Friday, April 23, 2010

Dirty Duck

People say that I’m the first one to personally animate every drawing in an animated feature film. I’m not an expert on the history of animation so I can’t confirm the validity of that statement. However, a number of people have mentioned a cartoon feature by Chuck Swenson called “Dirty Duck”.

Legend has it that Roger Corman wanted to do a cheaper version of “Fritz the Cat” by the great Ralph Bakshi. So he hired Chuck Swenson and the animation production company Murakami and Wolf.

I had a hell of a time trying to track down a print of the film, but I finally found an old VHS copy in one of those used DVD shops. The print was a little crude (it’s VHS) but I liked the style- very Push Pin pop.

The music was wonderful by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (aka “Flo and Eddie”, aka “The Turtles”). The plot is very similar to “Fritz the Cat” as the hero is a dweebish Woody Allen type who meets up with the eponymous Duck to search for the meaning of life and sex. Cartoonist Bobby London came up with the original Dirty Duck back in 1970 and apparently Roger Corman just borrowed the name although the character design is quite different.

Checking the credits I noted there were a number of animators that helped Chuck with the film. In any case, it’s a wonder anyone can make an animated feature with such a small crew and low budget. I congratulate Chuck on a wonderful fun animated film. Check it out if you ever get a chance.


  1. Rick Griffin did the poster artwork. I'd never seen that artwork of his before. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Chuck Swenson went to Roger Corman and pitched his feature for a budget of $125,000. Corman agreed and the work started. After working for a couple of years on the film, Swenson went back to ask for more money - he was completely out. Corman said no, a deal's a deal.

    Swenson traded work space and I&P help from Fred Wolf's company in exchange for co-animating on THE POINT. When the film was done, there was a screening for Swenson and Corman. The title of the film opened it, and it had been changed by Swenson to CHEEP!.

    Corman asked the projectionist to shut the film and he shelved the movie. Years later it opened in NY & LA for one week. I happened to talk with Corman during that week and I brought up the subject of the film. Corman got angry quickly and told me he knew that by releasing the film in the two theaters, he'd recoup his investment in the week. Then he pulled the film and put it back on a shelf.

    The film did make it to vhs.