The Times-Tribune from Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 30, 1983 · 23
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The Times-Tribune from Scranton, Pennsylvania · 23

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Scranton, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 30, 1983
Page:
23
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23 t BC U S V 9 THE SCRANTON TIMES, WEDNESDAY. NOVEMBER 30, 1983 Bloomsburg Man's Book Tells Of Character Controversies , Historic Tales and Anecdotes Had Walt Disney been more persistent, the would have been called the Flagstones, mouse that became known as Mickey might according to a new book written by a have been called Mortimer, and if Hanna- Bloomsburg University professor of journal- Barbera had been allowed to use the ism. original name, Fred and Wilma Flintstone v 'Cartoon Monickers' Shows What's in a Name, Comic-Style Had Walt Disney been more persist- ent, the mouse that became known as Mickey might have been called Mortimer, and if Hanna-Barbera had been allowed to use the original name, Fred and Wilma Flintstone would have been called the Flagstones, according to a Bloomsburg University professor of journalism. Dr. Walter M. Brasch is author of Cartoon Monickers; An Insight Into the Animation Industry, published recently by the Bowling Green University Popular Press. The book traces the history of animation from its theoretical origins at the beginning of the 19th Century, through its birth at the beginning of the 20th Century, the Golden Age; of the 1930s, and 1940s, and the present-day computerized animation. Most of the information, based upon a 10-year research project that involved extensive interviews with the industrys leading writers, animators, and directors, has never before been published. Included are almost 100 illustrations, many of them drawn for the book, exclusively by the industry's leading animators. Disney liked the name, Mortimer, says Brasch, and had told his wife, Lilly, that It has a swing. But his wfe just didnt like the name, " so Disney looked for another name with an initial M and came up with the alliterative Mickey Mouse. During the 1930s, his mouse would become the all-time popularity leader. Interestingly says Brasch, one of Mickey's nephews was named Mortyv Mouse, and one of Mickeys rivals, a tall, lanky rat-like figure was named Mortimer. As for the FlagstonesFlintstones? According to Brasch, Mike Maltese, one of the industrys top storymen, came up with the idea to name the cave-era family the Flagstones, and to title the series, Rally Round the Flagstones. A massive promotional campaign was launched in 1960, and proauction was begun. However, there was an objection from the syndicate that packaged Mort Walker's Hi and Lois newspaper comic strip. The last names for those characters were the Flagstones, and the syndicate raised the possibility of an infringement suit. Dr. Walter M. Brasch, left, a Bloomsburg State College educator, is author of Cartoon Monickers; An Insight Into the Animation Industry." The book traces the history of animation from its theoretical origins at the beginning of the 1 9th Century, through its birth at the beginning of the 20th Century, the "Golden Age;" of the 1930'sand 1940's, and the present-day computerized animation. Among interesting items presented in the book are the facts that; l For much of his cartoon life, the bumbling, near-sighted but lovable Mr. Magoo didn't have a first name. Eventually he was tagged with the seldom-used name of Quincy. & When Heckle and Jeckle were created by the Paul Terry Studios in 1 946, the talking magpies were the first twins in animation. Their names were descriptive of their personalities and were an oblique reference to Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. The naming guidlines at one of the major studios forbids the use of the name Bruce "because of its homosexual connotations." The Frito Bandito, a popular fixture in commercials complete with sombrero, six-shooters and straps of bullets slung across his body, was successful for a few years but was dropped when the Chicano community began protesting the stereotyped image the Bandito presented. I Huey, Dewey and Louie, Donald Duck's nephews, were named for two politicians (Louisiana's Huey P. Long and New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey) and a Disney studio employe (Louie Schmitt). doop characteristics, but she lost the suit when it was shown that not only did Natwick completely reconstruct the animated character, but that the basi.c characteristics that Kane charged Fleischer with stealing from her were, in fact, stolen by her from another vauc)evillian, Baby Esther. Cartoon Monickers" also discusses numerous names based upon other names Bugs Bunny was named for an illustratoranimator; Bullwin-kle was named for a used car dealer. He says that just about everyone has tried to claim the origins or naming of Bugs, but it was simply a case of an animator, Ben (Bugs) Hardaway, sending a sketch of a rabbit to an illustrator who, to identify the rabbit, noted that it was Bugs bunny. The development of Bugs was done under the direction of Tex Avery, and later Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, and By DANIEL L.CUSICK Times FOCUS Writer Bob McKimson. In Cartoon Monickers, Brasch also looks at puns (My favorite is Bob Clampetts Tearalong, the Dotted Lion), and the relative non-use of ethnic names or situations in cartoons, and the future of the industry. The quality of art and story was far superior in the 1930s and 1940s than today, he says, reflecting upon the myriad characters created by Warner Brothers, MGM, and Fleischer studio animators And no one will ever top the quality of the Disney features; they have always stood at the cutting edge of animation development. He looks back 40 and 50 years to the hundreds of six-minute shorts produced by a dozen studios, led by Warner Brothers, MGM, and the Fleischers, and to the features of Disney, and notes that Even today, they hold up extremely well; they still cause laughter, and sometimes a tear or two. I wonder, maybe even doubt, if the material being put out on Saturday morning TV will even be respected in the next decade, let along the next half-century. I expect to see Bugs and Porky and Daffy and Beany ana Cecil forty years from now 1 DONT expect to see many made-for-TV cartoons then. Television comes in for some harsh Brasch says that Joe Barbera then asked Maltese to come up with another name, and Maltese thought of two primitive rocks flints rubbing against each other. The result was the permanent name for the family that would become stars of the first continuing half-hour animated series on television. When the Flintstones had a daughter, she was named Pebbles "two very small rocks,; says Brasch. Hanna-Barbera also was threatened by former N.Y. Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, who (jidnt think much of a Jellystone bear being named Yogi Bear." Brasch says that just about everyone in the industry recognized that the bear's name was based upon the catcher-managers name, but the people at Hanna-Barbera just said that it was a coincidence. Interestingly, Brasch notes that The Flintstones was an animated spin-off of Jackie Gleasons Honeymooners shows, and the characterization of Yogi Bear was that of Art Carneys portrayal of Ed Norton, the secondary lead in "The Honeymooners. When Jay Ward created the Kir-wood derby a hat that makes the dumbest animal smart then placed it upon Bullwinkles head in a series of Rocky and Bullwinkle segments, TVv announcer Durward Kirby decided to sue. The gag was allowed, by mutual consent, to die out when current production had ended. Mort Walker, Yogi Berra, and Durward Kirby never went to court over the infringements. However, Helen Kane did. According to Brasch, in 1931, Grim Natwick created Betty Boop, and within a few months, the Fleischer Studio found itself in a $250,000 suit for infringement by Kane who charged that both the name and characterization were stolen from her. Kane, a popular vaudeville star, claimed violation of the 'boo poop-a- They Weren't Laughing DURWARD KIRBY 3iP(W.tfi ; ft i 0-WntV?)i - HELEN KANE YOGI BERRA Names Not Funny When People Feel Embarrassed History of Cartoons Has Many Examples them are: Of Miffed Feelings Caused by Choices When it comes to selecting names for characters and running gags in cartoon strips, some people fail to see any humor in the decisions especially if they believe that the choice of monickers relates to them personally. Throughout cartoon history there are many examples of this principle. Among Hanna-Barbera also was threatened by former N.Y. Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, who didnt think much of a Jellystone bear being named Yogi Bear. Other characters created by Hanna-Barbera included Ann Margrock, Cary Granite, Peter Gunite, and Rock Pile. Whether these characters had anything to do with Ann-Margret, Cary Grant, Peter Gunn or Rock Hudson was never tested through legal action. In 1971-Jay Ward created the Kirwood derby a hat that makes the dumbest animal smart then placed it upon Bull-winkles head in a series of Rocky and Bullwinkle segments, TV announcer Durward Kirby threatened to sue. The gag was allowed, by mutual consent, to die out when current production had ended. In 1931, Grim Natwick created Betty Boop, and within a few months, the Fleischer Studio found itself in a $250,000 suit for infringement by Helen Kane who charged that both the name and characterization were stolen from her. Kane, a popular vaudeville star, claimed violation of the boojMJop-a-doop characteristics, but she lost the suit when it was shown that not only did Natwick completely reconstruct the animated character, but that the basic characteristics that Kane charged Fleischer with stealing from her were, in fact, stolen by her from another vaudevil-lian. Baby Esther. judgements by the author. He cites that In the Fifties, cartoons began to be made to fit the TV mold. And the medium ate up material so fast. Besides, there is a different feeling when you're sitting in a darkened movie theater with a lot of other people around. You respond to the humor with them. It is simply not the same as when you are sitting in a living room, alone or with the family, and watching TV." Brasch also said that modern cartoonists are going less with humor. In the Thirties and Forties, there was much more humor, some of it outrageous and some of it hard. Today, it is a much more mellow scene. The reason for that is that cartooning and cartoonists have changed, he noted. Asked if there were any Young Turks in the business, he responded, Oh, sure. There are a lot of Young Turks..a whole bunch of them..but not enough. Thats one of the reasons why a major new Disney film has been delayed so long. Some of those Young Turks you talk about didn't agree with a couple of things and walked out on it. They are going to have to find more Young Turks to replace them." Bloomsburg is a long, long way from the Hollywood scene. And a university professor of journalism seems an unlikely candidate, in some ways, to write a definitive view of the history of cartoons. "Ive always been interested in cartoons, Brasch retorted. Once, when I was in Southern California, I met some of the people involved with them and just began to talk about cartoons and how they got certain ideas for creating them. Obviously, I ended up with a collection of stuff and then thought I might write an article about it. Eventually, the whole thing got to book length. Brasch despairs at some of the more recent developments in cartooning, and again places blame on that most ubiquitous of media, TV. When discussing some of the things he doesnt like about the current crop of cartoons, he cites the limited animation where, in some cases, just the mouth moves. Everything else just stays still. Thats so they could do more on TV in less time. They don't take time to develop things as they did in the earlier forms. They could turn out more cartoons with much less work, just to fill the time slots. He allowed that, computer animation is probably the biggest innovation in the industry in recent times It is the technique that allows the creation of those jazzy, moving, shifting-colored logos and other devices used in station identification or enhancing the visuals on the news broadcasts and other shows. As with scholars in other fields-and the study of cartoon history can be as scholarly as any other discipline Brasch has found added pleasure in being able to collect some of the works that he has admired and written about. Many of the cartoonists dealt with in the bock contributed original illustrations for it. Those, coupled with what Brasch squirreled away over the years previous to publication, constitute a pretty substantial overview of the medium. When I approached some of them about submitting, he said, they really were very cooperative. Some even volunteered without my having to ask at all. They simply said, What can I do to help? and when I told them, they gave me the things. The only aspect I had to insure was that copyright would be protected." In many cases, these were not minor players in the game. Chuck Jones donated some of ms Roadrun-ner drawings. The Disney people okayed use of Bambi and Bob Clampett approved his Bugs Bunny drawings. For fans of cartooning, Brasch's efforts are a watering hole in a desert that has existed since that massive coffee table-sized volume on the works of Walt Disney was issued nearly a decade ago. Whether taken as information or a romp through nostalgia, Brasch's book makes its own contribution. ;

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