November 22nd, 2016

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Story: The Greatest Cartoon Writer Of All Time

Warren Foster

The other day, a discussion on cartoon writing erupted in response to recent posts on the subject in John Kricfalusi’s blog. One of John’s main points is that the golden age cartoons that we all regard as the greatest cartoons ever created were written by cartoonists as storyboards, not written in words as scripts. In support of his argument, he presented video clips of Walt Disney and Walter Lantz discussing the qualifications of the people who wrote their cartoons. (See also, Page 5 of the 1938 Disney Training Manual).

typewritertypewriterThe scriptwriters in the comments dismissed John K’s points as old fashioned and irrelevant to the current scene, while expressing respect of a general sort for the classic cartoons of the past. They claimed that it was just a matter of John’s personal tastes, not a reflection on the effectiveness of the process itself. They never seemed to address the fact that prior to 1960 stories for cartoons weren’t created and developed with words in script form- they were drawn. In listening to these arguments by current cartoon scriptwriters, I began to wonder how much they really knew about the process used to make the classic cartoons they expressed respect for. I posed a simple question…

Who was your favorite golden age cartoon writer?

It’s a fair question- one that I’ve heard animators discuss and argue about on many occasions. Surely current cartoon writers would have golden age writer heros, just like animators study golden age animators like Milt Kahl or Grim Natwick

Disney Story Dept

Disney story man, Joe Rinaldi

But none of the scriptwriters participating in the discussion could name a single golden age cartoon writer. The only names they could mention were other current scriptwriters, or novelists, journalists and live action screenwriters who worked in totally different media. They had no idea who pioneered their profession and the process these people used to create cartoons for nearly half a century. To be fair, this sort of ignorance of the history of our craft isn’t just limited to writers. I’ve heard the same sort of admissions of ignorance from producers and directors, as well as artists and animators.

Here is an example of a story by my favorite golden age story man… Warren Foster.

Warren FosterWarren Foster Warren Foster is responsible for writing many of the greatest cartoons ever made… He started as a gag man on Fleischer’s Popeye series in New York, and moved West in 1938 to join Bob Clampett at Warner Bros. He wrote a string of classic cartoons… "Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs", "Birdy And The Beast", "Falling Hare", "Baby Bottleneck", "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", and perhaps Bugs Bunny’s most shaded performance, "Tortoise Wins By A Hare".

After Clampett’s departure from the studio, he wrote for McKimson ("Gorilla My Dreams", "Easter Yeggs", "The Foghorn Legorn") and Freleng ("Ballot Box Bunny", "Bugs And Thugs", "Birds Anonymous"). Freleng said that Foster was the best story man he ever worked with. In the TV era, Foster wrote episodes of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, The Jetsons and The Flintstones.

Here is a storyboard by Foster from his days at Hanna-Barbera. This is a model of clarity and simplicity, designed to meet the stringent economics imposed on TV animation at the time. This is a board from the pilot episode of The Yogi Bear Show.

Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster
Warren Foster

WHAT ABOUT ADVENTURE SHOWS
AND COMIC STRIPS?

In his article, "Detour Guide For An Armchair Marco Polo", master comic strip storyteller, Milton Caniff writes…

There has been a tendency recently for artists to automatically assume they cannot write their own stories because they see so many double by-lines. I contend that any man who can invent pictures can invent situations and dialogue. In fact, it should be easier for the artist to pilot his own action because he is not likely to write himself into one of those undrawable dilemmas in manuscripts about which illustrators have complained for years. –Milton Caniff

Sound familiar?

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

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Posted by admin @ 3:53 pm

November 18th, 2016

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Comic Strips: Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon Dalies

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

Today, we have an exciting post for you… original artwork by Milton Caniff for the Steve Canyon newspaper strip.

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

Animation Resources supporter, John Ellis is working with the family of Milton Caniff on a DVD release of the live action Steve Canyon television series, which debuted in September of 1958 on NBC. In searching through the family’s collection of memorabilia, John stumbled across a batch of original inks of daily and Sunday pages that the family didn’t realize that they had. The estate of Milton Caniff has generously allowed Animation Resources to digitize the material for inclusion in our cartoon database.

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

John Ellis has been doing considerable research into Caniff and Steve Canyon. I asked him to write a few words about Caniff…

Milton Caniff has been referred to as "The Rembrandt of the Comic Strip", and oft by himself as "an Armchair Marco Polo", but in fact this whirlwind of a comic strip innovator and writer was essentially a sincerely nice man who loved to draw. Yes this gentleman born in Hillsboro Ohio in 1907 created and drew Terry and The Pirates from 1934 to 1946, which absolutely set the standard for the adventure comic strip. True, he raised the bar with Steve Canyon, which unlike Terry, he owned lock stock and barrel from the first daily strip in January 1947 through to June 1988, the final installment published shortly after his death. Absolutely he worked rain or shine, seven days/strips a week for 54 years, even from his hospital bed, the deadlines never ended.

Milton Caniff in his studio

Milton Caniff in his studio ca. 1947
(click for a larger view)

But beyond the art and dedication, what is true is that I’ve never heard an unkind word in his regard. His nephew Harry Guyton can’t even remember Milton ever losing his temper. My friend David Haft, who produced the NBC Steve Canyon primetime TV series in 1958, made a comment as we watched Milton on a vintage filmclip promoting the series recently. He said "Lovely, lovely man". Happy 100th birthday Milton.

John Ellis
Hollywood, 2007

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

Make sure to click on the images to see high resolution versions. Caniff’s amazing adventure strip from the late 40s has never looked better!

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

STEVE CANYON TV SHOW

Milton Caniff Steve Canyon

For info on the Steve Canyon TV show DVD, see… www.stevecanyondvd.blogspot.com

STEVE CANYON AT AMAZON

Milton Caniff BookOrder Steve CanyonOrder Steve CanyonFantagraphics has a great book on Caniff’s career, and Checker has released year by year reprints of the classic Steve Canyon strip. Caniff was a master storyteller, and the first few years of Steve Canyon are examples of his genius at the height of its powers. Click on the pictures of the books for more info.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.

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Posted by admin @ 2:51 pm

November 17th, 2016

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REFPACK013: A Pair Of Bizarre Scrappy Cartoons To Download!


REFPACK 013
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November-December 2016

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Every other month, members of Animation Resources are given access to an exclusive Members Only Reference Pack. These downloadable files are high resolution e-books on a variety of educational subjects and rare cartoons from the collection of Animation Resources in DVD quality. Our current Reference Pack has just been released. If you are a member, click through the link to access the MEMBERS ONLY DOWNLOAD PAGE. If you aren’t a member yet, please JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES. It’s well worth it.

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Columbia Scrappy

Columbia Scrappy

Two Columbia Scrappy Shorts
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“Puttin’ Out The Kitten” (1937) “Let’s Ring Doorbells” (1935)

Columbia’s Scrappy is one of the oddest cartoon series every produced. They seem to be made by the foot, with very little attempt to make one part of the cartoon relate to other parts in the story. However, there is enough imagination to sustain the seven minutes, so it’s likely that contemporary audiences didn’t mind a bit. “Putting’ Out The Kitten” starts with a typical pet situation, but in a few minutes everything has changed, with wallpaper coming to life and the cat enduring all kinds of tortures. “Let’s Ring Doorbells” is no less strange, with surreal background layouts and Scrappy and his little brother on the receiving end of the tortures this time. It appears that the subject matter wasn’t enough to fill out the time, so a completely irrelevant sequence with a drunk is shoehorned in, and Scrappy gets a scolding from a Jiminy Cricket-like butterfly. Many thanks to Animation Resources Advisory Board Member, Steve Stanchfield for sharing these rare films with us.

REFPACK011: “Puttin’ Out The Kitten” (1937) and “Let’s Ring Doorbells” (1935)
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Scrappy
Scrappy
Scrappy
Scrappy
Scrappy
Scrappy


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:45 pm