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Cartoon Network Studios

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Cartoon Network Studios, formerly known as Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. is a cartoon animation studio founded by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera that has produced television cartoons for over forty years.


Hanna and Barbera were first teamed together while working at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio in 1939. Their first directorial project was a cartoon entitled "Puss Gets the Boot" (1940), which served as the genesis of the popular Tom and Jerry cartoon series. Hanna and Barbera formed Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1944 while working for the studio, and used the side company to work on ancillary projects, including early television commercials and the original opening titles to I Love Lucy.

After an award-winning stint in which they won eight Oscars, MGM closed their animation studio in 1957, as it felt it had acquired a reasonable backlog of shorts for re-release. Hanna and Barbera hired most of their MGM unit to work for Hanna-Barbera Productions, which became a full-fledged production company starting in 1957. The decision was made to specialize in television animation, and the studio's first series was "The Ruff & Reddy Show," which premiered on NBC in December 1957. In order to obtain working capital to produce their cartoons, Hanna-Barbera made a deal with the Screen Gems television division of Columbia Pictures in which the new animation studio received working capital in exchange for distribution rights. The company never had a building of its own until 1963, when the Hanna-Barbera Studio, located at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. in West Hollywood, California was opened.

Television cartoons

Hanna-Barbera Presents

Hanna-Barbera was the first animation studio to successfully produce animated cartoons especially for television; until then, cartoons on television consisted primarily of rebroadcasts of theatrical cartoons. Hanna-Barbera also produced one theatrical cartoon series, Loopy DeLoop , for Columbia Pictures from 1959 to 1965.

Many of Hanna-Barbera's original TV series were produced for prime-time broadcast, and they continued to produce prime-time TV cartoons up until the early 1970s. Such shows as Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, The Jetsons, and especially The Flintstones were originally broadcast during prime-time hours, competing with live-action comedies, dramas, and quiz shows. The Flintstones in particular became a top-rated show (the birth of Pebbles Flintstone, The Blessed Event, was the highest-rated episode in the show's history, mirroring the I Love Lucy birth episode). But the Hanna-Barbera studio especially captured the market for animated TV shows produced for after-school and Saturday mornings, grabbing the majority of TV cartoon production and holding it for over thirty years. During the 1970s in particular, most American TV cartoons were produced by Hanna-Barbera, with the only competition coming from Filmation and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, plus occasional prime-time animated "specials" from Rankin-Bass, Chuck Jones, and Bill Melendez's Peanuts (Charlie Brown).

Quality controversy

The Hanna-Barbera studio has been accused of contributing to the general decrease in quality of animation and TV cartoons during the 1960s through the 1980s. This probably has more to do with it being one of the first studios to do animated cartoons for television and having to deal with constrained budgets. The perception of cartoons as a "kid's medium" did not make them a budget priority for television executives. A ten minute theatrical animation short movie might have five times the budget of a full half-hour episode of a television cartoon, and so television required a change in production values. Hanna-Barbera first practiced the technique of limited animation on the television serial "The Ruff & Reddy Show" as a way of reducing costs. Unfortunately, this led to a reduction in animation quality.

The field of animation reached its low point in the mid-1970s, even as the audience for Saturday morning cartoons was at its peak. By this time, most Hanna-Barbera shows had degenerated into endless variations of the same theme, and each successful formula (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Super Friends) was milked dry through repetition. Various animation short-cuts became unfortunate Hanna-Barbera trademarks, like plots being advanced by cartoon characters seen only as "talking heads," and crashes and disasters happening somewhere just off the frame, not seen but only heard as sound effects.

The slow rise and fall and the Turner rebound

The state of the field of animation changed during the 1980s and 1990s, and Hanna-Barbera fell behind as a new wave of animators and production studios introduced variety into the market for TV cartoons.

Throughout the '80s, Hanna-Barbera churned out shows based on familiar licensed properties like The Smurfs, The Snorks, Pac-Man, The Dukes of Hazzard, Shirt Tales , Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Go-Bots , and also produced several ABC Weekend Specials. Hanna-Barbera also produced some shows at their Australian-based studio (a partnership with Australian media company Southern Star Entertainment ), including Drak Pack, Wildfire, The Berenstain Bears, Teen Wolf, and CBS Storybreak. H-B also aligned themselves with Ruby-Spears, a sibling studio (which H-B's then-parent Taft Broadcasting purchased from Filmways in 1981) that often paired their productions with Hanna-Barbera shows.

H-B also had a habit of making "kid" versions of popular characters in the eighties starting with The Pink Panther and Sons, The Flintstone Kids, Popeye and Son, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. In 1985, Hanna-Barbera launched The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, a weekend-only program that introduced new versions of old favorites like Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, The Snorks, and Richie Rich, and introduced brand new shows like Galtar and the Golden Lance, Paw Paws, Fantastic Max, and Midnight Patrol. Years later, Hanna-Barbera began making a series of original made-for-TV movies based on their popular stable of characters, including the popular crossover, The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones.

Throughout all of this, both Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears were subject to the financial troubles of their parent company, and had gradually moved away from animating everything in-house, deciding instead to outsource some of the production to studios in Taiwan and Japan. Hanna-Barbera in particular was also held down by the demands of TV networks, mainly ABC (who insisted on rehashing Scooby-Doo many times over); this stifled creativity, leading many of the better writers and creative people to leave in 1989. They responded to a call from Warner Bros. to resurrect their animation department, ultimately developing Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.

In 1990, the bottom fell out: Taft Broadcasting (which had since changed its name to "Great American Broadcasting" in 1988) went bankrupt, and both Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears were put up for sale. In 1991, Hanna-Barbera and much of the original Ruby-Spears library were acquired by Turner Broadcasting. Filling the gap left by the departure of most of their creative crew during the Great American years was a new crop of animators, writers, and producers, which included Pat Ventura, David Kirschner, Donovan Cook, Craig McCracken, Genndy Tartakovsky, Seth MacFarlane, and Butch Hartman. The new group was led by former Hanna-Barbera Australia head Buzz Potamkin . In 1992, the studio was renamed to as H-B Productions Company (later renamed Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. in 1993).

In the early 1990s Hanna-Barbera created cartoon series like Tom and Jerry Kids, Droopy Master Detective and The New Adventures of Captain Planet (a sequel to the original DiC/TBS Productions series Captain Planet and the Planeteers), a new cycle of Yogi Bear shorts, and the ill-fated Yo Yogi!. They also introduced shows that were quite different from their previous releases, including Wake, Rattle, and Roll, 2 Stupid Dogs, Swat Kats, and The Pirates of Dark Water. In the mid-'90s, Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network (which introduced many Hanna-Barbera shows to a new audience) launched the World Premiere Toons (later renamed What A Cartoon) project, which introduced a brand new stable of characters and, in a way, changed Hanna-Barbera forever.

The Cartoon Network Studios era

After the merger between Turner Entertainment and Time Warner Entertainment in 1995, the conglomerate had two separate animation studios in its possession. Though corporately they were combined, Hanna-Barbera Animation and Warner Brothers Animation operated separately, a practice which they continue to do to this day. While WB Animation focused their programming on the-then new network, The WB, Hanna-Barbera began to solely focus on the Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network became the exclusive home of all new Hanna-Barbera productions. One of the first original series to air on Cartoon Network was Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory, one of the first spinoffs from the What-A-Cartoon! (World Premiere Toons) project. Others followed like Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and The Powerpuff Girls, the last Hanna-Barbera series to use the swirling star logo of Hanna-Barbera (which was first used in 1979). H-B also produced several new direct-to-video movies featuring Scooby-Doo (released by Warner Bros.) as well as creating a new show about Jonny Quest, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.

Around 1998, the Hanna-Barbera name began to disappear from the newer shows from the studio (although their logo was still shown together with the Cartoon Network logo at the end of shows until 2001), in favor of the Cartoon Network Studios name, which came in handy with shows that were produced outside of Hanna-Barbera, but Cartoon Network had a hand in producing, like aka Cartoons' Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Kino Film's Mike, Lu and Og , Curious Pictures' Sheep in the Big City , Codename: Kids Next Door, and Noodlesoup/Astrobase Go's The Venture Bros., as well as the shows the studio continues to produce, like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Evil Con Carne , Samurai Jack, Megas XLR, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Hi Hi Puffy .

When William Hanna died in 2001, an era was over. Though the Hanna-Barbera name remains for "classic" productions based on properties like the Flintsones, Scooby-Doo, and others, the studio bearing its name is now Cartoon Network Studios, which continues the traditions made from its founding fathers and creating new paths of their own. The name "Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc." is still its official name, used in some official documents and copyright notices.

In 2002 Warner Bros. Television Animation released a brand new series about Scooby-Doo and the gang entitled What's New, Scooby-Doo?, produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. Since their logo does not appear anywhere in the series, the only thing indicating this fact is the copyright message at the end of each episode. This is the only recent series, in which Hanna-Barbera's name is mentioned as the author (as Cartoon Network's series are copyrighted by the channel itself).

Hanna-Barbera productions







Cartoon Network Studios productions


Theatrical cartoons

Hanna-Barbera produced a number of animated feature films for theatrical release, including Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964), The Man Called Flintstone (1966), and Jetsons: The Movie (1990). Critics consider the best of the Hanna-Barbera feature films to be its movie adaptation of the book, Charlotte's Web (1973).

See also

External links

  • Big Cartoon DataBase: Hanna-Barbera Studios
  • Big Cartoon DataBase: Cartoon Network Studios
  • Hanna-Barbera studio tour

Last updated: 02-10-2005 19:34:16
Last updated: 02-17-2005 09:15:38