Joe Glow, the Firefly
Joe Glow The Firefly (1941, Looney Tunes) Here's a cartoon at the height of Chuck Jones' "gentle" phase. Like the color Sniffles cartoons of the same period, Jones puts a small character in a big place, with objects that are easily recognizable to us appearing foreign to the character. This cartoon is at times painfully slow, and there aren't too many "gags"...but you have to admire the artistry of it. The film opens with a little blotch of light flittering into an open tent at a camp site. it turns out to be the title character, a bug with a fireman's hat and a little glowing lantern. He lands on the head of a sleeping man in the tent, and begins exploring the facial features as though they are mountainous formations. He goes down from there, from the head to the nose, and then he goes down on top of the big guy's body. Joe Glow explores the hands, fingers, and gets spooked by a wristwatch. He decides he's had enough of this, so he flies up onto a table and starts exploring the various things on it. He checks out a Swiss army knife, a few bottles, and ultimately gets curious about the big overturned can of table salt. He opens the lid and gets flooded with salt. He nearly knocks a ketchup bottle off the table, but quickly grabs a piece of string and lassos it before it hits and wakes the man up. He has trouble with a pepper shaker too...he gets stuck inside until he sneezes himself out, shooting him across the tent and getting his little lantern stuck under the lid of the shaker. He decides to check out the man again...and since there's nothing more to see, he gently lands on the guy's ear, and utters the only line of the entire film, a loud "good night!!!" The cartoon ends just as it began, with the ball of light buzzing around outside the tent. Like I said, it's not particularly fast and funny, but it's visually stunning. It would be a sin to colorize it, because it has some of the best use of black and white the Warner Bros. cartoons ever did...instead of just making a cartoon in black and white, Jones uses it to an artistic advantage, and was clearly exploring the medium. It just looks cool!