ANIMATION ANECDOTES
November 3, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #336

Knowing Too Much. I have always been annoyed by “academic/scholarly” books written by people who have no understanding of animation so jump to incredible assumptions and misunderstand completely what is going on.

Here is an excerpt from a book about urban folklore (and so popular it was reprinted at least twice over the years by other University presses) entitled Work Hard & You Shall Be Rewarded (Indiana University Press 1975) by Alan Dunes and Carl Pagter talking about the Roadrunner and Coyote:

“When the roadrunner speeds away from the coyote, he emits a taunting ‘beep, beep’, the only sounds he ever makes. The particular syllables, as well as the name of the bird, evoke the automotive arena where one can pass (after beeping one’s horn) and thus surpass a rival.

“In this sense, the highway is a metaphor for the world in which speed counts and in which individuals are exhorted to get ahead of others. In two of the following cartoons, the normal power relationship is reversed and the individual who is ordinarily left behind and frustrated is permitted to sexually attack the front runner.

“Instead of an employee being screwed by the boss, he is able to screw his opponent. Obviously, great pleasure is derived from being able to quote the taunting ‘beep, beep’ in a new context. In the third version, the normal role relationships are restored, and the roadrunner is homosexually assaulting the victimized coyote. Here, the implicit sexual nature of driving is made explicit.”


Tex Avery, June Foray, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng and Virgil Ross Art Babbitt at an early Annie Awards event

June Foray Talks Annie Awards. In an interview with June Foray by Shel Dorf in Comics Buyer’s Guide #323 (January 25th, 1980), she said: “ASIFA-Hollywood started here in 1963 with just a few people. I joined in 1964 and became a secretary and wrote a lot of letters and that’s when I started going to film festivals all over Europe. Then in 1972, nobody wanted to be president because they said it took too much of their time. So, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll run for president’. I was president for six years and just stepped down this year.

“I initiated the Annie Awards. Initiated the Cel Sale. I initiated the conference that is two days of seminars. The Annie Awards are ‘thank you’s’ to all of the pioneers in the industry who have contributed so much toward animation. Animation is such an exhilarating, exciting art form that has been relegated to the lowest heap in show business.

“People in live action denigrate animation, except for Walt Disney. I never met Walt Disney and I’m sorry I didn’t. but when you do voice work you just come in and do it. You don’t get a chance to meet the other people involved.

“ASIFA-Hollywood has grown into quite a respectable organization. We are tax-exempt. We are a cultural organization.”


Fritz the Cat Credit. Virgil Ross animated several scenes of the Rabbi lions including doing a dance in Fritz the Cat (1972). Manny Perez was responsible for the animation of Fritz and the three girl cats in the bath tub. That scene which lasted about one and a quarter minutes had over two thousand drawings. Milt Gray did all the clean-ups and in-betweens in that scene and it was the last assistant work he ever did.

Milt got two screen credits on the film: assistant animator and animator. He went on to animate some screens including Fritz talking with the girl cats talking to each other by the front steps of the apartment and going up the steps. He animated Fritz peaking out from a Rabbi’s beard and yelling. He also animated the rabbits bouncing up in their chairs as Fritz snuck underneath.

“For whatever reason, Bakshi never let us shoot pencil tests of our animation, or see any of the completed footage of the film in progress,” Milt told me back in 1992. “I never saw any of my scenes until I paid $3.00 at the theater and saw the finished film along with the rest of the public. That’s a hell of a way for an animator to have to work, especially for a beginner animator as I was then.”


Spum. When John Kricfalusi did not want to put his name of a Ren and Stimpy episode entitled “Nurse Stimpy” because of all the changes demanded by Nickelodeon, he instead put “Directed by Raymond Spum”.

Spum (after which Kricfalusi’s Spumco…Spum Company…was named) is a fictictious character whom Kricfalusi liked to tell gullible reporters (and anyone else foolish enough to believe him) was the real creator of animation. Supposedly, Spum worked on a chain gang breaking rocks in 1856. On some of the rocks, he drew men in tumbling positions and then juggled them to create the illusion of movement. Kricfalusi’s friends think that he picked the name “Spum” because it sounded vaguely dirty.


The Wisdom of Joe Barbera. In the Los Angeles Times Calendar section for August 9, 1992 animation producer Joe Barbera said, “I’m not knocking Disney stuff but whenever a Disney show comes along, there’s nothing to talk about, because there’s nothing new about it. The characters are all consistently the same with minor variations. Whenever anything comes along that’s another step forward in the business, thank God, because otherwise we’d be bogged down forever.”


Jiminy Cricket’s Father. In the Boston Sunday Globe July 12, 1992, animator Ward Kimball said, “Even to this day, kids will come to my front door in the neighborhood with a new kid on the block. They’ll talk and he’ll be standing between two other guys who poke him and say, ‘Go on. Ask him.’ And I’m looking down and he says, ‘Is it true you’re the father of Jiminy Cricket?’ So I get that all the time. It’s a place in history. I guess that I should be proud of it, but I don’t know. I have second thoughts on that.”


Disney Delights for Mr. Jackson. In the July 24,1992 edition of the Daily News, Faye Quindoy, who was singer Michael Jackson’s chef for two years said the pop star would fast on liquids every Monday and then for the rest of the week eat special dishes named after Disney characters including Sneezy’s chicken asparagus soup, Peter Pan salad, Cinderella ice cream and Dopey’s spinach and yogurt. Of course at the time Michael also paid an employee $28.50 an hour to change his monkey’s disposable diapers and scribbled songs on his bedsheets.

17 Comments

  • John also once remarked that “Spüm” was a Danish word for “Quality” (hence the original company’s tagline ‘The Danes call it “quality”‘)..

    • In some way Raymond Spun was John K’s own Ponsonby Britt!

  • It is amazing in all the wrong ways just how many people look at specific animated cartoons or characters and read other kinds of crude pop culture into that character. We all know how Chuck Jones thought about his own creations, and Bob Clampett has also been outspoken about where he sees his animation and the characters he worked on. The only good I can say about others’ assessments of Warner Brothers cartoons is that people are talking about the characters still. Those classic characters are remembered fondly on all levels, even if the people embracing them are of a much darker nature than the studio would like to know about. Whether we like it or not, classic cartoon characters are in our nation’s pop culture, and that is all the more reason to release all those classic cartoons so that the truth about the characters will never, ever disappear into false accounts and sometimes intoxicated delusions.

    • Thank you!

  • Shame June never met Walt. Of course, by that time, Walt was busy with one project with another.

  • The name “Spumco” was originated by Bob Camp. It’s a jizz joke.

    • Ewwww, should’ve known!

  • Virgil Ross also animated the pig cops before they bust down the apartment door. It looks very much like his work on the later Looney Tunes shorts when the budget was slimmer but you could still see his distinctive style because he was just that good.

  • June Foray did so much for the animation industry. Rest in peace.

  • I must have missed those later Road Runner cartoons.

  • Kind of funny that Jay Ward did the same thing by using the fictional name of Ponsonby Britt OBE as the Executive Producer for many of television shows including The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Fractured Flickers,Hoppity Hooper (later known as The Uncle Waldo Show) and George of the Jungle.

  • That’s Art Babbitt in the Annie Awards photo, not Virgil Ross. To think that all these fine people are gone is very sad. They were all heroes and heroines to me.

  • That should be Alan Dundes NOT “Dunes”

    Sad to read what passes for scholarship in academic circles. Dundes seemed to be a bit obsessed. He received death threats over his theory of homoerotic subtext in American football https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Dundes#Controversy

    And the Good Professor obviously needed to pay better attention when he said that “beep beep” (actually meep meep but I digress) is the only sound the Roadrunner makes. He of course left the “tongue taunt” or tongue noise out of his theory

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2bpPTTUdVw

    • I remember a particularly bad “scholarly” assesment of the Tex Avery cartoon “Blitz Wolf” (don’t remember if it was the Adamson, Canemaker or Brion book). The AUTHOR described the point in the cartoon where the pigs are singing “You’re In The Army Now” and the cartoon stops following the line “you’re diggin a ditch” as Avery’s way of reminding the viewers that they were watching an animated cartoon in which he controlled the action, or some such stupid nonsense. This made me SOOO angry that I never read the rest of the book and gave it to a used book store, and actually wrote the publisher a letter to pass along to the author TELLING him how stupid he was for trying to give some scholarly b.s. to a joke he obviosly didn’t get – that the cartoon stops for 5 beats because the line following “you’re diggin a ditch” is “you son of a b…ch”! The stop replacing the “censorable” line IS the joke! I hate people who try to put a scholarly spin and “depth” to something that’s just a silly gag!

    • Oh, that happens. It’s why we’re here!

  • Does anyone know what all the changes were that were made for “Nurse Stimpy”?

  • Joe Barbera: “I’m not knocking Disney stuff but whenever a Disney show comes along, there’s nothing to talk about, because there’s nothing new about it. The characters are all consistently the same with minor variations.”

    Are you sure you’re not talking about Hanna-Barbera’s 1970s output, Joe?

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