Of Christmas Cards Past

While in the midst of unpacking files left over from my last big move, I came across a batch of Christmas cards I got in the 1990s and thought this would be a good time to share them. I was then a freelance animation journalist and these cards were among the perks.

Christmas cards can, in rare instances, be important historical documents, such as the one I have signed by the staff of the Fleischer Studios in 1934 sent to Dan Glass, who was to soon die of TB. (His death became a catalyst for the move to unionize the studio.) Others, such as those by former Disney background artist Ralph Hulett posted by his son Steve on The Animation Guild Blog, can expand our appreciation of a particular artist. I will leave it up to you to explain the implications, if any, of the following examples. (Click on images for bigger versions.) (Most of the cards are undated, as I failed to properly catalog them when I got them.) In any case, Merry Christmas to one and all!

Bardel Animation Christmas card from mid-late 1990s.Vancouver-based Bardel Animation, now Bardel Entertainment, was, as I recall, at the time a provider of ink and paint services, among other services. Hence, this card in the form of an animation cel.

J J Sedelmaier 1996 Christmas card featuring the Ambiguously Gay Duo. J.J. Sedelmaier Productions was (and is) a top commercial house. However, from time to time, it ventured into longer form projects, including producing the first season of Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-head in 1993 and the Ambiguously Gay Duo shorts for TV’s Saturday Night Live. The card is dated 1996.

MTV Animation Beavis and Butthead Xmas Card 01Speaking of Beavis and Butt-head, I received this and the following card from Abby Turkuhle, who was head of MTV Animation, the network’s New York-based studio formed after the initial success of the Mike Judge show. The studio hung on for a few years before MTV decided to outsource all its series animation needs to other studios.

MTV Animation Celebrity Death Match Christmas card.MTV Animation’s Celebrity Death Match proved to be a popular hit and was one of the few stop motion series to make it big on American TV. The show’s name is still occasionally invoked by political pundits in discussing the vagaries of electioneering.

PDI Antz Xmas Card 01Antz was a surprise hit for DreamWorks SKG, a major studio wannabe which pinned most of its hopes on animation. In particular, chief animation honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg hoped to repeat the success he had with traditional 2D animation at Disney with such films as Prince of Egypt. At the time, a DreamWorks executive told me that the CGI films produced by the then 40%-owned PDI were to be medium-budget efforts that would complement its more important 2D projects. Eventually, DreamWorks eventually bought all of PDI, and part of DreamWorks Animation, which remains independent despite the parent company’s acquisition by Paramount.

Blue Sky Bunny Xmas Card 1998Chris Wedge’s Bunny was Blue Sky Studios’ calling card, so to speak, for the studio’s long-standing desire to make computer animated movies. (MAGI-Synthevision, the company’s predecessor, had worked on Tron.) Its critical acclaim, including an Oscar, helped the studio get the backing for Ice Age.