Another Bomb. In 1992, animation designer Maurice Noble remembered his time working at Warners. “I would often look in to see (Mike) Maltese at work on a story idea and say to him ‘So you’re throwing another bomb’ leading Mike to abandon a violent gag and come up with a non-violent solution to a situation. I can still see Mike hiding his face in mock shame when I would catch him using the violence which we both agreed was just an easy way out.
“Maltese was very talented with a wonderful, pixie sense of humor who could make such a rich storyboard in terms of gags and special touches, that Chuck (Jones) sometimes couldn’t capture it all in the picture.”
The Secret of Warners Success. Who was Maurice Noble’s favorite character? In a 1992 interview, he said, “I’ve always had a soft spot for nasty little Daffy Duck”.
On the continued popularity of the Warners cartoon, he stated, “There is a contact with the human spirit. When we made these cartoons, we made them, in a sense, to amuse ourselves. I think you really feel this. Chuck and I were enjoying them, and, I think, the animators were too. This spilled over onto the screen, and I think people enjoyed it. So this is really one of the charms and keys to the success of that series of cartoons.”
The Sound of a Spider Web. When asked if some of the sound effects he created like the spinning of a spider web resembled the actual sound, Disney Legend and sound effects master Jimmy MacDonald smiled and said, “When Walt Disney said it could (have a sound), you made it have a sound.”
Grim Natwick and Snow White. “Snow White was the most difficult animation I ever had to do,” stated animation legend Grim Natwick in 1981. “Scenes like her dance with the Dwarfs were rotoscoped but we couldn’t trace them directly. The character was smaller than the live girl and proportioned differently. Basically, all we kept were the leg movements and the head turns. The important thing was to get the timing of the steps.”
“Sutherland had been after me for a long time so he called me and we had lunch. When ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was finished I had just built a studio in Northridge, California that was attached to my home. Sutherland offered me $100 a week more than I was being paid at Disney. So I took him up on his offer which also included being allowed to work at home and becoming his number one art director. No one looking over my shoulder or checking anything.
“The very first day after I left Disney in 1957, Sutherland called me and said we have an important meeting in Pittsburgh in two weeks. We need to have a storyboard completed to show them (U.S. Steel). For the next two weeks I worked like a mad man. Their movie was about the steel industry, using live action with some animated sequences. I remember arriving at the presentation and showing them the paintings. When they saw the paintings, they went wild and threw out any ideas of using living action. The whole thing was done with painting and animation.”
Educational Disney. When Disney Educational Materials Company was officially formed in 1969, educational consultants were brought in to review the tentative projects and give input to their effectiveness for the proposed grade level audiences. The actual animation was given to independent animation studios. The Disney characters in these projects often look different from the classic versions because these studios were given model sheets used for comic strips, coloring books and other licensed Disney merchandise of the 1970s. Some of the cels from these productions flooded the market in 1990 and were often advertised as originals from classic Disney theatrical productions and sold at huge prices.
Matt Groening Talks Early Simpsons. In 1991, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening gave an interview where he described how it all began.
“As a child I loved animation and always wanted to try it. I remember watching Disney’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ and the scene of the puppies watching television. I was amazed at that image, the kind you can only get with animation and I knew that I wanted to do the same kind of things myself some day. I even did flip books as a kid. In high school, I did some animation but found the process itself tedious and got bored.
“I’m left-handed and find that elaborate design is difficult for me. My cartoons are very spare and simple. Besides, I can’t really draw. There are lots of things I’d like to add (to my drawings) but I can’t draw them. That’s changed now. With a team of animators working on the show now I can just tell them what I want and they put it in for me. Lots of the great stuff I could never draw myself.”
The Simpsons Secret. When asked why the Simpsons were so popular, creator Matt Groening stated in 1991, “We try not to play it strictly for jokes. Part of their charm is that they are ruled by impulse. They don’t anticipate the consequences of their insensitive acts. They do awful things to each other but not on purpose. On ‘The Tracy Ullman Show’ we didn’t even have model sheets. We just looked at last week’s episode to see how the characters were drawn this week.”
Crowd Control. “All good drama has a little humor in it, so I provided the oatmeal scene (in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’), stated animator Tom Sito in 1992 who worked on doing some of the crowds in that animated classic. “It can be exhausting and tedious. Because you can’t really do personalities. The main problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to do crowds correctly. It’s important that everybody has his own personality without overshadowing the primary character. A good secondary character has to be invisible to the primary character. The primary character is center stage and your character has to look alive and yet be invisible.”