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Big Chief Koko (1925)

by Nicholas Sammond

A stereotyped Indian Chief comes into Max Fleischer's studio, giving him some drawings. Koko the Clown is placed in the drawings, and kicks the Chief character out of them, beginning a struggle between the two which turns into war. The Chief character aims to reclaim his title and position, trying to win back his dog (who has now become loyal to Koko the Clown). The Chief kidnaps and is seen mistreating the dog, to whose aid Koko comes, shooting Indians along the way. Koko finally frees the dog, and they run away, having to shoot more Indians in order to fully escape. The two see the Chief who gave Fleischer the drawings, engaging him in battle as well. When they start losing, they jump into the inkwell, into safety. The cartoon contains several racist stereotyped depictions of "Indian" characters, forming a further dimension to the use of the interplay between animation/reality and animated/animator control. Though the Indian Chief gives Fleischer the backgrounds that become the cartoon - which Fleischer allows, giving the Chief an amount of creative control - the animation "revolts," even coming back to exact revenge on the "Chief cartoonist." Thus the technique of showing the animator in such early cartoons is given new political and social meaning.

Big Chief Koko (1925)

A stereotyped Indian Chief character comes into Max Fleischer's studio, giving him some drawings. Koko the Clown is placed in the drawings, and kicks the Chief character out of them, beginning a struggle between the two which turns into war.

from Out of the Inkwell - Big Chief Koko (1925)
Creator: Max & Dave Fleischer
Posted by Nicholas Sammond
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