one of the most talented artists I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Jim heard that the Archive was doing a fundraising drive, so he dug in his closet to find drawings for us to sell for him. These sketches were recently auctioned and a portion of the proceeds went to support the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. Thanks Jim!
In the natural lifespan of a series, there is a pattern of development. First, a period of experiment and rapid change. The work during this time has rough edges and imperfections. This is the most exciting time for the creators and the audience. Then there is a gradual refining period as the creators become more assured and confident in their creations. They may even start to standardize their work and define creative limits... The last period, and this seems to happen to every series, even the best of them, whether it be cartoons, comic strips, novels or live action, is the sad decline... The decline happens for a number of reasons. Boredom sets in. The artists get older and more conservative... The quickest, surest way to decline happens when the original creators leave the project and somebody else takes over.
ASIFA-Hollywood was fortunate to be the recipient of John Kricfalusi's personal archives, which he donated earlier this year. Among the material were all the storyboards for the original Ren & Stimpy Show. The storyboard we scanned today is the beginning of the beginning... the pilot episode, "Big House Blues". This storyboard has all the rough edges... and all of the brilliant innovation that comes with top artists set loose to create something entirely new. I hope it inspires you to create something truly great yourself.
If you would like to see more of this storyboard, let me know in the comments below. I'd be happy to pick up the board where I left off in a week or two.These days, very few studios write their stories the way cartoons in the golden age were written. Spumco cartoons are the exception, using the exact same process as the one used by just about every animated film produced prior to 1960. These cartoons were written visually using a storyboard, rather than being written in words as a script. If you compare this particular storyboard to the finished cartoon, you'll instantly see the advantages of using this system. The story of Big House Blues is told through the compositions of the scenes and the expressions and acting of the characters. Dialogue is only used to enhance the action, not to serve as bald exposition. The panels are drawn very loose, but the basic information for each scene is all there. Each subsequent step of production strengthens the original visual idea presented in the board. The flow from scene to scene is clear, and the challenges of staging have all been addressed in thumbnail form on the storyboard. There's no need to rework and rethink the staging in layout.
The trend of writing cartoons using scripts started at Hanna-Barbera in the early 1960s, and the dependance on words to tell the story alone is largely responsible for the sorry state of animation on television today. "Snappy dialogue" has replaced cartooning, and a bastardized non-visual form of animated film has been born. Chuck Jones referred to this sort of thing as "illustrated radio", but in recent years, television cartoons have become even less visually expressive and even more packed with irrelevant verbal "jokes" than ever before. Hopefully, the students who study this storyboard will be able to reverse the trend and make cartoons that are visually literate again.
ASIFA-Hollywood is very fortunate to have in its collection all of the boards from the Spumco cartoons. The animation community owes a debt of gratitude to John Kricfalusi for generously sharing this material with us. Here then, is the second installment of the storyboard to the pilot episode of Ren & Stimpy, Big House Blues. If you missed it, see Part One of this storyboard.
If you would like to see more of this storyboard, let me know in the comments below. I'd be happy to pick up the board where I left off in a week or two.BIG HOUSE BLUES PART THREE