Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Make a Hanna-Barbera Cartoon

No, the response to today’s topic is not “Hold a cel of Ranger Smith’s body underneath two drawings for blinking eyes,” though I admit there were some scenes where that did happen. You will find the answer below and, appropriately, it is a cartoon.

This was posted on Facebook by Scott Shaw! He started work at the studio in 1978, long after the period this blog deals with. But when he got there, some of the Hanna-Barbera old-timers were still toiling away, hamstrung by network restrictions and eyeballed by do-gooder groups that insisted cartoons can be tolerated only if they’re “educational.” Personally, I’d rather watch Chief Crazy Coyote bashing Quick Draw McGraw with a tomahawk instead of being badgered not to pollute. That’s the kind of thing parents should be teaching.

Scott says this was drawn by Pete Alvarado, whose name I recognise from Warner Bros. cartoons (C.M. Jones unit) but is known by others for his work in comic books. He landed at Hanna-Barbera in 1970 and also spent time at Filmation working on some shows that were, frankly, beneath his talents. His family has a memorial site at this link.

You can click on the photostat to make it larger. Interestingly, Lippy the Lion is here but the Jetsons aren’t. It appears the ink and paint department was just the paint department by the time Alvarado drew this; inkers were replaced with special photocopiers. Something interesting is the notation that voices, effects and music were on one track. There had to be separate tracks for each somewhere in the system. That would be able to accommodate foreign language dubbing (over the same music and effects as the English-language soundtrack) and, as we’ve pointed out on this blog, the few cartoons were a different music score is heard.

10 comments:

  1. Very cool cartoon, Yowp. I love how it involves the main H-B characters of the time, though the Jetsons' absence is kind of strange. Interestingly, I recall seeing the Yogi drawing on the bottom left-hand corner in color on the Internet somewhere, which prompts me to ask if there is a color version of this diagram. If so, I would love to see it, if you or Mr. Shaw can find it. Keep up the great work.

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  2. Although Pete drew this (when I knew and worked with this wonderful cartoonist he was in H-B's layout department) but I'm fairly certain that the entire set-up was designed by H-B producer Art Scott, a gentleman who seemed to be the go-to guy at H-B when it came to semi-educational material.

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  3. The Jetsons being from the future, George and Jane were probably off in their own area, working on the studio's CGI project...

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  4. Yes, the sound elements were separate at the editing stage. A typical moviola would have one picture track for editing workprint, and three sound heads. Voices, music, and sound effectes were edited on their own reels, and when the editing was completed, the sound elements would be mixed down to a single mono track for striking prints which had mono optical tracks.

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  5. Great to see Pete Alvarado art of any kind! Especially on the H-B characters, that he did so wonderfully in comic books! Thanks for posting this!

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    1. Hey, Joe!

      Do you remember that Pete Alvarado drew part of the stories from that Flintstones special edition on the 1964 New York World's Fair (a.k.a. Expo '64), published on that same year by Gold Key?

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    2. Remember? I had that comic new off a newsstand in the Jamaica Bus Terminal in Queens, NY. Home of the 64 World's Fair! The comic, for me, is forever unforgettable!

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  6. Well, now we know why the quality of H-B's product went downhill in the '70s.

    Let that be a lesson to you budding cartoon producers out there - never use your incompetent characters as production staff.

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  7. This blog is amazing! Very inspiring!!! Thanks!!!!

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  8. And equally interesting is where Scooby-Doo and Hong Kong Phooey turn up as well!

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