ANIMATION ANECDOTES
August 7, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #224

nu-goodi-1Nu Pogodi!(“Just You Wait!”). The most popular cartoon series for several decades in the Soviet Union was “Nu Pogodi!” produced by Soyuzmultfilm. The basic premise was a wolf (Volk) trying to capture a hare (Zayats) and then shouting “Just You Wait!” when his plans were foiled.

People have compared the series to Tom and Jerry or Roadrunner and Coyote but the Russian series had its own unique perspective on the concept of a predator trying to vainly capture its prey. For instance, Volk chain smokes, steals cars, bullies little furry characters (but usually something minor like pushing them off a bench so he can sit down), and does vandalism.

In the book “Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams” (1983) by David Shipler, who was the bureau chief for the “New York Times” newspaper in Moscow from 1977-1979 is an interesting insight into the series:

russian8mm“Originated in 1969 by three artists, one of whom, Felix Kandel, later emigrated to Israel. Kandel told me that only once did he remember a higher official in the state-run film studio trying to give the series an ideological slant, by making the rabbit into a brave young Pioneer with the red neckerchief and the wolf into some symbol of evil capitalism. ‘We beat him,’ Kandel recalled because the cartoons brought huge income to the studio, not something to be ignored even in the centrally planned economy of the World’s First Socialist State.

“To some extent, though, children saw in the rabbit the good Pioneer anyway, the studious intellectual, the bright, upstanding citizen their teachers all wanted them to be. And, therefore, it was the wolf they loved, Kandel said, as a statement of their resistence to the expectations. At occasional showings the audience of youngsters would be asked whom they liked more, ‘and they all cried The Wolf!’ he recalled. In schools, when pupils were invited to draw their versions of a Nu Pogodi story, about four out of five portrayed the wolf sympathetically, putting him in the hero role. ‘He’s not cruel’, Kandel explained. ‘He’s just a fool’.”


SpongeBob NOT Gay. In a 2002 interview, Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob Squarepants, insisted he was not gay nor was there any intent to portray SpongeBob or his pals as homosexuals. At the time, there was controversy that because of the way they behaved and talked, the characters might be subtly portraying stereotypical homosexual behaviors from males holding hands to taking bubble baths listening to classical music to loving pink starfish.

“I do think that the attitude of the show is about tolerance,” said Hillenburg. “Everybody is different, and the show embraces that. The character SpongeBob is an oddball. He’s kind of weird but he’s kind of special. Although SpongeBob and his friends are all very different from one another, they get along. No one is shut out. I always think of them as being somewhat asexual.”

spongebob-rainbow


Hayao Miyazaki on Cinderella. When asked about the Disney animated feature “Cinderella” (1950), animation legend Hayao Miyazaki stated, “I felt bad for the evil stepsisters. Couldn’t they be a little bit prettier? It would have appeared much more tragic if her sisters had been more charming and the prince had to choose among them.”


casper-goldenLPSeymour Reit. Casper the Friendly Ghost’s ancestry was always a matter of dispute between writer Seymour Reit and artist Joe Oriolo. When the live action Casper film came out in 1995, Reit remarked, “All I have is some nice memories and a little nostalgic sadness that I am not part of the movie. My career went on in all sorts of interesting, fun ways. I’m not mourning or grieving over what I might have lost with Casper. It was fun. I did the story.”

Reit who started as an in-betweener at the Fleischer studios in Florida at the age of nineteen went on to write more than eighty children’s books, over sixty pieces for MAD magazine, wrote Archie and Little Lulu comic books and several books for adults.


The Origin of Samurai Jack. Animator Genndy Tartakovsky told “The New Yorker” magazine (May 27,2002) about what inspired the idea of his animated series “Samurai Jack”: “When I was ten or twelve, I would have this dream where there was a nuclear holocaust, and America would be blown up, and I would find this samurai sword in the window of a store in downtown Chicago, and I would go to the house of the girl I had a crush on, and we would fight mutants.”


South Park Focus Group. Brian Graden who was a Fox executive, was a champion for Trey Parker and Matt Stone in getting their South Park television series on the air. However, he remembered in Entertainment Weekly magazine (March 13, 2015) that the pilot tested very badly.

Eric_Cartman150“We went to do a focus group,” said Graden. “They were asked to rate the pilot on a scale of 1 to 10. There were 1s and 2s and a few 3s everywhere. We made three people cry. They were saying that it’s inappropriate for children to say those kinds of things. I’ve never seen a worse focus group.”

Comedy Central moved forward with the series anyway. In 1997, South Park debuted to nearly a million viewers which was considered huge at the time and continued to grow.

“The only thing we could figure is tons of college kids had gone to the library and watched ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ (also known as ‘Jesus Vs. Santa’, Graden’s video Christmas card produced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone) over and over on line.”


That Feminine Stretchy Sound. Randy Thom, who did the sound effects for the Pixar animated feature “The Incredibles” (2005) told the “Los Angeles Times” newspaper on February 27, 2005 how he came up with just the right sound for Elastigirl to stretch.

“Creating her stretchy sounds was especially tricky in the scene where she’s flirting with Mr. Incredible. She flips over the top of his head and then back through his legs,” he recalled. “We discovered early on that gross stretching sounds took all the romance out of the moment. Getting desperate to find some kind of special sound that would fit the mood, we came upon silk sheets. Our Foley performers ran their fingers across silk sheets to produce an ultra smooth whoosh kind of sound.”

29 Comments

  • The only reason Nu Pogodi is compared to T&J and the roadrunner cartoons is because it uses the same principle of having minimal dialogue. Well that and it’s animated.

    Despite the premise, there’s really no predator/prey dynamic whatsoever. They’re not even adversaries, just that the wolf tries to bend the rules and have some fun while the rabbit gets in his way by either being too much of a boy scout or just unintentionally disturbing his good time. Usually it’s the Soviet cops that give him more of a hassle.

    • Ummm… Joe H, that is simply wrong. I have seen many Nu Pogodi shorts, and in most if not all of them, the Wofl clearly tries to capture the hare because he wants to eat him. “Nu Podogi!” *is* a predator-prey cartoon series… but spiced with many other ingredients as well.

    • Ummm… Joe H, that is simply wrong. I have seen many Nu Pogodi shorts, and in most if not all of them, the Wofl clearly tries to capture the hare because he wants to eat him. “Nu Podogi!” *is* a predator-prey cartoon series… but spiced with many other ingredients as well.

      It seems to be a little of both as I see it. I suppose the wolf’s intentions are a tad ambiguous at time since he doesn’t resort to direct planning the way Tom or Wile E. might do it. Everything happens out of chance and he simply does his best regardless of the outcome (losing the rabbit anyway). Of course I can see how this is made moot by the very world these cartoons take place in that is full of other animals that seem to get along without instinctual tendencies (of which the Wolf certainly hasn’t figured out).

      I also think episode 20 might be a bad choice to include as an example here, simply for it having been made about a decade ago, and already updating certain aspects of the wolf unseen in the classic episodes (giving up smoking and imagines himself as Spider-Wolf).

  • This is a really minor nitpick, but “rabbit” and “hare” are not really synonyms. Among other differences, hares have longer ears. In popular usage in America, they tend to be; Bugs Bunny has always been called a rabbit or a hare interchangeably. In Russia, the hare is definitely a hare; zayets. I don’t think that the Russian word for rabbit, krolik, has ever been used for him.

    I can see the Zayets working as a personification of a cheerful Red Pioneer youth. The Volk as a personification of capitalism? He was so obviously a penniless fool and a loser that it would have made the Soviet bureaucracy look ridiculous. Aleksandr Volkov, who translated Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” into Russian in 1939, changed Kansas into a happy, bright place because (he said later) if he had left it as bleak and miserable as Baum wrote it, everyone in Russia would have thought that Stalin had ordered him to make Kansas into anti-American propaganda. (Volkov also created a speaking part in Oz for Toto.)

    • Aleksandr Volkov, who translated Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” into Russian in 1939, changed Kansas into a happy, bright place because (he said later) if he had left it as bleak and miserable as Baum wrote it, everyone in Russia would have thought that Stalin had ordered him to make Kansas into anti-American propaganda.

      Wouldn’t surprise me the Russians were that critical about foreign literature (assuming they knew).

      (Volkov also created a speaking part in Oz for Toto.)

      Now that’s more like it! 🙂

    • This is a really minor nitpick, but “rabbit” and “hare” are not really synonyms. Among other differences, hares have longer ears.

      We have solved that problem in our own way – we use only one word for rabbit and hare (zaek)!

  • The animation in that Russian Wolf cartoon must be more recent. It is pretty good.
    The timing/spacing of the older ones; Russian/Eastern Bloc cartoons in general, always struck me a real even.

    • True enough. Here is one from the original run:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZvwmzX_4Cs

      These cartoons were released in 8mm and Super 8 versions for home use. If you want to buy one on Ebay, don’t be tricked into paying a lot – they’re very common. (The guitar-playing Wolf shown above is from a film box.)

    • You can also get all 18 of the original “Nu, Pogodi!” cartoons on Russian DVDs really cheaply — but why bother, since they’re all on YouTube for free?

    • True enough. Here is one from the original run:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZvwmzX_4Cs

      The above episode and #19 were produced around 2005/6. I don’t know why they were made to start with but one of the original creator’s sons directed them. They’re not bad, but some fans didn’t like certain updated changes they made to the wolf’s character otherwise.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nu,_pogodi!#1990s_to_present

      These cartoons were released in 8mm and Super 8 versions for home use. If you want to buy one on Ebay, don’t be tricked into paying a lot – they’re very common. (The guitar-playing Wolf shown above is from a film box.)

      I don’t suppose any were available on super 8 with magnetic sound. The music choices in these cartoons was another important fact that shouldn’t be left out. It ran the gamut of traditional to classical, from folk to pop and funk, a lot taken from Western records. Here’s some of my faves.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_AyFnTimgo
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWi2NWBgQtk
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXgw8pTZjVQ

      And of course, the theme song in full, composed by Hungarian Tamas Deak! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhEvV9Q7zfE

      Speaking of random Nu, Pogodi, here’s something that was made just a few years ago…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5LzvWo3uNQ

    • Вы ошибаетесь, товарищ. “Деревня” 1973.

    • You can also get all 18 of the original “Nu, Pogodi!” cartoons on Russian DVDs really cheaply — but why bother, since they’re all on YouTube for free?

      It’s also glad to see how clean and sharp those transfers are. When I first heard of this series, episodes that were being circulated on earlier P2P venues like Usenet, KaZaA and Morpheus looked really terrible, as if these were the best prints they could find and the original negs were destroyed. Today, we’re practically seeing them in a way that hasn’t seen seen since they were first made I feel. We ought to be thankful the Russians don’t mind sharing these to the world (if you can figure your way through the Cyrillic alphabet).

  • Have focus groups ever proved anything?

  • Sure, they were mean, but I felt the stepsisters were of acceptable beauty.

    • Which is probably why that one direct-to-video sequel was made perhaps with one of them finding a love of her own.

  • I always like seeing Russian animation, there seems to have been a lot of interesting styles come out of there. I had never heard of this series before, watched a little of it, plan to watch more.

    Rather than worry about the difference between hare and rabbit, the minor point I was wondering is if the hare is male or female. I have seen the character referred to as male, but the rosy cheeks, long eyelashes, and female voice artist tell me the character is female. Granted, not unheard of for females to voice young males, but that hare looks very female to me.

    • Oh, Russian fans have been arguing for years whether Zayets is a boy or a girl. The voice was definitely a woman who never tried to sound masculine.

      One thing that fascinated me is that the Soviet actor who voiced the Volk, Anatoly Poponov (a popular Soviet movie actor; he’s on a Soviet postage stamp) died in the 1980s after the first 15 or 16 cartoons were made. Since then, I think that they’ve just been reusing Poponov’s voice tracks on the later cartoons.

    • I’ve always been fascinated by the steel wire animation in Garri Bardin’s 1987 “Frills”.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6NRJWD0kYU

    • I always like seeing Russian animation, there seems to have been a lot of interesting styles come out of there. I had never heard of this series before, watched a little of it, plan to watch more.

      If you do, please go here, I’m serious, this is all the Wolf & Hare you’ll ever need, and in HD!
      https://www.youtube.com/user/NuPogodi1969/videos/

      Rather than worry about the difference between hare and rabbit, the minor point I was wondering is if the hare is male or female. I have seen the character referred to as male, but the rosy cheeks, long eyelashes, and female voice artist tell me the character is female. Granted, not unheard of for females to voice young males, but that hare looks very female to me.

      At this point, I’d say asexual myself (just like Spongebob), but definitely a case of cultural differences cobbled by familiarity these folks have had with the character and his (or her) personality! The very first episode already establishes Zayets to be male anyway given the pair of trunks he wears to the beach.

    • Oh, Russian fans have been arguing for years whether Zayets is a boy or a girl. The voice was definitely a woman who never tried to sound masculine.

      Well, we can forgive her for being Hare’s sole voice those many years.

      One thing that fascinated me is that the Soviet actor who voiced the Volk, Anatoly Poponov (a popular Soviet movie actor; he’s on a Soviet postage stamp) died in the 1980s after the first 15 or 16 cartoons were made. Since then, I think that they’ve just been reusing Poponov’s voice tracks on the later cartoons.

      They did for episodes 17 and 18 (produced around 1993 I think, to commemorate the series’ 25th anniversary). Those cartoons had to use previous recordings of Poponov in order to animate those stories. For episodes 19 and 20, they hired a new guy called Igor Khristenko to do Wolf.

      Here’s a little documentary about the making of those last two episodes (In Russian though)…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOB6om8QeIo

      I’ve always been fascinated by the steel wire animation in Garri Bardin’s 1987 “Frills”.

      Never stop reminding us of this, Fred! I tend to prefer a few other shorts he did like “Banquet” and “Conflict”.

  • The only Cinderella film I’ve seen where the stepsisters were pretty was “The Glass Slipper” (1955), starring Leslie Caron; one of the stepsisters was played by Amanda Blake.

    • I liked the 1991 Yoram Gross Australian animated “The Magic Riddle”, where both stepsisters are still ugly but one is kindly and tries to help Cinderella despite her mean mother.

  • Those Russian kids ought to be lucky the Wolf’s sufferings weren’t anywhere near the level given to Tom or Wile E.

    Hayao Miyazaki on Cinderella. When asked about the Disney animated feature “Cinderella” (1950), animation legend Hayao Miyazaki stated, “I felt bad for the evil stepsisters. Couldn’t they be a little bit prettier? It would have appeared much more tragic if her sisters had been more charming and the prince had to choose among them.”

    In other words, destroy the expectations we’ve come to know of this tale!

    “The only thing we could figure is tons of college kids had gone to the library and watched ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ (also known as ‘Jesus Vs. Santa’, Graden’s video Christmas card produced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone) over and over on line.”

    I did that!

  • I have a bootleg VHS of several original Nu Pogodi cartoons. The predator/prey dynamic is apt–there seem to be uncomfortable sexual overtones in there. Anyway, it’s a strange curio for a non-Russian like me. The more recent cartoon posted above is a different beast altogether.

    • Again, they probably should’ve gone with one like episode 14 personally.

    • #14 is my favorite, too, set in a Museum of Science & Industry with a robot Zayets.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOoROadSRpU

      The gags at the beginning, where Volk visits Zayets at his apartment, really call into question Zayets’ sexuality, and whether Volk wants to eat him/her.

      The joke about Volk trying to open a bottle of cider and the corkscrew & everything breaking may have had a special meaning for Moscovites. The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, and the successor Russian Republic allowed travel outside the country, which the USSR didn’t. The World Science Fiction Conventions from 1992 to the end of the 1990s had many Russian s-f fan attendees, several of whom tried to subsidize their travels by selling Russian knickknacks in the Worldcon dealers’ rooms. The Russian wristwatches stopped working within a week; anything consisting of more than one part fell apart (I bought all the “Nu, Pogodi” pins I could find; the metal one-piece pins were fine, but the plastic diffraction-grating pins turned into two pieces of plastic), and I was warned by a Russian teenager selling a Russian deck of playing cards not to actually use them because they were so flimsy that they would quickly tear or crumple. To be fair, the Soviet government had kept the prices of minor consumer goods so cheap (they were sold at a loss; the cosmonaut lapel pins had a 15 kopeks price on the back and must have cost a ruble or more to make — the Russian s-f fans sold them for many times that) that the average purchaser could just throw them away and buy a replacement.

    • The joke about Volk trying to open a bottle of cider and the corkscrew & everything breaking may have had a special meaning for Moscovites. The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, and the successor Russian Republic allowed travel outside the country, which the USSR didn’t. The World Science Fiction Conventions from 1992 to the end of the 1990s had many Russian s-f fan attendees, several of whom tried to subsidize their travels by selling Russian knickknacks in the Worldcon dealers’ rooms. The Russian wristwatches stopped working within a week; anything consisting of more than one part fell apart (I bought all the “Nu, Pogodi” pins I could find;

      There’s quite a lot still on eBay. I’m amused there was a facsimile of the Nintendo Game & Watch device they had which had Wolf catching eggs.

      the metal one-piece pins were fine, but the plastic diffraction-grating pins turned into two pieces of plastic), and I was warned by a Russian teenager selling a Russian deck of playing cards not to actually use them because they were so flimsy that they would quickly tear or crumple.

      I’m sure those first few years after the fall were tough ones. That was when the Soyuzmultfilm library was sold to an American company for a while I think.

      To be fair, the Soviet government had kept the prices of minor consumer goods so cheap (they were sold at a loss; the cosmonaut lapel pins had a 15 kopeks price on the back and must have cost a ruble or more to make — the Russian s-f fans sold them for many times that) that the average purchaser could just throw them away and buy a replacement.

      Reminded of Barq’s Root Beer once did a thing like this in giving away many Soviet trinkets after the fall. I never did send away for it though.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTXnOubIWOk

      Speaking of faulty things, Volk and Zayets also appeared in a series of public service announcements meant to remind people they had the right to complain about the faulty craftmanship to these factories during the Soviet era, at least going by what is shown in these films…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4sV3Vz-Tqo
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVnrlT3DV-M
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf8wj4SBjVU

      Even more interesting, a series of safety/conservation PSA’s were made in the mid 80’s, though thee were done at another studio (Ekram) but certainly went with the wolf/hare characters otherwise.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ3rrEb2iy8
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh5nRbluQqI
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvN5cN7-YKo

      Of course, after the fall, they were reduced to this…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNs8CM-pN50

  • By the way, I had seen most of the old episodes as a kid (you don’t know how popular this series is around here), but not episodes 17 and 18, which were badly distributed outside Russia. When I saw them recently, I liked a lot how V. Kotyonochkin, the director, used a lot of new influences in the gags (times were changing then), including the Hare (or Rabbit, if you prefer) turning into a werewolf in the Wolf’s dream. They were sponsored by the company that distributed Nokia in Russia at that time (1993), so a lot of devices have a Nokia logo in the films. Before the first episode there is an animated ad as well. How things move!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZmfxBwkEVw
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phwvPdM3NQ0

    Oh and this channel might be of interest as well.

    • By the way, I had seen most of the old episodes as a kid (you don’t know how popular this series is around here),

      Not knowing where you from, I’m glad to see someone outside North America for a change around here!

      but not episodes 17 and 18, which were badly distributed outside Russia. When I saw them recently, I liked a lot how V. Kotyonochkin, the director, used a lot of new influences in the gags (times were changing then), including the Hare (or Rabbit, if you prefer) turning into a werewolf in the Wolf’s dream. They were sponsored by the company that distributed Nokia in Russia at that time (1993), so a lot of devices have a Nokia logo in the films. Before the first episode there is an animated ad as well. How things move!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZmfxBwkEVw
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phwvPdM3NQ0

      I guess if you can get past the advertising and Wolf’s sudden new hairstyle in the second episode, it’s fine.

      Oh and this channel might be of interest as well.

      Come back some time, there might be something in it for you!

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