I’m a little late on this one, but Arthur Rankin Jr. passed away on January 30, 2014.
Another person responsible for my childhood wonderment has gone. Arthur Rankin Jr. was part of a team, along with Jules Bass they were Rankin/Bass Productions.
You probably don’t know the name Arthur Rankin Jr., but I bet you know his work. Here are some clips from stuff he’s done.
Who could forget the classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer that we see every Christmas? And The Island of Misfit Toys;
Here’s the closing sequence to the Thundercats, cause we all know the intro, but at the closing you can see the Rankin/Bass logo;
Where there’s a whip, there’s a way;
The Last Unicorn;
My personal favorite, Flight of Dragons;
The animation style of these productions was very distinct, from the character designs in their animated fare, to the stop motion of their Christmas specials. Even as a kid I knew it was different, once I recognized it, I knew what to look for, and look for it I did. After Thundercats, there was Silverhawks, after Rudolph I went searching and found Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, and Mad Monster Party.
What I’ll always remember from the Rankin/Bass body of work is their fusion of music with animation. Everything had music interwoven, good or bad. Who doesn’t remember the theme song to the Thundercats?
Something else that stuck out to me was the way the hands of their traditionally animated characters were… well animated. Such detail in the hands, it really stuck with me.
I thoroughly enjoyed the body of work that Arthur Rankin Jr. provided, the library of Rankin/Bass productions will forever be a part of my childhood, five-year old me thanks you and thirty-two year old me will miss you.