Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Betty Boop Story Ideas

When you have good characters, you can place them in any "arena" and make them work. The stories write themselves. Remind me to tell you about the "gag wheel" I had when I was a kid that was supposed to create funny one panel gags for you if you couldn't come up with any yourself.

Betty Boop Stories

For example, here are just a few ideas that popped into my head. They are mostly based on the early Betty Boop cartoons (1930-33). Note that they all have "a beginning, middle and end" just as worms do. Cartoon writers seem to place great importance on this and act as if it's something mysterious that only people with no obvious talent can achieve. I'm trying to think of something that doesn't have a beginning, middle and end. That would be a real trick against nature. Maybe a ball. Even a starfish probably starts somewhere.

Betty The Moon Maid

Koko and Bimbo ride a satellite to the moon to find the moon maid that winks at them every night during their prayers – it’s Betty

They find her in trouble

A strange and hideous moon creature is threatening her somehow. Like the old cartoons, we don’t know if he wants to eat her or marry her. It’s ambiguous.

Koko and Bimbo try fisticuffs on the Moon Creature - to no avail.

The moon’s surface is rubbery, so every time they get knocked down by the Moon Creature, they bounce back up and the whole surface wobbles. They give up in despair and then sniff the moon. It’s stinky.

The moon turns out to be made of cheese. Bimbo eats the cheese and becomes Super Stink, a smelly superhero with the power of putridity.

He pummels the moon creature and saves Betty.

The last shot is Betty, Bimbo and Koko swinging on a half earth happy.

The Littlest Mermaid
(sort of making fun of the Disney movie)

Betty is a mermaid living on a coral reef
She is curious about life in the open air and longs to crawl out of the sea, reveal the delightful top of her butt crack and someday meet her handsome rotoscoped prince of the land.

She sighs as she sits near a Giant clam.
The giant clam opens up and we see Bimbo’s face filling the open maw of the clam.
The Bimbo Clam feels sorry for Betty.

Then Koko the Krustacean pipes up. “We’ll get you a real human, Betty! Let’s crawl out of the sea to what there’s to see!”

Betty is excited and swims along with her best friends.
To walk, Bimbo oozes out his huge tongue, sticks it on the bottom of the sea floor and flips himself along, propelling himself like actual echinoderms with his basal foot that also serves as a tongue.

We’ll crawl out of the sea to see what there’s to see
A Human man that’s better than
The likes of you or me! Ho ho!

Bimbo and Koko sing happily even though they will lose Betty as their only girlfriend.

Eventually they crawl out of the sea to land and there is a very effeminate looking realistic prince waiting for Betty. His parents are tiny cartoon characters and don’t approve.

Betty and The Prince kiss, go into a charming cottage in the woods and then come out 2 seconds later (the gestation period of classic cartoons) followed by rotoscoped CG kids in fish bowls on wheels.

Feeding The Animals
All animals love Betty

She sits on a turtle and feeds them in the jungle.
She is wearing an animal skin and tosses it a piece of popcorn, which it happily gobbles up.

Even the most ferocious animals turn docile when the see Betty.

A wild Elephant crashes through the forest and instantly gets all mushy and tender at the site of Betty.

No animal is too small or insignificant for Betty’s generosity.
She feeds a lady bug a tiny morsel.

A preying Mantis with a really cute voice looks up at Betty and says, “What about me Betty?”

She feeds the ladybug to the mantis.

What Kind Of an Animal Am I?
This is based on the early design of Betty where she has dog ears and a dog nose.

It starts with her crying and singing a mournful song:

What Kind of an animal am I?
Did I evolve from the sea?
Or did I fall out of the sky?
What kind of an animal am I?

What kind of an animal am I?
I’ve got ears like a doggy
And a face just like a fly, tell me
What kind of animal am I?

What kind of an animal am I
If I never learn
I think that I will die
Oh what kind of animal am I?

She cries tears and sobs to the music

The tears drop to the ground and come to life with little faces and arms and legs. They are sad and cry for Betty too. “Let’s find Bimbo! He’ll know what to do!”

The tears run off and carry Bimbo back into the scene. Bimbo sees her crying and singing and his heart melts (literally)

Bimbo asks why Betty is crying

She explains because she doesn’t know what kind of animal she is
Bimbo says:

“I don’t care what kind of animal you are Betty. I’d love you even if you were an upside down duck! Eh – he- eh he eh heh.”

Betty says “Really? Gosh, Bimbo you’re swell!” She stops crying and all the tears jump back into her eyes.

She gets up and falls into Bimbo’s arms, leaving a big Betty egg wobbling on the turtle’s back.

The scene wipes to black with a heart shape.


Peter Bernard said...

John K doing Betty Boop is such an exciting idea that it's a good thing there are people around to prevent it from ever happening. It would make too many people too happy and we can't have unbridled joy among the proletariat. We simply cannot. Let's give them another season of "American Idol" instead. Remember when the people in charge of entertainment and art LIKED their own audience?

Nope, me neither, it was before my time.

Andy J. Latham said...

Hi John, I don't know an email address for you so I'm leaving a comment here unrelated to this post.

I have been hunting round for tips on using straights and curves in designs. I can find close to nothing on the subject. I had a look through your blog and found a few references, but nothing that really concentrated on them.

I wonder if you could offer any advice on their use either to me via email (andy@andysanimation.co.uk)or to readers of your blog.

I find it relatively easy to draw characters using curves alone due to their organic nature, but I'm keen to get a better balance of curves with contrasting straights. Is there some kind of logic behind getting it right in a pose or is it a matter of just experimenting to find what looks right. Take an arm for example, I see many designs with a curve on the outside of the arm and straights on the inside, many other designs with straights on the outside and curves on the inside, and also lots with a combination of both. I struggle to work out what to do with my own poses and characters.

Could you offer any help with this problem please?

Thanks a lot John :)

Joel Brinkerhoff said...

Just in passing, I think the early doggy Betty to be super cute and kind of wish they would have left her alone.

I would love to see a revival of new Boop cartoons with that doggy design.

sunny kharbanda said...

I love the first one. It's vintage BB.

Oh how enjoyable today's animated movies would be if the "arena" was secondary to a character (or group of characters) that people really want to see!

Zam3d said...

Who has the rights of Betty? She must be near of become Public domain.

Ted said...

The Fleischer family supposedly owns the character rights; I'm unsure if that only extends to merchandise tho.

The Jerk said...

the ending of the Betty Mermaid one made me laugh the same way the vintage shorts do. it's like something fleischers would've done if they'd invented CGI animation or motion capture. these are all pretty funny and very much in the spirit of the original shorts.

Niki said...

These are nice! but I want to make input so here.

As a mermaid Betty don't need no clam bra! I don't know or care what idiot started that, but first off clams should be friends and nobody wants to wear a friends corpse on her chest!

introvert said...

"As a mermaid Betty don't need no clam bra! I don't know or care what idiot started that, but first off clams should be friends and nobody wants to wear a friends corpse on her chest!"

All I have to say, is starfish bras all the way. (They don't mind, they were literally designed for clinging to things.)

VJESCI said...

.when i was smaller i said betty poop.

Dingleberry said...

My fave Betty Boop ep is the one where they have one of those old-style travelling wagons, selling a cure-all tonic. It's so freaking absurd and wonderful and I laughed so hard I thought I'd die. It wasn't exactly what you'd call plot-driven. It was just wonderful in of itself.

I hate how Betty is now seen as a cutesy icon for slutty girls to have as car-seat covers. Women see my huge Betty tatt and squeal, "Oh! Betty Boop! It's so cute!!" They've never seen a single ep so they have no idea that Betty was a shameless, slutty, dog-doing starlet in one helluva trippy cartoon.
Inanimate objects suddenly alive and dancing and singing really does it for me.

Kaiser Fate said...

I agree that the idea of taking a story anywhere and arriving anywhere with appealing characters is always a good way to go - it's why I loved Ren and Stimpy so much growing up (by the way, John, I saw them young enough to be traumatised permanently, so thanks).
Whether it works for feature length films is up for debate, but that's an argument for another day, I guess.

Dr. Brignone said...

Betty sketches are wonderful!

Alex_M said...

These ideas are great; I especially love the songs-... "We’ll crawl out of the sea
to see what there’s to see
A Human man that’s better than
The likes of you or me! Ho ho!"

i can't help but smile-hahaha

Anyway the gags are great as well (feeds ladybug to mantis after feeding ladybug). I can picture all three ideas clearly.

-Here's hoping for the production of these shorts. if anyone could pull if off well, it'd be you and your team.

Steven said...

The "gag wheel", that sounds an awful lot like Family Guy's manatees... http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103666/?searchterm=Cartoon+Wars+Part+II

Hammerson said...

>> Who has the rights of Betty? She must be near of become Public domain. <<

There's a handful of Betty Boop cartoons in public domain but the character rights are currently owned by Fleischer estate, and King Features Syndicate has the merchandise and licencing rights. Essentially, any use of Betty has to be approved by KFS. The video rights to Betty Boop and other Fleischer cartoons (except Popeye and Superman) belong to Lion's Gate.

Hammerson said...

Good stuff! These are really funny ideas and sketches... please post more of them!
As much as I'd love this to happen, I doubt there's a chance. KFS has very strict rules about Betty Boop merchandise, everything must be absolutely on model (from few approved model sheets as far as I understand), and they probably won't allow the use of doggy design or anything risque in the spirit of pre-code Fleischer cartoons. It's really a shame. I'd love to see the return of early 30s rubber hose madness.

By the way, I made recently several Betty Boop drawings, mostly using her "dog form" (inspired by her design in "Mysterious Mose"). Take a look:

HemlockMan said...

I would love to see those cartoons!

Why would you mention the "gag wheel" and not explain it to us! I want one!

ComiCrazys said...

Moon Maid - My ass-ec opinion would be to cut the Bimbo turning into Super Stink and instead have him lure the creature to a cliff and push it over into Limburger Lake and drown him, of course after Bimbo and Koko pelt him with stinky cheese chunks along the way. Great stories!!!

VJESCI said...

.robert smith and betty poop: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1391/741294558_0b483bb8fe.jpg?v=0

Rusty Spell said...

Wow, some of these stories are downright mythological. Excellent.

Zoran Taylor said...

Love it.

It just occurred to me to ask - is it true that the Cineforum is the first place you ever saw Clampett's stuff? And is that what it was called back then? (I'm talking about Reg Hartt.)

Please tell us whatever you can remember about that experience!

Benjamin Anders said...

These are some great ideas! It would be a blast to see Betty look appealing again for once.

IgnorantBliss said...

Is there anyway to contact you Mr. Kricfalusi? I have a great idea for a Popeye cartoon, if you ever make another in depth post on story; like this one. It's a great one and would very much so appreciate you replying to this somehow.

Anonymous said...

If these ever were created in a ren & stimpy style i bet cheryl chase would be doing the voice becuse she in her past did some
( Helen kane imitations) with the booping & so on...lol

exuse me? a slutty dog?
there was more to it than that
she was a flapper of the roaring20s not to forget she was originally a Caricature of 1920s singer helen kane!
also if you claim 1930s, she first appeared in accordion joe (1929) as a indian princess in a one shot cartoon :D

betty boop had a great style and she never did anything 2 sexual, she flirted with a few people big deal? its not like she had sex with them!

also what you are forgetting is betty boop was toned down so yes she is our rolemodel!

i dont mind w/e betty boop does shes just amazing and her history goes very well

i once read when they toned betty boop down it broke max fleischers heart....

Anonymous said...

also i forgot to mention it would have been great to see betty make a comeback truley

but king features who owns betty boop are very strict, and im unsure about the fleischer studios (relatives)

anyway betty boop will be making a comeback soon but not to cartoon animation in broadway instead

Betty Boop was suppost to have made an earlier comeback in the 90s
they was planning to make a betty boop animation in 1993

but it was scrapped, moore studio. inc still has the storyboard fully animated.