By JP Graham | Reporter
What do Scooby-Doo, the Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh, the Flintstones and George of the Jungle all have in common? Animator and cartoon director Ron Campbell helped create each of these cartoons throughout his 50-year career. Campbell frequently tours the country to exhibit his work and meet his fans, and his collection is currently on display right here in Waco.
“The Beatles Cartoon Show,” Campbell’s one-man traveling exhibition, is a collection of Campbell’s work throughout his career. The Beatles Cartoon Show travels every other month and visits two major cities during each respective outing.
Campbell planted himself and his work at downtown art gallery and event space Cultivate 7twelve Tuesday afternoon for the first of a two-day-long event appropriately titled “Meet the Artist.” In addition to being able to purchase his work, visitors are invited to meet and interact with Campbell.
Campbell’s manager and agent Scott Segelbaum initially came up with the idea for The Beatles Cartoon Show. Segelbaum began his “Rock and Roll Art Show” working at a radio station and later quit his job to pursue this opportunity with Campbell.
“At some of [the rock and roll art] shows, I would sometimes have Ron Campbell come in as a special guest,” Segelbaum said. “What I started to realize is, when I have Ron there, everyone wants to meet Ron. Everyone buys Ron. So why am I bringing 200 other pieces of artwork?”
Throughout Campbell’s 50-year career, he animated, directed, storyboarded, produced and wrote scripts for numerous cartoons. Originally from Australia, Campbell graduated art school just as television began to gain popularity. His career in cartooning took off in 1958 when he began to animate commercials to be aired on Australian television.
A few years later, television producer of “King Features” Al Brodax arrived in Australia, bringing with him the cartoons “Krazy Kat” and “Beetle Bailey” in hopes of producing them locally. Campbell said he was one of the only animators in Australia, which made it easy for Brodax to find him. Not long after Brodax arrived, Campbell was working as an animator for the aforementioned cartoons.
Brodax liked Campbell’s work on “Krazy Kat” and “Beetle Bailey,” so he brought “The Beatles” television series to Australia for Campbell to work on, shortly followed by “Yellow Submarine,” an animated motion picture. These commissions received attention from Bill Hanna of Hanna-Barbera Productions, an American animation studio, who relocated Campbell to Hollywood, Ca. to work on shows like the Flintstones, the Jetsons and Scooby-Doo.
In 1971, Campbell opened his own animation studio, Ron Campbell Films Inc. Campbell would later direct and produce the Emmy and Peabody award winning children’s shows “The Big Blue Marble” and “Sesame Street.” Despite owning his own studio, Campbell continued to animate for Disney and Nickelodeon throughout his career.
After directing the final scene of the final episode of Ed, Ed and Eddy in 2008, Campbell retired and faced the new challenge of staying busy.
“I put my pencil down and said ‘What the hell am I going to do now?” Campbell said. “I knew if I retired, I’d melt into my easy chair watching the golf channel, so I thought I’d do paintings.”
Campbell said he insists on touring with his art work instead of selling his work online, because it takes away from the mutually beneficial experience of meeting fans.
“The pleasure for the person buying the painting is actually not only the purchase and the nostalgia, but also meeting the person who helped make the film they liked so much as a child,” Campbell said. “I never really intended or anticipated it, but it’s one of the pleasures of my old age.”