The author recounts his life and career, explains what inspired him to draw animated cartoons, and describes his long partnership with Bill Hanna
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Barbera's animated characters--Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the Jetsons--may have kept American kids entertained for the past 30 years, but don't expect a side- splitting memoir here. Rather than laughter, his autobiography inspires bored yawns and knowing nods; it's jammed with dull details and horror stories that confirm Hollywood's dog-eat-dog reputation. Barbera begins his story with the 1960 Flintstones odyssey: Holed up in a New York hotel for eight weeks, he peddled the denizens of Bedrock to ad agencies and TV networks with no luck until his very last prospect (ABC) bought the show, which went on to be wildly successful. Barbera wasn't an unknown doodler when he went door-to-door with the Flintstones in 1960--he and Bill Hanna had won seven Academy Awards and created a major Hollywood studio--but in the media business, he tells us, each venture is a fresh battle. Of more interest than Barbera's depiction of his Lower East Side childhood, struggling apprenticeship, and California lifestyle (earthquakes, brush fires, pool parties) is his view of Hollywood creativity and deal making. He reveals that many of his best inventions were improvised; Fred Flintstone's famous ``Yabba-Dabba-Do,'' for instance, was a last-minute suggestion by the voice actor. ``My whole life...has been determined by perfectly casual, almost thoughtless decisions and actions,'' writes Barbera. Unfortunately, ``casual'' and ``thoughtless'' are adjectives that can also be applied to this book's structure. Random recollections and asides disrupt the narrative, which seems to name every animator and ad man the author met during a 50-year career. MGM producers always picked up the Oscars won by Hanna-Barbera cartoons. If Barbera had been able to step up to the podium, maybe his memoir would read less like a long acceptance speech. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Dubbed by 60 Minutes "the sultan of Saturday morning," Barbera, along with his partner Bill Hanna, pioneered the concept of television animation, delighting generations of kids with such shows as The Jetsons , Scooby Doo , The Smurfs and The Flintstones . In their heyday, the Hanna-Barbera team was responsible for up to 70% of the cartoon programming on American airwaves, and their vast corpus continues to be widely circulated in syndication today. Here Barbera, writing with Axelrod ( The War Between the Spies ), provides a chatty and lucidly detailed inside look at the 'toon biz, chronicling his rise through the ranks from inker to studio head and recounting the history of his legendary partnership with Hanna, which began at MGM in 1940 with the creation of the immensely popular "Tom and Jerry" movie shorts and lasted for more than 50 years. Particularly interesting are Barbera's accounts of the various technical innovations and marketing strategies that were necessary to launch cartoons on the small screen. The Flintstones , for example, almost died before the show was born for want of corporate sponsorship. Clearly a shrewd and hard-working businessman as well as a talented artist, Barbera emerges here as a quintessential American success story, a Brooklyn boy whose persistent faith in his creative vision led him to the top ranks of the entertainment industry. His memoirs are almost as much fun as his 'toons. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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