Animation History – Classic Cartoon Characters Hidden In The Vault

Neatorama writer Jill Harness recently compiled a list of 6 of animation history’s more obscure cartoon characters. Characters that, dependent on your age, you might recognize a little, but not really remember. Some of these characters were canned because they were racial stereotypes others merely because they became far too dated, but they all have an important place in animation history, and if you love cartoons, then this article will provide a fascinating insight for you.

One of the more significant characters that Harness mentions is early Looney Tunes star Bosko, who usually featured alongside his girlfriend Honey and dog Bruno. Bosko starred in more than 40 animated shorts and was the first animation to include synchronized speech. Created by animators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising whilst they were still working at Disney, Bosko was hugely popular and even gave Mickey Mouse a run for his money at the start.

When the animators registered Bosko at the copyright office, they described him as a “Negro boy” and the fact that the character was something of a racial caricature is one of the reasons why he almost completely disappeared from our screens.

Before Bosko vanished into the cartoon vault, he moved to MGM in 1933 and was given a makeover that made the character appear painfully like a “minstrel show portrayal” of African Americans.
Warner Bros were keen to remove all trace of this potentially incredibly racist character, however they did re-introduce Bosko and his girlfriend Honey to the public in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. However, when they appeared in this episode, they were portrayed as distinctively less human and much more like the modern day ‘animaniacs’ creatures.

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Other characters that Harness mentions were:

Buddy, who was described as “Bosko in whiteface”, despite the fact that Buddy was Warner Bros second star, his lack of originality meant that he didn’t hang around for very long. Source

Foxy, who looks uncannily like Mickey Mouse – probably because creator Hugh Harman felt that Disney had used the image he drew of mice before he left for their iconic critter and this was his way of getting a little bit of revenge, although it didn’t really work out like he planned! Source

Flip the Frog was conceived by Ub Iwerks, the co-creator of Mickey Mouse, after he fell out with Disney (wow these old-school animators moved around a lot!!). Flip might not have had Mickey’s staying power nor reached the dizzy heights of fame like the world’s most adored mouse, but he earned his place in animation history by being the protagonist of the first ever color sound cartoon! Source

Inki is the racial caricature who almost makes Bosko look decidedly PC by comparison…The Inki cartoons were part of Chuck Jones’ Merrie Melodies series and showed this ‘little African boy with a loin cloth and a bone in his hair”. Inki never spoke and the majority of his adventures involved him attempting to hunt down some sort of eternally illusive prey. No wonder we don’t see Inki around anymore! Source

The Private Snafu cartoons were part of a series made specifically for the military and were never officially made available to the public – however they have been widely shared because they were in the public domain. They were commissioned by the U.S government as a means of showing military trainees how to be good soldiers. Private Snafu was the military’s answer to ‘Goofy’ – he was constantly messing things up, getting himself all blown apart, leaking confidential information and dying on several occasions. Eventually however, Private Snafu learns from his mistakes and becomes a bit of a super-soldier. Because these cartoons were commissioned for the military rather than for the little ones, they were much more risqué and therefore featured adult humor and images of barely clothed women! Another fun Private Snafu fact is that many of the cartoons in the series were written by Theodor Geisel, who is better known of course as the infamous Dr. Seuss!

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6 Obscure Classic Cartoon Characters (Via Neatorama)

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About Sheniz Raif

I am, and think I have always been, a writer. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was old enough to hold a pen and thoroughly enjoy using my words to make people laugh or inspire them. I love going to gigs and am a professional groupie for a couple of awesome bands. I am an avid fan of socializing, football, film, and refusing to grow up! I’m also a proud member of the BODO UK team!