Dick Huemer on Scrappy: The Lost Interview

The Mintz Brain Trust

Dick Huemer circa 1931 with his Mintz colleagues. From left: Joe De Nat, Art Davis, Charles Mintz, Sid Marcus, and Dick. Courtesy Richard Huemer

Don’t hold me to this, but the first time I heard of Scrappy may have been in late 1976 or thereabouts, when I bought a copy of Mike Barrier’s Funnyworld #16, which had been published a bit before that. He was mentioned — briefly — in the magazine’s version of an interview of Dick Huemer which Joe Adamson had conducted in 1968 and 1969 for UCLA’s Oral History Project.

The excerpts of the interview published in Funnyworld focused on Huemer’s work for the Fleischers, which was a logical editing decision at the time. But UCLA’s website has the complete transcript, and it turns out that Mintz and Scrappy were discussed at considerably greater length. Here are a few Scrappy-centric tidbits (the whole thing is well worth your time):

You could loosely say that Scrappy was a little boy. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, or go out with dames. That’s about the only characterization. The gags could be interchangeable with a dog or a gorilla.

I felt that a little boy would be a good character. They needed a rounded character which would be appealing. Then we could do things with him. Like once when he was washing he put a towel in his ear on one side then pulled it out all black on the other side. You know, kids get dirty. The very fact that no one else was doing a little boy seemed an advantage.

They weren’t worked out story-wise as well as Disney’s. No matter what you say, it comes down to this: ‘The play’s the thing.’ Walt worked out his stories down to the last blink of the eye. On the outside we might do little pre-sketches, but there was no time for real analysis. That’s what Walt was able to do, give time to these things, because he had the money coming in on his licensee projects already. We worked on a pretty short budget; we had to have one of these every two weeks. We’d come back at night sometimes just to talk about the stories and save animation time. They tried that till we rebelled. Nobody wanted to do it. I don’t know how other studios operated; I guess they were more or less alike. Nobody could put the meticulous care that Walt put into the stories, the perfectionism. The inventiveness that he supplied wasn’t coming out of anybody else. He was there to do it. He was one of the greatest story minds ever. And you can see that not having him on a series like Scrappy would make all the difference in the world. I, as one of the story men on Scrappy, certainly can’t compare myself to Walt. Scrappy still exists on film somewhere. My son teased me with one.

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