Sunday, March 15, 2009

A WBA Project

In the early and mid-eighties, Warner Bros. Animation was pretty much a boutique studio, turning out the occasional short or compilation of shorts at a small office in Toluca Lake.

Then in 1989 WGA entered a partnership with Steven Spielberg and began a major Renaissance (and a move to new spaces in the Sherman Oaks Galleria), turning out Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and a raft of other product that was pretty much the gold standard for television animation in the first half of the 1990s ...

The quality Warners cartoon staff was kept on even when production was slow, and times were good.

Now, of course, times have changed. WBA is a much smaller version of its former self, and headquartered in two sites on the Warners (formerly Columbia) Ranch. Daffy, Bugs and Yosemite Sam have given way to comic book super heroes:

This time it is SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES based upon the Jeff Loeb and Ed McGuinness comic series. Bruce Timm is the Executive Producer on the film and is currently actually in production ...

Of late, Warners Animation has been home to various spandexed crime fighters, in both direct-to-video features and t.v. episodics. "We keep getting close to adding a couple of new series to the production slate," one staffer told me, "but so far we've just done the Batman series and a string of dvd features. I keep hoping it's going to be more. We're sure trying ..."

It would be nice to return to those halcyon days when WBA artists worked year 'round and were carried during thin periods. But I'm sure the board artists, directors and model designers would settle for two or three newer series.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What's happened? I remember when those shows were great... the best animated stuff on tv.

Did cable tv kill the warner brothers weekday afternoon block? Did facebook and twitter?

Why is it that what was so popular and profitable then is now not?

Anonymous said...

The best animated stuff on television at that time was born out of the influence of independent animation industry veterans and out-of-box studio thinking. The very worst animated stuff on television was born out of over-promoted Frankenstein deals that studios had with live action film superstars, etc.

Anonymous said...

..and to label Tiny Toons a gold standard flies in the face of all reason.

Anonymous said...

We all know that the real gold standard was Jem and the Holograms.

Also the Punky Brewster animated series.

Anonymous said...

Say what you want about Tiny Toons, it's miles better than what's coming out of Warners Animation now...which is next to NOTHING.

What killed Warners? All kinds of things. Letting the corporations buy up all the media outlets and then spreading out the product so thin that it's almost impossible to get decent ratings and therefore get advertising to cover the costs seems to be the most obvious.

The leadership of the animation department is sorely lacking, too. Maybe Jean MacCurdy was in the right place at the right time, but see who's taken over since then, and you really can't deny that the downhill slide has kept going.

And now they have Sam Register? The guy who helped kill Cartoon Network? In charge of Warners Animation? WHY?!?!?!

Warners is going to continue to be a walking corpse for a couple more years, it looks like.

Anonymous said...

Cartoon Network killed Cartoon Network. By this point, they could easily be arrested and convicted for necrophilia.

Anonymous said...

The end result is the same.

Nothing good will be coming out of Warner Bros. anytime soon.

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