April 22, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #259

The Karnival Kid Mickey Mouse. In the internal magazine publication for Disney employees, The Disney World in a 1966 edition, the staff was intending to write a short article about the creation of storyboards at the Disney Studio to use to promote the fact of storyboards being used for three elaborate sequences in the live-action film The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967) but found an unexpected surprise that it shared with readers:


“Walt and Ub Iwerks, who did the sketches, and Les Clark, one of the Studio’s original animators, get themselves a few laughs over the 1929 antics of Mickey Mouse in a lively short called The Karnival Kid, wherein Mickey enjoys an amusement park.

“They are looking at the actual Iwerks drawings which Floyd Gottfredson, then an in-betweener, rescued from a wastebasket where someone had tossed them during a move of offices in a section of the animation department way back in 1930. He had kept them ever since and thought to mention the fact when The Disney World began digging into the history of storyboards.

“It took no more than a half dozen of these eight by twelve-inch sheets, six panels to a sheet, to lay out this, the ninth of the Mickey Mouse shorts.

“Walt was amazed when he heard of the find and called Ub and Les in for a laughs.

mickey-spank“Boy, when you think of the details we get into these days to make a picture,” Walt said in awe. “Why, we used to knock things out every two weeks.” He paused, looking at the other two for a moment. “Well, no more than a month, anyway,” he added.

“Everyone laughed, particularly when Walt pointed out (panel drawing) No. 17 in the panels shown here. “Look at old Mickey, pulling down the skin of that weenie and giving it a sound spanking,” he said. “Takes the steam out of a hot dog every time.”

“Everyone laughed some more.”

This issue featured the last photo of Walt and Ub together and somewhat debunks the reports that Walt was “cold” towards Ub during the later years or uninterested in his earlier cartoons. It is also nice to see Walt get a good laugh or two just a few short months before his passing away.

bugs-bunny-100Wisdom of Freleng. In Millimeter magazine February 1982, animation legend Friz Freleng stated, “I don’t base my pictures on special effects. The characters are what matter in animation — the love of these characters and the personalities we projected are what makes them. The rest is just the stage and I don’t think that makes a lot of difference with what we do. We depend on personalities – Bugs Bunny is a superstar. He just needs the vehicles he deserves. All we’re hoping is that maybe someday we’ll be able to bring the characters back regularly to the big screen. It’s exciting – just the possibility that maybe this could happen.”

The Wisdom of Joe Barbera. In 1982, the announcement that Hanna-Barbera would be producing an animated series based on The Shirttails characters from Hallmark Cards prompted this statement from producer Joe Barbera, “We’re into quality. Everything has to be better than before. Kids will find what they like.”

fivel-smallRodent Burnout. In a Knight-News-Tribune article written by Desmond Ryan in 1986, animator and producer Don Bluth remembered, “We’d done pretty well with a video game we animated called Dragon’s Lair but the bottom had fallen out of that market. Then Steven (Spielberg) called and told me the story of An American Tail (1986). The only problem came when he said, ‘This involves mice’. We had just devoted three years to drawing mice (The Secret of NIMH, 1982) and we were suffering from rodent burnout. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I said, ‘Mice? Well, maybe we can make them different mice’. Steven’s really exceptional in story meetings. His ideas are good and imaginative and he has a way of coming up with an immediate image. He has a library in his head.”

Insight from Norm Prescott. Filmation executive Norm Prescott in the L.A. Daily News newspaper for December 13, 1981 discussed the emphasis on putting something educational into cartoons and the topic of merchandising: “Kids are entitled to have their Saturdays off. They’re entitled to watch TV for the fun of it and escape the five day school week.

“Merchandising is not a major part of our profit picture. Saturday TV shows just don’t generate the same emotional impact which translates into buying merchandise based on our shows. And we never put gadgets, etc. in our show with the ulterior motive or merchandising them.”

The Other Popeye Story. Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, the fast food restaurant which has gone under a variety of names over the years including Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, was started in New Orleans in 1972 by Alvin Copeland.

Copeland over the years coyly said that the name originally had nothing to do with the famous cartoon character but was meant to imply that the spicy chicken would “make your eyes pop” or that he was influenced by the popular 1971 film The French Connection that featured police detective “Popeye” Doyle. In addition, he stated that when he started out he was too poor to buy an apostrophe for the name.

popeye-glassesWhen he started franchising the restaurant in 1976, it caught the attention of King Features and an arrangement was made for licensing Popeye the Sailor and his supporting characters. The restaurant became closely tied to the cartoon character with Popeye appearing not only on packaging but on promotions as well including Copeland’s racing boats.

By 2006, Popeye the character’s recognition and popularity had greatly waned and was only appearing in the chain’s international markets like Puerto Rico and the Middle East but the company was still paying King Features $1.1 million a year in an automatic renewal deal. In 2012 both companies officially terminated in a friendly fashion their 35 year relationship.

”I am happy that Popeye the character has been so instrumental to Popeyes the restaurant chain, and we wish them continued success in the future,” stated T. R. Shepard, president of King Features Syndicate on November 26, 2012

The new spokes-character for the revitalized chain is Annie, a “straight-talkin’ African-American chef” who represents the spirit of New Orleans and spiciness.


  • Kind of unusual that Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken (now Popeyes Louisiana Fried Chicken) used Popeye’s nemesis “Brutus” instead of “Bluto” (which I posted earlier, that Brutus was Bluto’s Doppelgänger in the 1960’s KFS Popeye cartoon but in the Paramount cartoons from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, the Hanna Barbera version even the 1980’s live action movie version of Popeye had Bluto in it instead of Brutus as well as the comic strip and comic book version of Popeye).

    Of course Popeyes didn’t made its appearance here in SoCal until the late 1980’s to early 1990’s when they bought out the old Pioneer Chicken outlets after they went bankrupt. Of course Popeyes is now the title sponsor of the Bahama Bowl college football game that is held every December in Nassau Bahamas.

    PS: at least they used the Classic Olive Oyl from the Popeye comic strips and the Paramount/ Fleischer Bros Popeye cartoons instead of the 1960′s nightmarish hybrid Olive Oyl that was on the KFS Popeye cartoons.

    • The Brutus usage also carried over in the classic Nintendo arcade video game from 1982, which not only featured the 60’s characters on the machine itself, but the sprite also resembled Brutus right in the game too.

      It’s clear someone at King Features licensing dept. was asleep at the wheel on this.

    • Bud Sagendorf always called the character “Brutus” rather than “Bluto,” didn’t he? Hy Eisman, who draws the current Sunday strip, definitely calls him “Brutus.” Bobby London, who took over the strip from Sagendorf, used “Brutus,” too, though in at least one story he introduced Bluto as, IIRC, Brutus’ twin brother.

  • One of the local Popeyes restaurants had a stained-glass style pic on its wall of Popeye racing in a boat, saying “I’m comin’,Olive!” (Our local Popeyes are owned by a franchisee called “Sailormen.”)

    • That’s a clever name for a franchisee! Too bad though if they tore that down.

  • Notice that there’s a lot of memorabilia from Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken on sale on eBay including glassware including a set of “Popeye Through Out The Years” commemorate glassware featuring Popeye,Olive Oyl,Swee’Pea and Bluto (known as Brutus at the time the glasses were manufactured) celebrating Popeyes 20th anniversary, ceiling lampshades featuring Popeye and Olive even Mardi Gras doubloons with Popeye on the doubloons.

  • The new spokes-character for the revitalized chain is Annie, a “straight-talkin’ African-American chef” who represents the spirit of New Orleans and spiciness.”

    And certainly NOT the Annie of a certain other comic strip which has already faded to obscurity as of late! 😛

    I feel I SO missed out on this period when Popeyes did that. I’ve read somewhere they’re thinking of dropping the P name and simply call themselves “Louisiana Kitchen”, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do. They’re certainly erasing the owner’s mistake there.

    • And certainly NOT the Annie of a certain other comic strip which has already faded to obscurity as of late! 😛

      Who, back in the day (and on a still-remembered radio adaptation, hosted, as everybody knows, by Pierre Andre), peddled Ovaltine.

      The fact of which was not lost upon the producers of the holiday-season chestnut A Christmas Story.

    • Nor the 2014 disastrous bomb of a movie that was based on the Broadway musical version of Annie from the late 1970’s starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie. 😉

    • And certainly NOT the Annie of a certain other comic strip which has already faded to obscurity as of late!

      Not entirely. Some of the LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE cast has made periodic appearances in the DICK TRACY comic strip over the past two or three years. In fact, Daddy Warbucks is in today’s strip.

    • Thanks Tom, that’s an eye-opener!

  • Alright, I’ll be the crude slob with the dirty mind and say it. Walt and the boys were really laughing at the double entendre of Mickey Mouse spanking his weenie. You can that file along with the Fractured Fairy Tales “hog flogger”.

    • I love ‘adult’ humor!

    • Walt Disney was no stranger to “adult” humor either. I’m sure Mr. Korkis could fill an entire column or two with “adult” gags (or gas) that passed through the Disney Studio over the years.

    • Oh, that’s hilarious! I’d forgotten about the Jay Ward reference and, hey, Uncle Walt is entitled to a few hearty adult laughs now and then…and I always liked those gags when hot dogs would be dancing on the grill–I think it was used in a HECKLE AND JECKLE cartoon as well as LOONEY TUNES’ answer to Mickey, Bosko. Yup, Bosko sold hot dogs and Buddy sold beer. That’s why I thoroughly enjoy 1930’s cartoons and any other toons with similar surreal gags. Oh, and how about a chain of FLIP restaurants with Flip the Frog staring at you; I don’t know what kind of food he’d serve–and, please, don’t say “frog’s legs”. Hmmm, I take this back, because if a restuarant were given the name FLIP, it might be misconstrued as representing the comic, Flip Wilson. Sorry; I was thinking of a rather interesting way of promoting Thunderbean’s forthcoming FLIP THE FROG complete DVD set. What better way than having a restaurant chain where you can see FLIP THE FROG cartoons shown while you eat!

  • There was also a “Popeye” dance, popular (especially in its apparent place of origin, New Orleans) in 1962.

    Three “Popeye” dance records emerged onto the Billboard “Hot Hundred” charts that year. “Pop-eye” came in January of the year from Huey (Piano) Smith and his Clowns. This proved a regional hit, although it didn’t get higher than #51 on the national survey.

    Chubby Checker–who would glom onto any dance craze that Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe put in front of him–hit with “Popeye( (The Hitch-Hiker)” in the fall of that year. It was a hit i n its own right, although being on the back side of “Limbo Rock” didn’t hurt. And the Sherrys (a Philadelphia group) hit with “Pop-Pop-Popeye” about a month after Chubby Checker hit. It made the Top Forty.

    None of these records claimed any connection with the “Popeye” cartoons, comic strips or characters.

  • Sixty-nine cents for a soft drink in a fast-food place. Those were the days.

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