If you worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions back in the day, Supervising Animator, Jay Sarbry might share this funny story with you. I guess it’s because Mr. Sarbry always found this incident amusing and he seemed to enjoy telling the story to anybody who would listen. The story is true by the way, and it’s a perfect reflection of yours truly. It’s the story of a person who has truly never changed even though many years have since passed.
First things first. Let me tell I how I got the job. I was loitering in the hallway of Hanna-Barbera with my pal, Leo Sullivan. Across the studio hallway sat production boss, Victor (Bill) Shippeick speaking on the telephone with the big boss, Bill Hanna. Hanna was chewing out “Bill” because he had failed to hire enough animators for the coming production season. “Get me some more animators!” Hanna shouted to his production manager. “I want more animators and I want them now!” In an attempt to cover his butt, Shippeick quickly replied, “don’t worry, boss. I’ve hired two animators just now, and they’re right outside my door." The two animators happened to be Leo Sullivan and myself. We were hired simply because we were standing in the hallway near “Bill” Shippeick’s office. I still remember the rather lackluster shows I was assigned to animate. One show was entitled, “Dynomutt” and related the escapades of a superhero dog. The other animated show was no better. Hitchhiking on the success of Steven Speilberg’s “Jaws,” the stupid show gave us a talking cartoon shark called, “JabberJaw.”
Here’s where the fun begins. After a number of weeks of production, I was called into “Bill” Shippeick’s office and given the bad news that I was being let go. Apparently, the studio had gotten past it’s animation production crisis so there was no longer a need for my services. That meant no more work and no more paychecks. Hardly good news for a guy who had gotten used to a pay envelope every Thursday afternoon. I suppose I could have simply walked out the door that afternoon, but I decided to do something audacious. Instead of leaving, I began to make the rounds of the animation department asking if anybody needed extra help with their footage. Sure enough, a number of Hanna-Barbera animators did need help and they provided me with a good deal of work. That meant I went back to work in the animation department even though I had been officially laid off. I continued to hand in my time cards every week and collect a Hanna-Barbera paycheck.
This went on for a number of weeks until one day the production manager, “Bill” Shippeick realized what was happening. “Wait a damn minute!” Shouted the exasperated animation boss. “I thought I laid off that guy several weeks ago! What the hell is going on here?!” Supervising animator, Jay Sarbry nearly fell off his chair with laughter. I had managed to continue working even though I had been let go by the studio weeks ago. And this, boys and girls is why Jay Sarbry enjoyed telling this story over and over again in Hanna-Barbera’s Animation Department. It’s just one of the many zany, wacky things that happen while working at Hanna-Barbera many years ago. To be sure, the Saturday Morning Cartoon Studio was not always known for doing stellar animation. Most of the shows we produced were pretty cheesy overall. However, one thing cannot be disputed. Hanna-Barbera Animation Studios was one of the most fun places I’ve ever worked. And, if you don’t believe me, just ask H-B animator, Jay Sarbry.