ANIMATION ANECDOTES
February 3, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #299

Animated Series That Never Were. You can’t make this stuff up. In 1987, Filmation was actively promoting a new animated series called “Bravo!” According to the publicity release: “It is a fast-paced, high spirited stunt filled comedy adventure overflowing with love, laughs, thrown pies and characters falling off cliffs at the drop of an anvil. Our stars often slip out of character and make wisecracks directly to the viewing audience.

bravo-250“Our stars are a group of round and furry characters called THE FUZZY FOLKS who are led by our hero, Bravo. He’s upstanding and brave…a furry good guy who happens to be able to fly…sort of…when he flaps his feet. But he hasn’t made a three point landing yet. In other words, he’s somewhat of a klutz.

“Bravo and his group have one goal. They must journey to the distant past to stop a mean and evil (and, when it comes right down to it, wacky and incompetent) plant person named BitterRoot from changing the course of history.

“But Bravo’s quest, which takes his group back to the Fuzzy Folk Stone Age, is not quite as serious as it sounds. The villainous BitterRoot with his high voice, short fuse and fussy mannerisms has qualities far more colorful and amusing than the traditional villains, nit-picking, noisy and nasty he may be, effective he is not.

“Yes, this is a show packed with laughs and fun galore. But, as always in Filmation programming, special care has been taken to provide “Bravo!” with high social moral values that will be both entertaining and instructive to our young audience.”

Actually, this was a spin-off of the Filmation BraveStarr series and the pilot made it on to DVD as a bonus feature on Volume one of the BraveStarr DVD. It was entitled “Quest of the Prairie People” and it is embed below – submitted for your approval:

disneytv3Walt Disses Hanna-Barbera. With his move to NBC and color in 1961, Walt Disney was feeling a little irritated when he discussed the new challengers of television animation in the May 27-June 2, 1961 issue of TV Guide. When asked about Hanna-Barbera’s success, Walt responded, “(The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, etc.) use a technique which we tried and discarded many years ago. We cartoonists call it ‘cheating’ –and that’s a technical not a derogatory term. Instead of the painstaking process in which we use hundreds of frames of film to portray a single sequence of motion – say, Donald Duck running into a stone wall – they give the illusion of motion with just a few frames.

“They move only the character’s feet and not the rest of the body. Also, instead of showing the details of their character’s crash into the wall, they’ll give you the sound of the crash off screen and then cut to the character at the base of the wall.

“With our full action once more becoming seen by the public, their techniques might not be able to stand the comparison. They’re bright boys with good ideas, but we’ve got a lot of bright boys with good ideas, too. Not only that, our characters are better known to the public – and they’ll be in color besides.”

boop_cardNo Ads! Lillian Friedman (Astor) who began her career as an inbetweener in 1930 on Cy Young’s independent short Spring Song and then moved to the Fleischer Studio in 1931, worked briefly with Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) on some early advertising films using animation, including one for Listerine. However, for the most part, they were never shown because theater owners didn’t want to screen product advertising as part of their show. Lillian had become an animator, after some time as Shamus Culhane’s assistant, in 1933 on Betty in Blunderland.

Disney Animation Day. On June 9, 1984, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared the day as “Donald Duck Day” in the city in honor of the duck’s birthday. On November 21, 1981, Mayor Bradley declared the day “Disney Animation Day” in “recognition of past and future accomplishments of the Disney animators”. The proclamation cited the Disney animators “for their pioneering efforts in the use of sound and color and for their devotion to quality entertainment”.

heckle-thumper-roadCartoon Favorites in Roger Rabbit. The original plans for Who Framed Roger Rabbit was not to use any animated characters created after 1947 (the penguin waiters in the Ink and Paint Club are supposedly actual penguin waiters and not the ones from Mary Poppins). One exception was the Road Runner who debuted in 1948 because it was one of director Robert Zemeckis’ favorites. “He’s just so great we had to have him,” rationalized Zemeckis who put the bird in the crowd scene. He did resist including Rocky and Bullwinkle.

One of Spielberg’s favorite characters is Disney’s Thumper the rabbit so he was made Roger’s uncle and Spielberg suggested the animators to give both characters the same mouth but that suggestion was ignored. Actor Bob Hoskins’ favorites were Heckle and Jeckle and a scene was scripted with the pair but dropped before filming.

Hoskins on Roger Rabbit. Los Angeles Herald Examiner for June 23, 1988 quoted actor Bob Hoskins about his experience working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). “It was like hallucinating, bouncing off the walls,” said Hoskins. “the whole thing was the craziest experience – all wired up by puppeteers. I do parts because there’s a risk. The risk here was you can fall flat on your arse and that’s why I took this part.”

Bakshi Speaks. Animator and director Ralph Bakshi in the November 1982 issue of American Premiere magazine said, “Animation is a way to look at subject matter that’s already ‘tried’ in live action. People are basically disarmed by animation, so you can reach them on far more levels.”

Pee-wee Playhouse Animation. From the Los Angeles Times June 29,1988, Dave Daniels, who invented “Strata-Cut” animation that was used in the “History Lesson” sequences on Pee-wee’s Playhouse television series, said, “Pee-wee is the only chance anyone gets to do this kind of experimental work for a network audience. Most children’s animation has its form limited and you can’t expand beyond what’s already known. Here, we were given that chance and the economics were right. There was enough money to do it, but not enough to pay for a lot of backtracking and reshooting that would make things sterile.” Oskar Fischinger used a similar slicing technique to make films but Daniels said he developed his systerm inspired by the layers of a multi-colored clay cake his sister made when they were children.

14 Comments

  • On Roger Rabbit, I’ve notice a lot of iconic cartoon characters from the first 40 years of animation (since Roger Rabbit took place in postwar 1940′s) that didn’t made the cut including many of the Walter Lantz characters including Andy Panda etc, Mighty Mouse (Terrytoons), Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto (the Fleischer Bros version from Paramount), The Fox and The Crow, Krazy Kat, Flip the Frog, Felix the Cat, Tom & Jerry (both Van Buren and MGM versions) and many others.

    I wonder why and if they couldn’t get their proper release credentials in time. Also on end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (after Porky Pig said his iconic catchphrase “That’s all folks) Tinkerbell made a appearance. Didn’t Tinkerbell came out in Disney’s Peter Pan in 1953 about five years after Who Framed Roger Rabbit took place?

    • Actually there was a great scene of Marvin Acme’s funeral that would have featured lots of classic animated characters. For instance the Flesicher Superman would have been on his knees crying and he was holding in his hands a sobbing Mighty Mouse. After the long pan pass these characters to Acme’s casket, a little sign would have popped up from the body saying “Sad, ain’t it?” It had been storyboarded and some rough animation sketches had been done. I believe the Superman and Mighty Mouse was done by Mark Kausler. However, some studios smelled “money” because of Disney’s involvement and wanted too much for their characters. That’s why Felix the Cat doesn’t show up. Yes, I know he is the head over the Toontown tunnel but that was more along the lines of animators trying to sneak something in and trying to have plausible deniability that it wasn’t really Felix. In general, studios like Warners were satisfied with a token payment because of Spielberg’s connection.

    • It’s a shame when studios have their way.

    • Cinderella, Peter Pan and Wendy, Alice, Winnie the Pooh and several other Post 1947 Disney characters were set to appear in the funeral scene as well.

      Of the post 1947 Looney Tunes, Marvin the Martian and Speedy Gonzales make appearances at the end. Witch Hazel, with June Foray voicing her, had a cameo in the deleted pig head sequence

    • I suppose, if you wanted, you could make the case that Tinkerbell existed in 1947 but hadn’t been hired to appear in anything yet.

  • I read an interview in which they rationalized having the Road Runner in “Roger Rabbit” by saying, “We decided that he was in Hollywood in 1947; he just hadn’t been discovered yet!”

  • Actually, the first Road Runner cartoon was actually made in 1947, even though it wasn’t released until 1949 (the WB cartoon backlog at work, you know…..) so it is justified, after all…..

    • Correct, and copyright MCMXLVIII (1948)..too.

  • I remember Bob Hoskins on Actor’s Studio or some similar interview show. He said, half-jokingly, that he kept seeing non-existent weasels long after shooting ended as a result of focusing so hard on imaginary costars.

  • STEP INTO THE ANIMATION!!!!

    Sorry, I just wanted to say that!

    Lillian Friedman (Astor) who began her career as an inbetweener in 1930 on Cy Young’s independent short Spring Song and then moved to the Fleischer Studio in 1931, worked briefly with Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) on some early advertising films using animation, including one for Listerine. However, for the most part, they were never shown because theater owners didn’t want to screen product advertising as part of their show.

    Oh that’s a shame they didn’t. We never build up that immunity to it like Europe did!

    “Pee-wee is the only chance anyone gets to do this kind of experimental work for a network audience. Most children’s animation has its form limited and you can’t expand beyond what’s already known. Here, we were given that chance and the economics were right. There was enough money to do it, but not enough to pay for a lot of backtracking and reshooting that would make things sterile.”

    Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and the late 80′s in general, was an interesting time to see such innovative approaches to animation happen at all.

  • Strata-cut animation is seriously one of the most WTF techniques to me. I’ve seen diagrams and explanations, but it still consistently makes me say, “How the HELL did they do that?”

    • That is the thing that makes it kinda wonderful in its execution.

  • One other series spinoff Filmation planned but didn’t produce was “Bugzburg,” which featrued the G. Willikers (ersatz Jiminy Cricket) character from “Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night.”

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