Friday, March 28, 2014

Noble's Backgrounds in "What's Opera, Doc?"

One of the greatest classic short cartoons is "What's Opera, Doc?" a 1957 Warner Brothers Merrie Melodie directed by Chuck Jones.


The story features Elmer Fudd as the demi-god Siegfried chasing Bugs Bunny and singing "Kill the Wabbit!" In less than seven minutes, they manage to satirize Wagner, expressionist cinema, ballet, and Fantasia, all at once.

Maurice Nobel did the layouts and backgrounds, and they add immense scale, color, and drama to the piece.

Noble said: "Starting rough and not getting specific too early will allow you to keep your design ideas flexible…The more ideas and work you have, the more design possibilities you will have to choose from."


"I suggest putting all your research materials away once you start designing and never refer to them again. This may prove difficult at first. But I’ve found that if you are tied too closely to your reference, your designs will tend to look stiff. You will miss out on many fun design opportunities."
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Quotes from Cartoon Brew
All images ©Warner Bros.

3 comments:

Jayson Phillips said...

Of course these drawings were based on set designers Adolphe Appia and Gordon Craig.

NJL said...

That short is one of the greatest examples of cartooning of all time!

William Johnston said...

This is one of my favorite cartoons, the style and substance is so extraordinary. They took what was essentially a ten hour opera and made it about ten minutes. The music, the humor, its all just perfect and it ends just as an Opera should...but with a twist