Thursday, May 19, 2022

Pegbar Profiles: Introduction

Greetings, fellow readers! With this first post, I'm presenting my blog that serves as an expansion of the biographical text in the "Moonlighting Animation Artists in Comics" and "Animator Profiles," written for Cartoon Research. When I started my Patreon, I wanted to update specific profiles whenever new information became available to me. I had done this with my profile on Bob Wickersham, but this did not continue after that. With some exceptions, such as the brief background history of Art Davis's older brother Philip Davis, this did not seem to be a necessary fit. 


In the late 1960s, after the passing of Walt Disney, the scholarly appreciation and evaluation of animated films released in the 20th century grew exponentially when scholars and critics interviewed the artists involved in the art form—producers, directors, animators, background and layout artists, sound editors, and musical composers. Since their screen credits, under a film's main titles, made evidence of their work, notable figures such as Preston BlairDick LundyIrv Spence, and Emery Hawkins have been formally interviewed at some point in their lives and are well-known to many animation fans.


But what about those who were given screen credit but never given a chance to be interviewed? They could have passed away before, or sometimes slightly after, the critical appraisal of classic 20th-century theatrical animation (pre-1970). In other circumstances, they might have refused to be interviewed or were difficult to locate. In the days before the Internet, an interviewer often relied on other animators, phone directories, or union representatives. Names such as Pat MatthewsCal Dalton, and Manny Gould come to mind—the latter was intended as an interview subject but passed away the week this was to occur.


Then there are the people who never received screen credit at all—this usually went for people in the lower echelon of the production pipeline: in-betweeners, assistants, and ink-and-paint artists. In some cases, the only indication of their involvement comes from production papers, such as an animation draft, but otherwise never had their name on-screen. (e.g., Anatolle "Tolly" KirsanoffRev Chaney, et al.) In many cases, in-house newsletters and animation union magazines are the only conclusive evidence of their involvement in the studios.


I plan to write animation profiles of figures known in animation circles but not given a complete analysis, including relatively unknown names. There have been books and websites that offer an alphabetical glossary of different figures in the industry. Unfortunately, in many cases, the evidence is usually not corroborated or, at worst, erroneous, leading to widespread misinformation. The research offered would be more in-depth, utilizing various sources, with endnotes: newspaper stories, government records, anecdotes from colleagues in different interviews, family members, studio documentation, and so on. 


This blog follows the model of "Yowp" and the thorough research he has conducted for his three blogs—TralfazYowp, and Old TV History. Some inspiration has also derived from Allan Holtz's Stripper's Guide blog in his "Ink-Slinger Profiles."


What exactly are my set goals for this project? First and foremost, to cast a wider net into giving readers a profound appreciation of the artists involved in the era of classic animation. There is also the difficulty in searching for details located in various sources that can be elusive. With this project, I would like to be as comprehensive as possible, compiling as much information in one single profile—a one-stop shop. On the same subject, the feedback from different family members of a particular animator profiled on Cartoon Research has shown that this history can lead to many surprises, such as the large cache of animation art in Rev Chaney's collection sold at Heritage Auctions in December 2019. This project could lead to more surprises such as this. Above all, this project could bring awareness to their living relatives whenever applicable.


As you finish reading this post, this research is ongoing as this author pores through the different animated cartoons for screen credits, studio newsletters, and in-house organs. Publications such as The Exposure SheetWarners Club NewsTop CelFleischer's Animated NewsThe Bulletin, and what has surfaced from the Screen Cartoonist Guild Local 852 publications of The Animator and The Peg-Board are resourceful for this undertaking. Currently, there have been many names researched in preparation for this blog. 


I plan to submit my first official post sometime in late June or early July to build up a backlog of posts. After that, each new post will appear semi-frequently, giving me time for the other projects I am heavily involved in, particularly film restoration. The big question: will this turn into a book? It's not definite, but it is possible. There are plans to expand a few Cartoon Research posts on the blog since new information has presented itself in the past few years. 


I want to thank many of my close friends and supporters in the classic animation community for your encouragement all these years. I would also like to thank Mark Newgarden and Erik Rosengarten for their input and guidance with the header image.