Terrytoons

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The home of the talking magpies, Heckle and Jeckle.

Terrytoons was an animation studio founded by Paul Terry alongside Frank Moser and Joe Coffman in 1929, following Terry's firing from Fables Pictures, Inc. (which later became the Van Beuren studio). The studio is most well-known for its characters, Heckle and Jeckle, such as Mighty Mouse, Gandy Goose and Sourpuss, Farmer Al Falfa and Dinky Duck. By 1957, Gene Deitch gave the studio a UPA makeover and gave us characters, such as Tom Terrific, Sidney the Elephant and Clint Clobber. But by 1960, the studio returned to its old ways while introducing characters such as Deputy Dawg, Hector Heathcote and Hashimoto-San. The studio shut down animation production in 1968, but Bill Weiss still kept the company alive after the closing of the New Rochelle building. After Weiss' departure in the mid-70s, however, Viacom decided to have others do their takes on the Terrytoons franchise.

Why It Rocks

  1. Prior to his retirement, the Paul Terry era was decent.
  2. Prior to CBS, it became the cartoon division of 20th Century Fox in 1936.
  3. Carlo Vinci, Jim Tyer and Bill Tytla's animation are considered to be one of the positive aspects of the studio's run.
    • Gene Deitch also qualifies, since he was the one responsible for giving the studio a stylistic makeover in the late 1950s.
  4. The cartoons directed by Connie Rasinski are considered to have the best visuals.
  5. Introduced such very lovable characters as
  6. Farmer Al Falfa made his return to the studio in late 1930 with the short "French Fried".
  7. By 1933, it became even better when the animation became smoother, the backgrounds became brighter and the voice acting sounds much greater, starting with "Who Killed Cock Robin?".
    • The cartoons got an upgrade by mid-1936, when it was acquired by 20th Century Fox, with a talent of animators migrating from the closed Van Beuren studio (which is known for its Aesop's Fables and Rainbow Parade series), including Carlo Vinci and Joseph Barbera (one of both creators of Tom and Jerry, as well as one of both founders of the beloved Hanna-Barbera TV studio). In 1938, they quickly started to produce their shorts in color along with the black and white ones, which were phased out by late 1942. They shortly got a UPA makeover in the late 50s with stylistic character designs and backgrounds.
  8. It spawned toys, clothing and comic books, which are very well-received.
  9. The outrageous humor was so good, especially these cartoons from the '40s, '50s and '60s.
  10. The 1955 logo designed by Gene Deitch is a nice innovational improvement
  11. The Gene Deitch era was very decent with very smooth UPA-style makeover of designs, backgrounds and animation.
  12. Occassional good cartoons in their run before and after the UPA makeover: such as:
    • The Power of Thought
    • The Talking Magpies
    • Super Mouse Rides Again
    • Topsy TV
    • The Juggler of Our Lady
  13. Great soundtrack from Philip A. Scheib and Jim Timmens.
  14. Excellent writing.
  15. It spawned shows that were loved by lots of kids, Tom Terrific! and The Deputy Dawg Show.
  16. The Filmation reboot was very decent, and stays faithful to the source material.
    • The studio had a 1987 reboot from Bakshi Productions, entitled Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, which stayed true to the spirit of the franchise (but with a new twist).
  17. Terrytoons also was one of the longest running golden age studios to last until the mid/late 1960's while other Golden Age studios shut down or quit making theatrical shorts (even though Walter Lantz Productions still kept it's animation department until 1972 but Lantz shut down back from 1948 to 1950 while Terrytoons never shut down).

Bad Qualities

  1. The studio's beginnings in the early to mid 1930s were notorious for its art and animation style behind its time, looking like 1910s animation.
  2. Most of the cartoons (predating the Gene Deitch era) had extremely formulaic storylines.
    • At one point, the story department was restricted to reusing the boy/girl/villain formula in their early shorts to capitalize on the success of Disney's Mickey Mouse.
  3. Filmation’s reboot of Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle from the late 1970s (while decent) is even worse than the theatrical shorts that preceded them.
  4. All of the old characters, with the exception of Dinky Duck and Mighty Mouse (who made cameo in "Old Mother Clobber"), were absent in the Gene Deitch era (1957-59). But in Deitch's defense, he wanted to try something new with the old studio.
  5. There was an attempt to reboot their franchise in 1999 with Curbside, which was surprisingly panned by Jerry Beck, Gene Deitch, and other Terrytoon fans for changes of the characters and that writers only did it for the money.
    • A handful of characters were absent from the pilot, such as Gandy Goose and Sourpuss, Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, Clint Clobber, Hector Heathcote, etc.
    • It had a few failed reboots like a John K. Mighty Mouse cartoon and "The New TerryToons".
  6. Some of their cartoons had racist stereotyping in it, including Native Americans and African cannibals.
  7. Most of the staff weren't credited up until 1957. Before Deitch's takeover, only the writer, director, and music composer were given credit.
  8. In the late 60s, the black and white Terrytoon shorts were never shown on television again and the color shorts were found as being more marketable.
    • In fact, most of the original titles for said shorts were replaced with Castle Films and TV titles. Even the color Terrytoons shorts weren't safe from this, as a number of them had reissue titles for broadcast.

Trivia

  • Terrytoons was the slowest to adapt to new technologies, such as sound (in 1930) and Technicolor (in 1938).
  • After Curbside, ViacomCBS shelved the Terrytoons away from future distribution and stopped caring about the franchise. However, the reboot series for the Netflix streaming service has yet to be announced.
  • Despite the fact that the shorts had gone off the air, select shorts were remastered by UCLA with their original titles to be played at animation festivals. These versions were never released publicly online.
  • In the early 2000s, Mighty Mouse made his return in a Milk commercial, entitled "The Power of Cheese".

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