Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Irv Spector at Ed Graham Productions: Introduction

I intended to post this series in a fine and thorough chronologiocal order, and thought I would have already been into my second post. So much for that idea, there is just too much to scan and organize -- we'd all be waiting awhile. The new plan is this: I will scan often and get it online. All you have to keep in mind is that there are two main parts to my father's involvement with Graham: 1) a series of 5 one-minute commerical spots for INA (Insurance Company of North America) which led to, 2) The Linus the Lionhearted Show. In any given post we will be dealing with one, the other, or both. Simple, right?

The Setup
In the beginning of the 1960s my family was living in NY, when much of the animation business began to migrate from east coast to west. My father made several round trips to Los Angeles to looking for work. Eventually we all moved west. Incredibly, at some point thereafter he actually went back to NY. Somewhere in all of this he meet with Ed Graham Jr., (who I believe was an ex-ad exec) who began his own company for the purpose of producing animated TV commercials (and so was Linus, for that matter!) Graham Prods was working with (not for) the Benton and Bowles Agency. My father already had a sizable number of commericals under his belt in the 1950s, including the first fully-animated 60-second commercial and an award from the NY Art Directors Guild (or something like that.) Graham stayed in his NY office and my dad came back to LA.

For those too ethical to read other people's mail, I've done the dirty work for you. The 3/22/63 letter below lists the five 1-minute spots for INA. Mentioned in a different letter is that my father was to do the animation layouts, animation direction, and background layouts, and assign one different animator for each of the five spots. So far, I have been able to determine the animators for three of them: Rapunzel - Irv Spence; Jack and the Beanstalk -- Herman Cohen; Cinderella -- Dick Thompson (who took over for an ill Tom Ray.) Hopefully the other two will come to light as I dig deeper.

These spots, conceived and scripted by the admen, are billed as "A Very Adult Fable". Below is what I believe to be their shooting script, for Jack and the Beanstalk, as the date on it seems too early in the process to have been done in LA -- although it is possible it had been previously drawn in LA from a written script. Once you view it you will have the concept for the other four. If it reminds you of Jay Ward's Fractured Fairy Tales, you'd be thinking what I'm thinking, ...right down to the Edward Everet Horton narration. I suppose if you're going to rip-off something, rip something excellent! (You know those creatives at agencies.) The cursive handwriting within them is not my father's -- probably Graham or a B&B person.

The following character designs came from an envelope with Tom Ray's name on it:

Linus the Lionhearted Show
From a 6/6/63 letter from Graham to Spector, Graham writes: “...reaching a point where we ought to begin setting up a schedule on this pilot, with particular regard to final delivery date. That show, of course, was Linus the Lionhearted. Obviously, they had discussed it previously. At this point I'll leave you with a few items I already have scanned. Next post will have a lot less text and a lot more eye candy. In the meantime, probably the best general information site I know of for Linus is Ron Kurer’s Toontracker Linus the Lionhearted page. That’s where I go for some of the cold hard facts. I am mainly posting about Irv Spector’s involvement with Ed Graham Prod. Toontracker’s info on the voice talent alone is worth the trip.


Will Finn said...

Paul -- thanks for these scans and the thoughtful chronology. much appreciated and looking forward to more. happy thanksgiving!

eeTeeD said...

this art is amazing, and the history you are sharing is priceless.

i remember all those cereal characters from my childhood... oh how i miss them!

david said...

great blog! great posts! great drawings! i love it

p spector said...

Thanks everybody!

David, I noticed you're an Irv Spence fan. I don't have any of the animation drawings that he did for the INA "Rapunzel" spot, but I'll be sure to put up my dad's animation direction layouts (hardly a consolation, I know.)However, I have the finished but faded color Rapunzel on 16mm. My plan, anyway, is to get it transferred on disc somewhere down the line and put it up here. I appreciate the feedback -- gives me a good idea what people would like to see.