Animation &Commentary &T.Hachtman 11 Jan 2008 08:14 am


- Christmas is in the past, and the decorations are long gone.
Every year I save all the original cards and a couple of others I enjoy.
My favorite original card this year came from Tom Hachtman.

Tom wrote me about the development of this card:
– I sat down at the kitchen table to do cards with my niece April Centrone. She is a brilliant and somewhat demented artist. I gave her the Christ child from the creche and she began to draw – legs, body, hands and then, unhappy with the results, tossed it aside. I picked it up from there and put the baby in Santa’s lap.
The artwork was a collaboration. I wanted to clarify.

(Click any image to enlarge.)
- Marjane Satrapi received her best animated feature award this week from the NY Film
____Critics by saying, “In France, they always call the New York critics tough bastards. So
____thank you, my bastard friends.”

____It’d be nice to hear what she might say if she wins an Oscar. She’ll get my vote.

- The Pirate VeggieTale Movie got the reviews it deserved. The Village Voice’s Ed
called it, “Humorless, incoherent, and ugly as sin…”
____I was going to attach an image from the film, but I couldn’t sink that low.
____However, I must say I prefer the Veggietales images to those from any of the Shreks.

- I love the gag cartoons that Stephen Worth has posted on the ASIFA Hollywood
____Animation Archive
side. They’re from UPA New York, and they comment on
____Lu Guarnier’s having the only window in the studio. The studio was divided into stall-
____like cubicles. (At least, this is Tissa David’s description.)
____What fascinates me is that these cartoons were saved for the past fifty years! They’re
____absolutely worth it, but how much of the important art is gone, yet these inside-gags
____are still extant and in good shape.

____By the way, a comment from his niece Pat, reminded me that Lu had told me about
____his first name – that his father named him “Lucifer, the light bearer” because he would
____someday lead the world out of its darkness. He wasn’t named after Lucifer, the devil.
____This also had me wondering about the middle initial “B”. Lu wouldn’t tell me
____what it stood for and left me guessing whether it was for “Beelzebub.”

- Speaking of Stephen Worth, I’ve been entertained by the back and forth discussion
____between Michael Barrier and Stephen Worth regarding the history of story/script
____development at animation studios. Worth says that prior to 101 Dalmatians, all scripts
____for animation were done by storyboard artists. Mike Barrier (having viewed the
____evidence) states the obvious – scripts did exist as far back as the silent Disney days.

____I’ve seen enough of these scripts to know that Barrier is correct. The script for
____Brotherhood of Man was published in the 1945 Hollywood Quarterly, for pete’s
____sake. Hubley, Phil Eastman and Ring Lardner did this script in advance of
____any storyboard work, which Hubley, ultimately, did. I saw parts of that storyboard as
____well. I believe it’s now in the MoMA archives.

____Scripts did exist. Just look in the Merritt and Kaufamn book, Walt In Wonderland.
____Pg 102 has a verbal scene-by-scene breakdown with a follow-up board for the Oswald
____cartoon, Africa Before Dark. That’s 1929.
____I think in this argument, Stephen Worth is just fighting the hard fight to protect the
____claims of John Krisfalusi that only storyboarded scripts are good for animated films.
____The argument is not worth much more of a comment. The comments on Cartoon
have gotten beside the point.
____Barrier offers us a page of a Cinderella treatment & a Fleischer Koko silent film.
____There’s also another page of a Superman script on Thad Komorowski ‘s site
____contibuted by Bob Jaques.
____Need anyone offer more?

- Speaking of Mike Barrier, his comments about Hanna/Barbera, their shorts and Jerry
____Beck’s recent book, The Hanna-Barbera Treasury, are quite astute.
____His commments have also provoked some serious thoughts from Mark Mayerson
____about the subject. Mark comments, “There is no question that the animation industry
____suffered a major blow with the death of theatrical shorts and the rise of television. It
____took the industry more than 25 years to recover from that blow. Hanna and Barbera
____had no part in that recovery and if anything, they probably delayed it.”

____I certainly agree, but I’m more bitter. I don’t think there was ever a recovery from
____H&B’s handiwork. They put the animation industry in the gutter, and it hasn’t
____stepped out except for a few individual steps by others. A film like Persepolis suffers
____from the residue of Hanna Barbera’s flattening of animation. UPA introduced limited
____animation; H&B flattened it out.





- There’s another great Tom Hachtman image on the Kaliyuga Theater site for Al Carmines‘s play, In Circles about Getrude Stein. Tom, of course, draws the Gertrude’s Follies comic strip. This watercolor was done for Carmines. Tom sent it to me, and how could I pass up posting it?

I’m almost tempted to buy a ticket to the show.



11 Responses to “Notes:”

  1. on 11 Jan 2008 at 11:51 am 1.Thad Komorowski said …

    Yes, methinks Worth overreached a bit too much this time, huh?

    BTW, don’t bash the Veggie Tales! I love that Catholic propaganda cleverly thinly disguised as children’s entertainment.

  2. on 11 Jan 2008 at 12:45 pm 2.Michael said …

    Sorry, Thad, it’s not Catholic. Evangelical. Regardless of its theological persuasion, it’s still bad movie making. Check out any review for confirmation.

  3. on 11 Jan 2008 at 2:15 pm 3.Stephen Worth said …

    The stall gags at UPA were among Grim Natwick’s most prized posessions. I have more of them from his as well. Glad you enjoyed them. I hope to put together a picture book on Grim someday.

  4. on 11 Jan 2008 at 3:38 pm 4.Emmett Goodman said …

    Mr. Sporn,

    Can an animator be judged for still enjoying the early HB cartoons? I know that’s a weird thing to ask, but I get the feeling from all these blog discussions about HB that admitting that you like also means you approve of all the damage they brought upon the animation industry.

    And again, I don’t see what the big debate is on writing in animation. Why can’t anybody accept that different directors have different ways of making good films. There should be no “one” writing practice in animation.

  5. on 11 Jan 2008 at 4:17 pm 5.Thad Komorowski said …

    Whoops that one on me. Thanks for correcting me Mike.

    There’s nothing wrong with admitting a liking and nostalgia for the early HB cartoons. There is definitely something wrong with trying to justify that nostalgia on any artistic grounds.

  6. on 11 Jan 2008 at 4:17 pm 6.Michael said …

    Hi Emmett, Of course, you can admit you enjoy the HB films or anything else you like. There’s no shame there. As a matter of fact, while acknowledging the damage of those shorts I get genuine joy from looking at the Flintstones from those first two years. Great inking, some fine animation for a tight budget, great voice work. They were well crafted in their own way. All of this was lost in later HB work.
    As for animation writing, the problem isn’t that there are scripts or storyboards. It’s just acknowledging that it took place in the early days of Disney. Saying it didn’t is absurd when there’s so much evidence. (I have three versions of scripts for Dick Williams’ feature, and there couldn’t have been a more visually sumptuous animated feature – in the making.)

  7. on 11 Jan 2008 at 9:24 pm 7.Dave Levy said …

    I have one more piece of the puzzle to add to the HB debate. The majority of the last decade of theatrical shorts from 1962 to 1972, helped build the case for their own demise. Furthermore, not everything was innovation or art during even the peak years of the theatrical short. It wasn’t all Silly Symphonies and the glory days of UPA. There was also lots of junk, and by the end, how many more “furry animals chasing each other” pictures did we need? The era closed on itself for a variety of reasons, especially economic.

    TV offered a rebirth and a chance for new innovation, even if that innovation placed a greater emphasis on soundtracks. So, did Fantasia, for that matter. It’s the dreary mundaneness that seeped in so quicky to TV animation that has many revisiting or rewriting history. I agree with all the negative comments on HB shows, but, it’s interesting that nobody brings up J.Ward as a defense to what could have been, instead of what was.

  8. on 11 Jan 2008 at 11:52 pm 8.Thad Komorowski said …

    I disagree with Dave Levy. DePatie-Freleng was at least one studio trying to keep the Warner-style cartoon alive with clever surrealistic premises in their Pink Panther series. I can’t defend a lot of them on an artistic ground, but some were at least inspired, which cannot be said for any of the contemporary TV product.

  9. on 12 Jan 2008 at 11:33 am 9.Michael said …

    Dave, I agree that pre-tv theatrical shorts weren’t all great. But I do think that most of those same shorts were better than most of the tv films. Bullwinkle’s dreadful to look at even if it is funny. The worst Terrytoon is still animated better.
    Thad, have you seen any of those Pink Panther shorts recently! Whew. Depatie Freleng did not one film that I can remember liking.

  10. on 12 Jan 2008 at 1:11 pm 10.Dave Levy said …

    No doubt that even Terrytoons are better animated than Bullwinkle, but I think Bullwinkle’s clever writing and terrific voice work still make it a very watchable show, unlike most of the HB product. For me, it’s strengths are enough to overcome its weakness and lift it above nostalgia.

    Animation is but one element in an animated film. There’s also sound, design, story, etc… Bullwinkle has weak animation, but is ultimately far more successful, beloved, and satisfying than something like Chuck Jone’s The Phantom Tollbooth, which is a better animated, but offers little else.

    My objection is when people hold up only one standard for animation. For shere craft, we’ve got to give it to the golden age of theatrical animation. For animation as fine art or individual expression, you can’t beat independent films. For TV animated series, there’s a standard of it’s own; how to make the most of limmited time, budgets, resources.

  11. on 12 Jan 2008 at 1:57 pm 11.Thad Komorowski said …

    Actually I watched a few of the Panthers lately. The ones by Hawley Pratt, like “Psychedelic Pink” and “The Hand Is Pinker Than the Eye” are really weird. At least they were trying.

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