Suspended Animation #201
So Where Is Animation Anecdotes? For several months, Jerry Beck and I have been talking about the fact that my one-shot columns generate significantly more traffic and more comments than Animation Anecdotes.
In addition, I have been doing Animation Anecdotes every Friday for this website since March 15th, 2013 or roughly six years and that’s not counting all the previous years I did a similar column for various animation magazines and fanzines. So, quite frankly, it is getting harder and harder to find interesting anecdotes and I am burned out from doing it so it came time to put Animation Anecdotes on hiatus.
What is Suspended Animation? For a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I wrote a column for Comics Journal entitled Suspended Animation (because I was freezing the movement to more closely examine the art) that focused on just one subject. I later used it as the title for my apazine for Apatoons, an amateur press alliance that started in July 1981 and was limited to roughly thirty members including at various times Jerry, Mark Kausler, John Cawley, Fred Patten, Bob Miller, Keith Scott and other prominent animation authorities.
I produced roughly 200 prior installments of Suspended Animation so for this new column I am starting with #201. The column will resemble my one shot columns with excerpts of interviews and a focus on one particular topic. In addition, there will be two part columns, opinion columns, columns sharing animation related artwork from my collection, columns with lists and anything else that catches my attention.
Here is a sample of what to expect in the following Fridays…
Animated Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers was one of the most popular Western movie stars known as “The King of the Cowboys”.
Growing up, he was one of my heroes and I had the Marx playset from Sears, some of the comic books, and a pistol among other things. In 1957 alone, each issue of his Dell comic book with artwork by John Buscema and Alex Toth sold two million copies.
I met Roy in person once at his museum in Victorville, California and was disappointed that he was shorter than I expected, only coming up to my shoulder, since to me he always seemed to me to be larger-than-life.
I was not disappointed that he was so gracious when I asked to take a photo with him even though he was obviously heading somewhere important because he sensed it would be the only time I would be there.
Despite his popularity, he was never distinctive enough to be caricatured like other celebrities in animated shorts but I have discovered two instances of his brush with animation.
General Foods, makers of Post Sugar Crisp, was the primary sponsor of the Roy Rogers television show that aired on NBC from December 30, 1951 and June 9, 1957 and then was rerun on CBS from 1958-1964. There were live action commercials were Roy promoted the cereal as well as special Roy Rogers items like puzzles and 3-D pictures in some of the boxes.
A commercial was produced where an animated Roy Rogers rescues the three little bears Dandy, Handy and Candy. The slogan for the cereal was: “For breakfast it’s Dandy… for snacks it’s so Handy…. or eat it like Candy.”
Sugar Bear, became the cereal’s more famous mascot in 1965. The young bruins have somehow been tied to the train track with a speeding train heading their way but fortunately Roy frees them by shooting their ropes just in the nick of time.
I have no idea who did the animation but it looks pretty nice to me.
Jeff Kramer, president of Kingsboro Productions in Calabasas, obtained the rights for a Roy Rogers cartoon from the Rogers family in 1990. At the same time he got Roy, his wife Dale Evans and their son Roy Jr. (also known as Dusty) to agree to provide the voices.
He hired Emmy and Peabody award winning writer/producer Nicholas Hollander (Pinky & the Brain, Animaniacs) to develop the show and brought on Academy Award winning producer Mike Young to produce a demo reel at his Mike Young Productions studio in Los Angeles.
It was pitched to John Storrier of All-American Television (Baywatch, Sirens, Acapulco H.E.A.T) who loved it and because he was looking for new content for his company, he wanted to distribute it through syndication so plans were made for twenty-six episodes to begin airing by the end of the 1990s.
During the process, a new partner got added, Paragon Entertainment, a Canadian company. They partnered with All-American providing the services of their newly-acquired animation company, Lacewood, in exchange for partnership in the series.
Paragon partnered with the French company Pixibox and together they turned the project into was known as a “Canadian Content” production. Jeff Kramer maintained that they weren’t able to find any domestic financing for this project and Pearson Television bought out All-American in 1997. However, I have seen some cel artwork from the series but it may be from just the demo reel and it looked very nice.
I am sharing what I know in the hopes that the clever readers of this column might be able to add some other information.
Would a Roy Rogers animated series have been successful in the late 1990s when most kids had quit playing Cowboys and Indians and were now playing Spacemen and Aliens? Was Rogers still a well enough known entity or was he simply a nostalgic favorite to old guys like me who liked when actor Buster Crabbe popped up in cameos?
Of course, Roy Rogers in person appeared in a segment in Disney’s compilation feature Melody Time (1948). He and the Sons of the Pioneers sang the tale of Pecos Bill, one of my favorite Disney animated featurettes that runs about twenty-two minutes.