Hanna and Barbera Speak. From Who’s Who in Television (Vol. 1, No. 11 Dell Publishing 1961), an article entitled “Cartoons: TV’s Big Draw” and credited to animation legends Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera has the famous duo saying:
“The success of our animated shows we attribute to two factors: a talented staff and our own attitude. Television viewers are not unthinking dolts who settle for anything offered them. The public is past the stage of being fooled by constant imitations. We’re convinced that television can be refreshing.
“In all of our shows we try to do what cartoons were meant to do in the first place, that is, to satirize human actions through a fantastic point of view. The Flintstones, for instance, shows Stone Age man with modern maladjustments. It contains no message, displays no violence, and never plays down.
“We spoof lots of things in our shows – Hollywood, cars, television, even our own animated commercials – but we don’t see anything amusing in violence or evil, and our objective is, after all, to amuse. Even our villains are basically nice guys.
“The other part of the story is the personal side. Cartoonists are unusual people. They are adults who never grow old. We are blessed with the most talented staff in the business. Everyone stays young. Our employees’ ages range from the teen-aged to the white-haired, but the atmosphere is that of the young at heart. There’s not one businessman in our studio to ‘expedite’; there’s not one executive to execute.”
Huckleberry Butler. From the Los Angeles Times May 20, 1988, Daws Butler claimed he just “had a knack for making my friends laugh. If I had an ego problem, it was early on in my career…I felt I shouldn’t have to go through life as Huckleberry Hound. But, then (later), I thought I shouldn’t be ashamed of being known as Huckleberry Hound either.”
Bakshi Speaks. Animator and director Ralph Bakshi in the November 1982 issue of American Premiere magazine said, “There is no magic formula. The best thing you can do is to make the best possible film and hope that people here and overseas will like it. Fritz (the Cat 1972) was a surprise to me. It was a very big hit overseas and I didn’t necessarily count on that, because I thought it was a personal, American film. Lord of the Rings (1978) was also a big hit, but I generally think that the fantasies have a better chance overseas. Basically, I’m always surprised by what my films do in foreign markets. But that’s all about selling a movie and that’s not necessarily what I’m here to do.”
Throwing Out the Rules. From Los Angeles Times Calendar section June 22, 1998, Animation director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit Richard Williams said, “I told Bob (Zemeckis) I was convinced every single rule about the use of animation and live action was baloney and if we made the film, I’d throw them all out and let him move the camera. We agreed that the key to making the combination effective would be interaction. Laurel and Hardy are funny because they’re constantly getting tangled up physically with each other. We thought the cartoon characters should always be affecting their environment or getting tangled up with the live actors.”
Daffy Duck Rationalizes. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “When you’re doing Daffy Duck, who’s a conniving self-serving person, you realize that, sure, I’m selfish too. Hopefully, I keep most of it under control. But Daffy doesn’t do that. He’s selfish then he explains. He builds a rationale for it. He tells an audience, ‘I know it’s a terrible thing to do but it’s better it should happen to him than to me. I’m not like other people — pain hurts me!’ Right? That’s rationalizing. We do naughty things then we explain them to ourselves.”
Kitsch Animation. Soviet animation director Fyodor Khitruk told the Los Angeles Times November 17, 1987, “So much kitsch (in animation) is produced for children. It determines their taste and becomes a kind of aesthetic imperative. The human psyche is actually formed between the ages of six months and five years. I’m astonished that the artists don’t take any responsibility for the work that’s shown to children. They know it’s part of their education. The problem is not restricted to the Western countries. We make many bad films as well. Some should never be made and some would be OK to make if you didn’t show them. Kitsch can be professionally done or amateurish, but it’s still kitsch.”
The DIC Story. It irritated the animation company that a local radio station kept referring to its building in Burbank as the “Dick” building. DIC stood for Diffusion Information Communication but was pronounced like the nickname of DIC president and CEO Andy Heyward’s father, Louis M. (Deke) Hayward, a former Hanna-Barbera executive. DIC Entertainment was responsible for shows like Inspector Gadget, The Real Ghostbusters, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Strawberry Shortcake and many, many others.
DIC was the major non-union studio and subcontracted much of its animation work to the Far East where production was cheaper. Phyllis Tucker Vinson, NBC’s vice presidentof children’s and family programming in the late 1980s said, “DIC has had a big problem with quality control and consistency because they have been so spread out all over the Far East. They bend over backwards to fix it but usually the problem is time.”
DIC’s senior vice president of development, Michael Maliani told writer Michael Mallory in 2013 what it was like the early days: “Everything was by the last minute. We were calling for helicopters sometimes so we could get stuff from the airport when it landed. I remember calling the executives at NBC at three in the morning, waking them up and saying, ‘I have a show, but we have a little bit of a problem…we’re missing some backgrounds in it.’ So we tried to figure out what to do.
“We figured that if we could move some of the shots around, we could put them on with no backgrounds, and hopefully no one would notice. Those were the fun days. Being up three days in a row, your eye’s bleeding, saying, ‘Wow, how are we going to do this?’”