Thursday, June 23, 2016

Production Bibles

I mentioned in an earlier post (Where did Old School Evil come from) that one of the steps to creating the cartoons that inhabit the book's world was creating Production Bibles.  The production bible is one of the earliest and most important sources of information for almost any show, but cartoons depend on them most of all. 

A production bible contains all of the vital information to a show and like the name implies, must be strictly adhered to.  Listed inside are all of the relevant character descriptions, settings, episode summaries, and in a few cases all of the model sheets for the main characters.  The bibles were mainly used by series writers as a rulebook for what can and can't happen in any episode.  Generally, they're only used internally by the writing staff, but sometimes they are released or leaked to the public.  For examples, here are bibles for The Transformers and Batman: The Animated Series.  As a fan of the shows, a bible can be a wealth of interesting trivia.

In some cases, it can show the evolution of a cartoon, as the information in the bible can change by the time the show goes into production.  For instance, The Transformers bible lists Jetfire's change to Skyfire due to legal reasons and should only be used in small scenes.  Of course, we see Jetfire show up more and more as the series progresses, ignoring whatever legal reasons he was restricted for in the first place.

Unfortunately, as production bibles were internal documents, only the two above from the 80s and 90s are available online.  Other examples from more recent shows can be found online, as their creators are more in touch with their fans, but classic shows are much harder to find.  Every so often, they might show up on eBay, but those can go for massive sums.  More likely, once a show has finished its run, all documents may have been tossed or misplaced and are lost to us forever.  Hopefully as time goes on, more will become available, as fans are always ravenous for whatever nostalgic memorabilia pops up.

I'll talk later about how production bibles have helped me while creating the world of Old School Evil.

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