BraveStarr. In the L.A. Times Magazine (December 28, 1986), there was a lengthy article about BraveStarr, the new animated television series from Filmation. BraveStarr as a character with vaguely alluded to Native American elements could draw on four innate animal characteristics: eyes of the hawk, the ears of the wolf, the strength of the bear and the speed of the puma.
“The idea was that Indians are the people closest to the earth which allowed us an element of mysticism,” said Filmation vice president Arthur Nadel who with Lou Scheimer, Scheimer’s daughter Erika (who was Filmation’s director of development), writer Bob Forward and others developed the scenario. It is set in the year 2349 in the town of New Texas (originally New Cheyenne) during a “Kerium rush”. Kerium is a fluorescent orange crystal more valuable than gold that becomes the focus of conflict between BraveStarr and Tex Hex. “It was the appropriate type of background to show that power or strength — good or bad – prevails,” said Nadel.
Wholesome Role Models. From the Los Angeles Times Calendar section December 21, 1986, Ritch Colbert, president of Access Syndicate (partnered with DIC Enterprises), stated, “Children’s programming these days is dominated by neo-militaristic, boy-toy animation. Just look at the things being offered – Silverhawks, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, the list is endless. Where are the Tom and Jerrys, the Flintstones, the rich characters for children to nurture and develop and identify with?”
When asked about his animated package that included Beverly Hills Teens (who attend classes with Louis XIV antique desks), Tiffany Blake (a glamorous fashion model who is also an international spy) and U.S. Space Force (defending the galaxy with deadly weapons), Colbert replied, “(Beverly Hills Teens) may be rather more wealthy than most teenagers but they have typical teenager problems and the important thing is they are fully realized personalities.” He added that Tiffany Blake is “no bimbo” and that the deadly astro-marines “don’t kill other people – just aliens. There is a difference, you know.”
The Future of Animation. In the April 12, 1962 issue of Television Age magazine, Leon H. Maurer, president of Westworld Artists Productions Inc. announced “Colormation”, a modification of his previous Animascope process that “produces full animation at ten percent of the cost of a Disney effort and fifty percent of the cost of a Flintstones-like limited animation technique… and it’s 85-90 percent faster than conventional full animation.”
Actors are made up and costumed to resemble cartoon characters, and are photographed in color on a special set that permits the film to capture only the performers and the hard-line details of their features and costumes. The live-action is printed against hand-drawn and photographed backgrounds, with props, models and other details also added optically.
Wisdom of Groening. In 1989, cartoonist Matt Groening talked to the Los Angeles Times about the launch of The Simpsons television series: “My understanding is that the TV executives who are in power are young enough to remember cartoons as being funny. They have children of their own now, and they want to give them something to watch. Part of the reason I’m doing this is that I’m so unhappy with what has been done – animation for TV is about the lowest form of entertainment in existence. There’s been an outcry about violence on TV affecting children adversely. What really affects them adversely is bad animation.
“The Simpsons are lovable – in a mutant sort of way. We like to think of this as a celebration of the American family at its wildest. There are exaggerated things you can do visually which are hilarious in animation but would be appalling in live action. In addition to the visual humor, we hope to introduce a level of sophistication in the writing that’s rare on TV.”
New Paramount 1960. In the Motion Picture Herald for November 28, 1959, Paramount tried to promote itself to theater distributors as being “new”. “In the coming months, and years, Paramount shorts will be ‘new’. Soon to be introduced are such assorted characters as Sheriff Quiet Burp who keeps law and order by snorting at badmen; Mike the Masquerader, a new whodunit hero; and Professor Schmaltz, teller of tall tales.
“These and other new characters will bring Paramount cartoons ‘up to date’ as far as subject matter is concerned. In general, they will spoof current trends in manners and culture. During 1960, Paramount Cartoon Studio will produce 20 new cartoons – eight Noveltoons, eight Modern Madcaps and four Jeepers and Creepers. All will be in color. In addition, because of numerous requests on the part of exhibitors for ‘familiar faces’, Paramount will re-release during 1960, 20 of its best cartoon champions, featuring such ‘stars’ as Popeye, Casper Ghost and Herman and Katnip.”
Mike the Masquerader was a disguise wearing thief and appeared in two cartoons. Professor Schmaltz was a bespectacled, top-hatted, bulbous nose “expert” with a thick German accent. They both appeared in the Modern Madcaps.
Alice’s Adventures. Paramount released a star-studded live action version of Alice in Wonderland in 1933. It featured an animated segment of the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter done by Harman-Ising. The animation was done just after they had left Warner Brothers and before they found a home elsewhere. Paramount was distributing cartoons by the Fleischers at this time and it always seemed curious that studio was not involved. However in 1934, Fleischer released Betty in Blunderland. Some animation scholars have wondered if it was an attempt to reuse design elements that might have been rejected by Paramount for the live action film or perhaps just to show they could have done a better job.