August 3, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #374

Matt Groening. In the Daily News Journal TV Update for December 23rd, 1989, cartoonist Matt Groening said, “The most common thing people tell me is that I’ve been spying on them. I take incidents from my own childhood for The Simpsons. It’s a combination of my family, my friends, my current life – I’m a new dad and have an eight month old son. And part of it is a reaction to the situation comedies I watched while I was growing up.

“Both the Simpsons and the Andersons on Father Knows Best live in a town called Springfield. I think that most of the humor about childhood mines the same territory over and over again. And I’ve tried to write about stuff that’s a little darker. I think we all have that in common. I mean, I’m watching my child and you think of a baby’s life as being idyllic but he’s got two main moods: ecstatic joy and screaming unhappiness. I think that we tend to forget about the screaming.

“I started drawing on the first day of the first grade. Basically, I cannot remember a time in school when I wasn’t drawing. I went through all sorts of different stages, drawing all the things that kids draw: tanks and dinosaurs and monsters especially. But I wasn’t very good. At around fifth grade, I hit upon the style that I’ve kept to this day.

“In fifth grade, I realized life was hell when I had to sit in the corner for being unfairly accused of dropping an encyclopedia on the floor. Now, I’ve doodled myself into a corner because I can’t allow myself to do the same things to my kid that I’ve written about. I no doubt will make mistakes, but I hope when my kid is an adult, he will be very forgiving.

“Doing both the strip (Life in Hell) and the series, I get a little tired sometimes but I’m having a blast. This is just playing. I’m doing what the teachers used to rap me on the knuckles for.”

The cast of “Life In Hell”

Baxter on Quasi. In The Independent newspaper for May 24th, 1996, animator James Baxter who was working on Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame said, “There were concerns. We were taking on a pice of classic literature. The way the story goes is a bit more sympathetic. (Quasimodo) is not so much of a monster. I was trying to get more of a child-like quality. He’s not deaf which he is in the book. He’s more communicative than in previous incarnations. He’s still kind of grotesque but he’s a bit more aware of his own deformity.”

Mickey’s Voice. From the New York Post November 18th, 1982, voice artist Jim MacDonald who was then seventy-six years old and still doing the voice of Mickey Mouse said that it wasn’t that hard: “Giving an hour or two every now and then to record his lines. That’s all. He never had much dialogue. If you can get your voice into a falsetto you can pretty much do it. Problem is, if you do it too long, you go hoarse.”

Joe Barbera’s Advice to Animators. Producer Joe Barbera said in an interview in 1990 for World Features Syndicate: “You don’t have to be the greatest artist in the world to be an animator. Keep drawing and keep practicing. Keep going to art school because even if you hate it, something is rubbing off. If you have an idea that’s funny, do it, draw it and show it to somebody. Who would ever have bet on The Simpsons? The Simpsons is a style you couldn’t have given away ten years ago but today kids are looking for things like it that are kind of irreverent.”

More Wisdom of Chuck Jones. From The Daily News, July 15, 1985, producer and animator Chuck Jones once again shared his thoughts: “Animators are like brain surgeons. You have to work well and work fast. An animator never sees his public and it’s fun for me at a Six Flags amusement park to see the kids hugging my characters.

“I expected Bugs to stay popular for about 18 months. That’s all. No one knew back then that cartoons as trailers with films would hang around for 25 years or more and that television would have such an insatiable need for children’s programming. With Bugs, we wanted a wise guy rabbit, sure, but a peace-loving, friendly rabbit who only resorted to his famous tricks and acts of harassment when he was victimized by someone else. The other characters, too, were all carefully planned.

“You see, cartoon characters are very much the same as characters in feature films. Like those charcters, they are appreciated for their actions, movements, personalities. It’s Bugs’ personality – and what a personality – that makes him Bugs, not the fact that we drew him as a funny rabbit.

“Once a little girl came up to me, after she knew who I was, and said, ‘Oh, you’re the man who draws pictures of Bugs Bunny’. Now, she didn’t say I drew Bugs Bunny but that I drew pictures of Bugs Bunny. So, in her mind, Bugs was a real person that I drew pictures of and that’s success for me.

“What really annoys me with animation on television is the idea. In all these shows, everyone whether it’s the Smurfs or whoever has to act as a large group to get anything done. In my cartoons, my characters always saved themselves or solved problems by themselves. That’s the American spirit. To stand up for your right and – by yourself – win.”

The Culhane Brothers. Never trust the information in books. In an interview with Mark Langer August 16th, 1990, Shamus Culhane vented about the biography of Walter Lantz written by Joe Adamson that had “Jimmie Culhane” and “Shamus Culhane” as two different people who were brothers. Shamus said, “Joe Adamson had me with a brother, and he deftly divided my movie bibliography between one brother and the other. How nice. I do have a brother, but he’s an electrical engineer. He never made movies. I mean that’s not excusable for a guy to write a piece of sh*t like that, nor that Walter Lantz would allow it. He must not have read his own book, you know.”


  • I guess you never do see Shamus and Jimmie in the same room…

  • That is atrocious. Shamus (Seamus) is just the Gaelic version of James, for crying out loud.

  • Not surprised about the Joe Adamson anecdote at all, given the number of errors one sees in his older books..

    The Chuck Jones thing is interesting, and when I had dinner with him in the arly 90s, he said much the same. Boy, he really, really hated Tiny Toons Adventures.

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