Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Features and More

Beatles animator Ron Campbell brings his Yellow Submarines to St. Petersburg

As a boy in Australia in the 1940s, Ron Campbell was awestruck by the Saturday afternoon cartoons in the local movie theatre.

Little did he realize that years later he would become a leading animator, director and producer on many of animation’s most popular cartoons, including Popeye, Scooby Doo, The Beatles Cartoon Series and the iconic Beatles’ animated movie, Yellow Submarine.

After a 50-year career, Campbell is retired but continues to paint the characters he worked on, especially the Beatles, and displays them in galleries around the world. Campbell brings his cartoon pop art to St. Petersburg’s Libertine Contemporary Fine Art Gallery through Sunday, where he will be on hand to chat about his work and impressive career.

Like most kids, Campbell loved drawing since an early age. But the animated antics of Tom and Jerry and Heckle and Jeckle were both enchanting and perplexing, as he couldn’t understand what was making them move.

He remembers asking his great grandmother what they were. She explained that they were just drawings.

"You mean, I can make drawings can come alive?," Campbell recalled thinking. "It was magical. It was like an epiphany to me."

He later attended the Swinburne Art Institute in Melbourne, but Campbell was largely self-taught. He’d spend his Saturday afternoons in the Melbourne library poring over animation and drawing books, learning about Walt Disney and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.

Television came to Australia in 1956. After a brief stint animating commercials for Royal Greenhouse Productions, he went into business for himself. Then the American company King Features came to Australia looking for animators, and hired Campbell. He worked on Popeye, Krazy Kat and other shows for American television.

In 1964, King Features head of film and television Al Brodax saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and got the idea to make an animated series about the Fab Four. When he called Campbell to ask him to direct the series, Campbell misunderstood.

"I said, ‘Al, insects make terrible subjects for children’s cartoons,’" Campbell remembered.

The Beatles cartoon series debuted in 1965, and was wildly successful. But the Beatles themselves weren’t involved beyond the use of their songs; the characters were voiced by actors.

The success of the series eventually led to Yellow Submarine, and Brodax once again contacted Campbell, this time to do animation. Campbell, who by this time was living in the U.S., worked on the Sea of Time sequence and the action between Chief Blue Meanie and his sidekick, Max, using the psychedelic art style that defined the era. The film is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Meanwhile, he was busy storyboarding for the first season of Scooby Doo and animating for George of the Jungle. He went on to work on many of the most legendary cartoons ever, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Smurfs and Rugrats. He even worked on the very last scene of the very last episode on the last hand-drawn cartoon series, Ed, Edd and Eddy.

Campbell’s gallery shows include paintings of many of the beloved characters from these series. The Beatles cartoon series remains one of the most popular, which people love to tell Campbell at his art shows.

"I meet all the people now who used to watch it as a kid," Campbell said. "Believe me, they’re nuts about it. I’ve had hundreds of people tell me about the happy memories they’ve had watching it."

   
Comments
Restaurant review: Chile Verde is serving up very solid tacos in an unlikely spot

Restaurant review: Chile Verde is serving up very solid tacos in an unlikely spot

ST. PETERSBURGThere are a lot of decommissioned gas stations across the country. Some have been reinvented, cleverly made over as upscale restaurants. There’s Big Star in Chicago, Elaia & Olio in St. Louis, Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, Va., even Bi...
Published: 06/18/18
Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

When we started seeing ads for Nestle Toll House cookies already baked and prepackaged, I knew it was time for our tasters to get involved. They are cookie lovers, and one even has his own cookiemaking business. We found the Nestle brand and had hope...
Published: 06/18/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/15/18
With over 40 years between the birth of my two daughters, I am two different fathers

With over 40 years between the birth of my two daughters, I am two different fathers

Still shaken by Bobby Kennedy’s assassination six days earlier, I sat in the hospital waiting room mindlessly thumbing through a May 1968 Rolling Stone while my wife, Fran, gave birth to our daughter Elle. As was customary, when everyone had been fre...
Published: 06/15/18
Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

LOREN ELLIOTT • Times CorrespondentPUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICOThe third-floor balcony attached to our rented apartment served as a peaceful refuge above Puerto Vallarta’s bustling central district streets. Below us, taxis honked, people crowded bus ...
Published: 06/15/18
How Tampa's Cole and Marmalade got famous, beat cancer and helped save more cats

How Tampa's Cole and Marmalade got famous, beat cancer and helped save more cats

Here's how to make your cat famous on the internet, according to the owners of some famous felines.
Published: 06/15/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/16/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

GULFPORT — Brianna Melton is as serious a ballet student as they come.By her junior year at St. Petersburg High’s International Baccalaureate program, she had already spent four summers training with ballet companies across the country and had narrow...
Published: 06/14/18
Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Smile for the camera, Frito. The world is watching, and you have a story to tell. The tiny seahorse came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sunday with fishing line wrapped around her neck. By Wednesday, she became the CMA’s newest internet ...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18