Happy Father’s Day To Everyone, Including Bears!

Jaime Weinman

Let’s let Mama and Junyer Bear show us how to celebrate Father’s Day. Remember, “G-U-N-P-O-W-D-E-R” spells “Tobacco.” (A scene, by the way, that was cut when I grew up watching this on ABC. I don’t know if they objected to the smoking or the explosions.)


This cartoon is also a showcase for the talents of Chuck Jones’s longtime animator Ken Harris, who animated most of the final scene as well as other scenes like Junyer pouring the gunpowder into the pipe. For all the advances CGI animation has made, it still hasn’t been able to match the individual touch that the best 2-D animators brought to their work (because CGI, by definition, standardizes the way the characters look),  or the ability of the best hand-drawn animation to create multiple layers of comedy just by the way a character moves. When Junyer recites his poem, we can feel his total sincerity, just from the way he moves and looks, while still laughing at how absurd he is.

Here’s another piece of Ken Harris animation (not Father’s Day-related) that shows the kind of multi-layered approach I’m talking about. In animating this scene, he has to convey the following: Charlie Dog is faking his emotional outburst to gain sympathy, the emotion has to seem real enough that it might fool Porky, while being fake enough that it ultimately doesn’t fool him. And there has to be a bit of sincerity underneath all the fakery, because the obnoxious Charlie actually does want a home. So he has to make the character obnoxious and sympathetic, sincere and faking, all at once, while not incidentally being funny and selling the jokes. Animators today are still playing catch-up to this kind of work.