What did Hanna-Barbera do to Animation?

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I was perusing old animation blog posts I found an old argument. A series of blog post from different animators that made me stop and think.

The argument:

 Had Hanna-Barbera saved or ruined animation? 

The story goes that in the late 60s theatrical animation was drying up. There was no work. Hanna-Barbera, two enterprising directors from MGM, decided to find work in the new field of television animation. The budgets were terrible so they made the cartoons as cheaply as possible. In their defence they just needed a job. The animators they employed needed jobs. The Animation industry was struggling. We don’t know what would have happened to western animation without studios like Hanna-Barbera. In one sense they saved a generation of animation and kept it going, started a new industry. On the other hand they undercut an art form.

It took decades for television animation to reach its potential. Craft had to be relearned.. Hanna-Barbera created what’s called a lifestyle business. A company that maintains the lifestyle of its owners and hopefully employees. I can’t knock them for needing to paying the bills. What strikes me is the legacy. We can learn from how their remembered, what they left behind.

Hanna-Barbera cartoons don’t stand up. They will mostly be forgotten. They lack the craft that makes things last. Now they are remembered for kneecapping an art form in favour of the bottom line. When we create things we don’t often ask how it will look in 100 years.

Animation is both a business and an art form. This will always be in conflict. As Cory Doctorow says, “Art is an irrational market; artists make art without regard to the laws of supply and demand.” Craft and mastery motivate beyond money. But we all still have to pay the bills. What I argue is that Hanna-Barbera thought of the short term. In Ryan Holiday’s book Perennial Seller he argues that creative industries survive on their catalogue. That in reality more value comes from good work, than from mediocre work.

The story of Hanna-Barbera makes me think of the internet. How will we look back at the creators and studios of this area. Will they have saved the art form or ruined it? What’s great is that we have a second chance. It’s not set in stone and it’s not done yet. There’s still room to make something great. Hanna-Barbera were just two directors. Walt Disney was just guy. These were just people. I started indie animated to connect. I want to connect with creators and artists, because a small group of animators could change animation.

Who’s with me?

All the best
Luke

Further Reading
Mark Mayerson on Hanna-Barbera (Much more knowledgeable than I) http://mayersononanimation.blogspot.ca/2008/01/hanna-and-barbera.html

Michael Barrier (from Marks post also way smarter than your truly)
http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Commentary/Hanna-Barbera%20Treasury/HBTreasury.html

Interview Fred Seibert AWN (Fred argues the other side)
https://www.awn.com/animationworld/fred-seibert-interview-part-1
https://www.awn.com/animationworld/fred-seibert-interview-part-2

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Animators should read these books

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I read a lot. I read a lot because reading is the cheapest way to learn something new. If I learn a few new things from a book it’s a good investment. Whether I take it out of the library or buy it. I never regret having a book. These are some of my favourite books that I’ve read recently. These books are likely to give you more than one good thing. These books have given me so much.

Perennial Seller – Ryan Holiday 

This is an amazing book about making creative works. Perennial seller is a work like a book movie album that sells copies every year. It is the library. The amazing thing about these works is that they sustain the industry. Publishing lives on the works that are guaranteed to sell. Movies rely on you watching your favourites. The book perennial seller ties to guide you through process of making and marketing work that lasts.

Art and Fear – David Bayles, Ted Orland

If you ever wanted a book to speak to the experience of being an artist, this is the one. I sent this book to Isaiah. We spent the next few weeks sending quotes back and forth. I’ve revisited it. I’ve gifted it to many friends. It has helped a lot.

Anything You Want – Derek Sivers

This is my favourite business book. Derek Sivers created a company CD Baby. This book can be read in about an hour. It is chock full of wisdom about creating a business the way that you want. I think you will like it because Derek was a musician who started a company. He doesn’t approach business like an entrepreneur or business student, he approaches it like an artist.

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Making Something Remarkable

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This week Isaiah and I were talking about releasing our comic. Planning out our strategy. Again and again we came to this this Ted talk by Seth Godin

Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

You might not know Seth Godin. You could say he’s an author and a marketer. That wouldn’t do him justice. Seth Godin doesn’t talk about marketing in the slimy sense. He talks about getting in front of people who want what your selling. What he’s about is connecting. It’s about making remarkable products. He’s written 17 books. He’s even written a book on viral marketing that you can download for free.

If you want to learn about making stuff that goes viral you won’t find a better resource. You might be thinking. “I don’t know if I want my work to go viral.” And I feel the same way all the time, but stories want to be viral. Stories work by being shared, and being talked about. In the Ted talk he says products should be remarkable, meaning worth remarking about. Making something people can’t help but share.

Viral is a growth metric. The idea is, for every one person that see your show they bring two people, two people bring four people and it keeps on doubling. Stories (comics, tv, movies, novels) grow viraly.

The trick about being viral, is being worth spreading. Viral has a built in negative connotation. That doesn’t mean you have to stoop to the level of clickbait. Or create controversy to be big, big, big. You can make something remarkable. Something worth talking about because it’s different, it’s better. The trick with being remarkable is having something to say.

So when Isaiah and I were talking about our launch strategy, we talked about what makes our project remarkable. What is it that will make people want to read it. What gets people excited. It’s okay if it’s not there yet. I don’t think we’re there yet. I still think it’s worth trying.

Thanks
Luke

Indie Animated is best enjoyed as an Email Newsletter. Released every Friday morning. Indie Animated inspires you into the weekend. Subscribe here.

Remember this can be Fun

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Sometimes you get stuck. I’ve been writing multiple versions of the newsletter. I was hitting a block in the comic. Nothing was working and I wasn’t having a good time. It’s hard when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels.

It’s a good time to remember that this should be fun.

We often forget that making things is enjoyable. It’s our judgement, our expectations that get in the way. We make better work when the work is fun. We take our work so seriously that we forget how enjoyable it really is.

When I’m stuck and I nothings working, I try to change it up. I try drawing just for fun. I have this huge pad of dot matrix printer paper from whoknows-where. When time slips away. When three or for pages are filled you stop thinking, and you’re just enjoying the drawing. What drawing for fun reminds us is that drawing is fun. It’s the approach that makes it fun or difficult.

So I came back to the comic. Not expecting anything. I was just going to try things out. After 15 minutes of drawing I had seven new ideas. I showed it to Ali, she quickly chose her favourite design. And in the end it was fun. It didn’t take long and it was enjoyable.

So this week, don’t be to hard on yourself. Just have fun.

Luke

Indie Animated is best enjoyed as an Email Newsletter. Released every Friday morning. Indie Animated inspires you into the weekend. Subscribe here.