Danny Robas 88 248.
(photo credit: Nusko/Nissim Hezkiyahu)
Of all the pop and rock bands that have graced the airwaves, recording studios and stages since the dawn of the genres around a half-century ago, the Beatles are the most readily associated with animated film. There was, of course, the fabled Yellow Submarine movie, plus the less revered animated series that ran on ABC television from 1965 to 1969, along with various other cartoon clips that emerged during the band's undisputed reign of the pop charts in the Sixties.
So, it is perfectly natural to find a slot devoted to the Fab Four at next week's Animation, Comics & Caricature Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque (August 19-22).
And it is hard to think of anyone better qualified to present the Beatles in cartoons at the festival than singer-songwriter Danny Robas. The man simply exudes a love for the Beatles, and 10 years ago he put in a fine performance of "The Long and Winding Road" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" under the baton of the band's legendary producer George Martin.
"That was a wonderful experience," Robas recalls, "to work with the man who produced the Beatles, even for just a short time."
The festival will include screening of hundreds of animated films, workshops, exhibitions, lectures and children's activities, many devoted to a specific theme or animator.
Robas says that while it is impossible to provide a comprehensive review of the Beatles' animated and animated-related work, he'll do his best to present the festival audiences with information on this area of the band's work, as well as give some personal insights into the inner machinations between John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. "I'll talk about the differences between John and Paul. You know, Lennon was the wittier, rougher of them, and McCartney was the nice guy, the good guy. I think that comes through in the songs they wrote, too."
While Lennon and McCartney are the best known of the four, Harrison and Starr certainly had their own input on the music that the band produced - and on interpersonal relations between the four, not all of which was of the healthiest kind. "It is fascinating to see how the character of each Beatle comes out in the band's films, and especially in the animated ones," Robas continues. "George Harrison, for instance, is not considered to be as talented or as popular as Lennon or McCartney, but he had this deep intellectual spiritualism about him, and I think that also comes out to a degree in the cartoon material.
"Anyway, for me, Harrison's songwriting was just as good as Lennon and McCartney's."
According to Robas, the Beatles' visual work influenced a whole host of artists from various disciplines, who came up at the time and in the post-Beatles era. "Don't forget the Beatles are British and that special humor comes through loud and strong in the cartoon stuff, too. And what about [Monty Python animator] Terry Gilliam's work? You can see he fed off the Beatles' music and the visual aspects of what they did too. [Monty Python team member] Eric Idle is also influenced by them in the music he wrote and played during the Python era. It's all interconnected."
For the 52-year-old Robas, presenting part of the Beatles' work is a labor of love. "I love their songs, and I feel a bond with them. They have been part of my DNA since I was born. I heard them on the radio and started buying their LPs in the Seventies. When I started playing guitar and singing, I learned every note of every song."
That will, no doubt, be abundantly clear at the two Robas-led Beatles slots at the festival, which will include cartoon clips and some Robas explanations, and, of course, Beatles songs performed by Robas.
Danny Robas will present the Beatles on August 19 and 22 at 10:30 p.m. For more information on the festival, visit www.anicomfestival.co.il.