WABAC machine


Three years ago, straight out of school, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on Peabody and Sherman. Not only did I love the aesthetic of Jay Ward and the premise of a genius dog and his pet boy, I had the chance to work with a team of tremendous talent. The array of places in time periods and richness in Peabody’s world as a result of the WABAC (time traveling machine) made this show particularly fun to work on. The art team was led by our production designer, David James and the amazing Tim Lamb, as art director.

I’m happy to say that I have grown hugely as an artist, over the course of this film. The following is a body of selected works from my time on Peabody and Sherman.
All images are property of DreamWorks Animation.


This compare and contrast is by no means complete–various other parts of the new door are assimilated from the old one. The problem is that the background drawings were outsourced, so the show’s version of the WABAC was wildly inconsistent. For this to be comprehensive I’d have to draw from dozens of other shorts, all with competing versions of this thing. I think I hit all the salient points, though.

I’m still not entirely sure what the heck those tubes are.

Birth control, way back when: the 1950s

Modern life isn’t perfect, but there are definitely some perks–like a whole lot more options when it comes to birth control. But what methods were couples using in the days of yore, while dialing land lines and watching Bewitched? Let’s get in the WABAC machine and find out!


The birth control revolution really got rolling in the 1950s. Planned Parenthood grew to include 200 birth control clinics across the nation, and Margaret Sanger teamed up with millionaire Katherine McCormick to fund additional research into oral contraceptives. Once funded, the research to develop the pill progressed rapidly, with a version ready for testing on a small scale by 1954.

When initial tests of the progesterone pill were successful, the researchers leading the effort needed to conduct a larger-scale test on human subjects to secure FDA approval. They chose a housing project in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for their research–since laws banning birth control made a large trial difficult in the United States–oblivious to the later criticism they would face for exploiting poor women of color who were not informed of the experimental nature of the trial. (Today we have “informed consent” standards designed to keep this from happening.)

When no woman became pregnant during the trial, the researchers declared it a success despite a high rate of reported side effects and the deaths of three women during the trial (without an investigation to find out whether drug complications contributed to their deaths). Though the early pill was effective at preventing pregnancy, today it’s widely acknowledged that its unnecessarily high dose of hormones led to side effects for many women.

With a pill proven to prevent pregnancy, Margaret Sanger’s finish line was in sight–and the rest of the U.S., dependent mainly on barrier methods, was about to enter a new era.


“man and woman in bedroom” by Mrs. Levine

The WABAC Machine (pronounced, and often synonymous with, Way-back) refers to a fictional machine from the cartoon segment Peabody’s Improbable History, an ongoing feature of the 1960s cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The WABAC Machine is a plot device used to transport the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman back in time. The meaning of the acronym is unknown, but mid-century, high-technology names often ended in “AC” (generally for “Automatic Computer” or similar), such as ENIAC, Univac, EDVAC, MANIAC, and JOHNNIAC.

Birth control, way back when: the 1910s

Modern life isn’t perfect, but there are definitely some perks–like a whole lot more options when it comes to birth control. But what methods were couples using in the days of yore, while dialing land lines and watching Bewitched? Let’s get in the WABAC machine and find out!


The development of modern birth control methods began with the invention of rubber vulcanization in the 1800s. But while European countries quickly adopted barrier methods (condoms and diaphragms) made with the new rubber, the United States was slower to catch on, held back by restrictive “Comstock laws” that made the sale or distribution of birth control–or even information about it–illegal

That all started to change thanks to the efforts of nurse and activist Margaret Sanger. Sanger worked vigorously to spread knowledge about and improve access to birth control throughout the U.S. Most women in Sanger’s time relied on natural family planning (a.k.a. fertility awareness), withdrawal, and dubious methods like Lysol douching. (Please join us in saying “Yikes!” to that one.) In 1916, Sanger opened a family planning clinic in Brooklyn where she offered advice and fittings for “pessaries”–diaphragms and cervical caps in modern lingo–which she imported from Europe in spite of the Comstock laws. Sanger’s clinic was open a whopping nine days before she was arrested.

Sanger’s trial and conviction didn’t halt her determination to bring access to reliable birth control to the public…But you’ll have to check back next week for our 1920s and 30s installment of this column to learn more about that.

Sanger certainly has her critics, and she’s earned them. (She was a noted eugenicist who openly acknowledged supporting birth control as a means of slowing the reproductive rate of New York’s impoverished classes.) Still, the progress she made started a movement that would help many women take control of their fertility. 


“Margaret Sanger” image by Library of Congress.


I never,,ever,,,ever understood why Mr Peabody was soo cold to Sherman,,, till I saw this. He just doesn’t know how to express or give love… And that’s so sad. I can’t imagine how it should have been being soo different as nobody wants to be close to you. And because of this, he adopted Sherman. He didn’t want Sherman to pass over the same situations that he passed, he wanted Sherman to have a better childhood than his one,, he wanted his kid to have a home,, and he gave him that and even a looot more. And that’s something only a good dad will do,,,want his son to have a better life than his own one.


Can we take 5 minutes to look at the Peabody’s eyes,,,he’s just… he looks soo happy,,it’s like he’s going to cry!

And then look at Sherman,, he’s just like the cutest little thing in the world!!


Peabody has been the whole movie treating Sherman as if he wasn’t old enough to do some kind of things… like driving the WABAC… And then,,suddenly,,he says “You have to drive”,, that it’s the same as saying “You’re old enough to do it, Sherman. I trust you”

Just look at Sherman’s eyes… He’s shocked,,but decided to prove that he can do it!! :3




And I just want to say: Thank you!! to everyone who is still in the fandom and loves these nerds as much as I do! This is for the ones who cried when Sherman called Peabody dad and screams every time they listen to the Beautiful Boy song…

Love you, guys!

(You’ll be in my heart video)