Saturday, February 06, 2016

Rest in peace, Joe Alaskey


I, like many fans of animation, was sad to hear of the passing of the amazing vocal artist Joe Alaskey.  The world has lost a motherload of talent with this man's passing.  In my opinion, of all the people who attempted being the voice of Bugs Bunny and/or Daffy Duck but still falling short of Mel Blanc's mastery, Joe did their voices the best.  He did a tremendous job of those characters in Looney Tunes Back in Action.  But besides his ability to voice cartoon characters, either classics like Bugs & Daffy or his own like Plucky Duck, he also possessed the subtlety to be the voice of Richard Nixon in Forrest Gump.  The film industry, be it animation or otherwise, needs more talent like his.

Speaking of the Looney Tunes movie, back in 2004 I sent an email to Mr. Joe Alaskey asking him to clarify a few nerdley theories I had about the script.  Here's the response he gave me:

Dear David, 

    Whether any or all of your interesting theories could be proven is mosty moot. 
    I can tell you firsthand that the script went through so many hands that the original story only marginally resembled the original draft. There were definitely over a dozen writers. Everything from gags to major scenes were scrapped, rewritten and rehashed daily for months. 
    This is not to say that arguments can't be made for your corporate-personage interpretations; you do a pretty good job of it. Although I should add that I've never heard your suggestions anywhere else. 
    And I can tell you firsthand that a cohesive satirical subtext for LT:BIA was by no means foremost in all those writers' minds. It certainly wasn't passed along like a secret handshake. Many of them don't even know each other. But they were all hired, piecemeal, to make sense of the multi-layered plot while keeping LT-style laughs rolling along the rickety track of what many of them considered to be an overdeveloped storyline. 
    A better case can be made for your identifiying moments of director-homage throughout the film. I'm sure that was all pretty much intentional. Then again, it's easy to answer that McKimson animation was always a principal model. Just as easy to say everyone can recognize the Clampett touch. And who doesn't acknowledge that Sam was essentially Friz? 
    So, 6 of 1, half a dozen of the other. Interesting thoughts. Maybe you should check out film criticism as a career. 
    It helps to know a film's production history too, of course. Well, writing to me was research, you could say. So now you know my perspective. 

Thanks for Writing, 
- jfa

Such a lovely approachable man.  He will and should be missed.

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