Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cartoon Censorship (1939)

Digging thorugh some old copies of the British weekly Everybody's, I found the above article on censorship in American animated cartoons. The article dates from 15 April 1939 when the Hays Code was being strongly enforced on Hollywood's output and as rigidly applied to cartoons as it was to live action movies.

Looking around to find a little more information, I discovered that the article wasn't original but based on an feature that had appeared a few months earlier in the American Look magazine (17 January 1939), a scan of which I found at the Cartoon Brew website.

As you can see, the original runs more examples than the version that appeared in Everybody's, although Everybody's was able to run some images with additional colour. The feature was put together with the aid of Looney Tunes producer Leon Schlesinger, who was instrumental in bringing characters like Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny to the big screen. Some of the images are taken from cartoons--the hula-dancing mermaid is from the 1935 Merrie Melodies cartoon Mr. And Mrs. Is The Name, which was one of the first cartoons to use the tag-line "That's All Folks" which was to become a familiar phrase at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons.

Everybody's, like many general magazines in the UK, made plenty of use of cartoons, some of which I'll post over the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting article Steve.Fascinating stuff.I suppose most cartoonists thought they could get away with more risque content based on the premise that they were only cartoons and therefore not real.Of course,"Heavy Metal" the animated movie blew that clean out of the water many years later.Cartoonists need to draw boobs,and 'er..other things.. :-) I loved the "before" and "after" shots of the dancing girl.Also the reference to men not being too effeminate.Seems Hollywood's moral code not only covered displays of partial nudity but also extended to men of a certain persuasion(no slight intended on any members of the Gay community here).This would make for a great book!I wonder how British cartoons fared out? Did they face the same onslaught from Mary Whitehouse?

    The Cap.



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