After 20 years off the telly, Danger Mouse came back on our screens this week on CBBC. Offset stalwart and illustrator Steve Simpson worked on the original cartoon at Cosgrove Hall over twenty years ago. I dropped him a line during the week to see what he makes of the new updated version and to tell us a bit about his time working at Cosgrove Hall.
Seeing Danger Mouse back on our screens has left me rather nostalgic today. DM and Penfold look a little different (that will take a little getting used to) but the new voices really are excellent.
cue wavy dissolve to a time long ago….
I left Portsmouth College of Art & Design in Easter 1985 to start my dream job at Cosgrove Hall in Chorlton, Manchester. The job I’d been interviewed for was ‘Special Effects Artist’ AKA ‘Airbrushing glows around stuff’ but for the first few months I was painting cels and operating the xerox machine. The paint & trace department consisted of about 15 people working at white desks surrounded by floor to ceiling shelving used for drying.
Scenes arrived in the xerox room containing pencil drawings on pegged sheets of paper. These were photocopied onto acetate, punched and sent up to Paint & Trace. Large tubs of cel paint with labels such as DM eye and Greenback Flesh were decanted into smaller pots and used to paint on the reverse of the cels. Colours were painted in batches and left to dry before the next colour was applied.
The first scene I was given to paint contained a batch of Danger Mouse heads, eye blinks and mouth shapes. There was a real skill in getting the right consistency to the paint so it dried opaque but wasn’t too think it cracked – it was (as I learned pretty quickly) very important to remember to check you were painting on the reverse of the cell 🙂
In the 5 wonderful years I spent at Cosgrove Hall, working on different animated series, my favourite always was Danger Mouse – you never forget your first 🙂
The new series will be broadcast on CBBC at 6pm and will be running for 52 episodes.
Words: Steve Simpson
Images: FremantleMedia Limited