The Flintstones’ Wacky Inventions: Turner Publishing/Bedrock Press 1993
Michael Reagan had just started Turner Publishing for Ted Turner when I became Hanna-Barbera Cartoons president during the Turner Broadcasting era, both of us reporting to then-entertainment president Scott Sassa. Everyone was excited about the idea of finally putting out quality books about the studio under the Bedrock Press imprint, and Michael worked incredibly hard to publish releases worthy of the company.
Here are a couple of my favorites about The Flintstones, circa 1993 and 1994 (both out of print, sadly).0 comments Tagged: 1993, 1994, Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera, Turner Publishing, animation, books, cartoon books, cartoons, Hanna-Barbera books, Bedrock Press, Turner Publishing cartoon books,.
A lot of my friends made fun of me when I went into the cartoon business running the world famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon company, I suppose it didn’t really seem of great significance to them. But I’d been in love with Huckleberry Hound and The Flintstones most of my life and I knew there was a great opportunity to share them with the world.
When I first arrived in the middle of 1992, I immediately started collecting licensed merchandise and ephemera from the studio’s history. Mostly, it was pretty disappointing because there hadn’t been a disciplined approach to the quality of the licenses and the artwork that fueled it.
(Small countries the world over issue unusual stamps with contemporary pop cultural figures for American suckers (like me!) who love seeing their favorites printed on anything unexpected.)
Eventually, we were lucky enough to bring in Creative Director Russell Hicks, who was able to wrestle the creative side of licensing into a beautiful experience. The Turner licensing crew was another story for another time.0 comments Tagged: Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera, licensed products, randomHB,.
Shortly after I joined the company I had an enlightening dinner with cartoonist/theorist John Kricfalusi where we got to know each other. In addition to discussing some first principles of cartoon making (where I told John to my thoughts about doing classic-type shorts and found out he’d thinking along the same lines; I guess there are no original ideas) John told me about his frustrations about the ‘evolution’ Hanna-Barbera’s classic characters had taken since the early 1960s. He introduced me to master designer Ed Benedict, one of his heroes, who’s designed everyone from Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones. And how HB’s cutifying and firming up the modeling of the characters had actually completely robbed them of their personalities.
John made perfect sense to me and solidified an ignorant instinct I had about the lessening of the vintage Hanna-Barbera shows that started losing their power around the time of The Jetsons. It became one of my missions at the studio to restore the power of the great, funny drawings in the company’s heritage. So, in addition to the resurrection of the a shorts program I tried to instill a passion for the great designs that built the joint.
Boy was it hard. For thirty years the culture had re-developed around the cute, squat, and dull designs that emerged around the early/mid 60s; it had convinced itself that that art was the ‘good stuff’ and the earlier models were crude, inexact, and ‘bad.’ But, as the young artists started to re-populate the ranks, their interest in the original designs and animation started to take hold and eventually led us to master artist Craig Kellman (now working primarily in feature animation).
Not more than 25 in 1996, Craig was commissioned by HB Licensing Creative Director Russell Hicks to completely redesign the licensing guide that had come out just the year before. And wow did he take to it. Hundreds —probably thousands— of drawings poured out from Craig’s desk. Superior drawings too, too great for someone of his tender age. But, one by one, anyone could see their power and their humor, and soon enough we completely republished the style guide, a "redux" if you will. Check out the drawings above and you’ll see how much Ed’s influence was on Craig (not to mention Craig’s intense HB influence on the animated Ricky Gervais Show from 2010), but also the pathetic, enemic versions that have dominated for the last 50 years.
From “The Flintstones: On the Rocks,” 2001
Alas, we were a little too late. Seemingly within minutes after publication Ted Turner sold Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network to Time Warner. No one there really gave a crap about old or new designs, and the Cartoon Network executives with senior responsibility were more interested in their employment than the studio. A few of them –Mike Lazzo, Linda Simensky, and Brian Miller– thankfully had enough juice to get a 90 minute special,”On the Rocks,” produced using the models.
But, by then, The Flintstones had lost their mojo and the film went pretty much unnoticed. But, don’t fret. The designs exist forever, and one day The Flintstones will come back, with a passionate advocate steering them to wonderful comedy greatness.
In the meantime, enjoy some of Craig’s designs.
A couple of H&B veterans commented on this post with some insightful thoughts:
Thanks for posting these Fred, I’ve always been nuts about these drawings. Craig’s style guide was great, not just because it rediscovered the charm of Ed’s classic designs, but also because they brought something new and slightly contemporary to them as well, while perfectly retaing the personalities. I’ve always felt cartoon characters have to visually evolve a little if they’re going to survive the decades, but as you mentioned the only thing the Flintstones (as well as most classic characters from the world of animation) had done since the late 60’s was stagnate.
Fred, I was lucky enough to be the animation director for Flinstones on the Rocks. It was a lot of fun and presented some of the toughest directing work I have ever done. There are a couple of sequences that are directed to music and it took Dave Smith pitching them to me with the music several times. Speaking of Dave, not many know but this special is greatly responsible for his getting the job he has at Dreamworks. Dave used the opening sequence which he boarded to pitch as an audition. That sold them on Dave. He is a tremendously funny guy.
Here’s the written material from inside this 1996 Flintstones Style Guide:
STILL ROCK SOLID
The live-action movie inspired by the Flintstones® is approaching 1 billion dollars in revenues worldwide. Their original cartoon show is playing, somewhere on the planet, every day, 365 days a year. The Flintstones was the world’s first animated prime time sitcom. It’s still the longest running cartoon sitcom in TV history.
FRED FINDS OUT IT’S LONELY AT THE TOP
By lasting year after year on the top run of the cartoon ladder, Fred Flintstone™ has undeniably made it into a very exclusive club. Measured by any yardstick–durability, lovability, recognizability, profitability–this modern stone-age everyman is in a class (almost) by himself. He is one of only three characters in the universe who can truly be considered a World Class Cartoon Star. (The other two are both rodents with big ears.)
OUR ROOTS ARE SHOWING
We thought this was a good a time as any to take this World Class Cartoon Star, and the other inhabitants of Bedrock, back to their roots. Back to something more like the wild and woolly designs that flowed out of the inspired pencils of master cartoon designer Ed Benedict.
Ed Benedict’s original concepts for the The Flintstones were considerably more rough-hewn tha the characters as we know them now. We recently uncovered Ed’s earliest sketches and model sheets and said “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!, these are cool!” (Or words to that effect.)
WE’RE ROCKING THE FLINTSTONES WORLD
So, we put our crack team of gifted young designers to work, translating these original, vintage Flintstones drawings into designs that people would want to live in, or around, or under, or on top of. We’re thrilled with what they’ve come up with. And we’re sure you and customers will be, too. Take a brisk stroll through these pages and discover a whole new Flintstones world, a world that young adults will find irresistible. It’s the dawn of a new age at Hanna-Barbera. Wake up with us, and smell the delicious prehistoric java…
Special Thanks to:
Joe Barbera, William Hanna, Ed Benedict and Craig Kellman
AHEAD OF THEIR TIME!
Joe Barbera, William Hanna and Ed Benedict are to the cartoon industry, what the Fauvism movement was to fine art. On October 1, 1960, The New York Times review called The Flintstones® an “inked disaster,” complaining in particular that Fred and Barney were “unattractive, coarse, and gruff.” Obviously an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe Award, and the dedication of millions of viewers, by the end of its first season, proved the review unimaginative, coarse and gruff!
As you look through this style guide you will see The Flintstones illustrated in a way that you haven’t seen since the beginning when Ed Benedict first put pencil to paper. You can almost hear Fred yelling; Wilmaaa! Every pose demands the imagination to contemplate what will happen next. Only a truly inspired cartoonist can bring this much character to his drawings. Craig Kellman, with the influence of Joe Barbera, William Hanna and Ed Benedict has put the cave back into the caveman.
We at Hanna-Barbera would like to acknowledge and extend a special thanks to Craig Kellman for helping us to continue to make the Flintstones the world’s most popular Stone Age family!
This is part where I mention all the people who are responsible for everything from vacuuming the floor at night to making this style guide what it is today… well maybe I won’t go that far!
The Hanna-Barbera Licensing Department wish to thank the many people who were instrumental in helping to put this style guide together. Of course, it all started with Joe Barbera and William Hanna who didn’t just create a bunch of cave-dwellers, but preserved American culture in a way that will never be equaled. Thanks to Ed Benedict who’s original illustrations of the Flintstones® inspired us all and Craig Kellman who draws like a madman…or is that a cave-man. Thanks to Fred Seibert for letting us break all the rules, and to Russell Hicks for showing us how to break them. Thanks to Teri Mazurek for her original concepts that started this style guide–we miss her laugh. Thanks to Roger Estrada who’s advice and art direction keeps me from painting my nails Jungle Red. Thanks to Melanie Moyer, aka Melanie Monaco, who’s dedication and long hours of hard work producing this guide made it all possible. Thanks to Brent Martin and his hair for Flint-O-Matic. Thanks to Bill Burnett for style guide copy. Thanks to Zeta Lefebvre, Joelle Mitchell, Lisa Covington and Christina Rivera for helping to get this guide together. Special thanks to all the people in Licensing who gave us support or a hard time depending on what they thought we needed most. Others outside and at the studio were incredibly helpful, too: Clarence Agatep at Rigely Curry & Associates, Inc. for Sophist-O-Saurus; Lourdes Moscosco for Rock-Atomic; Ann Wyrick for production of patterns; Glenn Leopold for style guide copy; Laura Wright, Miyuki Sena and Mot Potivas at 30sixty for production; Jon Rosenberg at Jokar Productions for brokering and printing; Oh yea! me Paris Amarna Caine, I did all the work, after all! And of course the people who vacuum at night!
–Paris Amarna Caine
1994 was our year to revive The Flintstones. Steven Spielberg was producing a live action movie, Cartoon Network had just launched and was featuring the series, and we had produced a laser disc set of the original episodes with John Kricfalusi and Earl Kress. We asked Drew Hodges and his Spot Design in New York to showcase The Flintstones with the quality we thought they deserved.
From the credits page:
All the toys pictured in this calendar are from the collection of Justin Strauss. Justin has been collecting Flinstones and Hanna-Barbera memorabilia for 12 years. He lives in an apartment in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and a lot of shelves. Justin’s kids are not allowed to play with his toys but he does play with theirs.
Art Direction: Hanna-Barbera Creative Services,
Design: Spot Design, NY, Copy: Overnight Inspirations, Photography: Mark Hill,
Film/Printing: Digital Imaging of Southern California
TM and ©1993 Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
©1993 Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.