Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nelvana monkeyshines..

My entry into the Animation business, began in '89.. I passed a test to become one of the Layout Artists on Nelvana's popular 'BEETLEJUICE' cartoon series. I continued doing Layout on crap like 'BABAR', etc. But Layout, is incredibly intensive work.. And I sooned burned-out on it.

In 1993, I heard that Nelvana might be adapting Mark Schultz' 'XENOZOIC TALES' comic-book into an animated series, entitled: "Cadillacs & Dinosaurs".. And as I'd heard that Design was a much lighter workload than Layout,-- I thought I'd apply for any positions that might still be available..
Long-story-short, I got the job.. And began working with a very small (but very talented) group of artists: Ted Bastien, Leif Norheim, Mike McKay, Kurt Lehner, Koko Maung, and Franc (Francisco) Reyes, among others..
Design, was (is) very different than Layout.. There was a lot more day-to-day kibbitzing & kvetching, than I was used to.. People had the time to throw Gag Drawings around, back-and-forth. And even though I stank at drawing them, myself.. I got quite a few, tossed in my direction. And thankfully, had the foresight to save most of them..

Ted Bastien, was our Design Supervisor.. A very talented artist, that basically showed me what Design was all about. I definitely learned a lot from him. And because our Final Artwork required very-finished linework.. I was also able to teach myself "inking", at the same time!
In hindsight, I suppose I was something of a whiner & complainer. I can get frustrated when a Production isn't running, the way I think it should. And Ted, (of course) picked up on this! Here's a couple of funny drawings that he did of me:

That's Ted, peeking around the corner.. And me, complaining about Ray (Jafelice) who was our Director on "Cads & Dinos".. I was an early fan of Dan Clowes' 'EIGHTBALL' comic-book, too. And I used to bring them into work..
Ted seemed quite taken with the David Greenberger 'Duplex Planet' 1-pagers, that appeared in that comic.. The writing of these strips, were based on the verbatim (and largely incoherent) ramblings of the Retirement Home citizenry; where Mr. Greenberger worked his Day Job.. Hence the obtuse "Run like a Goddamned Deer" comment.. heh

Another guy (who wasn't on our crew) that liked to poke fun at others, was: Dave Thomas.. Later, he turned out to be a quality Storyboard guy on shows like 'DOG CITY', etc. He always had a very dry wit & killer sense of comedic timing..
He seemed to like to draw me with a bullet Head & Body.. I guess the 1st one, was intended to be me as a "Simpsons" character? I dunno.. The color scheme makes me think so, though.

Mike McKay, was another dry wit.. Later, he would go on to be a much-in-demand Effects Designer. Which meant, a lot less Drawing for him to do. Mike is the guy that coined one of my studio nicknames: "Two Dawgs" Dannys.. All because I had the temerity to eat 2 whole hotdogs for Lunch, one afternoon?! Didn't seem like a very Big Deal, to me.. But I guess it was, to him! heh
He also also got a kick outta calling me "Dick", rather than "Rich".. Hence, the following caricature:
Ted Bastien musta liked the sound of that.. 'Cuz while we were working our way thru the "Cads & Dinos" Production schedule, he concurrently worked on his own pet project: a comic-strip, featuring different members of our studio crew.. I think that Mike McKay was a bit put-off to find out that his sole cameo in the strip, involved being portrayed as a derelict vagrant -type, that me & Ted (as the main Detective characters) ran over with our old-school Sedan? haha

The big hulking dude crashing thru the wall of Blayne's (Burnside) Variety store, is none other than Pat Rowsome.. He wasn't on our crew. And I didn't really know him, all that well. But Ted loved drawing him as a raving sociopath. And he was definitely the so-called "Villain", in his storyline..
I can recall watching a Super Bowl game at Pat's house once, with fellow friend: Rob Walton.. I dunno where Pat is, now.. I heard he got married to a girl named Sheryl.. And (I think?) may be now working in Ottawa..
Speaking of Rob Walton.. He did this killer Gag Drawing of Pat & myself, facing off against each other.. Rob liked to call it: "Clash Of The Titans", if memory serves? I found the joke a lot less funny, after Rob explained to me that I WASN'T necessarily being portrayed in Perspective, here!! heh
Even so, I think I could still give "The Pat", a run for his money..

"Clash Of The Titans" was (I believe?) inked by virtuoso artist: Goran Delic.. A Serb import to Toronto, that I didn't really get to work with fully, 'til we both began working in Design, on Jim Lee's 'WildC.A.T.S' cartoon series..
At that time (around '94, I think?), it wasn't uncommon to see me schlepping my way into work (up Atlantic Avenue), most mornings.. Wearing my usual "uniform", ably illustrated by the following Goran ink sketch:

I recall him saying: "Here you are, Reetch.. Now, you are truly a WILDcat!!" heh
Those that know me, realize that the outfit continues to be 'de rigeur'.. I still like my coffee, t-shirts, and jeans.. And though the Doctor's Bag isn't nearly as pristine as it once was.. It continues to carry all of my valued Field Guides, Layout Notes, and reams of Animation Paper.. Cintiq & Sketchbook Pro, be DAMNED!!

A little insight into some of my Nelvana Daze.. Hope you likey?
Talk to y'all laterz!

17 comments:

marcoshark said...

Babar?!? one thing I think you would not hear, "Danny's, your off model". The drawings are fun, you as a P.I., priceless.

Suzanne Dargie said...

What on Earth has Goran drawn on your feet in that Wildcats one? They look like golashes. Did you used to wear those?

Rich Dannys said...

Thanks for the visit, Marc..
Yeah, I guess it's a pretty consistent Model Sheet to follow! heh
There are more panels from the Detective story around.. And yes, BABAR was artistically soul-destroying. And it crushed mine, rather quickly!

But as my SoozyPie has correctly pointed out.. Sometimes, an artist puts their own "spin" on the ascribed Model..
Honestly, I asked the same question about the shoes, when I first saw this Pic..
I've always tended towards the simple Tennis/Skateboard shoe (Osiris, VANS, etc.).. So I don't really know what Goran's intent was with the big rubber-looking booties?
I can assure you, I didn't ever own those!

Kieron O'Gorman said...

Hey Rich,

That was cool! Thanks for posting that... Makes me want to be a designer more and more!

Awesome pictures!

Dominic Bugatto said...

Too funny.

Spyrunner said...

My personal favorite was the picture of you saying "You need to accessorize correctly... a baseball cap with a baseball glove."


Spyrunner

Drazen said...

wheres the Lehner?
He was a GIANT!j
not much has changed except I think you have new lining in your coat.

CaveMatt said...

Hey Rich, do you still have any of the Cadillacs & Dinosaurs stuff? You should post some. I'd really like a look at it.

Rich Dannys said...

Dom -- Yeah, hehe. This is only a sampling of the Drawings I kept.. Rob Walton cranked the Gag Sketches out, like a machine.. A PURE Cartoonist, he is!


Spyrunner -- Now you've got me intrigued, as to your 'Secret Identity'.. Where's YOUR Blog then, eh?
I don't remember the one, you've mentioned.. There's a funny one by Ted, featuring the Before/After of me, wearing my baseball cap.. The byline? I'm not only the Dannys Hair Club President.. I'm ALSO a Customer! hehe
Male-pattern baldness, is always a sad thing..


Drazen -- Hey, Lehner got his "due" in the Post. No need for feeding his vigorous ego, any further! heh
As for that glorious new lining in my aviator's jacket.. Your not doing a very good job of hiding your JEALOUSY!!! heh

Matt -- I agree.. More 'Cads & Dinos' stuff, to follow.. By the time we did 'WildC.A.T.S.' at Nelvana,-- the budgets and schedules got excruciatingly bad. But we were able to give C&D a lot more attention, and I think it showed in the final results!

In retrospect, I should've also added Bob Smith's name to the Crew List.. Not a Designer, But a stellar Storyboard Artist.. that later went on to work for Bruce Timm at WB. Work that he told me still does, last time I caught up with him..

benj said...

Funny anecdotes & drawings!
I really like the "PAT is HERE" page.

Rich Dannys said...

Thanks for droppin' by, Benj!

Yeah, hehe.. The "PAT is HERE!" page was drawn by Ted Bastien; local Director & Storyboard guy.. Part of a short story where "the PAT" (Rowsome) murders variety store owner: Blayne (Burnside).. And Ted & I, "investigate".

Bit o' Trivia: Blayne was the OTHER senior citizen Layout Artist at Red Rover, when we worked on "The RIPPING FRIENDS" together..

R.A. MacNeil said...

Holy Crap! Rich has a blog! How've you been? What're you up to?
These drawings are pretty neat. It's cool that you hung on to them.

-Ryan

Rich Dannys said...

haha Yeah, glad you finally found me, Ryan..

I always had a Blog.. But it was excruciating to 'update' til I got to use my gf's eMac, on a regular basis..

I've been extremely busy, lately. I'm the sole "old school" (pencil-on-paper) 2d guy on a new Kid's cartoon, called: "Will & Dewitt"..
I work from Home, doing a combo of BG Layout/Location Design. And then I upload my finished artwork, to the studio's FTP..
They (2 Presidents) seem very happy with my contributions. So, there's a good chance I could be doing this for awhile yet. It's been a pretty sweet gig, so far!

Howz by you? Still attending Animation College? Or, are you already working somewhere? LMK..

R.A. MacNeil said...

Actually I've been done with school for a bit now. I work for a company in Halifax called Copernicus. It's a great gig.

-Ryan

I.M. Weasel said...

Hey Rich...

That one drawing of you with the baseball bat makes you look a lot like Mark McGwire. I hope you weren't shooting up 'roids with the other artists in the Nelvana studio bathrooms!;)

Rich Dannys said...

Ryan -- Congrats on the Copernicus gig.. I've read about them, online. Sounds like they're a pretty busy studio.. And that, can't be a bad thing!

Keith -- That's a Ted Bastien sketch.. He was being generous. I was never that buff, or pumped-up. But he knew I loved Baseball.. So he always drew me with a Bat and Cleats! heh

The only thing I can say about the Nelvana bathrooms.. is that they showcased some of the finest drawn graffiti, I've yet seen! hah

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