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Animated Insights for Non Artists:
We Had A Gay Old Time... Thank You, William Hanna
by Shannon Muir - This article originally appeared in Suite 101.

When I first found out that William Hanna passed away at the age of 90, I couldn't get the Flintstones theme out of my head. The gem that Hanna and Barbera brought to the industry, I believe, was memorable characters. Their studio also brought us the Jetsons, Smurfs, Scooby-Doo and the early seasons of Powerpuff Girls were also done under the Hanna-Barbera banner. Their collaboration goes all the way back to the 1930s, when their Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM and won seven Academy Awards. After the close of MGM Animation, the pair formed Hanna-Barbera. Over 150 shows are credited to Hanna and Barbera.

This long and rich history illustrates their gift for creating animated characters that live in hearts and minds for generations. Hanna and Barbera's ability to create shows with enduring characters is to strive for when developing shows for animation production.

Hanna-Barbera's animation could be called memorable as well. Memorable in the sense of its quality, or in some people's view, lack thereof. Often reusing cels and relying on simplistic styles at certain phases of the studio's existence, many Hanna-Barbera classics are not art masterworks, despite the strong talents of Hanna and Barbera. This level of quality was largely born out of the financial need to keep the studio running. It proved to be an excellent starting ground for people who have gone on to other aspects of the business, some of whom I have had the privilege to work with (an example: the producer I worked with on Jumanji at Sony, Bob Hathcock, directed several Hanna-Barbera projects including Smurfs.)

The shows endured -- first in syndication, and later forming the foundation for what has become one of the biggest outlets for original animated programming, the Cartoon Network. Without these shows created in the studio built by William Hanna and Joe Barbera, Cartoon Network probably would not have come about; which would have meant no Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo or Powerpuff Girls.

For those of you unfamiliar with the evolution of the studio, Ted Turner bought the Hanna-Barbera studios in the late 1980s and then launched the Cartoon Network as one of his cable channels to recoup on his investment. Later, when Turner's stations became acquired by Time Warner -- now AOL Time Warner -- they began producing original programming and ultimately Hanna-Barbera was rechristened Cartoon Network Studios in 2000. Some animation, such as the Scooby-Doo direct to video movies, became handled by Warner Bros. Animation.

So the name of Hanna-Barbera passes away, in studio and almost in life, with only Joe Barbera remaining. But the ideas they brought to life remain alive, on screen and in people's hearts, for generations to come. Concepts they first brought to moving life are still being done as live-action movies, such as Josie and the Pussycats (based on the Archie comic, for which the official website is http://josieandthepussycats.com; http://josiethemovie.com is the official movie website) and Scooby-Doo. This came after the success of a pair of Flintstones films, proving that the public remains interested in properties touched by the hand of Hanna-Barbera.

So thanks to Hanna and Barbera for letting us meet George Jetson, have a gay old time with the Flintstone family, and all the rest.


Shannon Muir is known in the animation industry for her work as a production coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker at conventions like Comic Con International.

Muir moved to Los Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately 8,000), knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business. Since then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality, whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles about the industry.

You can email Shannon Muir at shanemuir@aol.com.

All editorialized columns, including this one, that appear in Digital Media FX are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of Digital Media FX, its partner sites, and its advertisers.

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