Cartoon Noir: A Comparative Study of Visual Parody
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American film parody can be characterized as a distorted, comical and yet affectionate imitation of a given genre or specific work. Film noir as a genre with its distinct visual styles has been an easy target for such "creative criticism." Mel Brooks, famous for his series of successful parody films, has exhorted that the situation alone must be absurd while the actors must be serious, not funny to make a comedy funnier. He also said that funny is in the writing and not in the performance itself. Film noir through its unconventional visual styles and convoluted story lines engenders feelings of anxiety and paranoia in the audience, providing rich fodder for parody. The animated theatrical series Looney Tunes with its trademark slapstick style is well suited for making serious situations look absurd, affording "creative criticism". In this thesis I first analyze canonical examples to distill the distinct visual characteristics of these two different genres. I then employ the use of parody to bring together a few salient visual elements from each of these genres, thus enabling computer-generated visual parody. Finally, still image examples of such parody are produced by systematically combining visual elements from the two distinct genres, film noir for its expressionistic lighting and elliptical compositional elements, and Looney Tunes for its mischievous mise-en-scene and ingenuous characters.
Mallikarjunaiah, Bhuvana (2010). Cartoon Noir: A Comparative Study of Visual Parody. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from