Tex Avery

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Template:Infobox Creator Tex Avery was an American cartoonist and animator responsible for creating or developing some of the most prolific cartoon characters in the history of animated cinema. Some of these characters include, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Droopy, Screwball Squirrel, and Chilly Willy. His influence was found in almost all of the animated cartoon series by various studios in the 1940s and 1950s.

The time during which he made his greatest contributions is often referred to as the Golden Age of Hollywood Animation due to the advent of sound cartoons and the popularity of the medium between roughly 1928 and 1945. The majority of his work was done for Warner Brothers and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

His influence on contemporary animation is arguably unmatched with many of his characters retaining their icon status some 60 years since their creation. One of his most recognizable characters is an unnamed sexpot who first appeared in Red Hot Riding Hood and is frequently chased and desired by an unsavory wolf character.

Avery died while working at Hanna-Barbera Studios at the age of 72 due to complications from lung cancer. In the years prior to his death he was growing steadily more depressed as his fortunes slightly faded with the popularity of his characters.

Themes From Texas

Tex Avery was born in Taylor, Texas on February 26, 1908.[1] Almost as important as the location of his birth was its time period of the early nineteen-hundreds. Up until 1927, when he graduated high school and left Texas, Avery was immersed in a society with segregated education, resistance to woman’s suffrage, enthusiastic involvement in World War I, and a resurging Ku Klux Klan.[2] Additionally, he was growing up in a culture rich with American folk stories and absurd, exaggerated tall tales. Although his stay in Texas was short, only nineteen years, it was significant enough to impact his perspective on life and create a lifelong yearning for his home state.

Patriotism: One of Avery’s prevalent Texas inspired themes is the praise and satire of patriotism and American society. Since much of the developed world was torn apart by World War II, Americans were increasingly proud of their rapidly expanding capitalism and financial well being.[3] Avery used this idea of ever expanding consumerism to parody American society in The … of Tomorrow series in which typical Americans are depicted purchasing the newest goods no matter whether they are useful or not. He used this idea of wasteful "affluenza" further by setting the general tone of money hording, and wealth in general, as evil; poverty, on the other hand, is almost always something that afflicts the hero of Avery’s cartoons rather than the villain. A good example of this is Uncle Tom’s Cabaña. In this cartoon Avery depicts the antagonist as evil Simon Legree, a man who is literally “rolling in dough.” The victim is little old Uncle Tom, a kind man who is starving and extremely impoverished. This consistent portrayal of money is a reflection of Avery’s childhood in Texas. While the oil economy of Texas enjoyed a slight boost in the early 1920s, during World War I most Texans had to conserve resources with “wheatless Mondays, meatless Tuesdays, and porkless Thursdays and Saturdays”[4]. Even after he left Texas, Avery witnessed American poverty in the Great Depression, a reoccurring reference in his cartoons. The hard times that Avery saw and faced early in his life seem to have affected his views on frugality and greed and consequently influenced his characters and stories. Women: A more clear effect of Avery’s Texan roots is the portrayal of women in his cartoons. Women are usually depicted as intellectually inferior to men and completely dependent upon them. He most commonly used them as sex symbols with super-feminine qualities. One instance of feminine lightheadedness occurs in The Car of Tomorrow, in which a car is advertised that can display erratic turn signals in sync with a confused woman driver. Even more abundant are the showgirls that show up as sex symbols in Avery’s cartoons. This occurs in Red Hot Riding Hood, Uncle Tom’s Cabaña, and many other shorts where an oversexed, hyper-feminine woman is depicted singing some nostalgic song in a night club. However, even though this is a clearly jaded view of women, it is not surprising given the strong history of poor women’s rights in Texas. As James Ferguson, governor of Texas from 1915 to 1917, was often quoted in response to woman’s suffrage, “Women’s place is in the home”.[5] Clearly, this aspect of Avery’s work has strong ties to his childhood. Racism: In a similar vein, many of Avery’s cartoons also exhibit racism and stereotyping towards blacks. Since he grew up undergoing a segregated education, his interaction with minorities was at a minimum.[6] Furthermore, after World War I in Texas, the Ku Klux Klan and social tension towards minorities were growing rapidly.[7] In a contemporary sense, Tex Avery was not racist but was merely giving witness to the trends of society and racial stereotypes with his cartoons. This is not to say that he did not agree with many of these biased views, he just was not trying to undermine other races. Throughout many of his cartoons, blacks are depicted as savage, primitive, and of a lower social status than whites or even women. He stereotypes blacks heavily by adorning characters that are turned a dark shade with sudden bones and savage jewelry. This occurs in Magical Maestro, when an opera singer is sprayed with ink and suddenly begins singing the blues. Even with this prominent racial humiliation, Avery’s intent is still clear; his goal was always comedy, not a strict adherence to any prejudices he might have had.

Unique Style

Rhythm and exaggeration: Tex Avery cartoons exhibit maddening speed and an inexhaustible amount of gags. There is such of an overload of visual and narrative information that it is somewhat tiring to watch a long session of his cartoons. This method of performing gags ridiculously fast makes even mild or dry gags seem hilarious due to their speed.

Gags are carefully timed and build upon one another in a crescendo of speed and exaggeration. In Tex Avery cartoons, nothing is done on a small scale. Big is earth-size, fast is almost instantaneous movement from one country to another, and violence is excessive. One explanation for this comedy is that portraying impossible feats that cannot be performed in live-action film is funny.

  • In Dumb-Hounded a wolf character runs from America to the North Pole in a matter of seconds. He continues to run around the globe in an increasingly desperate and rapid pace.
  • In Bad Luck Blackie the cartoon starts by using bad luck to call down flower pots from the sky. By the end of the short steam rollers, cruise ships, and air planes are falling from the heavens.

Reflexivity: Avery's cartoons contain a large amount of reflexivity because they acknowledge they are cartoons. The characters are always conscious of this fact and frequently use this to their advantage. This effectively distances the audience from the animated world and shows how blatantly artificial it is. By alerting the audience that it is obviously watching a cartoon, Avery changes the perspective from a story in another world into a chaotic upheaval of images come to life. He does this with a variety of methods, including blatant signs, dialogues between the characters and the audience, and even having characters run off the film strip.

  • Screwball Squirrel in his self-titled short manipulates the paper nature of drawings to "flip" to a future panel in the animation.
  • The wolf in Dumb-Hounded runs so fast across the screen that he slides out of the frame revealing the border of the film strip.
  • In Red Hot Riding Hood the characters complain to the director about how tired they are of "acting out" the same old story. This provokes a response from the ominous director.
  • In The Early Bird Dood It the characters stop during a chase scene to comment on a billboard advertising their cartoon.
  • Droopy in Northwest Hounded Police takes a moment after a few similar chase scenes to tell the audience, "I surprise him like this all through the picture."

Cartoon Physical Laws: The laws of nature are transformed in Avery cartoons to the point where they show little resemblance to actual physical laws. Similarly, figuration is so bizarre that it is clear the resulting animated world is very distant from our own. The choices for how nature acts are of the moment, always changing, and usually unexpected.


Avery's style of directing broke the mold of strict realism established by Walt Disney, and encouraged animators to stretch the boundaries of the medium to do things in a cartoon that could not be done in the world of live-action film. An often-quoted line about Avery's cartoons was, "In a cartoon you can do anything," and his cartoons often did just that.

Films directed or co-directed by Tex Avery

Warner Bros.

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Walter Lantz

A caricature of Tex Avery.
DevilmanozzyAdded by Devilmanozzy


  1. Template:Cite web
  2. Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: a History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
  3. Place-Verghnes, Floriane. Tex Avery: a Unique Legacy (1942-1955). United Kingdom: John Libbey, 2006.
  4. Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: a History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
  5. Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: a History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
  6. Place-Verghnes, Floriane. Tex Avery: a Unique Legacy (1942-1955). United Kingdom: John Libbey, 2006.
  7. Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: a History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
  8. The Compleat Tex Avery. Dir. Tex Avery. LaserDisc. MGM/UA Home Video, 1993.
  9. Tex Avery’s Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection. Dir. Tex Avery. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2007.
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