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Bonzo

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Bonzo

Long before Gromit met Wallace, a silent British dog became a cartoon star

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1924 10 mins

Overview

Meet Bonzo, a doggone movie star in the making. This puppyish, doe-eyed loveable scoundrel was the creation of the artist George Studdy in a series of one-page drawings published in The Sketch magazine from 1922 onwards. Proving a break-out hit, Bonzo quickly appeared on stage, had his own diverse merchandise range, and featured in this 24-part cartoon series.

In his debut film Bonzo walks on screen like a popular star enters the stage, bowing to the audience and bashfully recognising the applause. Though Studdy had produced animation in WWI in the form of topical sketches, you can see that his team were still finding their feet with character based work. The scenes are somewhat static and the opening five-minute joke of the stacked plates and sausages would probably take 15 seconds in a Warner Brothers cartoon. Later episodes would feature more narrative, but like Chaplin, much of the comedy comes from the expressiveness of the star turn who is given time to build the set-up and milk every punchline.