Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fifty Years Back

... There was a short story session for a (now) iconic half hour.

... When it came to outlining the entire concept, ... It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, ... was all hashed out by lunchtime, save a few scenes that were added after Schulz, director-producer Bill Melendez (also the voice of Snoopy) and executive producer Lee Mendelson finished their sandwiches.

“The reason we were able to do it in one day is that the main theme of the show had been in the comic strips for years,” Mendelson said. ... “As we were developing the script, Mr. Schulz lamented almost as an aside, ‘Too bad we can’t have Snoopy fly. Melendez, pretending to be offended, said, ‘Hey, I’m an animator. I can do anything, including a dog flying a doghouse.’ We all laughed and that’s how Melendez and [animator] Bill LittleJohn created that scene.” ...

The Bill Melendez Studio was housed in three small residential bungalows on Larchmont Street, a few blocks from Paramount Studios.

The setup was simple: Bill Melendez directed and animated, Phil Roman (during the time he was there) directed and animated, some animation was freelanced off premises, layout and story was on premises along with other departments (animation check, final check, ink-and-paint, (etc.) scattered among the three bungalows.

It was an efficient, straight-foward business model, and it went on for decades. Innumerable Peanuts half hours, Cathy specials, the initial Garfield special. Bill Melendez kept the studio small and manageable, and over the years Bill M. and Company turned out a lot of superior work. To keep a studio steaming along for half a century takes a kind of genius, and Mr. Melendez had the Magic Touch in spades.


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