ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.02 - MAY 2000

Sody Pop Rides the Carousel: A Tale of Two Independents
(continued from page 1)

Kricfalusi received some of his early training on The Jetsons. Courtesy of Cartoon Network. © Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.

The Road Less Traveled
There was a very good chance that Hubley and Kricfalusi could have spent their careers working at Disney and the Saturday Morning mainstream respectively, but both came to feel restricted, even cheated, by their lot in animation. Hubley became part of (and quite possibly led) a group of artists at Disney who became fed up with the traditions of literalism and sentimental representation that were the studio’s stock-in-trade right down to the musical scores. Hubley also hated the repressive political atmosphere at the studio, where personnel were discreetly but strongly urged to vote for Walt’s candidates of choice during elections. Hubley felt that he was stagnating, and when a divisive labor strike hit Disney in 1941 he departed for United Productions of America.

Hubley served as art director on Bambi before leaving Disney. © Walt Disney Pictures.

Kricfalusi, for his part, began as a Disney admirer but admitted that, "As I got older I rebelled against Disney -- I started realizing how insipid they were." He spent years working on various animated shows until the experience soured him. He attested that his resume included "some of the world’s crappiest cartoons," and when asked about those years in an interview Kricfalusi replied: "I hate even talking about the state that animation was in. We all know it, everyone’s written about it, it’s depressing." Kricfalusi, too, was stagnating and this dissatisfaction would lead him into a fruitful middle period, just as the move to UPA would for Hubley. (Both artists would not fully realize their talents and come into prominence until they were over the age of thirty-five.)

Meanwhile, both men had identified the individuals who would serve as their inspirations: For Hubley it would be the legendary Canadian animator Norman McLaren. Kricfalusi chose Bob Clampett, arguably one of the greatest animators and directors to come out of the Warner Bros. studio, as his mentor. Hubley’s "middle period" was spent at UPA where he spearheaded a stylistic revolution in animation that spread around the globe. Hubley turned to the conventions of modern art and graphics that he loved, and proved along with his colleagues that there was an alternative style to Disney.

Kricfalusi spent his "middle period" attempting to revitalize two series which had been out of production since his childhood. When Ralph Bakshi hired Kricfalusi to help bring Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures to CBS in 1987, Kricfalusi was allowed to start a revolution of his own -- an experiment in creator-driven animation. Basically, this meant that Kricfalusi was in creative control of virtually every aspect of his cartoon, free to style his own dialogue, gags and mise-en-scene just as Clampett had done decades before. It also meant that no scriptwriters were used; they were frequently the object of Kricfalusi’s contempt since few (if any) could actually animate or even draw. Kricfalusi continued this crusade into his next series, a 1988 revival of Bob Clampett’s own Beany and Cecil series...and of course, into The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991).

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