I'm a member of ASIFA. I've hosted the Annie Awards. I like a lot of the people involved in it. I support the organization.
But god almighty, I cannot stand the narrow, if you can't draw you don't even deserve to be a part of animation history attitude of their Archive. So... I'm tossing it out here for debate.
To see their top ten "most important topics," click on over here. There is intelligent, decent commentary, as always. Stephen Worth is a library of information about the history of this business which - even though I couldn't draw if you put a gun to my head - I love being a part of.
But, as always, there's this abject hatred of animation script writers that drives me nuts. Apparently, here was the big point for the top ten discussions about animation: #8 - Animation writing.
That being said, I'm opening it up for discussion here. And, as a dues paying member of ASIFA, I figure I can cut and paste just like everyone else. My comments will be in BOLD AND ITAL.
2007 Review: 8 Writing Cartoons
As the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive completes its second year in operation, it's time to review the accomplishments of the past year. Over the next week, I'll be posting a countdown of the ten most important subjects we've covered in 2007. See if your list matches mine. Click on the link to see more on this topic.
NUMBER 8: WRITING CARTOONS
One of the best things to happen to animation in the past few years is the growth of blogging among animation professionals. Topics that used to be discussed only in obscure trade journals or at private symposiums are now discussed publicly on the internet, where participants from all over the world can benefit from the exchange of information.
Agreed. Regardless of your opinions, it's been nice to share stories, history and information. Hey! So far, we're on the same page!
One of the principle catalysts for discussion on the net is John Kricfalusi's blog, All Kinds of Stuff. A series of John's posts on writing for animation created a wave of comment across the "blogosphere". (1)
Good god, I don't know where to start. But what the hell... lets try.
(1) Agreed. And I like John K's blog. Most of the time, it's informative. It's fun to read. Yes, everything is touched with his opinion and point of view, but the guy is talented and smart and I like to visit his blog. Besides, who's blog ISN'T touched by the bloggers P.O.V.? I'm just as guilty.
A prominent cartoon scriptwriter vehemently disagreed with John's opinion that cartoons should be written by cartoonists. (2)
(2) I have my doubts about this. I would be willing to say that "prominent cartoon script writer" (whoever it was) was more trying to make the point that there are more than one ways to write a cartoon. And if he disagreed with anything, it's the same thing I vehemently disagree with, which is that script writers have no place in animation.
Maybe that person DID say that cartoonists shouldn't write cartoons. But if he did, that makes him a moron. Okay? No animation script writer truly thinks cartoonists shouldn't be writing cartoons.
Are we clear? Can we move on?
But when he was asked to name his favorite golden age cartoon writer, the scriptwriter was unable to come up with a single name... This isn't particularly surprising because THERE WERE NO CARTOON SCRIPTWRITERS prior to 1960. (3)
(3) So what if there were no cartoon scriptwriters before 1960? What does that mean? There were no computers either. Or Wacom tablets. Or internet. Or, courtesy of the era, probably not a lot of minorities and women in positions to create cartoons either. Should we go back to that, or how about we just accept the fact that things evolve and there's more than one way to do something? Good Christ, it's like listening to my Grandfather complain about new music, children and all their "hipping and their hopping."
Many people working in animation today have very little idea of how cartoons were made in the first half century of the medium. But Walt Disney was happy to tell you how he wrote his cartoons...
...and it was the same at every other golden age animation studio...
Here's the Terry-Toons story department...
...and a "script" for an MGM Tom & Jerry cartoon...
...and a page from the "script" to Max Fleischer's Mr. Bug Goes To Town...
...and this one from Warner Bros by my pick as the greatest cartoon writer of all time, Warren Foster. Check out the link below for a complete storyboard by Foster from the pilot episode of The Yogi Bear Show.
For that, you should go to the ASIFA ARCHIVE SITE - It's their images and film, it's worth watching, and it deserves your support.
After the first of the year, I'll have some more storyboards to post.
So, to Steve, I say this:
There are people who got into cartoons because of The Simpsons, or South Park, or Family Guy. THAT is the animation writing they aspire to. That's what THEY find funny.
There are also plenty of people who got into it for Spongebob, and Ren and Stimpy, and the Flintstones and the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Hell, that's where my initial love of cartoons began.
But what *I* like in a cartoon, and what I enjoy seeing in a cartoon, is different now. It doesn't EXCLUDE the classics... but includes stuff being done right now that I think has it's own level of importance.
It doesn't make me the absolute authority on all things writing, it doesn't make me "the rightest person in the debate." But it doesn't make me wrong, either.
So I propose this to the director of my archive. Post five scripts you like. FIVE. Five scripts that were written since 1960 that you, as the director of this archive is open minded enough to look at words on a page that turned into cartoons and go "Hey, this is good enough to be recognized."
Use that encyclopedic knowledge of yours and give me some examples of scripts you think deserve to be archived as well.
Come on, man. I'm giving you 47 years of history to find five cartoons where the scripts were written first, and animated later. Give script animation writers some examples of what they can aspire to, since we're part of ASIFA as well.
I bear the Archive and it's director no ill will. And I also know, by the way, that I am WAAAAY out numbered in this discussion on the blog-o-sphere - that's simple math. The artist to writer ratio on any cartoon is heavily (and justifyably so) tilted toward artists.
But what I'm asking doesn't seem unreasonable. Can you do it? Will you even try?