Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joseph Barbera died

Five years after William Hanna, Joseph Barbera (*1911) died today.

If you're also puzzled what's the brown rectangle: the picture is apparently a phone card. ;-)

Whenever I saw the trademark "Hanna-Barbera" as a kid, I was confused because Hana as well as Barbara are Czech female names. Twenty-four frames a second looked like even more incredible a task for two girls than for two men.

It is still mind-boggling that they have created so many images. One hour contains up to 86,400 pictures and the patience they needed had to be astronomical. It would be hard for me to create one picture like that: what about millions of pictures? Sure, there are some tricks to simplify the job and they hired other animators. But I still don't understand the computation that shows that such work ends up with a profit after a finite affine time.

In Pilsen, we could watch Tom and Jerry on German TV but most people didn't understand German. Most of us have thought that Tom and Jerry were German or at least I did. ;-) Even before the Velvet Revolution, some Western cartoons were aired on the Czechoslovak TV.

For example, Czech pop-star singer Karel Gott sang the title song for "Včelka Mája" (Die Biene Maja), a German cartoon about a bee (the honey insect), both in Czech as well as German. Of course, the communists didn't need to create this kind of a barrier. The socialist countries including Czechoslovakia have produced several good cartoons, too. That includes "Lolek and Bolek" from Poland, "Nu Pogodi" from Russia, "Maxidog Fig" + "Bob and Bobek" + "Mach and Šebestová" and others from Czechoslovakia.

I've never seen any Scooby Doo movie. That's why I still imagine a Commodore 64 game when you say "Scooby Doo". On the other hand, all of us saw "The Smurfs" ("Šmoulové" in Czech) much like "The Flintstone" and others. Hanna-Barbera have had pretty much a monopoly - a natural monopoly - until the age of "The Simpsons" and "The South Park".

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