Tuesday, November 14, 2006


On November 14th, 1931, the Warner Bros. animation department released their sixteenth cartoon staring Bosko, the Ink-Talk Kid. In Bosko's Soda Fountain, Bosko is a soda jerk who takes pleasure in serving the local denizens ice cream in a musical and comical fashion. Meanwhile, Honey is teaching Wilbur to play the piano coaxing him with the promise of ice cream when they are done. She calls up Bosko and asks him to bring over an ice cream cone, to which, Bosko races over to her house nearly spilling the ice cream cone several times.

Does this sound like a pretty weak plot to you? Well this is the basis of most of the old Looney Tunes cartoons of the 30s. With the invention of 'talkies' (movies with dialogue) Warner Bros. animators Hugh Harmon and Rudy Ising created Bosko in 1927.

He was ment to be a parody of white actors who pretended to be black in vaudeville plays. This became the stereotype for black cartoon characters for many years. Mickey Mouse followed this model as well but was masked as a mouse whereas Bosko was definitely a 'Negro boy'.

The Bosko cartoons showcased Warner's cutting edge voice-synchronization techniques and Bosko went on to be Warner Bros. very first cartoon star.

In 1933, Harmon and Ising left Warner Bros. but because they made sure they kept the right to the character, Bosko went with them to MGM where he appeared in a few Happy Harmonies cartoons before disappearing completely.

1 comment:

Katie said...

The few Bosko cartoons I've seen are really amazing with lip sync-ing and just general timing with music and what not. They're very fun to watch, even if the plots aren't amazing. It wasn't so much about the stories at that point as it was about "what can we do with animation?" 'Cause it was such a new medium.