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Sunday, March 20, 2005


I've been sick as a parrot for a week. Don't know why parrots are sick, but I sure have been squawking away like one when I'm talking at all.
It's difficult to work on a computer in any fashion when your head feels as if it is being insulated with Fiberglas, and when you've got a committee of devils installing a commemorative fountain in your sinuses.

Speaking of commemorative fountains, I managed to write a brief 'historical' blurb on the guest page of one of my favorite gag cartoon sites, the SNAPPYTOON AMUSEMENT COMPANY. the home of the famous Elmo Aardvaark!

Never heard of him? Visit, and be enlightened. And the music's great too.

Will "Terwilliger" Ryan's historical research into America's (and Ruritania's) favorite aardvaark star originally appeared in the long defunct WILD CARTOON KINGDOM magazine back in the days when we still made cartoons with pencils. Some of us were invited to search our collections of antique cartoon art to find historic materials about Elmo Aardvaark, the oldest, snappiest cartoon star beneath the sun and moon!

I am proud to say that I located a rare still from a 1922 Mack Sennett short, SATAN'S HOUSECAT, featuring showgirl Olga "Noodles" Romanoff and Elmo Aardvaark performing AARDVAARK ON THE KEYS.

The combination of liveaction with animation was accomplished by drawing Elmo on each frame of the original negative, since the Max Fleischer Out of the Inkwell studio had patent on the Rotoscope process which enabled his studio to trace live action and combine it with animation. The resulting 'drawing on film' wobbliness in the Elmo cartoon anticipates Len Lye's experimental films by four years and Norman McLaren by twenty. Unfortunately the film is lost and Sennett lost so much money on the deal that he never worked in animation again; but there are the reviews surviving that are curiously missing from the INTERNET MOVIE DATA BASE.
MOTION PICTURE WORLD called SATAN'S HOUSECAT 'unusually lively' in motion but criticized it for including 'sing along' lyrics to an obvious ripoff of Kitten on the Keys.
Audiences had a hard time singing along to the doubletime lyrics, and this, together with the flickering and 'morphing' drawings of Elmo, caused SATAN'S HOUSECAT to perform poorly in theatres that weren't also close by the local speakeasies.

I heartily recommend the entire Snappytoon site, and I'll post more when I'm feeling more like a 'person' again.

Maybe I'll even find that still.

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