Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beyond Crap: How Many Things Have To Go Wrong For This To Exist

I used to wonder about how many people it took to let things get to the state of affairs of animation in the 70s and 80s.

If I had a time machine, I would travel back to 1945 and show some animators these images and tell them what was going to happen to cartoons in a mere 25 years. I just want to see the look in their eyes before they lock me away in the crazy house.
Even in 1960, nobody would believe you could get something that looks this awful on TV.
"In the glorious future of the 1980s, we won't be able to afford toes."

Yet this was totally acceptable when I started in the business.
I used to try to calculate how many wrong decisions it would take for shows this ugly and amateurish to get on the air.
First, the studio head has to think it's alright to have his name on the product. He doesn't mind being spit on on the street by mothers whose children they've punished.
The design department has to be filled with people who can barely hold a pencil and who hate cartoons.
An executive or 2 or 3 has to have grown up without ever seeing a Disney cartoon, or a Looney Tunes or even an early Hanna Barbera cartoon. They have to have never opened a comic book to know what professional standards or good drawing, design and appeal were just a few years earlier.
A million unlikely accidents have to have taken place to allow the implausibility of this to actually occur. Maybe there are a million universes and the laws of chance just stuck this one with all the right mutations to allow cartoons that are the exact opposite of what common sense decisions would evolve naturally.
Imagine that it's possible for someone to be in charge of an animation studio who has never animated; someone who doesn't know that the more "realistic" you design your cartoons, the harder it is to animate and therefore the crummier it will look. Imagine that he doesn't know that it costs a lot more to draw semi-realistic characters and so therefore there will be less animation. Or that it's ok to animate for peanuts with slave labor in the Orient.
Imagine this person doesn't know that action characters or superheroes are not allowed to be violent on television. That's a lot of things to not know about animation. Can such a person exist? Apparently lots of them did and probably still do. OK, even if a person that ignorant could theoretically exist and had power - and he wanted to go ahead and do everything wrong by animating "realistic" characters on tiny budgets, you would think he would at least hire a professional superhero artist who can draw well and has an appealing style to design the show. At least!Ruby-Spears (just about one of the worst studios in history) actually did hire Jack Kirby - but never used his designs or poses! I remember asking people about that and the excuse was "well Kirby's great, but you can't use his style as is. It's not 'animatable'."

Like this is?
Look how Goddamn dynamic these poses are!
This can't be real, but it is! I actually saw it on television. The odds against anything this ugly and stupid are so high that it is nigh impossible.

Actually, Ruby Spears had at least 2 geniuses in-house, and probably more, so how is it that the cartoons are so Godawful? Every studio had some top talent in it, but refused to take advantage of it.

Even characters that were once appealing and funny became hideous by the 1970s. How?

Who would OK drawings like these? Apparently, lots of people did.

Think about it: A whole bunch of important people had to look at this drawing and approve it. The designer, the layout supervisor, the animation director, the executive, the studio head and more. They all took a look at it and said "Yeah, that's just fine. Dandy! Put it on the air, pronto!"
Here is what passed for "cartoony" shows.
Ye Gods! ...then there's this abomination!
What's even more unbelievable than the mere fact that all cartoons degraded to this state after the glorious Golden Age of the 30s to 50s is that today, there are people who are nostalgic about it. I got most of these off some site that thinks the 80s had a high artistic and creative standard.

This is proof that we are living in an alternate universe.