A Short Q&A With Fred Ladd
Fred Ladd is mostly known for his dubbed
versions of imported cartoons such as Astro Boy and Gigantor. What is more obscurely known
is that he produced all of the original retraced colorizations of the Looney Tunes, Popeye
cartoons, and Betty Boops (and many more). This is a candid interview with Mr. Ladd about
The Colorized Cartoon Database: When redrawing the cartoons, did you use color
cartoons from the same era at the studio (such as referencing the color remake of Notes To
You, Back Alley Op-Roar for the colorization) for reference, consult original artists, or
even look at artwork for the cartoons?
Fred Ladd: Yes, all the above. For examples:
When coloring Li'l Abner, we checked the old Sunday color comics and found that Mammy
Yokum & Li'l Abner wore 'yaller' boots, Daisy Mae's blouse was pink-with-red heatrs,
etc. In 'Popeye', Bluto's shirt was navy blue, his pants were brown. For Porky's colors,
we referenced old color, animated cartoons
CCD: What were some of the harder sequences or
cartoons to redraw?
Ladd: The tough part of every cartoon are the "effects"--rainstorms, and
even dissolves from one scene to another. Holding the colors from the outgoing scene while
introducing new colors from an incoming scene has special problems.
CCD: Many unofficial lists of the colorized cartoons have surfaced on the internet.
It's pretty much assumed that 78 Looney Tunes were colorized for WB. Yet, there has been
rumors that more were colorized. Was the entire B&W library of Warner Bros. cartoons
owned by them at the time colorized?
Ladd: Yes, 78 Looney Tunes was our very first big project. Years later, 25
more were added to the package. We believe that the 25 added had copyrights that had
expired or were about to expire. Adding color qualifies a picture for a new
copyright. We assume all the pictures were owned by Warner. CDD Note: These 25 likely included the Bosko Looney Tunes and
Harmon-Ising Merrie Melodies done for Radio & TV Packagers Inc.
CCD: Was there any guide to what colors were to be used? In some cartoons, such as
Jeepers Creepers, Porky states that the ghost is white and transparent, despite the ghost
being yellow and opaque in the colorized version. Also, some had red shadows and red
Ladd: Studios generally left color selections to us. All were pleased by our
selection, never a complaint about color selection. MGM especially had high praise for our
color work on 'Popeye', probably because the coloring got unanimous rave reviews from
the press. The red iris-outs were purely stylistic and welcomed by the studios
as a way of helping them emphasize that these pictures were a long way away from
b-&-w. (Note: At the time, the Popeye
cartoons were with Turner when they were at MGM)
CCD: Were these cartoons intended for theatrical distribution? Also, color
processes and film used (like 16mm or Eastmancolor, etc.)
No. A relatively few pictures were enlarged by us, from our standard 16mm to 35mm,
but in general we shot 16mm for TV release. Eastman was
unhappy in those days with its own 16mm negative and urged us to use Kodachrome, which we
did--in the beginning. Later, at Eastman's urging, we switched to its Ektachrome
process. and loved it, because the process favors warm colors--which we also prefer.
CCD: How did you develop the
colorization process? Was it just an accident or an experiment?
Ladd: We own the b-&-w "Gigantor" series and originally tried to
develop, in 1967, a feasible way to convert the series to color. Our early experiments
were observed in the film laboratory,-which we both used,- by people at Warner Brothers,
and that led to our being requested to set aside "Gigantor" for the moment, and
go ahead, instead, with 'Porky Pig'. We did, you know the rest.
The Colorized Cartoon Database would like to give an
enthusiastic "thank you" to Mr. Ladd for answering this Q&A. We'd also like
to thank the posters at The Termite Terrace Trading Post for submitting questions which
Check out Ladd's Gigantor website at www.gigantor.org
and the Termite Terrace Trading Post at www.toonzone.net.