This week, I finally got around to watching a few Woody Woodpecker cartoons from a recent dvd set that came out during the summer. I was surprised and happy at the quality of the images in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons included as bonus features. The backgrounds were well done and are very clear on these dvds.
The black and white background paintings on Spooks had an especially loose and lively feel. The excellent quality of the images on the dvd gave me a good opportunity to see the nice pen and wash work on these backgrounds. I love to see that unlabored look to the washes that is defining the forms.
One odd technical point about the Spooks cartoon concerns the number of fingers on the Phantom character's hands - they kept changing. It became customary in humorous animated cartoon to use only 3 fingers and a thumb on each hand, less to animate that way. Here is one screen capture with 3 fingers and thumb on one hand and 4 plus thumb on the other. Another frame from the same sequence has the Phantom with 4 fingers plus the thumb on each hand. This is no complaint, just an observation. In George Herriman's Krazy Kat newspaper strip backgrounds changed with no apparent reason from panel to panel. I believe Herriman was making a conscious decision to do that; but the Phantoms magic fingers were probable an oversight because of a rushed production schedule.