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

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)

Interview Fred Seibert AWN (Fred argues the other side)

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