Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Inks and Jinks

There’s never enough praise for the ink and paint department at the major animation studios. While the animators, their assistants and in-betweeners draw great action on paper, someone must have a lot of talent to take those drawings and accurately reproduce them on cels.

The inker’s work is a little more noticeable when there are animation effects. Hanna-Barbera always seemed to have characters zipping out of a scene with some dry brush strokes left behind; the theatrical studios used dry-brush as well. I imagine the effect was indicated on the story panels that went to the layout artist and thence indicated on a drawing to ink and paint.

Here’s some interesting dry brush in the Pixie and Dixie cartoon “The Ghost With the Most” (1958). Jinksie is turning his head and plopping the “unconscious” Dixie in a flower pot before rushing off camera. What’s a little different here is there are extra eyes and noses indicated as Jinks turns his head. The animator of this cartoon was Ken Muse and I can’t think of when his artwork had additional eyes like this. (Carlo Vinci had nose smears in a few of his earliest cartoons).

The head of the ink and paint department at Hanna-Barbera was Roberta Greutert (Bill Hanna misspells her name in his autobiography). She arrived at MGM in 1938 and was eventually the assistant head of the department under Art Goble. The two went to Hanna-Barbera after MGM closed in 1957; Goble was put in charge of titles. Greutert’s husband was Henry Greutert, Jr., a sculptor who worked in art direction for live action films at Metro (I have been unable to ascertain her maiden name). Back Stage magazine reported in its September 24, 1971 edition upon her retirement that she trained 4,000 painters over 33 years. She died in 2007 at the age of 93, going by the name Roberta Marshall (as in Lew Marshall).

From what I understand, ink and paint was housed in a separate building when H-B Enterprises set up shop in the old Chaplin studio on La Brea. There was no room for ink and paint in the little cinder block bunker at 3501 Cahuenga, where H-B moved in 1960; some inkers and painters worked from home. Finally, when the brand new building was built down the street at 3400 in 1963, all the departments (initially) were under one roof.

We’ll have more on this cartoon in a post on Saturday morning.

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