Friday, April 29, 2016

43) April 27, 2016

This are pages 7, 8, 9 and 10 from a story board for a proposed series called “Roxie’s Raiders”, done by Jack Kirby for the Ruby-Spears animation studio, some time in the early ‘80’s. (My set of copies has many gaps; I invited anyone who is able to fill those gaps. I’m missing pages 3,4,6,12, 14 through 29, and 36 through 46.)

 I’m curious as to who the intended audience for this storyboard was, since it seems too small, too rough and too extensive to serve as a presentation piece, and it would have been useless as a production storyboard, even if there had been a production for it to facilitate. I speculate that Kirby wrote it himself as he was drawing, since the dialogue and scene directions are hand written rather than cut and pasted (taped down) from an existing script. (This refers to one of the few nuggets of trainings I received in my short tenure at Ruby-Spears: cut and paste the script onto the board paper, preferably as a first step before starting drawing.)

My director, the head of the Ruby-Spears story board unit, John Dorman, was also (I think, could be wrong, fact check me on this) head of the development department during the down time between seasons, and I’m hypothisize  that this board was a pitch tool to try and sell “Roxie’s Raiders” as a Saturday Morning TV Series, like the recently cancelled “Thundarr”. There were piles of recently completed presentation pieces from failed pitches littering the studio, done by Jack, Doug Wildey, Gil Kane, Alfred Alcala (the inker of choice). These took the forms of large marker comps, storyboards, and Kirby comic book pages the storyboard crew (fanboys all) indulged themselves by inking during the fallow fall/winter period between seasons.
One of my fondest memories of the period was being ushered into Ruby-Spears slush file room, where all the abandoned presentation art was kept in flat files. Dan Riba and I overdosed on amazing pieces by those artists mentioned previously, and also Alex Toth, color marker comps! I think some of them were reproduced in the “Genius Animated” book. Dan and I were given a half-hour to look and then, back to work. I never had another chance to enter that room

I lasted slightly less than two months as a staff storyboard artist at Ruby-Spears. It was one of the most intense periods of my entire life: It was my first job in Animation, and I was working with amazingly talented people. Jim Woodring, creator of the “Jim” series; Thom Enriquez, later to be a key concept stylist on Disney Features such as “Mulan”, John Dorman did boards (along with Howard Chaykin) for the “Tarna” sequence of the Heavy Metal movie and later directed the “Blackwater” series for Hanna Barbera. My young mind was blown by the close proximity to so many artist I’d never heard of, who had no interest in the poverty row wages of laboring in the comix industry.

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