THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 29, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Emery Hawkins Greedy animation from “Raggedy Ann and Andy”

This column, and, honeslty, *every* participation I have related to animation was, in some way, at least partially the fault of a few films. These productions tipped my interest beyond just watching; I wanted to both share animation I liked and make it as well. The ‘making it’ part has been, for the most part, animating on games and commercials (and some animation in a feature as well as storyboarding). The ‘sharing’ part is this column and the Thunderbean videos.

This sharing probably really started in late 1977, when my brother and I put on a puppet show at the Ann Arbor Public Library based on the animated feature Raggedy Ann and Andy. Even as an enthusiastic 9 year old, I wanted to share the film with people, and a puppet show seemed like the best way at that time to do so. My brother, a year older than me, went along willingly.

Above: I’m at the left here, with my brother Scott to the right. Our version of Gadzooks, one of the characters in the film, was made from a green garbage bag.

Below: Here’s me as the Greedy, in a Hefty bag. I wonder if they’d still let kids do stuff like this, risking suffocation for a kids puppet show. I wish my memory was better on how many kids showed up that night; the Ann Arbor News was there to take pictures though.

Of course, what I *really* wanted to do is show the Greedy sequence rather than be dressed up in a garbage bag. So, here, nearly 40 years later, I get that opportunity. Its the films 40th Anniversary, and its a shame its not out on Blu-ray yet. It’s not for a lack of trying though! This year, the film will be shown at the New York Animation Block Party, in 35mm. Ill be out there for the showing.

The ‘Greedy’ Hefty bag in full color

The Greedy sequence was largely the work of genius animator Emery Hawkins, and its a marvel of interesting timing, funny visual ideas and funny drawing. Hawkins, of course, did beautiful animation at more studios than you can count. The extensiveness of the animation in this sequence probably would not exist – at least to this level – if Dick Williams wasn’t directing. What I like best about the scene is the creepiness of some of the drawing and ideas. The drawings of the Camel still make me laugh, especially how Emery loves to play around with his neck and rag doll-esque body throughout.

There’s one shot where he ducks down, exposing his large rear end right to the camera before slipping like jello into the cupcake carrying him and the dolls. One could watch this scene over and over and catch entirely different things each time.

Hawkins career included working for Disney, Mintz, Warner Brothers, MGM, Lantz, UPA, various spot studios and many of the Bill Melendez Peanuts specials. His invention in the simplest of scenes is almost always noticeable within moments. I especially loved his animation in Disney’s Donald’s Dream Voice and the Lantz Swing Symphony The Greatest Man in Siam, and so many other films.

Thad Komorowski shared an interview with Hawkins, originally conducted by John Canemaker for his excellent book The Animated Raggedy Ann and Andy. My copy of this book was dog eared and nearly destroyed within the first few years of ownership. It was the only book I could find as a kid that didn’t concentrate on Disney.

Young animator Dan Haskett was one of the main assistant animators on the sequence, keeping volumes and clarity working very well throughout these enormously detailed and complicated 16 field drawings. Heres a gag drawing, by Eric Goldberg, reprinted in Canemakers book:

I had a brief conversation with Dick Williams about Emery one year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Seeing the little smile come across his face when he started talking about Emery’s drawings was a tiny magic moment for me personally. He clearly loved thinking back on the talents of people that he employed.

There’s much more I’d like to say about this stuff of course… but instead of all of that, just enjoy the animation in this sequence, with a song by Sesame Street composer Joe Raposo. Scanned last year from a 35mm print. Make sure to watch it in HD if your computer will allow. Have a good week everyone!

17 Comments

  • Awesome!…..I have never seen this movie. Thanks for sharing this scene.

  • Footnote: The voice cast included Sheldon Harnick, not an actor anywhere else to my knowledge, but the lyricist of “Fiddler on the Roof”, “She Loves Me” and other stage musical … including an adaptation of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, where Harnick’s lyrics were set to music by Joe Raposo.

  • This movie used to come on the Disney Channel back in the late 1980s, and it used to freak me out as a kid. I saw it on YouTube a few years ago, and I was blown away by the animation, particularly the scene in question. You had legends like Art Babbit and Grim Natwick working on it, as well as rookies at the time like Eric Goldberg.

    Here’s hoping for a Blu-Ray release soon! Wish I could make it out to New York, I bet it’s going to look incredible on the big screen!

  • Hard to believe that this film (Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure) came out 40 years ago! Along with Disney’s The Rescuers and the “ill fated” Race For Your Life Charlie Brown (which many considered as the worst of the Peanuts animated film franchise), Bozetto’s Allegro Non Troppo, Bakshi’s Wizards and Roger Corman’s Dirty Duck – it was quite a year.

    • Don’t forget “The Mouse and his Child,” which also saw theatrical release in the year 1977.

    • Yes, we mustn’t forget The Mouse and His Child!

  • The Greedy sequence is truly an astounding piece of animation. So much detail, with everything in constant motion and the Greedy changing into ever more bizarre forms, yet everything reads and actions are clear. Looking at Emery Hawkins’s previous animations, you see a lot of clever movement, but nothing at this degree of surrealism.

  • Superlative!!

  • While I go with the consensus that the Greedy sequence is the highlight in an abysmal film, as I told Steve on the phone earlier today: for me, Hawkins’ work for Williams looks to have been a rewardless chore, much as Jim Tyer’s work looks to have been for Gene Deitch: a completely unrecognizable work by one of the Golden Age’s most highly identifiable animators.

    • I can still recognize Gerry Chiniquy’s work in the King Koo Koo sequence.

  • Of course you know that the Raggedy Ann feature was in constant turmoil all the way through the production, due to budget and being over schedule. Emery Hawkins was not allowed to complete the Taffy Pit sequence himself, he took too long. John Bruno, an on-staff animator in the L.A. unit, jobbed out the remaining footage at the tail end of the sequence to free-lancers. The footage rate? Thirty bucks a foot! This was for some of the most intensive animation on the picture. John tried to talk me into picking up at that rate, but I considered the rate too low for the amount of time it would have taken to animate one foot ala Emery. If you look closely at the end of the Taffy Pit sequence; it doesn’t match Emery’s stuff at all.

  • IIRC, the songwriter was one of the film’s producers, which is why there were too many songs and they ran too long. The Greedy sequence has a lot of inventiveness, but King Ross Perot and the Incarcerated Pirate should’ve been cut.

  • @ Tom Minton & Chris Sobieniak

    You’re right!

    How could I ever forget The Mouse and His Child (aka The Extraordinary Adventures of The Mouse and His Child), shame on me!

    Truly a fantastic animated masterpiece that is also celebrating its 40th anniversary.

    A joint venture with Sanrio America (creators of Hello Kitty), Charles M Schulz Creative Associates INC and animated by Murakami-Wolf Productions.

    If they had the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 1977 truly The Mouse and His Child would have won it hands down.

    • I don’t know. I haven’t watch the film yet, but I know Maltin gave that film a BOMB rating in his book saying it was too chattery. Then again, he gave “Cats Don’t Dance” an unfair 1 1/2 star.

    • It can get rather wordy the way characters speak in the film. Everyone speaks in such lofty, poetic tones, you’d think this was a stage play. Not sure if that had to do more with the book it was based on or not (since I haven’t read it). It’s stil a rather impressive film for the level of thought-provoking message or theme one could pick up from the events that happen in the film. Of course any film were characters can be killed off at a moments notice is tops in my book!

      In Japan, the film was released a year later, paired with a featurette Sanrio did back home called “Chirin no Suzu”, best known under it’s later English title “Ringing Bell”, which by itself seems like an very odd watch, espeically for children given it’s rather harsh lesson on tryhing to be different, but perhaps paired with Mouse and His Child, it made for a perfect theatrical bill to Japanese audiences.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringing_Bell

  • The fact that these animators (Hawkins; Haskett; et al) had to work to create a hierarchy amongst the anarchy of such an ever-changing character design such as Greedy is a feat worth writing a blog post about. It is an interesting insight to a film that probably worth a watch as a who’s who of animators from many eras than as a cohesive feature, but it looks like there are plenty of posts to made about some of the other animated films reaching the big 4-0 this year, such as The Mouse and His Child.

  • It’s interesting that some of you folks like Bigg6549 et. al. think so highly of the Mouse and His Child. I did a little animating on the picture, and I considered it to be pure junk. The character designs were just scribbled out, with no eye to form or any kind of sensible construction, and the story! I’ll never forget going to meet with Chuck Swenson at Murakami-Wolf to go over the storyboards. Vincent Davis and I looked them over, the boards took up all the walls in one room. After we went over them, with no pitching or interpretation by Chuck, Vince and I said, “That’s OK for a start, when do we have the first story conference?” Chuck said, “This is it, we make the story that’s on the boards.” I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but Vincent asked me to help him out on a sequence he was supervising, so I did a few scenes. Some of it was the moment when the mice become “self-winding”. How anyone can think this cheaply ground-out flick is worth anything really surprises me.

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