ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 9, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #194

The Wisdom of Walt Disney. The following quotes by Walt Disney come from Everyweek Magazine, a Sunday newspaper supplement in the Odgen Standard Examiner May 12 1935 from the collection of artist Shane Glines:

walt-disney1935“I don’t know why girls should be poor animators but they are,” Disney declares. “Very frequently they are better artists than men but for some reason they lack the knack of getting smooth action into their drawings.

“I’ve often been told how lucky I am not to have any stars to go temperamental on me. It’s true I never have any trouble with Mickey, the three pigs or any of my characters. But don’t ever think animators can’t be temperamental. Say, they can be just as bad as any star you ever saw!

“Occasionally one will have an off day on which he can’t draw anything worth while. Then he has to be pampered and pulled out of his slump with all the diplomacy that would be used on a star.”

Walt continued to grow both professionally and personally over the years. Here is a Walt quote about women in animation from six years later in 1941: “If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man. The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”

simpsons-handbookThe Simpsons Handbook. When 128 page The Simpsons Handbook: Tips From the Pros was released June 2007 from Harper Design, some complained that the “how to draw The Simpsons” book commissioned by the character merchandising department was just some basic model sheets. However, the studio producing the series had tried to save money by never creating any official model sheets after the first season and those became quickly out of date.

Talented artists who tried auditioning for the show were told their work was “off model” because they had used the only existing model sheets that the studio had given them as a guide. Those animators who worked at the studio learned from their peers and the directors on how to properly draw the characters.

Artists around the studio who were particularly good at drawing certain characters were recruited to draw those model sheets for the book. When the book was released, many artists who worked at the studio immediately rushed out and paid full retail price to get a copy. Eventually, seeing the value of artists having the book as a reference, the studio made copies available to the staff at wholesale.

The Groovenians. Kenny Scharf is a pop culture painter known for using icons like the Flintstones and the Jetsons in his artwork. In 2002, he created and wrote an animated cartoon pilot for Cartoon Network that ran once.

Entitled The Groovenians, it dealt with wacky artists who lived on the imaginary planet Groovenia. It featured voice work from Dennis Hopper, Vincent Gallo, Debi Mazar, Ann Magnuson, RuPaul, Dreena De Niro and Paul Reubens.

In 2007, Scharf complained to the New York Post newspaper that it was Paul Reubens’ bust for allegedly having vintage child pornography (the charges were eventually dropped) and Scharf’s refusal to remove Reubens’ character from the cartoon that doomed the project.

“Hollywood was not very nice to me. The network owns my show and they never spoke to me again. They treated me really bad. It was a little rough. So, now I do my paintings again,” Scharf said.

“I am not doing that ever again. I thought I was going to make money. I ended up getting paid twenty-five cents an hour for three years of work and being bossed around by network honchos. I went into debt for it. I would love to make more animation but I am not interested in making it with studios. Hollywood finds a way to ruin almost anything with imagination”.

When contacted, Cartoon Network spokesman Tim DeClaire denied that Reubens’ involvement was a factor. He said, “We did a pilot with Kenny and decided not to move forward with it. There’s no specific reason besides the fact that this happens in television all the time. A pilot is just a pilot and they are created so that can happen. That’s why you don’t immediately create thirty-six episodes at once. What happened is not unusual at all.”

Animated Dr. Who. Many vintage television shows no longer exist for a variety of reasons including the fact that the owners of the material purged the episodes because they thought audiences wouldn’t want to see “old” shows ever again or that the tape could be used to record over and save some money.

In recent years, a new generation wanted to see some of the classic BBC Dr. Who stories with some of the original doctors. For an eight part serial from 1968 entitled “The Invasion” with Patrick Troughton (the Second Doctor) battling the Cybermen, the BBC discovered it was missing episodes one and four and assumed they were lost forever as part of its purge of earlier installments.

Fans at home had tape recorded the audio of the episodes on their home cassette recorders for their own enjoyment when they were originally shown. Using that material, the BBC contracted in 2006 with animation studio Cosgrove-Hall Productions (responsible for the animated series Dangermouse and Duckula) to recreate those missing episodes.

Cosgrove-Hall used the original shooting scripts to make a storyboard, utilized footage from the surviving episodes for visual reference of the actors and sets (even using photographic backgrounds taken from the surviving episodes because many of the same sets and props appeared in the missing episodes) and synced up their new animation to the existing restored audio tracks.

The animation was done in black and white to match the original television episodes and the entire restored eight part story was released to both critical and financial success on DVD.

Cosgrove Hall’s Lead Animator Steve Maher found the job of recreating a black and white TV adventure “a slightly surreal experience”, but explained that animating Patrick Troughton’s Doctor was a real treat. “He has a wonderfully animatable face, so he was a gift. Baddies are invariably more fun to depict than the good guys so the sneering, unblinking Tobias Vaughn (who is working with the deadly Cybermen) was a lot of fun, too.”

9 Comments

  • I can see why Cartoon Network passed on The Groovenians. Not funny, ugly characters, terrible animation (even for TV). I felt i should watch the whole clip before commenting, but I just couldn’t.

    • Lord knows there were plenty of stuff CN aired in the past I simply forgot they did.

  • When contacted, Cartoon Network spokesman Tim DeClaire denied that Reubens’ involvement was a factor. He said, “We did a pilot with Kenny and decided not to move forward with it. There’s no specific reason besides the fact that this happens in television all the time. A pilot is just a pilot and they are created so that can happen. That’s why you don’t immediately create thirty-six episodes at once. What happened is not unusual at all.”

    By that statement, the same could be said about Evan Dorkin’s “Welcome To Eltingville” or Aaron Springer’s “Korgoth of Barbaria” (both very good pilots but nothing else). The what-ifs that come from a single pilot. Of course this Scharf character sounds rather stuck-up if he thought something good was going to come out of his odd little thing.

  • The Groovenians was reviewed by Internet reviewers The Rowdy Reviewer (TV Trash), Mr. Enter, and Hewy Toonmore (Hewy’s Animated Movie Reviews). All of them hated it for good reasons. I think we can safely say that project was doomed from the start.

  • I’m surprised that nothing good came of “THE GROOVENIANS” with all that talent behind it. I’d always liked Ann Magnuson’s work with her group, Bongwater, lots of biting satire on celebrity and media; I would have thought that alone would have led to bigger things…and a song by the B52’s, too.

    • Plus underscore by the original members of DEVO.

  • “Kenny Scharf is a pop culture painter known for using icons like the Flintstones and the Jetsons in his artwork. In 2002, he created and wrote an animated cartoon pilot for Cartoon Network that ran once.”

    The main title card states that “The Groovenians” was written, produced and directed by Jordan Reichek, not Kenny Scharf.

  • It’s worth noting that Kenny Scharf was a one-time friend, roommate, and collaborator with Keith Haring. Haring’s work, of course, inspired much of the early-90s Nickelodeon graphic style (especially promos, bumpers, etc.)

  • I had high hopes for something like “THE GROOVENIANS” after reading of the talent involved. I’d been a fan of Ann Magnuson’s work in the past in music and parody with her group and project, Bongwater, and it is interesting to note that the theme to this project is composed by the B52’s. I wonder where this all would have gone if it were successful.

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