It’s time for another episode in our special film series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch.” This week, we’re presenting Pump Trouble, an educational film for the American Heart Association that Deitch directed at UPA. This film is so rare that I was unable to find it while I was researching and writing Cartoon Modern, even though we put in a few of Cliff Roberts’ character designs into the book. It’s a real treat that we can now make this historical piece available online for everybody to see. Click over to Brew TV to watch Gene Deitch’s Pump Trouble.
They were soooo cute and soooo colourful and happy that it sort of made you want to scream at the TV with happiness. It was an anxious, sugar high happiness that made you want to run around the block laughing. The cartoons were also really tight like a well drilled pop rock group. They were fast, dynamic, pulsating with energy and usually had an element of wit or slapstick humour so they never really depressed. You wanted to hug the TV when they came on and you felt like these cartoons were hugging you back and grabbing your hand and pulling you in to play in their world.
Cleanse thine eyes, brave animation lover. As if anticipating the eyesore that was unveiled yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just announced “Chuck Jones: An Animator’s Life From A to Z-Z-Z-Z.” The show will open May 14 at the Academy’s headquarters (8949 Wilshire Blvd) and will run through August 22. On display will be more than 150 drawings, cels, storyboards and other materials related to Jones’ animated shorts, features and TV specials. Gallery hours are listed on the their website, and best of all, admission is FREE!
Ace character designer Nico Marlet (Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon) has published a collection of his sketches. As of now, the only place I’m aware of that stocks the book is the Gallery Nucleus website. I got to meet Marlet briefly last month, but sadly, I was a couple days too early to get a finished copy of the book. He made up for it by allowing me to flip through some of his designs, which I have to say are something else entirely in their original unreproduced form. Unlike many artist sketchbooks, Marlet didn’t curate a selection of his best work; rather, he took one of his sketchbooks and reprinted it whole from cover to cover. If the preview images on the Gallery Nucleus site don’t make it evident, there’s likely not a weak drawing in the entire book.
UPDATE: The item appears to be back in stock on the Gallery Nucleus website.
Eric Bauza, the voice of Marvin the Martian in the new Looney Tunes Show, read your comments on yesterday’s Brew post and he’s got it all figured out. Apparently, the artwork is fine; the problem, he wrote on Facebook, lies with Cartoon Brew readers who are “35-40 year olds that don’t have girlfriends, jobs or lives.”
Bauza then goes on to complain about how everybody is judging the show based on one frame. Generalizing is wrong, he believes, except of course when he’s making generalizations about Cartoon Brew’s readership.
To promote Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Anaheim this summer, the MLB has teamed up with Disney to display 36 seven-and-a-half foot Mickey statues around Southern California. Combining two all-American ideas like baseball and Mickey Mouse probably seemed like a smart idea during the boardroom meeting, but turning Mickey’s face into a baseball pushes the idea to a disturbing and unnecessary extreme.
Call me a purist but I don’t find characters with stitches in their face appealing unless their name happens to be Chucky. The various Mickeys will feature him sporting the uniforms of all thirty teams in the league because, you guessed it, mini-statuettes will be available for purchase online at the MLB.com shop, DisneyStore.com and stores like Walgreens and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Veteran actor Michael Pataki passed away on April 15. The cause of death was cancer. Variety has his obituary. In addition to hundreds of roles in live-action films and TV series, he occasionally provided voices for animated characters. His longest running role was as George Liquor, which he first portrayed on The Ren and Stimpy Show and later in various web projects for Spumco. He also provided the voice of the Cow in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and performed voices in Dexter’s Lab and Batman: The Animated Series.
(Click to enlarge this image if you hate your eyes.)
If you can list three things wrong with the image above, then you aren’t trying hard enough. Frankly, it looks worse than your average fan art, and not the caliber of work one expects from “professional” artists who draw for a living.
PS – The Looney Tunes characters now live in houses next to each other in a suburban neighborhood (and they eat Chinese take-out).
Jeffrey Katzenberg appeared on The Colbert Report yesterday in a valiant attempt to show that he has a sense of humor. Make note how Katzenberg backtracks on his recent comment about Clash of the Titans after he told Variety, “You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on Clash of the Titans. It literally is ‘OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience.’”
Had Katzenberg been more open and less concerned about saying “the right thing” he would have made a much stronger impression. This deliciously awkward and revealing exchange sums up his appearance best:
Colbert: What’s better: a great 2D movie or the worst 3D movie?
Katzenberg: [no answer]
Colbert: Because I go for the technology. Because I go for production values. Can you give them terrible stuff but make it 3D?
Colbert: But you would never do that.
Colbert: Because you’re the maker of Monsters vs. Aliens.
Pixar’s new studio in Vancouver, Canada officially opened its doors earlier today. According to this article, the studio will begin production on its first film–featuring Mater from Cars–in August. The studio plans to create additional short films and specials for TV and webÂ using existing characters from the Pixar library. Pixar Canada already has twenty employees and plans to add 55 more people within the next one-and-a-half years. To promote their new studio, Pixar produced a three-minute film, viewable on CTV-BC’s website that shows Pixar characters running around Vancouver and John Lasseter asking, “Is there a place more beautiful than Vancouver?”
Joe Murray, creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo, has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $16,800 to complete 2 three-minute episodes of his new online cartoon series Frog in a Suit. The pilot episode is already complete. This is part of a larger project called KaBoingTV that Murray wants to turn into a “home for quality, cutting edge cartoons and animation on the web, and a ‘free range’ and ethical environment for the artists who make them.”
When I wrote about crowd-funding a few months ago, I said that this funding arrangement would initially work best for filmmakers with a proven track record. Murray certainly has a track record, and more significantly, he is the first creator of a TV series to pursue this route. His reasons for doing so, as stated on his Kickstarter page, are admirable: “I’m trying produce the first episodes without outside funding that comes with strings attached. Its also my wish to have you the audience, plus fellow animators be my producers rather than funding sources that don’t love cartoons as much as you do.”
He also writes that the money raised will be used to hire outside animation talent and won’t be used for his personal labor expenses. The campaign runs 45 days. If his fundraising goal isn’t reached by then, the project will not be funded. In the first day of his campaign, he has already raised over $1600 or nearly 10% of his goal. We’ll keep an eye on this to see what happens.
Here’s the opening to The Smile and Penny Show, a web series created by Hobo Divine. His collaborator on the project is Mike Geiger. Super-limited animation of the Roger Ramjet variety isn’t easy to make look right, and few do it better than Hobo Divine so naturally I’m curious to see what he does with this idea. The characters have a website at SmileAndPenny.com.
A collection of endearingly malformed Mickey Mouse cakes can be found at Cake Wrecks. I had a tough time deciding which Mickey cake to include in this post (and I use the name “Mickey” loosely), but the one above sums them up pretty well.
Animation Tag Attack is an ‘exquisite corpse’ animated short being made by artists from around the globe. Thus far, artists from Denmark, New Zealand and Israel have contributed. Each artist is allotted one month to complete their portion of the film, and sequences are posted online as soon as they’re completed.
I’m not familiar with any of the animators who are participating, but the work they’re turning out is remarkably fresh and sophisticated. Here are the four sequences that have been completed to date: