Monday, October 26, 2015

Life at the Jay Ward studio, as seen by Bill Scott, part 5


Jay Ward and Bill Scott, starting with nothing more than an idea for a single series, built a scrappy little independent animation studio from virtually nothing. And with fortuitous timing, they sold their pilot, Rocky The Flying Squirrel, to a major corporate sponsor, General Mills, as a series.  The future looked bright but, as they soon discovered, there was a dark side to the good news.

Through more chicanery than I can list here*, the duo was backed into a corner by General Mill's agency, D-F-S, and forced to produce the show for about half of a comparable Hanna-Barbera series, do the work in a foreign country where much of the staff lacked production experience, find talent to fly there and oversee the work, locate Hollywood animation talent to shore up the ragged edges, fight off constant agency meddling and deal with indifferent broadcasters (ABC and NBC).


It's no wonder that there were days when they felt they carried the weight of the world on their shoulders.  Just how much they felt that way became apparent when I discovered the cache of Bill Scott's gag cartoons.  Success was never guaranteed and they both knew it; the fledgling enterprise could have failed at any time.


Harmon-Tichton Studios was a producer of animated industrials & commercials.
Before 24 hour networks, TV animation was a largely cyclical business where animation talent would experience at least a 3 month hiatus while waiting for the networks to decide which shows would be chosen and/or renewed for the coming Fall season.  That maddening indecision was equally hard on the show's producers, which Bill Scott memorialized in the cartoons below.


Hanna-Barbera (The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Flintstones) and TV Spots (King Leonardo and His Loyal Subjects, Calvin and the Colonel) were two of Ward's chief competitors.

*I touch on that chicanery in The Art of Jay Ward Productions but for a more in-depth view, see The Moose That Roared by Keith Scott.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Anyone who uses the word 'chicanery' in a blog post is okay in my book!! More fascinating stuff, Darrell. Funny how 55 years later, not a lot has changed in the animation business....except there are less 'gag cartoons'. Keep these coming!! Love them all!

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