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Everything in the original era was created. Everything after it ended was and is manufactured.
Dale Herbest: I think that’s a bit too cynical. It seems to translate to “There are no more artists today. Only hacks.”
There are always both.
Some young people who came to my animation programs inspired by what they saw wanted to create animated cartoons. They went to animation schools to study animation. Mistakenly they thought of animators as creators. They are not. They are pencils.
The creative force behind these films were the directors. But ultimately (and legally) the producer is the author.
At Leon Schlesinger’s studio a unique situation prevailed once Tex Avery arrived.
Told to make his films as much like Walt Disney as possible (on much lower budgets) Avery did.
Doing those films he decided the only person the public wanted to see make pictures like Walt as either Disney or Lantz.
With a crew that included very young Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones Avery began to move as far away from Disney as possible. Doing so he created the films in which Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny were introduced and/or perfected. As a reward Avery was fired.
Genuine creative are never welcome.
The rebel spirits of the Warner animation characters evolved out of the rebels who created them. It was a unique situation not duplicated anywhere else and not likely to recur.
Today it probably costs more to make one “INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS” Warner Cartoon that Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson and Chuck Jones together spent creating a year’s worth of films.
These films must meet the approval of a host of people before they can even be started.
Is there room there for the creative spark that galvanized Schlesinger’s studio? That spark will be snuffed out before it becomes a fire. Chuck Jones often said that the single most common thing they heard was, “That’snewtakeitout” expressed as one word.
John Kricfalusi embodied that rebel spirit. He opened the door for lesser talents. Like many (Tex Avery at Schlesinger) once that door was opened he got shut out. This has nothing to do with his sex life and, at the same time, everything to do with it.
I brought with my own dime (which I did not and do not have) Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, Grim Natwick and Shamus Culhane to Toronto. I spoke often with Tex Avery on the phone (Avery said, “I don’t want to talk about those old films.” I said, “Neither do I. This is what I am doing.” After he had heard me out he said, “Just don’t call during my football games.”).
I did not bring Chuck Jones. I did not need to. Jones had his books and the many interviews.
What I wanted to learn from them was how these men working under conditions which were perhaps even worse than they now are (and certainly for far less money) were able to create such exceptional work. From them I learned they had gotten rid of the word “No.” That’s like taking the breaks off a car.
One critic said, “Reg Hartt teaches like Neal Cassady drove a bus.” Believe me, were we in a bus driven by Neal Cassady we would not have to repeat the ride to remember it.
We live in a moment in time when everywhere we are told, “NO MEANS NO.”
No has never meant no.
God does not welcome paragons.
King David’s last wife was 11. Because he could not make it with her he was seen, at 74, as no longer fit to be king.
Young men are old, “Get a wife. King Solomon said a wife will make you rich.”
It certainly enriched Solomon who had 1,000 wives and as many concubines all with property. Mary was an almah (between 11 and 12) when she decided to have Jesus.
Winsor McKay’s wife was, I believe, 14.
Genuinely creative people seem always to have boisterous sex lives.
Judith Merril, the mother of modern SF, was fond of saying, “We only really learn in conversation after sex.” Judy learned from the best.
Told by his other generals that Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk Abraham Lincoln said, “Find out what he is drinking and send it to the rest of them.”
“Son, we don’t want your Warner Brothers rowdyism in our MGM cartoons,” Tex Avery reports Fred Quimby as telling him on his arrival at that studio. Avery then made the most wonderfully politically incorrect animated films ever. The audience, not Fred Quimby, decided. The audience always decides.
David Ogilvy, in his must read CONFESSIONS OF AN ADVERTISING MAN, wrote, “What this industry needs is a massive transfusion of talent. Talent is found among nonconformists, dissenters and rebels. They are the golden goose. Don’t kill them.”
Killing the golden goose seems to be what the suits and the web are all about.
When I invited Friz Freleng to Toronto in 1980 I asked if he wanted a fee. He said, “Can I bring my wife?” I thought, “What kind of question is that?” I said, “Of course.” Friz said, “In that case there is no fee.”
I found out later the art galleries, museums, universities, etcetera, said. “That is not in our budget.” Them he charged a fee.
At the time he was still with DePatie-Freleng. Almost all the Toronto animation artists and students said Friz was old hat and could teach them nothing. It looked like a disaster.
Friz called to say he was back at Warner Brothers, that they did not going anywhere they did not approve of and they did not approve of me. I said, “How do you feel?” Friz said, “My wife is looking forward to the trip.” I said, “Then you are coming.”
That Christmas Friz said, “You are the finest host I ever met.”
That’s praise.
I have no problem with making new films with the classic characters.
I do have a problem with agreeing at the outset to make bowdlerized, castrated films with those characters just to keep the merchandising rights alive.
Young people who want to do interesting work in animation need to put themselves first and the industry second. They need to stay as far away from animation schools as they can. Frankly, they should work in stand-up comedy in front of an audience of drunks who don’t give a damn whether they live or drop dead. From that audience they will learn everything the need to know about timing. Timing is everything.
Read David Mamet’s TRUE AND FALSE in which he states, “Invent nothing. Deny nothing. Stand up. Speak up. Stay out of school.”
Knowing which animator did which scene in a film made decades ago may impress the handful of nerds who are always impressed by this stuff but it won’t hold the attention of an audience. Frankly, they don’t give a damn.

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