Thursday, March 20, 2014

The buddy films and character design of Hanna-Barbera

Article by Ty Hulse

Perhaps with the exception of Disney few animators have had as big an impact as Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

Yes Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, and others created wonderful and funny animations, but their animations didn't transform the industry in the way Hanna-Barbera's films did. From the first purely animated television show "Huckleberry Hound," to one of the longest Running TV series "Scooby-Doo," Hanna Barbera created the method of limited animation necessary to bring the costs down for TV and now the internet as well.

More than this they created methods of story telling which transformed the industry as well. In fact I believe one of the biggest reasons for their continued success similar to Pixars success. That is the use of "buddy's" as the focus of most of their stories.

No matter how dicey things got Scooby and Shaggy
always found time to eat a good meal.

People like wacky and strange friendships, and character connections. Perhaps because so many of us are looking for solid connections in our own lives. This was contrasted in many ways with "Loony Toons" which was purely gag based. While such wacky gag based animation can be wonderful, and in the case of the Loony Toons, often better then many of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, they are harder to write. It's far easier to develop hundreds of 20+ minute "Scooby-Doo" episodes, along with movies, than it is to do the same with Bugs Bunny, and in order to make feature length movies Loony Toons have always transformed the relationship of the characters to some extent. Further it's proven easier to keep a series like "Scooby-Doo" running for a longer period of time.

Because of the "Limited" nature of their animations, the way the characters moved and were drawn had to be carefully controlled. A single line out of place would quickly be noticed, and could change the characters apparent mood and personality. Further, the movements had to be controlled in a way that would be accepted by the audience, and with so little frame, each one counted.

This is the first animation Hanna directed by himself, though he still did it as part of a larger studio. It's interesting to see what artists will come up with when they strike out in partnership with other artists, as opposed to being employed by a production company.