Friday, June 29, 2007


One of the last WB series that Startoons worked on, Histeria was an odd cast of characters that seemed to change personalities all the time. I believe they would even change their race if the script called for it. This image was one of the golden moments from the show - where we got to animate a classic WB character. This scene is from "The Wild West" if I'm not mistaken (judging by Miss Information's getup). Bugs Bunny was skillfully handled by Director John Griffin, delivering his classic line I'm assuming - I can hardly remember since I probably last saw this show only when it aired. I'm sure John could help fill in the details. "The Wild West" was the first Histeria show Startoons worked on, and the show that was in production when Startoons moved from 900 Ridge Road to the VFW building on Harwood.

Update: Posing by Jon McClenahan, Animation by John Griffin

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Three Stooges

Here's a picture of Me, Kevin Barber, and Jay Peltz back around 1995. Kevin is as crazy as ever, and Jay just would never shut up ;) Kevin and Jay graduated from Startoons and went on to work on several feature films at Disney Orlando (Lilo and Stitch among my favorites).

I'm happy to say I work with Kevin again, and I'm looking forward to a reunion with Jay at Comic-Con this year.

Here's a picture of Jay hiding in a bowl of apples. He sure was a sneaky guy.

Steve barf

Let's see if the animated GIF in my Yahoo briefcase works...



Sunday, June 24, 2007

Key People - Dave Pryor

Molliter Pryzberowski (or, as he is known by those in the Tinkerer's Guild, "Old Tinkey") is, as they say in the Tinkerer's Guild, "A bit of a Tinkerer". Ever fascinated with thwarting small creatures attempts to fit through tiny holes in things, there was a small movement on the part of the Tinkerer's Guildmembers to change his monniker to "Old Strainey", but "Old Tinkey" was already embroidered on his Tinkerer's apron.

Birthed in Poland by a mother of Polish lineage and a father of German origin, he soon realized that America was where he had to go. Six weeks after his seventeenth birthday, he set sail for the New World in a boat that he built out of pamphlets. Nine months later, he set off again in a boat that he made out of trees. One and a third years later, in the fall of 1890, he was released from the Iverson Hospital in Lafayette, Maryland. He was finally an uninvited Guest of the American People!

Over the next Seven Years, Molliter (or, as he was known by legitimate citizens, "that filthy Tramp") worked his way toward the Midwest, which was, as he had been led to believe, "the heart of a booming Storm Door market," which was false. Along the way, he learned what he could about animation from the hobos, drifters, angry loners, and bums that he failed to avoid. One of the many technological developments he learned of was a thing called "Motion Picture Film." His intrigue at this news would lead him to one of his Greatest Innovations.

Falling off a train and breaking his leg in Home-Wood, Illinois, he walked to the local Physic's house using a Cane he had made from Bread. Later, he hobbled the rest of the way using Crutches he made from Shovels. There, he learned of an animated photo-play studio in Home-Wood that was in need of a screen man.

In his travels, Molliter had seen the Suspicion, Fear, and Violence with which the Public had expressed their fascination with the new science of Motion Picture films. The Terror, he reasoned, stemmed from seeing Photo-pictographs of actual Humans in Motion. Pryzberowski postulated that this Horror could be allayed with Humor. This led to his first series of Short Films produced at Star-Toones in which moving Actors were got-up in suits made of boxes and rubber steam-hoses, making them seem less Real and more Drawing-like. In fig.2, we see a drawing from his early work, "Mr. Hobart's Boomful Blast".

This technique, while a Motion-Picture Failure, proved to be a postitive boon for Animated Photo-Plays (saving the animator the troublesome drawing of Elbows and Knees), and now promises to be one of the Most-Favored Trends in the coming century of Photo-Play Entertainment.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Classic WB Characters

Here are the Warners characters that everyone remembers in their glorious splendor on the sides of carnival rides. These really cracked me up when I saw them - so I had to take a picture for prosperity. What? you don't recognize your favorite character Wile E. Coyote? I love these rip-offs. Even the Animaniacs make a showing in one of the carnival games!

Friday, June 22, 2007


Djorge / djordge / djgeordjdgjge

Djorge liked to play Goldeneye. His focus while playing was like a coffee laser. When he got married, we all went in together and got him an N64, and I believe a copy of the game, but I can't be sure. Trouble is, there was no way to do deathmatch with only one player. To get his fix, Djorge would set up a 4-player match and repeatedly slaughter the unmanned characters. Apparently, that did the trick for him.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Wild and Crazy Guy

Ever since his arrival at Startoons in 1995, Artist extraordinaire Phil Gullett was a one man party machine. Sort of a John Kricfalusi of his time - you couldn't keep him away from the young bitches. Late nights drinking and smoking were the regular scene for him. Only recently, after Phil contracted an extreme case of Boneitis, did he begin to slow off of his wild ways and begin going to bed at a regular time. I'm happy to say Phil is now alive and well with a cushy job and is continuing to draw laugh scribbles to this day. Keep it real Kool Kat!

StarToons Profile: J. Watkiss Gryphon

Renowned creator of "Friendly Flickers" and sundry other award-winning Shadow Plays such as "The Farmer's Mighty Blow" and "Thy Hobbled Sheep," J. Watkiss Gryphon left a successful career in Phrenology to pursue the development of Animated Photo-Plays at Star-Toones. He currently holds the title of Cine-Spool Director and is responsible for the correct assemblage of Hinges.

Mr. Gryphon was the first member of our Studio to assign cardinal numbers to the Animation Photo-Plates, thereby assuring that they will be viewed in the proper Order. He also holds several Patents for the "Kine-Mato-Mystifier", the "Shadow-Confusagig-Cylinder" and the "Squirrel-Powered Napoleonic Theatre Phantastique."

He came to America from Hogansherosvald, Austria in 1892, where he studied "Der Artishkness Mit Scriben Unt Shtunten" or "The Drawing Trick" under Professor Joseph Mesmer at the Gymnasium Der Optikvasser-schloss. Upon graduation, his entire class was congratulated and/or attacked as demons for their "strange new powers" by the townspeople. Fully thirty-two Animators were killed, skinned and eaten by the members of the local church.

Watkiss escaped by clinging to the underside of a Dog as it ran from the Melee. He then made his way to the Coast by clinging to the underside of a Horse, a Chicken, and then a Goat. Vowing never to return to the shores of his most beloved and devout homeland, he clutched the very barnacles on the hull of a fishing boat and sailed to the Great Lakes in search of a new life, eventually finding work as a sketch-demon in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Although here he received numerous Accolades and a Papal Pardon, it was his love for Animation and quality Weatherstripping that led him to Home-Wood where he signed a writ that bound him in servitude to Star-Toones until the moon turns to blood.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Birthday Card #1

This drawing by Vince Proce and Tyrue Jones adorned the cover of my favorite birthday card of all the infamous Startoons-production killling-birthday cards. Apparently I drank a lot back then.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wall Ad

During the "Non-TV" years, we picked up a slew of odd commercials. Some were pretty cool - Like a campaign of Charlie the Tuna commercials where Charlie would show up in real life situations - rotoscoped into shots with loving detail. There were lots of Toy ads too - Chicken Limbo, Gooey Louie, and Mousetrap are clear in my head.

Then there were some local ads, like this one for Homemakers furniture. I almost forgot about this one - and rightfully so. But I know those are my drawings of two very plain yellow walls with faces on them. Wally and Wanda are their names as I relearned from this article. All I remember is they slide apart and talk to each other - pretty easy stuff - which probably fit into their budget.

Now from the silent end of this peanut gallery...

I am very pleased to see this blog page in full effect. It's good to see you are all doing well within this field or others. To all you whom I have either missed talking to, neglected to talk to, scorned in some way or another or simply not kept track of, I apologize and wish to say I hope we might all still be friends and remain in contact in the future.
That being said there's a couple of things I want to point out. First off, that is a very bad picture of me behind Caroline and Jen in that post below. It is a small reminder not to eat a huge bowl of pasta every other day.
Also I ask that you remember this: Despite Andy and his usual tendencies, lest we forget Trevor and his inadequacies for animation and life as we know it. If he should ever read this blog, I shall be the one to break it to him that he simply did not fit in. I still remember the way he pronounces "anime" as "a-nee-muh." That wacky guy...

Well, I do have some photos from back in the day around somewhere. Once they've been located, they shall be posted and the reminiscing can continue. Until then, keep on trucking!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ty and Doc

When Startoons hired staff to handle the shows we worked on for Animaniacs season four, the full time staff doubled almost overnight. Here is a shot taken in the assistant's room at the 900 ridge road building of Ty Jones and Mike "Doc" Reidy. This little room housed about maybe 5 guys when it really fit about 3. As I remember, they shared the space with Mike Feeney, Mike Fritz, and Vince Proce. It also fit a slop sink for the BG department paints, although we were moving to digital production for our commercial work so it didn't get much use other than to clean some coffee cups :)

Ty worked for Startoons on two separate occasions, and was doing animation for Startoons on his second tour of duty. The character I most remember Ty animating was the Lion in Tommy Nelson's "The Crippled Lamb" special, voiced by Mark Hamill. I also remeber Ty being pretty darn good at the video game Tekken on Playstation 1. Doc did a lot of assisting at Startoons. He worked through the Animaniacs and Histeria shows, and I believe some of the one-off shows like "Bingo" and "Watts on your Mind". Interesting fact, Doc was a model for Alex Ross' Uncle Sam character. After Startoons, I remeber Doc working for Chicago's Calabash animation and Cartoon Network in Atlanta.


Hey guys. Having a lot of fun reading through these entries. Especially the old photos and such. At any rate, I know most of the guys here have seen this, but I threw M7 up on YouTube awhile back, and figured I'd embed it here for the older guys who didn't work at the new office to see. Apologies for the audio getting out of synch. When I made the DivX edit of it ages ago the audio somehow got out of synch. I can't find my original huge .avi of it anywhere to re-rip it. It's probably in a box in my basement.

The guys who helped work on it (that I remember) are:

Kurt: animation/character concept
Djordje: animation
Thor: assisting
Chad: assisting
Phil: BGs
Doug: layout concept/layouts

Speak up if I missed anyone.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Startoon's Animaniacs in Screen Magazine

Here is an inspiring article from the Startoons heydays. What an exciting time it was back then - getting so many shows to work on at once for a boutique studio. This article came out August 2, 1993. Click on the pictures to enlarge. Enjoy!

More on Drivers License Frizbee Golf

To add to Phil's pics, here's another. This "game" is one that we often discuss as one of the most memorable moments in Startoons history. Here you can see Steve Bowler (orange hat) giving his license a toss.
We really did try to get Andy's license out of the wall. We looked pretty darn hard for it - but it was gone for good.
If you look on the back wall, those pictures hanging are Warner Bros. painted cels featuring their famous characters on different amusement park rides. This was a project Startoons did. I think it was Kevin Barber who did most of it (correct me if I'm wrong). The art was sold at the Six Flags amusement parks as limited edition art.

Exmas party pickshurs.

I don't know why I have these pictures. I'm sure I didn't take them. They seem to be from StarToons' final Christmas party... the one we had at the office. The one where we played "drivers' license frisbee golf" - a game in which the victims /players throw their license from target to target around the office. The winner is any player who doesn't have to visit the DMV the next day. This time, everyone won but Andy (top picture on the right. Not Andy VanDalsem, with the Batman shirt on). His license wound up inside the wall of one of the "offices", I think it was Dave Pryor's. I say "office" because three walls and no ceiling do not an office make. Apparently, the gap between the sheets of wallboard was open at the top, so it really seems as if those walls were very optimistic about having a ceiling some day.

Andy never got his license out. He left the country not long after, returning to the Great White North. I hope someone invited him to "take off you hoser". I think it was about 8 months later when StarToons imploded. Conceivably, one of us could have stopped by when Bamboo Blue was tearing out the walls, to search for the artifact (let "tearing out" = "leaning on them for a minute"). Also conceivably, at the time, we were all very much occupied with "What the hell do I do now?", leaving very little room in our brains for "Gee I wonder if I can get Andy's license back?"

I used to have everybody over on occasional Friday nights to watch a movie or to play video games. I recall Andy only coming along once. I had a the electronics arranged so that not only would you hear the sound from the video game through my stereo, but I could also play music through the same speakers. It made the games funnier when you listened to wildly inappropriate music. Anyway, Andy had drunk a few of my beers, then chose to complain about the lameness of my musical choices for the night. I tried to explain that I knew it was lame and that, indeed, that's what I liked about it. I told him it made me laugh, demonstrating a little bit for him: "huh huh!" He wouldn't be deterred. He insisted that "No , man. Bad music is just BAD! There's no such thing as 'so bad it's good!'" He seemed really angry about it. For a smallish sort of guy, he had a big loud voice. My guests began to look concerned. I tried to brush off the subject: "Well, I like it and everyone else seems to be laughing (until he started shouting up the place), so you'll just have to tolerate it." Before I was required to throw the surly kanuk out of my house, I think it was Caroline (bottom photo, middle person) who got him to simmer down and give up the fight. I think he decided to leave shortly thereafter, which was no bad thing.

I'm not spiritual, but throwing his license inside a wall was not only an amazing shot, should he have been trying to, which I know he wasn't. It was also a piece of glorious karmic realignment.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

For those of you who didn't get to attend Heather's wedding ...

Marco was there ... Bowler was there ... can't remember who all else was able to come. Anyway, this was the dance we did for her: me, my two sons, and Rachael's husband.

Whaddaya doin' ya nut

This pic looks like it could be in the 900 Ridge Road building. I don't know the history of how many Startoons offices had standard white walls. It's a picture not taken at Jon's "ivory tower" animation desk, so I'm assuming it's a publicity shoot.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Go Team

I was The Keeper Of The Graphics, and I see it as my job to surrender them to this blog in a painfully gradual manner.

Hello my name is...

I was the long haired guy who often slept under his desk when he missed the last train back to Chicago,the dancing idiot at every wedding, and the overseas studio guinea pig. Occasionally I animated.

If you asked me 10 years ago if I would be waxing nostalgic for Homewood IL, I would have laughed and gone outside for a cigarette. But I have to admit, my time at Startoons were some of the best years of my life. I have yet to work with a group of people I enjoyed more.

I'm looking forward to what this blog can do. My first suggestion is to start posting the birthday cards and remebering how much productivity was lost during their creation. I will post what I have when it's not 4am and when I'm not catching a plane to Chicago in the morning. Hopefully I will see some of you while I am in town for the Chewbone animation screening.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I sent out some invites, so If you are a Startoons Alumni and you are looking at this page, please e-Mail me, Dave Pryor, @ I'm looking for more Startoons folks, so if you have a list of e-mail addresses, please send them to me. Some of my info could be a bit dusty, so hopefully I can get the latest and grow the members to the full staff again :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kitchen Sink Gang - Concept

This is a concept image from Phil Gullett's "Kitchen Sink Gang". The characters were based on Phil's designs of some unused one-off characters that got cut from another show. Startoons funded 2 minutes of animation that was used to pitch the idea to the networks. The characters turned out more refined than how they look in this concept. The sketchy BG approach was retained as one of the style elements of the show.

At My Desk

Here I am at my animation desk from when Startoons was at 18147 Harwood Ave. in Homewood - sometime in the late '90s. Like most workspaces, it's a bit messy, and overrun with toys. Some of my favorites here are Banana Splits figures that I picked up on a family trip to King's Island amusement park in 1982. You can see a hint of them in the top right corner on the shelf. You can see on my desk that I'm working on a scene with Englishman from "Kitchen Sink Gang". There's a great turnaround for Spaceman up on my board.


This is the man. JON McCLENAHAN is responsible for giving so many animators their first break and truly believing in them. He taught me the value of hard work, and how you could accomplish any animation task with the proper planning and execution. The nose to the grindstone approach enabled Jon and Startoons to compete with the growing competition of overseas studios and keep more home grown animation penciled by the hands of local animators. Thanks buddy. My 9+ years at Startoons were filled with ups and downs, but whenever I look back, all I remember are the good times.