Amanda Visell, co-founder of The Girls Productions (plugged earlier HERE), is part of a group art show that opens this Saturday, May 7, at the Mendenhall-Sobieski Gallery (40 Mills Place, Pasadena, CA 91105). Artwork from the show can be seen at the gallery’s WEBSITE.
Warner Bros. TV Animation continues to dig itself into a deeper and deeper hole of its own making with its LOONATICS fiasco. First, they changed the main character’s name from Buzz Bunny to Ace Bunny, then there was last week’s very public announcement that they’re redesigning all the characters, and now they’re reportedly trying to get rid of the LOONATICS name itself. A friend tells me that there’s currently an in-house contest at Warner Bros. Animation inviting employees to suggest a less decrepit title for the show. I have a few choice suggestions, but unfortunately none of them are appropriate for print.
There’s a great post about the classic Ward Kimball short TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOM (1953) at the appropriately named Ward-O-Matic, the blog of Atlanta-based animation director Ward Jenkins. The entry includes dozens of frame grabs, which are inspiring to look at even if you’ve already seen the film countless times, as most readers of the Brew surely have. In these stills, one can admire the amazing character design work of Tom Oreb and color styling of Eyvind Earle, but the film is equally impressive to watch in motion (which is not always the case with highly styled animation). The inventive graphic movement created by Kimball, Art Stevens, Julius Svendsen and Marc Davis adds the perfect complement to the contemporary designs of Oreb and Earle. I can’t say enough great things about this cartoon, but don’t take my word — just check out all the visual goodness at Ward’s site.
Robert “Bobe” Cannon (1909-1964) is somebody we don’t talk about nearly often enough on Cartoon Brew. I write about Cannon in greater depth in my upcoming book on 50s animation design, but here’s something I noticed about his work the other day. The image on the left is from a scene that Bobe Cannon animated in Tex Avery’s LITTLE RURAL RIDING HOOD (1949). The image on right is a layout drawing by Cannon from the first Columbia theatrical he directed at UPA, THE MINER’S DAUGHTER (1950). So much is made of Cannon’s dislike for Avery-style humor, but this is an interesting visual example that shows even while working with Avery’s characters and gags, he found opportunities to pursue his own unique graphic style of drawing and movement. On a sidenote, it’s worth mentioning that Italian animation historian Giannalberto Bendazzi has been working on an in-depth biography of Bobe Cannon. I don’t think there’s any release date set for his book, but it promises to shed a lot of light on the life and career of this great animator-director.
A couple brief notes:
> Leonard Maltin recommends my book THE ART OF ROBOTS on his WEBSITE. He writes: “The end result on screen is overwhelming at times; I’m glad to have a book that allows me to admire the artwork one image at a time.” His recommendation is about two-thirds of the page down. Thanks, Leonard!
> The surest way to get a link on Cartoon Brew? Create a post on your blog titled “All Hail Amid Amidi” and draw a caricature of me surrounded by beaver clouds and other monstrous creations.
The surest way to scare the hell out of me? Create a post on your blog titled “All Hail Amid Amidi” and draw a caricature of me surrounded by beaver clouds and other monstrous creations.
Veteran feature animator Raul Garcia (ALADDIN, THE LION KING, POCAHONTAS and many others) has finished his personal short film, THE TELL-TALE HEART, an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story. It’s a film that Raul had wanted to make for many years, but the impetus to finally produce it came when he stumbled across a late-1940s recording of Bela Lugosi reading Poe’s story. “It was from around 1947, when Lugosi was doing a one man show, touring the US and looking to expand his career into television,” explains Garcia. “As far as I know, it is the only copy still in existence.”
Of course, the animation world has already seen one other version of THE TELL-TALE HEART, the now-classic 1953 UPA short directed by Ted Parmelee. Raul is not only familiar with the earlier film, but he was telling me at Annecy last year that that was one of the films which inspired him to get into animation and which opened his eyes to the incredible potential of the animated art form. Garcia’s vision for the Poe tale shares little in common though with Paul Julian’s painterly approach in the UPA short. The stark black-and-white styling in Raul’s film takes its inspiration from the work of Argentinean illustrator Alberto Breccia. He says the film is also an “homage to all the artists who influenced me when I was growing up — Lugosi, Breccia, Hitchcockâ€¦the world of Milton Canniff and the horror magazines CREEPY and EERIE — in a sense they’re all there, represented in the film.”
The film made a smashing debut last month at the 12th International Festival of Young Filmmakers in Granada, Spain where it won top honors for Best Spanish Short Film and Best Director. It’ll continue to play at other festivals in the coming months. A website about the film will arrive shortly at TheTellTaleHeart-TheShort.com.
Check out Dave Wasson’s reel at the Acme Filmworks website. There’s a lot of good stuff on it, but best of all, the final item on the reel is his short film MAX AND HIS SPECIAL PROBLEM. He produced the 1998 short for Nick’s OH YEAH! CARTOONS and it’s quite unlike anything else produced for that series. I hadn’t seen the film in a few years and was pleasantly surprised to see how well it holds up — it’s worth watching even at thumbnail size. Everything about this short works: a simple well-executed set-up, beautiful drawing and layout, funny gags made even funnier by superb timing (Bob Jaques timed on it) and elegant background styling (courtesy of THE INCREDIBLES’ Lou Romano). To find out more about the film, read this REVIEW written by fellow Brewer Jerry Beck back in ’98.
Serbian designer/animator Sinisa Sumina has created a really cool 30-second self-promotional piece that combines retro-imagery with a digital collage aesthetic. It’s called SOME KIND OF UFO BLAH BLAH and can be downloaded at the Tween blog. If you’re using a Mac and can’t view the video, try downloading the MPlayer. (Thanks, Aleksandar)
Bronwen Barry writes on Animation Nation:
I have to post this sad note on the passing of my dear,dear friend (and, at one time, bowling league teammate) Eddie Friedman. He had a lovely long life, wonderful career, adoring family. Your many friends miss you so much already,Ed.
Much love, Bronnie
Animator, director and long-time Guild supporter ED FRIEDMAN passed away on April 29 at the age of ninety-two. He had suffered a stroke about a year ago, and he had again been hospitalized earlier this month. From 1933 until 1989 he worked for Iwerks, Mintz/Screen Gems, John Sutherland, Disney, UPA, Format, Bagle Productions, Ed Graham and Filmation. He was active in the Screen Cartoonists Guild and he had served on Local 839′s Executive Board for almost thirty years. He received the Golden Award in 1984.
Services will be this Monday, May 2, at 2 pm, at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles (east of Barham, next to Forest Lawn Cemetery); phone (800) 600-0076 or (323) 469-6000. Information and directions HERE.
Here’s a photo of Friedman (kneeling, far right) at the bowling alley on the night Kennedy was elected president. Fred Crippen is kneeling far left and Paul Shively is in the middle. Not sure who the people standing are.
If you have called or emailed me in the past couple months and have not received a response, please accept my apologies. I have been living a hermit’s lifestyle as I work on finishing up my book on 1950s animation design. My editor at Chronicle informs me that the projected release date for the book is now April 2006. Before that day arrives though, a huge amount of work remains: writing will wrap up in May, image selection in June and book design in July. I fully expect these next few months to be as crazy and hectic as the last couple have been. Fortunately, the book is shaping up quite nicely and I’m anxious to see how it all turns out. Chronicle has been extremely accomodating throughout the whole process and they’re even giving me more pages than originally planned so the book is now 188 pages.
When you’re doing a book on the subject of design, it definitely helps to have a well-designed book. I have no worries about that aspect because Chronicle recently brought aboard an excellent designer: Peter Buchanan-Smith. Peter’s recent work includes THE WILCO BOOK and CHEAP LAFFS. He’s also the art director of PAPER MAGAZINE as well as co-founder of the incredibly cool art journal THE GANZFELD. The pieces are definitely falling into place; now hopefully, I won’t fall to pieces.
How pathetic are the execs at Warner Bros. Animation? They’ve junked the original LOONATICS designs and made new ones because an 11-year-old started a petition saying he didn’t like the characters. A thought comes to mind:
a.) If you truly believe in the quality and value of your product, you don’t change it every time somebody in the public raises an objection (the creative process in animation should not be a collaborative effort between studios and the entire American population), and,b.) if your product is so bad that an 11-year-old’s advice makes it better, then you should get out of the fucking animation business.
This story will not go away simply because the dopes who run Warner Bros. are insistent in publicly exposing their utter ignorance about the animation process every step of the way. Thank you Warners for this very valuable lesson in all that is wrong with the animation industry today.
SHEEP IN THE BIG CITY creator and super-successful children’s book author/illustrator Mo Willems writes to express his admiration for François:
Just have to chime in that André François, with his droll satire, sketchy line, and wordless gags, is my hero as well. Tattooed Sailor and Half-Naked Knight are the most dog eared cartoon books in my collection. Add Anatol Kovarsky and Ronald Searle to the mix and you’ve got the perfect gag illustrators.
Another major cartoonist of the 20th century has passed away. Romanian-born André François, whose drawing style was imitated almost as frequently as Ronald Searle and Saul Steinberg during the 1950s and 60s, died a couple weeks ago at the age of 89. NY TIMES obit HERE. Ever since François arrived on the scene, he had a long line of admirers in the animation industry. Animation director/designer Len Glasser (who designed Ernie Pintoff’s THE INTERVIEW and THE OLD MAN AND THE FLOWER) told me that his two biggest influences in art school were François and Steinberg. Designer Dolores Cannata worked with François on some television spots at Elektra Films (NY) in the early-’60s, and Chris Jenkyns created some spots with him in Los Angeles, though I don’t remember for which studio (perhaps at Jenkyns, Shean & Elliot). His work was also adapted to animation by a number of French commercial studios. Fans in the modern animation world include Oscar Grillo and Yuri Norstein.
I have no idea what this film is about, but I sure enjoyed all the inventive cartoon movement in it. It’s a music video of sorts (sounds very Edith Piaf-esque) by Japanese director Koji Morimoto. I’ve enjoyed the few bits and pieces that I’ve seen of Morimoto’s work, including the “Magnetic Rose” sequence of MEMORIES and his trippy short film NOISEMAN SOUND INSECT– I should try to see more of his work. (link via BoltCity.com)
UPDATE: Joshua Smith writes, “The Koji Morimoto film you linked was not actually done by Morimoto; it is an example of Masaaki Yuasa’s animation from the 1992 Chibi Maruko-chan film My Favorite Song. As you know, Yuasa is the director of Mind Game and did layout, character design, and was animation director of Morimoto’s Noiseman Sound Insect. The link is from a short bio of Yuasa at kojimorimoto.net, which contains another clip from the same film.”
Giuseppe Pantaleo, an eagle-eyed Brew reader from Melbourne, Australia spotted the following Preston Blair rip-off from down under. He writes:
I came across this shoddy looking flyer for a pasta & ribs restaurant near where I live. This time the image being ripped off is a drawing of Goose Gander. However, on the flyer the image has been flipped and traced
horribly, and quite frankly it looks worse than the public domain video covers for WB cartoons.