Beatles' ‘Yellow Submarine’ animator coming to Ann Jackson Gallery

"All You Need is Love" from artist Ron Campbell.

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ron Campbell is also known for Saturday morning cartoon classics.

If you’ve seen “Scooby-Doo,” “The Flintstones” or “The Jetsons,” you’ve seen the work of Ron Campbell.

If you’ve spent hours mesmerized by the vibrant colors and psychedelic kookiness in The Beatles' “Yellow Submarine” film, you’ve also witnessed the deft, dazzling touch of Campbell.

For about 50 years, Campbell, a native of Australia who currently lives in Phoenix, was involved in what was considered the “golden age” of Saturday morning cartoons, with other familiar titles including “The Smurfs” (he created storyboards and wrote scripts) and “Rugrats” also part of his oeuvre.

This weekend, Campbell will make an encore appearance at Ann Jackson Gallery in Roswell — it’s his second visit this year, but also only his second in-person showcase since the coronavirus pandemic — to display his artistry and chat about his extensive history with animation and painting.

Scooby Doo and Shaggy, courtesy of artist Ron Campbell.

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

At 80, Campbell has been retired for about 12 years. But he still relishes interacting with the multiple generations who appreciate his pop culture creations.

“I love when we get into long conversations, and I learn about how many children they have or their divorces,” Campbell said. “This isn’t like other art shows. This is not Picasso. This is the kind of art show you can bring your children to, and they love it. I warn people that you have to be careful coming to my show and bringing your children because you might develop a taste for buying art!”

While Campbell’s exhibit is officially titled the “Beatles Cartoon Art Show,” there will be plenty to peruse from his entire cartoon catalog. Still, his visit is fortuitously timed to the vicinity of what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday (on Oct. 9). While Campbell never met the band, he remains awestruck by the passion presented by their fans.

“They’re lunatics in the best way possible,” he said with a laugh last week from the only other stop on this quick jaunt, in Jacksonville, Florida. “I love their music, but there is absolutely nobody outside of Beethoven I would have thought would have that impact. I’m a fan, but I don’t go nuts for everything Beatles like their fans do.”

Artist Ron Campbell depicts The Beatles at Shea Stadium.

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Along with his animation work on 1968′s “Yellow Submarine” (hello, Blue Meanie), Campbell directed the beloved Saturday morning Beatles cartoon series — simply called “The Beatles” — from 1965-69. He was 24 at the time, living in Australia.

“An enormous number of Americans who are headed toward retirement started their childhood with the Beatles cartoons,” he said. “For a lot of people, they didn’t know the Beatles were real at first — they only knew them as cartoons.”

While somehow Campbell and The Beatles' paths never overlapped — “It seemed I was always on the other side of the world from them” he said — he knows that Ringo Starr is in possession of one of his paintings.

“He hangs it in his recording studio in L.A. He was on ’60 Minutes,' and it was in the background, and I started getting calls from all over the country with people saying, ‘That’s your painting!’” Campbell said.

He also appreciates Beatles music, particularly “Blackbird,” “You Know My Name” and, of course, “Yellow Submarine.”

“I really like (‘Yellow Submarine’) for the same reason I like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ — because it’s so damn simple, yet lovely at the same time. Also, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’ The lyrics I totally disagree with — I find them utterly idealistic in an absurd way — but the song is beautiful.”

Artist Ron Campbell depicts The Beatles at the Cavern Club.

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Credit: 1996 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Patrons who want to glimpse Campbell’s work can also visit the gallery for a preview on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.; for those who purchase his artwork, Campbell will also paint an original Remarque featuring any of one of his cartoon characters. (He will be present Friday-Sunday.)

“He’s so personable,” said Valerie Jackson, owner of the gallery. “He’s so happy to be out on the road again and doing what he loves to do. This is his third show with me, and I love that his work speaks to every age group. His colors are so vibrant and fun and nostalgic and bring you back to happy days. What we need these days more than anything is to smile.”

Artist Ron Campbell poses with some of his famous cartoon works.

Credit: ROB SHANAHAN

Credit: ROB SHANAHAN

The preview period for Campbell’s show is to aid with crowd management (RSVPs are also recommended). It’s the second to be held at Ann Jackson Gallery since reopening in August and the gallery is following guidelines such as mandatory masks and six feet of distance between patrons.

Campbell, meanwhile, attributes his current workload of painting classics and visiting art fans to Looney Tunes cartoon and filmmaker legend Chuck Jones.

“He did paintings based on the cartoons he spent his career with, like (Wile E.) Coyote and the Road Runner,” Campbell said, " and I thought, gee, that’s a really good idea."

IF YOU GO

Ron Campbell, “Beatles Cartoon Art Show”

Previews of artwork begin Sept. 30. Campbell will appear 4-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, 1-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 and noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. Free. RSVPs recommended.

Ann Jackson Gallery, 1101 Alpharetta St., Roswell. 770-993-4783, annjacksongallery.com.

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