- I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend, Lou Scarborough, this past week. So why not write about him? That’s what I’m going to do. Just random thoughts, good and bad, I guess. All just random. I’m sure I’ll have other posts to add to this, eventually.
I met Lou years ago the same way I met a whole core of NY friends and folk.
Back in 1978, Disney celebrated the 50th anniversary of Mickey Mouse’s creation. History for a lot of us – I mean, here, the celebration not the creation. The MoMA had a retrospective of all 50 years of Mickey cartoons in chronological order. They started with a bunch of silent Alice in Cartoonland followed by Oswald the Rabbit cartoons. They were shown silent. I mean SILENT – no audio, not even an organ. They ended that first program with Steamboat Willie. Now there was the invention of sound. You could hear it, you could feel it, you knew a new era had begun. Soundies.
Up at Lincoln Center, they were showing all the feature films, animated as well as live action films. Things like Pollyanna and Treasure Island as well as Lady and the Tramp and Dumbo.
The best part, though, was around the corner, daily, at the Library of the Performing Arts. Speaker/Guests included Animators: Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Woolie Reitherman, Designer: Eric Anderson, and John Culhane moderated a bunch of it. They showed clips of a lot of the feature animated films; they told famous stories for the millionth time, they told stories we hadn’t heard before. (e.g. Reitherman wanted the disco ball and the changing colors as the cats of the Aristocats played jazz in the attic. His was not something others wanted in the film. The director got what he wanted including a lot of reuse animation. Reitherman learned something about Xerography other than inking stories during 101 Dalmatians.
Anyway, to get into this series of programs (I’m sure there were four of them) you’d sit on the ground in the hot sun waiting for the doors to open when they handed out tickets. I was working for John Hubley at the time. A lot of the others: Dan Haskett, Tom Sito, Pat Sito, John Lopez, Kevin Petrilak, Bob Lusk, and, of course, Lou Scarborough, all worked at a place called Tele-Tactics where they were paid horrible wages as animators working on something called The Days of Liberty.
Over time, a lot of those people went to Raggedy Ann in a direct route uptown once that studio opened. I was teh first hired there, so I got to watch the influx as animation began.
Lou went with a whole group directly into the Taffy Pit to clean up and inbetween the elaborate and gutsy drawings of the master, Emery Hawkins. Exhausting work but they were all friends and had a group all their own during Raggedy’s world. A new era of sorts had begun – the taffy pit folk. Ultimately, they all moved out to LA, worked at Disney for a bit and at a bunch of other feature studios for a bit.
- I also remember during the late 70′s and early 80′s that Lou Scarborough was closely involved with Wendy and Richard Pini‘s fantasy characters from Elf Quest.
A sample of the Elf Quest art
Along with Dan Haskett and other friends he helped build model sheets and tried desperately to get the comic books animated. I don’t believe much happened with the work, especially after it moved to cgi. In my opinion it lost any magic it had in the 2D cartoon drawings and completely lost everything in the clumsy cgi artwork.
In a way, it seems to me that this art style seriously affected Lou. Though I was certainly not a fan, I did appreciate the hard work all the artists did in putting it together. The whole enterprise, though, seemed like too many other fantasy pieces that were out there.
Lou was one of the last to leave New York City for the West Coast. He did a couple of jobs for me before he left. There were some Sesame Street spots, dances, that he animated. Then there were a couple of episodes of a show called Brain Games done before Sheila Nevins moved in and took over at HBO. I did about 45 minutes of the six half hour shows Sheila produced with Jeff Schon as co-producer. . It was all fun work. Lou animated a centurian and oddly he had the guy move wildly from the forth pose to the fifth. There was an enormous surprise when this character moved, so traditionally drawn, and moved beautifully. The large
arc worked for the character and found me imitating Lou’s move more than once in future scenes. A peculiar layout that worked so well. I was the only one who noticed it and the only one who worried about it. No problema, it worked.
Lou moved to LA and worked on various business out there. He did a number of MGM musicals for home video. Things like Babes in Toyland, The Quest for Camelot, as well as The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
In the end, Lou ended up without money but still a lot of dreams. Now he’s fighting cancer in a hospital at a young age. Life’s tough, and I’m watching my friend closely. I hope his luck gives him a couple of good breaks.