Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sam and Ralph

In 1953, Chuck Jones began a brilliant series of cartoons featuring a sheepdog and a wolf. The wolf is clearly a re-classified Wile E. Coyote with a red nose named Ralph, and the sheepdog was his pudgy and cunning adversary with a tuft of red bangs covering his eyes.
Sheepdog and wolf cartoons had been done before but what set these apart was how Jones presented them. After reading the 1934 Lewis Browne book How Odd of God, where it was stated that there are no judges, only people judging, no high jumpers, only people jumping high, Jones said. "So I drew the conclusion that there are no sheepdogs, only dogs who tend sheep during the day. They only become sheepdogs when they punch in in the morning." And so it was, each short would open with the two exchanging pleasentries then after clocking in for work, their day would pass with the wolf trying in vain to steal sheep only to be thwarted time and again by the sheepdog, then in the end a whistle blows, they clock out, wish each other a good night and return home only to return in the next cartoon to do it all over again. Brilliant concept by a brilliant man.

Until next time,
your friend...Brian James Fichtner

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