Printed in Animation World Magazine, July 1998
In order to be truly appreciated, The Beatles Yellow Submarine is
a film that has to be experienced rather than just watched. In 1968 when I experienced
The Beatles Yellow Submarine, it was common to sit through several showings
of the picture, watching it over and over. I sat through it alone, with groups
of friends and fellow seekers, and watched a whole generation fall in love with
the Yellow Submarines bursts of color, its visual and Liverpudlian puns,
and its montage of mythic images that sweep over you to the tune of the most
magical music The Beatles ever created. It was a grizzled human who didnt
leave the theater after the Yellow Submarine Experience feeling more positive
about the world and the power that Love has to overcome all Evil.
Being an artist myself, specializing in large city murals and commissioned
watercolors, I was entranced with The Yellow Submarine, and determined to
one day find out who was responsible for what I thought was a masterpiece
of subliminal meaning and powerful symbology masked behind the exquisite color
and ingenious design.
Although I began researching the film in late 1968, it was not until 1991
that I began to answer most of my questions with a series of interview specials
with the primary creators. Many of these interviews were broadcast on my radio
program, 21st Century Radio (currently heard on WCBM 680 AM, Baltimore, 7-9
PM EST Sundays, also on www.wcbm.com). It didnt take long to realize
there was no one great genius who created The Yellow Submarine from start-to-finish
as a mythical Heros Journey imbued with hidden meanings.
Instead I learned The Yellow Submarine is more like what Art Designer Heinz
Edelmann calls it, the ultimate piece of white noise, meaning
it was truly a composite of contributions of dozens of different talents.
There were many times that they were literally making it up as they went along.
But if you had to single out one person for credit, it would have to be Art
Designer Heinz Edelmann, definitely the leader of the parade. Edelmann was
responsible for every piece of the design throughout the film, all the Pepperland
characters, all the monsters and meanies, and most of the design of the other
scenes. Edelmann is also the one mostly responsible for the storyline as it
grew from the original simple script in the vein of the ABC Beatles childrens
cartoon series, to a psychedelic experimental animation landmark reinforcing
The Beatles essential message that Love overcomes all. Thanks to Edelmanns
knowledge of the classics, and to the writing direction of Erich Segal, a
professor of Classics at Yale, The Yellow Submarine also seems to flow like
the classic/mythic Heros Journey. The Beatles á la Odysseus.
So with the contributions of a dozen or so talented individuals on the central
crew, combined with Edelmanns avant garde design, The Beatles Yellow
Submarine sparked a new spirit in animation, and a whole new generation of
artists were turned on.
July 17, 1998 is the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Yellow Submarine
at Piccadilly Circus in London. Photos of this mob scene are always featured
in good Beatles retrospectives, and it will be forever remembered by all the
three dozen Yellow Submarine contributors Ive interviewed. In honor
of this event, lets take a look at where many of these creators went
after that day, and where they are today.
Heinz Edelmann, Art Designer Edelmann hates talking about The Yellow Submarine,
and calls it the albatross around his neck. Rightly regarded as
one of this generations major contemporary graphic artists, Edelmanns
characteristic visual language sets him above transient trends and fashions.
After Yellow Submarine, Edelmann teamed with Special Effects Designer Charlie
Jenkins and Background Supervisor Alison de Vere, and formed a small studio
in London where they produced about a dozen commercials, a few film
titles and almost - almost, almost - sold three of the five feature projects
I had written. After 1970 Edelmann turned his talents to book design
and illustration, magazine illustration, numerous posters for films, theatre,
concerts, animation and advertising. He is internationally renowned for his
posters and illustrations and typography, and has had several one-man-shows
in Europe, the USA and Japan. He has also been teaching for 30 years and recently
retired as a Full Professor at the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts. His daughter,
Valentin, is also an accomplished designer, currently accumulating her own
Sir George Martin, Music Director Commonly nicknamed The Fifth Beatle,
George Martin was knighted in 1988 for his services to the music industry.
During the course of his career he has been awarded two Ivor Novello Awards
and five Grammys. Martin composed six original orchestral pieces for the Yellow
Submarine sound track, which Producer Al Brodax compared to the creations
of J.S. Bach, and were released as the B-side to The Beatles album The
Yellow Submarine. Martin is recognized as one of musics most versatile
and imaginative talents. He has produced no less than 30 number one singles
in the U.K. alone, and before and after The Beatles, he has worked with some
of our generations finest talents including Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore,
Bob Dylan, Elton John, Sting, Carly Simon, Peter Gabriel, Sinéad OConnor,
Elvis Costello, and more. He has recently produced his final album In
My Life, already gone Gold in Australia, a successful representation
of his most treasured friends and heroes (like Goldie Hawn, Robin Williams,
Bobby McFerrin, and Sean Connery) giving their renditions of some of his favorite
George Dunning, Director Dunning was ill during much of The Yellow Submarines
11 month creation, but he is responsible for creating the dynamic Lucy in
the Sky sequence, which he did with the assistance of Bill Sewell. Before
Submarine, Dunnings Canadian/British company, TV Cartoons (TV C), directed
The Beatles television series for America (1967), together with
Jack Stokes, one of Yellow Submarines Animation Directors. This Beatles
series led to TV C being commissioned for the production of The Yellow Submarine,
and Dunning is credited with keeping the production on the straight and narrow
to ensure a quality artistic piece. He is the only one wearing a suit in most
of the photographs of the artists working in the studio on Submarine. In 1967
Dunning also produced the only triple-screen cartoon, Canada Is My Piano.
After Submarine in failing health, in 1969 he did Memory, Moon
Rock 10 (1970), Horses of Death (1972), Plant a Tree
(1973) and The Maggott (1973), Damon the Mower (1974)
and Teamwork (1976). He was working on Shakespeares The
Tempest when he passed away in 1978.
Charlie Jenkins, Director of Special Effects Charlie Jenkins contributions
to Yellow Submarine cannot be overstated, beginning with locating Heinz Edelmann
and suggesting him to King Features as the Artistic Designer for the film.
Before Submarine, Jenkins had worked with Richard Williams (Roger Rabbit)
developing experimental graphics, film titles and multi-exposure techniques,
and using the Oxberry aerial image system. Jenkins originated the method of
loose painted rotoscoping of live action images, a technique used successfully
throughout Submarine. Jenkins contributions include the opening scene
of Liverpool to Eleanor Rigby (in which the live action images of many of
the Yellow Submarine animators are featured as extras), the journey of the
Submarine through time and space as it leaves Liverpool, as well as the Northern
Song and the All Together Now end sequence. After Submarine, he formed Trickfilm
Workshop in London with Edelmann and De Vere, where his clients included Paul
McCartney (Maybe Im Amazed film), and Diana Vreeland, Editor
of Vogue. Jenkins career took off in photography, production, design
and advertising and his clients included Franco American Films, Fanta International,
Peter Beard, the Kennedy family, and his work took him all over the world.
Hes worked or lived in Madrid, Africa, India, Brazil, the Caribbean,
Pacific, the Far East, and Miami, and in the 1980s he moved to Argentina.
Today he calls Buenos Aires home and continues to cast and peruse the
production logistics of a territory yet to exist on the world production map.
Erich Segal, Ph.D., a Screenwriter during the 11 months of the Yellow Submarines
production, over 40 writers and artists contributed at one time or another
in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to create a finished script for the
animators and actors to work from. The one writer who stands out as having
contributed the most and having the greatest success at cobbling together
the many shreds and pieces and contributions of the artists and other writers
is Erich Segal. Segal was a young assistant professor of Classics at Yale
University at the time Al Brodax found him and flew him to London for several
weeks of furious writing. Everything on Submarine was done hurriedly, under
enormous deadline pressure, and Segal remembers not being allowed to leave
his hotel room except for his daily jog. After Yellow Submarine, Segal went
on to immediate international fame with his best-selling novel, Love Story,
made into the blockbuster film starring Ryan ONeal and Ali McGraw. Today
he is the author of eight novels, including Olivers Story, and Man,
Woman and Child, two other international bestsellers that became major motion
pictures. Doctors brought him to the number-one spot on the New York Times
bestseller list for the third time. Segal has also published widely on Greek
and Latin literature, subjects he has taught at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.
He is currently a Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.
Bob Balser, Animation Director One of the few American artists on the team,
Bob Balser directed and storyboarded all the scenes that were pre- and post-Pepperland:
Liverpool, the travel sequences through the various seas, and the return.
After Yellow Submarine, Balser opened his own production company in Barcelona,
Spain where he produced TV series like The Jackson 5, The
Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Peanuts for CBS, Barney
for BBC and many more. Recently his credits include The Triplets
for HBO. Currently he is in Turkey directing a TV series called Bay
Dogs, a take off on Bay Watch. Balser has won many international
awards and is the member of many professional affiliations.
Jack Stokes, Animation Director Jack Stokes was not new to animating The Beatles
when he began work directing and storyboarding all the Pepperland scenes in
Yellow Submarine. He had directed the ABC Television series for TV C, and
also designed the titles for The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour.
After Yellow Submarine, Stokes kept busy with commercials and several other
full length feature films which he directed, designed and/or storyboarded
including Tiki Tiki (1969-70), Little Mermaid (1972),
Water Babies (1977-78), Heavy Metal (1980-81), Castle
for PBS (1981-1982), Asterix (1984-1985) and many more. Most recently
he was director and did layout storyboard for Tailor of Gloucester
(1992-1993), Prince Valiant (1994) and Tales of Peter Rabbit
and Friends (1994). Stokes is the recipient of many international film
and animation awards.
John Coates, Line Producer A partner with Dunning in TV Cartoons when Submarine
was proposed, John Coates oversaw the production unit (that eventually grew
to more than 200 people) that produced The Yellow Submarine in less than a
year from first designs to its London premiere. Since Submarine, John has
continued to run TV C, along with many of the animators who worked on Submarine.
They produced several award winning pieces, including The Lion, The
Witch And the Wardrobe which won a 1979 Emmy Award, The Snowman
which won awards all over the world including an Oscar nomination and a British
Academy Award in 1983. Through 1986/88 TV C produced the full length feature
film, When The Wind Blows of Raymond Briggs celebrated book,
and Granpa. In 1991, Father Christmas, 1995 a feature
length version of Kenneth Grahames The Wind In the Willows
and William Horwoods book The Willows in Winter which won
two prime time Emmy Awards. Most recently in 1996 they produced Famous
Fred which has won a British Film Academy Award, the 1997 Grand Prix
at Annecy, the Grand Award Trophy for Best Childrens Programme, the
Gold Medal for Best Family Special at the recent New York Festival and an
Oscar nomination in March 1998. TV Cs current productions are an adaptation
of Raymond Briggs The Bear and Oi! Get Off Our Train!,
both due to be screened at Christmas 1998.
Al Brodax, Producer Al Brodax originally suggested the idea of a full length
animated feature based on The Beatles Yellow Submarine. He was the head of
the motion picture/television department of King Features Syndicate when he
brought the idea of an animated film to The Beatles. After Submarine, Brodax
went on to produce, write and direct several Emmy award-winning television
series including ABCs Make A Wish, and Animals, Animals,
Animals starring Hal Linden. In the 1980s Brodax served as consultant
to several firms including Marvel Comics and Computer Graphics Laboratories
and the New York Institute of Technology. He is currently writing an adventure/comedy
novel entitled Jokka and planning to produce a live action movie
in the U.K. next year called Fish Story.
Millicent McMillan, Assistant to Heinz Edelmann Millicent McMillan was one
of only two direct assistants to Art Director, Heinz Edelmann, and he credits
her with making the Blue Meanie blue, when he wanted to make them red as an
obvious reference to the Cold War. Since Yellow Submarine, she has worked
on and off for TV C for 30 years, doing background and/or design for The
Snowman, Granpa, Father Christmas, and with
Alison DeVeres production company doing commercials and childrens
features like Mouse and Mole and The Angel and The Soldier
Boy. She also worked on Pink Floyds The Wall. One
of Millicents three children was a Yellow Submarine baby, bornalmost
on the eve of the premiere, and as a result of her post-labor condition, she
was unable to batter the crowds at Picadilly Circus,and ended up missing it.
Alison de Vere, Background Supervisor Alison de Vere is remembered fondly
by all the creators of the Sub not only as the talented Background Supervisor
(the most luminous interpreter of Heinzs illustration and artwork
says Charlie Jenkins), but also as Eleanor Rigby. Alisons
image was used as the lonely girl portrayed in this opening musical sequence
Charlie Jenkins special that mixed live action/photography with animation.
After Submarine, Alison formed her own production company and to her credit
has several award-winning short features including Cafe Bar (1975),
Mr. Pascal (1979), Silas Marner (1984), The Black
Dog (1987), East of the Moon (1988), The Angel and
the Soldier Boy (1989), Psyche and Eros (1994), and Mouse
and Mole (1996). Her son, Ben, is also a designer, working with her
in her company.
Roger McGough, Dialogue and Joke Writer A native of Liverpool Roger McGough
was brought into the project after Segal left with the instruction to provide
authentic Liverpudlian-sounding dialogue and local color jokes. After Submarine,
McGough distinguished himself in the world of poetry and pop music, as a Fellow
of Poetry at the University of Loughborough, a Member of the Executive Council
of Poetry Society, and an Honorable Professor of Thames Valley University.
Recently McGough was awarded the OBE from Her Majestys government.
David Livesey, Key Animator David Livesey had his own well-established Group
Two Animation Studio when he was sub-contracted from TV C to do Key Animation
for Yellow Submarine. After Submarine, Livesey freelanced and worked for Cosgrove
Hall Productions, TV C and others as Key Animator on such productions as Snowman,
Waterbabies, Heavy Metal, Christmas Carol,
Cobbler and the Thief, Sam Whiskers, Wind In
the Willows, The Blockies, and many others. In the 1990s
Livesey began teaching at the British Animation Training Scheme at the Museum
of the Moving Image and the National Film School. Recently he and published
a graphic novel, The Buggane of St. Trinians, and he is currently working
as a Key Animator on The Bear for TV C (their last film).
Geoff Loynes, Key Animator Since Yellow Submarine, Geoff Loynes has worked
as a free-lance animator, many times on further TV C productions like When
The Wind Blows, The Beatrix Potter Series, and Wind In the Willows.
He also worked on Heavy Metal, Watership Down, F.R.O.,
Digswell & Daisy, and Pond Life.
Antal Kovacs, Dubbing Editor Hungarian Kovacs has been active all over the
film industry and all over the world for decades. He has directed, written,
edited, produced both animation and live action, lectured, and written three
novels. Some of his titles include Blow Up, Interlude,
The Great White Hope, Dead Reckoning, and Waterbabies.
Jack Mendelsohn, Script Writer Mendelsohns contribution to the long
stream of scripts turned in for Yellow Submarine was significant enough for
him to be singled out of the 40-plus to be listed, along with three others,
as Written By on the films credits. Mendelsohn also came from the earlier
King Features production of The Beatles TV cartoon series,
and after Submarine he continued with a very busy and illustrious career writing
for television and animation. Hes worked on Laugh In, The
Carol Burnett Show, Tony Orlando And Dawn, Threes
Company, The Return of Dennis the Menace, and in animation:
Yogi Bears Christmas Special, Archie, Sabrina,
George of the Jungle, Super Chicken, Hey, Hey,
Hey, Its Fat Albert, Muppet Babies. More recently
he did Sinbad the Sailor, Donkey Kong, and a Disney
Saturday morning cartoon. He is currently working on a semi-fictionalized
memoir/novel about his decade of living in Mexico City during the 1950s.
About The Author, Robert R. Hieronimus In the late 1960s Bob Hieronimus traveled
with numerous rock and roll bands as spiritual advisor and poster designer,
as he began his long career as a muralist and painter. His highly acclaimed
occult and symbolic murals include the 2,700 square foot prophetic Apocalypse
at the Johns Hopkins University, which led to Dr. Bob being called one
of this countrys best muralists (Forecast Magazine). His life
story was documented in 1971 with The Artist of Savitria produced
by Maryland Public Television and seen nationwide on PBS.
He earned a Ph.D. in 1981 from Saybrook Institute for his doctoral thesis
about the metaphysical influences on the founding fathers, the subject of
one of his three earlier books: Americas Secret Destiny: Spiritual Vision
and the Founding of a Nation (1989).
Since 1988 he has broadcasted his unique 21st Century Radio® focusing
on the leading researchers into the paranormal and consciousness research,
with frequent visits from his rock and roll friends. Together with his wife
and partner, Zoh, Bob operates a media research service called Hieronimus
& Co., Inc., providing story and guest ideas and materials to television,
newspapers and radio worldwide. Their work has been featured on ABC Radio,
CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, The Larry King Show, Strange Universe, and in dozens of
leading publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The
New York Times Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco
Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, The New York Post, and
The Baltimore Sun.
He is presently at work completing his long-delayed history book on the turbulent
journey of The Beatles Yellow Submarine, and how it evolved from Liverpool
to Pepperland. This book should see publication by the summer of 1999.