Nu 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:
“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.”
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.”
Seymour 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.
“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.”