Tex Avery at M.G.M.'s
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Tex Avery at M.G.M.'s

A new character appears in 1949 in the cartoon Wags to Riches : the dog called Spike. It will be present in 11 Avery's films under this name, but a cartoon as The Counterfeit Cat (1950) uses a very nearby dog.

This character looks like Tex Avery's Jekill and Hyde. At least, we can say that there are two Spike.

As a new development of Droopy, Spike must differ from the wolf, usual stooge. Tex Avery made of it a stupid and malicious, envious and cheater, who must inevitably fail in all its attempts against the hero.

This Spike finds its place in few confrontations with Droopy organized by the Avery's team, like the sporting competitions of The Chump Champ or Daredevil Droopy. It is especially this aspect of Spike which is known, because it is really in conformity with this time productions (remember the programmed failures of Wild Coyote face to the Road runner, for example).

Tex Avery at M.G.M.'s Tex Avery at M.G.M.'s It corresponds however to an increasingly marked weakness of the scenarios, which are satisfied to put two foreseeable characters in opposition and to align the gags.

The cartoons where Spike is the principal character seem to me more interesting. None of through its first personality really shows on the surface. Spike appears well as what it is from the beggining: a scapegoat, a victim.

Its confrontation with the emaciated cock of Cock-a-Doodle Dog, its timidity in front of Joe Bear and its courage in front of the sadistic puppy in Rock-A-Bye-Bear, the repeated aggressions of Drippy "a strong guy" in Droopy's Double Trouble make of it an extremely likable character, completely disorientated by a fatum which exceeds it. This Spike appears very human to me. It is interesting to note that it is the unique hero of the Avery's universe which finishes sometimes insane at the end of the cartoons.

Spike's apotheosis must be found in Magical Maestro, where its vanity makes him put the Misto magician outside the theater. This last one will undertake to ridicule Spike in a dazzling Fregoli involuntary performance until the revenge of Poochini-Spike which make undergo the same fate to its torturer.

Tex Avery at M.G.M.'sFrom the beginning, Spike is a graphically simplified character. U.P.A.'s style (as adopted by M.G.M.'s studio at the beginning of 50') will still be able to reduce it to the stub character of Cellbound, the last cartoon directed by Avery.


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