December 16, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #293

bode-cartoon-paperbackThe Animated Vaughn Bode. Bruce MacCurdy was an animator and instructor at Syracuse Univeristy who was also friends with cartoonist Vaughn Bode. In a 1982 interview with Richard Gruender, MacCurdy said, “I think (Bode) got interested in animation when he was friends with me. We used to talk about animation a lot. We even talked about me animating some of his work. He went to New York and started running around with some underground cartoonists. He ran into (Ralph) Bakshi in New York. At the time, we were working on a script for an animated feature called “The Amorous Adventures of Puck”. Puck was one of Vaughn’s lizard creatures but kind of a little satyr.

“He had met Bakshi through some of his underground cartoonist connections. Vaughn had seen some of the rushes of Fritz the Cat (1972) that Bakshi was working on at the time and was fairly impressed. But Bakshi had a pretty bad reputation at the time because he was working with a number of people from Marvel Comics and he was ripping off their ideas, putting their ideas in his films and not giving them any credit for it. He was a good producer and Vaughn was impressed with the stuff he was doing but Vaughn decided at a certain point that he did not want to have anything to do with him professionally.

color man“Vaughn’s script for “The Amorous Adventures of Puck” was something Bakshi was very interested in and wanted to buy it. Vaughn decided that he just didn’t want to get involved with him. We had a number of ideas in mind for animation. Vaughn wanted to animate “The Man” (about a caveman). We wanted to animate several short stories with his lizard people. Because Vaughn was working on his own career at the time doing a number of strips and series and had so many things going on that we never got a chance to get serious.

“He did have a real interest in animation. He thought in terms of animation when doing his strips and he thought that his scripts would be natural things for animation. He was very concerned though about keeping control over his work and although he had many chances to sell his work to Bakshi and other people, he really wanted to keep that kind of artistic control and not let his characters out of his grasp. Even so, in films like Wizards (1977) and a number of other Bakshi films there are a number of characters in it that are really right out of Vaughn’s work and very deriative of his work…to the point of some being real ripoffs.”

hey-good-lookin170Bakshi Speaks. Animator and director Ralph Bakshi in the November 1982 issue of American Premiere magazine talking about the recent release of his animated feature Hey Good Lookin’ said, “It’s been a ten-year battle to educate the public and to educate the exhibitors that animation has other possibilities from what it always had. And for me, as for all people who battle, suddenly the battle had become the game, and that detracts from all I ever was – which is a writer/director who hopefully has a unique approach to how he envisions film.

“Now I’d like to take that package to live action and get the monkey off my back of educating the public to accept the same things in animation that they do in live action. That battle doesn’t make any more sense to me because I will feel just as fulfilled creatively if I can do a live-action picture that will get people excited. First and foremost, I am a filmmaker.”


Jack Warner. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “Friz Freleng and I were finally invited to have lunch at the (Warner Brothers) executive dining room. This was reserved for executives and favorite directors. Jack Warner was there. And Harry Warner was there. Jack didn’t say very much for us. He was talking to other people about other things. But Harry Warner said, ‘The only thing I know about our cartoon department is that we make Mickey Mouse’. That was a little startling and this was the early 1950s. And so when we left, I said, ‘Don’t worry, Mr. Warner, we’ll continue to make good Mickey Mouses!’ And he patted me on the back. As far as Jack Warner was concerned he didn’t even know the difference between Friz and me. When we went into television, we met him and he couldn’t remember our names. So he called us Mutt and Jeff. That was after we’d worked for Warners for twenty-five years. He didn’t even know where the department was!”


That Thing Hanna and Barbera Did. Fred and Barney Meet The Thing was an hour long Saturday morning TV show produced by Hanna-Barbera that ran from September 8, 1979 to December 1, 1979. The first half hour concentrated on the new adventures of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble while the other half hour was an unusual cartoon about a teenaged Benjy Grimm who joined his magic “Thing” rings together to become the Thing. Fred and Barney did not exactly “meet” Marvel’s Thing character except in the opening credits and short bumper segments.

Where did this wacky idea come from and why was it bought by NBC? Hanna-Barbera had developed a pitch for a show of Archie-style teenagers and one of them would turn into a monster and hilarity would ensue. At the same time, DePatie-Freleng were trying to salvage their failing Fantastic Four Saturday morning series by creating a spin-off that would parallel the successful prime-time live action Hulk TV show with Ben Grimm traveling from town to town and transforming into the Thing to help people. Coincidentally, both proposals of presentation art were in front of Fred Silverman at the same time. He liked the H-B proposal but thought it would be more successul with a “name” monster so a deal was made to incorporate the Thing into the H-B show.


The Dreams of Sullivan Bluth. In 1988, Morris Sullivan of Dublin’s Sullivan Bluth Studios Ireland Ltd. Told reporter Eric Harwood, “From our point of view, our creative people feel that they need trainees who are familiar with the English language in order to pick up facial features, gesticulations, mannerisms, etc. Furthermore, we are seeking to re-create the classical style of animation not done since the 1930s and 1940s, producing twenty-four frames per second as opposed to the current trend of six to eight.” SBSI trained a staff of 240 nationals since 1986 and out of that eight trainees became full-fledged animators. “This was a pleasant surprise,” continued Sullivan. “We did not expect an Irish animator until after five years of training.” Sullivan also stated that the studio was building a commercial division and planned to expand into live-action films as well.


  • Oh Gawd, don’t get me involved with Fred and Barney Meets The Thing!

    As we all know of Benjamin J. Grimm aka The Thing was a very muscular guy growing up in the troubled Yancy Street neighborhood and having run ins with the Yancy Street Gang. Later he became a college football star, a craggy War hero and a test pilot before he was involved with the ill fated flight into space with Reed Richards, his future wife Susan Storm, her brother Johnny and Ben Grimm as the pilot of the spacecraft which got hit with mysterious cosmic rays – and thus, the quartet became The Fantastic Four.

    Fatefully, Hanna Barbera animated the Fantastic Four in 1966 with JoAnne Pflug as Susan Storm-Richards and Paul Frees as Ben “The Thing” Grimm.

    When Hanna Barbera were charged to bring back the Thing in 1979 (as mentioned in your post) they decided to turn Ben Grimm from a muscular college football star and craggy war hero into a scrawny nerd called “Benjy Grimm”. He now transformed into The Thing by placing two rings together and saying “Ring Thing do your Thing!” to become the famed Marvel hero. BIG Mistake, a lot of Thing fans (including myself) were not happy about the “nerdification” of Ben Grimm. And that’s only the beginning of the weird experiments that Hanna Barbera did with other legendary cartoon stars – as parents (Pink Panther and Son, Popeye and Son), as kids (The Flintstone Kids, A Pup Named Scooby Doo, The Tom and Jerry Kids Show) and as teenagers (Yo Yogi!).

    • I think Tex Avery was working on the Flintstone show at that point?

    • I recall one of the “Dino and Cavemouse” cartoons from the Fred & Barney series was yet another re-working of “Rockabye Bear,” so Tex had to have been involved.

      Oh, and it was also “Fred & Barney Meet the Shmoo” for a while.

  • Didn’t some faithful Bode fans briefly “redecorate” the marquee of the Westwood theatre showing Bakshi’s WIZARDS back in ’77, putting up the words “A Film by Vaughn Bode”? I seem to recall seeing a photo of this years ago.

  • Hanna-Barbera had developed a pitch for a show of Archie-style teenagers and one of them would turn into a monster and hilarity would ensue.

    So……..sorta like Ruby and Spears’ FangFace?

  • THIS MAY BE unrelated but we should begin by writing letters to Viacom all of us. Not buy Viacom products. and Spread the word about their misuse of copyright. They directly Violate the US Constitution with their behavior and They need to release those cartoons really really soon. Don’t just stand there we need to do something quick if we are ever to get them released.

    • A letter-writing campaign to Viacom is indeed UNRELATED related to any of the Anecdotes above… but I don’t recommend anyone start doing that, regardless.

  • Well, I know you’re all going to groan when you read this, but when I read Chuck Jones’ assessment of Warner Brothers execs’ knowledge of their own cartoon studio, I just shrug and say ‘well, that sort of disregard is still going on today!’ I honestly don’t know why they persist in keeping their own cartoons and not allowing outside sources to take over the official release of the LOONEY TUNES and MERRIE MELODIES.

    Okay, there is apparently another LOONEY TUNES movie on the way, but how many kids of today even care about the characters anymore. They still know or care nothing for the characters we all knew and loved. It shows with the abject disinterest in releasing any further video product around them. I know, I know, complaining does nothing, but it is interesting to hear that this disregard goes back decades!

  • Chuck Jones never let the truth get in the way of a good story. If Harry Warner said it, I have no doubt that it was tongue in cheek, as a way to show how little interest he had in the animation unit. In the heyday of theatrical cartoons Mickey Mouse was as big as any movie star and he made Walt Disney a household name, there is no way any movie executive wouldn’t know that.

  • It seems that in any stories I heard over the years regarding Chuck Jones employers at Warner Bros., was that the general idea was to bring these guys down a couple of notches. According to Jones, Leon Schlesinger supposedly had no interest in his own studio other than making cartoons that timed in at exactly 6 minutes long on time and budget, Eddie Selzer was a corporate goon who’s ultimate goal was to catch people goofing off at work and the owners of the WB studio had no idea that they created Bugs Bunny cartoons. They’re funny stories indeed and we’d love to believe them, but these guys didn’t get where they were by being idiots. Those Bugs Bunny cartoons still cost a lot of money to make and those ‘Idiots’ allowed them to continue to make them. I know Jones had zero respect for Leon, but he gave Jones the freedom to make his cartoons…as long as they were funny. Maybe Jones was pissed that he couldn’t continue to make his cartoons in his Disneyesque style?

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