ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 30, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #197

NINE-LIVES-FRITZ-THE-CAT

The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974) was an animated feature sequel to the popular Fritz the Cat (1972). It was directed by former animator Robert Taylor and was entered into the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. The title of the film refers to Fritz dreaming of the many ways his life might have turned out differently.

In a 2008 interview, Ralph Bakshi was asked about what artist Robert Crumb thought of the sequel since the underground cartoonist had publicly commented on how much he disliked Bakshi’s original feature.

Bakshi replied, “He didn’t bother to discuss the Nine Live of Fritz the Cat. He would have to say, ‘Well, Ralph did do a better picture than Nine Lives’. So to Robert Crumb, there is no Nine Lives. It doesn’t exist. The only Fritz the Cat he’s mad at is the one I did, because if he discussed Nine Lives, he’d have to say, “Well, you know, for all of my (complaining) about Ralph, Nine Lives is even worse than what he did.”

Here’s a clip from the film:

Natwick Remembers Clampett. In 1984, animation legend Grim Natwick remembered animation producer and director Bob Clampett. “I never worked with Bob. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like him. He was pretty young and a clean living man, not the kind you’d expect to be taken so suddenly.

“He was a thoughtful man who threw great New Year’s Eve parties several days before New Year’s so that people could avoid traffic but still get together without interfering with other plans. Often, I’d talk on the phone with him and I always enjoyed it. I knew his daughters and his wife and they are very charming. The many times I came into contact with him, I was close as I would feel I could be to a fellow worker.”

The Nexus That Never Was. Nexus is a comic book series created in 1981 by writer Mike Baron and artist Steve Rude about a character who has extraordinary powers given to him by an alien entity who insists he use them to kill mass murderers.

Rude, a fan of animation, wanted to see his creation transferred to animation even if he had to do it himself. In an interview, Rude stated, “I began working on the animation in 1988 and by 1991, I had a short, amateur film, produced by me and my friends. It was very good for people with little or no animation experience, and paved the way for the professionally produced promo of 2004.”

The first amateur version was done in traditional cel animation while the DVD promo that was first distributed and sold at the San Diego Comic Convention in 2004 used computer technology and the assistance of some professional animators from well-known studios. Rude financed the production of the animation sampler through eBay auctions of his own original comic book artwork, doing commission drawings, pre-sales of the final DVD and even outright donations.

He had hoped the sampler would generate interest for a full length professional production. Rude had a development deal at Hanna-Barbera for the “Nexus” project in 1994 but changes in corporate personnel resulted in the project being dropped.

The Sound of Fast Footwork. Sound designer Randy Thom won an Oscar for his work on sound editing on the Pixar animated feature The Incredibles. How did he make the running sounds for the character of Dash? “Normally, footsteps are handled pretty much exclusively by the foley department,” stated Thom in a February 27, 2005 Los Angeles Times interview. “But…there was no way that they could move their feet as fast as Dash. So we used our hands. We recorded Dash’s footsteps as fast as we could perform them. Then we electronically sped them up by a factor of four, which made Dash sound a little like a hummingbird flapping its wings.”

Can’t Believe Everything Animators Say. At the National Cartoonists Society awards presentation in 1992 where Disney’s animated feature “Beauty and the Beast” got the best animation award, animator Glen Keane accepted the award and claimed he had designed Belle after his wife Linda and had modeled the Beast on his brother Jeff. Cartoonist Bil Keane who was responsible for the comic panel Family Circus presented the award to his son.

The World Of The Wizard King

The World Of The Wizard King

Wally Wood’s WeeHawk. One of my favorite comic book artists was Wally Wood. Wood apparently harbored some personal interest in animation himself and wrote to his friend Richard Pryor (not the comedian but the original comic art collector who produced several portfolios including one featuring Wood’s sexy science fiction artwork): “This may sound wild but I made forty-five seconds of animation on 35mm color film last week. I’m going to do an animated cartoon. I’m going to spend all my spare time for the next year in making some footage. And then see if we can get some backing.”

The project Wood was working on was a concept he had previously pitched to animation studios.

Before he was ten years old, he had conceived of a project known as “King of the World” and later re-titled “The Wizard King”. Wood had immersed himself in Scandinavian folklore and was deeply influenced by the works of Tolkien, in particular The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Originally, he had planned the project as a fantasy comic book but couldn’t interest a publisher in it.

In the mid-1960s, he began to develop the project as an animated cartoon. “Then came Terrytoons where I wrote a story (no money) for a proposed television show I called ‘Wee Hawk’ and did some presentation drawings which they paid for…and then Terrytoons folded. I then went to Paramount, wrote a script, this one I got paid for, and did some presentation drawings…and then Paramount animation folded,” stated Wood in an interview.

wizards-weehawkSeveral presentation drawings still exist and they show a young hero who is more human in appearance than Wood’s Odkin character who appeared in Wood’s fanzine Witzend but in similar story situations accompanied by an older, white mustached companion and a Wood creature with a scruff of hair on top confronting some fantasy menaces.

Wood later complained that many of his characters like “Wee Hawk” and concepts for his animated project were “borrowed” without permission by animation producer Ralph Bakshi for his animated film, Wizards (1977). Bakshi had been working at both Terrytoons and Paramount when Wood had pitched his project.

Bakshi had also borrowed character design and concepts from artist Vaughn Bode as well for the final film.

10 Comments

  • Crumb apparently still hasn’t forgiven Ralph for the movie, 43 years down the line — He was interviewed three weeks ago at his home in France about contributing a cartoon of Mohammed to Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris murders, and his response included this part which only animation buffs were likely to get:

    Then I thought, “OK, I’m the Cowardly Cartoonist… As a Cowardly Cartoonist, I can’t make some glib comment like that, you know? I have to, like, make fun of myself. So instead of drawing the face of Muhammed [laughs], I drew the ass of Muhammed. [Laughs.] But then I had myself saying, in small lettering, “Actually, this is the ass of my friend of Mohamid Bakshi, who’s a film director in Los Angeles, California.” So if they come at me, I’m gonna say, “No, look, it’s not Muhammed the Prophet, it’s this guy, Mohamid Bakshi.” So, you know.

  • Did Manny Perez animate part of that Nine Lives clip posted above? Specifically, starting at 2 minutes in and going until 2:17?

  • Grim Natwick must not have known Chuck Jones.

  • I ALWAYS KINDA THOUGHT WEE HAWK AND SOME OF THE OTHER CHARECTERS IN WIZRDS LOOKED LIKE THE BLACK AND WHITE COMIC ELF QUEST BY RICHARD AND WENDY PINI?[I THINK THATS WHO MADE IT} I REMEBER READING THRU IT AT MY LOCAL COMIC SHOP BACK IN THE LATE 80’S.I KNOW WIZRDS CAME OUT BEFORE THEN.BUT STILL.

    • Wndy Pini herself said she was inspired by Bakshi’s Wizards when she started Elf Quest.

  • It is a shame that Nine Lives turned out so bad because so many good top notch animators were involved (Don Williams, Manny Gould, Johnny Gent, Marty Taras etc) As well as notable assistant animators (Lloyd Rees, Bob Tyler, Jim Logan etc this is why the art looks so good but as can be proven good art does not always mean a good film.

    I saw a name in the credits that intruged me Herb Johnson. IMDB says he worked on the Puppetoons. I have a question when did he go into 2d cel animation.

    I really like the 30′s sequence in 9 Lives of Fritz. It quite accurately shows what happened with the great depression. I like the psychedelic combination of animation and live action movie footage. It is impressive and it is a lot like The Great Gatsby.

  • Can somebody please upload the complete end credits to “Nine Lives”. I enjoy the physdilaic animation of Fritz dancing down the street while it constantly color changes. I also enjoy the song “In My Next Life” but I want to hear the song and see the visuals and the credits. I enjoy this sequence and I would like somebody to please upload it.

  • I see that Thanks to Robert Taylor directing this film many Depatie Frelang Staffers were involved with this film

    These include Don Williams, Manny Perez, Manny Gould, Bob Bemiller, John Freeman, Jim Davis, Bob Bransford as well as layout artists Peter Alvarado, Tony Rivera, Ric Gonzalez, Alex Ignatiev, Marty Strudler, Mary Murphy. Sam Kirson and Chris Jenkyns and assistant Nelson Shin

    Frank Andrina and Barney Posner frelanced at Depatie Frelang at this time

    Johnny Gent, Cosmo Anzilotti, Milt Gray, Art Vitello, Jack Foster, Manny Perez, Bob Maxfield, Joe Gray, Jim Logan Jim Davis, and Marty Taras were involved with the first Fritz.

    Other animators include Paul Sommer, Bob Bachman, Jack Foster, Volus Jones, Fred Hellmich, and John Bruno

    Assistants included Greg Nocon, Barney Posner, Jean Blanchard, Rae McSpadden, Lloyd Rees, Tom Ferriter, Sonja Ruta, Dean Thompson, Richard Trueblood, Bob Tyler, Mike Baez, Judy Drake, Lewis Lew Irwin, Mark Karen, John Dorman, and Francesca Allen Freeman.

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