Animation Artifacts &Hubley &Models 29 Oct 2008 08:20 am

Doonesbury Models

- I have some of the model sheets that Gary Trudeau drew for the Hubley film, Doonesbury (which was done for CBS in 1977.)

As I wrote once before, I had some problems with this production. It was the job I took immediately after completing Raggedy Ann & Andy. I was glad to be working with John Hubley again, and I helped on some of the prep for this show.

I was not a fan of the strip or Trudeau, and I know he wasn’t a fan of mine. Regardless, I would have walked through walls for John. Unfortunately, the walls which were covered with stunning artwork and paintings from past Hubley films, now displayed comic strips ripped from the newspaper and taped on top of the Hubley pictures. This annoyed me, of course.

But I continued layout of the show until one day when I was called into John’s office. He told me that he was about to go into hospital for a heart operation and expected to be back in about 3 weeks. I’d face a short lay off/break in work.

John didn’t come back. He died in the operation and ultimately Faith and Gary Trudeau went on to complete the film. I chose not to return.

I worked with R.O.Blechman in putting together the PBS special, Simple Gifts. Tissa David also worked on that film. She went to work for Faith after she finished her segment. She told me that she couldn’t finish animating 100 ft. (abot a minute) a week without a fast assistant. I offered to help.

At night, after working all day for Bob Blechman, I assisted Tissa’s sequence and then did a couple of Ruth Kissane’s sequences that were too complicated for some of the novice people at Hubley’s. I wasn’t very connected to the studio and felt the distance.

The show aired on CBS and was nominated for the Oscar.

(Of course, all images enlarge when clicked.)

5 Responses to “Doonesbury Models”

  1. on 29 Oct 2008 at 10:02 am 1.Garry Trudeau said …

    Dear Michael:
    Sorry your memories of working on this project aren’t as happy as mine. You may have mistaken my reticence for a lack of amiability, as I don’t recall actually disliking anyone on the project. On the contrary, I thought John and Faith hired a pretty jolly crew, and I became particularly fond of Kate and Bill Littlejohn.
    One small correction: the show ran on NBC, not CBS. The network declined to order another special because of the disappointing ratings — we’d only attracted 22 million viewers!
    Garry Trudeau

  2. on 29 Oct 2008 at 11:31 am 2.Michael said …

    Of course, my memory was off. The show was definitely on NBC, as you said, not CBS, as I wrote. I appologize.

    I spoke only about my backroom politics; I didn’t say, and should have, that you produced an excellent animated program with adult aspirations that rarely if ever makes it to television (nevermind network television.) I’m sorry there weren’t another dozen of them – for the sake of animation if not TV.

  3. on 29 Oct 2008 at 4:46 pm 3.Richard O'Connor said …

    Those are Trudeau’s drawings?

    They’re so much looser and more lively than what I expected -very close to the look of the show.

  4. on 30 Oct 2008 at 6:10 am 4.slowtiger said …

    Never had a chance to see this, but I read the strip for quite some time – with restricted understanding, as with all strips dealing with american politics and culture …

    Yes, there should be much more animation of this level. No chance for this in Germany, though. Our TV execs shun intelligence more than bird flu.

  5. on 03 Nov 2008 at 11:44 pm 5.Brian Huntley said …

    I agree with Richard O’Connor – those drawings *are* very fluid, especially compared to the strip back then. (This was about the time of “Speaking of Inalienable Rights, Amy”, I think.)

    I’ve been a fan for decades now, and remember staking out the tv room at college when the special first aired, so nobody would turn on a football game or something.

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