01 September 2007

Ron Campbell - Part 1 - Interview d'une mémoire de l'animation!


Born in 1939 in Seymore, in the Australian state of Victoria, Ron Campbell has been a force in animation for the past four decades. Campbell began his animation career in the early 1960’s, working on Beetle Bailey, Krazy Kat, and Cool McCool for King Features, as well as The Beatles. He then moved to the US and Hanna-Barbera, going on to write and produce cartoons for Sesame Street and animate on the original George of the Jungle and Tom Slick TV shows. He produced and directed the animation for The Big Blue Marble, winning many awards, including a Peabody for Excellence in Broadcasting and an Emmy for Best Children's Show of the Year.
Krazy Kat Jail Mirage


Nowhere Man

In the late 60's Ron Campbell, with his good friend and colleague Duane Crowther (RIP), animated many scenes in The Beatles Yellow Submarine feature film, including the Sea of Time sequence, and much of the action between the Chief Blue Meanie and his boot-licking side-kick, Max. He animated a lot of scenes involving the multi-named Boob, Hillary, the Nowhere Man. Earlier, he directed for King Features many of the episodes made in Australia of the highly successful ABC television series The Beatles.

Who are the persons who inspired, or helped or thought you the most, artistically speaking?
Ron Campbell
- Gerry Ray, Pat Mathews, Duane Crowther, Bill Hanna, Al Brodax, Ken Snyder.


When, how and why did you come to work on the Scooby-Doo Series?
In early 1967 Bill Hanna hired me at Hanna-Barbera as an animator. I had come to the US from Australia in late 1966.
In 1968 I started my own company, the year "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You" was first produced. One of my earliest clients was Ken Snyder, who had produced Roger Ramjet. He was selling several shows to the networks in that period (late 1968 early 1969). One was a show based on Mattel's new toy Hot Wheels, another was a show he called Spook-Out. The original drawings for the sales-pitch presentation I saw but had no hand in creating. It starred a group of teens based loosely on the long-successful Archie comic book characters:- Spook-Out featured a handsome hero, a pretty girl, a goofey hippy kid and a smart girl in glasses. They had a big dog, a Great Dane, who could barely speak (like many a 6 year old) who was a big scaredy-cat until the chips were really down. They went around the country in a colorful '60's van solving ghost problems.
The networks bought the Hot Wheels idea from Ken Snyder, but for reasons long forgotten (though I suspect it was doubts about Ken's ability to produce) the Spook-Out idea was shopped by the network to Hanna Barbera. Iwoa Takamato and Joe Barbera redesigned everything, creating Scooby-Doo as everyone knows him, but the basic idea was Spook-Out. In those days the words Love-In, sit-in, drop-out etc were the latest vogue, very hip, up-to-date -- hence Spook-Out.
I have no documented proof of the veracity of this story, just my memory, so my story must be taken as just the memories of an old man, which is all they are. Ken Snyder himself later became a close friend and business colleague of mine through the 1970's.
I did some storyboard work for Scooby-Doo on a free-lance basis that first season in 1969, and subsequently did storyboards for the show in later years. I rarely got credits in those days. For some reason I believed credits were of no importance whatsoever. The animation business was small and everybody knew everybody, including what they did. My company also did several Hot Wheels shows that year, a show that ended with great troubles because they were accused of being long commercials for a toy, which they indubitably were.
Running Scooby Group

On what episodes did you work, and on what scenes?
No clue as to what shows. It was a TV show and as such it all just runs together in one's mind. I remember every scene I did in Yellow Submarine, that was a feature film, but hardly anything on the TV Beatles, or Scooby-Doo. I just remember going to some trouble drawing a spooky old house once, and I always enjoyed planning scenes when Scooby got scared...

What were exactly your assignments? With what members of the crew did you work more particularly?
Storyboarding. Just storyboarding
FYI -- Like the plans for building a house that show plumbers where to lay pipes and glassiers where to put windows etc, a storyboard is the plan of how everything in the film being made will work, and from which everyone must refer. I was attracted to the job because I believed doing storyboards was the job that really directed an animated film.
I suppose I worked closest with Bill Hanna, but also Iwoa. Yet I did not work in the studio but out of my own studio a mile or soo away on Laurel Canyon Blvd Studio City.

Can you tell me about you about your first meeting and your relation ship with Jack Hanna and Joe Barbera?
I really liked Bill Hanna and had very little contact with Joe Barbera. I first met Bill Hanna in early 1967. I had to deliver a message to Bill for Eric Porter Productions in Australia, a company that was bidding for sub contract production. After I did so Bill asked me if I wanted a job. I did. He helped get me through all the government rigmarole.
I enjoyed Iwoa's company, and greatly admired his draughtsmanship. I always felt a little uncomfortable around Joe, don't know why, but very much liked his daughter Jane who was a great organizer, v efficient.

Do you have any dogs? What race? Do you like Dashunds?
Love Dachshunds. Why? Don't much like Great Danes. A friend had one, lovely dog but disobedient and a bit dim...maybe it was the owner? We always had my wife's favorite, Golden Retrievers.

Are there any characters from the Scooby Doo series you feel rather close to? If yes, who? Why?
This is actually a great question -- I have sometimes felt extra sympathy for characters sometimes in a very personal and mostly secret way. For almost 10 years I did almost all of the storyboards for the Smurfs and really grew to love poor Brainy Smurf. Inexplicable. The character was a pompous ass, but I secretly felt great empathy for him...I've never admitted this before :) There are others. George Jetson's boss, can't remember his name now. Loved the brat Angelica in the Rugrats.
The teens in Scooby left me a bit cold, they were designed to appeal to tweens, not grown men. Scooby himself carries the day on that show, especially his inability to express himself...

What did you have to do? What could you do? And what couldn't you do? (in other words, what were the limits of your creativity/imagination within that frame?)
Technical stuff, multiple exposure stuff, computer-generated stuff, lab work. Bottom lights, top lights, they're all Greek to me. Sort of Greek, anyway.


In the early 1980s, he drew a majority of the storyboards for Hanna-Barbera’s hit series The Smurfs, including the Emmy-award winning Smurfolympics special. Also during the ‘80s, Campbell was a storyboard artist for The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and numerous other hit shows of the era, including Flintstones, Jetsons, Captain Caveman, Scooby-Doo and many other shows. The 1990s took Ron Campbell to Disney TV Animation where he was responsible for animation direction on Bonkers, Goof Troop, and Darkwing Duck. He also spent much of the decade storyboarding for Klasky-Csupo’s The Rugrats, Rocket Power, and the bizare adult cartoon, Duckman. During that time, he was nominated for an Emmy for a storyboard for Ahh! Real Monsters.

The Big Chase # 26


Still working today (old animators just fade away), he is currently animation directing episodes of Ed, Edd, and Eddy, a mad-cap cartoon series for TV produced by AKA Cartoons in Canada.

Since 'retiring', Ron Campbell has been doing Pop Art paintings often based on the cartoon shows he has helped create in one capacity or another, and has been showing his work on the Beatles TV cartoons and The Yellow Submarine in galleries around the country. His Pop Art Beatles work sell in galleries internationally and all over the USA.

You are invited to Google 'Ron Campbell Animation Art' to see some of that work.

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