Wednesday, December 28, 2011


With the release of the Spielberg Tintin film, I've been thinking of the 1960s series produced in Brussels by Belvision studio.

7 of the storylines were adapted to animation, which was presented in cliff-hanger format for a total of 50 five-minute shorts. They were subsequently imported to USA, where the voices were dubbed over by veteran actors Dal McKennon and Paul Frees.

But as it turns out, one of the storylines was animated in USA. A Cartoon Brew post on various adaptations of Tintin over the years led to a comment from Philippe Capart, who made a documentary about Belvision. The first story to be adapted to animation was "Objective Moon", produced in 1959. Belvision contracted with America's Larry Harmon Studio to produce the storyline. Harmon's studio has experience in mass-producing TV cartoons, making Bozo the Clown cartoons for syndication and also on the King Features Popeye series.

The Belvision series has poor reputation amongst Tintin fans. While I don't think the series in general is that bad, the case can be made for this one. Harmon's studio has made some really bad cartoons. The drawings are pretty poor and the writing could've been better. Subsequent storylines were animated in-house at Belvision with their own artists, although Charles Shows stuck around doing all the voices.

Voices are Larry Harmon (Tintin, Professor Calculus) and Paul Frees (Captain Haddock, Thomson/Thompson twins). Paul Fennell directs. Lou Scheimer, who went on to start Filmation, did the backgrounds.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Goku's Big Adventure - Episode 4

Ah, glad to see this again.

One of the lesser known Osamu Tezuka series was "Goku's Big Adventure", which took over Astroboy's timeslot after that show got cancelled. It only lasted 39 episodes, but the show has charm. It was unusual from Tezuka in that it was very gag-driven, where nothing was taken seriously.

Possibly the most craziest was episode 4, which was directed by the late Osamu Dezaki. It was up on YouTube with English subs few years ago, but it got removed. However someone recently uploaded the entire series dubbed in Italy. It'll do for now, I guess.

Here you go.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Gutsy Frog part 3

I think what stands out to me about Japan's Dokonjo Gaeru (The Gutsy Frog) is the character layouts/poses. The level of energy in the layouts can vary depending on who was doing what, but when they're energetic, they're VERY energetic. I'd like to think that the animators at A Production (TMS's satellite studio that did their animation) had fun working on this show.

Japanese cartoons are produced on much lower budget and tighter schedule than American cartoons, even back in the '70s, but there's still an element of fun in this show that's lacking in Hanna-Barbera and Filmation cartoons made at the same time.

There's alot to like about it. One thing I love is how visible the teeth are whenever the characters are talking, complete with gums sticking out. I find that funny, for some reason.

Here are couple more episodes:

Chief Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Yutaka Kaneko
Storyboards: Minami Asa
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Key Animation: Daizo Takeuchi, Shingo Matsuo
Animation/Inbetweens: Mieko Takagi, Kazue Tanaka, Masako Konno

Chief Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Tomoshi Inoue
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Storyboard Artist/Animators unknown

Chief Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Tomoshi Inoue
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Storyboard Artist/Animators unknown

Monday, December 5, 2011

Exposure Sheet

I ended up creating my own exposure sheet for use, which I then printed on 11x17"

It's rare to see them printed in two columns, but I did with mine, just for the sake of conserving paper.

If anyone wants to print their own, here's the pdf file.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gutsy Frog continued

Thought I'd share more "Dokonjo Gaeru"

Here's all you need to know: Hiroshi agrees to potty train his friend Kyoko's baby sister. I just love how everything escalates in the end. Not bad for a cartoon about peeing.

This episode was broadcast in Japan on November 17, 1973.

Series Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Yutaka Kaneko
Storyboards: Takeshi Sakamoto
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Key Animation: Okuda Seiji, Kazuo Iimura
Animation/Inbetweens: Shouzen Ozaki, Osamu Takebe, Setsuko Shibuichi

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gutsy Frog

Dokonjo Gaeru (official English name: The Gutsy Frog) was a comic by Yasumi Yoshizawa and ran in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1970 to 1976. It was later adapted into two TV series, both from Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS). The first one ran for 103 episodes in 1972-74 and second series lasted 1981-82 for 30 episodes.

I was a fan of the first show when I was a kid (it was being constantly rerun on various cable networks). The animation is limited, as typical for anime, but it was still fun to look at. Fun facial expressions and really dynamic pose. It's cartoony, but very Japanese as well. The characters are also well-developed, from the rambunctious Hiroshi, courageous Pyonkichi (the frog on the shirt). Even the bully, Gorilla-Imo has nice, emotionally-charged development.

Recently someone uploaded various episodes on YouTube. Unfortunately for me they're in Spanish, although this won't mean much to anyone reading this unless you can speak Japanese and/or Spanish. But I thought I highlight some episodes.

Series Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Yu Yamamoto
Storyboards: Shigeru Takahashi
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Key Animation: Yoshifumi Kondo, Hisanen Motogi
Animation/Inbetweens: Megumi Ueno, Takao Horie, Yumiko Suda

I love the sight gags in this one, especially how the thief is among the pile of junk that Hiroshi emptied from the storage.

Here's one episode in original Japanese. This is probably as close as it gets for a true cartoon premise in an anime. Bully Gorilla-Imo tries to hit Hiroshi with a can, but keeps missing and hitting his henchman instead. Just a warning that there's a brief nudity in the beginning. If that's not your thing than I suggest skipping it.

Series Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Yu Yamamoto
No Storyboard Artist credited
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Key Animation: Akira Hosouchi, Moichi Maekawa
Animation/Inbetweens: Kiyoshi Yamamoto, Kazuo Tada, Midori Kobayashi

Saturday, November 12, 2011

GeGeGe no Kitaro

I've always been fond of Japanese cartoons. There's noticeable difference in how Western animation and Japanese animation play out, in terms of storytelling. Even in comedy-focused shows there's always more emphasis on characters and settings rather than gags. Some people view that as a bad thing in animation, but I like 'em, personally (keep in mind that I love both joke-based and character-based cartoons). My ideal cartoon has both elements go hand-and-hand.

I think this is a good example. It's an episode of the 1968-69 GeGeGe no Kitaro show. There's ton of character focus in the storyline, between Kitaro, Nezumi-Otoko, and the two thugs. But there are also humor played between them as well, especially with the two thugs near the end. I've always been a fan of Kitaro and it still holds up well.

The original Kitaro comics by Shigeru Mizuki are pure gold, and none of the animated series captured the spirit to the core, but there are still good things about them. The '60s and '70s shows are pretty good, I think.

It's in Japanese but has English subtitles.

Watch GeGeGe no Kitaro (1968) #7 (English subtitled) in Anime | View More Free Videos Online at

Friday, November 11, 2011

Monkey Love (1995)

I thought I dreamed of this cartoon, but as it turned out it exists. It's a short film directed by Jim Keeshen from 1995. Cartoon Network later aired it on late nights around 1997-98. I don't know why CN picked it up; they were never that big on independent animation (they aired Don Hertzfeldt's "Rejected" on Adult Swim once, but that's the only other instance that I can think of)

But anyway, I think the short holds up. I love the bouncy animation to it, and the rhythm to the music. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube here's the cartoon:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kodak on DePatie-Freleng

This is from Kodak's The World of Animation (1979), a book I highly recommend. There were sections dedicated to contemporary studios, amongst them Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and DePatie-Freleng, the latter I'm posting below.

The studio was on the verge of shutdown by the time the book came out (it closed circa 1980), but it's interesting that Friz had plans for a feature length movie, which never happened.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Astroboy was made

Fans of old-school anime will enjoy this. It's a short documentary Mushi Production put together that shows how Astroboy was made. It's in Japanese but there are English subtitles.

It's fun to see how Japanese studios make cartoons vs. how American studios does. It was a standard back then in Japan for the director to do the storyboards themselves; it still is today, although due to heavy workload there are also separate people doing the boards under the eyes of the director.

And then there's the voices. If you wondered why lip-sync is often wonky in Japanese cartoons, it's because voices are done AFTER the animation has been inked and painted and photographed. In America the voices are done first, which are then broken down onto timing sheets and given to the animator to animate the mouths with.

Although I believe at Max Fleischer's studio the voices were done after the animation was completed. Can anyone verify that?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

At the Zü books

I've posted about At the Zü before, but just recently I realized that the strip is being collected into books.

I consider this to be an underrated comic strip. It was only around for three years back in the late '90s so it was obscure even then. Still, it's nice that the strip is getting SOME availability.

Both books are being published via CreateSpace. I bought one and the printing's great. Planning to buy second one today.

See sample strips here. In the meantime you can buy the books here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Capitol Critters

In the 1960s, after The Flintstones became a hit on prime-time, networks tried to duplicating the success by picking up other cartoons for the evening timeslot, which included Calvin and the Colonel, The Alvin Show, Top Cat, The Jetsons, and the ilk. None of them made an impact until they started rerunning them on Saturday Mornings.

Similar thing happened in the 1990s. The Simpsons half-hour debuted in 1989 and it was a screaming success on FOX network. Naturally other networks wanted a piece of the action. This resulted in Capitol Critters (ABC 1992), Fish Police (CBS 1992), Family Dog (CBS 1992), and The Critic (ABC then FOX, 1994-95). Alas, they didn't make impact as the yellow-skinned family and was gone after a short time.

Capitol Critters is an interesting one. A co-production of Hanna-Barbera and Steven Bochco Productions, the show followed a mouse moving in with his relatives in the White House after his home got destroyed. The show had 13 episodes, but only 7 were broadcast on ABC. It wasn't until Cartoon Network picked it up in 1995 that the remaining 6 were shown anywhere.

From what I've seen it wasn't bad. It's not great, but not awful either. But I think the big problem was that the show's style is, well, kiddy. This is a style you often associate in children's animated films from the likes of Don Bluth, not on prime-time cartoons. Really, if you took out the swear words and maybe tone down the current issues presented in the storylines this would have fit right in on the Saturday morning time slot. Hell, it probably would have lasted longer there if ABC had done that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Third Pig

Halloween is coming up, so I'd figure I'd post this. This is an episode of the Tales from the Crypt show that aired on HBO years ago. For the final episode they decided to animate the story, courtesy of Bill Kopp and Pat Ventura. The animation was produced by Nelvana studio in Canada Toonz Animation in New Zealand.

It's probably one of the funniest cartoons ever made for television. Delightfully gross with funny drawings and voice acting. Many people have mixed feelings about Pat Ventura's cartoons, but I think he (and Kopp) really hits the spot in this one. So I'm linking it.

Just beware that the cartoon can get really gruesome at times (although it's more of a super-extreme "gross out" show) so if you're not into that stuff, stay away.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Super 6

Mike Kazaleh sent me this. It's John Dunn's original lyrics to the Super 6 theme song. The show was DePatie-Freleng's first foray into the world of Saturday Morning cartoons, airing on NBC starting 1966. Note that some of the words was changed to fit the tune of the tune better (see video below).

Bill Lava did the music and Gary Lewis sang the song.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Country Cornflakes

I know very little about Len Glasser, but I love what I've seen of his work. Here's a very funny commercial he did for General Mills' Country Cornflakes. Any commercials that has "please buy our cornflakes" in their song deserves extra attention.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

David H. DePatie on cartoon violence

An example of network restrictions. Image on left is from the theatrical version of Pink-A-Rella (1969); image on right is from the same cartoon but with the scene re-animated for Saturday Morning broadcasts.

Pink Panther Creator Talks About TV Restrictions on Children's Shows
By Jay Sharbutt
AP Television Writer
(Columbus Dispatch 12/4/1978)

LOS ANGELES - For some reason, I thought recently of a wild bit in a Pink Panther cartoon wherein a piano falls on - but doesn't harm - an old lady the Panther tries to help across the street. ["Super Pink" from 1966]

"Yeah," laughed Dave DePatie, "that was in the days before the network restrictions" on such cartoon mayhem.

DePatie, co-creator of the panther with Friz Freleng, just finished the first-ever P.P. special made for prime-time TV. But he doubts there'll be any gripes after ABC airs the show this Thursday.

Called "Pink Panther's Christmas" [actually "A Pink Christmas"] and based on an O. Henry tale, it only concerns efforts by the Panther, broke, frozen and friendless in New York, to get tossed in a warm jail cell Christmas Eve.

It isn't knock about comedy in, say the manner of Tom & Jerry or Roadrunner cartoons, he says, but then "we've never had the real daucous, violent gags. It's more of a sophisticated comedy."

His observation came when a veteran Panther observer asked if those who gripe about cartoon mayhem on Saturday kid shows on TV don't seem bent on outlawing the classic kid-show form known as Punch 'n' Judy.

DePatie, 47, a tall thoughtful man, father of two grown sons and a teenager, said that was a fair characterization: "I think so. That's a pretty good way of putting it, as a matter of fact."

His "Panther," which leaped to fame 14 years ago during opening titles for a film comedy about an Inspector Clouseau, aired Saturday mornings for eight years on NBC. It is on year No. 9 at ABC.

There's been no specific gripes about his series, he says, but pressure has been put on the networks over the past five or six years to generally reduce the slambang comedy of Saturday cartoons.

The pressure mainly was generated by the Boston-based parents' group called Action for Children's Television, he said, and it has led to certain network no-no's in kiddie cartoon matters.

"I think possibly the most important one is physical contact of one character with another," he said. "No more slapping in the face, hitting on the head. 'No one-to-one contact' is the standard way their broadcast standards people put it."

But DePatie, who has two other Saturday kid series on the air, says the restrictions don't crimp his firm cartoon comedy style.

But he does regard as exaggerated the fears of various groups about cartoon mayhem and possible effects of same on of young viewers.

"I think they go back to that Surgeon General's report (about TV violence)," DePatie said. "But I think there's a big difference between realistic violence and comedic violence."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'll sign the contract

The Dogfather theme song (click to listen)
Lyrics by John Bradford
Music by Dean Elliott
Sung by Bob Holt

I'm going to make you an offer
You can't refuse
On my hot proposition
That you can't lose
Since you muscled in
On my bullet proof heart
What a gang-land war you started
I thought that I was taking you for a ride
But Boom!
Oh you got me Bonnie
Right in the Clyde
So give me half your action
Or wind up in traction
Or in the sea in cement shoes
Oh baby!
That's my offer
My final offer
That's an offer that you can't refuse
I'll sign the contract
That's an offer that you can't refuse

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

I've written about the show before and if you follow my blog you know I've done alot of fanarts for it, but with season 2 starting today I thought I'd do a brief post about it.

Cartoons based on toys will always carry a stigma with me, and I'll admit I sometimes feel dirty that I watch this show. But I wonder how much of the stigma is based on the commercial aspect of it, and the fact that all the other toy-based shows just plain suck.

Sorry to any anti-capitalist animation fans reading this, but I have no problem whatsoever with doing something for the sake of commercializing it. Hell I sometimes do it myself, whether on this blog or elsewhere. So in principal I have no problem with the idea of doing a TV show with the intent of making money from selling toys of it.

But I do have problem with badly-made cartoons. And pretty much every toy-based cartoons fall on that camp. There are many reasons for it: content restrictions, uninspired staff artists/writers, and just plain no interest in the work. Friendship is Magic, however, was produced by an artist (Lauren Faust) who was intent on making a good show, and many of the staff (in US, Canada, and the Philippians studios that co-produce the show) working on the show actually gives a crap. Much of the crew is made up of Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home, and Ed, Edd n Eddy veterans and their previous experience on those shows really shine in FIM.

Lauren Faust is no longer on the show, but the crew has stated that season 2 is shaping up to being great. This week's and next's episodes were actually made during the production of season 1, so we won't truly know how season 2 is shaping up until the third episode airs.

Equestria Daily, a FIM fanblog, recently put up an in-depth interview with Faust. It's actually a fascinating read with some interesting info. Who knew that it was Lynne Naylor (Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, Ren & Stimpy, Chowder) who designed Princess Luna?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Texas Toads

One of the theatrical series DePatie-Freleng produced for Mirisch and United Artists was Tijuana Toads, which had 17 shorts released from 1969 to '72. In 1976 they tried to get the shorts to television as part of the Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show (a 90-minute block of DFE shorts) on NBC but ran into problems. As David H. DePatie explained in our interview last December:

When they went on television, we had to completely change them around and the series became known as the Texas Toads, and we had to redo all of the tracks that had any type of ethnic content and it really watered down the series down. We all thought it was a hell of a lot more funny when it was the Tijuana Toads, but at the time we had to do it in order to bring the thing on television.
With that the characters, Toro and Pancho, became Fatso and Banjo respectively.

Interestingly enough, both versions of the Toads were shown in syndication at the same time throughout the 1980s. There were two different DFE shorts package that TV stations could have: as a half-hour Pink Panther Show (with three shorts plus bumpers) and also as individual shorts that the stations could run however they want. The Texas Toads version was included in the half-hour Panther Show package, but the original theatrical Tijuana Toads version were available on the individual shorts package.

From 1993 to '95 MGM Animation produced a Pink Panther revival where the formerly silent character spoke, voiced by of Matt Frewer. The new show also featured appearances of DFE stars such as the Ant and the Aardvark (John Byner reprised his role), the Inspector and the Commissioner, and the Dogfather and gang, abet with drastic design change. According to Mike Kazaleh MGM was trying to revive all the DFE theatrical characters at the same time.

And apparently there were plans for a revival of the Toads. The 60th and final episode of the new Panther featured a stand-alone Texas Toads short. It's pretty obvious that this was made as a backdoor pilot for a possible spin-off (the same episode also featured a Ant and Aardvark short).

There's a Portuguese-dubbed version of the cartoon on YouTube (embedded below). I don't know how the voices sound in the English track, but the new designs don't really work here. It's also apparent that they were planning to re-imagine them as sheriffs for the possible new show.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


It wasn't uncommon for cartoons from the "Golden Age" era to be remade, but this is probably one of the few times a cartoon was redone not once, but twice.

Friz Freleng directed His Bitter Half (1950), which showed Daffy Duck marrying a rich widow in order to get access to her wealth. Unfortunately Daffy has to deal with her overbearing nature and her pesky son.

12 years later Friz made another cartoon with a similar premise, Honey's Money (1962) this time with Yosemite Sam in Daffy's role, making this one of the two times that Sam was used without Bugs Bunny.

Few years later Friz was running an animation studio with business partner David H. DePatie. Even there he wasn't shy about reusing old ideas from his days at Warner's.

So it's no surprise that the story premise used in the above two cartoons showed up again. This time Rattfink filled Daffy and Yosemite's role, in A Taste of Money (1970). Veteran animator Art Davis directed this version.

The 2nd remake isn't great, but it does have a few interesting notes:

- Roland doesn't appear at all, the only one in the series where he's absent.
- No writer credited. Probably for a good reason in this case.
- Junior was actually voiced by a child actor (Peter Halton, who was 9-years old when this cartoon was released.)

Friday, August 26, 2011


Thought I'd link this. Somebody uploaded Ernest Pintoff's magnum opus, Flebus, with original screen credits. It's still cropped, but it'll do until somebody releases the CinemaScope shorts with the correct aspect ratio on DVD.

I got to see this cartoon last year in its widescreen form on the big screen (projected from Mark Kausler's 35mm print). You haven't truly seen the cartoon until you watch it from film.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pan-and-scan vs. CinemaScope

It just goes to show you, pan-and-scan can really ruin a scene sometimes.

From Dustcap Doormat (1958 - Terrytoons). Top image came from my 16mm print; bottom from my video copy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Donovan Cook interview, part 5

Read Part 4 here

Did the two dogs ever had names?
[laugh] Somebody asked me about that recently.

Mark Kennedy, Ash Brannon, Chris Ure...I called them up and said "Let's get together and make a cartoon," because I was working at Disney Features, and I think Mark Kennedy was there, and Chris was at Warner Bros., because they had a shorts division at the time, and Ash I think was at Warner Bros. too. So were were all working and I was like "Let's not disappear into Studio Whatever, let's keep making stuff, you know?" So I brought everyone up to The Alamo in Valencia, and at that dinner there were a bunch of ideas that came out. I still credit Ash Brannon for saying "Hey what about two really stupid dogs?" I liked that, and I think I wrote down three or four things out of that meeting, but it was the stupid dogs one that I thought was the funniest, and I loved dogs, I always had dogs when I was a kid.

Not long after that I happened to see a stray dog in the apartment complex where I lived. There was something about this one dog and scared and whatever, but he looked like he was living in a fantastic, adventurous life. That became a real spark of inspiration for me. They wern't humans, they [wern't humans drawn as dogs], they were actually dogs that lived in the human world as dogs. They were strays, they wern't pets. It was important to me that they wern't pets, that was a big part of the concept. I figured, a dog that wasn't a pet wouldn't name itself, it would just be "I am a dog."

Their names were "Big Dog" and "Little Dog", and that's why they never really had proper names. But there were a couple of episodes where, especially the Big Dog who had a couple of different names that were put upon him in an episode. There was an episode were he was called "Jonathan" once, by a hamster who was played by Maureen McCormick, who was Marsha Brady in "Brady Bunch" as you recall. There was a dramatic love scene between the Hamster and the Big Dog, and she called him Jonathan. That was a second season story, and in second season I kinda loosened up the reigns and things got a little wackier.

That's why they didn't have proper names. I'm surprised the studio let me do that. That's something I can credit to Fred [Seibert]. Fred was very experimental. He wasn't afraid of making a cartoon that, I dunno, had a flaw. I think he figured "Well, if that doesn't work, we'll make another one." That's a risk that nobody would let you make now. Like, let's have two characters that don't actually have names. I'd hate to think that in hindsight that it was a mistake, but, I dunno, maybe it made it harder to market them. [laugh]

Did you direct all the voice sessions on the show?
Yeah, I did. That came CalArts, you basically learned, it's been many years since I've been there but I think it's still the same, but you basically learned to make your cartoon, it's very collaborative and you had all the classmates to help you, but you basically learned to make cartoons, really the old way. Which is kind of a small group of people, and at school it's mainly you and you do basically most of the work, but at school you had all these people supporting you and so that, to me, if I was going to be the guy who run the show, I need to direct the voices and at Hanna-Barbera at the time, they had a voice director, Gordon Hunt, who ran the casting department and was the main casting director and voice director. They had Kris Zimmerman, who was basically his protege, and who was about to take over the department. But I thought "why would I have someone else direct the voices when they wern't involved in creating the storyboards and writing the materials?" and John [Kricfalusi] of course directed his voices at Spumco and at the time I spent on features, on Mermaid and such, the directors directed the voices, so to me it was a very foreign idea that the person running the show wouldn't direct the voice. So while I didn't know what I was doing I remember John Musker, an amazing talented director and super nice guy, and also generous with his time when I interned and the year I spent there, so when it came time for me to direct the voices I asked if he would have lunch with me to spend an hour going over the approaches on how he would direct the voices, there's a little bit of, that I learned alot from John K., and alot from picking through John Musker's brain about, we just did it. I think there's some really talented voice directors, I had worked with them, and there's nothing wrong with it, but I think there's a false idea that animators, cartoonists, directors, don't really know how to talk to actors, and therefore you need voice directors to bridge the gap of language or whatever, but I think that's completely false. I think any directors, be it live-action or animation or whatever, your job is to communicate your ideas to the people you're collaborating with, and there's certainly there's ways to talk to actors and to gets actors motivitated, get them to visualize things, but there's no reason why an animation director can't do that. So I directed all the voices for that. Larry and I traded off directing voices for Secret Squirrel.

Some of the writers, board artists, including Mark Saraceni, sometimes went to the voice session with us. We never put the actors in a position where there were multiple direction, but we were there as a group.

How much work was done in pre-production before everything went overseas?
That was a very standard process, for television. Especially at Hanna-Barbera. Basically you would write outlines, draw the storyboards. At times, during outline, we would design something, like a character that we knew as new. But more often than not there were no designs done before the storyboard artists boarded it. They would make up a new design that worked for the storyboards, and once the storyboard was done, like if there was a new character, and there would always be a new location, we would design a show from the storyboards. At times, the board artists had a great design sensibility so in that first season it would have been Craig or Mike. Take, for example, that character Cubby. He first appeared at the Drive - In. Chris Ure drew him first in the pitch board, then it was Conrad [Vernon] who did the production design. So Craig basically did the final designs based on what was drawn in the storyboards. But we had times when the character designs in the storyboard that looked really, really different than what we wound up designing because we didn't really like the designs in the board, but we didn't have time to go back and revise the storyboards so I had a stamp that said "Character Off-Model. Follow the Model," and I sometimes had "Character Off-Model, Follow the Board," if the drawings were so funny I didn't want to mess up the drawings by putting them back on-model. So we would board it, then we would design it, and then we would record it after the board was done, and then after we recorded it we would create the story reels. We would lock the timing in the story reels and we would do animation sheets for the animation timing, and we would send it overseas from there. Months later it'd come back in color and we would frantically call for retakes, and then it was on TV. That's the process in television. It's a little different now with all the digital stuff, but it's still pretty much the same. We didn't invent anything how we did it in pre-production, although back then not too many places were doing story reels [animatics], we were doing it at Spumco, but Hanna-Barbera didn't and we invented that [at the studio], but now it's pretty standard practice, but back then nobody was doing it.

Part 6 coming soon

Monday, August 15, 2011

Donovan Cook interview, part 4

Read Part 3 here

Did the Standards and Practices ever gave you hard time on the show?

I'll tell you, at the time we thought we were getting hard time, but when you look at what people are like to you now versus what we did then, we got away with murder. We had shows where the dog's caught on fire and jumped out windows, drove in cars without seatbelts, all this stuff you can't do now. We were free as a bird.

I think the best story from S&P comes actually from a Secret Squirrel episode. It was [the one with a possum and his bat henchmen], all these nocturnal animals, so there was a scene where these bats beat the living hell out of Secret Squirrel with these baseball bats. We put it through...there wasn't really a formal Standards and Practices because we wern't doing it for a network, like if you were doing something for ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox, back then, the networks have formal S&P people, but we were doing it for syndication and TBS, and TBS never had original children's programming so basically there was Mike Lazzo at TBS who wanted to do basically everything, and guys like Buzz Potamkin [...] Buzz would handle production so they would basically look at stuff and say "I don't think we should do this," but we shipped that show overseas and it was animated with these characters beating Secret with wooden baseball bats, but when that one came back they saw it and they kinda freaked out, saying "You guys, no. We can't do this, it's too violent." But we wern't a rich show so I remember Larry and I, and Paul, I think it was a Rob Renzetti show [actually Paul Rudish, David Feiss, and Tony Craig] so we all started brainstorming and discussed what the hell we were going to do so finally we all thought "let's leave all the animation exactly the same" so instead of full retakes we added one scene where instead of picking up baseball bats the two bat characters blew up a long, narrow balloons. So we changed the bats to balloons but all the animation stayed the same, so it was still fantastically violent but they were hitting him with these balloons and they still beat the hell out of him. It was still hysterical, but that was one of the few times they wouldn't let us do something.

But yeah, I'm sure that if you asked me that question 15 or so years ago "Oh, god yes I have a long list of things they wouldn't let us do," but now in hindsight all I can do is look at almost every Stupid Dogs cartoons, there's a joke that would never, ever let me do now. In the "Door Jam" one, the Mike Mitchell one, where they misunderstood the concept of automatic doors and think they need shoes to get through the door, so they inexplictly start collecting shoes, and there's a scene in that cartoon where the two dogs go to a damn strip club, hollering at the stripper girl to take off her shoe! "The shoe! The shoe! Take off your shoe!" [laugh] And this wasn't, you know, Adult Swim or Comedy Central...I don't think Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon or Disney XD or any of those places would let you do that joke. They wouldn't even let you think about that joke.

So we had alot of freedom, especially in hindsight.

One of the characters in 2 Stupid Dogs was a big guy named Hollywood. What's the story of that?
Hollywood was inspired by a guy...I have a group of friends that go all the way back to high school. Every summer we'd run a beach house down San Diego, and one year there was a guy living in a house next door who was just incredibly loud and would always holler at things at the top of his lungs and we started him "Hollywood," I don't remember why we called him that, but that was the summer before we started production of Stupid Dogs so we were in development on the show. I can't remember exactly when Spumco got shut down 'cause I was still working there for the first few months when we were trying to figure out how to get a full greenlight on the show but, so, there was this crazy guy that me and my buddies, not from the animation world, called Hollywood and it was Cornflakes, the first Hollywood episode where he's a farmer, I think, and so we were talking about what do we do with this farmer and we decided to make him this guy with the joke that he had, that some people seemed to like, "Isn't that cute but it's wrong," which I thought was funny. I don't remember whether Rob [Renzetti] invented that in the board pitch or whether that was in the outline but that came up for the first time in that one and we all thought it was funny so we started using it everytime we used Hollywood.

Some of the secondary characters that came out of this show was Hollywood, or Cubby, the pimply faced teenager...he was in the "Drive-In" and I think that character got repeated because of Rob Paulsen, who voiced him. We all thought the voice was funny and we wanted to hear him again. So we started writing him into more cartoons. Funny thing is in the pitch there was a group of characters that never made it into a single cartoon. For example, when I pitched the show there was a gang of cats that would sometimes terrorize the dogs, but the cat gang just never seemed funny when we were developing the premises so we never used them.

Continue to Part 5

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How Jim Tyer worked

On 8/13 I talked to veteran animator Doug Crane, whose credit includes Terrytoons, Paramount, Archie Comics, and many other places in New York (and some in Hollywood). During his stay at Terrytoons he assisted the crazyman of all animators Jim Tyer, so naturally I asked him how he worked. Here's what he told me:

It depended [on the scene]. If there was a weird piece of animation that had to be done like a guy who does not know how to dance...if it was a regular dancer he would have to animate on a beat. If a 16-frame beat he would have to go "bump...bump...bump" and the foot would have to hit the floor on the beat, so it would've meant drawing one, thirteen, twenty-five, etc. And that would be a dance and Jim could do that superbly.

But he would be much better off if he had a fellow who DIDN'T know how to dance was trying to dance. And this way you don't do drawing one, thirteen, twenty-five and work into it. You just go straight-ahead. He would put down alot of paper on his pegs, and the rubber band going around the pegs so the papers wouldn't fall off. He would pick up all the papers and he would do drawing one, then he would do drawing two, then three, then four. He never knew where he was going and you'd never know what was going to happen along the way, with this guy slipping, stepping on his fingers, and then stretching them and all. He was a master at stretching and squashing and expressions.

And with that, here are some of Tyer's animation

[and I'll continue posting my Donovan Cook interview tomorrow]

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Donovan Cook interview, part 3

Read part 2 here.

Was writing on storyboards a big challenge? For years, throughout the '70s and '80s, cartoons were being written on scripts.
Personally I think a challenge is writing a cartoon with words. Great cartoons are visual, all their entertainment value is visual. The drawings are funny, the animation...the dialogues and things like that are never supposed to be primary. If you look at your favorite Warner Bros. cartoons, or if you're a Disney person you look at the old Disney shorts, it's all about visual storytelling and visual humor.

When I get a script, especially for a short cartoon, it's very frustrating to me. You have to develop the materials and the jokes and everything, visually. The challenge was that they haven't really done a storyboard-driven show for a while, so it seemed kinda new to the people at the studio, but that's how we made our films at school. Craig, and Genndy and Rob, had all just come right out of school, and...that's how we all did, so we kind of knew how to do it.

About a year ago I talked to Eddie Fitzgerald and he said that one of the frustrating things about scripts is that they're always too long, and whenever they trim it down they always took the funny part out.
[laugh] Yeah, and Eddie knows them. You know, it's really weird. For some reason, if you're going to make an 11-minute cartoon often people would script them at twelve, thirteen, maybe fifteen pages even, and it's like "Whoa whoa wait a minute. You've got a paragraph here that takes up three-four-five lines of script page but this is a huge piece of business. It can be a huge slapstick thing that I can develop for twenty-three seconds almost. You can take a great cartoonist and tell them to write with words and they're going to find themselves relying on words to tell the story rather than visuals, so when you've done that and you need to trim, you don't want to cut the dialogue, you want things that don't look like they're part of the storytelling. So yeah, he's right. The first things they cut are the comedy, but you know. It's all different ways. There have been people making great cartoons that are from, you know, scripts, but for me it's not the way I love to make it, and it's not the way my favorite cartoons are done.

Did you develop the art style in 2 Stupid Dogs, or did Craig McCracken?
Craig and Mike Moon were largely responsible for what the show looked like. When I pitched the show it had been with designs that were mainly done by Chris Ure, with a little bit of work by Barry Johnson as well, both were also in our class at CalArts. But when Craig came in I was really big fan of films and how they function, and we knew that on's not like Hanna-Barbera was going to rain money on us to make this crazy little cartoon show so we didn't exactly have alot of money for the animation, so I knew that anything we could do to make it easier to draw and look good when it wasn't moving was going to be a smart move. So we were talking about that and Craig said "You know, do you mind if I took the shot at the character designs, and I can simplify them." My mantra was "simplification, simplification, simplification," so I though they were very simple, and they were, but I said "Absolutely. Take a whack at it," so he redesigned as they are and as everybody knows them. I knew Mike from school, but it was Craig's suggestion that I take in Mike to basically create and do all of the environmental stuff. So it was Craig and Mike who created the looks of the show.

We were really big fans of Ed Benedict at the time, who was an amazing designer.

What was the first episode of 2 Stupid Dogs that was in production after it got picked up?
The first that that I think we put into production was the Drive-In one, because when I was pitching the show I didn't have a full continuity storyboard but I had a storyboard that Chris Ure and I had done, that was like what I call sequence board, that basically had all the story, all the gags, just not fully fleshed out but I used that to pitch the show, and so that was the first one that was partially ready to go so I gave that pitch board to Conrad Vernon.

They never really came in and stayed on staff, but Conrad Vernon and Mike Mitchell were really influential on the first season of Stupid Dogs in terms of storyboarding. So Conrad did the drive-in storyboard. Conrad invented the whole, I don't know if you remember in the show, but the little dog does the little celebration dances, and Conrad invented that in the first Drive-In storyboard. And Mike Mitchell did it again, his first board was the one called "Door Jam," where they're trying to get through the electronic door at K-Mart, or whatever we called it. This, to me, is a great thing about storyboard-driven show where a crew pitches a storyboard to the crew. Everybody laughed so hard when Conrad pitched that celebration dance that Mike then wrote one for his cartoon, when they got through the door. That wasn't the thing that we sought around and said "We need to have this thing the little dog does where he does a little dance and sings a song. It just happened organically because it was funny to us and we kept doing it. That's the really organic way to develop characters and character personality trait.

I think Genndy's first one was called "Where's the Bone?" where the little dog thinks he lost his bone but it's sitting on his head, and they travel around the world looking for it, and big dog sees the bone on his head but doesn't know that's the one he's looking for.

I can't remember what Rob's first board was.

That might of been, yeah. That might've been. I think Tony Craig's first board was the one where the big dog gets his head stuck in the fence. It's funny, those early boards have some really fun moments and really rough moments, because we were all young and made our fair share of mistakes along the way.

The great thing about this summer is that the show's running on both Boomerang and on Cartoon Network so I hope they still stand up. It's great when people find me and they're fans of the show when they were kids. I love that people can still see 'em, and hopefully they still hold up, even the ones we made our mistakes on.

Continue to Part 4.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Donovan Cook interview, part 2

Read Part 1 here

How did you pitch 2 Stupid Dogs? Who did you go to?
Specifically at Hanna-Barbera? We pitched Stupid Dogs pretty much anywhere. I think the only place that never got us to Stupid Dogs pitch was Disney TV. At the time nobody was really making short cartoons. John [Kricfalusi] had been doing it on Ren & Stimpy.

Just to be clear on the timeline, we created Stupid Dogs before the Ren & Stimpy pilot came out. Some people have been a little nasty about saying that Stupid Dogs was a ripoff, and if you watch the two of them back-to-back they're very different shows. John K. is a really amazing guy but he had different sensibilities than I do and the people that made Stupid Dogs, with me and Hanna-Barbera. So when I went to work at Spumco on Ren & Stimpy I had already pitched the show everywhere and we were in the long process of making a deal at Hanna-Barbera.

So we pitched all around and Hanna-Barbera was one of the last places. Hanna-Barbera happened to be making Tom and Jerry Kids short cartoons, so when I took the show to Warner Bros., or Fox TV, or alot of those places they would say "yeah, it looks like it could be funny but their shorts. What do you do with them?" I would be "well, you put three of them together and you get half-hour." I mean, that's how we watched Looney Tunes, so it was a little weird that so many television and production executives wouldn't really know what to do with it but at Hanna-Barbera they were making these Tom and Jerry Kids shorts so they immediately knew how to put shorts on television and I pitched to Margot McDonough, who was the creative executive there at the time and she got it and liked it.

The crazy thing is this got pitched on a Tuesday, and on Thursday Turner took over the company. So there was quite a bit of turnmoil and it took quite a long time to make the deal because they were interested and liked it, but for months they had no idea who was going to run the company. David Kirschner was running Hanna-Barbera at the time but they had no idea who was going to run it and finally they found Fred Seibert but it then was months before he actually came to California to take over so it was a long, drawn-out process as it often is, but it all worked out in the end.

Was Bill and Joe anywhere at Hanna-Barbera at the time?
Oh yeah, they were both there. They came in everyday. It's funny, I look back at it now and I regret not spending enough time with them but we got to see them alot. My best Joe Barbera story...we made updated Secret Squirrel cartoons at the same time we made the first season of Stupid Dogs and I took the first storyboard we had for Secret Squirrel and took it to Joe to show it to him. He was so funny because when I first took it to him to say "Hey Joe, how are you doing? You know, we're doing new versions of your cartoon, Secret Squirrel and I wanted to show you one of the storyboards". Joe said "we didn't make Secret Squirrel!" [laugh] And he literally had a plush toy of Secret Squirrel on his shelf. I took it off the shelf and handed it to him and said "yeah, you did. Look, you have a toy of it."

So I pitched him the whole storyboard, I think the first one was the one we called "Goldflipper." I pitched the whole board, the big damn thing, doing the voices, and at the end he cuddles the plush toy and looks at it and says "Oh Secret, they ruined you!" [laugh] It was heartbreaking, obviously, at the time but it's hysterical because it was like "Wait a minute! Ten minutes ago you told me you didn't create this character and now you're cuddling the toy and saying that I ruined it." But they were both great and they were always there and they obviously had alot of stories and good advice. It was a real treat to be able to spend time at the studio when they were still there.

Was it your idea to include Secret Squirrel in the show, or someone else's?
Yeah, that was my idea. For some reason Hanna-Barbera didn't think it was a great idea to run three Stupid Dogs cartoons in a row, which I never did understand that, so Fred said "Let's put something inbetween. What do you want to do?" I said that one of the many Hanna-Barbera cartoons that I loved as a kid was Secret Squirrel, and asked if I can mess around with that, and they said "sure".

Paul Rudish was also in our class at CalArts and I've always been a giant fan of Paul's work and so I called him up and asked if he wanted to come in and redevelop the show. I was there couple months on my own so Paul was the first person that I hired and he came in and immediately worked on redeveloping Secret Squirrel. I think alot of the Secret Squirrel cartoons we made are fantastic, but I don't know if it ever really worked having them inbetween Stupid Dogs. Back then we got some feedback from audiences saying they were confused, so it might not have been the best choice for what to put inbetween, but on their own some of those Secret Squirrel cartoons are fantastic. Paul really worked hard on those. He was really hands-on.

Was Larry Huber in charge of all the Secret Squirrels?
I had never produced a show before and didn't really have any idea of what I was doing, because when we finalized the deal and they hired me to be the creator/producer/director of the show...I was 22, I had been out of school for not long, I think two years, so I really had no experience, so it was Fred...I owe alot to Fred. Some of the people in the production management at Hanna-Barbera were pretty reluctant to let me run the show, but Fred was the one that said "Let's let him try, but let's give him someone who knows what he's doing as a partner." So they teamed me up with Larry and he was amazing with not just with me, but everybody, including Paul and Craig [McCracken], Genndy [Tartakovsky], Rob [Renzetti], everybody that was there. They all learned so much from Larry. But pretty quickly, Larry and I decided to split duties, so he basically teamed up with Paul to work on the Secret Squirrel, and I ran Stupid Dogs, but we collaborated on all of them. I think I directed quite a few of the voice sessions for the Secret Squirrel shorts and all the storyboard pitches...Larry was there for all the Stupid Dog pitches, and I was there for all the Secret Squirrel pitches, but we decided to stay out of each other's hair for a little bit, by splitting up the two shows that way.

I have no idea what he's doing now, but Larry spent years working on these really great stuff; he had a great run before any of us kids showed up at Hanna-Barbera. He was really a special guy and he was a real veteran, but he embraced a kind of this chaos this new generation showed up and all wanting to try crazy ideas for new cartoons. He had alot of impact on alot of cartoons that were made in the '90s and the 2000s with Cartoon Network and Frederator and stuff. He's tremendous guy.

Who would you consider to be the key people in 2 Stupid Dogs, (writers, storyboards, etc.)?
Mark Saraceni was story editor, but we all wrote outlines. I think my role was for seven-minute cartoons we'd have no more than a three or four page outlines. So what we would do is anybody who had an idea for one of the cartoons...I had a pretty long list of 'em from all the development work that I had done that I spent trying to pitch it, but we would have lunch meetings trying to talk about premise ideas for cartoons and then we would pick the ones we like and then Saraceni would go off and, he wrote alot of the outlines and Lane Raichert I think wrote some, Henry Gilroy wrote some outlines, Richard Pursel did us a favor and wrote up a few, I met him at Spumco...but then majority of the writing was done on the wall in the storyboards.

So the board artists would get the outlines, which like I said was three or four pages, which really had just, here's the setup, here's what's the conflict's going to be, some ideas of what will happen, how things will escalate, and sometimes it will have a solid ending, sometimes it will not. And the storyboard artists would spend maybe two or three weeks doing a rough storyboard where they would develop much of the material and the gags. It would get pinned up and pitch it and we'd spend a day or so kinda tearing it down as a group. Most of the storyboard artists and much of the crew would watch the pitch and stay together for the rest of the afternoon and pitch new gags and new character stuff and situations and kinda cover the wall with post-it notes and the board artists would go away for couple more weeks to sort it all out.

So the guys that were doing so much of the storyboards...Genndy, Rob Renzetti became really key guys in the storyboards. Tuck Tucker was there for a while in the first season. But the key people on 2 Stupid Dogs were Craig McCracken, he was huge. Mike Moon, and Rob Renzetti, Tartakovsky. All those guys that wound up running the place for years after that. We were all part of the first season here and everyone was tremendously impactful on the show.

Continue to Part 3

Interview (C) Charles Brubaker
2 Stupid Dogs, Secret Squirrel (C) Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Donovan Cook interview, part 1

Donovan Cook is the creator of 2 Stupid Dogs, which aired on TBS and in syndication in 1993-95. It was then subsequently rerun on Cartoon Network where it gained following within animation fans. He has also worked at Disney, Spumco, and Klasky-Csupo. The phone interview took place on August 11, 2011.

Where are you from? What were your influences?
I'm from California. I grew up in northern California, then moved to southern California as a teenager. Influences, early on, were Disney cartoons, Warner Bros. cartoons and particularly a couple of Peanuts animated television specials. The Halloween special, the Christmas special. I loved those. Heavily influenced by those early on and Schulz in general. A little bit later, toward high school, obviously Calvin and Hobbes was huge for me back then.

And you went to CalArts?
Yeah, from '87 to '90.

Made any films there?
I made four films there. Generally in the character animation program at CalArts you make one film a year. I made a first year film, made a second year film. In the second year we started making some collaborative films, too. Made a couple of group films in the second and third year, but made terrible films the first couple of years. Last year I made my first film that was actually coherent. Got some laughs and things like that. I was in the same class with Pete Doctor, Ash Brannon, Chris Ure, Mark Kennedy. We were a great year. Great class.

Did you made any acquintances with fellow students that you would work with on other shows?
Oh sure. Quite a number of people from 2 Stupid Dogs were from CalArts. Craig McCracken, who art directed Stupid Dogs was a year, maybe two years behind my class. And Mike Moon, Genndy Tartakovsky, Rob Renzetti, Tony Craig. Almost all of us were from CalArts, right around the same time.

Did you get a job in animation after graduation almost instantly?
I was really fortunate. At the end of the second year I did an internship at Disney Feature Animation on Little Mermaid. At the end of my third year, which is when I graduated, I went back to Disney for a year. I left Disney to create 2 Stupid Dogs.

You worked at Spumco on Ren & Stimpy?
I did, yes. For a little while. I was at Spumco when all the really nasty stuff went down, when Nickelodeon shut it down. I left Disney, I was 22. I thought it would take me few months to sell Stupid Dogs. Ha ha. Took a year and a half. So in the meantime I did a few things and I was fortunate enough to meet John K. and spend some time there. I had never done any television work before so my first lessons in how to make TV cartoons was at Spumco with John K. so that was a great time for me. I learned alot from John, and Ron Hughart was there. Ken Bruce and Dan Jeup were there at the time. Those guys were all there directing and I came in as an assistant director and really learned alot about television and how to keep it from getting too rough around the edges. But then all hell broke loose. Luckily that happened right around the time when we had just finalized the deal with Hanna-Barbera so the timing was okay. So I left Spumco and went directly to Hanna-Barbera to start working on Stupid Dogs.

What did you do as an assistant director at Spumco?
Spumco was a great place. They were very hands on. They did what's called character layouts. Once the storyboards were done you would make story reel, or what people now call an animatic, to time out with the storyboard and the dialogue tracks. And then instead of immediately shipping it out overseas they would do character layouts, where alot of really talented artists would do, not all the key poses you would use if you were to animate, but, say, if you were going to have a scene you were going to animate with it was going to have maybe twelve key poses, in the character layout you would probably do maybe four or five of those, the really, really key ones. And so as an assistant director I helped work with the directors in timing some of the character layouts and if something wasn't working I would do some fixes to it. So I was there as a second hand to some of the directors, dealing with timing and character poses and things of that nature.

Continue to Part 2

Interview (C) Charles Brubaker
2 Stupid Dogs (C) Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
The Ren & Stimpy Show (C) Viacom International

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ant and the Aardvark

I have nothing much to say about the recently departed Corny Cole except that he has an impressive career record and a talented artist.

Corny Cole did a few things for the DePatie-Freleng studio, mostly on layouts and backgrounds, and even directing a pair of television specials starring Flip Wilson, but possibly his biggest accomplishment for the studio was designing the Ant and the Aardvark, both the settings and the character designs. John Dunn initially created the characters before he even joined DFE (at a studio called Spunbuggy), but Cole redefined the looks to what we know today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Keep the Cool, Baby (1967)

This was the final cartoon to come out of Shamus Culhane's reign at Paramount, and it went out with a style.

The voice acting (done by Joe Silver and Allen Swift) is great and gives the cartoon a great feel. The designs, while incredibly minimalist, is brilliantly animated by Nick Tafuri and Doug Crane (Crane especially did some great animation in this short). All this under the direction of Chuck Harriton, who I consider to be one of the underrated greats in animation.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I need to post my own artworks more often, so here they are.

The cat-fox thing is done with pen and paper. The others are on Wacom Tablet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

REPOST: A Bridge Grows in Brooklyn (1967)

I had a poor-quality video capture up, but I got a cleaner video copy from Jerry Beck so I'm reposting it.

This was the last thing Howard Beckerman worked on at the Culhane-helmed Paramount Cartoon Studios. He wrote it, co-designed, and also did some animation on it (Beckerman said that he left the studio before the cartoon was even completed).

The director was Chuck Harriton and he shows promise here. While the designs and animation are simple there are few quirks I love about it, including how Hard Hat (the big guy) goes insane with the flower and starts pummeling it. The broader drawing and the timing made that scene work. I always notice those quirks in cartoons animated by Doug Crane and Nick Tafuri (they always seemed to be paired together in Culhane cartoons)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mini-Squirts (1967)

It's a shame that Ralph Bakshi's reign at Paramount Cartoon Studios (formerly Famous Studios) was extremely short-lived. The very few cartoons he did showed promise, a great extension to what the previous producer/director Shamus Culhane had done at the studio.

One of the cartoons that managed to escape through the cracks during his short stay was Mini-Squirts (1967), which shows two kids (a boy and a girl) playing house, only to take the roles of husband and wife in a movie/soap-opera fashion, complete with organ music and overly-dramatic dialogues.

View the cartoon below. Thanks to Jerry Beck for the copy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Broken Down Film (1985)

As a film collector I really got a bang out of this short film directed by Osamu Tezuka. I bet it looked even better on the big screen, projected from a film print.

I wonder how the effects were done.

Monday, August 1, 2011


It never occurred to me until now that everything in the Matzoriley's hideout in The Great DeGaulle Stone Operation (1965) is in threes.

That Tom Yakutis, such a clever one...

Friday, July 29, 2011

La Feet's Defeat (1968)

As a whole I love the early Inspector shorts. Has wonderful designs, funny gags, and the character interactions between the Inspector and Sgt. Deux-Deux makes it worthwhile. However, half-way through the series Deux-Deux began appearing less and less.

John Dunn, who wrote the earlier shorts with the character, stopped writing on Inspector and the duty went to Jim Ryan instead. Dunn, Tony Benedict, Jack Miller, and David Detiege occasionally filled in during this time.

Unfortunately Jim Ryan was a weak writer. His gags often fell apart and the story can be incoherent, and he never seemed to know how to end a cartoon.

This cartoon marks the only time Ryan used Deux-Deux and it ended up being his last appearance. However he's a completely different character here; while in his other appearances he would play as Inspector's reluctant sidekick here he's portrayed as an eager young recruit. He even has a different voice as well, courtesy of Don Messick.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sir Blur

One of the characters Shamus Culhane tried when he took over Paramount Cartoon Studios was Sir Blur, a nearsighted knight voiced by Allen Swift.

While I unabashedly love most of the Paramount entries from Culhane, I consider Sir Blur shorts to be the weakest of the bunch. The character was essentially Mr. Magoo that takes place in the medieval time period and the jokes can get old fast. Oh well, not all can be gems.

The character managed to appear in four cartoons before being retired. Below are all the films:

A Wedding Knight (Paramount, 1966) by WackyJacky

The Blacksheep Blacksmith (Paramount, 1967) by WackyJacky

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jack Kinney

For years I've only been familiar with Jack Kinney through the god-awful Popeye cartoons he did for King Features in 1960s. What I didn't realize was that he worked as a director at Disney's, working on shorts. I now actually consider him to be one of my favorite animation directors; the Goofy cartoons he did were laugh out loud funny.

This is a good example. I love how it just escalates as the cartoon progresses, complete with what I consider to be one of the wildest cartoon endings I've ever seen. There's also many inside references to Disney staff (click here for a list). It makes me wonder if Al Bertino and Norm Ferguson had real-life animosity.

Here's another short from Kinney. This is also notable because it was co-written by Virgil Partch. VIP was a print cartoonist who appeared in Playboy and other magazines. He also had a few syndicated strips, most notably Big George. VIP worked at Disney for few years but found himself out after the strike. This was his only screen credit.