Nov 15, 2011

The Story Man, or Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Heck Allen, Tex Avery's story man, in 1953. He stands outside the MGM animation building. This and many others are from Michael Barrier's indispensable animation history blog .

It's always a little startling to look at color images from periods of history that we're used to seeing in only grey tones, especially scenes and people engaged in ordinary, everyday pursuits. Just about the only color photographs one does see are holiday snaps which are usually not the best quality. So what a pleasure, and how fascinating, to be treated to glimpses of the MGM animation staff taken on 35mm color slide film, by the late, great Ed Benedict.
Ed gave his slides and other photographs to Michael Barrier for inclusion in his book of animation history, "Hollywood Cartoons". They didn't make it in then, but happily can now be enjoyed gratis thanks to Mike's posting them here:
Michael Barrier's unpublished color photographs of Tex Avery's unit, taken by Ed Benedict.
Even in their early-fifties sartorial splendor of coats and ties, color seems to make the subjects younger, livelier, more real than is usually the case(I'm sure posing for their buddy Benedict didn't hurt either). But what really jolted me from out of the past was the portrait of lanky Heck Allen, gagman extraordinaire, pictured above. The only thing that distinguishes him from story guys walking down the hall from me today is the crease in his pants. History repeats itself-in some things, at least.
And here's the man himself, Tex Avery, from that same collection on Barrier's site. Look at that high stack of scripts-or script notes-or annoying memos from Quimby on the desk. And what's in those boxes to his right?

Go, go, go right away and look and read what else Mike's been posting. I promise you, if you have a real interest in animation history-Disney, Warner Bros, golden age comics-you'll be glad you did.  I always am.