ben-washam

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“She’s perfect in every way; 36, 36, 36.” –the Line

Written by Norton Juster, author of “The Phantom Tollbooth”, “The Dot and the Line, a Romance in Lower Mathematics” was adapted for the screen by Chuck Jones. Many of his crew from Warner Bros., including Maurice Noble and Ben Washam, worked on it; it was the Oscar winner for best short animated film in 1966.

Top: Publicity booklet

Bottom: Original production cel with matching background, gouache on acetate on layered art paper. 

“A line is a dot that went for a walk.” –Paul Klee

“African Americans had to wait until the 1950s to get into drawing jobs. In 1948, the same year JACKIE ROBINSON took the field for a major league baseball team, FRANK BRAXTON became the first black animation artist hired at Walt Disney.

He left after two months for reasons never explained. Braxton had befriended animation union president Ben Washam when they met at the office of a voice coach they were both seeing. Washam went into the office of Warner Bros. production manager Johnny Burton and said, ” I hear Warners has a racist policy and won’t hire blacks.” Burton swung around in his chair, furious, and snapped back, “Whoever said that is a liar! That’s not true!” Washam countered, “Well, then I have a young black artist out here who is terrific. I guess he came to the right place.” Braxton became an animator on Chuck Jone’s crew and later for MGM.

Friends said Braxton was aware he was one of the first black animators working in America and that thought drove him to seek perfection. Many said he would have been better known had not cancer taken his life in the late 1960s.” -

Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Purchase here: http://www.amazon.com/Drawing-Line-Untold-Animation-Simpson/dp/0813124077

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‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’, Chuck Jones & Ben Washam (1966)

He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

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“A Hound for Trouble” 1951, starring Charlie Dog, directed by Charles M. Jones; story by Michael Maltese; animation by Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, and John Carey; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice characterization, Mel Blanc; musical direction by Carl W. Stalling. 

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You must pay the penalty…

“The Ducksters” directed by Chuck Jones. Released in theaters nationwide on September 2, 1950. Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Lloyd Vaughn, Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Pete Alvarado; Voice Characterizations by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling.

Original background, gouache on art board, 10.5″ x 12.5″, layout by Robert Gribbroek and painted by Philip DeGuard for the Chuck Jones-directed, One Froggy Evening, 1955. Story by Michael Maltese; animation by Abe Levitow, Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam; music by Milt Franklyn.

In an interview with Joe Adamson, Chuck Jones discussed his decision to eschew dialogue in One Froggy Evening. “I decided that the picture would be funnier if that discipline was imposed. For one thing, it had an explosive quality. You never knew when the son of a bitch frog was going to sing, but you always knew that nobody was going to hear it except the poor guy.”

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“Much Ado About Nutting”, directed by Chuck Jones and released on May 23, 1953; story by Michael Maltese; animation by Lloyd Vaughn, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam; layouts by Maurice Noble; backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; voice characterization by Mel Blanc; musical direction by Carl W. Stalling; orchestrations by Milt Franklyn.

Top: layout drawing, graphite on 12 field animation paper, by Chuck Jones; middle, background thumbnail layouts, graphite and colored pencil on art board by Maurice Noble; bottom, character development drawings/paintings, gouache, India ink, and graphite on paper by Chuck Jones.

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Slop artist!

“Duck Amuck” directed by Chuck Jones, Feb. 28, 1953. Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Ken Harris and Lloyd Vaughn;  Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice characterizations by Mel Blanc; Musical direction by Carl W. Stalling. 

Photo: Maurice Noble and Chuck Jones, circa 1992. 

Model sheet for “The Bee-deviled Bruin”, directed by Chuck Jones and released to theaters nationwide on May 14, 1949. Story by Michael Maltese; animation by Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, and Lloyd Vaughn; layouts by Robert Gribbroek; backgrounds by Peter Alvarado; effects animation by A. C. Gamer; musical direction by Carl W. Stalling.