The Ren & Stimpy Show, a breath of fresh air for its production values took us back to the classic age of animation. Created by Canadian born animator John Kricfalusi, best known as John K made its debut on Nicktoons alongside the Rugrats and Doug on August 11, 1991. Against all odds the show enjoyed a five year run and a cult following, it became the forerunner for such shows as Beavis and Butt-head and South Park because of its controversial nature featuring weird humor, sex and violence. Due to this there were numerous fights with the Standards and Practices department ultimately leading to John K’s firing. After the firing Ren & Stimpy went downhill in this reviewers opinion although there were still some good episodes without John K. In 2003 the show saw a brief revival on the Spike channel. During this revival John K. was allowed to be more adult. The show was called Ren & Stimpy “Adult Party Cartoon”. John K’s background includes work at Filmation and Hanna Barbera Studios. He then went on to The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse for CBS under Ralph Bakshi and The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil for ABC where he met many of the people who worked with him later on Ren & Stimpy. (more…)
In 1962 William Hanna and Joe Barbera wanted to recapture the success they enjoyed with the Flintstones. They took the stone-age family concept and turned it around to develop a space-age family. Thus the Jetsons were born. The futuristic series took place in the year 2062, 100 years after it premiered in 1962. They lived in the Skypad Apartments in Orbit City. The architecture was in the Googie style found in southern California from the 1940s through the 1960s. The style was futuristic, reflecting the atomic age. (more…)
Based on the success of The Flintstones Hanna Barbera created Top Cat. Just as The Flintstones was loosely based on the Honeymooners, Top Cat was loosely based on the Phil Silvers Show aka “You’ll Never Get Rich”. The gang is also said to be influenced on The East End Kids and Guys and Dolls but, in my opinion there is no doubt that the show was based on the Phil Silvers Show.
The series ran from November 26, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a total of 30 episodes on the ABC network. (more…)
The Flintstones was Hanna Barbera’s foray into prime time. This was the first half hour cartoon/comedy series. The show was loosely based on “The Honeymooners” with Fred as Ralph and Barney as Ed (the second time they based a character on Art Carney, the first being Yogi Bear). The setting was a stone-age town named Bedrock. Fred is a working class man working at the local rock quarry. The show was so popular it proved to be the most commercially successful network cartoon series for three decades until the Simpsons stole this claim to fame.
In this make-believe version of ancient times, dinosaurs and other extinct animals co-exist with cavemen. Like their modern equivalents, these Stone Age people live in modern style homes, eat at restaurants, go to the drive-in and listen to records. Of course the technology is made up of mostly rock and wood structures and the like. Their clothing is fashioned from animal skins. And everything is powered by animal power. Like the theme song suggests the cars are powered by Fred’s two feet. (more…)
The Quick Draw McGraw Show is the third cartoon television series by Hanna-Barbera, starring a gun-toting horse named Quick Draw McGraw who stood on two legs. This series was created based on the successes of Ruff & Reddy and Huckleberry Hound. The show made its syndicated debut in 1959. As with their other series it was sponsored by Kellogg’s. Of course, Daws Butler was the premiere voice. In their inimitable style it was a half hour format featuring three 7 minute productions featuring Quick Draw and his sidekick Baba Looey (named for Desi Arnez’s popular song Babalu), the father and son dog duo, Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy and the cat and mouse pair of detectives named Snooper & Blabber. (more…)
Yogi Bear was the first of Hanna Barbera’s characters to be based on a television personality pre-dating Barney Rubble as Art Carney.
Hanna Barbera produced half hour television shows consisting of three cartoons in one show. The first was Huckleberry Hound, who shared his show with Pixie and Dixie and Yogi Bear.
Yogi, with his winning personality, stole the show which ended up in his popularity surpassing that of Huck, so H&B gave him his own show which was sponsored by Kellogs and which premiered in January of 1961. His spot on the Huckleberry Hound Show was given to Hokey Wolf. Keeping true to the three cartoon half hour shows The Yogi Bear Show was intertwined with Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle. (more…)
I grew up in the 1950s watching animated television series. The first series was a little known cartoon series entitled “Crusader Rabbit”.
While working for Terrytoons Alex Anderson had an idea which was to create an animated series made expressly for television. Terrytoons didn’t buy into the idea, preferring to remain in film animation, so Anderson approached Jay Ward. Anderson and Ward formed a partnership and in 1947 Television Arts Productions was born. (more…)
I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Clampett in 1982 just 2 years before his death. I just picked up the phone and called his studio. He answered and invited me in to talk. I had a cel from the colorized version of Prehistoric Porky and he signed it for me. The cel depicts Porky being licked by a dinosaur very closely resembling Cecil. He wrote, “To Mark, A Great Big Cecil Slurp from Bob Clampett”. I still own this cel.
Bob Clampett was born on May 8, 1913. A very talented man he was an animator, producer, director and a puppeteer. He’s most famous for his work on Looney Tunes for Leon Schlesinger at Warner Brothers. His other claim to fame was his series Beany and Cecil. Hailing from Los Angeles, California he wasn’t far from the action and caught the fever early in his life. In 1931 he dropped out of high school and joined the team of Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising aptly named Harman-Ising Productions. He was hired to work on the then new Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. (more…)
Born Ubbe Eert Iwerks in Kansas City, Missouri on March 24th 1901.
Ub Iwerks was working as a commercial artist for Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio in Kansas City when in 1919 he met Walt Disney who was also a commercial artist. Both Iwerks and Disney then found themselves employed for the Kansas City Slide Newspaper Company as illustrators later to become The Kansas City Film Ad Company. It was there that Disney was inspired to start an animation business, Ub was his first and ultimately his most important employee. He was blessed with a skill as a speedy illustrator, not to mention that they had become good friends.
His style was ever-present in those early Disney cartoons. Of course he was also the creator of Mickey Mouse. Starting in 1922 Ub was the chief animator for the Laugh-O-Gram series. After that studio went bankrupt in 1923 Ub followed Disney to Los Angeles to work on a the Alice Comedies, a mix of live action and animation. When that series ended Disney asked Ub to create a new character and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was born. Ub not only created the character but animated the entire first episode himself. When Universal signed on as distributor Oswald was changed in 1927. (more…)
Fredrick Bean “Tex” Avery was born on February 26, 1908 in Taylor, Texas. Tex’s interest in animation stemmed from an early age. He began drawing comic strips in high school. He also spent a summer studying art at the Chicago Art Institute. Tex made a move to California in the early 1930s. He began his animation career as a painter for Walter Lantz. It was there that he learned all the ins and outs of the mechanics of animation. Soon he became a storyboard artist.
In 1935, Tex went to work for the Leon Schlesinger unit at Warner Bros. A master at character creation he went on to create some of the best known characters in the world including, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and the psyche of the Bunny we now know as Bugs. He stayed at Warner until 1941 when a creative dispute with Schlesinger led to his quitting in the early part of 1941. (more…)
Made of pen and ink, She can win you with a wink; Wait `til you, get a view of Sweet Betty!
Betty Boop was a concept by Max Fleischer. Grim Natwick can take credit for the creation. He was a specialist in the female form (He also created Snow White forDisney). She was created to be a friend for Bimbo, the dog character in many of her cartoons, originally appearing in the Fleischer Studios “Talkartoon” series.
Bimbo was becoming popular and they wanted him to have a girlfriend so they created Betty as a dog. I had the pleasure of meeting Grim Natwick and he explained that he started off to create a poodle but by the time he got down to the body he forgot about the dog part modeling her body after that of Mae West. Eventually the dog’s ears morphed into hoop earrings, the puppy dog nose became a cute little woman’s button nose, and the rest is history.
Betty Boop became a big success advancing to one of the world’s most popular cartoon characters, a status which she still holds today. (more…)
I’m a traditional animator, artist, graphic and web designer. Today I use Flash, Photoshop and After Effects to create animation. I’m also an Animation Historian. I majored in Media Arts/Animation at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with many influential people. I worked at Hanna Barbera where Bill and Joe gave me my first break. I worked as an in-betweener for Ken Muse on the “Tom & Jerry Show”. I spoke with Dave Fleischer on the phone. When I moved to Hollywood I looked him up in the phone book. He was listed and I called him. We spoke for a half hour. I met Grim Natwick, creator of Betty Boop. I met Jay Ward, Chuck Jones, June Foray (Best known as the voice of Rocket J. Squirell), Bob Clampett and Walter Lantz. I took classes with Harvey Kurtzman (creator of Mad Magazine and Alfred E. Newman) and Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit and the granddaddy of the modern graphic novel).
In this blog we’ll discuss cartoon art, traditional animation and comics. I learned animation the old-fashioned way, drawing by hand. We will cover animation from the early devices/toys to classic movie shorts, to today’s CGI and Animé. We’ll also cover comic art from newspaper strips to comic books, underground comix and today’s graphic novels.