Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Speedy and Butch Catsidy

Here's an odd piece of Warner artwork recently posted on the Van Eaton Galleries website. It appears to be model cel from an unmade Speedy Gonzales cartoon featuring Speedy and an enemy named Butch Catsidy (who looks like the Tasmanian Devil, suggesting that Bob McKimson was going to be involved with this production). Does anyone have any other information?


James E. Daniels said...

That would be an interesting book. Collecting all the non-conceived short ideas with production art...

Greg Method said...

I wish I had any real information, but I always find artwork like this fascinating, as it definitely gives us a glimpse of shorts that never were.

If I may speculate a little, it's possible that this character was from a short that was going into production by the time of the final studio shutdown in 1969. The Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had just come out and been a huge hit, and spoofing that in some small way wouldn't be too out of the question considering the studio had just parodied another late '60s hit movie with the Bunny and Claude series.

Granted the real-life western figure of Butch Cassidy had been a part of American culture for decades at that point, the only other major media appearance by a Butch Cassidy character was in 1965's Cat Ballou. It's always possible that it was in fact that movie that this potential Speedy short would have been parodying--thus hypothetically bumping up this piece of art's origin to late 1965 or 1966. That would mean that it could have been an unfinished production from Depatie-Freleng when Warner was setting up its own in-house cartoon studio again, but since Robert McKimson was involved with both entities during that period, it's hard to say for sure.

But the Tasmanian Devil resemblance is striking; almost to the point where one wonders if Butch was supposedly to merely be a Taz-like character only feline. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a major supporting character's design was repurposed for a Speedy villain in this era, as Friz Freleng had done the exact same thing with Yosemite Sam's design for Pancho's Hideaway.

There are so many questions that still remain about the studio's final years. As early as 1981 has artwork turned up of other unused characters--Minniesoda Fats, etc.--that obviously originated from the late 1960s. What other "lost" characters remain?

And what of the reported Keystone Kops series or the additional Rapid Rabbit shorts that never went into full production due to the shutdown? How far along did these go; were they storyboarded and even voice-tracked by the time the studio closed up shop? I would love to see someone do a huge archival dig to see where these productions left off; to see what could even be salvaged or completed for curiousity's sake.

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