Friday, 31 May 2013

Deputy Dawg

Admittedly as a nipper, I knew very little of the Terrytoons shorts, only when they used to air during lunchtimes or after-school (before there was even a YouTube of which to find the originals online). The earliest sources I had then were from a handful of VHS cassettes - which included Filmation's Heckle and Jeckle (and the awful Quackula), Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse: the New Adventures, and then this guy;
Out of the three mentioned, Deputy Dawg has remained a personal favourite. Even as a made-for-TV star, everything about this series worked: The voices by Dayton Allen, the ol' Southern scores by Phil Scheib, and the hilarious writing by Larz Bourne (who had previously written for Famous Studios, and would later contribute story ideas for DePatie-Freleng and Hanna-Barbera). Even the animation, while still limited, had that extra "pep" that Hanna-Barbera seemed to have lost around the time D.D came along in the mid '60s.

It's still a great surprise that, while so many often recall this show, no one has thought of putting it to DVD yet. There's obviously big demand going by the vast amount of episodes that keep popping up online. Sure, busybodies are going to worry of the stereotypic Southerners causing offence - heck to that, it's small potatoes these days than what Fox's Family Guy cut-outs have been doing on a regular basis.

In fact, if it hadn't been for ol' Deputy Dawg, Ralph Bakshi may never have gotten his big break by starting out here as an inbetweener - nor would the Astronut (an unusual regular in the series) have earned a spin-off series of his own overtime.

So, t'would be nice to see the episodes below restored and uncut for ev'rybody to see again. If anyone still feels that this would "offend" people, do us a favour: don't watch and don't complain. Simple as.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Johnson and Friends

As with America, quite a number of Australian shows have made it across the pond to the United Kingdom, some which I, among others, still recall from old - Round the Twist, Blinky Bill, Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table - but this series especially has left a nice impact with fans.

Produced by Film Australia, Johnson and Friends was created and written by John Patterson, running for a steady seven seasons between 1991 to 1996. While Pixar's Toy Story was still being developed as a feature-length, and CGI would forever change the image of animation for both theatres and television, the charm of Johnson and Friends was in the impressive costumes, designed by Caroline Jones, and the large-scale bedroom set where all of the stories were based - each chock-a-blocked with gentle imagination and memorable characters for its young audience.
All Friends Together!
The series centred on every child's dream: of how their toys would come to life when alone. Set in Michael's Bedroom, the Storyteller (Paul Bertram) first introduced viewers to Johnson the toy elephant (voiced by Garry Scale) and his humble Beginnings of finding a friend. By the end of the first episode, he made two - McDuff the cheerful concertina (Katrina Sedgwick) and Diesel (no relation) the noisy truck (Doug Scroope). Later on, Patterson would introduce fans to Alfred the grumpy hot water bottle (Peter Brownie), Squeaky the little robot (Sarah Boddy) and Michael's Sister's toy dinosaur, Victoria (Elizabeth Easther).

As with many great kid's shows of its time, it was written with entertainment first, morals second - dealing with various subjects such as sharing, kindness, facing fears and even the valuable lesson of too much television.

It's been one of ABC's most memorable shows, which saw it aired later on Fox Clubhouse in America and UK Living in the UK via satellite. Whether the old VHS cassettes or DVDs still exist after so long, it's a nice reminder of how well kid's TV was brought to life before computer generated animation became as widespread as it has now.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Avenger Penguins

Avenger Penguins may seem like an unabashed parody of Biker Mice From Mars, but that was the beauty of Cosgrove Hall - they had the ability to poke fun at the latest "fads" going on in America with a slight British spin on them in the humour dept.

This 1993 series focused on Marlon, Bluey and Rocky, a trio of bike-riding penguins who protected Big City (no relation ;-) ) from the evil mastermind Caractacus. P Doom with whatever creature he was able to create from the Monstertron.

It really is a mad little show, but in a good way. There's no end to the in-jokes and pop culture references that went on here, likewise with the kooky customers who visited Bella's Cafe for a Haddock Milkshake - which included the brilliant Badly-Drawn Brothers. Cosgrove Hall proved it wasn't shy in keeping up with the times and giving us more characters alongside Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and Victor and Hugo to adore. Heck, even "Planet Cute" makes a cameo in a Penguins episode...!

By this time also, long-time writer Brian Trueman had left Cosgrove Hall to spread his wings, which left Jimmy Hibbert to handle the "new crew" who had come on board. And having watched both seasons, it's safe to say he and his team did a very good job here, which included Roger Stennett and animator-turned-writer Malcolm McGookin. It was also one of the last of CH's shows that was cel-animated as by this time, all animation studios were slowly converting to digitally-painted methods to speed up production.

And what other animated series could include the vocal talents of Mike McShane and Lorelei King as part of the voice cast? Whether it was the heroes, heroines, villains or minor characters, Mike and Lorelei did wonders alongside Jimmy and, newcomer at the time, Rob Rackstraw, who would later contribute vast amount of voice work for Bob the Builder among other productions.

Throw in a kick-ass theme song by Paul Young, and you've another reason why 90's Animated Shows were considered the Silver Age. So "Bike Up!" and nab the 3-disc DVD Collection if you can!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Funny Old Knight

Admittedly, this was taken from a very old sketch, round about Nov 2010. Decided to polish it up at last.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Mudchute Farm Sketches

Too often I find that I'd doodle hundreds of ideas or pictures, then never get round to scanning / posting them for all to see. Decided to finally do something about that!

Mudchute Farm is one of my favourite places to visit. Such wide spaces and an array of animals to see there, I took the time to sketch a few on one recent visit. I soon learnt that I'd find it easier drawing animals from photographs rather than in "real time", but to each their own, I guess ;)

The chickens and turkeys were especially fun - from massive wattles to mad little "afros". One turkey, in particular, seem to be the "butler", constantly preening the feathers and plumage of a few roosters;

Next came birds and animals of the four-legged variety. Had wanted to practice drawing horses better, but they never seemed to want to stand still long enough. So settled for pigs, goats, alpacas and the odd sheep instead. Also had fun sketched some "abstract" designs for the Magpies and Crows fluttering about;

Finally, I decided to wander about for a bit - and up until then, I had no idea there were pens for small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, budgerigars) and waterfowl at Mudchute! Learn something new everyday, I decided to squeeze in one more page for good measure;

LINKS OF INTEREST - Farms in Animation!