Bootleg Bart. Matt Groening in PREVIEWS (December 1992) shared “I never cease to be amazed by the medium of television and how many people it reaches. I had no idea really what the ramifications of the show would be. You know, bootleg Bart t-shirts and bumper stickers, billboards, a Bart balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and all the rest of the stuff that goes with it. It still staggers me. I have an office that is full of bootleg merchandise that people send me, because the fans know that I collect this stuff. I have Bart and Maggie pinatas, marionetees, what looks to be a Bart voodoo doll, lots of sculptures and masks and t-shirts.”
Thoughts from Raymond Scott. In a 1949 essay, musician Raymond Scott wrote, “Nothing is impossible in this atomic age. As a composer musician who has dabbled for twenty years in ‘sound acoustics’, I wish the Einsteins of the world would focus their attention soon on the problem of accurate representation and reproduction of music. When I began composing, I worked with the medium of radio and phonograph recording uppermost in my mind. First, I couldn’t find music to measure up to my conception of what true radio music should be. So, I wrote Twilight in Turkey and Powerhouse. Both offerings portrayed as nearly as possible, exactly what their titles intimated.”
One of the earliest appearances of Raymond Scott’s music in animation might be the 1941 George Pal Puppetoon Rhythm in the Ranks (an Academy Award nominee that year) that uses “The Toy Trumpet” on its soundtrack. Scott passed away February 8, 1994 at the age of 85. He died of pneumonia, having been hospitalized a week earlier after falling and breaking his right shoulder. Sadly, many years earlier, he suffered a stroke that left him mentally debilitated with wife Mitzi needing to care for him on a fulltime basis. He was unaware that his music had been receiving a revival of recognition for their use in animated cartoons.
Being Butt-head. In 1993, actor Daniel Baldwin talked to the press about his dream movie project: “My brother Stephen and I want to do a film as Beavis and Butt-head. I’m Butt-head and he’s Beavis. Can’t you see it? They’ll probably get people like Dana Carvey and Robin Williams to do it. They’re too old, but they’re Hollywood names and that’s how this place works.”
Tad Stones Shares. From the presentation at ConFurence 5 in Irvine California on January 22, 1994: “It frustrates me,” said producer Tad Stones, “that we’ve never had, other than DuckTales, a super-hit, with as much time as we put into the story and details of all the animation. So I’m actually reassessing what we do. I have people worrying about the amount of dust on a print of film. And I’m now saying, ‘You know what? This doesn’t matter. The Simpsons has dreadful production values and it’s a very funny and popular show.’ What I’m trying to say is what’s important is entertainment, telling your story and being entertaining. I’d rather have all that energy that’s nitpicking and turning it into entertaining shows.”
Stones had pitched a Pocahontas television series that would have been a prequel to the feature film and that “Glen Keane has come up with some marvelous designs for that” but that the fate of the show “would depend upon how popular the feature is”.
Fantastic Writing. I wrote an article about the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four Saturday morning television series for Collectible Toys and Values magazine #25 (December 1993) and after it appeared, I was contacted by writer Jack Hanahran who along with Phil Hahn wrote the episodes for that series. He told me he used to take an issue of the Fantastic Four comic book, rip it in half and would adapt the first half while his writing partner did the second half. He said that Stan Lee hated those episodes. He also affirmed that he and Hahn wrote all those episodes although I had stated in my article that I had it on fairly reliable authority that Joe Ruby and Ken Spears had done some as well.
In the twenty half-hour episodes, Gerald Mohr who had gained fame as a minor leading man in the 1950s was the voice of Reed Richards. Jo Ann Pflug, before she had achieved some attention in the movie M*A*S*H and the television series The Fall Guy was Sue Richards. Jack Flounders was Johnny Storm and Paul Frees was Ben Grimm/The Thing. Frees also supplied other incidental voices such as The Watcher. Don Messick reportedly provided some incidental voices as well. An on-screen credit stated, “Based on an idea by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby”.
Actor Alex Hyde-White who played Reed Richards in the doomed Roger Corman 1994 live action film told me at a San Diego Convention where he and the other actors were signing autographs, “I was only familiar with the characters because as a kid I watched the old Hanna-Barbera animated series. I found the old cartoons to be linear. I think the audience (for our film) want to see something a little different and extra.”
George Liquor. In September 1992, John Kricfalusi was removed from the Ren and Stimpy Show by Nickelodeon who expressed concerns that episodes were delivered late and the show was already a hundred thousand dollars over budget.
However, some people suspected that the real issue may have been Kricfalusi’s approach to content including two episodes featuring the character George Liquor who Kricfalusi described as “so conservative that he thinks Republicans are Commies”.
Reportedly, Nickelodeon didn’t care for the word “liquor” because of the reference to alcohol and that it sounded like “lick her”. In fact, the word “liquor” was cut by Nick from the episode “Dog Show” when the George character appeared.
Kricfalusi told Film Threat magazine in February 1993, “They don’t see the good side of George Liquor. George likes hunting and fishing and Nickelodeon thinks that’s an evil. I tend to think that hunting and fishing are evils, too, but not everybody who does them is evil because they practice this. Just because you’re not politically correct doesn’t necessarily mean you’re evil.”
Kricfalusi got the rights back to character (and others like Jimmy, the Idiot Boy) and in the process had to sign an agreement that included several unusual stipulations including that George could never be portrayed as a serial killer. “Does that mean he can only kill a few people?” asked Kricfalusi. “How many killings constitute a serial killer?”
The character of George Liquor later appeared in several other Kricfalusi projects.