Friday, June 27, 2008

Beatles Cartoon Series Revisited

I recently posted an article about the "Penny Lane" episode of the Beatles Cartoon Series. It included the disclaimer that other than the licensing of the songs, the Beatles themselves had nothing to do with the production of the cartoon. I have no evidence to the contrary, but I wanted to take a moment to suggest that although unlikely, it is at least plausible that a Beatles Cartoon episode could contain relevant clues. YouTubeornottobe grandfatheraleister could be on to something.

Iamaphoney even used images from the Beatles Cartoon for the Rotten Apple 21 subtitled "nothing IS real."

The characters in the Beatles Cartoon series were based on caricatures created by Peter Sander. The Beatles Fanzine, Strawberry Fields Forever published Sander's original "blueprints" in Issue #10. Click each picture for a larger version.

One reader of this blog stated that the actual episodes were made by artists in Korea to save money, but I have not been able to confirm that. One credible Beatles Cartoons fansite says although it was true that the producer looked to other places than the U.S. because of economic reasons, the actual work was done in Australia, with additional production taking place in England, Mexico and Canada.

The Beatles Cartoon was still in production when the Beatles music and message changed dramatically. If something did happen in 1966 that caused the Beatles to start putting clues in their releases in 1967, it is plausible to me that the later Beatles Cartoon episodes could contain clues. All the Beatles would have had to do was send Neil Aspinall or even Tony Bramwell to Beatles Cartoon Executive Producer Al Brodax. They could have said, "The Beatles would like you to put this and that in an episode of the cartoon. And if you will do them that favor and not ask any questions, there is the possibility of a Cartoon Feature film in the near future."

When "Yellow Submarine" materialized within a couple of years, Al Brodax was involved, much to the chagrin of many others working on the film. Brodax was a surprising choice because he was the one who insisted that the Beatle characters in the cartoon series have American accents.

To give you an idea of how some people felt about Al Brodax, here are a couple representative quotes from some people who worked on "Yellow Submarine":

Animator Tony Cuthbert said, "I think as a team we weren't particularly friendly with King Features or Al Brodax."

Millicent McMillan, Heinz Edelmann's Assistant said, "All Brodax books should be burnt and him as well for good measure."

A bunch of people involved with "Yellow Submarine" issued a group statement condemning Brodax and his book "Up Periscope Yellow."

An excellent source of information on the "Yellow Submarine" movie is radio personality Dr. Bob Hieronimus, author of "Inside the Yellow Submarine." He has interviewed many of the principle people including George Martin, Heinz Edelmann and Derek Taylor. I would love to get Dr. Bob's take on the Rotten Apple series and even tried unsuccessfully to contact him via email. With his knowledge of symbols and mysticism, I'm sure he could interpret some of those loose ends in the Rotten Apple series for us. [So, Doc, if you are listening, give me a shout. We actually met once. You asked me if I thought David Peel would be a good guest on your show.]

So the bottom line is that the idea of the Beatles brain trust planting some message in an episode or two of the Beatles Cartoon Series is more plausible to me than many of the other things that we speculate about here. It could be something very general and subtle too, such as that picture of the back of the heads of the four moptops with Paul's picture being just a little different from the other three.

One thing is for sure: Apple thought that the Beatles Cartoon Series was important enough to purchase and take off the market in the early 1990s.

Here are some excellent links for more information:

Television Heaven: Beatles Cartoon Series
Unofficial Beatles Cartoon Site
Dr. Bob Hieronimus' reaction to Al Brodax's "Up Periscope Yellow."


Anonymous said...

I think the Beatles never liked the cartoon which would explain why Apple took it off the market.Even though they could make a lot of money from it,It is really really bad.


Tafultong said...

I agree. But then why go back to Brodax for "Yellow Submarine?"

Anonymous said...

There is actually an entire book devoted to the cartoon series.I think it's Beatletoons or something like that.I'm sure the answer would be in there.I've only flipped through it. Was Yellow Submarine put out by United Artists?I think it represented the film the Beatles owed them.They could never decide on a script for their third movie although Ringo wanted it to be a western so I think Yellow Submarine was a contract filler..The Beatles had nothing to do with the movie until it was nearly completed.My guess would be that United Artists and not Apple hired Al Brodax because he was a proven success.
And where do you find these Beatle fanzines because I never see them anywhere?Record stores maybe?


Tafultong said...


Yes, you are correct about the Beatles lack of involvement in "Yellow Submarine." But that hasn't stopped people from finding lots of clues in it from the scene with two Paul's to "P is for Goodbye."

The fanzines are usually through mail order. There are lots of them out there. I wish I could subscribe to all of them, but I would run out of money and space. Unfortunately, "Strawberry Fields Forever" is long gone along with its founder Joe Pope who died of cancer. Joe was a wonderful writer who not only knew his stuff, but made you laugh out loud as you read it. His "bi-monthly" publication would sometimes go years between issues, yet no one seemed to mind Joe's schedule. He was also the one who manufactured those original Deccagone (Decca Audition) singles with the full color picture sleeves.

Beatlefan is still going strong. Beatles Unlimited out of the Netherlands has been around for a long time. There are some other good ones still around too.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how to contact you directly Taf... But did you know that the paulmccartney(dot)com site was hacked this week? Sorry I had to put this post somewhere and this was the first option. I hope you see it. Been following the RA for a long time now... Great work by the way..


Anonymous said...

Taf -

A couple of items which engage my curiosity, but which I've not been able to find reference to here:

- the death while in police custody of the person who broke into Ringo's London flat recently. I believe a coronor's report was said to be imminent.

- when I was looking for anything more than the one reference to the Love/code matter, I came across mention of "80 boxes" of "Beatles memorabilia" that had been illegally acquired and offered for sale.
The kicker with that one was that the alleged miscreant had not passed through the criminal justice system, but had instead been directly placed in the custody of a mental institution.

Neither item, although in each case statistically rare, is proof of anything in particular. But together they do tend to strain coincidence theory.

~km artlu

Anonymous said...


I just saw this on the news. Now I'm completely freaked out.

Jude, Mike, IAAP, anybody- wtf are we dealing with here?!

Tafultong said...

km artlu wrote:
...the death while in police custody of the person who broke into Ringo's London flat recently...I came across mention of "80 boxes" of "Beatles memorabilia" that had been illegally acquired and offered for sale.
The kicker with that one was that the alleged miscreant had not passed through the criminal justice system, but had instead been directly placed in the custody of a mental institution.

Hopefully the results on the inquest on the death of Edward Sharman, the man who broke into Ringo's house will be made public. I have not seen anything yet.

The other individual, Nigel Oliver actually worked for the Beatles in 1969 according to the reports. I'm hoping that I will come across his name somewhere in Beatles literature prior to this event. No luck so far. Supposedly his mental illness manifested itself in the mid 1990's. Schizophrenia usually presents itself in late adolescence/early adulthood, but it's not unheard of for it to be diagnosed later than that, especially in the music business. People like Jim Gordon (All Things Must Pass drummer who was diagnosed in his late 30s after he murdered his mother) and even Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) went unnoticed in that environment for a long time when they clearly would have been labeled as troubled in other lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Taf. It's a delight to have this place wherein to address such questions and receive responses.

"..especially in the music business.." That was good for a chuckle. Still, crazy or not,80 boxes of presumably vintage archives - gets me curious.

And since anon. 1:52 brought it up: that chalk mark on the floor by the bed. Has it indeed been confirmed that it's a still from the set of either AHDN or Help? That would be perfectly understandable, if confirmed.

If still unconfirmed, the question of a nefarious presence early on would remain.

Anonymous said...

'Proof' its the norm for placing props?!

We just marked stuff with crows feet.

Anonymous said...

Just got the new Zappa release "One Shot Deal".
It's got the symbol, too.
It's used as a marker to keep photos even!

Anonymous said...

Vince here.
Not to change the subject, but i just wanted all of you to know.....,
If you haven't seen it, RENT IT TODAY!

Felipegcs said...

Tafultong, in "The Fireman Was Paul" video by GrandfatherAleister (The one that analize the animated series and the fireman/Paul relationship), near the end 3 Beatles run away from the fireman. THREE.
And where is the four? appears from the sewer (Paul never appears, only the fireman gets out from the sewer, do you understand what i mean?)

Tafultong said...


I interpreted the end of the cartoon a little differently. I think that the THREE were chasing Paul (i.e. for sending them on the wild goose chase in Penny Lane). Watch it again and let me know what you think.

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