February 26, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #251


Gahan Wilson That Never Was. In October 1993, it was announced that cartoonist and writer Gahan Wilson was developing a full-length animated motion picture for Steven Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment company. It was an untitled story about vampires and was to be produced by Gene Kraft and Paul Winters who also produced the animated short Gahan Wilson’s Diner (1992) for 20th Century Fox and was released with its feature film Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992).

“That short demonstrated that Gahan’s work could be animated,” Kraft said at the time. “What we saw was his artistic style and unique comedic voice which we knew could create franchise characters.”

Wilson was pretty busy in 1993 in animation projects that never were. He signed a “first-look” deal with Universal Cartoon Studios to develop family entertainment. His first project was to be a Saturday morning animated series tentatively titled Monster Park. In addition, Wilson was developing a primetime Halloween animated special for Disney.

Wilson had turned down many offers to have his macabre artwork translated into animated feature films but he went with Amblin Entertainment after their assurance of him having control over his work.
“I wanted to have more control than was offered before,” said Wilson. “You have to be able to get your own vision across, which comes from being able to supervise your own material. I have a nice feeling of how these will turn out.”


Birth of The Nightmare Before Christmas. In October 1993, Tim Burton talked to Adweek magazine about the genesis of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). “I was working in the Disney animation department. I was like the weird relative that they’d let out occasionally and then lock back up in my room,” said Burton. “I always liked Dr. Seuss books and Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer which I grew up watching on television. So I wrote a parody of A Visit From St. Nicholas. I pitched it around and people seemed to like it but it never went anywhere.

“With Jack (Skellington) I love people when they’re passionate about something. And there is something so sad, but so endearing, when that passion is misguided. The problem with doing it in stop-motion was that there is an alienating problem with puppets.

“It’s so different from the more traditional cel animation where people have a perception about it. I think it’s a harder barrier to break for people to relate to puppets. Yet, there is something about the fact that the human hand is moving these things that’s special. It’s got primal impact.”

Poor Peacock. In 1993, NBC commissioned seven creative artists including Al Hirschfeld and Peter Max to put their own personal spin on their trademark peacock that was first introduced as early as 1956 to identify a show that was in color. One of those artists was animator John Kricfalusi who did a bit where the peacock has to dislodge a suction cup on its backside before revealing its array of colorful plumage. “I’ve always dreamed of animating a blue bird blowing something wonderful and colorful out of its butt,” the always tactful Kricfalusi told TV Guide in its October 23, 1993 issue.

Noel Blanc and Voices. In a June 1993 issue of Antique and Collectables magazine, Noel Blanc claims he had no intention to take over doing some of his father Mel Blanc’s voices. “I never really did voices,” he stated. “I directed and wrote and performed but not as a voice person. But while directing (Mel), I realized that I could start doing some of these characters and he said, ‘Gee, you sound just like me’. He would train me to do things but that was much later in life. I never really intruded on his voice thing.

“I never did the characters in school. People would ask me to do Bugs Bunny but I never once did any of the voices in I would say twenty years of schooling. Today, I am called upon to do some of the characters from time to time. There are also some other voice actors who are doing the characters. Bugs was (my dad’s) favorite character although he used the Porky Pig voice in more areas like on his radio show Point Sublime. But Bugs was the one with the twinkle in his eye and the smart aleck and the basically sweet person that would never hurt anybody. (My dad) really thought he was the rabbit.”

Mike Judge in 1994

Mike Judge in 1994

Judge Defends Beavis and Butt-head. In a October 17,1993 article in the L.A. Times newspaper, Mike Judge who created Beavis and Butt-head but “thought (he) might become like a math teacher at a community college”, defended his characters. “I don’t see them as being really cruel or vicious. They’re just out to have a good time. They’re not bullies. They don’t have a lot of hatred. Most of the time, they’re in a pretty good mood.

“They are about fourteen years old. It’s a weird age. I remember ninth grade. Some guys have gone through puberty and some haven’t. It’s an awkward age where you want to show you’re not a boy any more. Everyone is acting macho. It’s really pathetic. They are really pretty positive. Even when they say things suck, they’re having a good time.”

Lose A Finger, Save a Fortune. “Close study of a Mickey Mouse film will reveal that he wears gloves with but three fingers and a thumb. The missing digit saves Disney several thousand dollars a year in artists’ time,” stated The Literary Digest October 3, 1936.

Deflation. The Pixar short Knick Knack (1989) was released in two versions. The original was shown at SIGGRAPH in 1989 and released on Tiny Toy Stories and the Toy Story Deluxe CAV Laserdisc. The film was altered for release when it preceded Finding Nemo (2003).

The new version had the woman on the Miami knick knack with significantly smaller breasts. Also the mermaid in the fish bowl had smaller breasts and now wore a sea shell bra rather than starfish pasties.

Director John Lasseter defended the changes by saying, “It wasn’t big bad Disney coming in and insisting we do this … it was our own choice. It was just crossing the line for me personally as a father. So I made the decision to reduce [these characters’] breast size.”



  • I heard that Vincent Waller animated the peacock for the bumper. I even heard a story where he had to redo his animation after he spilled coffee all over his drawings.

    • Elinor Blake animated the peacock.

  • I remember seeing the original Knick Knack short back when I was eleven years old. (Back in 1996.) In regards to Lasseter’s changes, at least he did it out of his own free will. (Though I’d wish he’d re-release the original.)

    • Yeah, the only complaint I have about the edits is that the original designs really sold the idea of these being cheap, tacky knick-knacks. I do have the original version on the mentioned VHS tape, as well as (I think) a computer download.

  • Remember the sneezing peacock?

    • I remember that, it was also part on the Disney cartoon “It’s Tough to be a Bird” if I recall correctly.

  • The Pixar mermaid had her sea-shells reduced from D-shells…(Ba-dump-KSSSHH!!)

    • HAH!!!
      Okay, I know I’m a little late, but that was a good pun.

  • How do I find Diner? Was it on the Buffy The Vampire Slayer VHS tape?

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