-by Matthew Hunter and Robert McKimson, Jr.
Introduction: The following is an interview with Robert McKimson, Jr., son of WB cartoon director Robert McKimson and nephew of animators Tom and Charles McKimson. This serves to let readers to this site learn more about the McKimson name in Warner Bros. cartoons, as well as promote a series of original paintings and drawings from the McKimsons that Robert is offering for sale. Included below are the interview and 7 examples of the available artwork. Obviously, these are only examples. If you have an interest in any of the artwork below or would like to see more, please email Robert at: email@example.com.
RM: Tom, my uncle, was the oldest, and got started, along with my father, with Walt Disney in 1928 as an assistant animator. They both left after a short time to go, as animators, to The Romer Grey Studio, Zane Grey's son, who was starting a new cartoon studio. After a year or two the studio folded without producing a cartoon. In 1931 they both went to Harman-Ising Cartoon Studio, as animators. Harman-Ising were releasing their cartoons through Warner Bros. Leon Schlesinger was the middle man between Harman-Ising and Warner Bros. In 1933 Harman-Ising and Schlesinger parted ways. Tom stayed with Harman-Ising and my father went with Schlesinger who started a new cartoon studio to release through Warner Bros. Tom rejoined Schlesinger in 1942 and left in 1947.
.2: MH: What do you think your fatherís best film is?
RM: I think my father had three great cartoons. His first Foghorn cartoon in 1946, which was nominated for an Academy Award - "Walky Talky Hawky". Another Foghorn cartoon 1949 - "Hen House Henery". A Bugs cartoon from 1950 - "Hillbilly Hare".
RM: My father created the following major characters: Foghorn Leghorn; Hippety Hopper; Sylvester Jr.; Original Speedy Gonzales; and Tasmanian Devil. In addition, he created the definitive drawing, as we know him today, of Bugs Bunny in 1943. I think my father's favorite character was Foghorn Leghorn. It was his first character and he loved Foghorn's attitude.
RM: As I stated above, my father stayed the longest. He loved the Looney tunes characters and the ability to create cartoons based upon those characters.
5. MH: I have read several vintage Dell Looney Tunes comic books, and so many of the character designs in them are the definitive McKimson style, I know they worked some on those. Can you give some history on that?
RM: My uncle Tom, when he left Warner Bros. in 1947, went to Whitman/Dell Publishing as Art Director for comic books, coloring books and comic strips. He stayed there until 1972 when he retired. Thus, you have the McKimson "stamp" on those vintage comics. In addition, my uncle Charles, after leaving Warner Bros. in 1954, went to Whitman/Dell as Art Director for Comic and coloring books.
RM: We published many limited edition, hand painted, cels based upon my father's cartoons or drawings. However, I think the best and the best selling was "Vintage Bugs". This is the classic pose of Bugs leaning against a tree with a carrot. My father drew the pose in 1943, as an advertisement for a Los Angeles department store.
RM: I met, on many occasions, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. I met them as a young man and when I was doing limited editions. They were both great cartoonists and a credit to the profession.
RM: My father was perhaps the best draftsman and also the most under appreciated director. He was a humble man that did not "Beat His Own Drum". That is why I now do it for him. I do not know what were his least favorite cartoons, but mine are those that do not have the Classic Looney Tunes characters.
RM: The Tasmanian Devil was the last character created by my father in 1954. I can only attribute his popularity to the fact that he is different. I had nothing to do with "Taz Mainia". I only produced limited edition artwork for 10 years.
RM: The Warner Bros. Cartoons were meant for adults and not children. They were meant to make you laugh and not to be taken seriously. To censor them is ridiculous. It is just another example of "political correctness".
RM: The characters that appeared in the 1960's Warner Bros. cartoons - Merlin the Magic Mouse, Cool Cat, etc., were good characters but not up to par with the classic Looney Tunes characters.
RM: I think the Daffy/Speedy series was great, but I have no idea why the combination or the longevity of the series.
RM: Only my uncle Charles animated for my father, from 1946 until 1954. However, he worked with my father on the creation and first cartoon of the Tasmanian Devil.
. MH: How did the McKimson brothers learn to draw so well?
RM: All three McKimson brothers were natural born artists. From the first minute they could pick up a pencil, they could draw.
15. MH: Now you personally: Any plans for the future with limited edition cel work or animation in general? What else should readers know you for? J
RM: I produced and marketed, under license from Warner Bros., limited edition animation art. I did this for ten years and just stopped recently. At this time, I have no further plans in the animation art field. I now promote and sell artwork from the "McKimson Brothers".
RM: The McKimson brothers accomplishments and wide range of talents, starting in in 1928, has created a legacy no other three brothers have equaled in their field. I can only hope that their places in the history of animation and comic book art will continue to be recognized and appreciated.
RM: I thank you for the opportunity to make more people aware of the McKimson brothers and their contributions to a true "Americana" art form - Animation. Should anyone be desirous of purchasing an original McKimson Looney Tunes piece of art, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bugs and Marvin Martian: Tom McKimson
Sylvester Jr.: Tom McKimson
Bugs and Sylvester hockey: Charles McKimson
Taz football player: Charles McKimson
Sylvester: Charles McKimson
Bugs Bunny: Charles McKimson
Cowboy Foghorn Leghorn vs. Indians Henery Hawk, Tweety, and Speedy Gonzales: Tom McKimson