“I had heard that after the Beatles saw the show for the first time, John Lennon called it ‘that Flinstones shit,’” Campbell chuckles. “And then Ringo was upset and said ‘Oh, they made me the idiot!’ Which of course, we did. Poor guy!”
He more memorably worked on an animated Beatles project of an entirely different sort – the groundbreaking 1968 feature film Yellow Submarine. Scenes he animated include the Sea of Time sequence, much of the action between the Chief Blue Meanie and his
“We got to work with all kinds of designs on that, things we could never do on television shows or a commercial. I didn’t think we thought we were doing anything groundbreaking at the time. Psychedelic art was already established in advertising. But we knew that Disney would never put out something like this!” Campbell says.
In fact, he says it was only 10-15 years ago while talking to fans at his gallery shows that he’s truly grasped how big a deal Yellow Submarine actually is to people. “To hear people talk so glowingly about the film…that means a lot to me,” he says.
But once the four Beatles had returned from their trip to India and saw a rough cut, they were blown away by the visuals and message. And that the end result was decidedly not “that Flintstones shit.”
Almost on the spot, the real-life Mssrs. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr decided to appear in a live-action comedy bit tacked at the end, just before the final segment of “All Together Now.”
Going back to the start, Campbell’s interest in animation grew while attending Saturday movie matinees in his native Australia when “strange creatures” (which turned out to be cartoons) were sprinkled in between various serials, newsreels, and the man feature. When his great-grandmother told him they were “just drawings,” the young Campbell immediately wanted to make his own. “I had to make my own drawings come alive. And I went to art school…thus rejecting all other possible career choices!”
Brodax was so impressed with Cambell’s work – and ability to deliver a project on time and on
Campbell’s extensive post-Yellow Submarine resume included production, direction, animation, or storyboarding on a slew of beloved Boomer and Gen X youth cartoons. They include shows from producers like Hanna-Barbera and Disney, among them “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” “Captain Caveman,” “Yogi Bear,” “The Flinstones,” “The Jetsons,” “The Smurfs,” “The Snorks,” “Ducktales,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and “Rugrats.” He estimates that interest in his work today is about “60 percent Beatles and 40 percent everything else…Beatles fans are legion for their dedication!”
But even though many of his appearances today take place in “real” art galleries, Campbell doesn’t believe it should be so…well…art gallery-like.
“I don’t consider what I do to be fine art, but fun art,” he sums up. “I do hear over and over again that people enjoy my art. And when they hang it on the wall, they tell me when they walk into the room, they just smile. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, and people remember happy moments. What more impact could an artist want?”
Ron Campbell will sign and talk March 16 (4-8 p.m.), 17 (Noon-5 p.m.), and 18 (Noon-4 p.m.) at the Muir Fine Art Gallery at City Centre, 818 Town