Birth of Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse. From The Onion – AV Club March 4, 2001 Volume 37, Issue 12, animator and director John Kricfalusi revelaed how Ralph Bakshi sold Mighty Mouse: “Ralph (Bakshi) convinced (CBS) that we’d developed Mighty Mouse as a show and we had the rights to it and we didn’t. He was in a meeting where we were pitching all these shows that we’d developed and they told him, ‘I’m sorry. We really like all these shows but we can’t buy them because they don’t have any marquee value’.
“And he blew up. He had one of his famous explosions. He spit out his cigarette at them and screamed at the top of his lungs, ‘Marquee value? You want f*cking marquee value? You’re talking to me, Ralph Bakshi, king of the animators about marquee value?’ Scared the cr*p out of them. He’s a very large guy and he’s been know to hurl…I’ve seen him pick up desks and throw them across the room. And he has perfect aim, too, absolutely dead-perfect aim.
“So he is screaming at them and they were really scared, right? ‘I’ll give you f*cking marquee value! Mighty Mouse!’ He remembered the first job he ever worked on was at Terrytoons in the mid-50s and just spit out ‘Mighty Mouse’. They said, ‘Okay, we’ll take it and please don’t kill us!’ So he gets to his car, races back to the studio and tells his partner, ‘Find out who the hell owns Mighty Mouse!’
“Then he goes over to my house, and he pounds on my door on Saturday morning like at seven o’clock in the morning, yelling ‘Johnny, get out of bed! I sold Mighty Mouse! We gotta have a studio next week! We need 35 people and 13 scripts!’ So I got on the phone and called everyone I knew who hated working on Saturday morning cartoons and by Monday we had a studio and we wrote like twenty stories in a week. The following week we started production.”
Magical Door. In a June 2005 article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Pixar director Pete Docter talked about the famous doors in his film Monsters Inc. (2001): “John (Lasseter) laid down the rule that ‘no magic’ in Pixar’s animated features. Actually, you’re allowed one magical thing that the audience will buy and beyond that everything ripples out logically from there. For our one magical thing it was the door that transports Boo from her closet to a fantasy factory run by monsters. We just put on this veil of technology that explains it all.”Docter read the novel The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis when he was a child and read it to his own children so the concept of a magical portal was something he was familiar with when he wrote the film. Also, he is a fan of Miyazaki’s animated feature Howl’s Moving Castle where a girl passes through many magical doors and meets spirits and demons. In fact, Docter was in charge of voice directing the English release version of the film.
Miyazaki Says. Animation legend Hayao Miyazaki in 2005 during an interview said, “My hand moves when I think of things. Without pencil, without paper, my hand just moves, so that’s the way my brain seems to operate now. I ‘m not so interested in the drama that unfolds between humans. Ultimately, I’m very concerned and interested in the drama that unfolds between humans and nature.
“A lot of people say they don’t understand my film Howl’s Moving Castle and what that means is just that they have a set definition of how a story is supposed to be told. When the story betrays their anticipations, then they complain. Which I find ridiculous.
“My father, in his old age, only watched television programs where he could figure out the story in the first three minutes. He’d say, ‘I can understand this. I can follow it’. But I think it’s a waste of time to try to change people. I made this film so that I could show it to a young girl of 60 (laughs). What’s wonderful about the story is that the happy ending isn’t that the spell is broken and the girl is young again. It’s that she forgets her age.”
Freberg’s First. Voice artist Stan Freberg always liked to say that the first cartoon where he received an on-screen credit as a voice was Warners’ Three Little Bops (1957). However, it was Bob Clampett who gave Freberg his first on-screen cartoon credit for doing the voice of Charlie the horse in the Republic one-shot It’s a Grand Old Nag (1947). Of course, Freberg may have been referring to his first Warners’ on-screen cartoon credit but he never made that clear in interviews.Deficit Financing. From the book Inside the TV Business (1979) by Paul Klein and Steve Morgenstern, Hanna-Barbera legend Joe Barbera talked about how H-B continually lost money but still stayed in business: “It costs Hanna-Barbera $110,000 to produce a half hour show and we’re getting $100,000 from NBC so we are deficit financing $10,000 a week. On the other hand, we’re using $100,000 of NBC’s money to create a property that will be owned after the first year, unless options are exercised by Hanna-Barbera. So for $10,000 a week or $130,000 all together, we have now created an equity for ourselves because animation has an incredible shelf life.
“That’s why we prefer to do something original rather than in partnership with someone else. Scooby-Doo, for instance, happened to be a gold mine. Don’t ask me how it happened. Nobody figured the dog would become a star but he has. He’s been on the air over nine years and he’ll be on about four more years. Like anyone who is creative, you’d much rather get your own character out there and make a success out of it.
“One of the reasons that we hang in there with red deficit figures, which no one seems to understand, is that we have built up a backlog over the years which is out working for us today, still being sold in various ways. That’s what keeps us going. It’s the income from merchandise, any income from foreign sources and the fact that sometimes a network will buy a rerun of one of our products to fill a hole when something else drops out of the schedule.
“If you do an animated feature that works, it’s a lifetime asset. It will run forever. Every time Disney brings Fantasia (1940) out they make more money than when Walt first ran it.”