I remember it like yesterday, the day that Animax was born. It must have been late in 1965 or early in the year that followed. In those days my partners Andy and Adam Kislevitz would visit once a week and spend the day here, digging for ideas. Usually, they would both arrive, but on this day it was only Adam.
The morning had not been all that productive. Now lunch was over and we sat on either side of the massive Victorian parlor stove that dominates my studio, basking in the glow of the orange light bulb that burns eternally in its cathedral like interior, even on a summer day.
With a couple of lucrative, but ill fated, projects, [Weenies and Sleep Stars], behind us, we discussed possible new toy categories to explore. Adam suggested “vehicles”, a subject that held little excitement for me. Even though I had grown up in Detroit Michigan, where life revolved around the auto industry, and one could learn to drive at the age of 14, the joys of automobilia had eluded me. How could I make cars interesting? We touched upon the fact that many cars were named after animals, and began reciting those we could remember: Jaguar, Bronco, Thunderbird, etc.
As we spoke, I idly eyed the stove, which is adorned from top to bottom with ornamental chrome: fenders, bumpers, grills, and outrageous nickel plated dragons. There is even something like an automobile hood ornament capping off its silvery dome. Then, suddenly it happened, one of those rare and mysterious moments of inspiration, a quantum leap into the world of fantasy. In my imagination the stove became a phantasmagorical vehicle, barreling down the highway of Eternity, heading for a place, yet unexplored; destination: Destiny.
And I heard myself asking the question: “What if vehicles were not just named after animals, but actually WERE animals?”
And with those words, a doorway opened to reveal a glimpse of a far off distant future. And over the course of the next half hour, as effortlessly as if the words were written down before me, I rattled off in its entirety, the story of the “Animobiles”, while Adam took notes hurriedly.
Beginning in the mid twentieth century, men began to name their vehicles after animals: Mustang, Cougar etc. because they hoped they would embody the speed and traits of those animals. Now, after centuries of “Industrial Evolution”, on an Earth, ravaged by wars and pollution, the only animals remaining have been kept alive by bionically combining them with vehicles.
Ravaged by mans excesses, the Earth itself has ceased to rotate on its axis, leaving half the World in darkness and the other half in light. Between the halves a great Crack has opened, which is called "The Crack of Doom".
On “The Light Side" the "Animobiles", led by “Max Action” and his faithful companion, mighty “Jungle Max” protect Mankind from the evil creatures of “The Dark Side”, the "Motor Mutants". Their vicious vehicles are called "Carnivaurs" [I love it!]. And their leader is “X-tinctor”. X-tinctor’s Carnivaur is the “Obliterator”, a living fossil released from the bowels of the earth by the great fissure that divides the planet.
From a secret base in "Monstro City" the "Motor Mutants" conspire to depart “The Dark Side" and cross the "Bridge of Doom" to invade “The Light Side” and devour all Mankind.
“CARnivaurs”! What a perfect pun, the kind that can only happen in nature; it is one, and yet it isn’t! “Animobiles”, on the other hand, was not as good. Adam and I both felt it had a kind of Pre-school feeling to it, but it would do for now. So “Animobiles” became the working title. And the story just as I first dictated it, accompanied by eight quickly rendered drawings, became The Presentation.
In the following pages, you will see those very drawings, along with everything of ANIMAX that’s still remaining.
Best Regards, Mel Birnkrant
Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of ANAMAX and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) BIRNKRANT KISCOM/ The OBB