Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Cult Cartoons, Part VI: The Legendary Jim Tyer and Terrytoons
Paul Terry was both an early animation innovator and the classic unrepentant robber-baron of cartoon history. He dangled a cut of the profits as a carrot for his longtime employees, then screwed ALL of them by hoarding 100% of the loot when he sold the studio to CBS. It was said that, if you interviewed for a job with Mr. Terry, he'd tell you right off "if you don't want to make shit, don't come to work here."
The creator of the Aesop's Fables series was also a silent animation pioneer and inspiration to young hopefuls (like Walt Disney) in the early days, but arguably way too much of an activist producer, strictly controlling direction and story content, to be an exemplary "cult cartoon" maker.
Terry, oddly enough, did offer his animators a certain amount of leeway within the strict formulas; he employed patron saint of cult cartoon animators Jim Tyer and, amazingly, left him alone to express a highly original and unfettered imagination. Just in case you're not an obsessed animation historian and haven't heard of Mr. Tyer, here are some samples of his distinctive handiwork.
The fact that Tyer, one wild and crazy guy, was actually free to animate this way - and create sequences like the following - gives Mr. Terry a place in the cult cartoon panorama.