31. Jim Tyer

Animation Extreme

A standard technical term in movie animation is “extreme.”  What it refers, simply, to the drawing or “pose” at each peak of the action. The “extremes” are  the drawings or poses that the animator personally makes. The “inbetween” drawings or positions may be made by an assistant. With Jim Tyer, the veteran Terrytoons animator, the word “extreme” took on its true dictionary meaning!

When I got to Terrytoons and discovered Jim Tyer there, I could not understand how this totally original old veteran ever got to Terrytoons, and managed to survive in that cold-bed of conformity.

When Jim drew an “extreme,” it was EXTREME! His animation was like no other in that studio of 12 conservative animators. I have no idea how he got that way. He was in a direct line from the earliest “grotesques,” where fun, not realism, was the goal!

I tried to play him against type, most successfully when I paired him with our then latest new one-shot director, Ernie Pintoff, with his FLEBUS film.  Pintoff’s neo UPA style, and Tyer’s 1920s “primitve/extreme” animation, joined in one of our classic productions from my short TT tenure. Jim Tyer also shined in my TOM TERRIFIC series, which required grotesquery, and in easily identified scenes in our whole range of Clint Clobber, Gaston Le Crayon, Sidney The Elephant, and most other of our CBS-Terrytoons. Jim’s scenes are instantly identifiable!  Whatever animation spark there might be in any of my Terrytoons or any Terrytoons, was usually the work of Jim Tyer!  He also had an influence on my son Kim, who as a 13-14 year-old kid loved to hang around the studio during my tenure, visiting with old Jim!

Flebus. Designed by Ernie Pintoff. Animated by Jim Tyer

6 thoughts on “31. Jim Tyer

  1. There are Terrytoons of the 50s that are worth watching only for Tyer’s animation. It’s as though the world suddenly turned wild – or as though someone remembered that animation is mainly concerned with funny drawings.
    I do have a little regret that Flebus doesn’t feature Tyer’s extreme squash-and-stretch. Perhaps when Flebus is dreaming it might have been appropriate.

    • I don’t precisely remember, but I may have to be the one to blame for what you
      criticize, Steve. I may have cautioned Jim to restraint, feeling that the extreme design of Ernie’s characters didn’t lend itself to extreme animation.

  2. Thank you for that first hand information on Jim Tyer. I remember when I was a kid I would see Terrytoons where at certain places in the cartoon it suddenly got funny. I think of Tyer as an expressionist animator, his characters always seem to pulsate with energy. And when a Tyer bulldog is angry you really get a sense that he will explode with anger. I’m glad that artists like you and John K are bringing him his due. Thanks.

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