ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER IIII - Symposium for Contemporary Animation Studies | PANEL 3: ANIMATION IN THE MIND
Psychotic and Then Some: Wackyland or the Meta-Fictional Dimension of American Cartoons - Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo - Texas Tech University - USA
7/06 WED 10:15 - 10:45 Chilloutka, Ilica 15/1
Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck might be two of the best-known and eccentric characters from the Warner Brothers cartoons’ canon. Originally insane, throughout their many incarnations their slapstick behaviour took a calmer turn and eventually became more factual than visceral. This process helped define the parameters of normalcy in which they operated within their universe (e.g. an anvil or piano falling from the sky). But, beyond the seamless rules of this care-free world, there was Wackyland, a dimension of psychotic derangement where “cartoon laws” do not apply in the same way. Introduced in 1938 in the animation “Porky in Wackyland,” and populated by cracked beings and objects, Wackylandis the habitat of the last of the Do-Do birds, a shape-shifter being of obnoxious behaviour. When Porky Pig ventures in the search of the bird, he is noticeably scared and mortified by the rarities of the place, one that is entirely different from his own.
The cartoon made its appearance when surrealism’s popularity in the United States was at its height. As a movement profoundly influenced by psychological theories (Freud and Jung), surrealism fostered an art whose fantastic character would bring forth the unconscious and break the normalcy of everyday life. When Porky’s cartoon was revamped in 1949 as Dough for the Do-Do, the plot and action remained similar to the originals, but the background became a Dalí-esque landscape that transformed Wackyland into a purely surrealist universe. While most scholarship on cartoons has called attention to the breaking of the fourth wall, this paper explores Wackyland as a surreal dimension within cartoons’ fictional world. It argues that the function of this over-eccentric, meta-fantastic place, one that is beyond the understanding of the staple cartoon characters, makes their fantastic nature and behaviour look more “real” and coherent.
Dr Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo (Associate Professor in Graphic Design and Coordinator of the PhD Fine Arts program) and Dr Jorgelina Orfila (Associate Professor of Art History) are since 2014 engaged in a teaching and research project that explores the intersections between art history and animation in the modern and contemporary periods. In addition to teaching at the School of Art(Texas Tech University), they have presented papers on this topic at the Annual conferences organized by the College Art Association (NY 2015), “Bridges Across Cultures” (Florence 2015) and the 28thAnnual Conference of the Society of Animation Studies (Singapore 2016).