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The Hungry Goat -- Dan Gordon's Great Manic Popeye Cartoon (Famous Studios, 1943)

Dan Gordon cartoon goats eat cans for dinner Cover scan from Ha-Ha comics

 ACG Comics images © Roger Broughton 2009

While I was doing research for an upcoming Comics Journal article about cartoonist Dan Gordon, I made a point to see as many of his classic animated cartoons as I could. Dan Gordon directed many cartoons for Fleischer, and then went on to be one of the main guys at Famous Studios after Paramount sent the Fleischer brothers packing.

The Hungry Goat title card cartoon

Watch The Hungry Goat
Anyway, Mike Kazaleh gave me a heads-up that Dan Gordon's Popeye cartoons were really something special. After seeing them, I agree that they stand out as being more manic and frenzied than the other "Famous Studios" Popeye shorts. They tend not to feature Bluto and Olive Oyl and Swee Pea, but rather show Popeye battling his nephews, a suicidal sailor, and in this case, a very Hungry Goat.
Please don't read on until you watch the cartoon above...I don't wanna spoil it for you!
A LOT of Dan Gordon's Famous Popeye cartoons have a character contemplating suicide...in this one The Hungry Goat comes right out and SAYS "suicide" right after failing at offing himself!

The thing that really stands out for me is that Popeye is the BAD GUY in this cartoon...and Popeye doesn't even show up until two and a half minutes in! The cartoon opens with the hungry goat, and goes from sympathetic to completely manic in only a few short moments. By the middle of the cartoon I realized I was rooting for the goat!
This is my favorite line: At 3:19, in the middle of scarfing down a gigantic anchor chain, The Hungry Goat gleefully stops and looks at the audience and asks,"I'm normal...ain't I ?" Reminds me of those moments in Clampett cartoons when somebody stops and says, "I'm only three seconds old!"
Also---no spinach in this one. It could just as easily be Bluto or any other comic foil in the role that Popeye's playing. I'm guessing that Dan Gordon just wanted to make this cartoon and found the Popeye series to be an opportune place to put it.
Dan Gordon HA-HA Comics Cover Scan Cartoon Goats Eating Tin Cans for Supper
Click Cover for BIG Scan
Dan Gordon's got a thing for goats.

The image at the top of the post is a close-up of a cover that Dan Gordon drew for Ha-Ha Comics #54 in 1948 -- just a few years after this cartoon was made.

Also, one of Dan Gordon's early Terrytoons cartoons, "Pink Elephants" starred a hungry goat. You can watch "Pink Elephants" at this page at the Asifa Hollywood Animation Archive.
The Hungry Goat is just one heckuva fun cartoon! The voices, the music, the timing are all crazily amped-up animated insanity. Watch it and enjoy!

5 comments:

Marc Deckter said...

Great post. I'm looking forward to reading your Comics Journal article - Dan Gordon's one of my favorite cartoonists.

Sherm said...

Thanks, Marc! I became a Dan Gordon fan in the last couple years only because a few cool cartoonists (Kent Butterworth and John K) shared their "Dang" comics online. I'm sure that the more people who see his stuff, the more fans he'll get.

A lot of people we both know helped me out with the Comics Journal article: Mark Kausler, Mike Kazaleh, Kent Butterworth, Steve Worth and the Asifa Hollywood Animation Archive, Scott Shaw, Milton Knight, Jerry Beck and even Leonard Maltin. Seems like a lot of cartoonists would like to see Dan Gordon get his due. The July Comics Journal #291 will feature many pages of full color reprints of Dan Gordon comics from Funny Films and Cookie!

Marc Deckter said...

Wow, that's great Sherm! Sounds like a must-buy issue! I hope you don't mind, I went ahead and made a post plugging the issue and quoted you a couple times...

DUCK-WALK: Dan Gordon on your bookshelf

This is just too exciting news - I have to spread the word!

Mike Nassar said...

wow. i didn't realize dan gordon was so seasoned and versatile. The man was all over comics and animation! What an artist! I had no idea he did Pink elephants.

Great post as usual sherm, thanks for sharing with us and helping to keep me inspired.

Ron Schneider said...

A great post... but the Bob Clampett quote was, "I'm only three-and-a-half years old!" I'm sure it's from some Radio character of the time... possibly Snooks.