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October 12th, 2005 #1
Interview and Info on Ken Harris....y'know bugs bunny and that kinda stuff.
I had a great deal of esteem for the late Ken Harris. In my opinion Ken was perhaps the best jobbing animator in the business of his time. This was the era of the great Warner Brothers 'shorts'....such as Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, etc.....on which Ken principally worked. He was originally a car salesman who simply loved to draw cartoons. One day, when business was slow, Ken applied to the Disney studio for a job. But was turned down. He then went over to Warners to apply and was snapped up immediately. There Ken Harris perfected his great skill at 'economy' of action....in other words, he would get the most from the least with his animation. Ken didn't draw particularly well (which was why Disney turned him down) but he certainly knew how to place a drawing to make it move well. Then, once he had placed his roughly-drawn key positions to his satisfaction, he would simply give it all to his assistant animator to do the bulk of the work (sometimes up to 17 inbetween drawings from one key to another!). The clean-up artist would then pull the whole consistency of the character design together afterwards. Ken told me that an animator's footage target at Warners at the time was 30 feet per week. Ken was apparently able to achieve his footage quota within 2-3 days....so he took the rest of the week off to play tennis or drive his adored classic cars! (He still drove an e-type Jaguar at the age of 70....but had to sell it as his wife at that time couldn't get down into the seat that low anymore!) I met him for the first time when he was already quite advanced in years. It was at the Richard Williams' studio in London. Dick had brought him out of retirement to work on the animated TV Special 'A Christmas Carol'. Ken was to animate the Scrooge character. I inbetweened his key drawings and Dick cleaned everything up (in the 'Fizz' engraved/cross-hatched style that was conceived for the film). This was maybe some of the best animation that Ken ever did.....but even then it was his economy of drawing that underlined his unique skill. When he died a few years ago, he left a legacy of traditional animation that will be hard to replicate.
Just thought it's an interesting read......I know you'd expect to read something about Brom or Phil Hale, but let's face it. Most of you knew about Bugs Bunny before you knew about concept art.