|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (July 2012)|
Disney's Pluto consistently exhibits dog-like behaviors, like digging, barking, and chewing bones. Funny animals like Goofy, however, behave more like humans. They often speak, walk upright, wear clothes, hold jobs, etc. While other characters acknowledge that Goofy is a dog, he is still treated as if he were human.
|This topic covers comics that fall under various genre.|
Funny animal is a cartooning term for the genre of comics and animated cartoons in which the main characters are anthropomorphic or talking animals, with human-like personality traits. The characters themselves may also be called "funny animals".
While many funny animal stories are light-hearted and humorous, the genre is not exclusively comedic. Dark or serious stories featuring characters of this sort can also be grouped under the "funny animals" category, sometimes referred to as anthropomorphics to avoid confusion over the range of genres. These stories may intersect with any other genre or group of genres, including historical fiction, science fiction, superhero, western, slapstick comedy, children's entertainment, and satire.
The funny animal genre evolved in the 1920s and 1930s, as blackface became less socially acceptable. Early black-and-white funny animals, including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey Mouse (perhaps the most enduring of the kind), Foxy the Fox, Felix the Cat and Flip the Frog, maintained certain aspects of the blackface design, including (especially with the advent of sound film) heavy emphasis on song and dance routines. The increased use of Technicolor and other color film processes in the 1930s allowed for greater diversity in the ability to design new "funny animals," leading to a much wider array of funny animal shorts and the near-total demise (except for Mickey Mouse and a few other Disney characters of the era) of the blackface characters. Song and dance fell out of favor and were largely replaced by comedy and satire. The Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts by Warner Bros. Animation, for instance, introduced dozens of funny animals, many of whom have reached iconic status in American culture. Other notable funny animals from the color film era included Walter Lantz's Woody Woodpecker, MGM's Tom and Jerry (among many others), and Paul Terry's Heckle and Jeckle.
Television changed the dynamic of animation, in that although budgets were much smaller and schedules much tighter, this prompted a shift from the physical comedy that predominated film shorts to more dialogue-oriented jokes (including celebrity impressions and one-liner jokes). Hanna-Barbera Productions focused almost exclusively on these kinds funny animal TV series in the late 1950s and early 1960s, creating an extensive line of funny animal series (Yogi Bear being one of the most enduring franchises). Jay Ward Productions also produced The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, a series representative of the genre (albeit with much stronger Cold War overtones than Hanna-Barbera).
By the 1970s, most funny animals had lost their lead status and had been relegated to members of an ensemble cast of mostly humans (e.g. Scooby-Doo) or supporting characters. Funny animals and animal-like characters made a brief comeback in the late 1980s and into the 1990s (most notably through various Warner Bros. and Disney television creations, and through the decidedly cruder work of Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi). The subsequent years also had numerous successful animated feature film franchises that featured funny animal characters like DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda and Blue Sky Studios's Ice Age. Animators have created increasingly more unusual examples of funny animals in this era, including Perry the Platypus (from Disney's Phineas and Ferb) and SpongeBob SquarePants (from the Nickelodeon TV series of the same name).
In the 1940s, Fawcett Comics published a comic book entitled Funny Animals, featuring such characters as Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, an anthropomorphic rabbit version of Captain Marvel. Beginning in the 1980s, there was a subgenre of original funny animal comic books with subject matter that were created largely for mature readers. These creations included the political science fiction allegory in Albedo Anthropomorphics, the sexually explicit serial drama of Omaha the Cat Dancer and the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic Holocaust narrative, Maus.
Comic strips have long been an outlet for funny animal characters. Krazy Kat was a popular early comic strip featuring the titular cat and its companionship with a mouse named Ignatz. Snoopy, from the Peanuts comic strip, was frequently used as comic relief. Almost all of the non-human characters in the comic strip Garfield fit the category. In the cases of Peanuts and Garfield, the animal characters' words are portrayed in thought balloons instead of spoken dialogue.
- American comic book
- Talking animal
- Furry fandom
- List of anthropomorphic animal superheroes
- Calvin and Hobbes
- Golden Age of American animation
- Markstein, Don. "Toonopedia: Funny Animal". Retrieved 2006-12-27.
- Williams, P. and Lyons, J. (2010), The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts, University Press of Mississippi, ISBN 9781604737929
- Meskin, A. and Cook, R.T. and Ellis, W. (2011), The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 9781444354829
- Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, ISBN 9780313357473
- Reading Room Index Guide Screen: Funny Animal - a list of funny animal comics, hosted by Michigan State University's library