Goodbye, Frank

frank-andrina-my-first-sc-shinbone-alley.jpg This is a cel from my first professional scene of animation. It was used in the “Archy Declares War” sequence from “Shinbone Alley”, which was made in the summer of 1969 at the Colorvision studios over on Sunset. Since then, Channel 28 and now the Church of Scientology have taken over the building. I’ll never forget the way the studio looked like then, we were in a little ramshackle bungalow across from the main lot with the sound stages that had been the Monogram studio in the dim distant past. They actually were shooting soft-core porn features on those stages in 1969. Several of us young bumpkins looked in on the deserted stages during our lunch hour and saw whips, chains and manacles attached to the walls. We wondered what in the heck could they be shooting in there? We got a big clue when a covy of heavily made-up ladies paraded past our bungalow one day, heading for the sound stages. The animator I was assigned to, Frank Andrina, took great amusement at our reactions, chuckling softly to himself. Frank was keying a lot of his extremes in Pentel pen, and I was expected to mimic his line on the inbetweens:frank-andrina-my-pentel-inb-2-shinbone-alley.jpgfrank-andrina-my-pentel-inb-shinbone-alley.jpgFrank liked what I did with the Pentel lines, he was very complimentary about the drawings I made for him. On the basis of these drawings, and a lot of badgering from me, Frank gave me a couple of brief scenes in the “Archy Declares War” sequence for me to do. Sam Cornell was the key layout on this sequence: frank-andina-sam-cornell-layout-shinbone-alley.jpgYou can see by the little doodles of Ignatz and Krazy Kat, that Sam was a Herriman fan. His layouts really had the spirit of Garge in them and inspired us all! Many of us on the production thought that the whole picture should have been in the Herriman style, but John Wilson, the director, leaned towards a more Disneyesque approach (though he would have been reluctant to admit it). Frank got the plumb assignment as key animator on the sequence, and we had a lot of fun with it. Of course, the animation had a sort of limited look to it, that was Frank’s training. He used to refer to full animation as “fool animation”, thinking it a waste of money. Frank animated at Hanna-Barbera and TV Spots a lot through the 1960s and his timing style, dialog: frank-andrina-archy-mouth-chart.jpg and his way of breaking body parts up to separate cel levels all reflected the H-B thinking. Frank was an affable person, somewhat short in stature, smoked heavily in those days and had a stammering way of talking, especially with words beginning with “S”. He could also be extremely serious at times, and his voice could be very rich sounding and commanding (perhaps due to the cigarettes). He made me aware of Union issues and was one of the first animators to fully realize the devastating impact that runaway production was about to have on the cartoon industry. Even though John Wilson was signed with the Teamsters union, Frank talked me into attending some MPSC (Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists) meetings about a possible labor action to try to stop runaway before all our jobs went overseas or to Canada or Mexico. Jay Ward (Rocky and His Friends) and Bill Hanna ( The Funky Phantom) were among the first to take work out of the country, and companies like Rankin and Bass did all their animation in Japan. Thanks to Frank and some other concerned animators, the issue actually came to a strike vote in 1969. However, ink and paint artists outnumbered animators and assistants in those days, since I and P were the most labor intensive (and lowest paid) positions in the industry. Bill Hanna decided to throw a scare into the I and P ranks by selectively laying off these “girls” at unexpected times during the high production season that summer. The I and P artists were certainly shaken by these actions and chose to vote down the strike proposal. As it turned out, that was the best chance the MPSC had to stop the runaway train from leaving the USA station! When we missed that chance, as Frank often told me, we lost the industry.

        Frank lived in the Hollywood Hills and was good friends with John Sparey, who I’ve done extensive posts about elsewhere on this blog. He collected arms and armor and had some really rare pieces dating back to the 16th century in Spain (some breastplates) and had some beautiful swords and muskets as I remember. He would occasionally bring these in to the studio to show them off. I remember the bosses being a little afraid of the swords. I think Frank was also adept at fencing, he really loved that era. Frank’s body English was a little like Peter Falk’s, very shy, a lot of internal gestures, stammering, but authoritative when he had to be. He was born in 1929 and started at the Ray Patin studio in 1954, he also worked at UPA and animated on the Linus the Lionhearted show for Ed Graham, and Calvin and the Colonel for TV Spots. It seemed Frank was always animating somewhere, even in his seventies he was picking up work here and there. I’ll never forget how elated he was at joining the Motion Picture Academy just a few years ago. He had always wanted to be a member, and at last was accepted. I saw him at a few of our animated short subject screenings. When he saw my cartoon, “It’s ‘The Cat'”, his only comment was, “Looks like your stuff, alright.” He followed that up with his patented little giggle. Gosh, I hate to see Frank leave us, passing on this year at the age of eighty-three. He was a really great pro cartoonist and beloved by his friends. In later years I saw him rarely, but will always remember how generous he was to give me those two scenes to animate. Frank not only started me off as an animator, but greatly enlarged my world with his forward thinking Union activity, and his knowledge of world history and just about every battle every waged all over the globe. Thanks, Pal! May you rest in peace. frank-andrina-archy-ruff-shinbone-alley.jpg SHINNNBOHNNE ALLEEY! SHHINNNBOOOHOOONE ALLIEEE! (Imagine Allan Reed singing that.)

5 Responses to “Goodbye, Frank”

  1. I had Frank’s number few years back. He was in my short-list of animators to interview, but I never got around to it. Talk about a missed opportunity.

    How was that cel colored? Just marker on the surface?

  2. Chris Sobieniak says:

    Excellent story Mark!

  3. Mark says:

    Thanks Charles and Chris,
    I’m sorry you didn’t get to interview Frank, Charles, I’m not sure if anyone ever interviewed him. Frank was pretty shy and reclusive. The Cel was mostly markered on top, opaqued in white on the back. Marker was almost the industry standard, especially for commercials in the late 60s and early 1970s.

  4. Mike Kazaleh says:

    At last somebody remembered Frank! Frank and I were good friends and we had many great lunches together. What can I say other than I loved the guy. I’m very sorry he’s gone. We met when we were both animating at Filmation and we hit it off right away. Later when he was back at H&B, he would give me freelance animation to do. I was happy to return the favor when I was directing at our Florida studio. He loved to animate, and when H&B made him of the head of the animation department, he was actually unhappy about it because he knew the supervisor didn’t get to do much animation himself.

  5. Mark says:

    Thanks for writing Mike. I’m glad you and Frank got along so well. I just read on the Internet that Frank’s collection of Arms and Armor sold for big prices at auction! He sure had great taste in collectibles, as I’m sure his wife and heirs will admit. Remember how much he used to love Big Little Books? He liked to bring some of those in to the Shinbone Alley studio and reminisce about his favorite old comic strips.

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