If you grew up watching Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat, and Yogi Bear, you’ve probably wondered why the characters were drawn quite similarly. But did you know why they specifically had collars?
Hanna-Barbera characters had collars and ties to save money on animation. By creating a piece between the head and body, one part can remain animated while the other part stays static. They made 7-minute cartoons with just 2,000 drawings instead of 14,000.
Where Did It All Start?
William Debney “Bill” Hana and Joseph Roland “Joe” Barbera first met while working for the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (MGM) studio in the 1930s. The duo produced about 114 episodes for the Tom and Jerry series. They then started a partnership that lasted for decades.
One their last year with MGM, they developed a concept for a new animated TV series about a dog and cat and their misadventures. However, they failed to convince the studio to support their latest project. George Sidney, a live-action director who also worked with Hana and Barbera in the past, partnered with them and was able to convince Columbia Pictures to make a deal with the producers.
Screen Gems, the TV production subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, became H-B Enterprises’ official distributor and licensing agent.
H-B Enterprises was the first major animation studio to successfully air cartoons for television. After rebroadcasts of older cartoons, the first TV original was The Ruff and Reddy Show which premiered on NBC on December 14, 1957. The Huckleberry Hound Show followed this on September 29, 1958. (Source: My Life in Toons)
Iconic Animation Series
By the 1960s, Hanna-Barbera was producing about six hours of cartoons and live-action shows every week. They had 300 million people watching their shows globally in over 20 different languages. Although there were other animation studios around, their work truly made an impact. In fact, Huckleberry Hound won an Emmy in 1960.
After winning the Emmy, Hana-Barbera knew they had to raise the bar. The stone age themed sitcom; The Flintstones was specifically created for a family audience after finding out that more than half of the viewers of Huckleberry Hound were actually adults. The show was based on the bumbling adventures of everyday quarrymen and best friends; Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble. By the time the show was aired, it was a big hit! (Souce: BBC)
Why Did They Need to Cut Costs?
No matter how popular Hanna-Barbera was in the 60s, they were not appreciated by other artists. Hanna-Barbera knew that cartoons were doing well on TV, but they also realized that they could never match the $45,000 budget they used to get when they created Tom and Jerry in the 40s.
With this, they pioneered a technique called limited animation, where there was minimal movement and frequent recycling of backgrounds. When you take a closer look, you’ll notice that most of Hanna-Barbera’s characters, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Fred Flintstone, and more, would either have a prominent collar or necktie. The artists were able to make the body static while their faces moved as they spoke. They wouldn’t need to re-draw everything.
We went into limited animation because there was no money, absolutely no money. And because of what we were doing, the entire business came back to work again.Joseph Roland “Joe” Barbera
Although fans and enthusiasts were offended with the creation of limited animation due to the loss of meticulously crafted and hand-drawn work, Hanna and Barbera believe they have saved the entire industry. (Souce: BBC)