Sunday, July 02, 2017

Falling Hare - 1943 - The Gremlin

Hello blog, it's been a busy spring and crazy June, so I haven't posted in a while. Finally having some time to muse, a stray thought struck a spark, which kindled a small, but revealing flame:

What happened to the Gremlin in Bob Clampett's 1943 Merrie Melodies "Falling Hare"? And is he still a trademarked character of Warner Brothers? I worked at Warner Classics in the 90's and I missed seeing his model sheets and other references around the studio. But a post on Facebook lead me to the fate of this cute little saboteur, and who owns him now:

(original copyright Warner Brothers)

According to this news, Steven Grossfeld of Gremlin Fine Arts Galleries in Vermont has secured his claim to the Gremlin back in 1990. Steven related to me that since this cute little stinker was used in a U.S. Army Film Corps propaganda short, he was never copyrighted. I didn't know that he was originally created by author and RAF pilot Roald Dahl.

Dahl's books were later used for animation with James and the Giant Peach and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. And you can't forget Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, (except for, maybe Tim Burton's version.)

To heap more shame on my ignorance, I learned that Disney wanted to use the little guy for a feature, even bringing in Walt Kelly of Pogo Possum fame. (I think Kelly was a Disney artist at the time). 
But when Disney could not secure the copyright, Warner's took over, and the Gremlin floated in legal limbo for years, until he was acquired by Steven.

According to Steven Grossfeld, Steven Spielberg was given the okay to use the Gremlin in a couple of  "Tiny Toons." I've never seen them, but nothing can beat "Falling Hare", 
and the "Gremlins from the Kremlin" short "Russian Rhapsody".

 (original copyright Warner Brothers)

So, for this Fourth of July celebration, try to laugh with the first seven notes of "Yankee Doodle", in spite of what is going on in Washington D.C. And remember, the Gremlin was the only character who ever got the better of Bugs Bunny. ("You know how it is with these 'A Cards' ".)

 (original copyright Warner Brothers)

Happy Independence Day everyone.


Steven also mentioned that Virgil Ross was the key animator and character designer on the Gremlin. Ross told Steven in secret that working on the Gremlin was one of his most favorite projects. So keep it under your hats folks! Loose lips an' all that.

1 comment:

Vincent Franklin said...

I definitely remember seeing the Gremlin in the above mentioned Tiny Toon Adventures!