Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lou Scheimer, RIP

While Lou Scheimer's face is probably unknown to many, the singularly impressive body of work the veteran animator, who died last week at age 84, racked up during his several decades in the industry is likely unknown to very few. As co-founder of Filmation Associates in 1963, Scheimer was instrumental in bringing several beloved pop culture properties to TV for the very first time, with Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and a host of other DC Comics heroes getting the Filmation treatment, not to mention Archie, the Lone Ranger (which I discussed here), Zorro, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and so, so, so many more.

Although the rampant budgetary restrictions were a bit too obvious at times, with Filmation skeins (such as the animated Star Trek) legendary for their use and reuse of stock animated expressions, poses, and movements, Scheimer did what he could to keep much of his studio's production stateside, giving work to a variety of
American animators whose work was quickly getting outsourced during the '70s and '80s. In addition to the above licensed properties, Filmation was also behind such original fare as Bill Cosby's Fat Albert, a series I enjoyed as a kid and enjoy even more as a parent for how it teaches lessons to kids without talking down to them.

Filmation's last grasps at glory came in the 1980s, thanks to the twin successes of He-Man (wherein Scheimer himself voiced the magical imp Orko) and She-Ra (remember this awkward moment?). But by the end of the decade, the decline in animation work and rising budgets made the Filmation model untenable (the great Ghostbusters debacle also probably didn't help). Nonetheless, even though the studio folded in '89, Scheimer remained active, attending conventions, talking to fans, even penning an autobiography. Per many, he was one of the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet, and I'd even hoped I might one day get a chance to chat with him for this site. I'm sad I'll never get that chance.

No comments: