Andmapsandplans, aka Adrien Merigeau and Alan Holly, created this airy and evocative video for Jennifer Evans’s song “Scattered”. Merigau and Holly are also responsible for the recent Cartoon Saloon short Old Fangs.
(Thanks, Tomm Moore)
Usually, the posts about Famous Studios are reserved for Jerry, but just this once, I have to share a Famous short. I ran across Think or Sink (1967) last night and it’s a really goofy piece of animation. Shamus Culhane, the director, proudly proclaimed years later that it was the only Famous short which ever screened in competition at Annecy. The story was written by the crazy-man of East Coast animation Jim Tyer, who according to IMDB, hadn’t written a short since 1942′s You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap (can anybody confirm that?). Tyer appears to have modeled his short after Ernie Pintoff’s Flebus, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to note that Tyer was the primary animator of that earlier pop psychiatry-themed cartoon, not to mention that Tyer also animated the neurotic Terrytoons elephant Sidney.
There’s plenty of good stuff happening in this film. The Bobcat Goldthwait-esque voice of Roscoe the elephant, provided by Lionel Wilson, is a unique and funny choice. The film has three (!) designers–Hal Silvermintz, Dante Barbetta and Gil Miret. I don’t know how they divided the work up, but it looks fresh. The animation by Al Eugster is also a treat. There are some ridiculous moments–look at Roscoe’s forehead at the one-minute mark when his hat pops up. As simple as the animation is, Eugster’s poses are expert and move just enough to get the personalities across. I won’t go so far as to proclaim this a great cartoon, but it’s better than a lot and its obscurity is undeserved. Below is a layout drawing by Dante Barbetta found in Culhane’s Talking Animals and Other People:
Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that Brooklyn-based animation artist Kelly Denato (above left), is suing the New York studio Animation Collective. Denato claims that they have profited from her design of Ellen’s Acres and have not paid her contractual share of the royalties based on an agreement she signed in 2002 when she developed the character.
According to Denato, she had an agreement to receive 25% of all revenues stemming from animated versions of the character and merchandising. Afterwards, when the show was sold to Cartoon Network and other outlets, Animation Collective “flat out said, ‘You shouldn’t have been given that contract–it was a mistake,’” and attempted to renegotiate a less favorable deal. In addition to Animation Collective, her suit also names Animation Collective’s chief executive, Larry Schwarz (above right, riding on top); Animation Collective affiliate Kanonen & Bestreichen, Inc.; and 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. It remains to be seen how this will play out in court, but Animation Collective’s poor reputation amongst artists and its shady history of how it treats employees lends credence to Denato’s suit.
Whereas the age of a live-action film, no matter how classic, can always be discerned by the appearance of its actors, the cinematography, and the style of acting and direction, great animation has the capacity to be timeless. Take Yoji Kuri’s short AOS. It was made 46 years ago, yet the visuals feel as raw and disturbing today as when it first appeared.
A synopsis of the film can be found in Amos Vogel’s 1974 book Film as a Subversive Art:
This extraordinary animation–already a classic–projects a universe of bizarre and frustrated lusts, in which monsters, voyeurs, and misshapen objects engage in nightmarish and often sadomasochistic outrages amongst Freudian symbols of anxiety. Max Ernst and Bosch come to mind, but the rage against repression is entirely Japanese and ideological:sexual anti-puritanism as a liberating device.
When you’re ready to take it a step further, check out Kuri’s 1970 film The Bathroom:
Big news out of San Diego: Fantagraphics announced that they will be publishing a complete run of Floyd Gottfredson’s “Mickey Mouse” newspaper strip, which he drew daily between 1930 and 1975. As Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth says, “I think it’s the last truly great, masterful strip that has not been reprinted.” Here’s an interview with Groth with more details about the project, which begins in spring 2011.
Portland cartoonist John Callahan, who had been quadriplegic since the age of 21, passed away yesterday at age 59. His crude, funny scrawls inspired two animated series: Pelswick and Quads. Here is an animated film he made in 1993 based on his struggle with alcoholism called I Think I Was an Alcoholic.
(Thanks, Ward Jenkins)
Eighty-nine years young, David Weidman is the subject of a long profile in today’s LA Times written by David Keeps. Weidman began his career in animation in the 1950s working at John Hubley’s commercial studio Storyboard as well as on UPA’s The Boing Boing Show. An extensive career in TV cartoons followed as he painted backgrounds for the Crusader Rabbit revival, Calvin and the Colonel, and Wacky Races, among others.
In the Sixties, while running a vintage poster and framing shop (and still working in animation), he began to create silk-screened serigraphs in the back of his shop. He produced three hundred designs over twenty years, but few people expressed interest in purchasing them so he wound up with stacks upon stacks of serigraphs. But that’s not how the story ends. In the early-2000s, his work was rediscovered in the LA area, in part due to his nephew who was peddling the serigraphs at local flea markets (which is how I first learned about his work).
Since then, his star has continued to rise: a handsome coffeetable book of his artwork was published recently (it’s now in its third printing), and Urban Outfitters has begun licensing his work for pillows and wall art. It’s a happy story about a one-of-a-kind artist who deserves all the acclaim he’s getting. Weidman clearly loved and believed in the artwork he was creating–producing 300 different serigraphs that nobody wanted to buy is a testament to that–and it’s finally paying off forty years later.
Melbourne-based artist Darcy Prendergast, explains that his latest film, News!, was “inspired by my constant hatred for news and current affair programs on TV. It’s essentially a film about nothing, as I find myself less intelligent, with no new knowledge acquired at the end of the viewing.”
Darcy’s multi-frame approach is an effective way of illustrating the cacophonous assault on viewers, and the short is a funny and clever statement about TV news, which is apparently just as vacuous and pathetic in Australia as it is in the US. True story: A CNN producer who was trying to get me to appear on the network once told me point-blank that they’re in the business of entertaining viewers, not informing them. That’s unfortunate because they’re not very good at entertainment either.
In an impending sign of the apocalypse, Elle Girl magazine published a story about a female animator. The artist is Julia Pott, who provided a photo essay about a day in her life. Granted, it’s the Korean version of Elle Girl, but I’ll take anything we can get. Stories about female animators in the mainstream media are virtually nonexistent, particularly in any kind of contemporary fashion-forward context, so this can only be considered a step forward.
I don’t know if this is a real offer, but it’s a classic. Somebody wants twenty-five hours, yes, HOURS, of animation produced in two to three months. On top of that, they’re offering between $7-10/per minute of animation. I hope some of our readers apply for the job and have some fun with these goofballs. Here’s the listing:
We are looking for a Flash Animator to finish a project for 500 of Flash short films; each film is about 2~3 minutes long. The films are about lovely & cute characters’ cartoon. Pay $20 / per film, which is 500 films x $20 = $10,000. Please submit your Flash art works for the consideration. Thanks.
City,State: New York, NY
Duration: 2-3 months
Polish animator Piotr Kamler (b. 1936) won the Grand Pix at Annecy in 1975 for his film Le Pas, but I’ve chosen to display an earlier film of his called Heart of Refuge (Couer de Secours, 1973). The visual imagery in this 1973 film is breathtaking, and it is cited by Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet as the film that inspired him to pursue a filmmaking career. I discovered more about Kamler on this blog though I’m unsure of the original source of the write-up:
Piotr Kamler was born in Warsaw in 1936. He is a graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art. In 1959 he went to Paris to continue his art studies. it was there that he came into contact with Research Department at ORTF( directed by Pierre Schaeffer) and began to collaborate with “concrete” musicians such as Xenakis on experimental shorts( musical abstract films and “fables”) The ORTF Research Department which was later taken over by INA, was a hothouse for talent, enabling diverse artists such as Peter Foldes, Robert Lapoujade , Jacques Espagne, Jacques Rouxel, Andre Martin and Michel Boschet, Jacques Colombat, Jean-Francois Laguionie, Henry Lacam and Kamler to carry out a large number of bold and innovative personal projects. With astonishing regularity, Kamler came up with no less than eight unusual short films between 1962 and 1973…Kamler’s animated cinema suggests a singular variety of science fiction; it was he who provided the original idea for the Shadoks TV series. Completely unalike to more conventionally linear and text-based narratives, Kamler’s films instead explore a series of dynamic visual motifs. Typically, the conclusion of these films is less suggestive of resolution, than it is of recurring episode. What is most striking in all his films is the variety of visual invention that Kamler brings to each work.
Here’s one more of his films–The Spider Elephant. The short is from 1967, but with visuals as fresh and relevant as anything being produced today.
It’s surprising that I’ve never written about Hisko Hulsing’s film Seventeen considering how much I enjoyed it when I saw it at Annecy in 2004. I hadn’t seen it since then, and it’s never been posted on-line, but somebody recently uploaded a copy onto YouTube allowing me to rediscover this hand-drawn gem. I’m delighted to report that the film holds up after all these years, and it’s even better than I’d remembered.
Seventeen is a powerful and complete package, and achieves a cinematic quality as few animated films do, which can be attributed to Hisko’s expert storytelling through camera, cutting, color, sound and music. The visual imagery, which draws on magical realism, is fantastically creepy as the title character–a drunken and horny seventeen-year-old construction worker–staggers around a small European village that shifts between hellish nightmare and carnal fantasy. The animation is inventive and fun, and suits the style of the film perfectly.
Hisko hasn’t made a short since Seventeen which is understandable when you realize that he not only directed and wrote Seventeen, but also painted the backgrounds, composed the music, and animated most of the film. He’s currently working on his next film Junkyard. There’s a short clip posted on Vimeo that gives a taste of how he’s pushing his work to an entirely new level. His website is HiskoHulsing.com.
Seventeen is eleven-and-a-half minutes and can be viewed in two parts below. It might be considered NSFW.
3-D films may make a lot of money, but Hollywood is no longer an art form accessible to the masses. From BoxOfficeMojo:
Toy Story 3 bagged $12 million in its fifth weekend, down 43 percent. With a $363 million haul, it now ranks as the 15th highest-grossing movie of all time (though it has yet to crack the Top 100 in terms of attendance).
Pres and Jeannine Romanillos. Photo by Tim Hodge
We have lost our wonderful innocent boy yesterday. Pres passed away peacefully on Saturday at 6 pm. He was surrounded by his family and friends. It is the next day and we are still waiting to wake up from this bad dream that just cannot be real. He had such love for all of you and that will stay with you. Goodbye, best friend, husband, lover, companion, shipmate, soulmate. I will love you forever, Jeannine
He most recently animated Prince Naveen in The Princess and the Frog. He studied fine arts and illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York before beginning his animation career at Disney on The Little Mermaid. He worked on a total of eight animated features at Disney, including supervising animator of the villain Shan-Yu in Mulan. He also animated on five DreamWorks features including The Road to El Dorado, Madagascar and Shrek 2. His drawings can be seen on this blog and this blog.
Remembrance by Stephanie Olivieri
Remembrance by Kevin Koch
Remembrance by Paul Briggs
Remembrance by Steve Hulett
Remembrance by Tim Hodge
Remembrance by Patrick Mate
Remembrance by Tom Sito