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.”
Chuck 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.”
Getting 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 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.
Guardians 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.”