April 3 – JERRY BECK

Jerry Beck is an animation historian and cartoon producer. His twelve books on the subject include The Animated Movie Guide, Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide and The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
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In 1989, Beck partnered with producer Carl Macek to form STREAMLINE PICTURES. Streamline was the first company devoted to importing Japanese animation and distributing anime to North American theatres, television and home video. Among Streamline’s many titles were AKIRA, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, VAMPIRE HUNTER D, NADIA, WICKED CITY, ROBOTECH, and ROBOT CARNIVAL.
Beck also co-produced the English language version of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Fox Video) and compiled SPEED RACER THE MOVIE for Family Home Entertainment.

He is a former studio exec with Nickelodeon Movies and Disney, and is an animation consultant to Warner Home Video and Shout Factory. Beck has programmed animation retrospectives for the Annecy and Ottawa Animation Festivals, The Museum of Modern Art and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has taught animation history at NYU, SVA, the AFI and at UCLA. He is the host/producer of the annual Worst Cartoons Ever screening at the San Diego Comic Con.
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Beck started his career in film distribution, working at MGM/UA, Orion Classics, Cannon Films and Expanded Entertainment (Tournee of Animation), before starting his own company, Streamline Pictures in 1989, the first U.S. company to import anime features such as Otomo’s Akira and Miyazaki’s Castle In The Sky.
Beck was instrumental in launching Animation Magazine, and is has written for Kidscreen, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, and was co-founder of the website Cartoon Brew.  He has also created, written and produced animated films for various studios.
For 9 years, Jerry and Amid Amidi ran the blog Cartoon Brew. He now has a new blog, CARTOON RESEARCH 

He currently teaches Animation History at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA and is penning a coffee table art book on Spongebob Squarepants for Nickelodeon.


42 comments on “April 3 – JERRY BECK

  1. Amy Lee Ketchum says:

    How do you feel television cartoons have changed since the days of Chuck Jones and Bugs Bunny?

  2. Dustin Reno says:

    As someone who has witnessed and been a part of so much of the history of animation over the last few decades, what are your thoughts and feelings on the rise of the internet? How do you see people producing, consuming, and distributing animation to audiences in the future, since much of how people digest content has become so specialized or niche focused. Will a large portion of animation abandon the concept of a larger audience/market that television used to provide in favor of appealing to and retaining a more centralized viewership, partnering with services such as hulu/netflix, or other avenues that have possibly not yet been explored/created?

  3. kvalanejad says:

    How did you first become interested in Animation? – What were you watching and how old were you?
    Have you ever made an animated film? Or has your interest always been in it’s history, and the business of animation?

  4. Ruthie Williams says:

    What qualities of animation as a medium do you think have caused it to become such a huge part of global culture, and what do you think future centuries will conclude about our society from studying the animation that was created in the 20th century?

  5. lisa chung says:

    What would you like to see more of in today and future animation films/TV series/shorts, as well as it’s industry, culture, and community? What’s lacking? What hasn’t been explored or importantly, what needs to be restored?

  6. Tristan Dyer says:

    What are your thoughts on the ongoing debate of whether mocap is animation? Where do you feel visual effects ends and animation begins?

  7. Gregory Jones says:

    I was very excited to see that you had a pioneering role in bring Anime to the American audience. What were some of the challenges of doing that and what were the advantages once that material made it to the marketplace? How do you feel about the industry now with the many major changes that have happened over the last decade? Are we moving in a positive direction, negative, or neutral?

  8. Ryan Gillis says:

    Having been instrumental in introducing American audiences to the more adult oriented arena of Japanese animation-
    -What do you think is preventing the US Market from accepting home-grown animation that’s oriented towards action or drama?

    Secondly, having studied animation’s history-
    -What can you project about the future model of the industry, in regards to the internet, and free and subscription based models?

  9. Einar says:

    Where do you feel the most interesting animation is being created today and why? (independents, the industry, students etc.)

  10. Cheng Teng says:

    I saw a lot of Japanese animation in your portfolio. May i ask what’s your feel about working in the team constituted by people from different country.

  11. Linda Jules says:

    You have had such a long and fruitful career working in animation, I wonder have you ever considered getting in on the creative side of the field. I noticed you graduated from Bowne (hey, I’m from Queens too!) with plans to animate. Do you still do any sketching or story development on the side?

  12. Can you please speak a little bit about the process of creating and pitching Hornswiggle?

  13. Cecilia De Jesus says:

    What was your entry point of your career? You obviously have an incredible passion for animation, but how did you get your career started and gain the credibility necessary to pioneer such interesting achievements? I’m also curious, like a few of my classmates, if you’ve ever wanted to work on the creative side of the field. I’m very excited to hear your presentaiton. Thanks for coming to speak to us!

  14. Ivan Sayon says:

    What is your opinion of controversial/sensitive material in animation today? Is political correctness still limiting to more mature/complex themes in animation, or will western media ever be able to cover subject matter that the Japanese market is able to accomplish?

  15. Joseph Yeh says:

    How do you stay on schedule and stick to your deadlines? How do you push others do so? How important is money to you? What makes a successful producer?

  16. When you curate an animation show for an art museum like MoMA, what are the criteria you use to select works for that context? Do you think animation can be considered fine art?

  17. Dan Wilson says:

    Most of us grew up as anime was going from novelty to relatively mainstream, and in the past eight years or so, the bubble burst. Many of the series and films you helped bring to the US market became wildly popular. Do you think their storytelling and style was better 25 years ago, or was a matter of a hungry audience eating up the scarce supply?

    What do you think the primary reason for the anime and manga bubble’s deflation? Did we get oversaturated and tired of it? Was it a matter of hubris, Japanese media creators getting high on their own success, believing that the west would buy whatever they make, thus losing the international appeal? Are western tastes changing, or are our needs being met by western artists influenced by Japanese culture? Or is there another reason why US interest in Japanese culture mostly fizzled out?

  18. Andrew Malek says:

    I’m curious if you prefer pure or classic animation or if you are excited by the newer boundary-less climate that exists now which combines all animation techniques as well as live action?

  19. Since you have produced many English version of Japanese animation, what’s the main differences between Japanese animation and American animation;
    and Why the Japanese is also so popular in United States.

  20. Louis Morton says:

    How did the process for running Cartoon Brew evolve from the early days to today?

  21. Jason Ronzani says:

    As far as the anime distribution goes, were there any high quality pieces that your company had to pass on because there wouldn’t be an audience for it in the west? What were some of the factors for approval your company looked for when importing a Japanese animation?

  22. Yang Liu says:

    Im curious how you see the future of animation industry in the U.S., in terms of style, techniques and story. Do you think there will be any change and evolution?

  23. Radha Vishnubhotla says:

    Seeing that you’ve been a part of successful 2-Dimensional animated films, do you see hope that 2D animated features will continue to be successful? Or do you feel like 3D is taking over in many areas? What are some of the pros and cons of animating films today?

  24. Brian Rhodes says:

    How has distribution changed from the days that you began in? How has the model evolved with the digital age?

  25. Evan Harbuck says:

    How do feel digital distribution and content streaming have affected animation in particular. Do you think they help bring animation to more diverse audiences or do they make it more difficult to filter out truly inspired animation from the mediocre?

  26. Given your vast research and knowledge of animation history, what’s your opinion on the state of the market and the animation industry today. With all the layoffs and fluctuations is there a hope for animators or should we start growing our own tomatoes.

  27. Joanna Barondess says:

    Like my other classmates, I am curious as to what fascinates you about the animation industry and what you think are the strengths and weaknesses in modern animation–content, distribution, etc. How do you think some of those weaknesses can be improved in the future?

  28. Erin Shea says:

    In your opinion, what are some of the most underrated animations throughout history that you wish more people would see?

  29. lanzhujian says:

    How do you feel about the Cartoon with Chinese Character and speaks Chinese in the cartoon? that I what mean is arming Chinese Market, Do u think it will be a interesting projrct? what kind of obsticles it will encounter?

  30. What a great and informative seminar. Jerry is refreshingly open and honest about the animation industry, and with lots to say. Thanks for coming!

  31. linhuiwang says:

    Your viewpoint is very deep. I also think it’s an interesting phenomenom, why it happened like that,but before your lecture, I never thought the same thing would happen in America animation. the technology developed, but we lost much. some facts we have to face, may be there just because the end of a road comes, we need to find a new one.

  32. Miguel Jiron says:

    Always interesting to have Jerry speak. Best of luck with Animation Scoop!

  33. Emily Chung says:

    How do you feel Japanese Animation and Hollywood Animation ?

  34. Yifu Zhou says:

    It’s a great seminar. After it, I feel I learn a lot about the whole animation industry.

  35. Yizhou Li says:

    Mr. Beck was really interesting because of how much he saw and was part of in animation history. It was great hearing his thoughts on the future of animation and how much he was passionate about older animation.

  36. Caress Reeves says:

    I’ve been thinking about this seminar for the past few weeks, and I never realized how important animation history and historical trends are for art-makers today. Jerry gave us great insight on how the internet may or may not offer opportunities for animators, or may even open up new pitfalls for us. This seminar most definitely gave me something to think about in terms of how we’ll all get our work out there.

  37. JavierB says:

    It was great to have Jerry there , but he seemed to avoid some question or redirect them into a new answer. But very enthusiastic about the medium.

  38. lanzhujian says:

    Jerry is very passionate and knowledgeable about animation, it is quite fun to hear from Jerry’s experience in animation industry. In this point, we can see the track very clear, it is very helpful for our career later in life.

  39. Chaoqi Zhang says:

    He is such a great guy that did great job for the animation industry to introduce eastern anime to western world.

  40. I applaud the labor of Jerry as a historian. Classic cartoons figured out things that still are relevant today and should be exploited more. I like his websites very much and they are a source of constant reference

  41. Robert Calcagno says:

    Being a historian for animation, especially since it’s still very underappreciated, must be rewarding since it must seem like every other day you’re discovering something new about the past, something new about the present, and expecting something new in the future. It’s a constantly evolving medium!

    Jerry’s definitely passionate about it as should anyone trying to get better in animation; it’s more than likely that whatever you think you’re great at, someone else in the past did better than you. Standing on the shoulders of giants as the saying goes…

  42. Simo Liu says:

    It’s great to invite Jerry to talk about his animation business. Also I really like the website Cartoon Brew. It’s a great website. I can always find some cool stuff and refresh my brain.

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