Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bicycle Bob'll Eat a Bucket of Scorpions If He Doesn't Give You the Business

This toonzone post from Ron "Keeper" O'Dell offers some details on the upcoming (later this year) DVD release of Tiny Toon Adventures:

Warner seems to be committed to producing at least two sets of TTA. The staff are being interviewed currently for the first two sets in one go.

The first set's extras will cover the development of the series and characters. The second set's will focus on the creative team.

I don't know who will be interviewed for the set but I'm willing to bet we'll hear from Tom Ruegger (producer), Paul Dini (writer). Bruce Timm was a storyboard artist on the show so he might pop up somewhere. Hopefully we'll hear from the staff directors who included Art Leonardi, Rich Arons and Eddie Fitzgerald among others.

Since Animaniacs volume 4 is currently on hold I'm a little pessimistic that we'll get to the final episodes of TTA, which are my favorites, but one can hope. There's also the question of what to do with the specials -- the very good "Night Ghoulery" and the not-very-good "Spring Break Special" -- and the direct-to-video movie How I Spent My Vacation, which was one of the best things TTA ever did (in its interweaving of many different, seemingly unconnected plots, it was like a wacky cartoon version of Nashville and anticipated the style Simpsons episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" by several years). I guess we'll see.

The early Tiny Toons episodes -- the first 65 that ran in syndication -- are interesting because you can see different styles of writing and cartooning butt up against each other as the show, and the newly-formed WB TV animation department, tries to find a style. There are episodes that are influenced by classic cartoon comedy, others that are more in the mold of '80s Saturday morning cartoons, others that are more like Duck Tales, and these styles sometimes co-exist in the same episode. The episode "Hare-Raising Night," where the characters meet a mad scientist and a Gossamer-like creatre named Melvin, has elements of "Hair-Raising Hare" (the title, the mad scientist gags, the fourth wall breaking) mashed together with straightforward adventure storytelling and a bit of the socially-conscious messaging that '80s cartoons all had to have (the characters are trying to stop the mad scientist's experiments on animals).

Even if you're not that into the '90s Warner TV cartoons, it'll be interesting to watch as a snapshot of an important time in animation history, when TV cartoons, which had been getting progressively worse for decades, suddenly had the opportunity to get good again and were finding their way by trial and error.

Oh, and from the TAG blog, here's Bruce Timm's 1990 caricature of some of the WB artists, including his director, Art Vitello, and animation veteran Norm McCabe.


Jenny Lerew said...

Ten bucks says there are no artists interviewed on the DVD. I'd like to lose that bet, btw.

On the other hand, there's a seminal participant artistically in TTA that's also a good friend of the producer's--Alfred Gimeno--so it'd be possible he'd be included(he's also an incredibly funny guy, just perfect for representing the art side).

If you've ever been to Jeff Pidgeon's blog(and you should), he designed all the TTA characters and drew the original lineups...well, almost all of them; I think even Alfred did some of those as well. Jeff's another great and funny guy who left WB for Pixar in 1990. He's still there today and has done a few things since then we all may have seen a few times. : )

John Pannozzi said...

according to an old issue of Comics Scene, most of the main TTA characters were designed by Ken Boyer (btw, I've seen a Ken D. Boyer and a Ken Frederich Boyer in the credits of Warners-produced cartoons. Are they the same person or not?)
But Alfred and Ken share the “series character design” credit in the show's credits. According to that same CS issue, Jeff designed Hamton because Ken's design looked too much like Porky. Jeff mostly designed incidental characters (not recurring ones) for TTA. I doubt Jeff would have nice things to say about working on TTA, but regardless, the day I (hopefully) work for Disney Feature Animation or Pixar, I going to see Jeff and ask him to draw Hamton for me.

Jenny Lerew said...

John-now you mention it you're right: Ken Boyer(the director; Ken Frederich Boyer--yes, same spelling--is a different man; he was a PA on TTA and a very crucial PA on A! as well--and a heck of nice guy. We all called him "Ken Frederich" so I always forget that he had the same last name as Ken B.-they aren't related, btw) did draw most of the characters in the lineup--but he wasn't the only one to have a pass on them...hmmm...he was there before me(in fact he hired me), and he would know. So would Jeff.
Actually, Jeff has posted some of his old TTA drawings on his own blog, and isn't adverse to commenting--positively--about the series. If you do a search on his blog you can easily find them. Jeff at the very least drew turnarounds of all the characters
in the TTA lineup. I know that--because when he went up to Pixar I inherited his desk and he'd left all that original stuff behind.
I should add that Jeff P. drew the most darned cute Busters I ever did see. Really, really appealing. Then again, most of the crew was already quite seasoned(Jeff had worked on several productions before TTA, for instance)and were crackerjack draughstmen.