A Christmas message from a hero of animation and illustration

We’d like to share this wonderful animated seasonal message with you, aired exactly 50 years ago this Christmas by the US TV network, CBS. We know its enduring charm and humour won’t be lost on you, but the creator of those fragile little characters might be. It was drawn by R.O. Blechman (and animated by the legendary Willis Pyle), someone very close to the hearts of both Scriberia creative directors, Dan and Chris.

Still working well into his ninth decade, Blechman’s prolific career has seen him rack up numerous New Yorker covers, hundreds of editorial cartoons, best-selling graphic novels, TV commercials and award-winning animations. Here’s why Dan loves his work so much:

“Blechman’s line is wobbly and nervous in the best possible way. His characters may be puffed up with bravado, skipping with joy or down in the dumps, but that shaky line somehow makes them all as vulnerable as each other. That, for me, is a pretty profound comment on humanity every time he picks up a pen - which isn’t a bad start is it? I love how a line so seemingly tentative can communicate ideas with such precision. His ideas are never a cartoonist’s stock themes and clichés - there’s always a real freshness to his thinking.”

It’s not just Blechman’s artwork that provides inspiration either, it’s also the man himself. As Dan says:

“We’ve never met him, and probably never will, but Blechman feels almost like a fairy godfather to Scriberia. Working across illustration and animation makes him particularly relevant to us, and I’ve soaked up everything he’s ever written and every interview he’s ever given on his creative practice. He’s very generous and insightful in sharing his vast experience of running a studio, keeping clients happy and fine tuning ideas. Everything he does is thoughtful, witty, human and elegantly economical - which is precisely what we aspire to.”

The CBS Christmas animation typifies those qualities, and Chris could watch it again and again:

“There is a courageous simplicity to it - so spare and stark and sketchy, that it's almost like a dream or a fading memory. There are no extraneous details, it's not overblown or bombastic as Christmas can sometimes feel. Amid the visual assault that is the Christmas telly schedule, this feels like a reprieve. A chance to catch your breath. 

"In story and style, it's as charming as it is simple. The message is perfect for Christmas too - a little reminder that opportunities to create something wonderful exist in the most unexpected of places. Who knew that some tuneless birds and a hacksaw could result in a heartwarming rendition of Comfort and Joy? So, this Christmas, don’t be a grump. Make a special moment. Yay!”