Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Top Cat" -- 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago today, Top Cat premiered at 8:30 PM (7:30 Central time) -- in color** --on the ABC Television Network.  

** See comments section about "color."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tiny Toon Adventures' "Class Cut Up": Earl Kress

Here's a Tiny Toons cartoon that shows off a small sample of the big writing talent of Earl Kress -- who was not just an earl but a king of cartoons.  Earl passed away yesterday at the way-too-early age of 60.

This segment stars the vocal talents of one of Earl's favorite actors, the legendary Don Messick, who provided voices for Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Pixie, Dixie, Dr. Quest, Bandit and so many other classic Hanna-Barbera characters.

Here, Don performs the role of Hamton J. Pig -- it's a unique voice created by Don for the porcine costar of the Warner Bros. Animation series Steven Spielberg presents Tiny Toon Adventures.

In this episode, directed by Art Leonardi, Hamton is the lone witness to the return of that singing and dancing amphibian, Michigan J. Frog. 

This came before Michigan became the spokes-frog for The WB Network.   And yes, that's June Foray as Granny!  

Check it out:  "Class Cut-Up"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

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

Earl Kress

Earl Kress and his wife Denise

Earl Kress was a major contributor to the writing of both Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain.   Earl wrote or co-wrote many episodes which have become fan-favorites of the Animaniacs series, including the Slappy cartoon “Smell Ya Later” (co-starring Sherri Stoner and Jonathan Winters) and that Christmas gem "Little Drummer Warners" (directed by Lenord Robinson).  Earl was also part of the team that wrote the DVD animated feature “Wakko’s Wish.”

During the 90’s at Warner Bros, Earl also scripted some great segments for Tiny Toon Adventures (“Turtle Hurdle,” “Class Cut-up,” “Day for Knight”) and a handful of Road Rovers episodes.   Earl took home Emmy Awards for his writing on both Pinky and the Brain and  Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain.”  

I’ve known Earl since the early 80’s and have had the pleasure of working with him on a bunch of different animated series over the years, including Pound Puppies and Yogi’s Treasure Hunt during our time together at Hanna-Barbera.

Of course, Earl has worked on many cartoons outside of the Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera spheres.  At Disney, for instance, he co-wrote the animated feature film “The Fox and the Hound.”

Earl and I grew up during the same era, and we were both big fans of the early Hanna-Barbara series starring Huck and Yogi and Quick Draw.  Earl is one of the world’s leading experts on Hanna-Barbara history and lore, and also studied voice-over acting with the legendary voice of Yogi, Huck and Quick Draw, Daws Butler.  Beyond these studies, Earl and Daws became good friends.    

You can hear some of Earl’s voice work on “Hanna-Barbera’s Pic-A-Nic Basket,” the definitive 3-CD collection of music and sfx from Hanna-Barbera shows of the late 50’s to the 70’s.  Earl not only performs on the album, he also hunted down and preserved many of the rare tracks, and produced the album as well.   

I’ve known Earl for 31 years and I’m proud to call him one of my best friends in this world of cartoons. 


Alfred Hitchcock's Forgotten Film

In 1962, the great director Alfred Hitchcock was determined to come up with a film worthy enough to be the successor to his recent horror blockbuster Psycho.  He tried several different themes and titles, ultimately settling on the concept that became the movie entitled The Birds.

But before making that final choice, Hitchcock was close to convincing the powers-that-be at Universal Studios to green-light a similarly-themed film in which the female protagonist is attacked by forces even more unlikely than birds.   Below is one of the prototype posters for that proposed movie.

But alas, The Spoons was not to be.  Thankfully for moviegoers everywhere, Hitchcock sobered up, became obsessed with Tippi Hedren, and went with the birds over the flatware.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beware the Corndog

Sad news from Beantown tonight, where a head of lettuce wearing a ketchup fedora was cornered by five bowls of baked beans and then savagely stabbed by eight corndogs.  There was no known motive for the attack.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #12

These are the last two Animaniac Temporary Tattoos for now.  There are eleven more, and as soon as I find them, I'll post them.   

In the image below, Wakko seems to be turning his neck to the breaking point to take a gander at Hello Nurse.  

So, until next time...
                                                         Goodbyyyyyye, Nurse!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #11

I think many of these images came from the Animaniacs style guide issued by Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products.  The animation department rarely had any input or sway at the licensing division.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #10

This one of Dot reminds me of a grade-school Valentine's Day card.   

As for Pinky, he looks like he has been pondering the mysteries of the universe and has come up with an enigma inside a burrito.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #8

A double dose of Dot...one with a 'doo from another era.   I think disco had been finished for at least a decade before these temporary tatoos were marketed.   

Along with the two Dots:  Skippy's review of "Cowboys & Aliens."   

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Talking Toons with Rob Paulsen" -- Episode 14


Rob Paulsen, the extraordinary Emmy award-winning actor who gave us the unforgettable voices of Yakko Warner, Dr. Scratchansniff, Pinky (of Pinky and the Brain fame), Mr. Opportunity, 50% of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and countless others characters, has his own website where he posts an informative and funny podcast each week.  

In this week's episode, Rob tests the patience of his fans by inviting me to share the microphone with him.  Is this the tragic end of Rob's heretofore wildly successful podcast career?   "Toon in" and find out here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #3

This sticker is remarkable just for the fact that Chicken Boo actually made it into some Animaniacs  merchandising.  I also like the concept that Yakko is taking Plotz's convertible for a joy ride.    

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Animaniacs Temporary Tattoos #1

Topps put out a set of Animaniacs collectible playing cards in the mid-90s.  Among the cards was a series of temporary tattoos/stickers featuring the cast members.   Here's the first set of images from those stickers.  (BTW,  for all those wiser than myself:  scanning these things, with the sticky side down, was not a great idea as far as my scanner was concerned.)