ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 20, 2017 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #297

Hanna and Barbera Speak. From Who’s Who in Television (Vol. 1, No. 11 Dell Publishing 1961), an article entitled “Cartoons: TV’s Big Draw” and credited to animation legends Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera has the famous duo saying:

who-who-tv61

“The success of our animated shows we attribute to two factors: a talented staff and our own attitude. Television viewers are not unthinking dolts who settle for anything offered them. The public is past the stage of being fooled by constant imitations. We’re convinced that television can be refreshing.

“In all of our shows we try to do what cartoons were meant to do in the first place, that is, to satirize human actions through a fantastic point of view. The Flintstones, for instance, shows Stone Age man with modern maladjustments. It contains no message, displays no violence, and never plays down.

“We spoof lots of things in our shows – Hollywood, cars, television, even our own animated commercials – but we don’t see anything amusing in violence or evil, and our objective is, after all, to amuse. Even our villains are basically nice guys.

“The other part of the story is the personal side. Cartoonists are unusual people. They are adults who never grow old. We are blessed with the most talented staff in the business. Everyone stays young. Our employees’ ages range from the teen-aged to the white-haired, but the atmosphere is that of the young at heart. There’s not one businessman in our studio to ‘expedite’; there’s not one executive to execute.”


Huckleberry Butler. From the Los Angeles Times May 20, 1988, Daws Butler claimed he just “had a knack for making my friends laugh. If I had an ego problem, it was early on in my career…I felt I shouldn’t have to go through life as Huckleberry Hound. But, then (later), I thought I shouldn’t be ashamed of being known as Huckleberry Hound either.”


ralph-bakshi-200Bakshi Speaks. Animator and director Ralph Bakshi in the November 1982 issue of American Premiere magazine said, “There is no magic formula. The best thing you can do is to make the best possible film and hope that people here and overseas will like it. Fritz (the Cat 1972) was a surprise to me. It was a very big hit overseas and I didn’t necessarily count on that, because I thought it was a personal, American film. Lord of the Rings (1978) was also a big hit, but I generally think that the fantasies have a better chance overseas. Basically, I’m always surprised by what my films do in foreign markets. But that’s all about selling a movie and that’s not necessarily what I’m here to do.”


roger-rabbit-robert-zemeckisThrowing Out the Rules. From Los Angeles Times Calendar section June 22, 1998, Animation director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit Richard Williams said, “I told Bob (Zemeckis) I was convinced every single rule about the use of animation and live action was baloney and if we made the film, I’d throw them all out and let him move the camera. We agreed that the key to making the combination effective would be interaction. Laurel and Hardy are funny because they’re constantly getting tangled up physically with each other. We thought the cartoon characters should always be affecting their environment or getting tangled up with the live actors.”


chuck100Daffy Duck Rationalizes. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “When you’re doing Daffy Duck, who’s a conniving self-serving person, you realize that, sure, I’m selfish too. Hopefully, I keep most of it under control. But Daffy doesn’t do that. He’s selfish then he explains. He builds a rationale for it. He tells an audience, ‘I know it’s a terrible thing to do but it’s better it should happen to him than to me. I’m not like other people — pain hurts me!’ Right? That’s rationalizing. We do naughty things then we explain them to ourselves.”


fyodor-khitrukKitsch Animation. Soviet animation director Fyodor Khitruk told the Los Angeles Times November 17, 1987, “So much kitsch (in animation) is produced for children. It determines their taste and becomes a kind of aesthetic imperative. The human psyche is actually formed between the ages of six months and five years. I’m astonished that the artists don’t take any responsibility for the work that’s shown to children. They know it’s part of their education. The problem is not restricted to the Western countries. We make many bad films as well. Some should never be made and some would be OK to make if you didn’t show them. Kitsch can be professionally done or amateurish, but it’s still kitsch.”


The DIC Story. It irritated the animation company that a local radio station kept referring to its building in Burbank as the “Dick” building. DIC stood for Diffusion Information Communication but was pronounced like the nickname of DIC president and CEO Andy Heyward’s father, Louis M. (Deke) Hayward, a former Hanna-Barbera executive. DIC Entertainment was responsible for shows like Inspector Gadget, The Real Ghostbusters, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Strawberry Shortcake and many, many others.

DICDIC was the major non-union studio and subcontracted much of its animation work to the Far East where production was cheaper. Phyllis Tucker Vinson, NBC’s vice presidentof children’s and family programming in the late 1980s said, “DIC has had a big problem with quality control and consistency because they have been so spread out all over the Far East. They bend over backwards to fix it but usually the problem is time.”

DIC’s senior vice president of development, Michael Maliani told writer Michael Mallory in 2013 what it was like the early days: “Everything was by the last minute. We were calling for helicopters sometimes so we could get stuff from the airport when it landed. I remember calling the executives at NBC at three in the morning, waking them up and saying, ‘I have a show, but we have a little bit of a problem…we’re missing some backgrounds in it.’ So we tried to figure out what to do.

“We figured that if we could move some of the shots around, we could put them on with no backgrounds, and hopefully no one would notice. Those were the fun days. Being up three days in a row, your eye’s bleeding, saying, ‘Wow, how are we going to do this?’”

26 Comments

  • “DIC was the major non-union studio and subcontracted much of its animation work to the Far East where production was cheaper. ”

    They were ALL doing that by the ’80s. Hanna-Barbera, Ruby Spears, Disney, even Filmation, the studio that prided itself on being done entirely in the USA, sent Zorro to TMS.

    • A lot of the animation was done in Japan (TMS,Perriot) but also South Korea (AKOM),North Korea (SEK) Taiwan (Wang,Cuckoo’s Nest) and The Philippines (Fil-Cartoons) did the brunt of the animation as well in the 1980’s

    • It’s an interesting era that certainly deserves its own case study!

  • In that photo of Khitruk, is he holding a plush of his version of Pooh Bear?

  • Bill Hanna had a good point, interesting that a Chuck Jones piece, all of what Hanna mentioned also applied to the Warner cartoons, especially by the TV era. (Elmer Fudd, the one timer Pete Puma were basically nice guys as wlel, even the same people worked for HB), and Hanna and Barbera;s own home MGM, where Tom and Jerry became nicer guys,,

  • DiC was also known as “Do it Cheaply” (by those in the biz) even though they had successful animated programs like Ulysses 31 (DiC’s first ever animated series), Rainbow Brite, The Real Ghostbusters, The Littles, Alf (and its spinoff Alf Tales) Inspector Gadget (both the versions where he wore a mustache and the “non mustache” series, after MGM/UA forced DiC to take Inspector Gadget’s mustache off claiming the it looked to similar to The Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau), Kissyfur, Beverly Hills Teens, Captain N, Madeleine, Sonic the Hedgehog and the more comical Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, The first version of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Horseland, the live action Zoobiliee Zoo.

    But there were “Clunkers” like Hank Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace, Heathcliff and the Cattiliac Cats (where they totally changed the characters appearances – from changing Iggy into a Preppy and Marcie into a “Madonna Wannabe”; changing several characters in Heathcliff and Dennis the Menace), The Get Along Gang (who acted more like a dysfunctional family that in The original pilot episode animated by Nelvala), Pole Position (a cat that craves orange drink??) WolfRock TV (canceled after a half season),the Americanized version of Sailor Moon, The New Archies (Veronica Lodge looked like a refugee from the Fashion Police Ten Most Wanted on Fashion Violations list with the outfits she wore!) and the second season of Bill and Ted’s Excellence Adventures (which they acquired from Hanna Barbera but took out the GCI special effects that made the series popular in Season One, as well as eliminating Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and the late George Carlin from the roles they made famous in the original film version.)

    • Heathcliff and Dennis may have largely been clunkers on the creative side, but they were actually very successful commercially speaking. Both were renewed for second seasons after their initial 65-episode runs.

      As for their early creative successes, I think The Mysterious Cities of Gold also deserves a mention. It is by far Chalopin’s most famous cartoon in France, and likely his most acclaimed as well.

    • BIGG3469 said…

      But there were “Clunkers” like Hank Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace, Heathcliff and the Cattiliac Cats (where they totally changed the characters appearances – from changing Iggy into a Preppy and Marcie into a “Madonna Wannabe”; changing several characters in Heathcliff and Dennis the Menace),

      You always wonder if those changes were stipulated in the contracts at the time those were signed. I never cared for the Preppy Iggy either since he just came off to generic in his Sunday’s best but I guess someone wanted a fresh, new take for the MTV generation. I never thought of Dennis the Menace as a clunker though, perhaps in the first season set of episodes since they had to churn out 65 of ’em.

      The Get Along Gang (who acted more like a dysfunctional family that in The original pilot episode animated by Nelvala),

      The cartoon was pure mind control from those that wanted to suppressed independent thinking!

      Pole Position (a cat that craves orange drink??) WolfRock TV (canceled after a half season),the Americanized version of Sailor Moon, The New Archies (Veronica Lodge looked like a refugee from the Fashion Police Ten Most Wanted on Fashion Violations list with the outfits she wore!) and the second season of Bill and Ted’s Excellence Adventures (which they acquired from Hanna Barbera but took out the GCI special effects that made the series popular in Season One, as well as eliminating Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and the late George Carlin from the roles they made famous in the original film version.)

      Surprised you didn’t mention Hammerman, that’s usually a giant zit on the studio’s history.

      MESTERIUS said…

      Heathcliff and Dennis may have largely been clunkers on the creative side, but they were actually very successful commercially speaking. Both were renewed for second seasons after their initial 65-episode runs.

      True there, I think Dennis The Menace’s second season was co-produced with the Canadian studio Crawley’s, which helped out a bit since those episodes were initially aired Saturday morning on CBS. Strangely DiC went into a period during 1985-87 when a number of shows they were doing had very terrible film telecine/transfers, I never knew why that was but it looked very similar to what certain Japanese animated shows like Urusei Yatsura had appeared when they were released on home video. These always had very high contrast blacks and had that lagging/trailing effect when something moved. I often wonder how much DiC’s penchant for saving on cash necessitated a need to simply make telecine copies over in Japan and send those tapes back rather than the film stock?

      As for their early creative successes, I think The Mysterious Cities of Gold also deserves a mention. It is by far Chalopin’s most famous cartoon in France, and likely his most acclaimed as well.

      We can still watch it on YouTube (for a price)! Of course true connoisseurs haven’t lived until they see this!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOkpw0oSA90

  • I remember “DIC” standing for: “Destroying Innocent Cartoons”!!

    • That job also belong to 4Kids productions on what they did on Pokémon, Tokyo Mew Mew, One Piece, Sonic X and others by brutality Americanizing them to death turning Rice Balls into Jelly Donuts, Sandwiches and Crackers, eradicating the Japanese language turning cigarettes into lollipops and the biggest atrocity of all singing the Star Spangled Banner very badly!

      But I’ve got to admit that DiC did ruin Heathcliff, Dennis the Menace (by changing the look on several of the characters from their original version from the comic strip Archie Andrews and his crew in The New Archies, The Get A Long Gang by having them act like a dysfunctional family, Bill and Ted Excellent Adventures by “Melvinizing” them to death – and nearly destroying the legacy of Fred “Tex” Avery with the Wacky World of “Tex” Avery, which a majority of the cartoons in the series had nothing to do with the genius of Tex Avery – and Americanizing Sailor Moon to death (On LATAM TV from Mexico’s TV Azteca I seen the original version of Sailor Moon including the episodes that were never shown here in the US)

    • JOHN D. HOOPER wrote:
      I remember “DIC” standing for: “Destroying Innocent Cartoons”!!

      Sounds like something John Kricfalusi wanted to do while he worked there!

  • One thing that DiC did get right: good voice acting. That still doesn’t excuse their track record, though.

    • They had some really BAD voice actors emplyoyed on many of their 80s shows. I mean, have you *seen* the second season of Inspector Gadget?

    • Yes,Don Adams,Cree Summer, Frank Welker,Phil Hartman,Lorenzo Music,Mel Blanc,”Captain ” Lou Albano,Maurice LaMarche,Arsenio Hall and June Foray (who will be celebrating her 100th birthday this year) were the top “A List” voice over actors that worked for DiC.

    • Regarding Cree Summer: She was great, I agree, but she actually only worked for DiC through Nelvana, which produced the entire first season of Inspector Gadget in Toronto, Canada as work-for-hire. When DiC’s own LA studio took over Gadget in Season 2, we got the god-awful Holly Berger as Penny instead. That in itself says quite a bit about the standards DiC had for voice actors in the mid-1980s.

      I haven’t watched enough of Dennis the Menace in English to remember Martha’s voice… and the 1990s version of Dennis the Menace looks so terrible animation-wise that I don’t really feel like checking it out.

    • Cree Summer also did voicework for DIC’s “Sabrina the Animated Series”. (But not for “Sabrina’s Secret Life”.)

    • Wasn’t Cree the voice of Elmyra in “Tiny Toon Adventures”? (I remember her mainly from “A Different World.”)

    • I suppose keeping the voice talent stateside may be one noteworthy effort on DIC’s part, though I’m sure by the 90’s they were going the Canadian route anyway.

  • @Mesteruis, yes and who ever did the voice of Martha Wilson in the first run of Dennis the Menace was freaking awful, luckily they cast June Foray as Martha Wilson’s voice in the reboot of Dennis the Menace.

  • Dic was all over the place in terms of quality, studios ranged from excellent but expensive (TMS/Telecom, Madhouse, Spectrum when they do the work in house as most of their Dic stuff was outsourced to Korea and looked nowhere as good as the in house stuff) to cheaper for good reason (Rainbow Animation, AC Pro, Sei Young), then you have your mid range studios (Wang, KK C&D Asia, Mook, Sai Rom after their first few years with Dic) and great studios (Toei Japan, Shaft, Canvas) but the quality was all over the place.

    If you really need to watch Dic shows go straight to the TMS stuff (Ulysses 31, The Lupin VIII Pilot, Gadget, Heathcliff and Littles) , episodes done by them (Rainbow Bright, Kissyfur, Alf The Animated Series, The Real Ghostbusters, Adventures Of Sonic) and Pierrot’s The Mysterious Cities Of Gold, if you are willing to go beyond that theres the remaining 60 episodes of Adventures Of Sonic, Sonic Sat AM is also worth checking out and seasons 1-5 of The Real Ghostbusters before Korean studios and Wang fully took over, maybe Alf but avoid the rest.

    Also someone made a huge list of C&D’s projects for Dic if any of you guys are willing to check it out, it also has other studios on there as well.

    https://mega.nz/#!QgpEWRRb!Yfcx-m1frLZsk_iYnBzGeynsY8luGHS1P7mrA__WhDw

    I could not upload the picture to a image site due to it’s size, but a download of the jpg was made, enjoy.

    • Dic was all over the place in terms of quality, studios ranged from excellent but expensive (TMS/Telecom, Madhouse, Spectrum when they do the work in house as most of their Dic stuff was outsourced to Korea and looked nowhere as good as the in house stuff) to cheaper for good reason (Rainbow Animation, AC Pro, Sei Young), then you have your mid range studios (Wang, KK C&D Asia, Mook, Sai Rom after their first few years with Dic) and great studios (Toei Japan, Shaft, Canvas) but the quality was all over the place.

      It certainly was. It got to a point where I knew it was from DIC the few seconds it came on in a promo!

      If you really need to watch Dic shows go straight to the TMS stuff (Ulysses 31, The Lupin VIII Pilot, Gadget, Heathcliff and Littles),

      That “Lupin VIII” is a fine piece of work for something I almost mistaken for being entirely TMS’s if it wasn’t for the opening title logo and its Littles-ish font!

      episodes done by them (Rainbow Bright, Kissyfur, Alf The Animated Series, The Real Ghostbusters, Adventures Of Sonic) and Pierrot’s The Mysterious Cities Of Gold, if you are willing to go beyond that theres the remaining 60 episodes of Adventures Of Sonic, Sonic Sat AM is also worth checking out and seasons 1-5 of The Real Ghostbusters before Korean studios and Wang fully took over, maybe Alf but avoid the rest.

      ALF and ALF Tales were pretty well put-together writing-wise to me. ALF Tales to me at least felt like they were having quite a lot of fun ribbing on the very network that aired the show and many things that were topical to that point in time.

    • The animated ALF was a sort of prequel to the live-action sitcom, devoted to ALF’s adventures on his home planet, Melmac, where he was known as Gordon Shumway (voiced by his co-creator, Paul Fusco, who also voiced him on the original series).

    • Kind of surprising that both the SatAm Sonic the Hedgehog and the syndicated The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog came out in the same year and both animation teams in DiC didn’t know about the other team’s project oh so what I heard.

      Makes a good Animation Anecdotes segment . “The Tales of Two Sonics”.

    • BIGG3469: “…both the SatAm Sonic the Hedgehog and the syndicated The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog came out in the same year and both animation teams in DiC didn’t know about the other team’s project oh so what I heard.”

      That last part can’t be true. DiC was not THAT big a studio. It would have been literally impossible for the two crews not to know about the other show… and what on earth would the point be in the teams not knowing about the other show, anyway?

      The intention was obviously to make two different Sonic shows (one zany, cartoony version and another more serious and adventurous) for two different markets (weekday syndication and Saturday mornings, respectively). From that perspective, it would have been absolutely vital that the creative teams were fully aware of both shows, so they didn’t overlap in content and target groups.

  • @ Chris Sobieniak: you’re right, how can I completely forget about Hammerman as one of DiC’s “clunkers”! There’s two other clunkers that I forgot to mention, one of course was The Wacky World of Tex Avery (which had nothing to do with the classic cartoons of the legendary Fred “Tex” Avery and Wishkid starring Macaulay Culkin in the title role which.was loosely based on the Home Alone and Home Alone 2 films.

    @ Rnigma: yes Cree Summer was the voice of the crazy animal loving (and on PETA’s ten most UNwanted list) Elmyra Duff on Tiny Toon Adventures (Cree also did the voice of Mary Melody) and on the ill fated Pinky,Elmyra and the Brain. Cree was also did voice over work for,DiC’s ill fated The Wacky World of Tex Avery as Konnie in Konnie and Khan, as Numbuh 5 Abigail “Abby” Lincoln and her teenage sister Cree in Codename: Kids Next Door, Pricilla Skunk in Sheriff Callie’s Wild West and as Princess Kneesaa in Star Wars: Ewoks.

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