs, Elmer, Daffy and Porky, who were used routinely by all of them. So Sylvester was by Friz Freleng, and Tweety was by Bob Clampett. The styles of these directors were very different. The early 40’s were Clampett’s heyday (and Tex Avery, when he was there, earlier on), and both had very “wacky” stories and animation, while Freleng’s older stuff tended to be more dry and lame (his high point back then was “Red Riding Rabbit” and “Rhapsody in Rivets”, but most of the rest of it is forgettable).

In the middle of the decade, Clampett suddenly left the studio, along with Avery’s eventual replacement, Frank Tashlin, and at the same time, both Freleng and the similar Chuck Jones and new upstart Bob McKimson began cranking out a new generation of characters who would become mainstays to the present: Pepe, Sylvester, Yosemite, Foghorn, and eventually Marvin Martian and the Roadrunner; some of which were being noticed by the Academy, including Sylvester, whose debut, “Life With Feathers” was nominated. (A fourth director, Art Davis, took over Clampett’s Goofy Gophers debut film. Freleng and Jones also began improving their story ideas, such as “Baseball Bugs”, etc.).

Sylvester obviously had a very distinct character; sort of a feline Daffy, the voice and lisp being the same, but not sped up. Daffy himself then even quickly adopted the new character’s very first line: “Sufferin’ succotash!”
The other directors quickly became interested in him as well, starting with Clampett himself, who at the end of his run at the studio, decided to use him (still unnamed all this time) against Porky, instead of Tweety, who was in between films at the time. (He did make a very brief cameo appearance on the baby assemblyline of “Baby Bottleneck”, which was Clampett’s last animated use of him. Also, directors had to get permission to use another director’s creation who wasn’t already big enough like the aforementioned top four).

Tweety had begun against a feline version of “Babbit and Catstello” (I didn’t remember this version of them; I only remembered the two later films where they had become mice!) Next was just a single black cat, similar to Sylvester, but more dopey. And finally, the same cat, redrawn yellow, and with this wacky looking red cat added, who’s patterned after Jimmy Durante. Originally drawn on model sheets more simple, by the time the film was animated, they gave him this crazy eggplant-like “Humpty nose” (think “Humpty Dance”, which was big around the time I got this book), and a weird looking mouth and teeth. (I kept thinking “You look like Screwy Squirrel on crack, Humpty!“)
Seeing that Durante cat is part of what begged the question of what Clampett would come up with ‘next’ after that!

Umbriago! What would Clampett come up with next?

So Clampett must have liked Freleng’s cat so much, he then decided to quickly use him again, as Tweety’s next opponent.
You could even see where Clampett had already modified his cat design around him! Right after the Porky film, “Kitty Kornered”, came the Daffy solo classic “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery”, where one of the “Duck Twacy” villains is “Pussycat Puss”, who looks like a yellow Sylvester, even taking on the [Freleng-esque] characteristic side scruffs and the bigger snout and nose! Previously, Clampett’s cat characters had shorter snouts and pretty much round bulbous heads with jowls (instead of scruffs), like the rest of his characters; all of which seemed to be framed on that baby picture of himself (See I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat p.40) that Tweety was patterned after. (They all basically had this “Tweety” look. The main exception being the Durante cat [aka “Colonel”], because of the redrawn nose taking prominence. I may have vaguely remembered one of those last two films, as they use the same piece of animation, when the other cat [“Snooks”] first eyes Tweety sleeping in the nest, with the huge head and eyes that bulge out at him. It looked very familiar).

But then as Clampett started work on this project, that was when he left the studio (due to some sort of conflict with the difficult to work with producer, Eddie Selzer, who had taken over after Leon Schlesinger left).
So Freleng decided to pick up the project, but instead of completing the story that had been drawn, he simply took the rights to Tweety (which now became exclusively his), and used him to replace another character in a project he was already working on.

Clampett’s new cat character design

Sylvester’s first film was about a lovebird who wants to die because of his nasty wife. So reverse of the future cat and bird chase premise, it was about him wanting Sylvester to eat him, but Sylvester being suspicious (“There’s something phony about you! Ya didn’t even try to escape from me! Ya just stood there! You’re probably poisoned! Yeah! You only want me to eat you, so I’ll die! Well I’m not falling for it!”).
He within a year did a second film “Peck Up Your Troubles”, that was truer to the later form, where Sylvester chases a bird, this time a woodpecker, and keeps annoying a bulldog that gets in his way, sometimes protecting the bird.

It was this film he was doing a “followup” to, and then decided to replace the woodpecker with Tweety. Right before Freleng died, I was still working the courts, and one day after work, had wandered over to Chatham Square for some reason, and the former (1870’s) New Bowery Hotel tenement had a small magazine store on St. James Pl. and I was probably looking for a snack or something, and went in and saw an animation magazine where Freleng was being interviewed, and this being around ’95, this whole mystique of “Clampett’s next Tweety film” still fresh in my mind, read it to see what further light it would shed.
That’s where I read that when he took over the project and merged it with his own, he told either his unit or Selzer that they “might as well stick Tweety in there”, but Selzer kept opposing it, wanting him to use the woodpecker. (He probably really did not like Clampett, and wanted to see anything associated with him retired and forgotten!) It mentioned the incident of Freleng slamming the pencil down on his desk and saying “well finish it yourself!”; Selzer gave in, and yet then was all too glad to receive the Oscar for the finished product, “Tweetie Pie” when it won!

The first Oscar, displayed on “Blue Ribbon” title that replaced the original

I wish I could find that magazine, to provide the source, to be added on sites like Wikipedia and elsewhere. (Edit: It was likely Animato! #32 which lists a feature on Freleng on the cover, which was probably what drew me to it in the first place, and this was from the Spring, before he died, and thus not about that subject). Many people aren’t aware of this woodpecker project, and that Tweetie Pie was based on it, and not on Clampett’s story.

It seems all Freleng used from the Clampett project was apparently the layout, and now with the long lost original credits to the “Blue-Ribboned” Tweetie Pie also recently surfacing, the layout credit still goes to the Freleng unit’s Hawley Pratt. He probably took it, to get the basic idea, and just redrew it in his own unit’s style. (Tweety’s Freleng design is notably “sweeter” looking and even a bit more feminine presenting, especially the smile, which apparently had led to questions about his gender at times. His “Tiny Toons” younger counterpart, “Sweetie Bird” was made a female!)

You can easily visualize the woodpecker in Tweety’s place, like in the opening, outside next to the cigar, and then the lady of the house takes him in, and it would make sense that when Sylvester piled up the wooden furniture to reach him, the woodpecker would peck it, instead of Tweety having to saw it. Since in the first woodpecker cartoon, neither character spoke (Sylvester uses signs, like the Coyote would do later!), this explains why Sylvester doesn’t speak, but they had to make Tweety speak, to stay in character, but the lines are not really integral to the story.
(He was in this film oddly named “Thomas”! What were they thinking? Were they pretending MGM didn’t exist, like at the very same time having Bugs Bunny go against a mouse in a “Hungarian Rhspsody #2” performance?! He was first addressed as “Sylvester” by Porky a year later in “Scaredy Cat” which was Jones’ first use of him).

Imagining what this story would have been like

Clampett’s Sylvester, from Kitty Kornered, seemed like a smart leader. I had always vaguely remembered one where he stood up and gave a speech to other cats, on how to deal with the threat at hand. (The frame of this shown in the book always reminded me of that famous picture of Malcolm X giving the speech, with his pointing hand similarly raised). When the youngest kitten twice says something stupid, he backslaps him (“Sssmack!“) What a far cry from the later Tweety-pursuer who would helplessly allow dogs and other characters to slap or punch him around, if not worse! (Sylvester’s mix of toughness and weakness is likely what made me identify with him, and thus why I’m so into this).

So I always wondered how this would translate to the Tweety chase, since all of his earlier pursuers were either dumb, or a smart leader with a dumb sidekick who screws things up, and of course once Sylvester was paired with Tweety under Freleng, he became largely a hapless passive/aggressive losing wimp also. This still could have happened now (just like he had a strong personality in his debut, but instantly took on the wimpy role in the second film), but since Clampett had only one use of him at the time, you don’t really get a sense of the full range of roles he would have done with him. (He does parallel Colonel, even down to the “And furthermore…!” I also imagine he wouldn’t have been allowed to “kill off” Freleng’s new character, as had basically been done with the cats in the last two films, and so you expect it to have a different kind of ending! Everything about this is so intriguing!)

Kitty Kornered was an extremely rare role for Sylvester, as the pursuee rather than pursuer, and thus as the winner, as the pursuees often are in these cartoons. He technically had a similar role in Life With Feathers, though it played upon him being the natural predator, and concluded with him resuming that role. Otherwise, both Freleng and McKimson kept him largely as an antagonist, or in other ways, a helpless loser (only Jones had completely different kinds of roles for him, mostly as timid companion to Porky, but had only used him in about four films).
He appears as heckling pursuee again in Freleng’s “Back Alley Uproar”, against Elmer (so unusual seeing him coming with his hunter’s rifle against Sylvester!) but this was actually a remake of an earlier black&white Looney Tune feauring a generic cat against Porky. (Even though he ends up losing all of his nine lives, he still has the final hurrah, as one of the lives swipes Elmer’s halo, since he had died also, and is yet still plagued by the cat’s singing!) There’s also Davis’ “Doggone Cats” and McKimson’s “Crowing Pains” (though he’s a dumb sidekick in the former, and still loses in the latter).

This is an illustration of what I pointed out above, that earlier stories had more of a variety of plots and roles, but fell into more formulaic patterns later on. Sylvester was technically pursuee in some later Freleng films, such as the two with Chester and Spike/Alfie, the little girl who prefigures Elmyra (“A Kiddie’s Kitty”), and “Pappy’s Puppy” (essentially Sylvester’s entry in Freleng’s “Wentworth” premise, except that he was not marrying into the role of mother’s babysitter for money; it was the father who just came after him for that purpose), but he’s clearly not on top of things in these.

So again, it’s hard to tell where exactly Clampett would have gone with Sylvester. But for now, it’s hard to tell if he’s dumb or not in this one. He asks the snoring Tweety, in the cage “Are you sleeping?”, and then Tweety responds “Shhh!” So possibly. (Though he still doesn’t otherwise look particularly stupid there. But we see he does talk in this one. It seems he was putting on some kind of “act” in the story, that he hoped would impress Tweety somehow, but apparently only puts him to sleep. Come to think of it, wouldn’t that be better, to be easy to catch him, if he’s asleep? So you have to wonder is it even a regular chase premise then?)

Preaching Revolution to the oppressed masses!

But then the next question is, if he’s the “stupid cat”, then who’s the “fat rat”? Even though the six panels so far only show Sylvester and Tweety, I’m thinking there must be another character in the story, who could be a literal rat, but could also be any kind of character, like perhaps even another bird, who betrays Tweety in the chase. So the title seems to be portraying Tweety (the star of the Clampett series) against both foes, which would match the three films before that: “Tale of Two Kitties”, “Birdy and the Beast”, “Gruesome Twosome” . (I had always wondered what the next title after this would be!)

And that title would have perfectly fit the premise of Davis’ contemporary film “Catch as Cats Can” (which I had long eyed as possibly where the Clampett story might have went to), featuring an altered personality Sylvester with a pair of birds patterned after Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby (with Crosby as the underdog against the more suave Sinatra). So the jealous Crosby parrot would be the “fat rat” sending the “stupid cat” (Sylvester, as he was made in this story) after fellow pet bird, the Sinatra canary.
Davis had come out of the Tashlin unit and taken over the Clampett unit, and finished some of his other projects. He apparently liked the whole “Sinatra vs Crosby” premise, as he (under his former unit) had animated “Swooner Crooner”, where the singers are portrayed as roosters who compete to make Porky’s farm hens lay the most eggs, purely by their “crooning”.

So the canary’s violent self-defenses always reminded me of Clampett’s Tweety, and looked to me like what “the next Tweety film” could have been like. So in the Tweety story, it could even be a parrot who’s not Crosby, but keeps giving Tweety away, by saying “he’s in there, he’s in there”, or something. (Like on “Buccaneer Bunny”, which Boomerang has been playing a lot). Davis would have then taken the parrot and canary premise, and framed them as Crosby vs Sinatra. Perhaps it was this other character telling Sylvester to get close to Tweety by trying to impress him.

From the six panels shown so far, there’s no conclusive evidence of any of this. Only the title points to more in the story that might point that way. (I also have to consider the remote possibilty that the “fat rat” could be Tweety himself; perhaps ratting on Sylvester trying to catch him, as he would do in Tweetie Pie and most stories after!) Hopefully, the rest of the story will become visible at some time, and we’ll see!

Sylvester displays big Clampettesque “Kool-Aid smile”

Clampett completing this would have changed history. For one, this film likely wouldn’t have won the Oscar. (None of Clampett’s stuff was ever even nominated. Probably because a cynical Selzer didn’t care to submit any of his stuff to the Academy; while most of the nominees and other winners were by Freleng! Clampett would ironically do a film where Bugs crashes the Oscar ceremony, demanding the award!)
Since they liked “Tweetie Pie” so much, then I could see “Woodie Pie” [jk]* still winning, assuming it was exactly the same, minus the bird’s speaking lines. Not sure if that would have made the difference, though. *(I believe it would have probably ended up titled “A Peck Of Trouble”, which was a few years later taken by McKimson, when he paired the same woodpecker with his own cat).

If it had won, then Sylvester’s permanent partner would have possibly been this woodpecker. Not sure where Clampett would have gone with Tweety after that, or of course, he could have still left, and then’s the question whether Tweety would have just fallen by the wayside, or could have still been picked up by Freleng, but I wonder if without the initial Oscar, the series would have had the same momentum (they didn’t win another one until much later).
One of the first things that always comes up in my thinking of counterfactual timelines, is what would have happened if Clampett had stayed! (He would continue to be to WB, what Avery by then was to MGM; the genius animator who kept the other directors on their toes! The other big curiosity similar to this, is if Stevie Wonder had stayed with engineers Margouleff and Cecil, and produced a followup to Fulfillingness First Finale, instead of Songs in the Key to Life. John Swenson’s biography mentions that “what exactly would follow FFF” was a “burning question” to the music industry! Several songs or clips from that project have been leaking out online for several years).

And what would the animation look like?

The final question is what would the final animated sequences have been like? Obviously, nothing like “Tweetie Pie”. Tweetie Pie is similar in flow to it’s predecessor Peck Up Your Trouble, which is nothing like the last Clampett Sylvester or Tweety films. That final year, Clampett had stepped up the wackiness, adding exaggerated angular perspective (obvious in Baby Bottleneck, Kitty Kornered and Great Piggy Bank Robbery), characters turning liquid to get out of tight spots, etc. Like Avery, he had very wild “double-takes”, with the huge eyes popping out, etc. In Baby Bottleneck, Daffy is running on a conveyor belt, and one of his legs had been stretched out, and he still runs with it (on the floor) and the normal sized one (on the belt) at the same time. He pulls the leg back to normal size with one of the feathers on the top of his head.
The final film, “The Big Snooze” has Bugs heckle Elmer through a surreal dream world. The highlight of Kitty Kornered is the alien costumes the cats wear, to scare off Porky. Then, a Teddy Roosevelt charge up the stairs! Before that was the sequence of Porky scaring the cats (with those wild double take reactions) and chasing Sylvester through the house, pulling him and a whole family of mice out of their hole, and then pulling him off a moose head, with the whole live moose then breaking out and galloping away. Before he entered the mouse hole, he started running up the wall above it, does a sharp take, and then does this 360° loop curl into the hole. (It’s fascinating to stop the video and see individual frames!) When giving the speech, he’s slobbering all over one of the others, who then has to duck (pull his head into his body) when Sylvester belts out the word “boot”. Freleng’s work, was in contrast, again, very straight laced.

Sylvester (left) and other cats in Clampett’s wacky animation

It seems Clampett’s bird chase stories were a bit less like his other stuff than these stories, but still had their moments of wackiness. Birdy and the Beast has the cat stop his wild feline stalk for a moment to humanly tiptoe, showing a goofy face. Then, he’s climbing the tree, whose trunk curves away for a bit, but he continues climbing straight. Then you have the flying with his arms gag, and him only realizing he can’t fly when Tweety points it out to him. Then, displaying the eggs in his mouth like teeth until Tweety smashes them. And Tweety shouting “BOOM!” at the top of his lungs when recounting how the cat cashed to the ground. These aren’t too difficult to imagine for any character or director. But Gruesome Twosome gets a little wackier, with the “Colonel” design. It starts out like it wasn’t a Tweety story at all, but about the cats, competing for a girl, with Tweety simply added in as the bird they have to catch to win her affections. The theme of this one is the violence, with Snooks repeatedly clobbering Colonel, who then repeatedly pumps him full of bullets. You then see the liquid effect when Colonel tricks him into crashing into a washtub. (Also repeated is Tweety’s loud “BOOM”) The final gag is them trying to sneak up on him in this crude floppy horse costume.

We don’t see anything in this storyboard that compares to this. It looks like it would be not too different from Freleng’s stories. But then a storyboard doesn’t have all of these details, which are probably added in the actual translation to animation. (The book shows part of a storyboard for Birdy and the Beast, and you don’t see all the gag details).
So it’s really hard to know what this would have looked like, being a late Clampett product that would follow characteristically totally wacky films like The Big Snooze and Great Piggy Bank Robbery.

Clampett’s wild frame animation. Notice the angular drawings of walls, which was common in this last year of his

What we see in the current portion

It shows Sylvester with the same basic design as in Kitty Kornered. (The first panel shown is totally weird looking though! Like a cross between him and “Birdy and the Beast” in the beginning, where Snooks momentarily tiptoes with this goofy look on his face; but this one looks goofy and devious at the same time). Included is the frame of [the for the first time, caged] Tweety’s “I thot I saw [sic] a putty tat!”, referring to Sylvester for the very first time! There’s also a scene of an encounter on the floor, away from the cage, and Tweety (flying in from somewhere else and landing before Sylvester, who looks ready to pounce) says “So, here I am, Mithter Putty Tat”, and Sylvester responds “Yesss, yess, so I s-s-see, so I s-s–see…”. Again, hard to make out where exactly this is going, or what the whole context even is. This looks very different from the previous three Tweety films, which were simple cat chases bird plots. (It’s reminding me of “Snow Business”, where they’ve actually been getting along as pets, but are snowed in with no cat food, so Tweety never even catches on that the “games” Sylvester is playing with him, are to try to eat him! Funny, as that one also has a mouse, who’s so hungry, he’s actually trying to eat Sylvester! Wonder if there may be any connection of this to this story!)

Kitty Kornered was notable for changing his red nose to black, and giving him yellow eyes. (Like Tom. That was the only time he ever appeared like this. All the other directors kept the original coloring). Another cat, who looks like a “deflated” version of the one from Birdy and the Beast (he even escapes by flowing down the drain as a liquid), now has the red nose. The other two are colored like Sylvester, and are very short, and having different shaped heads, though not too different from Sylvester.
So on this storyboard, since it’s in black & white pencil, it’s hard to tell what the coloring would be, but it seems to still be a completely dark nose. (Something red would usually translate to a lighter gray). The distinguishing feature of the Clampett interpretation of the character is the long, exaggeratedly dumbbell shaped snout, with the big round nose sticking straight up. Freleng’s design was more compact than that.

Bob McKimson was the next director to borrow Sylvester, against his new Foghorn character (and with Henery and the dog), oddly enough, (and very quickly afterward, starting his own Sylvester series, with Hippity Hopper), and his early Sylvester generally had the stronger character as well. McKimson had been the Clampett unit’s main animator in the days of the Tweety films, but then was promoted to take over Tashlin’s unit. So in some respects his stuff bears some resemblance to Clampett at times (as does Davis; and then some other early stuff of theirs resembles Tashlin as well). McKimson also added some wacky animation at times, like Sylvester’s dramatic reaction to the egg Henery was hiding in, and then going crazy and pulling his head in and out of his body using his tail.

But while the Sylvester of “Crowing Pains” (and the early Hippety Hopper films; like the sketch of him from “Hop, Look and Listen” that appears in Putty Tat p.95) does have a similar scruffy snout design as Clampett, and mouth animation is very similar (and the ridiculous slobbering), the main visual difference between the two directors was the upper head. Where Clampett’s big heads would have big eyes, with big pupils (that “baby look” again), McKimson’s heads (above the mouth/nose/jaw line) and thus the eyes, were very notably small (and often, with very heavy eyebrows). In fact, that became his characteristic look for talking characters. You would see a big mouth, with all the teeth shown prominently, but the head and eyes above it would be tiny. (I think of “Hare We Go”, where Christopher Columbus says he prefers “WHITE!” meat, or Elmer, in “Easter Yeggs” saying “I’ll catch that Easter Bunny if it’s the WAST thing I do!”, or his very first directed film, “Daffy Doodles”, where Porky says “I HATE that d-d-duck!” While the mouths appear to be Clampett holdovers, the eyes often look like remaining Tashlin influence).

So no go, in looking at early McKimson products to get a sense of what this would have been like!

Successors to Clampett? Art Davis and Bob McKimson offer similar styles (Catch as Cats Can, and Crowing Pains)

Should also mention that Tweety looks different than the earlier storyboards; like more compact, and as the video points out, it seems he’s now become a feathered canary. Though Beck’s book says “Gruesome Twosome” is where he became a “yellow feathered canary”, and the frames shown in the book look like it, but watching the actual film, he still looked more flesh-colored like before. (I remember I couldn’t wait to catch the films on TV, and so rented the old Turner [pre-48] Sylvester & Tweety VHS, only to have my new bride flip, “A pink Tweety?”) So Freleng’s design is usually credited for that.
He’s also clearly become domestic (as he did for the first time in “Tweetie Pie”, though he started out wild in that one), and the video mentions Clampett being accused of “falsely” taking credit for things like this.

I asked Dave where he got it from, and he linked me to this auction site. “110” in parentheses appears to be the number of pages or plates! It started at $6000-8000! Don’t know who bought it, but I hope it’s a library or museum that makes good use of it! Wonder if with this new retro-themed Looney Tunes production going on and set to debut soon, if it would be possible to hand it over to them and let them finally animate it, after these 74 years!

This looks very interesting, and is a significant find!

  1. More scenes from Kitty Kornered, and also, Baby Bottleneck, showing Tweety’s cameo, and more of Clampett’s animation style. (I always liked how Sylvester at one point in the mouse-hole curl loses his scruff and looks like “Snooks” from Birdy and the Beast!)

  2. Wow; new Looney Tunes episode previewed on Facebook, and it’s Sylvester & Tweety! They even give Sylvester the yellow eyes, like in Kitty Kornered (and it especially looks Clampettish with the huge pupils; though he still has the red nose, of course. Features modern wacky animation.

    As I said above, this current production team would do well to get ahold of FRSC and animate it!

    Here’s another scene from KK, showing Sylvester rising to the occasion (with this odd fourth-wall breaking stare with the large size-changing eyes), and his “bright idea” of the alien disguises.

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