August 17, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #376

Wisdom of Chuck Jones. From L.A. Life Daily News March 24, 1996, producer and animator Chuck Jones said about receiving an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 68th Academy Awards, “You don’t have to deserve it in order to enjoy it. It’s exciting and fun and undeserved. But I’ll accept it.”

He also remarked, “I have about 50 projects that I’ll either do or die trying. I have no interest in dying. I have no experience with it. I don’t feel like an old man. I feel like a young man that has something the matter with him. I have no fears of the future. I only have fears of the past being repeated.

“Humor is largely environmental. It’s based on observation of the ridiculous, of things that are off-key. Slipping on a banana peel is funny. Unless you do it yourself. Then it’s tragedy.

“Our characters were all believable to us. We thought of them as living creatures. Like it or not, you’re going to have a favorite but you’d better not say it in public. Yet, the more I look at Daffy, I realize I’m like him. Bugs is a comic hero. Daffy is the tradition of all great comedians. He’s a loser.”

As a child, Jones spent much of his time at the beach. While there, he was often cast as an extra in Mack Sennett silent movie comedies. “We’d be on the beach all the time when they were shooting pictures. So they’d ask us if we wanted a free lunch. It was fun. And we’d get to see a lot of stunts and gags.”

Secret to Nickelodeon Success. In L.A. Life Daily News for February 18,1996, Cyma Zarghami, senior vice president for Nickelodeon said, “We present characters that kids can identify with. They’re regular kids. They’re not better-looking than other kids or more popular or smarter. We often present girls as the central characters.

“Nickelodeon’s has built its success by going to areas where kids are under-served. I believe if you serve the audience, it will always be good for business. We are an entertainment company with a real connection to our audience. The kids own this network and we owe it to them to serve their needs.”

The Moana That Never Was. In the April 6-13, 2018 issue of Entertainment Weekly, producer Osnat Shurer shared some stories about what disappeared from Disney’s animated feature Moana (2016). “In the beginning, Heihei the rooster was kid of an ornery, angry dude. We weren’t loving where he was at, and there was a moment we thought we might cut him. We gave the team a couple of days and went, ‘Save the chicken if you can’. The story artists came back with a pitch about ‘the stupidest character in Disney history’ and had us crying laughing. We celebrated with a fried chicken party.

“Gramma Tala wasn’t added until later in our process. She’s inspired by our experiences in the Pacific Islands. There’s this woman named Hinano Murphy who lives on Moorea who was an integral important part of our Oceanic story trust. She’s this incredibly inspiring woman who has created a nonprofit that brings forward the original culture of Tahiti. She has a particular wisdom, a sense of mischief, a sense of humor, and a willingness to do everything she needs to do to help the next generation learn who they are. She was our main inspiration for adding Gramma Tala to the story.”

Shamus Culhane. From a September 1991 interview done with Shamus Culhane in New York, the animator said: “I have a feeling once in a while that I’ve become an endangered species. I suspect because I’m 82. I’ve seen a lot of changes in this business since I began working as an errand boy at J.R. Bray in 1924. I would say that about half of my career was working on junk. I intended to work as a very serious classic artist and have my work shown in museums. Ironically enough it has been shown but not in the way I expected it to be….it was my animation instead.

“I’m bitterly disappointed in looking over animation and seeing that the animation has improved enormously, the camerawork too and some of the backgrounds. But the subject matter is still the equivalent of a car chase. Except that it might be two animals or something.

“I don’t like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The story is terrible. A Teddy Sears or a Mike Maltese or one of the old-time good writers would have thrown that in the wastepaper basket. It’s not very interesting.

“The only really bright spot in the picture these days is the use of computers. I am very much in favor of computers. I think what it might do is open the door for more individual movies.”

Annie Awards. At the 17th annual Annie Awards in November 1988, producer Bob Clampett who had passed away four years earlier in 1984 was given an Annie Award accepted by his widow Sody. She said, “This is a healing gesture. I can’t help but feel sad that this wasn’t given to him (when the other top WB talents were recognized) when it would have meant so much to him.”

Animator Tissa David was also given an award and commented, “Everything I know about animation, I learned from Grim Natwick.” Natwick who was then 98 years old and in the audience responded, “I want to tell you I learned from Tissa.”

Saving Bambi. From the July 24, 1985 issue of City Pages newspaper in an article by Brian Lambert, director Joe Hale commented, “I still don’t know what it is but even really young children immediately react to animation. They see it and they turn toward it. Maybe it’s the color or the funny way the characters move but they seem to know it’s special. It’s almost like a language they understand.

“You know, I often ask myself if I were in a burning house and I could carry out either the original negative to Bambi or the Mona Lisa, what would it be? Every time it’s Bambi. I think it’s given more people in the world happiness than the Mona Lisa ever could. Bambi is a part of our lives.”


  • Yes the storyline in Roger Rabbit was pretty simple but the animation was incredible. If there was a fraction of the effort put into the story as the animation it’d contain deep characterizations. Williams really pulled all the stops in the animation aspect.

    Interesting to see Culhane advocate computers. Although Roger Rabbit didn’t use computers (the theatrical shorts however did) it had animation so advanced people sometimes think the film used early CGI. Computers make everything easier, including animation. Computer animation seen as being inferior to 2d animation is just the animation standards going down the drain, 2d animation in recent years is actually regaining the old principles and I’d even take the 2000s flat style over soulless 80s drivel.

    Also there’s independent animation now that actually has serious subject matter or at least delightfully bizarre imagery (watch the videos by Pilotredsun on Youtube). Though truth be told if Culhane was around today he’d probably ignore that and compare everything to the Emoji Movie. He was a great guy but honestly pretty cynical. Even for you guys it often seems like either classic cartoons or forgettable TV shows are the only things in animation. The medium is used for all sorts of things and there’s some really great stuff out there online amidst the ocean of forgettable online animation. Classic cartoons are great but there’s other great things in animation as well.

  • You know a bitter, crotchety old man is a bitter, crotchety old man when he says the story in Who Framed Roger Rabbit “wasn’t good.”

    I can’t stand ignorant old fools like this regardless of what they may have done. It’s what makes my distaste for Miyazaki more apparent than ever, and why I dislike the majority of his work. He’s kind of a terrible person and his pretentious garbage shows in the majority of his work.

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