The Voice of Dynomutt. Voice artist Frank Welker in 1997 talked about doing the original voice for the Hanna-Barbera character Dynomutt in 1976. “I remember they originally wanted an Art Carney-type voice. I tried different voices. We actually recorded about eight shows doing an Art Carney voice. And then we decided we didn’t like it and I didn’t have quite as much ad-libbing ability in there, and we switched to more of a Freddie the Freeloader (Red Skeleton’s hobo character) voice. We could ad lib and be goofy with Gary (Owens who played the Blue Falcon). It was really a blast.”
It All Began With Clay for Vinton. Will Vinton is the grandson of a former Oregon governor and got interested in stop motion animation when he attended University of Berkeley, California. Two years after graduation, along with his college friend Bob Gardiner, Vinton produced Closed Mondays (1974) about the antics of museum exhibits when they are closed to the public. “I was greatly influenced by Eli Noye’s monochrome clay animation in the early 1960s but I hadn’t really seen anybody use full color and full sculpting techniques. Closed Mondays was designed as a way for me to show off the various techniques for making sculptures come to life. I coined the term ‘Claymation’. I knew at the time that it was something very magical and very special.” The short won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and had taken fourteen months to make.
Robert Crumb on Ward Kimball. In 2011, underground comix legend Robert Crumb sat down with Alex Wood, the person who runs Crumb’s official website, to talk about important people in history including some cartoonists. These are his thoughts on Ward Kimball: “Interesting guy, Ward Kimball. I first met his daughter, Chloe, when I worked at American Greeting Cards. She was a friend of somebody who worked there and she started coming around during her travels. She was one of the first real hippie girls I ever met, Chloe Kimball.“And then when I lived in San Francisco, Ward Kimball came to visit me, in the fall of 1968. I have these photos someone took of me and Ward Kimball in the little improvised studio space I had in my house in San Francisco at the time. Kimball came to see me because he liked my work. He liked what I was doing. He liked Zap Comix, which is amazing because here’s a guy who started working at Disney Studios in the 1920s! He was of a much older generation, I think in his 60s at the time. But probably younger than I am now (laughs). But a hip, sophisticated older guy, which was rare.
“But Kimball was a company man. He was really a Disney man. He had become somewhat — how would you say it? — corporate in his thinking. Where he really devoted himself and indulged in were his hobbies, because he made a lot of money. When you went to visit him, he was very eager to show you his toy train and other collections. He had the most magnificent toy collection I had ever seen.
We talked about my artwork and Kimball said it harkened back to what he called the ‘balloon tire style’ of cartooning that was popular in the 1920s. The balloon tire style! (laughs). In the early ’70s, when I got involved with Armstrong and The Cheap Suit Serenaders, we would go over to Kimball’s and play music and sit around and talk. He was a very congenial host and he liked us. He was not just an old fogey. He had a lively mind and he was interested in what was going on in the world, with the hippies and all that. His daughter was a total hippie.”
Spade and Peewee. Actor and comedian David Spade in 1999 was developing and voicing a primetime NBC cartoon that would mark Brillstein-Grey’s first foray into TV animation and would be NBC’s first original primetime animated series since the 1964 Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.
The comedy, tentatively titled “Peewee,” would be produced by Brillstein-Grey Entertainment and animated by Sony Imageworks. Spade was co-creating “Peewee” with veteran comedy producer Drake Sather, who has written material for Spade’s standup routines in addition to work on several television shows.
The comedy would loosely deal with Spade’s early family life, including his childhood relationship with a ne’er-do-well (but funny) father and a brother. Spade planned to voice the role of both father and son. NBC ordered a fully animated pilot presentation tape, to be completed by January, and the series was targeted for a January 2000 launch.
“David has had this show in his head for many years, and that kind of personal vision usually makes for a great animated show,” said Kevin Reilly, executive vice president of TV at Brillstein-Grey. Apparently, it wasn’t quite as great as expected and
it never aired aired only two episodes, as Sammy, in August 2000.
The Quest for a Warners Animated Feature. In January 1995, Warner Brothers animation was in preparation for three animated features: King Tut, about the Egyptian boy king; Cyrano with music by Carol Bayer Sager and Neil Diamond and The Damsel Knight, based on “The King’s Damsel” by Vera Chapman with music by David Foster. Then the announcement of Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt killed the Tut idea and the Cyrano Project was deemed too close to Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Songwriter Diamond who had worked six months on the project left the studio in a huff even though he was invited to work on The Damsel Knight.) Then The Damsel Knight (about a young woman in King Arthur’s England trying to rescue her older sister from the Red Knight) had a name change to Quest For The Grail which ran into the conflict of whether to do a dark version that was more adult oriented or to make it sweeter and more Disneyesque. It eventually evolved into Quest for Camelot and eliminated darker elements like the heroine’s rape at an early age while adding animated humorous animal characters instead.