Tag: hanna barbera art

Animation Artist Bob Singer: Cartoon History-Hanna Barbera and Warner Brothers Artist and his art

When the weirdest, and I’d even say craziest thing that’s happened in our lifetime happened, and a disease started sweeping the world, as an art gallery and small business owner I started thinking about how we’d weather the storm, yes, but I also considered all the artists that we work with who also survive and even thrive on selling their art to fans around the world. I also considered the wholesale companies and representatives I love, (and I don’t love them all. I love several, because they are awesome human beings). How could we help not only ourselves, but the friends and collaborators we’ve known for dozens of years? 

First up, I thought of Bob Singer. An old, brilliant, and I’d say formidable 92-year-old codger who has been part of the history of animation since the 50s. I’ve known him for over 10 years, and have had him on several of the ASIFA: Hollywood panels I’ve produced for San Diego Comic-Con. Luckily for me, for ArtInsights, and potentially for fans, we were able to get an exclusive collection of original art by this very important artist. 

(HERE IS A LINK TO ALL THE BOB SINGER ART ON ARTINSIGHTS)

Bob Singer is an animation artist, character designer, layout and background artist and storyboard director for a wide variety of shows and studios. He wound of choosing art in a sort of random way. He says, “When I was in high school, I loved art and I also loved music. When I found out I had to buy my own instrument and we couldn’t afford it, I said, ‘all right, I’ll become an artist’.”  

He graduated in 1955 from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in LA, started working in the television animation industry after spending a few years in the advertising industry. Yes, he was briefly one of those “Mad Men”. 

Starting in 1956, he worked for Marvel, U.P.A, Shamus Culhane, and Warner Brothers, and continued to take projects from nearly every studio through his career.  

It was at Hanna Barbera at which he spent the better part of 27 years of his animation career. He has worked on most of Hanna Barbera’s best shows, and you’ll see his indelible mark on The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey, Jabberjaw and so many more cartoons that continue to be loved around the world. 

He has said that his favorite tv show he has worked on is Scooby Doo. From Bob Singer himself:

“My favorite was far and away Scooby Doo. Those were some great shows that were designed in 68 and released in 69. And after so many years, it’s still running all over the world. I was part of the presentation crew that put it all together, although the characters were designed by the great Iwao Takamoto. My part was running the layouts on the show. I laid out the first Scooby.”

Bob Singer created this original graphite based on his work with Iwao Takamoto on the classic pup! We have only one original of the character from Bob’s personal collection for sale.

(how to draw Scooby Doo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWIJkAzCzgI

He was responsible for a lot of characters at Hanna Barbera, in part because he was tasked early on to start and run the character animation department. He explains:

“In the early days of animation in the 20s and 30s, most of the animators designed their own characters. At Hanna Barbera, the layout artists would be asked to create the incidental characters, like the cop, or housewife, and props like cars but they got so busy that it became a burden to the layout men, so that’s when we started the character design department. It was started with just two, and soon had 15 artists, doing all the characters for 7 different shows, making model sheets and it helped the studio run more efficiently. 

A rare original layout for the 1969 Scooby-Doo Where Are You show’s episode 16, “What a Night for a Fright” from Bob Singer’s personal collection.

everything was compressed as far as production, so sometimes we would work from a script, and other times from storyboards, but then the storyboard artists wouldn’t know what to use for incidental characters, so we’d do a quick sketch and give it to the artists to create the storyboard. Then we also had to get approval from the producer, so I’d design 3 to 5 different versions of the same character, and they’d pick one for us to draw and do turn-arounds on.”

Bob Singer also has a major soft spot for Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm, and the whole Flintstones gang, in part because Wilma reminds him of his wife Harriet, and the babies remind him of his grandchildren.

We’ve all been there. Some days we are Wilma, some days we’re Fred. This piece Bob dedicated to his wife Harriet. Wilma’s specialty is “gravelberry pie”. She eventually sold the recipe to “Safestones” grocery chain. After Pebbles grows up, Wilma starts a successful catering company with her best friend Betty.

Singer says he loves drawing them, and it gives him a feeling of connection to his fans who also have families they love, and kids who are either babies now or are all grown up but parents and grandparents remember as little kids. 

Many of the original cels we have gotten for this cyber show, which are from the later Flintstones cartoons, (as well as those from Scooby-Doo and The Jetsons), are signed by both Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. We have a lot of pieces that come with original backgrounds. When you purchase any of them, we’ll send the art to Bob Singer, and he’ll be hand-drawing a little image of Fred Flinstone, George Jetson, or Scooby-Doo. For fans and collectors, that’s a lot of cool in one place!

YOU CAN SEE ALL THE BOB SINGER ART BY CLICKING HERE.

There are so many more images available than what i’ve included in this blog. I’m sure you’d enjoy checking them out!

Basically, Bob Singer has done just about every job that relates to design, character, and background in cartoons. 

Here’s a short list of the many times shows on which he’s been a layout artist:

  • Johnny Bravo (1997-2001)
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972)
  • Scooby-Doo Where Are You? (1969-1970)
You can see a number of character designs Bob Singer was responsible for in these opening credits. He specialized in ghosts and monsters. Those were his favorite!

The theme song was written by David Mook and Ben Raleigh. Mook was a well-known jingle and theme writer, also famous for The Banana Splits and The Dating Game theme songs. Raleigh wrote hits for, among many, The Monkees, Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, and Aretha Franklin.
  • Space Ghost (1966)
  • The Man Called Flintstone (1966)
  • The Secret Squirrel Show (1965)
  • Mister Magoo (1960)

A Storyboard artist/director or story director:

  • Droopy: Master Detective (1993-1994)
  • My Little Pony ’n Friends (1986-1987)
  • Pink Panther and Sons (1984-1985)
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1970)

A design supervisor:

  • The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984)
  • The Smurfs (1981-1984)
  • SuperFriends  (1984) and Super Friends (1981-1983) World’s Greatest SuperFriends (1979)
  • The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983)
  • Pac-Man (1982-1983)
  • The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (1980-1981)
  • Laverne and Shirley in the Army (1981) **(also character designer)
  • Scooby-Doo and Scrappy Doo (1979-1980)
  • Jabberjaw (1976)

a character designer:

  • Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977-1980) 
  • Laverne and Shirley in the Army (1981)
The voices of both were Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall. and Bob worked with Dale Baer, Jane Baer, Iran Paran, and Ruben Aquino on that show!
  • Scooby’s Laff-A-Lymics (1977)
  • The All New Super Friends Hour (1977)

A production designer:

  • The Scooby-Doo / Dynomutt Hour (1976)-1978
  • The New Tom and Jerry Show (1975)
  • The Great Grape Ape Show (1975)
  • Hong Kong Phooey (1974)
  • Partridge Family 2200 AD (1974)
  • Inch High Private Eye (1973)
  • The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (1964)
  • Gay Purr-ee (1962)

a background artist:

  • The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (1978)
  • Mad as a Mars Hare (1963)
  • Mice Follies (WB Honeymooners Bob McKimson spoof in 1960)
  • Crocket Doodle Doo (WB Foghorn Leghorn/Eggbert Bob McKimson cartoon in 1960) 
  • A Witch’s Tangled Hair (1959)

The Mouse That Jack Built (1959) 

This cartoon is based on the Jack Benny show but stars all the characters as mice, with
Jack Benny himself starring in the cartoon.

So basically he’s done work on many of your favorite Hanna Barbera shows, (and a number that seem the result of protracted drug trips), and some very classic Warner Brothers cartoons!

It’s a great time to get an original by the historic artist, and the original graphites come directly from him and the cels are signed are remarqued by him with characters that are some of his favorites from his career, means you can be assured he is benefitting from the sale, and you are having an interaction with someone responsible for some of the greatest cartoons ever made. (Scooby-Doo, I’m looking at you!)

We hope you’ll take advantage of this great collection of art, and the exclusive signatures and remarques by this animation legend. If not, we hope you enjoyed learning a bit about animator Bob Singer and the crazy cartoons he had a hand in!

Spotlight on Studio Art: Buying Original and Limited Edition Animation Model Sheets

I thought today I’d talk about my very favorite kind of animation art, model sheets.  The explanation of animation model sheets, according to wikipedia:

“In animation, a model sheet, also known as a character boardcharacter sheetcharacter study or simply a study, is a document used to help standardize the appearance, poses, and gestures of an animated character. Model sheets are required when large numbers of artists are involved in the production of an animated film to help maintain continuity in characters from scene to scene, as one animator may only do one shot out of the several hundred that are required to complete an animated feature film. A character not drawn according to the production’s standardized model is referred to as off-model.

Model sheets are drawings of posed cartoon or comic strip characters that are created to provide a reference template for several artists who collaborate in the production of a lengthy or multiple-edition work of art such as a comic book, animated film or television series. Model sheets usually depict the character’s head and body as they appear at various angles (a process known as “model rotation”), includes sketches of the character’s hands and feet, and shows several basic facial expressions.

Model sheets ensure that, despite the efforts of several or many artists, their work exhibits unity, as if one artist created the drawings (that is, they are “on model”). They show the character’s structure, proportions, attire, and body language. Often, several sheets are required to depict a character’s subtler emotional and physical attitudes.”

Finding original model sheets of characters that millions of people know and love always brings me great joy.  Actually, even finding obscure model sheets from movies or characters only loved by diehard fans or super-geeky animation fans is great fun.

In my 30+ years selling animation art, I’ve sold some amazing original model sheets.

There are two I remember the most and I’m the most proud of….One was from Alice in Wonderland, of Alice.  It was the one the animators actually used, that had been photocopied and you could find the photostat versions often online.  I think it looked something like this:

I also found a great Pongo model sheet, and since he’s one of my favorite characters, I was very excited to sell that one (so don’t fall in love ;).

Over the years, I had Snow White and the dwarfs, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, The Ugly Duckling, and a bunch of various Mickey and the rest of the fab five like Donald Duck and Goofy.  In 30 years, I’ve maybe found one a year.  Partly that’s because I have always done a ton of research to know where they’ve been before they get to me, and the more popular and collectible animation art has become, the riskier buying anything you can’t trace gets.

Interestingly, not that many people are as big a fan as I am of them.  I’ve always attracted more collectors who love production cels.  But..the characters that have been seen by millions and continue to be seen are created and kept consistent through these images.  It’s a big deal!  It’s the artistry of the character design sitting there on the wall!

I’m not trying to pitch you guys to want to buy them, because I do so rarely find them.   I just want people to understand the beauty and genius behind them. We do have one right now, and it’s one of those that are cobbled together by animators who want to keep a character consistent by seeing it from every angle…but it also has more than one character on it.  Another love of mine as an animation art dealer is the art of Fantasia.  The film is a classic, of course, but it also has an artistic quality that is unique in all of of Disney history.

Here is the model sheet we’ve got right now, and actually I’m looking at it in person, because it makes me happy, especially this time of year.

Unicorn model sheet from Fantasia available at ArtInsights
Unicorn model sheet from Fantasia available at ArtInsights

There are plenty of photostat versions of model sheets for collectors who either can’t find the original, can’t afford one, or just want to collect a variety of pieces from the time that capture the art behind the films they love. For example, there are lots of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland, as many different ones as the number of characters represented in the film.

Here are just a few, so you can see how wonderful they are and how perfectly they capture less “popular” characters…

great examples of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland
Two great examples of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland

I’m toying with the idea of finding more photostat images to sell to my clients.  I didn’t use to have them or carry them, because they are some hundreds of dollars, and have been for some time, because they come from the time.

Contact the gallery if it’s something you might be interested in, because I know a bunch of old-time collectors who have them.  How wonderful would these look in someone’s office?!  Yes, they are esoteric aesthetically, but that’s what makes them work in a professional environment.  The same is true for a house that has a lot of tradition art in it.  Either original or photostat model sheets will work there when other animation might not!

For those who love Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera, there are some great images available from those studios as well.  We have an original from 1959 that’s more of a layout and a model sheet that is clearly from back when they are designing characters.  How awesome is it to know these characters hadn’t even been placed in a cartoon yet?  Fans of Quickdraw McGraw will get a kick out of that, and it’s definitely a piece of animation history.

A layout/model drawing of Hanna Barbera characters from 1959 available at ArtInsights
A layout/model drawing of Hanna Barbera characters from 1959 available at ArtInsights

Here are some limited editions with Tom and Jerry,Wile. E. Coyote and Roadrunner, and the gang from Scooby Doo.  The designs for Tom and Jerry are particularly interesting, given they were created while Hanna and Barbera were at MGM and the duo won seven Oscars and were nominated for another 7!  To put things in proper perspective, Bugs won only one Oscar!!

A limited edition of an early model of Tom and Jerry available from ArtInsights
A limited edition of an early model of Tom and Jerry available from ArtInsights

The Mystery Machine Gang and Scooby Doo Model Sheet available at ArtInsights
The Mystery Machine Gang and Scooby Doo Model Sheet available at ArtInsights

A limited edition based on a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner model sheet available at ArtInsights
A limited edition based on a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner model sheet available at ArtInsights

These do a great job of mixing the artistry behind the characters and the color and pop of production cels.  Again, they show the brain behind the movement and characterization of these classic cartoons, but in the above images you also get the color, hand-painted cel so many collectors want.

What it comes down to for me, is model sheets really represent the history behind animation.  They show our favorite characters in positions and doing things that sometimes they haven’t even done yet in a cartoon. They also capture just how talented not only the character animators are, but also those working with them who have to stay on model regardless of what is happening in their scenes.  There is so much skill, discipline and artistry in animation.  There’s no greater example of that than in animation model sheets.

If any of you collectors or animators have any great images, put them in the comments or email them to me, I always love seeing them!