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Animators Go Looney Over Skiing

When cartoons take a run at skiing, mayhem ensues.

By Jeff Blumenfeld

What is quickly learned from total immersion into the golden age of animation, roughly the 1930s through the 1970s, is that when Hollywood animators put characters on skis, they suspend the laws of physics. From the earliest cartoon depictions to a recent animated relaunch on HBO, skiing is primed for slapstick humor, visual punchlines and lots and lots of long freefalls.

Popeye crashes off ski jumps. Wile E. Coyote falls off cliffs with an ice machine on his back. The Pink Panther is engulfed in a giant snowball, while Homer Simpson hangs from a chair upside down and is blasted by a frigid fan gun and fiery snowcat exhaust, to name just a few.

Each stunt is more gravity-defying than the next one, often relying on a host of products, usually from the Acme Corporation, makers of sticks of dynamite, intricate booby traps, and anvils and bank safes that inevitably are dropped on unsuspecting heads...

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