Thursday, February 14, 2008

Emery Hawkins

Thad K. has posted John Canemaker's complete interview with animator Emery Hawkins and created a compilation of Hawkins' animation from Columbia, Warner, Lantz, MGM and Disney cartoons (there's even a Hubley commercial in there).

The Hawkins interview was done for John Canemaker's 1977 book The Animated Raggedy Ann and Andy, as Hawkins animated much of the character of The Greedy in the feature directed by Richard Williams. While portions of the interview appear in the book, this is the first time I'm aware of that the entire interview has seen print.

In the 1940's, Hawkins was doing brilliant work at Lantz and Warner Bros. His Woody Woodpecker is probably the most attractively drawn version of the character, yet he doesn't skimp on Woody's hard, manic edge. Hawkins' animation for the Art Davis unit at Warners is a highlight of cartoons that deserve to be better known and appreciated. His work in this period was built on rounded forms with lots of follow-through. There's so much drag on the characters that sometimes it appears as if they're moving underwater (though they're still timed normally).

Starting in the '50s, Hawkins worked for John Sutherland doing industrials and many studios that did commercials. That work is generally obscure, which is a shame. Hawkins was too good for his work to be anonymous. Undoubtedly there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered, but Hawkins wanderlust took him to so many studios in his career that compiling any kind of filmography is a daunting proposition. His work on theatrical shorts is reasonably well documented, and Thad's excellent compilation will give you a good idea of Hawkins' gifts.

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