Clampett Stories. The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946) directed by Bob Clampett features Daffy Duck as famous detective Duck Twacy. Exactly thirty years later at the San Diego Comic-Con, Clampett showed the cartoon and answered the question whether he had any copyright problems because of its parody of Chester Gould’s famous comic strip. “I stayed away from his characters in that except for one instance when I used ‘Flattop’. But if I had a bunch of his characters, I think I would have been in trouble. Chester was rather pleased with that picture. It was sort of a tribute to him. On the other hand, Dr. Seuss was disappointed over the additions we made to Horton Hatches The Egg (1941). We never had any contact when making the picture because he was back East and I got the rights through his publishing company.” At his presentation, Clampett also shared that censors removed a scene from Gruesome Twosome (1945). Two cats, including one inspired by comedian Jimmy Durante, are sent by a girl cat to bring back Tweetie Pie for dinner. “When the two cats first appeared in the horse suit, the first cat (the Jimmy Durante one) comes out and says, ‘I’m the horse’s head’. Then the second cat comes out the back and says, “I’m the…I’m the…’ and slaps his hand over his mouth.”
Charles Bronson Vs. The Roadrunner. Action star Charles Bronson who appeared in some extremely violent films was appalled by the violence in cartoons. “It’s frightening. I watched a ‘Road Runner’ cartoon with my little girl. They dropped aa rock on the coyote and falttend him but he popped right up again. That’s really shocking to me because when a child grows up with that sort of thing, he’ll feel he can go around hitting people on the head with a hammer and they’ll be all right. The difference between someone seeing ‘Death Wish’ (1974) and my child seeing a violent cartoon is the age. My movies are rated and the people who see them are not children. ‘Death Wish’ wasn’t that extreme. It was clean violence. When I shot a man, he was shot and that was the end of it.”
Mouse Size. “In the old days of cartooning, the characters didn’t have much relationship to reality. You could put almost anything into animation and the public accepted it. But whoever heard of a four foot tall mouse? That was the problem. Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Clarabelle Cow and all the rest were drawn to scale. They were believable because they were of a relative size. Then along comes a mouse as big as they are and it stopped working. The more we got into reality, the more Mickey became an abstraction. When our pictures began to use psychology and realistic stories, Mickey Mouse became an outcast,” Disney Legend Ward Kimball commenting in 1968 on Mickey’s 40th anniversary.
Fleischer’s Bouncing Ball. In the October 1, 1977 “TV Guide” magazine with a cover feature on the new television show “Rosetti and Ryan”, it stated that the mother of star Tony Roberts was “the off screen hand that moved the bouncing ball in Max Flesicher cartoons”. Roberts’ dad was a veteran radio announcer named Ken Roberts (who narrated the Famous Studios bouncing ball cartoon, Madhattan Island (1947).
Credit Where Credit Is Due. Artist Mike Royer may be best known for his work assisting Russ Manning on “Tarzan” or inking Jack Kirby’s later comic book work or even some of his Disney promotional art but he also once worked for the animation studio Grantray-Lawrence. He did as much work as any other artist on the “Spider-Man” series but he did not receive any on-screen credit because Grantray-Lawrence had a policy that only artists who worked at their studio full time could receive credit at the end of the show. Royer did his work at home to meet his commitments illustrating stories for Gold Key comic books. Royer also worked on the original series of “The Marvel Super Heroes” cartoons for Grantray-Lawrence in 1966 and since he did his work at the studio, he is listed in the credits.
Melendez’s Philosophy. In 1979, an Emmy award winning animated adaptation of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” was broadcast on CBS. The director was Bill Melendez who at the time commented, “My philosophy on any project is to be faithful as I can to the input of the creator. All of the characters were carefully delineated by (author C. S.) Lewis and we have simply injected his characters with life. The animators were inclined to give these characters baggy pants and the like, to add some humor to the story. I said, ‘No, that’s not part of the story’. Going through the wardrobe into Narnia was very real for these kids and I have the feeling we’ve done the story just right.” Melendez also contributed to the story adaptation.
Live Action Bakshi. Ralph Bakshi wrote and directed a live action movie entitled Cool and Crazy (1994) about high school sweethearts who marry but the wife drifts into a deadly affair with a bad boy. Bakshi had been developing the film since the late 1960s and when I talked with him in the late 1970s, the film was titled If I Catch Her, I’ll Kill Her and Paramount was going to produce it. I asked him if this meant that he was forsaking animation. His reply? “I will never make a live action film out of disrespect for animation.”
Walter Lantz Reviews Fritz the Cat. Animation pioneer Walter Lantz was not pleased when Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature “Fritz the Cat” (1974) was released. He told a “Variety” reporter that “In the old days, we couldn’t even show the udder of a cow…It just doesn’t seem right to use animated animals for this kind of pornographic purpose. The people who make these films won’t be around fifty years from now, the way a few of us still are.”
Broomhilda. Early in 1978, it was announced that Russell Myers was going to produce an animated special featuring his witch character, Broomhilda, from his popular comic strip. Broomhilda (voice of Jane Webb) had already appeared in short segments of the show “Archie’s TV Funnies” (1971) and would later appear in Filmation’s Fabulous Funnies (1978) voiced by June Foray – but the animated special was never produced.