Animation &Animation Artifacts &Fleischer 27 Oct 2007 08:27 am

Betty Drawings

- I promised to post all the Grim Natwick drawings of Betty Boop I have in my collection. A number of them aren’t specifically Bettys, but they’re pretty interesting just the same. Here’s a rough drawing of a jockey jumping done in 1931, signed by Grim. You can tell it was done in 1931 because he’s printed the date on the back (and you can see it bleeding through the paper on the lower left.)

Can anyone identify this cartoon?

_______(Click to enlarge.)

As I said in the past, I’m very impressed by the holes punched in the paper. Whereas every other studio at this time was using a 2-hole punch for their paper, Fleischer was using this more sophisticated peg system. I don’t think Disney switched over to their 5 hole paper until 1934, and I’ve seen WB art still on 2-hole paper from 1938.

The other interesting item, noted by David Nethery on my last posting, is that they were using 8½ x 11 paper. Disney’s paper on Plane Crazy, two years earlier, was 9½ x 12. It’s amusing to note that many studios are back to drawing on 8½ x 11 paper today(unless they’re doing feature work) that is, if they’re still using paper.

14 Responses to “Betty Drawings”

  1. on 27 Oct 2007 at 11:11 am 1.Ken Priebe said …

    Interesting! I’m currently animating on a freelance project using 8.5 x 11 (10 field)paper. For my own film it’s all on 10.5 x 12.5 (12 field).

  2. on 27 Oct 2007 at 2:33 pm 2.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    A great, great drawing by Natwick!

    I wish I knew more about the history of Disney paper. I heard that a well-regarded paper company closed its doors for two weeks a year just to make custom paper for Disney.

    The paper was terrific! It was nearly opaque til you turned on a light under it and it had just the right weight and body for flipping. The surface was toothy enough to allow for bold, dark, graphite lines and smoothe enough to erase easy. You had to work hard to make a bad drawing on paper like that!

  3. on 27 Oct 2007 at 2:50 pm 3.Michael said …

    Boy do I care about the paper.

    For years I had paper cut especially for us. Since a lot of the animation drawings were colored for the final, it had to be special paper. It also had to have no watermark (which was often a problem.)
    Consequeently, we went with a 25 lb Meade paper and had our office copy paper @ 8½ x 11 match the animation paper.

    Some animators complained that the paper was too thick, but I was happy with it and the tooth of it that I ignored the complaints. I didn’t want to draw on the tissue paper you buy from Cartoon Colour.

    I still use the same copy paper and animate on the 8½ x 11 that we punch. (Now I feel closer to the Fleischer animators.) The size makes it easier to scan. If we have to go larger we do. No animators have complained about the change in size.

  4. on 27 Oct 2007 at 4:33 pm 4.David said …

    After doing a little more surveying on the paper sizes and peg hole systems (boy do I love animation minutia, eh folks !?) I’ve found examples of Schlesinger/Warner’s using 9 x 12 paper punched with two holes until around 1954. They started using Acme punched paper exclusively after the return from the brief shutdown of the cartoon studio in 1954 . Everyone else on the West coast seems to have switched over to Acme pegs by the early 40′s except for Disney who of course had their own in-house peg system which was sort of like Acme , but not quite. As noted earlier , Fleischer’s switched to larger 10.5″ x 12.5″ Oxberry punched paper during production on Gulliver’s Travels and continued to use that size after the move back to New York as “Famous Studios”. From the few samples I’ve seen Terrytoons always used the slightly smaller 9″ x 12″ paper , with Oxberry-style pegs.
    (I’m still a little unclear on the difference between Signal Corps and Oxberry pegs … they look very similar to me)

    I still have not been able to find anything definitive on when most in the industry switched to Acme pegs and who “invented” the Acme peg system. I suspect someone who worked in the Disney camera dept. , since the peg system is so similar to Disney’s except for the spacing of the pegs . But I’m very curious to know exactly what year the Acme peg system was introduced to the industry at large . Up until then most studios on the West Coast seemed to use the two-hole system.

    The old Disney paper was wonderful. They still had it around when I was there , but over the years they gradually introduced a cheaper paper that did not have the same surface quality. It would smear and tear if you erased too much . And don’t get me started on the downgrade of quality control with Col-Erase pencils …

    It’s all a plot to get everyone to go paperless ! (I’m only half joking…)

  5. on 27 Oct 2007 at 4:58 pm 5.Michael said …

    The Oxberry center peg is not the same diameter as the thickness of the flat pegs. It’s thinner.
    The Signal Corps center peg is the same thickness.
    The Fleischer pegs aren’t as thick as the Signal Corps pegs though the center peg has the same width.
    Maybe soon I’ll do a post demonstrating all three (and other odd ones)showing the differences.

  6. on 28 Oct 2007 at 10:16 am 6.Stephen said …

    On a diffrent note: Was Betty Boop originaly a Dog Or was drawn with Dog ears?

  7. on 28 Oct 2007 at 10:52 am 7.Michael said …

    Yes, Steve, Betty was a dog. That lasted for only a couple of films. Her ears eventually became earrings.

  8. on 28 Oct 2007 at 11:32 am 8.David said …

    The smaller letter-size paper (8.5″ x 11″) has a big advantage in that it allows one to use the much less expensive standard size Auto Document Feed scanners (large over-size ADF scanners for 12 or 16 field paper are outrageously expensive) . The total drawing area is a wee bit smaller than I’d prefer , but certainly workable at about ’10 Field’.

    I’ve worked on the 8.5″ x 11″ paper before , but only for rough tests, never taken it to final scan. It’s easy to adjust the pencil test video camera to a different center for the 10 F .
    What about for final scanning and scene planning: do you make your own 10 Field graticules (field guides) ? The center will obviously be different than a standard 12 Field graticule. I know some animation software will only recognize standard 12 F or 16 F, so anything scanned on smaller paper will be off-center and need to be adjusted with the software to center it. Not a big deal, but an extra step.

  9. on 28 Oct 2007 at 12:39 pm 9.Michael said …

    When laying out the scene, we draw the fields we want to hit and scan that with the animation drawings. It stays with the scene right into the final compositing in AfterEffects. This assures we will hit the right fields when we want to. (We also can adjust the scenes at this time if we want to make changes.) Maybe it’s an extra step, but it doesn’t feel like one.

  10. on 28 Oct 2007 at 1:18 pm 10.David said …


    So , you use AfterEffects for compositing. Are you using Photoshop for coloring (whatever is not hand-colored) ?

    I guess my thinking is still stuck on using animation-specific software like Animo , Digicel, or Toonboom to handle the coloring and compositing of scanned drawings . I know a lot of people do scan into Photoshop and then use AfterEffects for composite with BG’s and camera moves. I’d need to do it that way for a project to get used to it , then it would probably seem simple .

  11. on 28 Oct 2007 at 11:47 pm 11.Tom Minton said …

    Filmation still used a couple of ancient Acme animation cameras in the late 1970′s, because the camera people could really crank out footage shooting on them. They also had one Oxberry camera, which was much slower to operate, that they used for stuff requiring greater precision. The Acme pegs have certainly outlived that company’s other equipment.

  12. on 30 Oct 2007 at 5:54 pm 12.Stephen Worth said …

    Great drawing Michael!

    I’m working right now on a retrospective exhibit on Grim’s career for the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. It’s going to be a great show covering Grim’s entire career, from Hearst all the way through the 60s. I’ll send you pictures.

    Would you contribute scans of your fabulous Grim drawings to the archive? They would be a great addition to the collection. Just scan at your scanner’s highest hardware resolution (600 dpi or higher) as a tiff file, and send them to ASIFA-Hollywood on a DVD-R. We would greatly appreciate.

    I recently did a screening called “Treasures of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive” at the Los Angeles Animation Festival. I have a DVD of the program. Would ASIFA-East be interested in screening it? I’m planning to prepare a series of one hour programs to syndicate through the various ASIFA chapters. I’m also working on a way to get a satellite version of the archive database out in your neck of the woods.


    P.S. You can date early Fleischer paper by the watermark. “Old Badger Bond” is around the time of Dizzy Dishes, Barnacle Bill, etc. Sometime in 1931, they switched to Management Bond.

  13. on 30 Oct 2007 at 6:02 pm 13.Stephen Worth said …

    Oh… I forgot to ID the drawing for you… I think it’s a studio gag drawing- perhaps commenting on someone’s trip to the racetrack. I have a similar one by Willard Bowsky answering Grim’s drawing with a sketch of the same horse as a broken down swayback nag.

  14. on 30 Oct 2007 at 6:08 pm 14.Michael said …

    I had thought of this as possibly being a “gag drawing”, but since I’ve seen the clean up as well, done probably by an assistant, I think it unlikely. I also think it might be from a sing-along.

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