Friday, January 11, 2008

Animation Enthusiast Jerry Beck & The Dissappearing Thread

I started a thread on an active animation forum. The thread asked a question about an omissision in the book, "Warner Bros, The Complete Visual Guide" by animation enthusiast Jerry Beck. The index lists Ben Hardaway as appearing on page 14 of the book. However, neither Bugs Hardaway nor his artwork appear anywhere in the book. As far as I can see, Hardaway is the only person completely excluded from the book. (Cal Dalton is also conspicuously absent) Why would the character's namesake be included in the index yet excluded from the book? It seems obvious to me that an honest, forthright, and complete history would have included the subject of the character's namesake creator. The subject of Hardaway was also obviously included in the original version of the text then purposefully removed. Hardaway's contribution wasn't minimized or diminished it was deleted entirely.

The thread got no response, so I started the same thread on the Animation Show forum. After about 50 people had viewed the thread it simply vanished. Confused, as the thread was neither offensive nor off topic, I reposted the same thread. A few hours later, Jerry Beck posted to the thread that he would be deleting the thread a second time within a few hours.

His exact response was, "I'll let David Gerstien explain it to you in this thread at GAC: was some heavy last minute editing which caused that omission. I will be deleting this thread in a few hours."

I don't understand why a 60 year old topic would require, "heavy last minute editing".

I posted what had happened on the first forum (GAC) and had some response. Basically they told me that Warner Bros had purposefully obscured all details of the timing and history of the creation of the character and because of legal issues I couldn't discuss or post regarding the subject.

Years ago, I emailed the picture to Jerry Beck. He responded and remarked, "Thanks for sharing, the initials only heighten the mystery". He even said that he'd be willing to study the matter. I was told it would cost a hundred dollars a day and would take about three days. He said that his schedule wouldn't allow such study for a couple months. I told him that would be great and let to let me know when his schedule would allow. I checked with him every couple of months until it became clear that he was now avoiding me and the subject. Recently, when emailed, his response was, "I have no comment on this matter". I'm having trouble understanding why this cartoon enthusiast would simply ignore the greatest unresolved debate in cartoon history as well as delete all mention of one of the Golden Age's great contributors. Why would Jerry Beck, at the outset, show interest and appreciation and then proceed to ban the subject of the drawing and call it an "idiotic topic" as he did when closing the thread?

The title of the website "cartoon research" must have thrown me off, I was under the impression that such a forum would be where the research of cartoons would be discussed, especially within the "animation history" forum. Apparently there is a difference between "animation historian" and "animation enthusiast", the former concerned with scholarly study and the latter concerned with gossip and opinion.

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