October 12, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #384

Bob and Margaret. Bob’s Birthday (1993) was a twelve minute animated short by David Fine and his wife Alison Snowden who grew up in Nottingham, England that won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1994. It spawned the 1998 British-Canadian animated series Bob and Margaret about a dentist and his chiropodist wife living in South London shown on the Comedy Central.

“We live in London and wanted to use stories from our personal experience,” said Fine. “And we wanted to be true to the short. Despite living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, they can’t think of anything to do.”

“They don’t express themselves so well and they’re not in complete control of their lives. An American couple might be slightly more assertive,” said Snowden.

Feathers McGraw. In The Sunday Times (U.K.) November 23, 1997, animator Nick Park said, “In The Wrong Trousers (1993), the penguin, Feathers McGraw, is something to do with those Sunday matinees on TV with the strange lodger in the spare room who walked in and out without saying anything. There was a kind of discord and an uncomfortable feeling and I used to love that when I was young. And that’s what I loved about Bob Baker’s script. You never knew what The Wrong Trousers was really about and you never quite knew who that penguin was.”

Mulan’s Personality. In Newsweek June 8, 1998, Chris Sanders, story editor on Disney’s Mulan (1998) said, “We made it clear that though Mulan has a crush, love wouldn’t blossom until after the closing credits. In the end we had to guard against even the hint of a romance or the whole thing didn’t work. We didn’t make her too serious or too silly. She had to be believable and accessible. It’s hard to relate to James Bond but people relate very quickly to Jimmy Stewart. I wanted her to be gawky in a Carol Burnett kind of way. (Producer) Pam Coats made sure there was no cleavage.”

Professor Rutabaga. Drawing Power was a live-action/animated series for NBC in 1980. Pop, the white-haired chief animator (Bob Kaliban), and his assistants, Lenny and Kari, dream up educational cartoon messages in a small animation studio, leading into one of several cartoon segments featured each week, namely: “The Book Report,” “Bus Stop,” “Pet Peeves,” “Superperson U,” “Professor Rutabaga,” and “What Do You Do, Dad? (What Do You Do Mom)?”

The show was from the producers and co-writers of Schoolhouse Rock, Tom Yohe and George Newall. Al Eugster animated all the Professor Rutabaga segments. He worked without an assistant or inbetweener and did all the pencil artwork himself. Professor Rutabaga was a carnival pitchman who promoted the virtues of fruits and vegetables.

Animator Mark Mayerson who worked for the studio producing the show recalled: “The work was very flat in design and limited animation but Al was an expert at breaking up a character into separate cel levels to keep it alive. His work was far superior to anyone else’s on the series. Al gave every scene his full attention. He never felt superior to the material or hacked something out to get it off his desk. Within the limitations of budget and schedule, he worked hard to get the maximum entertainment out of every scene.”

Larz Bourne. Larz Bourne was a writer and cartoonist. He was the one who came up with the name Deputy Dawg as well as the design for the character. When he was asked in the early 1960s for an interview about the show, he replied, “This is a group effort. I don’t want anyone to think I’m the only creator and writer on the show.”

He attended the Chicago Professional School of Cartooning and began his career in 1937 with the Max Fleischer Studio. He was story editor and writer for CBS Terrytoons and Hanna Barbera Productions.

Moving Belle. From Premiere magazine November 1991, the lead animator on Belle in Beauty and the Beast, James Baxter said, “I’ve tried to make her move gracefully, even in her everyday sequences. I’ve got a lot of ballet dancers on video to see how they walk. A walk is like a thumbprint. If you can make it special and consistent through the picture, then you’ve got a real character coming out.”

Michael Jordan. From USA Today, November 14, 1996, basketball player Michael Jordan commented on working with Bugs Bunny in Space Jam (1996): “Bugs wasn’t there when I played the part . When I was a kid, I used to watch Bugs Bunny every Saturday. He never gets old. I guess we’re both very similar.

“I wish Bugs had top billing. That carries all the weight. That would take the pressure off. Normally I walk through life carrying a shield that keeps the public from my real thoughts and feelings. But in Space Jam, I had to show emotions, make facial expressions, yell and scream or act as if I were falling . It was a lot harder than I had expected.”

Jordan spent 60 days working on a huge, bare, green soundstage. The film ended up costing $125 million ($90 for the film and $35 million for promotion) in the hopes of creating a franchise that would sell a billion dollars or more in merchandise and spark sequels.

Animation co-director Tony Cervone said, “This is one of those franchise kind of movies like Batman. There are whole generations that only know Bugs from television. This had to be something special: everything you could see on TV and then some. The technical challenges were vast.”

Bao. The Pixar short in front of Incredibles 2 is called Bao directed by the first female Pixar short director Domee Shi who was a former storyboard artist. She was the only child of Chinese immigrants. “Oftentimes it felt like my mom would treat me like a precious little dumpling, wanting to make sure I was safe, that I didn’t go out late, all that stuff,” said Shi. “I had always wanted to create this magical, modern day fairy tale, a Chinese Gingerbread Man story. The word ‘bao’ means two things in Chinese. Said one way, it means steamed bun. Said another, it means something precious. A treasure.” Shi’s mom, Ningsha Zhong served as the cultural consultant and gave dumpling-making demonstrations.

1 Comment

  • Larz Bourne was also at Famous Studios for quite a while.

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