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'Tom Terrific' 1958 Production Plan

Terrytoons. Here was my locale that most interests the animation historians. So now I finally have the chance to tell it like it really was. I name names all the names, and print the pix. And all the production details about Tom Terrific. I tell you what I did and what I tried to do a "renaissance" a total make over... and I tell you why it failed.

An excerpt from Gene Deitch's book, How To Succeed In Animation (Don't Let A Little Thing Like Failure Stop You!).

Here is a faithful reproduction of the surviving actual production notes for the second series of Tom Terrific, as issued by me in March, 1958


I. General

The entire Tom Terrific project will operate on a Production Line basis in order to achieve a unity of style and a maximum output. Ralph Sancier will act as over-all production coordinator, reporting to Sparky.

II. Elements The TT Project will consist of thirteen complete stories to be presented in two versions each:

Version I consists of five daily episodes. (called the DAILY VERSION)

Version II consists of the complete story in two parts.(SATURDAY VERSION)

The daily episodes will be constructed as follows:





Standard Title




Standard Song


30" 30"


05" +



Story 2:15 2:00 2:00





15" (Std Preview)


Std End Title




Total Length:

3:35 3:35


+Story title and fanfare only*Includes "teaser" title

Monday's title will name story butNOT "Chapter I"

The Saturday version will be constructed like so:



Standard Title


.....Standard Song


Story Title Card


(Monday's Title)

Mon-Tue-Wed Story


Wed Preview


Black Leader

Part I total 7:20


Thurs Recap


Thu-Fri Story


Std Fri Preview


Part II total 4:50

Std End Title


TOTAL 12:10


Tom Morrison will be the overall story and sound track director. The story ideas and basic plots will be worked as a matter of group dis- cussions with the entire story department. The plots will then be developed in detail by Larz Bourne and Eli Bauer. Final dialogue will be added by Jules Feiffer. Recaps and Previews must be written in proper sequence,and the correct action and repeat scenes added. (Wed Preview and Thur Recap should refer to "NEXT PART" and "FIRST PART")

Tom Morrison will time the final scripts and turn them over to Phil Scheib for the building of the music-efx cue track. (This should be limited to a single tape.) George McAvoy will handle the technical aspect of this phase. TT stories will, as in the past series, be developed in script form only The scripts will be typed and dittoed* by Adele Teitell. Copies will be dispatched to Bill Weiss, Newt Schwin, Herb Carlborg (CBS continuity acceptance), Ed Friendly, Bob Keeshan, Frank Schudde and me. Adele will also build and maintain a script file. Tom Morrison will hold the balance of the working scripts, and will see that they are kept up to date with all revisions. He will deliver the scripts to the assigned Animation Directors. *30 Copies


Lionel Wilson will, as in the past, perform all the voices for the TT pictures. Music has been composed by Phil Scheib, Phil and George McAvoy will prepare a quarter-inch tape Music-efx cue track from scripts marked as to timing by Tom Morrison. The voice will be added by our "Live-Tape Mix" method. All Recap and Preview narration should be recorded in proper sequence and the entire track should be spliced together as indicated by the chart on Page 3, before the tape is transferred to 35mm. I want the exp sheets to read continuously, including the Recaps and Previews and the episodes' Title Cards. Lionel Wilson will Read all titles at beginning of recap, and at end of preview. The final ten seconds (approx.) of the Recap should consist of a dub from the end of the previous episode. Here is the detail chart of a typical (Tues-Wed-Thur) Daily episode sound tape ready to transfer:

Here is a Monday tape:

And a Friday:

V. Layout & BG.

As an adjunct to the regular layouts by the animation directors, there will be two special layout functions:

Larz Bourne will prepare, based on his familiarity with the stories, a special set of standard, all-purpose lay-outs including close-up lip-sync and reaction shots, walks, runs, standard poses, etc. These will be numbered, duplicated, and a set handed out to each animation director. Eli Bauer will be the over-all stylist of the series. He will design all backgrounds, working over the rough indication layouts made by the Animation Directors. He and Larz together will develop any new character models needed.

Each production will be filmed in sequence, without slates for individual scenes or sections. The attempt will be to edit as we go. The Recaps and Previews will be shot in their proper places at the beginning and end of each Daily episode.

E.G.: When the cameraman reaches the end of an episode, the sheets will indicate the scenes used in the preview. The exact section or sections of that scene will have been selected and marked on the sheets by the AD, The camera man will shoot only the marked sections as indicated, using the called-for scenes in proper order and without slates. He will then slate the Recap for the next episode, shoot the selected scene sections and immediately go into the up-coming episode, without slating.

Sadly, there are two lost pages of these production notes, which covered the animation, inking, and painting. I was encouraging stronger animation, and for this second series, going for white opaquing of the characters. Brush inking was used throughout on Tom Terrific. -GD

IX. Editing

The Film Editor of TT will be assigned on the basis of commercial work in the studio at the tame. If the plan, as developed so far in this outline is followed carefully, the editing job will be much less staggering than it was in the original batch.

The editor, after cutting out the NG frames, will need only join the Standard Openings and Closings to complete the episodes. The Title Cards for the beginning of each episode will be the first shot of each Recap. The Teaser card will be the last shot of each preview. Here is a chart of the film continuity for a daily episode:

The Saturday version will be made up by REMOVING (from a dupe) the Recap-Preview material not needed and by setting up two sections, like so:

Title Director  

The Missing Mail Mystery Isotope Feeny's Foolish Fog Moon Over Manfred The Prince Frog Go West Young Manfred The Million Manfred Mystery The Flying Sorcerer The Silly Sandman The Big Dog Show-Off The Everlasting Birthday Party

Rasinski Tendlar Davis Gent Bourne

Crabby Park The End of Rainbows Robin's Nest Crusoe

Only the first five episodes had assigned directors when these notes were written. I have no surviving records of the directors of the remaining episodes. - GD

To read more about the production of these classics visit Gene's online book now.

Gene Deitch is one of the last surviving members of the original Hollywood UPA studio of 1946 and the instigator of the CBS-Terrytoon "renaissance" of 1956-1958. He was also: Animation Department Chief of the Detroit Jam Handy Organization, 1949-1951, Creative Chief of UPA-New York, 1951-1954, Director at John Hubley's Storyboard, Inc., New York, 1955, President of Gene Deitch Associates, Inc., New York, 1958-1960, Creative Director for Rembrandt Films, 1960-1968, and star director for Weston Woods Studios, Inc., Weston, Connecticut, 1968-1993. He has worked for over 40 years with the Prague animation studio, "Bratri v Triku."