Friday, September 10, 2010

Little Boa Peep (1974)

With the subject on Blue Racer, I'd thought I write about another one. This one has an interesting history.

You may be aware that cartoons made for television today are animated overseas, usually in places like South Korea. Well, the idea of outsourcing animation is as old as TV cartoons itself. The first major cartoon to be subcontracted is probably Rocky & Bullwinkle from Jay Ward, which was farmed out to Mexico. As the years went by other studios followed pursuit, including King Features, which farmed out animation to various studios, some in the States.

Well, even theatrical cartoons (or what was left at the time) also went through the same thing, although not as extreme as in television. Many are aware of the Tom and Jerry cartoons directed by Gene Deitch in Prague. In addition, DePatie-Freleng decided to give it a shot in the '70s.

By then, DFE was one of the three studios making cartoons for Saturday Morning (alongside Filmation and Hanna-Barbera). Unlike the other two they were also producing theatrical cartoons at the same time. No doubt additional help was needed to compensate the big workload, so the idea of outsourcing attracted attention to David DePatie.

DFE have subcontracted before. When the studio was making new Looney Tunes shorts for Warner Bros. they farmed out eleven Road Runner cartoons to Format Films, another Hollywood-based studio. In the 1970s they decided to farm out production again, this time to overseas. For some reason, however, they decided to outsource their theatrical products instead, while the TV shows were being produced in-house.

In the end two Blue Racers and four Hoot Kloots were animated overseas. Most of those cartoons were done by Pegbar Productions in Spain, under Bob Balser. Filmgraphics in Australia handled the Blue Racer cartoon Aches and Snakes and one unknown studio did Hoot Kloot's Strange on the Range.

Its apparent that the low-quality animation of these cartoons led to DFE shutting down future outsourcing plans. David Deneen, who directed Aches in Australia, said there were plans to have his studio do some Pink Panther shorts but the idea was canceled after the domestic producers saw the resulting cartoon he did. Art Leonardi claims that United Artists forced DFE to never outsource again.

I think there's some truth to the above claims. Bob Balser's lone Blue Racer short (and ultimately the final cartoon featuring the character), Little Boa Peep, has some of the ugliest animation ever produced, making the cookie-cutter Saturday Morning cartoons made at the time look like masterpieces. The fact that this was theatrically distributed makes it even more outrageous. Well, if you can stomach it here it is.

Oh, and that's Paul Winchell doing uncredited voices of the owl, an ant, and the caterpillar.


Chris Sig said...

To me, it wasn't so much the animation that annoyed me, moreso the storyline that went with it - considering how Blue Racer constantly introduced himself as "the fastest lil' serpent" in nearly every one of his shorts, it just seemed jarring how HERE he was unaware that he himself was a snake all along.... :P

Not the greatest end to his theatrical career, I'll admit - even Bugs Bunny ended his theatre years on a flat note.

Anonymous said...

I Can See Some DVNR from 1:13 to 1:16 and as well from 3:08 to 3:10 and also the Scene where the elephant skids.
Uggh, You May Be Right, Baker, The Animation does look pretty Hideous, Look at the Elephant for instance, The Elephant looks like a Filmation charcter, and a really ugly one at that too and also What i am hearing from the elephant is about the Most Amateurish voice acting ever, and Now I Understand what John K. Talked about of today's voice actors, Who are Very VERY bland, Trying to Maintain Distinct voices by Holding their Noses and Talking all nosey and in some cases, squealing like a baby pig, "Shudders" . Asim.
Hey Baker, Anymore Terrytoons Coming?

Brubaker said...

It looks like all the "Blue Racer" were DVNR'd when they aired on Boomerang few years back. Alas.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Reminded Pegbar also worked on episodes of "The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show" in the 80's, those were pretty much the same mess as this cartoon is.

The Animation does look pretty Hideous, Look at the Elephant for instance, The Elephant looks like a Filmation charcter, and a really ugly one at that too

The wolf looks like he came from another rival studio too!