Sunday, November 23, 2008

L.O. 12: Jetsons 1985 - Trying To Bring Life Back

WHAT ANIMATION POSES LOOKED LIKE IN THE 80SBy the 1980s the whole concept of animated characters having life (let alone being fun or cartoony) was not only gone - it was considered evil and irresponsible.
Now this was considered perfectly acceptable professional work here. When I had to work on stuff like this, I was sick inside and felt horribly guilty for contributing to such a disgraceful decadence. Even on shows like these I would try to draw some lively poses, but would always get beaten down by the producers and supervisors- in some cases, even people who once animated on classic cartoons that did have life! "We don't do that anymore John" I would hear all the time - with no explanation why not.

This would have been a wild take here for Scooby Doo, a show that today seems to have a big fan base. Someone explain why to me!


Scooby Doo was a blander version of Astro, who was actually funny and had a real character design.
I remember Mark Kausler being really mad at me for going overseas to train people to do layouts. I don't blame him; I was taking away jobs from Americans. Lou Scheimer used to brag that Filmation kept all the jobs in America, which somehow made him a patriotic American. The way he kept all the jobs in America was by only having 3 drawings in each episode and killing the souls and destroying the imaginations of a whole generation of American kids.

In reality, it was the animation union that sent our whole business overseas by jacking up all the salaries of even the simplest non-creative jobs. producers had no choice but to go to Asia. Otherwise, on the crappy budgets the networks gave them, they couldn't afford to make cartoons in America anymore. The union would have completely killed the business off.

The way I looked at it, animation needed to become lively again, and I didn't care where it would happen, as long as someone was doing it. I still feel that way. There are so few people anywhere in world anymore that are even capable of drawing life - or even have the desire to - that I believe we should utilize every one we can, if we ever get the chance to make real cartoons again.

I hoped the example of a cartoony show might inspire other cartoon studios to wake up again. I went to Taipei thinking that this might be the only chance I would have of getting some life back into cartoons. The only department left in America where you could have any control over the final poses in a cartoon was layout, and by the 80s all the layouts were going overseas anyway. The Jetsons seemed to me the last chance to inject some fun and cartooniness into a series. This led in a couple years to me bringing back jobs to America that no one had previously thought were even important to the creative process. We had a lot more artists on staff on Mighty Mouse doing layouts than Filmation or Hanna Barbera or Dic had in on any show. We continued doing layouts on Ren and Stimpy and also brought back real background painting. We even did a lot of the animation in North America.

The most fun character to draw in the Jetsons was Astro. He was naturally more cartoony because he was a funny animal. He talked like a retard which was also good raw material.

I don't remember the actual story of this sequence, but it looks as though Astro thinks his beloved master is going to kick the bucket.

Now here comes the real sick character. Joe and Iwao created "Orbitty", a character that didn't fit at all into the Ed Benedict world of the Jetsons. He was more like the 80s HB greeting card style that they used in shows like the "Monchichis" - whatever the Hell that was all about.
Orbitty was so awful that even the HB writers hated him! They would write in scenes that would abuse Orbitty and I followed along in that tradition wherever I could.