Posted in Writing with tags on July 15, 2015 by jymnmagon

Just a quick comment on the English language.

I was following a moving truck yesterday, and the company’s slogan was spread across the back doors: “We treat your home as if it were our own.” OK, nice sentiment. A little rhyming even. Then I thought, “This sounds right… but it isn’t.” The noun/verb agreement doesn’t match. “Home” is singular, so the correct verb is “was.” It made me think, when did “were” become acceptable in our language? It doesn’t sound wrong – but it is. You wouldn’t say, “Your home were on fire yesterday.”

Taking this a step further, wouldn’t the moving company want to a have a more immediate connection with the customer? Why choose the past tense? Shouldn’t they be striving for “We treat your home as if it is our own?” Sounds weird, I know – but I’m just sayin’.

Hungry Hayley

Posted in Disney Stuff! on March 13, 2014 by jymnmagon

OK, so I’m obsessed with Hayley Mills.  Sue me.  But I wanted to follow up from yesterday’s blog… about photographers wanting my true love to look foolish.  Just wrong.

Today’s topic:  Why do you want Hayley stuffing her face?  What’s with the food fetish??

ed7b33ffa862836c297d8affc11616d7 a15b1a8c20271f2ac4d06bf891c1dfdc m795282293_1462501201_n 324c3f048b29bba3f06a83e20ebba283 9b0b07b77095a5adc2e0409bf9823ea94bed7a02c2948bfef78478b11eb52bae Hayley Mills helps James MacArthur with his lunch on the Spanish location of The Truth About Spring - 1965 pollyanna-cake Screen Shot 2012-02-21 at 11.13.12 AM

I will accept the following “original sin” photo, however.  :)


Tale Spin Storyboards

Posted in Disney Stuff!, TV Animation on March 12, 2014 by jymnmagon

One of the great joys of working for Disney was being surrounded with really gifted people… like great storyboard artists.  Here is a collection of panel blow-ups from the first Tale Spin adventure, “I Only Have Ice For You” (written by Don Rosa).  I’m sorry that I don’t know the board artist on this, but I hope someone will offer me the information at some point.  Note the detail and the posing and the expressions.  Great visual storytelling.ImageImageImageImageImage

Just to drive the point home, compare this 2-character shot from Filmation’s ‘Zorro’ with this one from TS.  (This is no attack on the Zorro artist; this was simply the norm at one time.)

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Goofy Hayley

Posted in Disney Stuff! on March 12, 2014 by jymnmagon

I don’t know why this is, but publications seemed to want to promote Hayley Mills as a “goofy gal” back in the sixties.  Perhaps it was her puckish movie roles, but somehow photographers wanted to escalate her persona into “wacky!”  Check out these ridiculous poses that got published.  Sheesh.

Thanks, Life Magazine, for these glamorous poses.

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Who’s into nose-picking?

Screen Shot 2012-02-21 at 11.12.49 AM

You’re doing it wrong.


Could you make her look frumpier?


And what’s sexier than a bass drum and a sombrero?

I'd bang that cbe12c1f32010f5e6d

Yeah, real attractive.


And finally, from the “Ooooh” collection….

11f9829febfcf16ddfad855a4e5f1d61 Ooooh

Seriously, my gal is cute as a button – so let’s make her look that way, ok, guys?!  We need more pictures like this:

Two for the price of one!

Two for the price of one!


That Darn “T”

Posted in Disney Stuff! with tags , , , on March 11, 2014 by jymnmagon

I was going through my Hayley Mills photo collection (Yes, I’m a BIG fan), and I noticed something strange about Hayley’s films… about 1/4 of her theatrical films start with the letter T. Weird. It’s like the Paul Newman “H” films. Anyway, here’s the lineup:
Tiger Bay (1959)


The Truth About Spring (1965)

Hi, pops!

That Darn Cat (1965)

Sez here I’m almost done with my Disney contract.

The Trouble with Angels (1966)

So true.

Twisted Nerve (1968)

Baby, yer hugging too hard.

Take a Girl Like You (1970)


A Troll in Central Park (1994)

Look, I’m animated!

OK, so there you are.  The “T” movies of my long-time girlfriend, Hayley.

See ya latuh, alligatuh.

B-Players (part 1)

Posted in TV Animation on July 25, 2012 by jymnmagon

Many die-hard fans already know that there was once a show in development at Disney TV Animation called “B-Players.”  I’ve often mentioned it as the precursor to “Tale Spin,” since the demise of former led to the latter.  Baloo was the star of B-Players, and after the development was killed, Baloo made the transition to Tale Spin with great ease.  (He’s a great character, ain’t he?)  But that’s about as much as I’ve ever revealed.  Actually, the development of B-Players was a fast and furious endeavor, because in order for TV Animation to jump onto its next 65-episode series (and keep everyone at the studio employed), we needed to sell B-Players at a big corporate meeting in Florida in early Oct’88.

Good enough for a team logo!

So I’m going to devote several blogs to the lost history of “B-Players.”   I think you’ll find it interesting to watch the creative process, as well as observe how this series fit into the history of TV Animation.  OK, some backstory…  By Summer 1988 TV Animation had created numerous hits in its brief 4-year history:  “Gummi Bears,” “Duck Tales,” “Rescue Rangers,” “Winnie the Pooh,” etc.  We were falling into a pattern in which showrunners were on a revolving track.  When production on a series ended, the creative team would swing into Development Mode, coming up with the next series to be produced.  That’s where I found myself in August of ’88… looking for the next 65-episode syndicated hit.  And there’s where B-Players begins.

OK, this is later time… a Tale Spin time. But it’s still Len and me, so cut me some slack.

Len Uhley and I were the first two show developers of B-Players.  (Len joined the Disney team when I hired him as a staff writer on Gummi Bears, and he worked for years at TVA as a power hitter on almost every series.)  Obviously we had done some preliminary thinking on this series, but the earliest development I can find is the first draft of potential characters, typed up by Len on August 16, 1988.  I include it here with delight.  I love that Jose Carioca shows up as a “Fernando Lamas” character — decades before the suave Puss (Antonio Banderas) of Shrek fame.  (OK, OK, Carioca is Brazilian, I know, I know.)  Also, the platypus is now labeled as Waldo Z. which was pet name that Mark Zaslove and I used.  [It comes from a 60’s episode of Steve Allen’s afternoon talk show where Steve took comment cards from the audience.  One guy wrote, “My dog’s name is Waldo Zibaldo.”  When Steve queried the audience member why he named his dog in such a bizarre manner, the guy shrugged and said, “Cuz my name is Fred Zibaldo.”  Years later I brought that name to Disney, and Waldo Zibaldobecame an all-purpose moniker… which Mark and I still use to this day, in fact.]  But most importantly, Len named the evil character “Roderick Rat.”  Interestingly, that rat character would eventually evolve from villain to main character –Ricky Rat.

This document was followed up with a Story Walk (see my blog on that – https://finetooning.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/the-story-walk/) in which Len and I batted around ideas.  I was fortunate to being working with Len on this, because: a) he’s a great gag man, and b) he takes meticulous notes.  In fact, out of the dozens of story walks I’d taken in my career, this was the first one that was ever tape recorded (by Len) which was then transcribed (by Len) for posterity.  I’m not going to lay out the entire transcription, but I will fill you in the thought process.  First of all, the two main characters of “B-Players” — Baloo and Ricky Rat — are nowhere to be found yet.  In fact at this point the series is being called “Disney’s Bit Players.”

Seriously funny.

In A Nutshell:  The series revolves around gung-ho cartoon character (a la Roger Rabbit) who is trying to inspire his fellow toons to lobby for more jobs, more screen time.  He is very plucky but a bit naive – like Rocky the Flying Squirrel or the early Mickey Mouse.   A cheerleader, hoping to inspire his fellow bit player toons to greatness — to quit their hiding on the back lot and get working again — to make great cartoons once more with their incompetent director.

Wait, what incompetent director???  Well, at this point we were discussing J. Audubon Woodlore as the nice-but-fumbling comedy director.  He likes the Bit Players…. but his Assistant Director is the villain of the piece!   An angry, conniving AD (a la Black Adder) who despises working on comedies with these has-beens.  [This is a dynamic that was never played out in Gummi Bears – in which Duke Igthorn has to play second-banana to an more powerful (yet stupid) villain named Lord Zared.  Very frustrating to Iggy.  And again, a very similar situation to Black Adder.]  At this stage of the talks the main character (who we were calling Roger for shorthand) and his cronies are all good guys, but it’s this evil AD that is the guy trying to trip them up – a spiteful, petty, turd.  You see, the AD signed an 86 picture deal with Disney, but they won’t let him direct (because he’s not a real human… like Goofy…. a human body but a dog or fox head).  So the AD has to suffer through all these horrible 2-reeler cartoons under Woodlore’s directorship.  Grrrrrrr.   THAT’S why the Black Adder character hates our toon characters.

So our lead character “Roger” is this talented, caring dude who looks out for his fellow toons.  Like when a stupid toon gets his head stuck in a bucket of cement, the Black Adder character wants the lummox fired!  But it’s Roger who convinces Audubon to “shoot around him” until the cement dissolves.  Or better still, “Roger” dresses up and fills in for the missing actor so he’s not fired.  His role model is Mickey (who he hopes to co-star with some day), but he’s not as talented as the Mouse.  So he’ll stoop to any level to get a laugh.  “Can’t juggle and unicycle at the same time?  Then I’ll smash a plate over my head!”  He wants stardom reeeeeeally bad.

Yeah, baby.

Len and I spoke about other characters on the walk, as well.  Len brought up the “strong female character” question.  [It’s interesting to note that Len had a doe character in mind – named Fawn Deer (which was later used in He’s Bonkers!).]   We also discussed using “Mel the Wonder Wombat (don’t ask) and a platypus character (pre-dating Phineas and Ferb by two decades).  Even a chameleon comedian who doesn’t know what style of comedy he should pursue, so he steals from everyone.  There was also a Studio Head who (as Gary Krisel suggested) should be like Alan Brady on the Dick Van Dyke Show, and he’s never seen.  But Gary was also enamored with the Baby Herman character from Roger Rabbit, so Len and I were in a quandary over which approach worked.  (But, frankly, at this point the Studio Head character didn’t matter that much.)

A bear and a rat! (artist unknown)

OK, the villain seemed to be pretty clear cut, so we wrestled with what type of character the lead was going to be.  Roger and Bugs had the rabbit thing sewn up.  “We can’t do a mouse,” said Len, who then suggested a dog.  Dogs are better than cats (as cartoon heroes), but bears “give me a heavy feeling.”  [Again, it’s fascinating to note that in this story walk we turned down a rodent and a bear… who would BOTH eventually become the leads of B-Players!!!]  At one point Len referred to this dog character as Peter Pointer.

The story walk ended here, but the wheels kept turning.  On Aug 18th Len typed up a second draft of the “Cast of Characters,” and you can see the influence of the Story Walk.

We took the list of characters to designer Wendell Washer (http://www.wendellwasher.com/) who quickly drew up a bunch of supplementary toon characters.  A few days later, he turned in 9 pages of stuff.

OK, that’s all for today.  Stay tooned for the next installment of “The Lost History of B-Players.”

Higher For Hire artwork (Tale Spin)

Posted in TV Animation with tags on July 19, 2012 by jymnmagon

While cleaning out my storage shed (where I recently discovered the Lost Ark of the Covenant), I came across a lot of Disney TV Animation papers.  There’s a lot of minutiae, but that’s what fans often thrive on.  So I’ll include all the silly bits and variations.

Storage Wars’ wet dream.

Anyway, here are designs for the interior of Higher for Hire from TALE SPIN.  They are labeled Show 31 (Save the Tiger), but that doesn’t seem right to me.  They look like they’re from the pilot mini-series, Plunder and Lightning, since they show the before and after of Rebecca’s ownership.  The approval stamp is faint, but it looks like the date is March 06 1990.  The initial is “L”… for Larry Latham???

The first is a “rendered” or shaded b/w version of Higher for Hire in its original messy state.

Baloo’s messy office looks eerily similar to MY office!!

And here is Layer #2 of that same scene.

Layer #3 (of debris)

Now here is the same illustration un-rendered.

And finally the “After Rebecca” version (without overlay).  Suitable for Rebecca’s child to play in.

Here it is with the overlay.  [Note:  I would imagine all the artwork was by the same artist, but it’s only the last two drawing that contain a name:  “Kelly Day” (who I later worked with on Goof Troop).


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