Pencil Drawings and Painted Cels

Let's get back to the lighter side of animation, shall we? This is what our marvelous medium used to look like back in the seventies. I was working for a production house over on Ventura Blvd back then and having one helluva of a time animating television commercials. There were several clients and our work continually changed, moving from one style to another. We had great designers and animators on our team and it was a delight to go to work each day never knowing what the next assignment might be.

It's difficult to describe what a fun time we had working in animation during this time. The industry was still small and most earned their living doing Saturday Morning stuff. Across town, Disney, post Walt was continuing to struggle as the company tried to reinvent itself and factions fought each other for power. Free of all that nonsense, I found a home in smaller studios where we did exceptional work free of the politics and infighting.

The pencil drawings and painted cels on view here are from one of our commercials for client, StarKist Tuna. It featured a popular character named, “Charlie.” With a Phil Silvers attitude, Charlie was voiced by character actor, Herschal Bernardi. Our animators included industry veterans such as Ken Champin and Dale Case. Our facility was a hodge- podge combination of high tech and funky bungalow. I got the impression the studio had once been a cheesy motel before being converted into a production facility. The big shots and the live-action dudes occupied the new section of the studio and animation was housed in a series of small rooms that opened to a patio. No complaints from the artists. I think we got the best of the deal.

Each commercial that passed through the studio had it's own style and everything was completed in house. The only exceptional may have been ink and paint which was usually jobbed out to a nearby facility. Of course, we had our own animation camera on site. Our cameraman was certainly qualified to shoot animation. He had worked for Walt Disney in the thirties on a little movie called, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Our designers pushed the envelope and our animators brought magic to the screen using only pencil and paper. Boy! It was great to be in the cartoon business.

All that has changed today where animation is more the creation of hardware and software designers. Artists continue to be marginalized as technology drives the medium at studios both small and large. It's the future, and I suppose I should probably embrace it. Yet, I can't help but look back to a time when sketches filled the walls and my office smelled of graphite and paint. A time when being a cartoonist was the best damn job in the world.