Book Review: “I Say, I Say…Son!” A Tribute to Legendary Animators Bob, Chuck, and Tom McKimson
After that Robert McKimson worked briefly at UPA on Mr. Magoo cartoons, at Warner Bros.-Seven Arts on such forgettable new cartoons as Cool Cat and Rapid Rabbit, and at DePatie-Freleng Enterprises on the Pink Panther. He was working at DePatie-Freleng when he died in 1977.
This recitation of facts gives no hint of the beauty of this book. It is illustrated in full color on almost every page, and with several double-page art spreads. There are illustrations of almost everything that Robert McKimson has done, from pencil sketches of the never-produced Binko cartoons for Romer Gray to all of his work for Warner Bros. and the later studios. There are animation drawings, color model drawings, finished cels, lobby cards, model sheets, limited edition cels, and more. A separate chapter on Tom and Chuck’s work at Western Publishing has many samples of their work on WB-character comic books and coloring books, from rough scripts to finished drawings. Chuck’s only separate animation credit was on the TV cartoon series Calvin and the Colonel; he later worked at Pacific Title creating motion picture animated titles for such features as The Music Man and The Sound of Music. There are sharp photographs (mostly posed publicity photos) throughout the book, not only of the three McKimson brothers throughout their lives, but also of the men they worked with: Leon Schlesinger, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Eddie Selzer, Mel Blanc, and more.
The Foreword and Introduction stand out above those in other animation scholarship books. John Kricfalusi and Darrell Van Citters are animation industry veterans who are very knowledgeable about the McKimson brothers, and include many personal insights in their combined twelve pages.
The book is not perfect. There is no index, which would have been handy. Practically every Warner Bros. cartoon that McKimson Jr. mentions is called a “classic,” which becomes overkill fast. In the decades-old debate of who created Bugs Bunny, McKimson Jr. comes down solidly on his father’s side, although he does acknowledge most of Bugs’ other “fathers,” and he reproduces Warner Bros.’ 1944 copyright registration form for the “cartoon Figure named ‘Bugs Bunny’” identifying Robert McKimson as the artist. There are several minor nitpicks; for example, the book does not mention that Friz Freleng was a nickname; his real first name was Isadore. A model sheet of Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit is dated 1928 and identified as Walter Lantz’s; it does look more like Lantz’s Oswald, but in 1928 the rabbit was still Disney’s.
But for information and samples of Robert McKimson’s animation, and Tom McKimson’s comic book and coloring book work (which Bob sometimes helped on), “I Say, I Say…Son!” A Tribute to Legendary Animators Bob, Chuck, and Tom McKimson will probably never be bettered. Every animation library should have this book.
Fred Patten has been a fan of animation since the first theatrical rerelease of Pinocchio (1945). He co-founded the first American fan club for Japanese anime in 1977, and was awarded the Comic-Con International's Inkpot Award in 1980 for introducing anime to American fandom. He began writing about anime for Animation World Magazine since its #5, August 1996. A major stroke in 2005 sidelined him for several years, but now he is back. He can be reached at email@example.com.