Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Interview With Ed Benedict


Speaking of The Flintstone Laser Disk I did for Fred Seibert, there were all kinds of extras in the set. In the booklet, I printed an interview with Ed Benedict. Ed's designs were a huge influence on me, and what made Hanna Barbera's early cartoon style so instantly recognizable.
Ed is an even bigger curmudgeon than me who hated everything he did. Famous animator Clay Croker printed the entire interview on his blog:
http://arglebarglin.blogspot.com/2006/06/john-k-on-ed-b.html

I have lots of interviews with classic animators and directors on tape. They were all transcribed at one time but got eaten by old computers and formats that died. Now they need to be retranscribed all over again. Jeezus.

If you ever find the Flintstone Laser Disk set, you should snap it up just for all the supplemental stuff. It has lots of classic commercials, including all the Winstons Cigarettes spots and more. It also has a huge collection of off-model Flintstone toys from the 1960s that you can click through one by one and be astounding at the unending variety of ways to interpret Flintstone and the gang.This set is one example of what put Fred Seibert above all other cartoon executives: He let it happen. (Compare it to the modern 1st season Flintstone DVD set, which has none of the cool supplemental funny stuff and really bland fuzzily airbrushed cover art). Fred also let us do wacky Hanna Barbera cel painting kits, he started the first cartoon shorts program and let some cartoonists have a lot of creative control, over their work. No one else before him would have allowed any of this stuff to happen. Fred encouraged it (and hired lots of new junior executives who discouraged it when he wasn't looking). Of course everyone after him followed his lead and superficially pretended to be hip and cool and to like cartoonists. They even started dressing like hipster cartoonists and all ran out to be buy retro square rimmed-glasses. That's how we now have "creative executives" a bizarre thing no one ever pretended to be before the 90s.

Here is another rare interview with one of cartoon history's unsung heroes, Bob Givens.Bob Givens Bob was a designer, layout artist and background painter for most of Warner Bros. cartoons' history and worked with all the great animators and directors. He designed the first Bugs model that looks like the Bugs we know. Bob GivensHe has a million stories. See him in a series of videos starting with:

http://www.animationarchive.org/2008/11/interview-bob-givens-grand-old-man-of.html

27 comments:

trevor thompson said...

How come the Flintstones laser disk hasn't been put out on DVD?

- trevor.

Rudy Tenebre said...

when has it ever been hip and cool to like cartoonists?

JohnK said...

Walk around Nickelodeon and see all the hipsters

Rudy Tenebre said...

Like geeks in some mode of social transcendence?

"It is genuine, thoroughbred, authentic crap" Hah!

PCUnfunny said...

John: How is the LD transfers as opposed to the DVD ones ?

trevor thompson said...

when has it ever been hip and cool to like cartoonists?

My question is, when did it stop being cool to like cartoonists? Cuz, I've never known a time when I didn't think that about the uber talented.

One gets the impression, reading that thing, that Ed was just gifted. Simply gifted, and that's it.

There wasn't much method, pre-thought or anything. It's almost as though he just put pencil to paper ( beit green, brown or other ).

I was doodling at the laundromat yesternight, and was so upset that I couldn't just draw what I wanted. I had to try a bunch of things first before I got the pose I was after, and people like Ed always make me insanely jealous.

The artist may be critical, but there's definitely people out there who throw away more good drawings in an afternoon than I struggle to get and keep.

And Ed was one of them.

I also identify with you're eagerness to meet your heroes and interview them, John. I've done this a few times ( though the internet definitely helps ), and hope to continue doing so.

Are you the only Kricfalusi in the phone book?

- trevor.

Hans Flagon said...

Your mention of Steve's posting of the Bob Givens interviews has moved me to post on my own blog for the first time in ages.

I have a pushbutton telephone based on the Raid Bug designs, I forget exactly when it may have been made, but I posted a picture on

http://doodlesinmargins.blogspot.com/2008/11/dont-answer-that-phone.html

Damn I feel like a spammer now, but if any one gives a damn about cartoony gimcracks it is the readership here. And this Gimcrack works as a phone. Apparently.

Ryan Cole said...

I can sort of understand Ed's stand on the Flinstones cartoons. In essence, they look like a series of one-shot sketches from the notepad of a talented artist, but tend to be a few awkward lines away from maintaining that appeal 100%. Actually, the thought of working tirelessly to imitate the appeal of a drawing that gains most of it's appeal from just being born straight out of the blue, sans reference or thoughtful preparation, practically makes my brain suddenly jilt to the left and leaves me feeling woozy.

...man, I gotta sit down...

Oh and uh, hipsters bad and dumb and all that other crap. Cool interview!

Zoran Taylor said...

Man, that Givens model sheet is SO much fun to copy! I already have it 'cause I have Steve Schneider's "That's All, Folks!" and that page was just so awesome that I couldn't resist ripping it out, sticking it on my bedroom window and drawing it for hours and hours.

So if I'm just naturally hip, should I stop trying to be a cartoonist? I don't wanna get pantsed in the hall by a new fellow animator who thinks I'm an executive! Oh yeah, and dig my picture!

Caleb said...

That interview is full of curmudgeon-y goodness. To me, curmudgeons are the hippest cats around because they're not delusional and idealistic about life. I love how you have to pry at him to say something nice about the show. A true ornery genius!

Samantha said...

I picked that up at a used bookstore for $5 a couple years ago. Totally complete with the booklet et al.

I heard that when they did the DVD, they tried to make it more 'family friendly' and removed the cigarette ads and stuff like that. Plus the booklet is awesome. :)

If anyone is interested in the Winston advertisements, I think most of them are available on archive.org

HemlockMan said...

Great lightning-tossing Zeus!! And people think that I'M a curmudgeon!

This guy is great. Thanks for posting that interview.

I think I'll go physically beat someone now.

Niki said...

can anyone tell me, 'Is it the animator's fault or the executive's fault?'

I really have been practicing every book I could find on the ASIFA pages and I've noticed a little improvement, But I'm still unsure about it, and I don't want all my work to be for naught.

should I really be worried?

Peggy said...

John, my boyfriend works at a place that does transcriptions. Drop me some e-mail and I'll get you in contact with him. I dunno how much it'll run you, but he says they have an 'oral history discount' he can probably get you...

Rudy Tenebre said...

Trevor, I appreciate your sincerity.

Is not the hipster that most superficial being?


Anyway, the upshot of Benedict, or even the Adamson/Avery interviews, is it's just another goddam gig. One get's the sense that there exists in these guys none of the fetishism found here, (myself included)with the medium of cartoons. Avery evinces none of the bitchy fastidiousness John does concerning formal elements in a cartoon, (but then Tex was something less of an artist than John, more or less a gagman.) Jim Smith, when I offered the notion of the virtues the Bakshi Mighty Mouse had in comparison to later work,set me straight,claiming he hadn't watched those episodes since they were originally broadcast. Just a goddamn gig.

Roberto González said...

Very funny interview, it was very entertaining to read. But I feel a little sad for Ed if he really disliked the result of his job that much.

I think the first Peebles episodes have hilarious plots, but I agree with most of his observations about it. What he says about destroying the character by making her adult is totally common sense. I know most of us already thought that but the way he explains it is crystal clear.

Paul B said...

Hi John

What a funny interview!
hey, when Ed saw the "Boo Boo Runs Wild" and "A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith" What did he think of them?

JohnK said...

He laughed when he watched them and then turned and gave me an angry lecture when they were over.

SoleilSmile said...

I like the cat artist character. I wanna see a cartoon starring him.
Oh PLEEEAASE!

Paul B said...

HAHAHAHAHAH!
he seems to be a really great character for a cartoon

Isaac said...

Great question, Paul B!

Kali Fontecchio said...

He's very strange.

Chris_Garrison said...

It seems like Ed doesn't care whether cartoons are funny. Being on model is apparently the most important thing. And he thinks collecting photos of Douglas Fairbanks and trading them with other men is WAAAAAY more interesting than designing cartoon characters.

Gnaws said...

"Ed is an even bigger curmudgeon than me who hated everything he did."

I too am a self-loathing curmudgeon.

Mike Tucker said...

you could transfer those tapes using the "line-in" up to your PC/mac. and record and quick edit things with something like "Audacity" that's free and open source.

"The Comic Book Journal" web site used to put of their old interview archive up for download once a month. They had straight to tape from creators like Crumb, Kirby, CC Beck and many others. A real shame they couldn't keep it up. You should do something like that.

Bruce said...

That was a wonderful interview, even if it didn't look like you were listening to the interviewee. However, I wish more people had your enthusiasm & persistency.

However, after reading the said interview, I got the impression that Ed hated just about everything about his profession of choice. And yet, I'm not surprised he would have no sentimentality to his past creations, which he would probably treat it as simply as various freelanced assignments, and nothing more.

Who else have you hunted down from the Golden Age of Animation, Mr. Kricfalusi? On Eddie’s Blog, you had once mentioned Al Guest, who you have claimed that he was a real character.

Have a good one,

From an aspiring animator/ artist

Aaron said...

I like them fuzzy little paintings.