Suspended Animation #300
My first Animation Anecdotes column for Cartoon Research was March 15th, 2013 and it ran weekly until the final column of that version appearing February 1st, 2019. In addition to the weekly Friday installment, I had been writing several other one-shot, single topic columns similar to the Suspended Animation columns that run every Friday now.
Having written animation anecdotes columns for several magazines since 1977, I finally got “burnt out” from having to find a variety of unusual little gems. However, I never lost my affection for those tiny treasures and so today to celebrate installment #300 of Suspended Animation I am briefly returning to that format to share these little stories:
The Simpsons. In Entertainment Weekly June 15, 2018, The Simpsons writer Mike Reiss stated that they originally meant the character of Ralph to be a “mini Homer; we named him after Jackie Gleason’s character Ralph Kramden. It wasn’t until Season 4 that we decided to make him Chief Wiggum’s son.”
The production team cut together footage from Itchy and Scratchy episodes to test the idea of a real movie based on the duo but it “contained such concentrated gore and mindless violence that it made people physically ill.”
Remembering Walt Disney. From the July 24, 1985 issue of City Pages newspaper in an article by Brian Lambert, director Joe Hale commented, “Walt (Disney) was not a great delegator. The way he worked, he was involved in every piddly little detail. But he knew everybody who worked for him because he liked people. Walt ate lunch every day at the same table, right up until the week he died. It was crazy. He’d be there trying to talk to somebody or take care of business while all this clatter is going. Busboys dropping dishes and everything. But that’s the way he wanted it. I don’t know how many times people tried to convince him to have his lunch brought up to him in his office but he refused.”
Brad Bird on Edna Mode. From Sci-Fi Now magazine #146 (May 2018) writer-director Brad Bird who provided the voice for Edna Mode in The Incredibles (2004) said: “I mean, it’s strange that a half-German, half-Japanese, bossy midget is something that feels very natural to me. It always cracked me up that she’s this tiny, little person with no super powers at all that can intimidate superheroes and make them feel inadequate somehow or like they can’t keep up.
”I’ve known some people like that that just emit this confidence that just does not take in anything that is humbling. She’s a lot of fun to write. She’s still a supporting type. I wouldn’t ever make the mistake of giving her the lead or anything like that.”
Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. From a 1994 interview printed in Alter Ego Vol. 3 #59, artist Sheldon Moldoff said, “When (Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse) was greenlit, (Bob) Kane came to me and said, ‘Shelly, I need storyboards and for you to write the stories’. I said I could handle it, and I did. But that was while I was still doing (the art for) Batman comic books.”
Superbowl Animation. The mix of animation and live action in a special commerical debuting for the Super Bowl has a history with Warner Bros. Animation – including Plymouth’s Road Runner (1969), Nike’s Hare Jordan with Bugs Bunny (1992) and Nike’s Aerospace Jordan (1993) as well as American Express Seinfeld and Superman (1998).
Bambi Punishment. In an Associated Press article from December 17, 2018, a convicted deer poacher was ordered by the court to watch Disney’s Bambi once a month while in jail. As part of his sentence for illegally killing hundreds of deer, David Berry was ordered by a court in Missouri to watch Bambi once a month during his year long sentence for killing hundreds of deer illegally just to harvest their heads and leaving the rest of their bodies to rot.
Court records show he was ordered by county judge Robert George to “view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before 23 December 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter” while at the county jail. He also had to pay $51,000 in fines and had his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked.
Mickey Mouse Gas Mask. From Empire magazine January 2019, comedian Eric Idle remembered his earliest memory: “I have to say a Mickey Mouse gas mask which they threw over your head during wartime. It was made of horrible, foul-smelling rubber. I guess they were trying to make things nicer for children but it was terrifying. And it means I’ve always been frightened of Mickey Mouse and scuba diving.”
Migo. From Entertainment Weekly October 5, 2018, actor Channing Tatum was asked about voicing the character Migo who is a Yeti in the animated feature Smallfoot (2018): “I think, yes, for sure he listens to Migos. I don’t think he listened to them before, but once the whole world has opened up to him in the movie – no spoilers – I think that’s probably one of the first things he would start listening to. I see Migo into Migos, chilling somewhere, hanging out, being a yeti, just rapping along.”
Zemeckis on Roger Rabbit. In the Summer 2019 issue of Empire magazine, director Robert Zemeckis talked about Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988): “Every single moment of that movie was heartbreaking. You know that expression ‘Ignorance is bliss’? If anybody had told me how difficult that movie was going to be, I never would have gone near it.
“Usually in animation, they take shortcuts and animate every four frames. Because (every animated element in Roger Rabbit) had to be matched to live action, everything had to be animated at 24 frames. Then, every shadow element, lighting element and everything else to make them look dimensional. It was insane.”
Team America Sexual Shenanigans. Matt Stone and Trey Parker know all about straddling the line between the R and NC-17 rating: 2004’s Team America: World Police had to be re-cut a total of nine times before the MPAA granted it an R rating. When the duo behind South Park first conceived their politically charged all-puppet satire, the last thing they probably expected to get pulled up on was the sex scene.
“It’s something we all did as kids with Barbie and Ken dolls,” the L.A. Times quoted Parker as saying at the time, but the board didn’t see it that way, finding much of the marionette sex too offensive.
“There’s nothing we’re asking for that hasn’t appeared in other R-rated movies, and our characters are made of wood and have no genitalia,” producer Scott Rudin said of his prolonged battle to avoid the NC-17 rating. “If the puppets did to each other what we show them doing, all they’d get is splinters.”
Happy New Year, Everyone!