Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat in Town!
Book Review by Charles Brubaker
WARNING: Contains Spoilers. Read at risk.
Animation historian Jerry Beck has written many
books on animation, both past and present. "Outlaw
Animation", "Warner Bros. Animation Arts", and
"Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide", to name a
few. One of his latest, however, is good as the other one. His
latest book all about "Pink Panther", both the movie
series and the cartoon from DePatie-Freleng. This book is a must
for "Pink Panther" cartoon fans.
DePatie-Freleng Enterprises formed when Warner
Bros. closed their animation department in 1963, thus, which made
"Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" short
subjects for many decades. Friz Freleng, and then animation
producer David DePatie, didn't give up and rented the animation
studio in Warner's lot, to form their own studio, giving Friz
more creative freedom on his cartoons. The studio mostly made
animated titles and commercials. However, their big break came
when Blake Edwards, who was filming his movie, "The Pink
Panther", contacted the studio, wanting a design for the
Panther. Blake wanted a cartoon character in his film, that was a
panther colored pink. Friz and Dave got their artists to draw
their designs, for Blake to select in the movie. He picked Hawley
Pratt's design and six months later, he commissioned them to make
an animated opening using the character. The rest is history.
Now on to the book. The book begins with a
foreword by Blake Edwards, who talks about his years with
Clouseau and the Pink Panther movie. He described Clouseau taking
the traits of a cartoon character, which I agree. Next, we have
an introduction with David H. DePatie, who writes about how the
Pink Panther cartoon character came to be, from the phonecall
with Blake Edwards, to how they proposed the opening storyboards
to the Mirish brothers, who David described as "the three
wise men". While he may have exaggerated that the opening
for the movie was the reason the film was a success, his p.o.v.
on the success of the Panther is worth reading.
The book is divided into decades, for 1960s,
1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and even the 2000s, and Jerry Beck managed
to track down A LOT of stuff about the Pink Panther. Because of
my time and the high number of items with the Pink Panther, I
will only talk about stuff I found to be my favorite read.
One of the plus of this book is that OTHER DFE
stars have their chance to share their spotlight. Each have two
pages devoted to them (except "The Inspector", which
has FOUR pages). Here's what to expect:
THE INSPECTOR section Includes
original sketches from John W. Dunn. I thought it was interesting
that Sgt. Deux-Deux originally looked like Charlie Brown. There's
a brief character bio on the Inspector, Sergeant Deux-Deux, and
In "The Inspector's Casebook", Jerry
Beck outlines some of the villians the Inspector went through,
including The Blotch (Cirrhosis of the Louvre), Captain Clamity
(Reux, Reux, Reux Your Boat), and the Mad Bomber (Napoleon Blown
I personally think that THE ANT AND THE
AARDVARK section is the best. This contains an all-new
drawing of the Aardvark and the Ant, provided by Art Leonardi
himself. This section describes how the main titles for the
cartoon was made, which used the "paper tear"
technique. One of the biggest highlights in this section is the
original design for the Aardvark (by John Dunn), who looked like
Gene Deitch's Sidney the Elephant. Interesting to point out that
Aardvark's nose and mouth was not in the same place, while in the
final version, provided by Corny Cole, has the mouth and the nose
in the same place.
Then there's ROLAND & RATTFINK,
the most obscure DFE character of all time, IMO. Like the Ant
& Aardvark page, this contains an all new drawing of Roland
and Rattfink from Art Leonardi. Highlights in this section
including the original design for the characters, which looked
something you expect in those abstract Disney cartoons (John Dunn
worked at Disney for years). Another highlights are storyboard
pages from "Hurts and Flowers" and "Hawks and
Doves". I thought it was interesting that "Roland and
Rattfink" series was inspired by political activism and
peace movements against the war on Vietnam. Also contains a
summery from "Sweet and Sourdough".
TIJUANA TOADS also gets a chance
to hog the spotlight. Not much in this section compared to the
ones about "Roland and Rattfink" and "The Ant and
the Aardvark", although it contains an original background
drawing by Dick Thomas and part of the model sheet for Pancho.
Plus, plot summeries for "A Pair of Greenbacks",
"Never on Thirsty", and "The Froggy Froggy
Duo", and a brief info on the redubbed "Texas
THE BLUE RACER, a spinoff of
"Tijuana Toads", also gets his spotlight. This
described the beginning for the Blue Racer on his appearance in
"Tijuana Toads", and a character bio for the Japanese
Beetle and "Kid", a one-shot character that appeared in
Bob McKimson's "Fowl Play". While this page doesn't
have any model sheets or production drawings, it does have a
sub-section called "Changing Skins", which compares
Blue Racer designs from Robert McKimson, Sid Marcus, and Gerry
Chiniquy. Contains a plot sypnosis from "Freeze a Jolly Good
Fellow", "Aches and Snakes", and a little on
"Wham and Eggs".
Yes, even HOOT KLOOT is in this
book. This part of the book contains character bios on Fester and
Crazywolf. Highlights including model sheets for Kloot, Fester
and Crazywolf. Also contains a storyboard for the rejected
opening sequence of the series, which is actually pretty funny.
Includes a plot sypnosis for "Kloot's County" (sic).
And then, DFE's last theatrical series, THE
DOGFATHER. Contains character bios for Boss Dog (aka
Dogfather), Pug, Louie, and Rocky. Also talks about the retro
1920s design in the series, with a color chart for Dogfather's
car. Included are modelsheets and production drawings for the
series, and plot sypnosis for "M-O-N-E-Y Spells Love",
"Haunting Dog", and "Saltwater Tuffy". Also,
this contains a whole new drawing for Dogfather, Pug and Louie by
director Art Leonardi.
That's not all. Even series from the "Pink
Panther" TV show gets a part on the book.
MISTERJAW's chapter contains
character bios on Misterjaw, Catfish, and Harry Halibut, his
methods of getting food, and plot sypnosis for "Showbiz
Shark", "Cool Shark", "To Catch a
Halibut", "Merry Sharkman Merry Sharkman", and
Toads' spinoff, CRAZYLEGS CRANE
is in this book. Includes character history, from his appearance
in "Tijuana Toads", "Blue Racer" and
"Dogfather" to his own series. Character bios for the
Natch'l-born Fool (Crazy Legs), Mrs. Crazy Legs (from a Blue
Racer short "Aches and Snakes"), Dragonfly, and Crane
Jr. Plot sypnosis for "Crane Brained", "Life with
Feather", "King of Swamp", "Sonic
Broom", and "Winter Blunderland".
There's even a section about PINK PANTHER
AND SONS, a Sat. AM show produced by Hanna-Barbera which
was mostly about Pink Panther's sons. Friz Freleng was the
creative producer and Art Leonardi directed some parts. I never
saw this show, and somehow, I don't think I want to. ;)
And let's not forget MGM's THE PINK
PANTHER from 1993. While this was never my favorite, I
have fond memory of seeing this on TV, and I think it's worth
reading. They brought back many DFE characters, including The
Inspector (the design is a mix of 1960s "The Inspector"
and the Clouseau seen in the opening of RETURN, STRIKES
AGAIN, REVENGE, and TRIAL),
The Ant and the Aardvark (once again voiced by John Byner), and
little man, and the Dogfather. However, the Dogfather and his
gang was severely redesigned to make him more or a "Rat
Pack" instead of the Corleone clan seen in the original
There's also the movies. Yes, for THE
PINK PANTHER, A SHOT IN THE DARK, INSPECTOR
CLOUSEAU, THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER,
THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN, REVENGE
OF THE PINK PANTHER, TRIAL OF THE PINK PANTHER,
CURSE OF THE PINK PANTHER, SON OF THE
PINK PANTHER, and finally, Steve Martin's THE
In these, they contain credits, stills from the
movie and the animated titles, plot sypnosis, and occasionally,
the movie poster, trivias, and behind the scene infos.
There are also pages devoted to Pink Panther MEMORABILIAS,
from each decade starting 1960s. Jerry Beck tracked down many
merchandises for this book, including ceramics, toys, coloring
books, board games (some which features Misterjaw and The
Inspector), children's books, and even The Inspector's disguise
kit! Some of them are typical cartoon character merchandise (like
the coloring book), although several (especially the ceramics)
tends to be ridiculous (no wonder Bill Watterson refused to
merchandise "Calvin and Hobbes"!). A lot of them are
very rare, so good luck finding those on eBay.
There were also snippets from the comic-book with the Pink
Panther and the Inspector, along with one of the unpublished
comic-strip. If you don't know, there were two failed attempts
for the "Pink Panther" comic-strip.
If you wondered how different DFE director's near identical
styles are, then check out pages 62 and 63, devoted to ANIMATION
DIRECTORS. Jerry talks about Friz Freleng, Hawley Pratt,
Robert McKimson, Gerry Chiniquy, Art Davis, Sid Marcus, and Art
Leonardi and how their styles are unique. I thought it was a neat
page. Even I didn't notice these styles, so this was a big plus.
In my opinion, the biggest highlight in this book were all the
model sheets Jerry Beck tracked down. This was a big for me
because before then, I never saw model sheets from DFE cartoons.
Sure, you can find DFE cels and production drawings on eBay, but
never a model sheet. Along with model sheets, there were layout
drawings, from Tom Yakutis, Dick Ung, and Roy Morita.
Model sheets are spread throughout the book, including the
There were also storyboards, including one from
"Crazylegs Crane", where it reveals that his original
name was "Ichabod Crane".
Then there's the filmography. From the theatrical years (1964
- 1977), the "All New Pink Panther Show" releases (1978
- 1981), the movies, episode guide for "Misterjaw",
"Crazylegs Crane", "Pink Panther and Sons",
and the made-for-TV specials starring the Panther, and the MGM
series from 1993. Spread throughout the filmography are DFE cels,
animation drawings, model sheets, and new drawings from Art
There were few credit errors in the filmography. To list a few
The animators for "Hiss and Hers" is missing. They
are Robert Taylor, Don Williams, Bob Richardson.
The directors for "Blue Racer Blues" and "Blue
Aces Wild" were switched. "Blues" was directed by
Art Davis while "Aces" was directed by Gerry Chiniquy.
Cel drawings with Pink Panther walking with a backpack on page
132 and 133 says they were from "Pink Plasma", even
though it's from "Sherlock Pink". This mistake however
was my fault because since I didn't have both shorts in my hand
at the time Jerry asked me about that, I had to remember from
Dick Ung was listed as a layout artist for "Eagle
Beagles" and "From Nags to Riches", while my copy
of the cartoon shows Richard Thomas doing both the layouts and
If you want to be technical, both Dick Ung and Richard H.
Thomas was credited doing layouts for "Deviled Yeggs",
although I think the Dick Ung credit was a mistake in Art
The books ends with a bio on Friz Freleng and an afterword by
DFE animator Art Leonardi, who shares his years on Pink Panther,
and other people that worked on the cartoon. Leonardi also drew
the entire DFE gang reading the "Pink Panther Guide"
book with Leonardi, which I thought was neat.
Overall, I liked this book. It's refreshing to read more about
Freleng's studio more than I knew about. Keep in mind that I only
pointed out stuff I thought was interesting. There was MANY more,
including an interview with Steve Martin, commercials with the
Pink Panther, the DFE studio itself, et al.
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