Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hanna Barbera Fun

My friend David MacKenzie cleaned up a poorly transfered bumper from the Huckleberry hound DVD set. Thanks David! You're one of the good ones.The HB bumpers usually had more fully animated movement than the cartoons.
I really like the design of these characters when the layout artist and animator have a little time to take advantage of it. That's a cool way to draw closed eyes, isn't it?
Ed Benedict designed the characters. His style is instantly happy and pleasing, which is funny because he was such a loveable curmudgeon! Daws Butler and Don Messick, both wonderful actors, also had the gifts of naturally pleasing vocal timbre. No matter what they said, it sounded pleasant and unique. They were natural born radio and cartoon voices.
Ed's characters are just stylish enough to look "mid-century modern", but not so stylized as to become abstract graphic symbols. I think kids would rather see cartoon characters that seem alive, rather than cartoons that are overly design conscious. Kids aren't art directors. They want to believe in the characters.
These early HB characters still seem like real creatures.
That's a great drawing of Yogi!
This stuff is just so happy.
I think if you don't have a lot of money to make your cartoons with, the least you can do is use pleasing design and great voices. Neither of those things cost a lot of money, and together they make instant living characters. Of course, whoever's in charge has to have enough aesthetic sensory equipment to be able to tell a good designer and voice from mundane ones. We know that's not usually the case.

There is a common belief in animation circles that "It all begins with a good story" and I'd like to challenge that. I personally believe it all starts with a good character. When you have good looking specific characters and dynamite voices, the stories write themselves - well that is, if you take advantage of them, which Hanna Barbera didn't always do. Not when they had to churn out so much product every week.

The animation is pretty good in this bumper too. Wanna see it?

It'll have to be later in the day though....