Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The People Who Made "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" -- Part One

Here's Part One in a gallery of some of the very talented people responsible for making Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.

Barry Caldwell

Barry Caldwell, director, designer and storyboard artist on both Animaniacs and Tiny Toons, is pictured here in his office at Warner Bros. Television Animation in Sherman Oaks, California, circa 1994. 

Among Barry's many achievements, his story board designs breathed new life into the personalities of Babs Bunny, Shirley the Loon, Fifi LaFume and Elmyra in many of the best Tiny Toon episodes, including "Prom-ise Her Anything" and "Fields of Honey."  

And Barry's boards and direction gave us some of our funniest and most memorable Animaniacs segments, including "Bumbie's Mom," "Sir Yaksalot," "Ragamuffins," "The Flame Returns" and "Puppet Rulers."  


Also on Animaniacs, Barry directed both the first Minerva Mink cartoon produced ("Meet Minerva") and the first Mindy and Buttons cartoon produced ("Cat on a Hot Steel Beam").


The People Who Made "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" -- Part Two

Sherri Stoner

Sherri Stoner served as a writer, story-editor and producer on Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.  Here, she holds up one of the segment cards from Tiny Toons.

Sherri started writing cartoons with Babs Bunny's very first Tiny Toons script, "Debutante Devil," and Sherri hasn't stopped since.  She wrote a bunch of Tiny Toon episodes that have become fan-favorites, including "Hollywood Plucky," "Fields of Honey" and "Thirteen Something."  

In the photo above, Sherri stands in front of the Wall of Cards, which we used to build half-hour shows from various segments, each segment written up on an index card.  Sherri is holding up the card for the Tiny Toons segment "Milk It Makes A Body Spout."

By the way, directly behind Sherri is a Steven Spielberg Bop-Bag, drawn by Bruce Timm (on the back of a Yogi Bear Bop-Bag.)   This sits in my office to this day, still fully inflated with 1992 air!  

On Animaniacs, Sherri not only helped write and produce the series, but provided the voice for one of the show's stars, the cranky octogenarian, Slappy Squirrel.  

Above, Sherri and fellow Tiny Toons story-editor Paul Dini  celebrate Easter 1991 by posing with the Easter Bunny at the Sherman Oaks Galleria.  Apparently, Paul was traumatized by the bunny and had a meltdown.  


  1. I hope my question won't be construed as taking away anything from Mr. Caldwell, but I was wondering: What was the deal with Minerva Mink? That is, why were only two shorts produced? I had the opportunity in August 1996 to visit Sherman Oaks (on a day you were out of the office, unfortunately), and I got the feeling that MM was a topic no one really wanted to discuss. (I was there because my visit had been arranged through my local Warner Bros Studio Store where'd I'd purchased some MM animation art, among other things.) In the ensuing years, I've read a few things about why that was the case, but none of them seemed to be very authoritative. Can you comment?

  2. In a nutshell, Minerva was considered to be a little too sexy for our target audience. Our executive producer (Steven) and the President of Warner Bros. Animation (Jean MacCurdy) thought that Minerva was perhaps a bit too voluptuous and her storyline a bit too one-note in that she was very sexy and seemed to arouse the sexual interest of any and all males in her vicinity, no matter what their species.

    Since the show had a large kid audience, it was decided to tone down Minerva's romantic aggressiveness as well as her curviness. To that end, we wound up needing to remove cleavage lines from the McClenahan/Startoons Minerva episodes.

    Paul Dini came up with the initial concept for Minerva, and it was based on reversing the gender on the Tex Avery Wolf, who would go into extreme wild takes when he saw a particularly hot babe. Minerva was a female version of that sort of over-reacting, hot-to-trot character.

    Barry Caldwell helped design the lovely Minerva and he was extremely adept at getting great performances out of the girl characters in the Tiny Toons and Animaniacs casts.

  3. This is so cool, thanks a lot! :)

  4. Thank you for answering; I do appreciate it!

    That's understood about the target audience, and the concerns that were raised. Nonetheless, I still think it's great that you all were able to produce such a tuneful, intelligent series that wound up appealing to those far beyond that target audience.

  5. Thanks. It was a different time, back then. While our cartoons were targeted at kids, we did intentionally make them so (we hoped) they'd appeal to a large audience of almost any age. Today, animated shows are not made that way. The current shows being made for Nick and Disney and CN are carefully and clearly targeted at very specific kid age groups. Back in the 90's, Animaniacs, on Fox and the WB, attracted a more diverse age demographic.

  6. From Peter Paltridge:

    If "Cat on a Hot Steel Beam" was the first, it explains why its ending breaks the whole setup (Mindy's mom actually becomes aware of the peril her daughter gets into; that never happened again). I guess not everything was nailed down yet.

    I always wondered who Barry Caldwell was. There was a freeze-frame gag in "The Pink Candidate" (my favorite P&TB episode) that had Caldwell's face on the back of a magazine.

    It looked sort of like an Orson Welles caricature that appeared in a Taz-Mania episode. That, combined with my unfamiliarity with Welles's Frozen Peas outtakes, led me to develop a theory that Barry was a crazy boss you worked under that talked that way all the time ("You don't know what I'm up against!"). I thought "Yes Always" was all about Barry.

    I don't know if my telling you all that was necessary. Just....yeah, that's how a fan's head works.

    Also, you mistakenly listed Bumbie's Mom as a Tiny Toons cartoon.

  7. Thanks for the post, Peter.

    I'm very happy to assure you that Barry Caldwell is pretty much the opposite of a crazy ranting Orson Welles type. Barry is wildly talented, like Welles, but a very calming, calm, cool, and collected.

    And thanks for pointing out my "Bumbie's Mom" snafu. I have made the correction.

  8. Just thinking out loud... That cel of Minerva in a red dress and purple gloves--were you deliberately referencing Jessica Rabbit by dressing her in that outfit? Or is it just coincidental?

  9. Like the design for "Animaniacs" with Skippy and Slappy Squirrel in those "WB" rings" titles used in Looney Tunes.

    You're blog is neat by the way, I should link it over to mine.

  10. I wasn't referencing Jessica. Perhaps the director or writer or designer or board artist or whoever dressed her and/or whoever color-keyed her had that in mind.

  11. Steven -- glad you like...I have stopped by your blog often and enjoy it. You have an ambitious review schedule underway! Please keep coming back. I will do the same with

  12. If Slappy Squirrel should meet Lady Gaga, then Skippy Squirrel should meet Justin Bieber ¿uh?

  13. Brain: "Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
    Pinky: "I think so, Brain, but why call it 'Bieber Fever' if Justin's not a real beaver?"

    Sorry, couldn't resist. Back on topic, I like the info on this post, Mr. Ruegger. Looking forward to the next one.

  14. Dear Mr.Ruegger,

    I'm not sure of you noticed this, but Mr.Caldwell has a full-Color Mary Melody picture on his wall there.

    Now you said stuff about "Prom-ise Her Anything" Aren't you forgetting someone?

    Or maybe it's just because no one remembers her.


    P.S If you go out of your way to answer this, I also want to let you know Mary Melody is awesome and I love to see anything about her on your blog.

  15. This was great to read. I love the "Bumbie's Mom" sketch; it's so hilarious because it's so true. I greatly enjoyed the work done by both of these people.

  16. And... the other artists?