The Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album cover photo shoot -- by photographer Iain Macmillan on Aug. 8, 1969 -- reportedly took 10 minutes. But 50 years after the Abbey Road record was released on Sept. 26, 1969, the distinctive image still draws countless fans to the London intersection to mimic George, Paul, Ringo and John’s single-file stroll. For better or worse, British authorities anticipate even more traffic tie-ups at the crossing in late September when Capitol Records is expected to re-release the album.
Arizona animator Ron Campbell contributed to the fab four legend when he helped illustrate the original Beatles-inspired “Yellow Submarine” film in 1968 and directed ABC-TV’s Saturday morning Beatles series in the '60s. During his half-century career, Campbell also stroked life into an extensive lineup of zany pop figures -- among them, Scooby Doo, the Smurfs, Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh, Flintstones, Jetsons and Yogi Bear.
Originals and print renderings of these childhood favorites as well as a variety of Beatles-related art will be on display and available for sale when Campbell makes a rare personal appearance at Coll’s Custom Framing in Conshohocken Sept. 6-8.
According to advance publicity, “Ron will showcase his original Beatles cartoon paintings created specially for the show and paint original remarques (small originals, an artist draws or paints on a print’s margin) for customers who purchase any of his art work.”
The public is invited to the free meet-and-greet Sept. 6 from 4 to 8 p.m.; Sept. 7 from 12 to 6 p.m.; and Sept. 8 from 12 to 4 p.m.
“We’re pretty excited about Ron’s appearance,” says Brian Coll, a partner in the family-run business at 324 Fayette St. “The show will include a lot of original pieces and some very limited-edition prints, so it should be interesting for people who lived through that era or grew up with some of these cartoons.
“Younger people who are interested in a career in animation, too. I mean, this guy was an animator before most people even thought of animation as a career. And the whole field of animation has changed so much since then. So, yeah, if somebody is thinking about that kind of career today, Ron would be a great guy to meet and talk to…a great opportunity for someone. And he’s a nice guy…very down-to-earth.”
That, despite Campbell’s hugely-successful run as an animator.
The “Saturday Morning Beatles Cartoon” series earned a walloping 67 share following its debut on Sept. 25, 1965. In addition to his role as the show’s director, Campbell wrote the forward to “Beatletoons,” considered the definitive book on the series.
The artist’s online bio acknowledges late friend and colleague Duane Crowther as his creative partner in animating “many scenes in the (‘Yellow Submarine’) film, including the Sea of Time sequence and much of the action between the Chief Blue Meanie and his boot-licking sidekick, Max (as well as) many scenes involving the multi-named Jeremy Hillary Boob PHD, aka the Nowhere Man.”
“In his book, ‘Up Periscope,’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ producer Al Brodax gives (Campbell) a great deal of credit for saving the movie and tying it all together at the last minute,” notes Scott Segelbaum, who arranged the local exhibit via his Blue Bell-based Rock Art Show.
Campbell was born in Australia in 1939 and attended Swinburne Art Institute in Melbourne. He went pro in the late 1950s, taking on projects that ranged from Australian television commercials and Beetle Bailey and Krazy Kat cartoon production to the juggernaut Beatles series. Along the way, Campbell moved to Hollywood, helped create a slew of the era’s most popular animated shows and added affiliations with Hanna-Barbera, Sesame Street and Disney TV Animation to his dossier. He received both Peabody and Emmy awards for his work in children’s television.
Campbell retired after a half-century in the field, but his current paintings are based on the animated characters he helped popularize “with emphasis on The Beatles.” He lives and works in the Phoenix area, but his Cartoon Pop Art exhibit has appeared in galleries around the world. Additional details are available at www.beatlescartoonartshow.com, 610-389-1807 or 610-825-7072.
Campbell’s three-day visit is part of the “4th and Fayette Fall Celebration” scheduled by Coll’s Custom Framing and neighboring Sanctuary Blu artisan boutique and Deli on 4th for Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The free event will feature collectibles and handmade gift items by local artists and craftsmen, live music and food.