Tubby Millar. Melvin “Tubby” Eugene Millar was born May 6, 1900 in Portis, Kansas. He got his nickname for being “as round as a tub” as a boy and that body shape remained for the rest of his life.
“He drew pictures ever since he was big enough to hold a pencil,” childhood friend Hud Turner told a “Wichita Eagle” newspaper reporter in 1992. Turner, then 92, showed an old high school government textbook in which the margin of nearly every page was jammed with drawings of faces, figures and exaggerated cartoon characters.
In 1931, Millar got a job at Warner Brothers animating Porky Pig (and other Warner characters) and eventually worked as storyman on the cartoons.
His hometown erected a limestone memorial to him in 1992 that states: “In memory of Melvin Tubby Millar, animator for Looney Tunes Porky Pig cartoons and assistant to Friz Freleng, creator of Porky Pig.”
The marker is at the intersection of Market Street (U.S. 281) and 5th Street, on the left when traveling south on Market Street. It includes an image of Porky Pig (with the appropriate Warners’ copyright) on the right hand side.
Millar worked the name of his hometown into several cartoons. For instance, in Porky’s Pet (1936), at the train station there is a poster telling the traveler “When in Portis, Stop at Millar Manor”. In Bingo Crosbyana (1936), a little fly is next to a matchbox labeled “Portis Matches” and a wine bottle says “90 percent Portis”.
Other Warners cartoons written by Millar with “Portis” references include Porky of the North Woods (1936), Porky’s Road Race (1937) , The Case of the Stuttering Pig (1937) and Sniffles and the Bookworm (1939).
Millar died in Burbank, California on December 30, 1980 at the age of eighty.
Bob Clampett On 1970s Cartoons. In a 1974 short interview with the “National Enquirer” newspaper, when asked about the current animated cartoons being produced, animation legend Bob Clampett said, “They leave me with high blood pressure. The new cartoons shown on television are mere cardboard cut-outs without personality. I really believe that’s it’s the prostitution of a wonderful medium. The companies who are churning out these cartoons today only care about meeting network deadlines. They are turning the clock back to the first raw efforts made by cartoonists.”
The Three New Stooges. There is documentation that there were several attempts in the late 1950s and early 1960s to make a series of Three Stooges animated cartoons, based on the live action comedy trio. Friz Freleng was involved in one of the attempts. In 1965, Cambria Studios of “Clutch Cargo” fame produced 156 episodes of “The New Three Stooges” under the supervision of Lee Orgel.
To enhance the series, a live-action wraparound was filmed with the badly aging Moe Howard, Larry Fine and “Curly Joe” DaRita.
As DeRita recalled in the book “The Three Stooges Scrapbook” (1982):
“There were 156 cartoons and we made only 40 live-action segments. So after they ran the whole 40, they’d just start over by using these same introductions on new cartoons. This turned out to be misleading because viewers would say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this one before.’ and they’d turn off the television. They didn’t know it was a new cartoon.”
Horse Eyebrows. For the animated feature Spirit: Wild Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), James Baxter, supervising animator of the title character told the “Los Angeles Times” newspaper: “Horses are notoriously difficult to draw, and a lot of people know how they look and move, so it’s obvious if you make a mistake. Trying to create some of the actions in the movie and give them enough power was tricky.
“It was a real challenge to give Spirit a face that could display readable emotions. We did some design tricks, shifting his eyes a little further forward on the head, so you can see both eyes more readily which makes his expressions easier to read. And we gave him nice big eyebrows—which horses don’t have.”
The Velocipod Sound. Velocipods were the flying saucers controlled by the evil character Syndrome in the Pixar animated feature The Incredibles (2005) and they chased speedy little Dash through jungles and deserts and even over the ocean.
“I thought about jet airplanes but those sounds get used so often,” recalled Randy Thom who was responsible for sound effects in the film in an interview with the “Los Angeles Times” newspaper on February 27, 2005. “Same for rockets. Besides, these velocipods sometimes hover. Rockets never hover.
“Eventually, I used Formula One race cars. They sound ‘high tech’ which seemed appropriate. Their engines can rev while standing still like hovering. But we had to disguise the sounds so the audience didn’t immediately recognize them and think ‘I’m looking at flying saucers and hearing cars’. So sometimes the drive-bys are played backward.”
Storyboard Sobbing. Animation directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois had worked together on Disney’s animated feature Mulan (1998) but it was not until they worked together on Disney’s Lilo & Stich (2002) that they accidentally discovered they both shared a nightmarish secret.
“One night, (animator) Andreas Deja, who animated Lilo, invited the two of us over with some other people,” remembered Sanders. “Suddenly, Dean looks at his watch and said, ‘Oh, it’s nine o’clock. I really should get home and start storyboarding so I can be crying by two o’clock.’ And I said, ‘What? You do that too?’ We start storyboarding the night before the assignment’s due and by about two a.m. we each reach a point where we’re sobbing ‘I can’t do this. It’s impossible!’ When it comes time to storyboard, we both wait until the last second.”
Realistic Jonny Quest. In a 1973 interview, creator Doug Wildey recalled the difficulty in producing the Hanna-Barbera series Jonny Quest (1964): “It’s a matter of educating network people that this stuff doesn’t come cheap and there aren’t too many animators around to do the realistic movements. We had a lot of trouble with that in the beginning of Jonny Quest because the motions were too speeded up. The boats were moving too fast and the people opened doors with speed lines. That type of thing. We couldn’t have that. We had to have realistic motion to a degree to make the thing work in the story. Otherwise the audience wouldn’t buy it.” Maybe it would have been easier if they teamed up Jonny and the gang with Tom and Jerry – oh wait! They just have.