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Ive been reading a lot about Clampett and Jones recently and have found out that Jones felt rather negatively towards Clampett. This struck me as being rather strange. Out of sheer interest i tried to find out the cause of the apparent animosity but was unable to find any. Can anyone shed some light on this subject.
Also, who do you prefer Clampett or Jones. Its a difficult one but i believe Clampett is the winner for me
Very good topic.
There's always been some level of animosity between artists in animation. It's human nature. Wherever you go, whoever or whatever you're dealing with, you'll find it at some level.
Case in point, this story about the great Ed Benedict. The article was published on Animation magazine's site just yesterday. here it is in its entirety and I'll include the photo of Ed they included.
Ed Benedict and the Cartoon Revolution
August 18, 2011 by Michael Mallory
The recent release of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh illustrates just how much the look of animation has changed over the past twenty years. Today, of course, we regard such changes as being matters of dimension: two-dimensional, hand-drawn (like Pooh) as opposed to three-dimensional, digital imagery (like damn near everything else).
However, an equally revolutionary change in the look of American animation occurred in the post-war years, with the development of the angular, abstract, UPA style. Interestingly, the spread of that graphic style to other studios came not from a UPA artist, but rather a veteran animator who admired the studio but never worked there: Ed Benedict.
In the case of the Tex Avery cartoon unit at MGM, which Benedict joined in 1952 as a layout man and character designer, the shift did not come easily. “They all hated UPA,” Ed told me in 1992. “They said: ‘It came from another world, and it should go back there!’ They hated it, but I thought it was terrific.”
Ed went on to say that his artistic vision did not endear him to the animation staff:
“I don’t think most of the guys over there liked me. I don’t know that they disliked me, but I don’t think they liked the idea of my being there, because I shot down their easy street. Prior to me, Tex didn’t have what you’d call a layout man. He had an old guy out in the back of the place, in the background room, a guy by the name of [Johnny] Johnson. He’d been painting his backgrounds for years back there, the same stuff over and over and over again. But there was no laying out. The animators would make the models in accordance with the rough scribbles that Tex would make. But he wanted me to rehash them more in the contemporary style. I got the feeling they [the animators] didn’t like me so much because now I was making them work. The characters that I designed…they weren’t accustomed to that kind of drawing, those kinds of hands and feet and eyes, which were sometimes on the same side of the head. I couldn’t go completely UPA-ish, because Tex’s gags wouldn’t allow it. His gags were still the old style of stuff. But the animators were accustomed to the jowlish, bulb-nosed, pudgy type of characters, and I had to sharpen some of the corners. So it was a little difficult.”
Of course, a few years later Ed’s style would prove invaluable to a couple other MGM employees, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who were forced to constrict their cartoon style to TV. Ironically, it was now Benedict himself who had some reservations. “Some of the [television] things I liked, and some I didn’t,” he told me in another interview in 1998. “But I did an awful lot of stuff, and you get a little bit squirmy trying to find a new way to make a nose.”
As far as a preference for Chuck Jones or Bob Clampett, based entirely upon their work, it's impossible to choose. They both have qualities that make them legendary talents.
As for bad feelings between them go, I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was some unpleasantness. So I did some research and here what I found on Wikipedia...
Though Clampett's contribution to the Warner Brothers animation legacy was considerable and inarguable, he has been criticized by his peers as "a shameless self-promoter who provoked the wrath of his former Warner's colleagues in later years, for allegedly claiming credit for ideas which were not his." Chuck Jones particularly disliked Clampett, and made no mention of his association with him in either his 1979 compilation film The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (in which Jones lists himself and other Warners directors) or his 1989 autobiography Chuck Amuck. Some of this animosity appears to have come from Clampett's perceived "golden boy" status at the studio (Clampett's mother was said to be a close friend of cartoon producer Leon Schlesinger), which allowed him to ignore studio rules that everyone else were expected to follow. In addition, Mel Blanc (the great voice actor who had worked with Clampett at the same studio for ten years) also accused Clampett of being an "egotist who took credit for everything."
Beginning with a magazine article in 1946, shortly after he left the studio, and increasing as years went on, Clampett repeatedly referred to himself as "the creator" of Bugs Bunny, often adding the side-note that he used Clark Gable's carrot-eating scene in It Happened One Night as inspiration for his "creation." However, a viewing of the early Bugs cartoons of the late 1930s and early 1940s clearly demonstrates that the character was not "created" as a whole at one time, but rather evolved in terms of personality, voice, and design over several years through the efforts of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Cal Dalton and Ben "Bugs" Hardaway, Robert McKimson, Sr., and Mel Blanc, in addition to Clampett's contributions.
In the 1979 compilation feature film The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, Clampett is not mentioned when Bugs Bunny refers to his "several fathers." As the feature was compiled by Jones (along with Friz Freleng), the complete omission of Clampett is not surprising. (The other two directorial fathers Bugs claims to have had are Avery, who directed A Wild Hare, his first official short, and McKimson, who is the least known of the three best-known Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies directors, but drew the definitive Bugs Bunny model sheet. Depending on the source, number one could be either Jones or Freleng.)
Animator and cartoon historian Milton Gray, who was a friend of Clampett, has disputed several of Jones's claims about Clampett, attributing them to jealousy. He goes on to say that much of the credit Clampett took was deserved, since he was instrumental in ensuring the early success of Warner Bros. studios.
Other Warner Bros. peers such as musical co-ordinator Carl Stalling stood by Clampett during his talks on the cartoon industry in the 1960s and 1970s.
Here's the link:
So there ya go archie1st. Hope that answers some questions concerning the issue. Thanks for bringing this up. We learned something new because of you.
That's awesome Charles thanks. Its a shame to think Jones and Clampett didn't see eye to eye.
I've read elsewhere (this is from a while a back and im running off what i can remember here) that Clampett believed Jones was pompous and a bit full of himself. How truthful this is im not sure.
There seems to be a similar sort of tension between John Kricfalusi and Bob Camp. Again both great animators who seem to recognize each others talents but at times have spoken rather aggressively about each other. Again, a real shame, as they made great shows together.
Kricfalusi as far as i know knew Clampett and he himself seems to be very self-opinionated and has taken credit for things such as "Changing the industry" I wonder if its a connection.
Here's the way I see it.
If there was a legacy of contention and bad feelings between Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett, it was magnified many times over with the emergence of Spumco and the aftermath of Ren and Stmpy. Not just between individuals, but among the community in general.
Ren and Stimpy was a ground breaking cartoon and it did change the industry on a couple of levels. The first one was on a creative level, the second on a kind of social level I'd say.
And although the cartoon was very significant for its time and even today, so was Bruce Timm's Batman for WB. I was more impressed with what Bruce was doing with redefining the action adventure cartoon back then. His influence has been profound, and he was never fired from his own show. Although he was working with a pre-existing property, he really went in a whole new direction with his approach to the cartoon. Bruce is a very popular artist and one of the most talented individuals I've ever worked with or known. What he did with Batman should be addressed at a historical level, but it's not nearly as much as Ren and Stimpy. Reason being in part I think, is that the Spumco community did a great job of spreading out into the areas of animation critical thought and commentary as well as in becoming gatekeepers so to speak of animation historical opinion.
Sites like Cartoonbrew and organizations like ASIFA-Hollywood whose Animation Archive is headed up by one of the biggest Spumco cheerleaders in the community. Add to that a cult of personality that has emerged around John K and you have a widely biased slant towards anything Spumco that is backed up by historians, critics and archivists who come directly from the group in one way or another. Thus, a good cartoon becomes a great cartoon. Or a great cartoon becomes the greatest cartoon of all time that surpasses Disney's Pinocchio. It's blown out of proportion by a propaganda machine that has never ceased to pump out this stuff in two decades, that stems directly from Spumco itself.
Add to that the animosity that Spumco has contributed to the community towards anyone that disagrees with their view of things or puts it into a balanced historical perspective and you wind up with a divided community. To me, that's certainly among their greatest contributions to animation. The fact that we have some of the most opinionated, biased and downright hateful people I've ever seen in this biz trying to control the way people think. Not just in terms of critique, but on a personal level as well. It all becomes personal.
What this has done is helped to create an atmosphere of divisiveness greater than at any time in animation. Like the feud between John K and Bob Camp, one side has ostracized the other. Say something that the John K Spumco crowd has an issue with and watch and see how many of their people come out of the woodwork to get the spin straight or to go on the attack.
It originates from egoic thinking and insecurity. Thus the attitudes. Let the cartoon and the creative legacy of Spumco stand on its own without force feeding it on people. Opinions are not facts. Twenty years have passed. They don't need to impose its place in history or the contributions their studio made to animation. It's there for all to see.
Very interesting. This is incredibly insightful information Charles.
So do you believe cartoons such as Batman, Ren and Stimpy and the New Adventures of Mighty Mouse actually caused a shift in the industry?
From what ive read this is why these cartoons are regarded as being so successful as they created a real change in the way animation was being made at that time.
The early 80s as far as im aware was very rigid and all based on pre existing properties while many of the cartoons that sprung up in the 90s were new ideas. Dexters Lab, Cow and Chicken, The Powerpuff Girls etc.
Were these because of the success of cartoons such as Batman and Ren and Stimpy?
The cartoons you mentioned didn't cause the shift. The shift was happening before they came along. They were a manifestation of the shift. The success of the cartoons kept it going, but it wasn't necessarily because of these specific cartoons that the shift happened.
The way that animation evolved in the 1980s is that corporations realized they could create and produce their own character based properties, pay for production, buy air time and broadcast their shows. This was made possible by the deregulation of advertising time in children's entertainment in 1984, that allowed broadcasters and toy makers to get away with what would normally be seen as a blatant conflict of interest. It was a very unethical and corrupt system. Animation producers here in LA didn't care because it was money for them. The networks didn't care because they could sell airtime straight away. Corporations were happy because not only were they able to sell their toys and products through these commercials disguised as shows, they got the advertising time as well so they could sell that time to other companies looking to place commercial spots on those shows.
Even though people in animation were working, mostly in the TV area because of all of this activity, it nurtured a tremendous amount of creative frustration. We knew we could produce better shows than the crap that was coming to us from toy companies but virtually the entire industry sold out. The system imploded in 1987 when there just wasn't enough room on the airwaves for these cartoons anymore, and there wasn't enough space on toy store shelves for all of the action figure and toy based TV shows that were out. Plus, by that time the public figured out what was going on.
The nail in the coffin came in 1988/89 when parental activist groups and US Government got involved. The Childrens Television Act of 1990 forced broadcasters to abandon toy based cartoons and air original content once again. It was the re-regulation of children's TV that made the shift possible.
Very few people are aware of this, but I was working behind the scenes with people who were in direct communication with Senator Markey from Massachusetts who was spearheading the move to save kids TV. I was supplying the US Government the documentation they needed to prove conclusively how toy companies were controlling childrens television. I did it by saving correspondence I received from Tonka Toys during the production of "The Spiral Zone" in 1986/87 and afterwards sending it to Washington DC. I was the Art Director on that series and put the crew together that got the show funded. It was one of the last toy based cartoons of the era. Without the evidence I provided for the congressional investigation, the climate for the cartoons that followed might not have been around.
I don't talk about this much. I've pretty much kept it to myself. It's a part of animation history that historians aren't aware of. The shift happened through a combination of market saturation and government intervention that opened the door for a creative explosion in animated shows for TV that still continues to this day.
There were other shows that were significant during this time and should be recognized. "Pinky and the Brain" was for me, one of the funniest cartoons I had ever seen up until that point. Nothing had me laughing as much as this series. It was part of WB's Animaniacs TV show that included several different properties in a half hour daily broadcast.
Also, Aeon Flux was very different and a real departure from what anyone else was doing, and launched the Liquid TV aspect of MTV.
We tend to forget about The Simpsons as well, a huge groundbreaking primetime series that predated everything else we've mentioned so far. It got started in the late 1980s as part of the Tracey Ulman Show, little 20 second animated spots that turned into their own phenomenon. To this day the series is still in production and one of the most successful TV shows in history.
Beavus and Butthead also developed new territory.
There was a lot happening back then and all the successes were stoking the further expansion of animation, especially in the areas of original content. It was a relief after years of being stifled by the toy industry and corporate merchandise based cartoons.
In features, one of the most influential films of the decade of the 1980s was Steven Spielberg's An American Tail, followed up by the huge success of Roger Rabbit. These movies were instrumental in convincing the industry that original content sells.
All of this helped fuel the Second Golden Age, and along with it came creative competition, and in some cases, bad feelings between artists as there would be in any environment where there's so much talent. Overall, people got along and still do to this day for the most part, but there's some areas of the biz where controversy creates contention. With the advent of the Internet and all the chatter that goes on, sometimes it's made worse but in general most artists are cool. I think people are learning from the past, and are discovering that you can have a better career by being respectful, objective and friendly instead of battling with each other all the time.
There was another animated show that contributed to the shift that isn't mentioned much but made a big impact at the time.
Family Dog was an episode of Steven Spielberg's weekly primetime TV show Amazing Stories. Written by Brad Bird, designed by Tim Burton, animated by what would become an all star cast of talent, it made a genuine impact in the course that animation would take. It aired in 1987 and was later a series of its own. You hardly saw any made for TV animation in those days during primetime. It was a real departure and a gamble. Steven Spielberg made a gigantic impact in the resurgence of animation in the 1980s. Family Dog was his foray into TV animation. It was an amazingly good cartoon that made history.
9 posts • Page 1 of 1