Thursday, 16 June 2011

Fun With Layouts and Storyboards

There are many animation fans, I suspect, who like preparation artwork for cartoons as much as the cartoons themselves. Model sheets, storyboard panels, layout drawings, pencil reels, they’re all fun to look at and compare with the finished cartoon.

A couple of readers directed me to an on-line sale of some of these that were created by artists at Hanna-Barbera Studios and I thought I’d pass on some.

First up are three layout drawings from The Flintstones. I don’t know about the first two but the third was used in ‘Monster Fred’ (1964). The first and second are signed by Dick Bickenbach (and the second by Bob Singer, ex Warners BG man) so it may be safe to assume he drew it, though the writing above looks like Walt Clinton’s.

Next comes part of a storyboard from ‘The Social Climbers’ (1961), written by Warren Foster, who drew his own boards. It’s interesting to compare this to the finished cartoon; whoever did layouts didn’t stick to the way Foster set up the scenes. The first scene of the cartoon, incidentally, was animated by Don Patterson.

Here are three pairs of storyboard panels that were apparently used to pitch the show to advertisers. Two are from ‘The Snorkasaurus Hunter’ cartoon, the other is from ‘The Swimming Pool,’ the first Flintstones to be put into production. The character designs are closer to the Ed Benedict originals. The sketches are more polished than Foster’s work; I suspect they were drawn by Dan Gordon, who Joe Barbera said was involved in doing the first boards.

This still of what looks like the Hanna-Barbera projection room was used in something, only I didn’t make a note of what it was in.

The auction had several model sheets and my favourite is this one of Mr. Jinks, initialled by Dick Bickenbach and dated May 1960. Jinks, in the hands of a good animator, could be pretty expressive, even in limited animation. I love the drawing of him playing the drums. I wonder if it was to be used in a Kellogg’s commercial. The three-quarters-from-behind drawing must be unique.

There are a bunch more of these I’ll post later.


  1. Yes indeed, that photo depicts the Hanna-Barbera screening room. The screen was about 4 or 5 yards to the right of the white chairs in the photo. This sound-proof room was also used for large cast recordings. The sound engineers and directors would remain behind the glass, in the booth, to the left.

    A bunch of memories from this room, but here are just two:

    About a month into my assistant animator job at Hanna-Barbera, late one afternoon in July 1978, Bill Hanna's 68th birthday was celebrated in this room. Many of the artists and crew members, myself included, squeezed into the room where Art Scott led us in singing "Happy Birthday" to Bill. There was cake. Also bottles of champagne. Bill opened the first bottle of champagne. The cork rocketed out and struck Art Scott in the eye and he had to be taken to the emergency room. It was like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

    Another memory from that room ...watching the final mix of a five-part miniseries from the 80's called "Battle of the GoBots." About five minutes into the screening, John Ludin leaned over and whispered to me, "It makes my eyes hurts."

  2. Tom, did they bring in mikes and plug them in when needed or was there a dedicated place for them?
    When you say "large" cast recordings, how many people do you mean? I would have thought actors would have moved on and off mike as needed, like an old network radio show, if you had more than, say, three or four.

  3. This was the dedicated place.
    This room.
    Recordings in the morning
    Mixes in the afternoon.
    There was a much smaller booth down the hall...with a separate entrance, for smaller cast recordings.
    During the years that I worked there, the usual process was: a mic was set up for each actor in the cast of a show, as many as ten mics, and the show would be recorded in continuity with each actor staying at his/her mic until the entire session was complete.
    Mics were rarely shared. Perhaps a germ thing.

  4. Whoa! These are excellent. The Mr. Jinks model sheet is my favorite out of all of them. I might study from it this week.

  5. Wonderful, Tom. Up to ten actors? How things changed from when Daws and Don Messick did everything. I gather from Mark Evanier the union had something to do with the change.

  6. I like these storyboards. Where did you find these?

    Incidently, I wrote a blog about "The Flinstones" 50th Anniversary. I included the pilot as it was shown on Cartoon Network back in 1994.

  7. Steve, they were being auctioned on the internet a few months ago (I can't remember where now). I made screen grabs of the ones appropriate to the blog that interested me.

  8. Come to think of it, I saw some storyboards and animation cels on eBay a few years ago. I wanted to buy some, but they're a bit too expensive.

    Incidentally, I have the book "The Flintstones: A Modern Stone Age Phenomenon" (1994) and it contains some very early drawings of Fred, Barney, Wilma, and Betty. They look nothing like what they looked like in the pilot. If anyone wants to see them, I'll gladly scan them and put them in my own blog.

  9. Steve, yes, go ahead and I can link to them. There are pictures of some of them on-line; I can't remember what I've been able to harvest.

  10. Sounds good. I'll have them up by tomorrow (Wednesday)