Ruby-Spears is an animation house that was one of the more prolific animation studios of the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. Studio founders Joe Ruby and Ken Spears started out as sound editors at Hanna-Barbera
in the 1960s, eventually moving up the studio ladder into writing positions. This later led to the two creating the iconic Scooby-Doo
franchise for Hanna-Barbera, though they also played a part in many of Hanna-Barbera's successes before and after Scooby-Doo. (They did not have "Created by" credit on Scooby-Doo
, but they did on Jabberjaw
; they also co-created The Houndcats
and Bailey's Comets
with and for David DePatie and Friz Freleng
.) Their former employer had a great influence on the new studio's output, as the animation style mimicked Hanna-Barbera's tried and true Limited Animation
methods. The visual similarities led to many of the early Ruby-Spears shows, such as the Scooby-Doo
, often being mistaken for actual Hanna-Barbera shows.
While Ruby-Spears did turn out a few original properties, during their heyday they became particularly well known for churning out a great deal of licensed properties. These ranged from animated adaptations of live-action sitcoms, to action shows centered on then-popular film and television celebrities (most notoriously, Mr. T
and Chuck Norris
), to the wildly successful 1980s update of Alvin and the Chipmunks
, to a great deal of collaboration with Warner Bros.
to adapt several DC Comics
mainstays for Saturday Morning. This even extended to toys (such as Rubik's Cube
) and video games.
The history of the studio is a turbulent one. After their founding in 1977, they were purchased in 1978 by Filmways
. Filmways sold the company to Taft Broadcasting in 1981, making it a sister company to Hanna-Barbera (and leading to several co-productions). Eventually their entire library prior to 1991 was sold, along with Hanna-Barbera, to Turner Broadcasting (later Time Warner), which has led to further confusion over their properties today as some of their shows have been released with a Hanna-Barbera production logo. After the sale, the company restructured into RS Holdings. This led to them working on projects such as Wild West COW Boys Of Moo Mesa
, Skysurfer Strike Force
and the American Mega Man
cartoon. The rights to many of these later shows have scattered as their partners absorbed them.
Ruby-Spears output slowed dramatically by the late 1990s, and while the studio still exists today, it's a shadow of its former self and mainly handles some direct-to-video productions. However, some of their cheesier works have picked up a reputation as Snark Bait
as adults who watched their shows as kids look back on them now with a little nostalgia and a lot of irony.
List of shows produced by Ruby-Spears:
Tropes common to Ruby-Spears Productions: