Beany & Cecil Boards by Bruce Timm

File this under “Weird Things I’ve Accumulated Over the Years.” While cleaning out some boxes recently, I ran across photocopies of a complete 70-page storyboard from the short-lived TV series The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil (1988). It’s for the episode “The Courtship of Cecilia.” I’m pretty sure the boards are drawn by a pre-Batman Bruce Timm; any Brew readers that can confirm, please do.

I’ve posted six of the pages below. The storyboards are beautifully inked—the care that went into creating finished art for each panel makes it feel more like a comic book than the average animation storyboard. It’s not clear to me whether Timm always works this clean or if this was perhaps a one-off presentation board. It’s also worth mentioning that a few of the episodes from the revival are posted on YouTube, though unfortunately not this particular cartoon.

Update: In the comments section, Tom Minton provides a nice history on the use of inked boards in ’80s TV animation. I’m reprinting them up here so nobody misses his comments:

John Dorman’s storyboard unit at Ruby-Spears started brush inking their in-house storyboards in the early 1980’s (on the likes of stuff like “Dragon’s Lair� and “Turbo Teen�), so Bruce [Timm] didn’t invent the notion of inking production boards. The product that Bruce (and Doug McCarthy, who also inked the initial Tiny Toon Adventures boards, with a brush pen) worked on had the advantage of a lot more money going into the completed result.

Many industry veterans complained about the upstart practice of inking storyboards back in that day, arguing that it was misplaced effort to ink a board. It’s only a waste of talent when the best work gets left behind in the board phase, which routinely happened in television animation for many years, depending in varying degrees on the studio in question. It’s true that some very talented people ended up producing some beautiful work that the public never saw. At different times, Dan Riba, Alfredo Alcala and even Duncan Marjoribanks were my inkers at Ruby-Spears. Thom Enriquez and Jim Woodring inked some magnificent looking boards there, as well. Yet the finished shows done by that studio speak for themselves.

The primary point of drawing on storyboards remains communication, not stellar inking, so the act of such a degree of polish will probably continue to be debated for decades to come. Inking on boards generally owes more to having a serious comic book jones than a yen for onscreen graphic blandishment. The two disciplines are related but they’re a couple of different animals.

Update #2: Brew reader Ted has posted the short, “The Courtship of Cecilia,” onto YouTube. Watch Part 1 and Part 2. And another Brew reader has volunteered to scan in Bruce Timm’s entire storyboard for this cartoon so look for that soon.

click on pics for bigger versions
Beany and Cecil storyboard

Beany and Cecil storyboard

Beany and Cecil storyboard

Beany and Cecil storyboard

Beany and Cecil storyboard

Beany and Cecil storyboard


  • Stephen DeStefano

    Bruce often does ink his boards, making them some of the most attractive in the business. I wasn’t around for John’s Beany and Cecil revival, but this does look like Bruce’s work to me.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    I’m surprised that John K has never brought up working on this at his blog, then, considering his love for Bob Clampett and how he quite often talks about the glory days of the new Adventures of Mighty Mouse et all. Even more interesting, is how he quite often rings up stuff from cartoons that Bruce Timm worked on (like Batman) as poor examples of animation. Hmm..

  • Dana Anderson

    Amid- this may be “weird ” for a man in your position on the ‘inside’ of the world of animation, but to some of us out here this is truly great behind-the-cartoons material. I personally always liked B.&C. and even got the chance to know Bob,Sody and their daughters (very fine people). Anyway, thanks for posting these boards and now what about the other 54? Any chance they’ll show up on Cartoon Modern or Animation History Archive? Please share more! You and Jerry are doing a great job for all of us fans of classic animation. Keep up the good work.

  • Jenny

    This wasn’t a “presentation” board. His boards on all the later WB stuff did always look this polished, yes.

    I’d never seen anyone use a brush pen(the Itoya felt tip type)before Bruce–much less do it with his sort of skill. He would pencil the board first, of course; the “inking” would be fast and precise. Some of the other talented guys did their work in this style for Batman later on.

  • Tom Minton

    John Dorman’s storyboard unit at Ruby-Spears started brush inking their in-house storyboards in the early 1980′s (on the likes of stuff like “Dragon’s Lair” and “Turbo Teen”), so Bruce didn’t invent the notion of inking production boards. The product that Bruce (and Doug McCarthy, who also inked the initial Tiny Toon Adventures boards, with a brush pen) worked on had the advantage of a lot more money going into the completed result. Many industry veterans complained about the upstart practice of inking storyboards back in that day, arguing that it was misplaced effort to ink a board. It’s only a waste of talent when the best work gets left behind in the board phase, which routinely happened in television animation for many years, depending in varying degrees on the studio in question. It’s true that some very talented people ended up producing some beautiful work that the public never saw. At different times, Dan Riba, Alfredo Alcala and even Duncan Marjoribanks were my inkers at Ruby-Spears. Thom Enriquez and Jim Woodring inked some magnificent looking boards there, as well. Yet the finished shows done by that studio speak for themselves. The primary point of drawing on storyboards remains communication, not stellar inking, so the act of such a degree of polish will probably continue to be debated for decades to come. Inking on boards generally owes more to having a serious comic book jones than a yen for onscreen graphic blandishment. The two disciplines are related but they’re a couple of different animals.

  • Micah

    In a book called Modern Masters Volume Three: BRUCE TIMM there are some B&C story boards from Mr. Timm’s first collaboration with Paul Dini. They look the same to me! Matter of fact, they may be from the episode you’ve posted. Worth noting in the book: Mr. Timm talks at length about working with John K. It’s very insightful. Most insightful. The book is available for nearly a song on Amazon.

    Nice post, Amid.

  • Jorge Garrido

    WOW!!!! Great find! I can’t see Bruce’s Batman style in it but it sure looks cool!

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    And I was one person…at 32!…forcing myself to get up at the unthinkable hour of 8 to watch this network treat!! It was a true joy….and great for adults (just like it was in 1961!!) I was so sad that it was, indeed, so so SO short-lived!!

    And what a DAMN shame that that is not aired today….they could even package the old AND the new for synidcation (a la Jetsons!) Kids today need to know what “Adult Swim” REALLY is!!

  • amid

    Thanks for all the great input everybody and especially to Tom for the history lesson. Even if these boards were being used for animation with no layout stage, I admittedly don’t see how the production would improve from inking them. I’d rather have more poses drawn by the artists than more rendered poses. There’s no denying though that they do look pretty.

  • http://blackwingdiaries.blogspot.com Jenny

    Everything Tom Minton writes is dead on(incidentally, I never meant to imply that just because Bruce was the first person *I* ever saw ink a board with a brush pen that he was the first to do so. I had zero prior studio experience when I saw Timm’s boards for the first time, and they were very new to me).

    I would add, though, that while it’s true a board this pretty perhaps isn’t necessary in style to a finished product OR the basic requirements of a storyboard, there’s no reason for someone NOT to do this kind of work either. While the beautifully thick and thinned line might be lost on the rocks of a Korean studio, the artist certainly benefits on a personal level by a)doing his best work as he sees it, b) honing his mad skillz with his tools of choice, and c) getting his yayas where the particular script, studio and/or process may offer little or none. NOT saying that that was the case on B&C or TTA or Batman, but that sometimes where a board artist can’t add material, he or she can at least have fun and improve by working in a particular style. Especially in TV you look for the silver linings wherever you can find them.

  • Christopher Cook

    I have “The Courtship Of Cecilia” on video (I recorded it upon its original 1988 ABC telecast and recently transferred it to DVD). I’d put it up on YouTube but I run the risk of having it removed (as I’ve had happened to stuff before).

    “The Courtship Of Cecilia” was the only episode ready for the series’ final showing (Oct. 8, 1988), so the half-hour was filled with a repeat of the 1961 episode “Beany & Cecil Meet The Monstrous Monster.”

  • amid

    Here’s a thought: if somebody is willing to scan in the remaining 64 pages and make them available to all on Flickr, let me know and I’ll mail you the photocopied boards.

  • Ted

    Here you go:

    Part one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw4rbdPNRsY

    Part two:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGn7b2zP1TM

    I’d be willing to scan in the boards, but my scanner won’t capture full sized storyboard pages.

  • Jamie

    John Dorman happens to be one of the best Storyboard Artists ever.
    No one can top him – the best.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    These weren’t presentation boards. Bruce inked his storyboards with a brushpen – on BEANY AND CECIL, TINY TOONS and the BATMAN pilot – for a very good reason: because that was the fastest way for him to clean them up. He’d ink directly over his blueline roughs.

    He wasn’t trying to show off or be an “upstart”. His first love was comic books, so that was his training. Inking was just natural for him.

    Also, I hardly need to add, he’s superhumanly talented! The resulting storyboards are incredibly beautiful – they often looked better than the finished cartoon, (especially in the case of the DIC production) and often do look more like a Golden Age comic book than an animation storyboard.

    I saved every single one of those boards, and will be glad to share them with anyone who wants to see them through the ASIFA ANIMATION ARCHIVE.

  • Tom Minton

    Jorge: You can’t readily see Bruce’s style in that B&C board because Bruce can do about 50 different styles, all exceedingly well, which mainly people who were around when he was rapidly evolving (such as Mike F., Jenny, Eddie F. and me) got to see. Bruce became famous for the BTAS style but take a look at the 1990 Tiny Toon Adventures short “Top Secret Apprentice” and watch him take the picture through a veritable design tour de force. Bruce did the board and key color layouts for that cartoon and Art Vitello directed it. BTW, Mike, I was referring to industry pros carping about the Ruby-Spears unit inking boards, not about what Bruce did six years later. Bruce loves comics, of course, but he got his animation training doing Filmation layouts and working for John K. when we did the first season of “Mighty Mouse” before he went on to B&C. All artists theoretically improve with practice but once in a great while we get to see someone with Bruce’s level of talent, who just gets better and better and better.

    LINK TO “TOP SECRET APPRENTICE”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEPiGKOKfcc

  • Mike Fontanelli

    ["BTW, Mike, I was referring to industry pros carping about the Ruby-Spears unit inking boards, not about what Bruce did six years later..."]

    Hell, I know that, Tom. My comment was directed at the uninitiated. I’ve always been just as big a fan of yours as I am of Bruce’s – there was certainly no slight intended.

  • Jorge Garrido

    Wow, Tom! I’d never seen that cartoon before but it was pretty well animated and had some hilarious drawings. I’d never seen this side of Bruce but it makes my respect for the man grow even more.

    50 styles? Amazing! He should have a blog.

  • http://jimsmithcartoons.com Jim Smith

    I have Bruce Timm boards from Beany. With ink lines and texture shading. Nice to look at and impressive.

  • Monica Mayall

    Just to add two cents and trivia – briefly, as a lowly Production Assistant, summer 1984, I can verify, and remember clearly, when the brush pens came into John Dorman’s storyboard crew at Ruby-Spears. The crew was housed in the old Cheech & Chong Recording Studio on Barham, and Thom Enriquez couldn’t wait to show anyone who would stop and look what a cool new toy he’d discovered.

    On the practical side – inked boards made for better quality copies in order to ship them overseas. Remember copiers then were not the copiers of today.