When Animation was Still Fun

Let's take a trip back in time, shall we. A time when animated motion picture studios still made movies that were drawn by hand. This is one such studio and its story alone would require a good deal more than a blog post. More than likely, a whole book would be needed to tell the story of the Tom Carter/Phil Mendez Animation Studio.

This was the eighties and by this time I was finally wise enough to begin documenting my adventures in the cartoon business. Not only do I have a fair number of photographs from those heady days, I even produced a motion picture documentary on the ill fated cartoon studio. Shot in analog video with the cheesy cameras of the day, the film looks more like a documentary shot in the thirties. Because of the technology of the day the video has a rather scruffy look compared to the pristine images we've grown use to today. Nonetheless, the movie captures the fledgling animation studio in all its naive glory and reminds us what animation was like when it was still a fun business.

I found these photographs last evening while pouring through my eighties images. The young men in these pictures all went on to stellar careers in the animation industry. At this time, most were just out of school and this was their first real job in the cartoon business. They were hired to develop a feature length cartoon based on the stories of Mark Twain. The movie was entitled, “Huck's Landing” and was loosely based on Twain's character. In the photo on the left we see story man, Pat Ventura and animator, Glen Chaika. Next, we see the guys storyboarding in our large conference room. That's Glen, Pat and a young Gary Trousdale who would later go on to become a top director at the Walt Disney Company. In the photograph below, background artist, Michael Humphries is adjusting a desk as the late David Hanan looks on. Again we see story man, Pat Ventura and director, Gary Trousdale holding a cup of coffee. At the time we had no idea these young men and women we had hired would eventually go on to make their mark in the cartoon business. They would become storytellers and art directors at studios such as Disney, DreamWorks and others.

These old photographs bring back many wonderful memories. Memories of a time when animation was still an odd quirky business that often failed to earn money. When cartoons were created with pencil and paper by dedicated guys and gals who couldn't imagine doing anything else. A time before computers, fat cat executives and landslide profits. A time before the cartoon business stopped being funny.