Sunday, 27 February 2011

Two-Frame Takes by Carlo Vinci

It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite cartoon and it’s impossible for me to pick a favourite animator from the early days at Hanna-Barbera. George Nicholas has great expressions. But the guy with some of the funniest and most outrageous takes is Carlo Vinci.

Carlo would have been 105 today were he still with us.

You probably already know Carlo’s background. He was no hack artist, despite the fact he spent about 20 years of his theatrical career at the self-proclaimed Woolworth’s of Animation—Terrytoons. One of his co-workers in the early days there was Joe Barbera, who offered him a job across the continent at MGM when Hanna and Barbera took over the cartoon studio in 1955. When the studio shut down two years later, Barbera arranged for Disney to give a job to Carlo (and Art Lozzi, for that matter) until the Hanna-Barbera Studio was open and ready to produce Ruff and Reddy. Carlo remained at the studio through the end of the ‘70s, though he also animated on Ralph Bakshi’s Heavy Traffic (1973). Bakshi might have thought Carlo’s New York, Italian background would help, but he apparently admired the work of old-time animators; lord knows, there’s a who’s-who of them on that film.

I’ve pointed out some of Carlo’s tell-tale traits a couple of times before on the blog but, in honour of his birthday, let me post a few of his “shake takes.” It’s an effect I’ve always liked.

Because of the budget and time constraints of television animation, Carlo used a take that simply involved two drawings being alternated on ones, at least one of them with a jagged version of the character. He used it to have a character register pain or shock. It wasn’t new. You can see the same kind of thing in silent Felix the Cat cartoons. But it was very effective at Hanna-Barbera.

I’ve slowed down the animation here to let the drawings register a little better. Sorry you can’t enlarge the take.





Unfortunately for Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw, Carlo moved into production on The Flintstones and other artists who displayed less individuality and panache took over.

Many people in animation exhibited their non-cartoon work. Generally, they were background artists. But Carlo did, too. Here’s a brief story from the Van Nuys News of December 11, 1969.

Work of Valley Artist Shown in Studio City Bank
Paintings by Carlo Vinci are on view in the Bank of America, 12175 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, through Dec. 31.
Vinci’s forte is portraiture. In the display is a painting of himself which earned him a first prize at a recent show sponsored by Hanna Barbera Studios. He is a New York artist schooled at the National Academy of Design of that city and winner of the Tiffany Fellowship and highest award in draftsmanship.
His paintings have been exhibited at the American art gallery, the Grand Central and the National Academy Galleries.
He is a member of the Valley Art Guild and has many awards from local exhibitions.

The folks at Animation Archive have a lot more about Carlo’s life and work. You can read it HERE and HERE.

And, for handy reference, here’s a list of the birth (and death) dates of the main animators who worked on the first two seasons of The Huckleberry Hound Show.

GERARD BALDWIN: January 7, 1929
CARLO VINCI: February 27, 1906 - September 30, 1993
ED LOVE: May 24, 1910 - May 6, 1996
KEN MUSE: July 26, 1910 - July 26, 1987
LEW MARSHALL: August 10, 1922 - August 20, 2002
DICK LUNDY: August 14, 1907 – April 7, 1990
MIKE LAH: September 1, 1912 - October 13, 1995
LA VERNE HARDING: October 10, 1905 - September 25, 1984
GEORGE NICHOLAS: December 14, 1910 - November 23, 1996
DON PATTERSON: December 26, 1909 - December 12, 1998


  1. According to "The Moose That Roared" Baldwin was born in 1929. It's sometime in the first week of January because when I called scheduling for an interview he told me to avoid a specific date because it was his birthday. I wish I wrote down the exact date.

  2. In the early world of limited animation, I wonder how much being a long-time Terrytoons veteran might have helped Carlo at H-B, since he already had spent two-plus decades working at a studio where short budgets and short deadlines were the rule. His work on the Season 1 Huck show, with it's even-more-limited-than-later animation, seems to have the most inventive work-arounds, compared to the other MGM veterans on staff.

    1. Carlo animated for over twenty years while he was at Terry Toons, they did one animated short a month. He was pushed to put out high quality animation in a short amount of time. He always said west coast animators were lazy. He was perfect for H-B in that he needed to produce high quality animation in a short amount of time. At H-B, Bill and Joe paid him by the foot, which too helped him work fast. He animated 35 feet of animation a week. While working at Disney for a short time in the TV department he was told to slow down, as he was making the others animators look bad. He once told me they’d spend their time on one drawing a day. A lot of people called him Carlo, but I called him Grandpa.


      John Vinci

  3. Mr. Baldwin resides in Houston, TX. Last year one of the local bookstores featured a terrific gallery showing of his cartoon drawings and paintings.

    top cat james

  4. I suddenly see two-frame cycles in a new light. Thanks for those and the background in Carlo!