February 4, 2015
The Monster had a name, and it was… Neon Noodle!
Here’s another cartoon cameo, and certainly one of the most original representations of The Monster ever, in what is considered one of the all-time best animated shorts ever made.
Directed for Warner Brothers by Bob Clampett in his trademark unbridled, madcap style, THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY (1946) is essentially a takeoff on Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy comic strip and its gallery of weird criminals. Here, Daffy Duck imagines himself as “Duck Twacy” going up against an even weirder and way wackier set of gangsters with names and attendant physical configurations as Snake Eyes, Pickle Puss, 88 Teeth, a Wolfman and, among others, a highly stylized Frankenstein Monster made of neon. “Frankenstein” isn’t name checked, but the character is instantly recognizable with his giant size, flat head and outstretched arms.
Descriptively named “Neon Noodle”, this unusual Frankenstein Monster is beautifully animated, casting a soft neon glow, switching from blue to orange and yellow. In a surrealistic scene, Daffy dispatches Neon Noodle by snapping and twisting him into an “Eat at Joe’s” neon sign. All the other bizarre bad guys are tommy gunned in a gloriously gratuitous scene deemed so violent that it was cut when the cartoon played on TV. A restored version would be the very first short shown when The Cartoon Network launched in 1992. Among the film’s admirers is John Kricfaluzi, creator of Ren and Stimpy, who said, “I saw this thing and it completely changed my life.”
THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY was Clampett’s next to last job at Warner’s. As soon as he left, and continuing on up to his death in 1984, controversy would follow after he claimed sole credit for creating classic characters such as Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig, while evidence shows the characters has evolved under a who’s who of animators. Director Chuck Jones and voice actor Mel Blanc never forgave him. Still, Clampett’s genius, his enduring influence and his pioneering contributions to animation remain obvious and rightfully celebrated. He would go on to a successful career in the nascent field of television, creating the Time for Beanie puppet show in 1949, eventually animated as Beanie and Cecil.