Friday, March 06, 2009

Tony Benedict Predicts The Future (And is Funny)

Here's a dashing photo of Tony Benedict. From this picture it appears that he worked at Disney's early on and had a crush on Annette. I know him from his storyboards at Hanna Barbera. He was one of the last privileged artist/writers at HB. He both wrote and drew his own stories even into the 1980s if I remember correctly.
I first discovered his work while I was in Taipei in 1985. Many of the Jetsons storyboards I worked from were drawn by old-timers like Alex Lovy and Lew Marshall. Their storyboards were thoroughly professional. They were staged logically, the characters were "on-storyboard-model" - simple yet perfectly clear and therefore easy to work from.

Then one day, the latest storyboard came through the fax machine and it was completely different. It was not merely "correct" and logical, it was super cartoony, alive and funny as Hell. The storyboard itself was a work of art. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of it to show you.
Anyway it was one of those storyboards that just inspired you to put more effort into your cartoon because it looked like the artist was really having fun drawing (and I think-writing) it.
Once I discovered Tony's work, I called Bob Hathcock (my producer) and begged him to send me all of Tony's storyboards to work on. I knew if they sent his work to one of the other overseas factories, it would be totally wasted and you'd never see what he did make it to the screen.
Maybe someone out there has a copy of Tony's SB work on the Jetsons. Maybe Tony, if you read blogs? I would love to post some of his unique stylish and funny work.
Tony did the board for "High-Tech-Wreck" which was my favorite episode of the Jetsons to work on. These are some of the layouts we did. I think "Ronald" did the ones below.

If anyone has any copies of Tony's work, I'd love it if you posted it and sent a link.


Kyle said...

Whoah, in the first vid Did Spacley just say "Google"? haha I had no idea they were around back then.

Anonymous said...

He said Gogol.

Niki said...

I never saw this episode, I actually like the thought suicide floating in George's head. It was probably pulled (or something) because of that.

Oliver_A said...

Cool, a lot of the drawings seem to have survived the transition to the screen!

Tony Benedict isn't in any way related to Ed Benedict, is he?

Leedar said...

Here is Tony's Web site:

Not too much (any?) storyboards, but has some videos linked at the top, including film footage inside Hanna Barbera.

drawingtherightway said...

The Jetsons revival is being released on dvd in June (I think). Maybe that will have some of Tony's storyboards on it.

Leedar said...

Here is an interview of him as well:

nktoons said...

AMAZING! These sketches are some of the best you have posted John. I have never heard of Tony Benedict until now, thank you for sharing these. What I like about Tony's drawings is the life that they possess. The characters on the page seem real......sublime.

JohnK said...

Those aren't Tony's drawings. They are our layouts inspired by his storyboards.

But I don't have a copy of his storyboard anymore.

zach said...

What year were those clips from, John?

Rick Roberts said...

Like I have said before, this was always my favorite episode of the 80's run of The Jetsons. I am so happy to learn about it.

Rick Roberts said...

BTW, Tony was kind of cute. :)

Tim said...

FYI - the word Google has been around since 1938.

Kali Fontecchio said...

He is very cute.


Hey John, I really enjoy it when you show pre-production drawings with comments about them. Plus, seeing the actual finished animation is just icing on the cake. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

He said Gogol, as in Ukrainian-born, Russian author, Nicola Gogol. It's a common mistake.

Don't make it again.

Trevor Thompson said...

I guess if you're a Benedict, you're good for Hanna Barbera. No relation to Ed, I gather?

- trevor.

Rick Roberts said...

"I guess if you're a Benedict, you're good for Hanna Barbera."

Just like the name Bob at Warners. Bob Clampett, Bob Mckimson, and Bob "Bobe" Cannon.

David Nethery said...

Wow, Tony Benedict has some great photos , movies, and drawings on his site :

Great to see those photos from ye olden days at Disney, UPA , and Hanna-Barbera.

Here's my Tony Benedict story:

In 1986 I was working at Filmation in the "feature unit" (the unit that did the insane "Pinocchio" and "Snow White" sequels "Pinocchio & The Emperor of the Night" and "Happily Ever After" . ) One day Will Finn tells me about this guy Tony Benedict who is putting together a proposal for an animated Christmas special and needs some animators to work on the "trailer" for the special . So I end up going to see Tony Benedict who is making this Christmas special and Tony gives me a scene on the trailer to animate . (this is all freelance work while I'm still working full time at Filmation) I remember very little about the job except that it was a Christmas special, and it involved a little imp character named Grimley who was working for the Devil (yeah, the Devil) ... "Grimley" was one of those characters that was all body , with legs and arms, like "Timer" from the "Time for Timer" spots that Depatie-Freleng and Rick Reinert used to do .

Ok, so I think the premise was that the Devil wanted to "ruin Christmas this year" or something like that, and ol' Grimley was supposed to be in charge of helping Satan ruin Christmas , but he messes up somehow and is on the lam from Hell , hoping that Old Scratch won't catch up to him.

That's all I remember about it . My scene was of Grimley running into a room with an old-fashioned wood burning stove . He zips in , looks around worried that someone is chasing him .... then Satan himself appears from the flames of the wood-burning stove and grabs Grimley by the legs and says something (I can't remember the dialogue) , which I think was "It's time to go Grimley" or "Let's go Grimley" . (dumb me , I didn't write the dialogue on my drawings like I should have .)

When I saw your post about Tony Benedict it made me remember I had these drawings and so today I scanned them and put them together into a pencil test. I have the drawings from my first rough pass on the scene , but I don't have the X-sheet. I did the best I could putting it together and I wrote out what I thought the Devil's dialogue was on the key drawings . (this may not be accurate) . Not all the inbetweens are done ... some of it is on 3's and 4's.

The only reason I have these first pass roughs is because the version I turned in to Tony Benedict was a tied-down on-model version with all the inbetweens and the effects animation drawn in blue on separate levels. But I saved this first rough pass.

Not the greatest animation I've ever done, but here it is:

Tony Benedict Christmas Special - "Grimley" rough Pencil Test

I have NO IDEA whether Tony ever got this project fully funded and finished . (I don't think so, because I've never heard of it or seen it . ) . I'm not even sure how this scene fit into the rest of the trailer because this is all I did on it , just this one little scene , and I never saw the finished product. That was the last contact I had with him. IF I had known who he was at the time I would have spent more time trying to ask him about the old days at UPA and H & B. But I was just a dumb kid , happy to have some freelance work for the weekend. I forget who else worked on this little trailer. I remember Will Finn for sure because he's the one who told me about it in the first place . Maybe Lenord Robinson and ... ? someone else .

Brubaker said...


Wow, that was more lively than anything that Filmation ever produced. Neat.

David Nethery said...

Brubaker wrote --
"Wow, that was more lively than anything that Filmation ever produced. Neat."

Hi, Brubaker,

Yeah, just to be clear on this: Tony Benedict's production was not being done at Filmation. His studio was nearby to the Filmation studio in Reseda, but it was a completely independent production.

-DN said...

Hey, John, I have a lot o storyboards. If the level of interest is sufficient I can get them to you. TB

ronhamel said...

Hey John! Tony's got a kick starter going for his Hanna Barbera documentary ! Maybe you can plug it on your blog!