Emsworth Sun Sep 7 19:10:23 2003|
Re: a pome
> the jihad sleeps
It is important to have a grasp both on historical events and the significance of recurring symbols or icons, as well as the history of political commentary in print cartoons and film, and of certain key terms involved. Some of the most essential terms include political caricature, cartoons and animation itself, and iconic characters. First, the term "propaganda" itself must be examined. Though the term has acquired an almost exclusively negative connotation, Funk and Wagnalls defines it as "dissemination of ideas and information for the purposes of inducing or intensifying specific attitudes and actions." Though some of the films discussed merely displayed awareness of world events and issues, most definitely attempted to convey a particular message or idea, as will be discussed further on. Literature, film, and illustrations have all been used for purposes of propaganda, and the animated film is in some ways uniquely suited as it combines aspects of all three.
The history of the animated cartoon, and particularly its use to depict or convey political issues or ideas, is rooted in the print cartoon, which itself is rooted in isolated caricatures. Caricature, in as much as it applies to general exaggeration of appearance or personality, has been a staple of comics and animated cartoons since their inception. However, the more common understanding of caricature, and the manner in which it will be used in the course of this paper, is in regard to depictions of notable political personalities, types, and nationalities. Though caricature in general has its roots in the Italian Caracci art school of the 16th century, these works were largely for private consumption. Political caricature truly blossomed in England in the mid-18th century. While early caricaturists such as Thomas Rowlandson specialized in satirizing types, Sir John Tenniel and others focused on world events and figures, and David Low in particular commented on politics and political figures, and created notable political symbols such as the archetypal pompous British conservative, Col. Blimp. It was his use of caricatured types to create unique symbols or icons that perhaps most closely predates and parallels the work of American newspaper cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast is perhaps the most significant political caricaturist for the purposes of this paper, as like Low, he intertwined caricature with symbolic or allegorical representations of groups or concepts. His attacks on Boss Tweed are almost universally acknowledged as instrumental in the downfall of the Tammany Ring, thus proving the effectiveness of satiric politically charged drawings, which could often be more effective than rhetoric. Tweed purportedly told Nast, "My constituents can't read, but they can damn well see pictures." Nast frequently depicted Tweed as a bloated, large-nosed Roman emperor, presiding over an arena in which stalks a large savage tiger with a ring labeled "Tammany" around its neck. Nast's creation of the Tammany Tiger continued to surface occasionally in political cartoons for decades afterwards, even up to the era of World War II. He was also the first to use the donkey and the elephant to represent the Democrat and Republican parties respectively, and is also widely considered to have helped solidify the current images of Uncle Sam and the American conception of Santa Claus. Thus while his cartoons were particularly effective, it is his combined use of iconic characters and symbols and broad caricature which remains as his lasting legacy. Though the emphasis of this project is on animated caricatures, it should be noted that many of the same figures, icons, and symbols were utilized in political cartoons of the day, and some artists began by producing print cartoons but shifted to film or animation when they entered the service. Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) is perhaps the most notable example.
The print cartoon or comic strip preceded animation historically. The earliest animators were generally former newspaper cartoonists. The most notable of these was Winsor McCay, who while not the first animator, was the most distinguished. His comic strips Little Nemo and Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend were already widely admired, and he performed on vaudeville doing a "lightning sketch" act. His first animated film was an adaptation of "Little Nemo" in 1991, to supplement his vaudeville act, and subsequent shorts How a Mosquito Operates (1912) and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) also premiered on stage. It is Gertie in particular who is widely thought of as representing the first true example of "character animation," having a personality of sorts and distinct movements. Gertie's personality, coupled with her design and popularity, caused her to become one of the earliest established animated characters, although a sequel, Gertie on Tour, was never finished. Gertie to some extent was the earliest animated icon (though some have argued that Felix the Cat was more of a true icon), and it is the use of familiar, distinct characters as iconic figures which proved particularly useful during World War II. In fact, however, Winsor McCay also created what is largely thought of as the first propaganda film, and one of the few almost entirely documentary shorts, Sinking of the Lusitania (1918), completed and released three years after the actual event. This film relied on a graphic animated depiction of the disaster, accompanied by editorial screen titles and actual photographs of the ship and certain passengers, rather than iconic characters or indeed true "character" animation of any kind, relying instead on the waves and the sinking ship for its impact. Symbolism is not entirely ignored, however, as early on the ship is shown passing a misty Statue of Liberty (oddly situating the event in some ways as an attack on America, although the ship itself was a British liner which just happened to carry several number of notable American passengers.) The editorial title cards reproached Germany in no uncertain terms, with the bitter statement "The man who fired the shot was decorated for it by the Kaiser. And yet they tell us not to hate the Hun." Though years later the true details of the case came to light, including the fact that the merchant ship was in fact carrying explosives, the film reinforced in some ways American sentiments towards the event, and in fact contradicted the official stance of McCay's newspaper employer, William Randolph Hearst. At least half a dozen silent shorts, particular those featuring Mutt and Jeff, and almost all released in 1918, contained references to or direct attacks on Germany or the Kaiser. It would not be until 1939, however, that European conflicts and leaders would again be prominently featured in animated films. Almost ironically, one of the earliest topical shorts, MGM's Peace on Earth, directed by Disney and Warner Bros. veteran Hugh Harman, was an allegorical plea for pacifism, portraying mankind as completely destroying itself due to war. For the next 4 years, however, an increasing percentage of each major animation studio's output would include topical war references or elements of propaganda, tapering off in the last two years (though in fact several films were still in development when the war ended.) One of the most important aspects of the animated films released between 1939 and 1945, and in fact animation in general, is the use of icons and symbols. Though the term "icon" initially referred to religious images (much as "cartoon" itself initially referred to rough sketches or line drawings in general), it has come to refer to any person or character who is widely recognized, adored or idolized, and in many cases serves as a spokesman for their field or nationality, or a figure one can identify with. Since Gertie the Dinosaur, it was clear that sympathetic, recognizable animated characters, especially those who could be used in a series, were essential for studios to succeed. Characters such as Felix the Cat, Koko the Clown, and later Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Donald and Daffy Duck, and others became familiar figures, as popular and recognizable as Chaplin or Katherine Hepburn. Some of the most successful characters, like Mickey Mouse or Porky Pig, were essentially blandly likable everyman figures, while others, such as Bugs Bunny or Popeye, in many ways represented the uncontrolled id, fighting back when oppressed and winning and essentially doing things the average person, or even the average live actor, could not do, due to natural physical laws as well as rules of decorum, fear and inhibitions, and various social strictures. Still others, such as Donald Duck, were in many ways the underdog, reacting emotionally to every setback but almost invariably paying for every loss of temper. Because of their popularity and audience identification, and especially their roots as distinctly American icons, these characters could be and were used to explain various concepts, teach lessons, promote products or services, and most particularly, symbolize to some extent all American troops in World War II, and America in general.
Other iconic characters were created for distinctly political purposes. Uncle Sam and the Tammany Tiger were already touched upon, with the former in particular gaining prominence during the war years, on posters, in comics and political cartoons, and in animated films. New iconic characters were created for specific purposes, particularly in training films. Perhaps most significantly, political figures or types took on iconic status. Representations of these figures and of the Axis powers in particular, whether satirically caricatured or largely realistic, often seemed to dominate topical or propagandistic animated shorts. Specific uses of these representations shall be discussed later as part of the typology. Key symbols or motifs were also used in conjunction with iconic characters, particularly national flags (such as the American and Japanese), colors, animals or birds (especially eagles and vultures), and other visual symbols (the swastika and the "V" sign.) It also seems prudent to discuss some of the technical aspects of the films, especially regarding the form of the images reproduced as examples. Many of these are stills or cel reproductions. Animation cels are transparent celluloid sheets which the original animation drawings are traced, inked, and painted onto. In some cases, the original "rough" or preliminary animation drawings are used. Model sheets of characters were used to establish a standard model of a given character's appearance from various angles, accompanied on rare occasions by notes about movement or personality. These sheets were usually created by either the director or by a key animator or layout artist, designated by the director. Another reference source for character consistency, though used less frequently in the particular films discussed, is the use of live action reference film, particularly rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is the term for the process by which artists animate over live action footage shot of a particular performer. While live action footage was often used for reference, direct tracing over the original footage is considered rotoscoping, and generally used as a means of creating greater realism, or occasionally to superimpose an animated character interacting with a live performer in precise timing. Warner Bros. used the technique for representations of Uncle Sam and Hitler respectively, as shall be discussed in greater detail later. Promotional posters often emphasized the war-related content of specific films, and iconic cartoon characters were often depicted in service garb on military insignia or posters. Storyboard drawings, in which the sequence of action and dialogue in a given film is plotted out in successive rough panels, were also valuable sources.
In addition to these key animation terms, certain motifs which are commonplace in animation and which could be particularly useful in the presentation of certain ideas must be discussed. First, there is the use of transformation or transmogrification. A common motif, most particularly associated with the surreal shorts of the Fleischers in the early 30's, this involved inanimate objects or animals taking on other shapes, or a character's face changing into another object or person. Sometimes this would happen spontaneously. However, other transformations, particularly into specific characters or types, might be triggered by explosions; falling objects; or being covered with flour, ink, coal, soot, or snow. While blackface caricatures or Santa Clause are the most common results of the latter type of transformation, in animated films during World War II an equally common result was transformation into the image of a key political figure or symbol.
A few words should also be said about the types of animated films from this period which involve topical political or propagandistic messages. Certain shorts were commissioned specifically by the government, often using familiar iconic characters, to promote specific "war effort" actions. While some shorts were commissioned by specific branches such as the Department of the Treasury or Agriculture, others were encouraged by the War Activities Committee, an organization created by the film industry "in order to coordinate and maximize the effort for victory" (Shull 31). Secondly, a substantial amount of the primarily "entertainment" films, animated or otherwise, included topical references or elements of propaganda. Though certainly patriotic fervor, a desire to be topical, and the widespread influence of the war on all aspects of popular culture (including literature, comics, and radio as well as film) contributed to this phenomenon, there appear to have been other factors involved as well. Mel Blanc, who frequently impersonated Hitler in Warner Bros cartoons and on radio comedies during this period, recalled that "a 'Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture' urged the casual insertion of constructive 'war messages' whenever possible. At every opportunity, it went on, American citizens should be shown 'making small sacrifices' for victory, voluntarily and cheerfully… Although these were purported to be 'suggestions,' the film industry was ever-mindful that the government's War Production Board could place unprocessed film on a critical supply list at any time, thus putting them out of business. So they complied to the letter" (195).
The third category of animated film is the training/educational film. Though also commissioned by the government, these shorts did not receive general theatrical release and were intended to be viewed by the troops only. The established iconic cartoon characters were generally avoided for these films, though new characters were created specifically for them. These military mandated characters would demonstrate various aspects of military procedure, decorum, health safety, and so forth. Some of these animated films focused entirely on health issues, particularly malaria. The use of animated shorts for training purposes in large part stemmed from the success of animated sequences, illustrating maps or procedures, in Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series.
From within all of these types of films, certain recurring themes and motifs emerge, which form a definite typology. Perhaps the most familiar, as well as most controversial, is that class which directly depicts the Axis. No less than forty two animated shorts released between 1941 and 1945 depict or refer to Adolf Hitler, at least 16 refer to Nazis or Germany in general, and 38 attack the Japanese. Mussolini appears to have seldom been seen as a serious threat or factor, either then or now, and the few political print cartoons or animated cartoons that depicted him were almost invariably as a throwaway gag, and unlike the others, it was seldom that the Allies or the iconic character are seen actively fighting or defeating him. Hitler was the most popular target, however, and his distinctive moustache and famous rants made him a perfect subject for caricature. It was seldom, in fact, that Hitler was depicted in other than a satiric light in animated films. His appearances in shorts such as Russian Rhapsody and Herr Meets Hare are utterly comic. He is equally comic in Disney shorts, notably Der Fuehrer's Face, the title song of which became popular when recorded by Spike Jones and which has no purpose other than to ridicule Hitler. However, other Disney shorts, notably Education for Death and Reason and Emotion, while they portray a highly stylized, caricatured Hitler, do not diminish his menace, clearly displaying the threat he and his ideas posed. Hitler was also often depicted in various animal guises, including a wolf (Blitz Wolf) and vulture (Song of Victory), and his forelock and moustache were characteristics which other characters occasionally transmuted into (the zoot suited Donald Duck devil figure in Spirit of 43.) When depicted as a human, the animated Hitler was an extremely stylized caricature, usually looking extremely lean and angular. His nose was almost invariably stretched out, and his eyes often had bags underneath, to add to his manic appearance, particularly since Hitler was seldom seen without ranting. His dialogue generally consisted of pseudo-German doubletalk, some of it intentionally absurd, and delivered in screeching fashion. Notable exceptions to the trend in Hitler caricatures are his photo-realistic depiction through rotoscoping in the Daffy Duck short Daffy- The Commando (1943), though he is still the butt of humour, and an appearance in the Superman short Jungle Drums. German minister of war Hermann Goering was another popular target, featured in at least half a dozen shorts, and depicted as large and oafish, and often seemingly childlike, while propaganda minister Goebbels appeared only two or three times. Other Germans are generally nameless goose-steppers, and often exist only in the background. Equally often, the Hitler moustache or the swastika (often as a piece of furniture or décor like doors, clothing like garters or pendants, prop like a microphone) were used symbolically to suggest danger or that a place or character is aligned with evil.
The Japanese were the next most popular target, and their depiction would prove to be much more controversial. Unlike those attacking the Germans or even the rare shorts to target Italy, which singled out particular leaders, those shorts focusing on Japan usually emphasized either its symbol, the flag of the rising sun (which was frequently shown as being shattered, sunk, or blown up), or its people in general. As with print cartoons of the day, distinctions amongst the Japanese were rare, and while there might be a reference to Hirohito or Tojo, they were seldom depicted specifically, or at least not recognizably. The typical Japanese caricature, which seemed to be a favorite target of the Warner Bros. directors, was a grotesque, short being with exaggerated slant eyes, buck teeth, and almost invariably, spectacles. Thus an entire race was caricatured and attacked, as opposed to just specific personages. These characters were almost never portrayed as genuine menaces, but merely comic relief, to be dispatched by the protagonist, or just ridiculed in general. This is clearly seen even in the titles of the shorts in question: Tokio Jokio, You're a Sap Mr. Jap, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, and The Japoteurs. This last was perhaps the only straight treatment of the Japanese, as three spies battle Superman, and despite the offensive title, their physical appearance is not unduly caricatured or ridiculed. The symbolic representation of Japan, via its flag, is more common in the Disney short subjects, which generally avoided depicting Japan as a person or creature. The one notable exception to this was the feature Victory Through Air Power, which concludes with a dramatic piece of symbolism, as the American eagle attacks the Japanese octopus.
Perhaps due to the overall purpose of these films, the Allied leaders were seldom depicted or even referred to. The best known depiction of an Allied leader was the industrial short Hell Bent for Election, which in essence was a short-length campaign promotion for Roosevelt's re-election. FDR is depicted as a sleek modern locomotive, the Win the War special, with his chin forming the lower part of the engine. This short also depicts Uncle Sam as a train station telegrapher. Depictions of Uncle Sam to represent the US and its leaders were more common than actual representations of Roosevelt. A rather bizarre moment in the Warners short Brother Brat occurs when the obnoxious child being babysat by Porky Pig emerges from a pile of kitchenware with a pot on his had, announces "Of course you know, this means war," and suddenly transmutates into a realist caricature of Winston Churchill, and delivers a serious "Fight on the beaches" like speech about not resting until Hitler suffers total defeat. Finally, Josef Stalin, though treated in a somewhat ambiguous manner, is shown as frightening Hitler, via a mask in Russian Rhapsody, and Bugs Bunny in disguise in Herr Meets Hare. This may be a possible indication of almost grudging recognition of Russia's aide on the warfront mingled with a certain amount of wariness and fear towards Russia on the part of Americans. Again, on the whole, such depictions of Allied leaders were few and far between, since animated shorts generally used the iconic or symbolic character as representative of the service and the Allies in general, and a greater emphasis was on ridiculing and undermining the tactics and doctrines of the Axis leaders.
Two Disney shorts, Reason and Emotion and Education for Death, along with a third, Chicken Little, form a category of their own, an ideological one. Instead of focusing on a character's combat with the enemy, these shorts attempt to delve into the underlying psychology of the enemy, at least as perceived by the US. Education for Death is a semi-documentary like examination of the indoctrination of German children with Nazi ideas, while Chicken Little, the most subtle of the three, and almost ironically, examines the use of whispering campaigns and other propaganda. Interestingly enough, one of the few other shorts to examine the ideology of war was released by MGM in 1939, prior to US involvement. Entitled Peace on Earth, the short, in a much more cursory manner, examines the nature of war and implies that mankind will eventually destroy itself.
Chicken Little is the least blatant of Disney's anti-Nazi films, and is a perfect example of yet another typology of war shorts, the allegorical. While works such as Blitz Wolf delve into allegory, using The Three Little Pigs as its basis, the caricatures and symbolism are extremely overt. Much the same could be said of The Ducktators, though the structure is more in keeping with traditional allegory, depicting the rise and fall of a crew of fascistic barnyard fowl, who are ultimately dispatched by the dove of peace, rather than an ongoing comic chase situation, as in Blitz Wolf. Chicken Little, however, is the most allegorical of these, the examination of Nazi ideology is more subtle, and several more blatant symbols were omitted. Further and even more refined use of allegory can be seen in the shorts of George Pal, who created the goose-step marching, mechanical Screwball Army to represent the Axis.
Perhaps the most important typology is the use of the iconic character. This is perhaps the most wide-ranging, and these shorts often encompass the other typologies, or elements thereof. Characters such as Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Popeye, and Superman had already been established as familiar icons from animated films and comic books. In the war years, however, these characters came to symbolize America and American troops. The tempers and feistiness of Bugs, Donald, and Daffy were presented as examples of American patriotic spirit and outrage. Superman and Popeye, with their impossible feats of strength, symbolized the force and might of the US military as a whole. Indeed, Popeye during these years went from a salty wandering seadog to a uniformed US Naval sailor (and continued to wear that uniform for the next ten years.) Donald and Daffy also joined the armed forces. The ways in which these characters were used were far ranging. The best known are those which portray the iconic characters as directly attacking the caricatured enemy, and significantly, as opposed to some of their antics before and after the war, the iconic characters generally acted only in retaliation to the first attack or threat from the enemy. With the exception of those involving Superman, these were invariably satiric and intended to be funny, and include such titles as Herr Meets Hare (Bugs Bunny), Plane Daffy (Daffy Duck), and Spinach Fer Britain (Popeye, also one of the few to acknowledge Great Britain's role in the situation.) The Warner Bros. characters in particular were aggressive in their assaults on the Germans, though Daffy was the only one portrayed as an actual serviceman, apart from a brief shot of Bugs as a marine in SuperBugs. MGM had few iconic characters at this time, and so rather than have them directly attack the enemy, the point was made in a comparatively more subtle manner. The conflict was treated in a semi-allegorical fashion by Tom and Jerry, in shorts such as Yankee Doodle Mouse, as the cat and mouse conflict took on a more militaristic air, and in one short, Tom briefly appears wearing a painted Hitler-like forelock and moustache.
Another subcategory are those films which depict a character in the army, but not actively fighting. These military situation comedies had Donald Duck and Barney Bear dealing with the trials of adjusting to uniform. A possible motive behind these shorts was as a counterpoint to the heavier propaganda elements in other films, as well as dealing with a universal comic theme. In fact, these "army comedies" have become less dated than the others, due to the general absence of heavy symbolism and enemy caricatures, and thus have enjoyed the widest circulation on television and video. The shorts emphasized the underdog status of the characters, and while Donald was in conflict with the army sergeant, he might be seen as representing Americans in general, and overall, despite his bungling, was proud to be a soldier and tried to work with the army. Of the other established Disney characters, all of whom were less aggressive and thus not as well-suited for direct attacks on the enemy, Pluto appeared in a couple of "army comedy" shorts as a mascot or K-9 unit soldier, but was usually relegated to the home front; Goofy, generally a simple-minded character, was shockingly shown strangling Hitler in the storyboard for an unproduced short, How to Be a Commando, but his only onscreen conflict was briefly at the end of How to Be a Sailor; and Mickey, the most pacifistic of all Disney characters, had no onscreen involvement whatsoever. For war training films, Warner Bros. created new iconic characters specifically for this purpose. The most notable, and the only one whose complete filmography survives, is Private Snafu, named after the popular obscene acronym for "Situation Normally All F***ed Up" (with the fourth word, following a long pause, replaced with "Foul" in the actual cartoon.) Snafu, a character conceived by Theodore Geisel and designed by various Warner artists, was a short, bald private, voiced by Mel Blanc, who demonstrated how to put together a rifle or the importance of studying the army manual. In most of these shorts, the private actually demonstrates the lesson or moral through his own incompetence, and unlike the other iconic characters, frequently falls victim to German and Japanese soldiers, sultry Mata Hara-like spies, and even Hitler himself. Like other iconic characters, Snafu surfaced in other areas, notably multiple covers of Yank magazine.
One significant footnote to the use of iconic characters is their use in other ways related to the war effort. Established Hollywood cartoon characters were used heavily in posters (Bugs Bunny in army uniform, Horace Horsecollar and Donald Duck emphasizing the importance of nutrition to soldiers and factory workers) and in insignia. Thes insignia eppeared on planes, tanks, PT boats, and other crafts, and were often tailored to the specific unit. Andy Panda and Woody Woodpecker appeared on war planes. The Disney studio was the most prolific in this regard, using almost all of their established characters, major and minor, as well as creating new icons, notably the famous Flying Tigers. Insignia using Disney icons included Dumbo for the air force, Pluto for reconnaissance units, Donald Duck for air squadrons and bomber units, and Flower the skunk (most appropriately) for chemical warfare units. Even Mickey Mouse surfaced, usually for signal corps or chaplain and medical corps. (Rawls 38-42, 79.)
Another notable category of films is those dealing with the "home front." These cartoons focused on characters, either established iconic characters or a variety of generic characters, coping with the ways in which the war was affecting their lives. Rationing was a popular topic. Meatless Flyday (directed by Friz Freleng) uses the restricted days on which one is allowed to have rationed goods as a punchline. The queen in Bob Clampett's Coal Black is a hoarder of rationed goods. Characters such as Barney Bear at MGM coped through the use of victory gardens, or attempting to forage on their own. These shorts generally focused on the comic antics of these characters in their quest to find food or cope with rationing. In fact, two Barney Bear shorts in a row (Wild Honey and Barney Bear's Victory Garden) dealt with this subject. The former was particularly propagandistic, carrying the subtitle "How Not To Get Along Without A Ration Book," thus reinforcing the message that one accept rationing rather than attempt to horde or even find your own food, and in that light is seemingly contradicted by the "Victory Garden" short. Scrap or rubber drives figure in such shorts as Scrap Happy Daffy and one Pluto short [check title?]. Tire shortages were frequently referred to (notably Warners' The Weakly Reporter, a spot gag cartoon focusing almost entirely on the home front), and the A card, referring to rationing, figures in such shorts as Falling Hare and Russian Rhapsody. Finally, the role of women on the home front, particularly as riveters, was touched on in Brother Brat, Weakly Reporter, and others, in an extremely broadly caricatured, and nowadays offensive, manner.
Barney Bear was and is one of the more obscure animated "star" characters to come from MGM. During the war years, however, after two 1941 "army antic" shorts, he seemed to became popular as an icon for domestic situations. The 1943 short The Bear Raid Warden addressed another facet of the homefront, and one which was perhaps the most frequently mentioned. Having a character, whether iconic or a random one-shot, serve as an air raid warden could be used either for slapstick comedy, or for the classic phrase, bellowed by many a character in a Warners short, "Turn out those lights!" Barney Bear's Victory Garden is on the surface a simple domestic gardening sitcom. The main factors that identify it as war related are the title, and its emphasis on shortages. The use of symbols outside of direct caricatures of the enemy is typified by this short. Barney arranges his land so as to resemble Hitler, so the US air corps will bomb it and soften the soil; the finished garden forms a botanical American flag; and a squash resembles Mussolini. The short also ends with the exhortation to "Buy War Bonds, This Theater."
War bond films, though a subcategory of the "home front" genre, are in many ways an entity of their own, and tended to be the most "hard-sell" and blatantly propagandistic of these films. Quite often a general narrative or comic antics were dropped in favor of simply having the iconic character, often aided by a narrator, exhort the audience to purchase bonds. Clampett's Any Bonds Today, for example, consists of nothing but Bugs Bunny (dressed as Uncle Sam), Elmer Fudd (as an army sergeant), and Porky Pig (in a sailor suit) urging the audience to buy bonds and help support the "freedom man." Disney produced two films which promoted war bonds, The New Spirit, and a remake, The Spirit of 43. Storyman Dick Huemer, who worked on the first film, recalled conferences with Secretary Henry Morganthau, in which he was told that, in fact, the government was selling more war bonds than needed. The continuance of the war bond campaign was to help create a feeling of solidarity and prevent consumers from overspending and thus damaging the economy (Huemer 23, "Funnyworld" 22.) Nevertheless, characters continued to sell bonds, in much the same manner as established live film actors and radio personalities pushed them on movie screens, in personal appearances, and over the airwaves, and again, the closing title of almost every MGM animated short throughout the war years remains as a testament to the pervasiveness of the war bond drives.
Finally, one additional element must be addressed in passing, one which is unique to animated films during the war years. This element is almost too minute to be considered a proper typology, but it is distinct from all the other categories, and significant enough to bear discussion. This is the use of gremlins. The legend of gremlins, pixies who plagued RAF pilots, first originated in the 1920's, and caught the fancy of author Roald Dahl in particular. As the phenomenon continued to grow, with articles in London's Observer and Time Magazine in the states, Dahl wrote a manuscript collecting these legends and fables, called Gremlin Lore, though it was by no means the first of its kind. When the unpublished manuscript was forwarded to the Disney studios, Walt was fascinated by the possibilities in the subject. There was much publicity regarding the gremlin film, and in 1943, a version of Dahl's manuscript, called simply The Gremlins, was published as an illustrated children's book, prominently bearing Walt's name. The project was never completed, however, for a variety of reasons. There were problems with making the gremlins, destructive creatures, sympathetic creatures who aide the war effort, and the myriad of other war related films on the roster caused the project to be continually pushed back. The characters did appear, however, on US air force insignia. Though Disney never produced an actual gremlin film, and Roy Disney had managed to persuade the other animation producers, including Walter Lantz at Universal and Fred Quimby at MGM, to cancel any proposed gremlin projects, two shorts at Warner Brothers were too far along to be canceled, and so the word "gremlin" was merely kept out of the title. These two shorts, by Bob Clampett, are the only surviving animated films from this period to use gremlins. Falling Hare has Bugs Bunny trapped on a runaway plane with a destructive gremlin, and the war elements are more muted, limited to the presence of gremlins, US military aircraft, and a punchline involving ration cards. In the other Gremlin short, however, Russian Rhapsody, a crew of Russian gremlins fight actively against the Germans by sabotaging Hitler's plane as he attempts to reach Moscow (another rare reference to the military situations outside of the United States.)