Friday, February 15, 2008

Scribner the Genius, the Sweet Guy

I personally think Rod Scribner was the most talented and versatile animator in our whole history. He worked in lots of different styles: He animated the wildest and best acted scenes of the 40s, then transitioned into the more stylized designy UPA world of the 50s. Many other classic animators tried to make the transition and never quite got it. A few excelled. Scribner jumped at the challenge and created a whole form of motion that matched the designs.

Here he is at what I think was the peak period of animation history-the mid 40s in Bob Clampett's super unit.

Eddie has a great analysis of what makes cartoon animation so much different than any other medium. Here's the scene in motion below.

Watch it then go read Eddie's theories. Then come back to hear a little story about the human side of Scribner, the complete genius who animated this.

You know, Clampett and his animators were not just animators. They were also great comedians. They control the animation and make all these wild actions flow around perfect comedy timing and staging.

Watch you favorite stand up comic and study his pauses, his poses, the way he or she focuses your attention on certain points of the jokes and their acting/reacting. This is all a high amount of skill in storytelling.

Imagine having to learn those difficult skills and also the crazy amount of animation skill that goes into 40s cartoons. Egad!

Among all these top animators, Rod was the star.

I also really like Bugs' personality in these cartoons. He's playful, rather than spiteful like he became later. A much more appealing down to earth kind of wiseacre.

A story of a warm wonderful man who also just happened to be a genius

Rod Scribner's granddaughter Julie has some really sweet stories about her funny Grandpa. It's great that she shares this with all his fans who barely know anything more about him besides the fact he was probably the most creative single animator in our whole history! It's really cool to see how such a talent was also a loving family man.

Maybe you could let her know in the comments how much you appreciate his talent and her generosity in sharing some stories about this cartoon hero!

Sweet “Papa” Scribner
Papa gave me my creativity, and I will never forget him, or the qualities that he possessed. He was a wonderful man, very funny, and so special to us all. I am attaching three photos: One of Papa and I when I was only about 3 or 4. I had a favorite doll named Drowsy, and he used to tease me about taking it from me. (you can see I had an old and a new one!).

Anyway, you can see what a stylish dresser he was. He did smoke cigarettes, and I don't remember him without one. The other two photos are of pictures that my husband had framed for me from Papa. He worked with Charles Shultz, and did the films like, "Snoopy Come Home".

Rod Scribner, my Papa, was a great grandfather, and used to bring my sisters and I pastel crayons, and drawing tablets. He would sit on the floor and show us how animation worked by drawing a character on 3 pieces of papers, and then flipping them quickly before our eyes.

The funniest story I have of Rod Scribner is when he told my sister and I to be creative, and after he left, we took all the pastel crayons he gave us and drew all over our bedroom walls until they were covered. We were so proud to show our Mom, but when she came in , she shrieked and made us scrub it off until the wee hours of the morning. When Papa heard of what we did, he held his stomach and laughed until he almost fell down. We weren't laughing because of course it took us hours to clean off the mess. Papa was always pulling pranks, and we loved him for that. You would always see a smile on his face, or his funny laugh, and it was contagious.

Eddie will be envious of Animation’s Greatest Salad Maker
The biggest secret I have about Rod Scribner, is that he invented a salad dressing that we have thought about patenting, and selling. If you enter our family, we joke about having to kill you if you ever find out the secret to "Papa's dressing". No one has died yet, but no one has yet to make it the way it's meant to be made (outside of the family that is!!) Some have tried, ALL HAVE FAILED!

That is it for now. I will have more later. I hope that I have given you some insight into Rod Scribner's life. He was a beautiful man, and one I am proud to call my PAPA.


Thanks a lot Julie! We sure love your Papa!


Guilherme said...

"Then come back to hear a little story about Scribner" ... I've read Eddie's post, but there is another?

Congrats for the 2 year anniversary!

Your blog is like a bible to me! Everyday I MUST read it!

Brian O. said...


What fantastic stuff and can't thank you enough for sharing.

Thanks much, too, John.

Dume3 said...

I didn't know he worked on any of the Peanuts specials. Thanks.

Barbara said...

That was amazing. I love this blog.

Franky said...

Thanks for the pics and stories of your Grandfather, Julie!


My fave line from Buckaroo Bugs?

Bugs sticks a carrot in Ryder's butt cheek -
"Stick em up or I'll blow your brains out"

Ryder turns and smiles -
"Now that's mighty neighborly of ya!"

Anthony P. Rizzo said...

Hey John, Great Scribner post! Since we are on the subject I was wondering if you're still checking out "Heckling Hare" sketches or any other of your tutorials. I hope I don't get an F because I am late for class. :(

Thx John! Also, congrats on the 2 yr anniversary! More tutorials!


diego cumplido said...

I appreciate it. Thanks.

I think more Scribner's info is needed.

jesus chambrot said...

The funniest thing about Scribner's animation is that Bugs eyes show that Bugs knows he is dealing with a fool.

On the other hand, the Red Ryder has the same blank expression on his face. He has yet to realize that Bugs is messing with him.

Thanks Julie for the memories bout your grand dad.

Anthony P. Rizzo said...

Thanks for the tips John and taking the time to check in on me! I guess that makes me a student in your school now. Hooray! Should I just leave links in the comments on your posts for you to check out, is that how this works? Let me know bc I have a lot more work like this to show you if you're interested.

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

There's a whole ton of stuff going on in that one clip, such as the violent camera shaking at the very beginning of the clip (If only more modern cartoons took advantage of that...), but Clampett and Scribner tie it all up beautifully and hilariously. Now that is a real cartoon.

Julie, thanks for posting such wonderful memories of your grandfather (not even the highly informative Lloyd Vaughn article at Barrier's website mentioned some that good info).

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

This is the post I've been waiting for, since I got here last year. FINALLY! Sound information about my favorite animator of ALL time ( second only to McKimson in my book ) Rod Scribner! And what's more, my FAVORITE cartoon of all time is used as an example. Died and gone to heaven, over here.

Thanks John and Super Thanks to Grand-daughter Julie! Your grand dad and John Kricfalusi are the main reasons I want to work in cartoons!

Now, to just make a donation...

- trevor.

PS: John, if you have time, I made a commentary for Buckaroo Bugs after I heard you, Eddie and Kali's. Listen to it if you have time, please?

mike f. said...

Thanks, Julie - I wish I could put into words how much your granddad's work has meant to me over the years.
I've been analyzing his distinctive style practically my whole life. I still find it astounding.

Scribner was the animator's animator. His work with Clampett is the distilled essence of cartooning.

His animation is the "gold standard" that all character animators and cartoonists aspire to - in classics like KITTY KORNERED, OLD GREY HARE, BIG SNOOZE, DRAFTEE DAFFY, TALE OF TWO KITTIES, GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY, BABY BOTTLENECK, FALLING HARE, GRUESOME TWOSOME, WAGON HEELS, BUCKAROO BUGS, COAL BLACK, TIN PAN ALLEY CATS, and so many others...

A true master of sublime, broad comedy and stylized motion, but with tons of shrewdly-observed character shading and nuance, beautifully controlled and caricatured to the nth degree. That was Scribner.

His sequences are always brilliant - usually the comic highlights of the pictures, and, not coincidentally, the cartoons he worked on are some of the greatest ones ever made.
Shane Glines has posted some extremely rare, incredibly beautiful Scribner "funny animal" comic book pages on his website, CARTOON RETRO. They're amazing.

Thanks for sharing some personal memories. Lucky you - I wish I could have met him. Wow, what an amazing legacy...

Anonymous said...

Wow, a great post befitting this great man! A thank you to Julie for sharing these anecdotes with the us!

Hey Bullblog said...

Hi John K.
Thanks for incredible stuff.
Your blog is amazing.One of my favorites.

Larry Levine said...

John, You outdid yourself!

Julie, what wonderful memories of your grandfather, thank you for sharing them with us. Bill Melendez always speaks very highly of your Papa & after reading this it's even clearer what a truly great man he was.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Julie. He sounds like a great guy.

amir avni said...

John, the scenes you choose to analyze are always the scenes that most excited me in those cartoons, And it was thanks to you that I knew about Clampett in the first place!

Thanks for sharing Julie, your papa is an inspiration to all of us.

David Germain said...

We definitely need to hear more stories about Rod Scribner. Maybe if enough are told, they can all be assembled into a book. How many animation enthusiasts would want a book like that in their collection? My guess would be: all of them.

More Rod anecdotes please, Julie.

Bitter Animator said...

I love the stories and really appreciate them being shared. I often wonder if children and grandchildren know just how influencial and special their family members can be. I mean, when we grow up with people, we just accept what they do as normal and part of everyday life.

But it's clear Julie knows just how wonderful her Papa was.

Weirdo said...

Thank you both for posting this. I love this kind of stuff. It allows us to know the man behind the pencil. Keep'em coming.

Eshniner Forest said...

looks like im going to have to get the golden collection! Your a good sales man as well you know!!

Mr. Semaj said...

I'd love to hear more about Scribner's work on the Peanuts films. Snoopy Come Home was the best of them all.

Carlos V. said...

WINSOR McCAY AWARD WINNERS (career contributions to the art of animation)

John Canemaker

Glen Keane

John Kricfalusi

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You are an inspiration to us young designers and aspiring animators!

Shawn said...

Scribner drew my favorite version of Bugs Bunny!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Thanks Julie! Your grandfather was a genius who will be more and more appreciated as the years go by. If you have more stories to share...or maybe just a little more information on the salad...I'd love to read it!

Juz said...

I absolutely love Scribner, ever since I descovered him from reading these Blogs about 2years ago!
I recently saw a Porky Pig cartoon though called 'An Egg Scramble' with Scribner and Charles Mckimson and Bob Mckimson as director and the style was so different compared to what Clampett got Scribner to do! This was more like a Friz cartoon than one made by the best Warners animator Clampett used to utilise! It was really sad, especially as it was Bob Mckimson directing, that it didn't have the same wackyness you'd expect maybe 10years earlier. It was great while it lasted, it's so frustrating no one carried on Clampett's good work!

fedemilella said...

Wow what a great blog!!!!
Many thanks for sharing :)

Paul Stadden said...

Julie, thanks for the information, it creates such a well rounded picture of an animator we all respect and admire.

Brett W. Thompson said...

Holy smoke, that's amazing and heartwarming and I love it! Thank you Julie and John!!

I've always been curious about what sort of people these heroes of animation were!

PCUnfunny said...

Thanks Julie. Your Grandpa's work can't be emphasized enough.