Sunday, December 25, 2011

Grumpy Christmas to You

Any guesses what Hanna-Barbera artist came up with this?



There’s only person you’d expect would be bah-humbugging at Christmas time. That’s right, none other than Ed Benedict.

I’ve been mulling over for some time about doing a post on curmudgeonly Ed and his influence at Hanna-Barbera (and, ultimately, television animation). But then I realised how superfluous it would be. Ed’s death in 2006 brought a flurry of laudatory articles on the internet and I really don’t think I could add anything new or profound. But his Santa drawing is giving me a chance to go back and revisit some things.

A number of years ago, Animation Blast devoted space, both in print and on the web, to Ed’s work. It’s not on a current web site, but the Wayback Machine at archive.org is your friend. Click HERE and browse. Especially check out Ed’s industrial artwork from the ‘50s. Ed loved the stylisation of UPA that found its way into many of the commercial studios (Ed himself worked for Paul Fennell starting in the late ‘40s).

Scott Brothers, who links to this blog, had a great post three years ago featuring Ed being interviewed by John Kricfalusi. Ed talks about his designs at Hanna-Barbera being watered down so they weren’t so stylised. And how Mike Maltese put Ed’s photo of Douglas Fairbanks in his garage. Read it HERE.

The popular press reported on Ed’s death, something unheard of for a person who wasn’t a cartoon producer or director. Credit animation historians with raising awareness that seeped into the popular culture, thereby making a wire service more likely to do an obit. The other fascinating thing is the Associated Press didn’t report on the death until five weeks after it happened, yet news had already spread on the internet. The length of time is a little unusual but, even today, the wire may be a couple of days late on the death of someone in cartooning that’s the talk of the virtual world (Jerry Robinson’s recent passing is a good example)


Noted Cartoon Animator Is Dead At 94
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11—(AP)—Ed Benedict, a legendary animator who put life, love and laughter in TV cartoon characters such as Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Yogi Bear, has died. He was 94.
Benedict died Aug. 28 in his sleep in Auburn in Northern California, his longtime friend and fellow animator David K. Sheldon said Tuesday.
“He was quite an interesting fellow, that’s for sure,” Sheldon said.
“He was the main character designer for all the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw.”
Benedict, who worked at MGM, Universal and other studios on short, theatrical cartoons, joined Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera soon after the pair launched their groundbreaking Hanna-Barbera TV animation studio in the late 1950s. Among his many designs for them were the characters for their first series, 1957’s “The Ruff & Reddy Show.”
For “The Flintstones,” the story of a “modern Stone Age family,” Benedict not only designed the hapless cavemen Fred and Barney, but also their long-suffering wives, Wilma and Betty, and the show’s clever array of Stone Age houses and gadgets, including the characters’ foot-powered cars.
“The Flintstones,” one of the first cartoon series created for adults as well as children, debuted in 1960 and was an immediate hit. Forty-six years later, Fred and Barney remain squarely in the public consciousness as pitchmen for various products, including Flintstones’ vitamins.
Without the time and budget that were lavished on theatrical cartoons, TV animated comedies had to leave out beautiful backgrounds and lifelike movement in favour of witty dialogue and stories with vivid characters.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of H-B’s success in TV animation is owed to Benedict’s incredibly appealing and fun character designs,” cartoon historian Jerry Beck wrote in a tribute posted on the website cartoonbrew.com
Before joining Hanna-Barbera, Benedict worked for cartoon legend Tex Avery at Universal and MGM studios. At MGM, he was the lead layout artist and designer on “Deputy Droopy” and other popular theatrical shorts.
He also worked with “Woody Woodpecker” creator Walter Lantz on several shorts, including “The Dizzy Dwarf” and “Unpopular Mechanic.”

Someone may be able to recall if Ed’s name was on the Roll of Death at the Emmys the following year.

Let’s close with some of Ed’s art from an on-line sales site. I imagine this is from his personal collection; John K. had some of the same drawings accompanying his post about Ed’s death. I don’t know if the cat is an early concept of Jinks, but the aliens were supposed to be from The Huckleberry Hound Show.







5 comments:

  1. Another great post. Keep up the good work.

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  2. Merry christmas, Yowp. Gotta love Ed Benedict!

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  3. Another great post, Yowp.

    Merry Christmas.

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  4. Great Post Yowp. Hope you had a Merry Christmas. Love the sketches on what I call the early, un-refined Barney Rubble.

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  5. Great post,indeed, and hope you had a Marry Christmas nd happy new Year. Ed Benedict's biggest fan may well be also John Kricfalusi, who's definitely praised him...I wonder if Ed voluntarily left HB or was thrown out due to their wanting to bring in their new, permanent 1960s-onward style..Steve C.

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