Once upon a time, JERRY BECK studied at The School Of Visual Arts in New York City intent on becoming a great animator. But his interest in animation's history led him down another, darker path. Beck began his career assisting Leonard Maltin as 'research associate' on his landmark book, OF MICE AND MAGIC: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN ANIMATED CARTOONS (McGraw Hill/Plume 1980). In the course of doing this work, Beck became well versed in the histories and films of every Hollywood cartoon studio. In 1981, Beck teamed with Will Friedwald to produce the filmography THE WARNER BROS. CARTOONS (Scarecrow Press).
Beck began his career in the film industry at United Artists in 1978, working with the MGM/UA film library as a salesman in the nontheatrical division. In 1984 Beck joined ORION CLASSICS, becoming an expert at theatrical distribution. His interest in animation and knowledge of film distribution brought him to the attention of Terry Thoren's EXPANDED ENTERTAINMENT in 1986. With Beck's expertise, Expanded began distributing THE INTERNATIONAL TOURNEE OF ANIMATION, THE FESTIVAL OF CLAYMATION and THE PUPPETOON MOVIE to theatres across the U.S.
At Expanded, Beck helped organize two animation festivals (Los Angeles Animation Celebration 1987 & 1989) and was instrumental in the creation of Animation Magazine. In addition to his writing for Animation Magazine, Beck has contributed to VARIETY, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, VIDEO BUSINESS, THE WHOLE TOON CATALOG, ANIMATION BLAST, ANIMATO, WILD CARTOON KINGDOM and the on-line ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE.
Beck reteamed with Will Friedwald to update and revise their Warner Bros. cartoon history as LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES: A COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE WARNER BROS. CARTOONS (Henry Holt) in 1989. Beck has also written I TAWT I TAW A PUTTY TAT: 50 YEARS OF SYLVESTER AND TWEETY (Henry Holt, 1991), THE 50 GREATEST CARTOONS (Turner Publishing 1994), and co-authored (again with Will Friedwald) WARNER BROS. ANIMATION ART (published by Hugh Levin) in 1997. You can see the covers of these books if you click here! Beck is also a contributing editor to Leonard Maltin's annual MOVIE & VIDEO GUIDE and Maltin's FAMILY FILM GUIDE (1999)
Recognized as an authority on animation, Beck taught a nine week course at the UCLA Extension on "Animation: The State Of The Art" in 1992 and conducted seminars on "The History of the Hollywood Cartoon" for the American Film Institute in 1994. In 1995 Beck taught "The History of Animation" at NYU and in the spring of 1996 taught "Promotion for Animation" at the School of Visual Arts. He was a founding member of the CARTOON NETWORK advisory board in 1993, and serves on the board of directors of ASIFA-Hollywood (The International Animated Film Society).
In the 1990s, Beck co-produced a successful series of laser disc compilations for MGM/UA Home Video, which included THE GOLDEN AGE OF LOONEY TUNES (Volumes 1-5), THE COMPLETE TEX AVERY and THE ART OF TOM & JERRY; and he has programmed over 100 VHS and DVD cartoon collections. He has been an animation consultant to WALT DISNEY HOME VIDEO, WARNER HOME VIDEO, RHINO RECORDS and REPUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT (curating the best-selling BETTY BOOP: THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION).
Beck compiled several video collections for Columbia House including LOONEY TUNES: THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION and WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS: THE COLLECTORS EDITION. He also co-produced SOMEWHERE IN DREAMLAND: THE DEFINITIVE MAX FLEISCHER COLOR CLASSICS for VCI Entertainment. He was consulting producer for the six-volume dvd compilations LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION (Warner Home Video).
In 1989, Beck partnered with producer Carl Macek to form STREAMLINE PICTURES. Streamline was the first company devoted to importing Japanese animation and distributing anime to North American theatres, television and home video. Among Streamline's many titles were AKIRA, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, VAMPIRE HUNTER D, NADIA, WICKED CITY, ROBOTECH, and ROBOT CARNIVAL. Beck also co-produced the English language version of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Fox Video) and compiled SPEED RACER THE MOVIE for Family Home Entertainment.
Beck parted with Streamline in 1993 to pursue other areas of animation. He became Executive Producer of THE BABY HUEY SHOW (1994) for The HARVEY ENTERTAINMENT CO. Beck then joined NICKELODEON MOVIES as Vice President of Animation, under a three year contract. At Nickelodeon, Beck was instrumental in developing THE RUGRATS MOVIE (1998), MIGHTY MOUSE and THE STINKY CHEESE MAN.
From September 1997 through April 1998, Beck had an exclusive consulting and development deal with WALT DISNEY TELEVISION ANIMATION. Also in 1997, Beck formed CARTOON RESEARCH CO. to write books, consult on animation projects, compile CD's, DVD's and home video products, supply cartoon stock footage and develop new features and TV series. He began writing his Cartoon Research website in February 2000.
In 1999, Beck produced TOTALLY TOONED IN for Columbia Tri-Star International Television, a 65 episode series that restored the Columbia theatrical cartoon library; and for CARTOON NETWORK wrote and co-produced the special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons.
Beck was co-Creator, co-Producer and co-Writer of KAREN & KIRBY for WARNER BROS. TV ANIMATION. 13 Karen & Kirby interstitials were produced and were shown on Kids WB's THE BIG CARTOONIE SHOW (1999-2000).
Beck was the West Coast Bureau Chief for KIDSCREEN magazine for one year (July 2000 through July 2001), and co-wrote the Cartoon Network special "TOONHEADS: THE WARTIME CARTOONS" (which aired 7/1/01 and recieved a huge 2.3 rating). Beck also co-wrote "TOONHEADS: THE 12 MISSING HARES" and "TOONHEADS: THE WORST CARTOONS EVER" (both projects were paid for, completed, but never aird). In 2002, Beck became a writer/producer for Rubberbug Animation, producing and writing an award winning educational DVD project named ALGEBRA'SCOOL. In 2006, Beck wrote a follow-up project, MATH'S COOL.
Beck had two more books published in 2003: Outlaw Animation, for Harry N. Abrams Inc. Publishers, and Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide from Dorling Kindersley (DK Publishing), both are still on sale in all major bookstores.
In 2004, Beck teamed with Amid Amidi to create the blog, Cartoon Brew. That year, Beck was General Editor of Animation Art (Harper Collins Design), and wrote two more books which were published in 2005: The Animated Movie Guide (Chicago Review Press) and Pink Panther: the Ultimate Visual Guide (DK Publishing) .
In 2006 Beck created and produced an animated pilot for Frederator Studios and Nickelodeon. That cartoon, Hornswiggle, aired on Nicktoons Network in 2008 as part of the RANDOM CARTOONS series.
In 2007, Beck wrote three more books, The Art Of Bee Movie (Chronicle), The Hanna Barbera Treasury (Insight Editions) and Nicktoons (DK/Melcher Media). In 2008 he penned The Art of Madagascar (Insight Editions).
From 2007 through 2012, Beck partnered with writer/performer Frank Conniff to produce a live comedy and cartoon revue, Cartoon Dump, at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood.
Beck is presently a programming consultant to Warner Home Video (Popeye, Looney Tunes), and a cartoon consultant to Universal Home Video (Woody Woodpecker and Friends), CBS Home Entertainment (Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures), and Shout Factory. His latest book, published in 2010, is The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons (Insight Editions). He is currently writing a book about Spongebob Squarepants.
Beck is currently teaching animation history at Woodbury University in Burbank California, writing and editing his blog Cartoon Research, and regularly screens animation programs at The CineFamily (Silent Movie Theatre) in the Melrose/Fairfax district.
To Be Continued...
Karen and Kirby (1999)
Contact Jerry Beck at: [email protected]