Thursday, August 5, 2010

Days of DuckTales PART 1

A color rough I did as a suggestion during the series Mike Peraza
Michael Webster, was an animation veteran from Quartet Films, Hanna Barbera, Murakami Wolf Films, Leo Burnett Advertising and Rankin Bass but when he answered the call to join Disney Studios, animation history was in the making. In 1984, CEO Michael Eisner created the Walt Disney Television Animation division and placed Michael Webster in charge to oversee the production of its programing with help from Production Manager Olivia Miner. Apparently Michael Eisner's son had one heck of a sweet tooth for a specific candy and so "Gummi Bears" was quickly put into development before he got a tummy ache. The small but extremely talented staff included Producer Art Vitello, Layout Ed Wexler and BG Painter Gary Eggleston and Thom Enriquez doing storyboards. This crew was really sharp. The studio asked me to help out with the launch so I did some promotional art under Art's able supervision to be used in spots like TV Guide and Disney veteran Ken Anderson whom the studio also roped in contributed his usual great design eye for Gummi Glen. Of the two early series that the fledgling department produced, "Adventures of the Gummi Bears" and "Wuzzles", only Gummi Bears became a success and subsequently aired on NBC for four seasons. Disney Fine Art. Disney Afternoon.

1 of over 600 key layouts I designed
Two years sped by and I was working for Ross and Jan Bagdasarian on their first full length animated feature, "The Chipmunk Adventure" when I got a call from a friend at Disney TV Animation. They were doing a pitch for a new show called, "Fluppy Dogs". I worked on it because the person who was in charge was Brad Landreth, one of the nicest people in animation. I also did it for the money which was very good. Unfortunately the plot was a little insipid, they were "not actual dogs, they just looked like dogs" and because of that, they were escorted  to a dog pound. These "dog-like" creatures used a "fluppy crystal key" to open inter-dimensional doorways to their lame adventures. Umm... yeah, that was the setup. It wasn't Brad's fault, not mind either, just another less than terrific idea for an animated series donated by the suit factory. Oh yeah, almost forgot, they were each a different color, like Teletubbies or any other the other endless parade of rainbow hued character gangs substituted for children's programming.
"Back to the Klondike" key setup

I did some concept art and storyboarded the opening sequence that was used as presentation art to help greenlight the project.  Fortunately for the children of the world this stinker bombed and was never heard of again, at least not in our inter-dimensional portal. 

I kept working on the chipmunk feature doing boards and concepts alongside my good friend and amazing artist Dan Haskett when I was once again contacted by Disney TV. They were going to do a new series based on Carl Barks' famous creation Uncle Scrooge. They were still "negotiating" with the main studio whether Donald could be a part of it but the nephews were on board already. Yes, Disney was and is very protective of its stars. Maybe they had seen Fluppy Dogs? Nevertheless, being a comic book collector and fan, I had also met Carl a few years earlier (Great guy!) and I was ecstatic at the possibilities of putting his genius on the screen. My "Fluppy" friend Brad was heading it up as Art Director and when they asked if I was interested, I couldn't quack YES fast enough. The artwork posted here I didn't know I even had as I thought I had thrown out most of that stuff many years ago. My wife Patty  found the ones that are shown here in some boxes filled with animation memories in our garage and looking back, I'm glad I didn't toss them.

7 comments:

  1. "or any other the other endless parade of rainbow hued character gangs substituted for children's programming." Sigh...

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holy mazoola, I'd completely forgot about Fluppy Dogs! Yipes! Anyway, what a great site! Thanks so much for posting this history. We need to have lunch soon and laugh about this stuff. Best, Jymn Magon

    ReplyDelete
  3. Postscript to previous comment... "I'd completely forgotTEN..." or "*I* completely forgot..." Take yer pick.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jymn, welcome aboard. Hey how could anyone forget "Fluppy Dogs"?

    I know I've tried...

    -Mike

    ReplyDelete
  5. I did like Fluppy Dogs :D
    Nice text and nice artwork, whuld love to see more of this, also whuld love to see some artwork from Fluppy Dogs.
    take care!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mike, I know this open letter is coming soooo late as you've posted this Days of Ducktales article three years ago, but as a diehard fan, I've seriously looked off-and-on for the better part of the last decade on SOMETHING relating to the behind-the-scenes workings of this much beloved series. Sadly, I found nothing...until recently! Thanks to your involvement with the new Wayforward Ducktales Remastered game & director, Austin Ivansmith's mentioning of your blog, I was able to finally soothe my hankering.

    Personally, I think it's criminal how Disney just shoveled this show out onto DVD (which still remains incomplete by the way) without so much as a ten-minute featurette [preferably MUCH longer] on the team that helped bring Carl Barks' classic comic to life on our TV screens. I mean, this series was--and still is--one of their most successful, enduring, & important projects outside of the classic feature-length movies like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, etc.; definitely on par with that traditional, heartfelt Walt Disney sensibility.

    Long ago, I unofficially christened that mid-80's/early 90's period as the second golden age of animation thanks in part to your work! It's all too apparent that the Disney of the last decade or so is not the same company of that era which brought us other favorites like The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Wuzzles, Gummi Bears, etc. You know, quality-driven content.(--and trust, I'm not just saying that with nostalgia goggles on. I can point to specific episodes!)

    As a kid, I enjoyed Ducktales for what it was; a great show. As an adult, I still enjoy watching this series (which amazingly still holds up!) & I've loved sharing it with my nieces & nephews, but I also wanted to know so much more about it. This site is just what I've been looking for! Your character/background designs, the work of Gary Eggleston, Paro Hozumi, (etc.), the writing of Jymn Magon, Mark Zaslove, Bruce Talkington, & others, the incredible voice talents of Alan Young, Russi Taylor, Joan Gerber, Terence McGovern, (etc.) & Ron Jones' phenomenal score delivered on so many levels one of the greatest gifts to my generation. If you hear this from no one else, I just personally wanted to say, "Thank You."

    Hopefully with the success of the video game Disney will open its vaults so we [the fans] can get a comprehensive look at what it took to make this show the magical experience it became. (I won't hold my breath)--But for now, your site will suffice. Again, sincerest thanks! :)

    -Andrew Stewart/ #DucktalesFan4Life!
    Beaufort, SC

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Andrew. It was as an amazing series to work on as it was to watch, and when I meet people like you that not only enjoyed the show but take the time to write to let us know it really makes my day. Obviously you truly are a "fan 4 Life!"

    ReplyDelete