ANIMATION ANECDOTES
May 23, 2014 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #163

dynomuttThe 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.

R. Crumb

R. Crumb

“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.

Ward Kimball

Ward Kimball

“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.

sammyThe 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.

9 Comments

  • I remember the Spade project (or at least some version of it) did air, just not by the name “Peewee”. It ran for two or three weeks and was then canceled. I remember it also aired after God, The Devil and Bob, so it wasn’t the first NBC animated prime time series, either.

    • The David Spade cartoon is “Sammy”. It aired on NBC for only 2 episodes in 2000 before getting cancelled.

      Probably the most obscure cartoon from the past decade. I literally can’t find anything on the internet except for two images.

    • Probably the most obscure cartoon from the past decade. I literally can’t find anything on the internet except for two images.

      And I guess it wasn’t in my interest to even bother recording it at the time (or anyone else for that matter). Not really interesting to dig deep for it either but it’s something to look back in the sea of short-lived prime-time animated programs.

  • Rape in an animated feature? I knew things were darker in the planning stages, but WOW.

    • I wish it went there, honestly. I might have took a better interest in the film than where it ended up anyway.

  • For more on Spade’s “Sammy“: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_(TV_series)

    • Assuming all 13 episodes are in the can (which I doubt that more than half the series was finished by that point), I don’t suppose streaming the unaired episodes would be out of the question these days if they bother digging it up.

      Thinking of another prime-time cartoon that lasted two episodes, the ABC airings of “Clerks: The Animated Series” came to mind for me, though unlike “Sammy”, it had a happier ending with a DVD release and subsequent cable TV airings (reminded also they made a small joke on Spade’s career in the last episode).

  • Somebody was selling this on eBay, though. Original animation drawings from “Sammy”

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/David-Spade-from-the-promo-for-tv-series-SAMMY-10-production-drawings-of-Spade-/131129007345

    • There’s always someone who finds these things. Going by the relisted entries for this item, I guess it finally sold earlier this month to whoever forked over the $26 for it.

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