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Did you write for Scooby Doo? If so, I'd love to hear a story or two about that experience.

dduane:

Long, long ago now. IMDb has a couple of the script names, though I remember doing a couple more. (Possibly those were co-writes with one or another of my story editors. Tom and Duane were good teachers, patient and considerate of a newbie, but they didn’t spare me hard work or expectations of good performance.)

There’s not much to tell except that it was fun, but surprisingly difficult work in its way. Animation writing is not normal screenwriting: it has its own language and its own rhythms, and the pages read faster (routinely a page per thirty seconds for scriptwriting of that kind, instead of a page per minute, which is the norm in almost every other kind of screenwriting). The other major amusement was that Scrappy-Doo was just being introduced: so I can say, with only a slight smile, that he and I are contemporaries in animation. (But I draw the line at “colleagues”.)  :)  (…Then again, maybe I shouldn’t. My work on S&SD essentially financed the writing of So You Want to Be a Wizard.)

The crazier stuff started after I more or less “graduated” from Scoob and went on to other series that Tom and Duane found themselves working on at (then) Hanna-Barbera. Some of these still turn up on Cartoon Network or elsewhere: some have been more or less mercifully buried under the detritus of passing time. It was while working on Fonz and the Happy Days Gang that I first (with T&D’s connivance) smuggled a fake page into a script to make the poor long-suffering broadcast-standards-&-practices lady smile. It was also there that I found myself party to a discussion with another BS&P person (a guy this time) in which we were given a note about how it wasn’t OK to have the characters tied up to the inner works of a windmill, because that was “imitable behavior”. But when Tom thought for a second and said “Okay, can we chain them up?”, then that was OK, because… chains were harder for the average nine-year-old to lay hands on? I can’t even remember the justification any more, but it was apparently acceptable.

And there were many other useful teaching moments and lessons. It was from Tom and Duane that I learned how to insert something blatantly inadmissible in a script so that the upper-ups would concentrate on throwing that out and completely miss something we really wanted to keep in. (A tactic still very useful.) It was there that I got to sit in on a taping of a Captain Caveman that I’d written, and heard Mel Blanc say “fuck” in Cavey’s voice (and idiom) about a hundred times.

(grinning in memory) In short, it was like The School for Scandal with cartoons: an excellent place to start learning the craft.

Ah, good times… good times.