Hitler Loved Disney Cartoons. In 1939 the Nazi Propaganda Ministry purchased fifty American films for exhibition but they were never shown in Germany at that time due to growing anti-Americanism. One of those films was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) sold personally by Roy O. Disney to Germany.
Adolf Hitler had a copy of Snow White delivered to his private movie theater in Ubersalzberg and considered it one of the greatest movies ever made. Hitler also had in his personal collection eighteen Mickey Mouse shorts that had been given to him as a Christmas gift on December 22, 1937 by Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
UnBearable. In Disney’s animated feature Brother Bear (2003) after Kenai is transformed into a bear, the film shifts from a 1.75:1 aspect ratio to the CinemaScope ratio of 2.35:1 to give the audience a sense of seeing the world differently. Songwriter Phil Collins wrote a ‘transformation song” that was translated into the Inuit language and then sung by a full Bulgarian choir. It was cut from the film.
Monster House Director. Gil Kenan directed the motion capture animated feature Monster House (2006) and at the time of its release told the media: “(Producer) Bob (Zemeckis) is filled with insight and enthusiasm. What I really learned from him is that so many questions could be answered by asking, ‘What story am I telling?’ It’s a magical question that opens a lot of doors. Animation allows impossible things to appear possible on screen. You can go places that you can’t go with live action. We still start with a script – and we had a really good one – but animation lets me use my voice to expand its possibilities. It’s like reading a novel and illustrating it in your head.”
The End of Iron Giant. In Brad Bird’s original storyboard for the animated feature The Iron Giant (1999), the film ends almost immediately after the giant’s death. Screenwriter Tim McCanlies (who went on ironically to be a writer on the tv series Smallville that featured Superboy) told Bird “You can’t kill E.T. and then not bring him back.” McCanlies was responsible for the final moments when the dismembered parts read the sonar signal and start to put themselves back together in the snow and ice. Bird’s concept for the film was “What if a gun had a soul and chose not to be a gun?”.
McCanlies on Iron Giant. Screenwriter Tim McCanlies who wrote the screenplay for the animated feature The Iron Giant (1999) stated in 2003, “(The Warner Brothers animated feature) Quest for Camelot (1998) did so badly that everybody backed away from animation and fired people. Suddenly, we had no executive on Iron Giant, which was great, because Bard got to make HIS movie… because nobody was watching.” Bird has described the film as having “one-third the money of a Disney or DreamWorks film, and half of the production schedule”.
Old Animators Never Die. The first weekend of June 2015, there was a Rock Art Show in Orlando, Florida and in attendance was retired animator Ron Campbell who now spends his time going to these type of events. Besides selling his art, he also does does drawings of the characters he has animated over the years in black ink and then fills them in with watercolor.
“I only do the drawings for little children,” Campbell explained. “If I do a drawing for an adult, I find quickly a line of thirty people or more waiting.”
Fifty years ago, Campbell was working as a twenty-four year old animator on television commercials in Australia when he got a call asking him to come to New York to direct a television show about beetles. He turned it down explaining, “I don’t think bugs will make very good characters.”
He had misheard and the offer was to work on the Beatles animated series. “I wasn’t familiar with their music but I became a Beatles fan by directing the show,” stated Campbell. “Directing the cartoon show was not so much exciting as terrifying. It was very challenging. I was a very young man, only 24 years old. I had dumped on me a great deal of responsibility to hire a lot of people, to oversee the workflow, to see that six months hence the film would be delivered to New York, and one week after that, another film delivered. It was kind of like flying an airplane. It was very exciting but you might be scared if you stoped and thought about it. There was too much to do.”
Campbell then was contacted by producer Bill Hanna and ended up animating on The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons and The Flintstones. In 1968, he animated on the feature film Yellow Submarine. He later worked on Rugrats and Darkwing Duck.
When asked which was his favorite character, he replied, “You can’t do it. How the hell do you choose between the Beatles, Smurfette and Scooby-Doo?”
BELOW: What You’re Doin’ (1966) directed by Graham C. Sharpe and Ron Campell.
Little Slocum. The Van Nuys News newspaper on May 5, 1949 announced: “There’s a new little youngster coming to Van Nuys—a perky, happy little fellow in a big sombrero, and you’re going to see a lot of this happy chappy in the weeks to come, because he is going to be here and there and ‘round-about in the Valley to greet all present residents and newcomers. His name? ‘Little Slocum’!
“He is a pen-child created by Mel Millar, nationally known cartoonist and illustrator, and has been devised by Millar to tell the thousands of Valley residents about Slocum Furniture Co. at 6187 Van Nuys Blvd., and of the wide selection of home furnishings to be found there at attractive prices.
“Millar was with a film advertising firm, then came to Hollywood in 1931 and worked in animated cartoons at Warner Brothers.
“In 1944 he returned to free lancing and since that time has drawn illustrations for Talking Komics, and has sold to Collier’s, This Week, Argosy, New York Times, King Features, Fortnight and others. Also had his own cartoon business in Pasadena for a couple of years, and taught at the Hollywood Art Center School.”
Millar (who changed his name from “Miller” when he left Kansas for Hollywood) was a noted storyman at Warners. In the 1960s, Parade magazine asked leading comedians who their favorite cartoonists were. Ed Wynn picked Millar and Parade ran a page of his cartoons in the magazine.
Melvin died December 30, 1980, and was buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burbank.