Storyboard Studios/Hubley Studios
Storyboard StudiosAlso known as:
After John Hubley was blacklisted by HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) for not testifying before the committee, he had to leave his position at United Productions of America (UPA) in 1952 and as a result founded his own independent animation studio, Storyboard Studios, in the following year. At the beginning, he worked on television commercials but after he moved his studio from Los Angeles to New York City in 1956 and started collaborating with his second wife Faith, the company turned to making and producing independent short animated films. Together they produced one independent animation a year, 22 films in total. Seven of these were nominated for Academy Awards, and three, Moonbird (1959), The Hole (1962), Tijuana Brass Double Feature (1965), won the Oscar.
The Hubleys still produced commercials for Easy Pop and Maypo, as well as create animated shorts for Sesame Street. One could notice a number of characteristic traits in the films produced by Storyboard Studios. Story-wise, the Hubleys often focused on human nature in their animations, for instance in Moonbird (1959), Cockaboody (1974), and Everybody Rides the Carousel (1975).
Secondly, they also touched upon social issues in their films, for example warning against nuclear destruction in The Hole (1962), depicting the absurdity of war in The Hat (1964), questioning urban development in Urbanissimo (1966) and overpopulation in Eggs (1970), and fighting for children’s rights in Step by Step (1979). In terms of their style, many scholars and animators point out to Hubley’s distinguish style, particularly their dependence on animal characters which could metamorphose into anything, and freedom in drawing and coloring, with much of the coloring not staying within the lines.
Moreover, Mary Corliss, Assistant Curator at MoMA, argues that Storyboard’s films represent impressionistic style influenced by modern painters such as Picasso, Matisse, Klee, and Miró. Hubleys’ films also distinguish themselves by their innovative use of soundtrack. The Hubleys often improvised with soundtrack (they were the first artists to use real children’s voices instead of actors’ voices for children’s characters), and used jazz musical accompaniment from many leading musicians, such as Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Quincy Jones.
After John’s death in 1977, Storyboard Studios, renamed Hubley Studios, continued to operate under the supervision of John’s wife, Faith, and their daughter Emily. The studio produced an independent animation each year, continuing with the themes and style developed during John Hubley’s life, but also representing Faith’s individual style. In 2000, the studio produced its final film Our Spirited Earth. The next year, Faith Hubley died and the Hubley Studio closed its doors.