Cartoonist John Ryan, who created the popular Captain Pugwash British television series, has died aged 88 this week. He is famous for the comical pirate series and author of a multitude of books. As well as writing many of the early scripts he also produced the artwork and directed the filming. John was also responsible for Sir Prancalot which was a similar style to Pugwash and set in a castle. He used his great artistic ability on the Ark Stories in 1981 using a rostrum camera to create simple animated animal stories, Percy Edwards provided the voices.
The Captain Pugwash Television Series
Before the Captain and his band were on television they were a successful series in the Eagle and then the Radio Times. The very TV first episode aired on BBC1 on 22nd October 1957. That initial pugwash series was filmed in black and white and ran for 58 episodes, in the 1970s a second colour series was commissioned by the BBC and 30 more episodes were made.
Later in 1998 John Cary created a third CGI Captain Pugwash using the 2D software Animo to produce a crisper result. Some people have criticised the CGI seascapes but most would agree that the style is very similar.
Captain Horatio Pugwash was joined by Master Mate, Pirate Willy, Pirate Barnabas and the voice of reason "Tom the Cabin Boy". The pirates sailed the Black Pig and their arch enemy was "Cut-Throat Jake"
The Captain was renown for making stupid plans and his exclamations such as
"Plundering Porpoises!", "Jumping jellyfish!" or "Harrowing hurricanes!"
The Music and voices
The series music is possible even more well know than the series itself. The Trumpet Hornpipe is a lively sea shanty played on the accordion.
All the characters were voiced by Peter Hawkins
Watching the series it's easy to assume that the technique is simply cutout animation on a painted backdrop. However it was actually a cardboard puppet play filmed in real time with articulated puppets made from card and metal. Some panning and zooming was also used with larger sets. This technique enabled Ryan and his team to shoot and impressive 400ft of film a day which meant that each Pugwash episode took only about three weeks to complete. John Ryan's setups were called "Captions" and he used same technique on the later series Sir Prancalot and also on Mary, Mungo and Midge. The illustration was crisp and high quality and the colours bold.
Toonhouse Pugwash Early Series
Toonhound Pugwash Modern Series
Wirligig TV's Look at Captain Pugwash
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