Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: February 14, 1942
Stars: Conrad Cat, Daffy Duck
Conrad’s most distinctive trait was his voice, provided by Pinto Colvig, who also voiced Goofy. Indeed, Conrad’s and Goofy’s voices are very similar. However, in ‘Conrad the Sailor’ his voice is rarely heard, as most of the comedy is silent.
In ‘Conrad the Sailor’ Conrad Cat works as a sailor on a battle cruiser (a setting reflecting the war time), where he is nagged by Daffy Duck. Their chase is stopped several times by a small captain who pops up at unexpected moments, a type of gag typical for early Chuck Jones cartoons (see e.g. ‘Inki and the Minah bird’ from 1941 and ‘The Dover Boys‘ from 1942).
‘Conrad the Sailor’ is not a very funny cartoon: neither Conrad nor Daffy behave sympathetic, and the origin of their conflict remains unknown. The Daffy-Conrad-encounters appear to be nothing more than a string of unrelated events. Moreover, Jones’s pacing is still rather slow at times, wearing the comedy down. Conrad’s personality is rather undefined, and after this cartoon he was shelved.
Notwithstanding its weaknesses, the cartoon is noteworthy for its remarkably stylized and surprisingly angled backgrounds, courtesy of lay-out artist John McGrew, who collaborated with Jones on a number of cartoons, before joining the navy himself in 1942. The backgrounds in these cartoons are often the real highlight of the short, and look all the way forward to UPA’s cartoon modern style of the early fifties. McGrew would push the limits even further in later cartoons like ‘The Aristo-Cat‘ and ‘Wackiki Wabbit’ (both 1943).