The Hobo Hero

Les Elton (1935)

Piccolo Pete saves a dog from an oncoming train and is taken home by Tillie Twitch in this rotoscoped cartoon from the 1930s. This short is a combination of cartoon ideas mixed with those of a live action comedy short. Elton combines the rotoscoping animation technique (tracing live action frame by frame) with his animation to great effect.

By the age of 17 Les Elton was billed as a “Comedy Cartoonist” doing popular lightning sketches on the vaudeville circuit. He eventually drew for both the Philadelphia Record, Public Ledger, and the St. Louis Globe Democrat. He also developed his own comic strip. In 1916 he joined the Bray animation studio where he primarily illustrated comic strips based on animated cartoons produced by the studio. Elton left Bray Studios in 1917.

In 1917 he patented a way to combine live action and animation. His 1931 animated cartoon Monkey Doodle featuring “Simon the Monk” was produced by former Bray staffer Jaques Kopfstein with the help of his stepson and animator Robert Bentley. The Eltons then went to California, where in 1935 Les produced another animated cartoon The Hobo Hero.

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