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The Hanna-Barbera logo & business cards, circa 1992.

October 24th, 2007

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When I first got to Hanna-Barbera in 1992 the studio was nine years past it’s last big success (The Smurfs) and Ted Turner was on the verge of closing the place (producer David Kirschner [Pagemaster, Cats Don’t Dance] convinced Ted to keep the doors open, primarily to save production of his ultimately doomed features). I had absolutely no idea how to turn the studio around –I wasn’t even a novice when it came to making cartoons– but I certainly knew how to resurrect the image of the place. We’d start the turnaround there.

                                                         1979
Hanna Barbera (HB Enterprises) production logo Hanna-Barbera Productions logo tag
Hanna-Barbera production logo 1969 Hanna-Barbera production logo 1974
1969                                              1974

I wasn’t too crazy about the now-classic 70s HB logo (I know a lot of you disagree) because I felt the studio had turned its back on the powerful heritage they had making cartoons (I was insulted by the way that the prior regime had continued producing junk-for-revenue like Yo! Yogi and numerous pale Flintstones specials). I much preferred the graphic vibe of the 50s and I was determined to reclaim it. I turned to my pals Tom Corey and Scott Nash who had developed the Nickelodeon logo and gave them my rap. I also handed them Iraj Paran’s re-drawing of the vintage HB script. Tom and Scott agreed with my basic philosophy that contemporary trademarks should be kinetic in conception and presented dozens of logos that incorporated the classic characters (and not only the usual suspects, but Muttley, Barney, Secret Squirrel, Jonny Quest, and others) and Iraj’s script, and they added in the elemental shapes of ovals, circles, squares, and rectangles. I’m not sure we caught the exact spirit I was looking for (that would have to wait until Craig Kellman’s reclaiming of The Flinstones art authenticity) but I felt like we were ready to rock.

When it came to business cards (I’ve posted autographed versions from our founders Joe Barbera & Bill Hanna), I was still smarting from 12 years of purchasing bureaucrats at MTV Networks who’d constantly thwarted my efforts to make dozens of simultaneous business cards from dozens of variations of MTV and Nickelodeon logos. I thought it would be fun and make the brands sing, the company thought it would be wasteful. So, now I was in charge of a company, and multiple, collectible business cards were the order of the day; in fact, my ‘President’ cards were actually printed with the legend “Collect all 8″. The only person who was skeptical was by partner Jed Simmons because he loved making notes on the backs of his cards, and printing the character pictures frustrated his efforts. He got over it.

They were a big hit; when we were at business functions we all quickly ran out of cards. Soon, lots of companies in the entertainment business followed suit with fun collections of business cards (even MTV and Nickelodeon).

If only we could figure out how to make hit cartoons.

Business card back. Scooby Business card back. Dino Business card back. Top Cat Business card back. Muttley Business card back. Huckleberry Hound Business card back. George Jetson Business card back. Betty Rubble Business card back. Barney Rubble
The backs of the 1990’s Hanna-Barbera business cards

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N3 collectable Business cards each sporting a themed NBOT would be the coolest. Especially by that Jeaux kid in your offices. :)

 

For another post, we should see some of the cards’ backs. People loved those, and every time I showed them to someone, I’d always be asked, “Do they make a puzzle?”

 

“If only we could figure out how to make hit cartoons.”

This almost made me squirt coffee out my nose. Thanks, Fred.

I think you figured it now, though.

 

I kept my cards when I left H&B to go over and work on “Cats Don’t Dance”. They were very unique and consistently received complimentary comments.

 

Fred, as much as I liked those graphics on the business cards (which got carried through even down the nameplates on office doors), my favorite thing you did was to go back to the late ’50’s, early ’60’s Hanna-Barbera script and make it a neon sign to go around the new “Jetson” tower. I don’t even want to know how much that cost (actually, I do), but it LOOKED like “a million bucks.” Sadly, it wasn’t there long.

 

Thanks Brian.
Not to get too far into the weeds of detail, but when I first got to the studio there was very little archival knowledge at the place, and the accurate memories were all hidden away, somewhat on purpose actually. So I couldn’t get a clear story on the what logotypes were used when. In hindsight, it’s clear there was no “official” logo or logotype. Anyhow, when we were doing this logo I wanted a clear path back to the origins of the studio and Iraj’s re-draw of the script was as close as anyone would give to me.

By the time we rebuilt the warehouse building (with the neon) we knew a lot more about the graphical heritage and we were able to put the original script back to a place of honor.

Glad you enjoyed it.

 
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