June 17, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #267


Joe Barbera Remembers. From the Dramalogue July 29-August 4 1993 issue, animation legend Joe Barbera remembered: “I was a story man at MGM. Although I was an animator when I first came out, I segued into storyboards. I liked to do the story. Our greatest accomplishment was throwing pushpins at our shoes. Go right through the leather. A big sport in the cartoon industry. I became the best in the studio.”

“The head honcho at MGM was looking through the financial books one day and said, ‘What the hell is this? If we reuse the Tom and Jerry cartoons we did four years ago, we do as well as a new cartoon. What do we need new cartoons for?’ That was his thinking.

“Here we (Hanna and Barbera) in our early 40s making fair money but figuring this is it. I’d reached the peak of my career. What do I do now? Do I go open a hamburger stand or try to sell insurance? What the heck do you do? I was successful working for twenty years and suddenly I am completely cut off.

“Television was a dirty word at MGM. If you mentioned television, it was ruthless. They would kick you out of there. We took a chance and wrote a six page memo to them detailing the way to make money from television but we received no reply. Screen Gems offered us $3,000 for a five minute television cartoon whereas we had been averaging $45,000-$60,000 for a theatrical five minute Tom and Jerry.

“We figured out that a five minute theatrical Tom and Jerry was about 23-28,000 drawings. If we did some tricks with the camera and exposure, we could do a five minute cartoon with 1,800-2,300 drawings.”

bugs-bunny-100Chuck Jones Says. In 1979, animator and director Chuck Jones told the Des Moines Register newspaper, “Bugs (Bunny) doesn’t run away but starts a counter-revolution. Bugs wins over the audience by fighting back with a combination of insouciance and wits. The way the characters ‘carry the idea’ is the secret to the success of the cartoons.

”All memorable movies are recalled for how well the actors presented the script and not for the intricate details of the plot. In cartooning, the most important element is defining the characters’ emotions through movement. A picture of Bugs Bunny is not funny in itself. Movement and emotion are central to the laughs.”

ray-ghostbustersGetting Rid of Ray. Q5 was a consulting company that ABC’s children’s programming used in 1987. Michael Reaves, a writer on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters was not a fan of their input. One of their suggestions was to “select out” the character of Ray (played by Dan Aykroyd in the movie) because he “does not appear to serve to benefit the program”.

“That’s like ‘terminate with extreme predjudice’,” stated Reaves to the Los Angeles Times on September 3, 1987. “Ray is a dreamer, the idealist. He’s very useful as a foil. They could not find any reason at all for this to be necessary. We (Reaves and story editor J. Michael Straczynaki) just looked at each other and started laughing. We couldn’t deal with it anymore. It had gone so far into the realm of the absurd.”

They did slim down the character so that he did not appear overweight and he continued to appear in the program.

mickey-50Mickey Mouse Fan. PLO Chief Yassar Arafat “keeps the television tuned to CNN except when he breaks for Mickey Mouse or a Western” claimed his wife Suha Arafat in the Los Angeles Times September 12, 1993.

groot-smallGuardians of the Galaxy. In Entertainment Weekly (September 18-25, 2015), it was reported that Marvel began prepping a cartoon continuation of director James Gunn’s sci-fi blockbuster even before its theatrical release. “We knew in the early stages of the development on the film that we had a really special property,” said Cort Lane, vice president of animation development at Marvel Animation Studios.

“We started working on the series before the feature film was finished.” Stephen Wacker, vice president of the series added, “At the end of the movie they have the line ‘What shall we do? A little good? A little bad? A little bit of both?’ This is a little bit of both.” When asked if voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson gets paid the same as other voice actors even through his character Groot only ever utters the same phrase over and over, Lane laughed and answered, “He does. But there’s a nuance to every single line.”

Color Xerography on NIMH. In a press release for Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH (1982), the use of color xerography was highlighted. “Another way in which Bluth has attempted to emulate the classic animation technique is through the use of color toners in the Xerox process. Rather than simply Xerox all the lines onto the cels as black lines, fourteen different colors of toners were used to create the same effect as was achieved by inking the cels with colored ink.

“Color Xerography is not a new technique, but it has fallen into disuse, and it was necessary to have the color toners formulated especially for The Secret of NIMH. There were four shades of gray and ten hues in addition to the normal black toner used in making the cels. Using a complementary color to define an outline rather than black helps to reduce the viewer’s sense of the flatness of the image and increase the sense of reality.

“For example, flames in a fire are much more convincing if outlined in red or yellow that they would be outlined in black. Similarly, Xeroxing the outline of Jeremy the Crow in a light gray made it much easier to delineate him since a black line would not ‘read’ against the black paint for his body.

“In some instances, the cel would be touched up in order to use more than one color line on a single cel. For example, Jeremy the Crow was Xeroxed in a light gray, but it was necessary to darken the outline for his yellow bill and feet if the lines were to ‘read’ properly. This was done by rubbing the lines with pastel in the appropriate area. Occasionally when a line needed to be colored rather than just darkened, it would actually be redone with ink as in the case of a character’s eye.”



  • Ray’s character from The Real Ghostbusters was voiced by Frank Welker – who also did the voice of Slimer the green mucuscy ghost who was the unofficial mascot of Real Ghostbusters, and the voice of the ghost logo (taking over for Arsenio Hall) on the commercial intro/outro segments on the syndicated episodes of the Real Ghostbusters before the series was picked up by ABC TV.

    Slimer was so popular that he had his own series called Slimer that was part of the second season of the renamed Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters. The Slimer segments weren’t animated by Toei animation of Japan like the Real Ghostbusters episodes, but by a different animation company (either Wang Cuckoos Nest of Taiwan or Akom of South Korea) to make it a more “cartoony” feel for the younger viewers.

    • Interesting how Arsenio Hall, who voiced Winston, would be more famous than Ernie Hudson (Winston in the movies).

    • KK C&D Asia did most of The Real Ghostbusters, Toei only did 2 episodes of season 2 (the 65 syndicated episodes), both openings and all of season 4, other studios that did that show were TMS (13 episodes included the pilot, bumpers and Kazuhide Tomonaga’s The Halloween Door seen here ), Plus One and Sai-Rom (after Dic became too cheap to use Japan).

      The Slimer segments were 100% animated by Wang, Akom never touched The Real Ghostbusters.

      At Kevin Wollenweber:Hanna Barbera used hand inked cels until around 1965’ish as The Flintstones did not switch to xeroxing until mid season 6 (early season 6 used colored hand inked cels as seen in No Biz Like Show Biz).

  • The Bakshi Mighty Mouse episode “Don’t Touch That Dial” featured Anime ersatz versions of the Real Ghostbusters who aim their ray guns at Mighty Mouse and his pals (ersatz versions of Rocky and Bullwinkle) and say “let’s select them out with extreme prejudice.” Mayhaps they lifted that line from Reaves’ comment?

  • Color Xerography is not a new technique, but it has fallen into disuse…

    Well, no. Prior to Nimh, the process was used (albeit sparingly) in The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound. DFE also employed it for their made-for-TV Pink Panther cartoons.

  • I’m sure that Hanna-Barbera used xerography in their cartoons, too, because I remember them using different colored outlines for, I thought, effect in both their early TV work and later, when Xeroxing became their technique. Some instances I remember were white sparkle outline on bright blue diamonds or a lighter outline on a beautiful dress. I know it means nothing and my opinion certainly won’t change how animation is looked at from a public perspective, but bringing theatrical cartoons back would be so terrific for the overall theatrical experience now. When I was last at a movie theater to see a major motion picture, it felt so much like someone’s glorified living room because all you got aside from the film you saw was a few coming attractions and, yes, even a commercial!! You can get those things on the resulting DVD! Now, just imagine if either brand new cartoons were created to accompany a forthcoming film *OR* older cartoons are actually fully restored to be featured with upcoming films. We’re always saying how each studio has their vaults worth of older animation and, depending on the subject matter of the film, those old plot lines on some don’t ever change with time, like space travel or police dramas or any other genre you can name, *ESPECIALLY* comedy, where you can bring back some of those cartoons (are you listening, Warner Brothers) that had a more adult appeal. Hey, in some cases, older films are being brought back to theaters and I would imagine that this is drawing crowds back into the theaters. After all, not everyone (including myself) can afford to build a media room in their homes. And if the classic animated cartoon is something worthwhile, hey, can the all-new theatrical cartoon be far behind? Pixar has done wonders with their own new brand of shorts. Wouldn’t it be great to see competition in that area? I know that independent shorts are being made and are showin in their own festivals, but it just would be fun to see them back as part of the theater-going experience *ASIDE* from the usual festival offerings.

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