One week after the Adam Sandler/Andy Samberg-starring That’s My Boy bombed, we get the trailer for Hotel Transylvania starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. But the real star of the film is director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Sym-bionic Titan) who is making his feature directing debut. Hotel Transylvania will rise or sink on the merits of his direction, and it looks like we could have a fun and campy popcorn-movie on our hands. The Sony Pictures Animation film will be released on September 28.
In his latest “Wonderful World of Walt” column, animation historian Jeff Kurtti explores Walt Disney’s favorite foods. Suffice it to say, Walt was not a foodie:
“[Walt] had eaten in hash houses and lunch wagons for so many years (in order to save money) that he’d developed a hash house/lunch wagon appetite. He liked fried potatoes, hamburgers, western sandwiches, hotcakes, canned peas, hash, stew, roast beef sandwiches. He wasn’t keen for steak — or any expensive cuts of meat. He didn’t go for vegetables, but he loved chicken livers or macaroni and cheese. He liked to eat at Biff’s [a little coffee house on a nearby corner]. He felt they did their potatoes “right” by pan-frying them.” – Diane Disney Miller
Have you ever wondered what Disney’s Seven Dwarfs would look like if the characters were designed by an artist who had no fundamental understanding of drawing, color theory or appeal? Wonder no more. The designs above, which look more like an animation student’s first pass in a character design class than functional designs for a TV series, will be used in a new Disney TV production called 7D, that will premiere on Disney Junior in 2014.
A bunch of Tiny Toons and Animaniacs alumni are involved: Tom Ruegger exec produces, Alfred Gimeno directs and Sherri Stoner story edits. Fish Hooks creator Noah Z. Jones designed the characters. He’s made it impossible to differentiate between the dwarfs, but I can only assume that turning them into generic icons was a directive from above.
According to Deadline:
Described as a comedic take on the world of Seven Dwarfs in a contemporary storybook world, 7D takes place in Jollywood where Queen Delightful relies on the 7D – Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Doc – to keep the kingdom in order. Standing in their way are two laughably evil villains, Grim and Hildy Gloom, who plot to take over the kingdom by stealing the magical jewels in the 7D’s mine.
Man, what I wouldn’t give for a couple of solid, well-constructed drawings just about now….
Today Disney announced the official start of production on their live-action Maleficent and released the first image of Angelina Jolie in the title role. The film is helmed by first-time director Robert Stromberg (production designer, Avatar, Alice in Wonderland), produced by Joe Roth, written by Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast) and executive produced by Angelina Jolie, Don Hahn, Matt Smith and Palak Patel.
Scheduled for release on March 14, 2014, the film recounts “the untold story of Disney’s most beloved villain, Maleficent, from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. The film reveals the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora.” Next in Disney’s series of unnecessary films that destroy the mystery of cartoon villains: the story of the Queen in Snow White and which supermarket she bought the apple from that was used to poison Snow White.
For the second week in a row, DreamWorks’ Madagascar 3 remain atop the US box office. It earned $34 million last weekend, pushing its 10-day total to $119 million. It is currently pacing ahead of the first two entries in the Madagascar series. Madagascar 3 has also been the top film overseas for the past two weeks, and has added $157 million from 43 foreign markets. The film’s top market overseas is, of course, DreamWorks-obsessed Russia.
Author Stephen Marche has a problem: he wants to share comics and animated cartoons with his son, but everything is racist. He told the world about his predicament in the most recent issue of the New York Times Magazine. He used the words ‘racism’ and ‘racist’ nine times to describe everything from Asterix to Dumbo to Tintin. Amazingly, Babar gets a pass because, Marche explains, “my son won’t be turned into a more effective colonist by stories of elephants riding elevators.”
Marche seems to lack a fundamental understanding of the cartoon medium, an art form whose essence is rooted in caricature and exaggeration. He finds offensive stereotypes everywhere he looks, including Blue Sky’s Ice Age, DreamWorks’ Madagascar and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.:
Sulley and Mike, on the way into the office, happen to pass an orange squidlike grocer with a handlebar mustache who kind of talks-a-like-a-this. Perhaps that kind of stereotype is not as gruesome or upsetting as the one in the original Fantasia, but I had the distinct impression, as my son laughed at the scene, that my Italian immigrant grandfather was turning over in his grave.
Asterix gives Marche the biggest headache. As he reads it to his son, he wonders:
What is [my son] going to ask when I explain that for 400 years, white people took black people from their homes in Africa, carried them across the ocean in chains, beat them to death as they worked to produce sugar and cotton, separated them from their children and felt entitled to do so because of the difference in the color of their skin?
Amazingly, this thoughtfulness comes from a man who admits in the article that he told his son, “I don’t know why the pirates have a gorilla,” when his son asked him about a black character in Asterix.
I can only imagine that Marche would have a coronary if he ever watched this piece of animation:
PS – Go here to read a blistering takedown of Marche’s piece.
In the 1990s, you’d have to wait for months after a Disney film’s theatrical release before GoodTimes Entertainment would release their cheap knockoff version. Today, the imitations precede the features that inspired them. Coming to iTunes and Amazon streaming on June 19, Kiara the Brave is produced by the Indian studio Shemaroo Entertainment and distributed by Phase 4 Films. The synopsis is so stupid that it’s not even worth reprinting. Just enjoy the trailer:
The image above is the first still from Asterix Et Le Domaine Des Dieux, a new CG feature currently being produced in France. Notably, the director is Louis Clichy, who created shorts like A quoi Ã§a sert l’amour? before animating at Pixar on WALLÂ·E and Up. The production studio, VFX/post house Mikros Image, announced earlier this month that they’ve launched a new studio dedicated to feature animation, and they intend to produce a film every 18-20 months.
Here is some of Clichy’s personal work:
The latest issue of The New Yorker (Jun. 18) offers a six-page profile of Family Guy creator and Ted director Seth MacFarlane. The article isn’t available online yet. Here, ten takeaways from the piece:
1. Seth MacFarlane is the highest-paid writer-producer in television history, the article claims. His current contract guarantees him around $33 million a year.
2. MacFarlane feels that animation doesn’t get any respect. He says, “There’s a prejudice against the medium of animation. I don’t care about winning awards, but it’ll be nice to do something that is perceived as slightly more significant. . . . The Simpsons is a show that outclasses any number of live-action sitcoms, and it has never got any recognition. It’s like Sammy Davis, Jr., at the Sands. Everyone recognized that he was a great entertainer and an enormous talent, but, you know: Stay out of the casino.”
3. Seth MacFarlane once worked for fifteen months straight, seven days a week, and had to be hospitalized for exhaustion. Nowadays, he sometimes doesn’t show up for table reads, even if there are dozens of writers, voice actors and network execs waiting for him. He says he’s less stressed “by not rushing and giving myself a heart attack trying to get everywhere exactly on time.”
4. MacFarlane lives in a $13.5 million gated villa in Beverly Hills (visit it here), drives an Aston Martin, owns a replica of the DeLorean that Michael J. Fox drove in Back to the Future, and owns a share in a private jet.
5. On dating D-list starlets like Christa Campbell, Eliza Dushku, Kate Todd and Amanda Bynes: “It’s exhausting dating several people at once. It gets tiresome, because people think they have you prematurely figured out. . . .I’m not somebody who has to go home and talk about theoretical physics at the end of a day when I’ve already been wringing my brain dry. I don’t necessarily look for an intellectual equal. I’d rather have somebody whose company excites me. That’s what my father had. My father and my mother were not–they were not intellectual equals by any means.”
6. Seth MacFarlane’s mom, Perry, who died in 2010, masturbated a dog once, which is a source of humor around the office.
7. MacFarlane attributes the crude ethnic humor in his shows to his predominantly Jewish writing staff: “We are presenting the Archie Bunker point of view and making fun of the stereotypes–not making fun of the groups. But if I’m really being honest, then maybe there’s a part of me that’s stuck in high school and we’re laughing because we’re not supposed to. I don’t know the psychology. At the core, I know none of us gives a shit. Some people say that stereotypes exist for a reason. I’m in no way qualified to make that determination. But I’m sitting in a room with a writing staff that is in large part Jewish, and those are the guys pitching the jokes.”
8. Seth MacFarlane is a fan of the classics: he prefers Frank Sinatra over Nirvana (a band that makes him want to blow his brains out), and prefers to watch old movies like Red River and Hope-and-Crosby films over new TV shows.
9. MacFarlane likes to get spray-on tans. From the article: During Family Guy‘s seventh season, a young woman began showing up at the office. Without explanation, she would wheel a large piece of equipment into a lavatory just off the writers’ room and wait there for MacFarlane, who would excuse himself and disappear into the bathroom. Several former staff members told me that although everyone could hear the whooshing sound of a spray-tan machine, no one dared make a joke about it when MacFarlane emerged, bronzed and burnished.
10. The simple reason MacFarlane’s Flintstones reboot fizzled: Fox asked him to redo the script that he turned in and he declined.
(Photo of Seth MacFarlane via Shutterstock)
The Walt Disney Family Museum announced yesterday their first major special exhibition, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic.” The show is tied into the film’s 75th anniversary this year, and will be on view from November 15, 2012 through April 14, 2013 at the San Francisco-based museum.
I saw a preview of the exhibition yesterday afternoon and it will be a must-see for any Cartoon Brew reader. The more than 200 pieces of art on display will include conceptual drawings, early character studies, detailed story sketches, and animation drawings, as well as thumbnail layout watercolors, pencil layouts, watercolor backgrounds, cels, and vintage posters.
The show will be organized by sequence through the progression of the film, featuring plenty of never-before-seen artwork and behind-the-scenes stories about the film’s production. Artwork from deleted sequences like the Dwarfs’ Bed Buildng Scene and Snow White-dancing-in-the-stars fantasy segment will also be represented. The exhibition is curated by Lella Smith, the Creative Director of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalog written by J. B. Kaufman. (We’ve plugged the catalog earlier on Cartoon Brew.
Below is a preview of five of the pieces that will appear in the show. All images are Â©Disney Enterprises, Inc. The watercolor concept of the witch in the rowboat was painted by Sam Armstrong; the witch offering Snow White the poisoned apple was drawn by Gustaf Tenggren; the layout thumbnail of the dwarfs looking over the precipice was drawn by Ken O’Connor. Click on any of them for a larger version.
Cartoon Brew is proud to be a media sponsor of the Athens Animation Festival, a first-year event that will take place in upstate New York. The festival, organized by East Coast animation producer Lisa Thomas, has a unique and worthy mission to showcase non-commercial animated films that speak about the human condition. More specifically:
The goal of the Athens Animation festival is to provide a venue to exhibit animaton with a message to the public and to foster an appreciation for social/political animaton while generating a dialogue within the community. In a time when animation is often created primarily to serve commercial needs or presented strictly as entertainment, our festival seeks to program animation with a strong message about the world we live in and the problems, joys, fears and issues we face, be they personal, local or global.
The festival will take place on Saturday, September 15, in Athens, which is two hours north of New York City. The deadline to submit films to the festival is July 1. Submission forms are located on the festival website.
A prominent group of East Coast experimental animators will present work at the “Animation as Artistic Practice” show curated by Phyllis Bulkin-Lehrer. The opening is this Thursday, June 14, from 6-9pm, with a screening at 7:30pm. Show takes place at Harvestworks (596 Broadway, #602, New York, NY 10012).
Show description below and more details here:
This art show and screening at Harvestworks curated by Phyllis Bulkin-Lehrer with fellow animation artists Gregory Barsamian, Emily Hubley , George Griffin, Holly Daggers and Jeff Scher is a follow up exhibit that references an “Artist Talk on Art” panel event that took place on December 9th 2011 at the Westwood Gallery in Soho NYC. The Harvestworks show will include installation, film, projection and artwork by the above six local New York artists who are actively engaged in the process and paradigm of animation as an integral element of their artistic practice.
Carlo Vogele who has breathed life into Ikea lighting fixtures and socks and pants has moved on to animating fish. That’s the trailer above for his new short Una furtiva Lagrima, which picked up an award at Annecy last week.
Carlo most recently animated on Pixar’s Brave, but the lo-fi stop motion process he uses for his personal films is decidedly grittier. His how-to guide on animating fish corpses is a must-read:
After purchase of the bass at the fishmarket, I’d stick it in the freezer until I was ready for a full night of animating (stop-motion 101: if you want consistent lighting, daylight is not your friend ;-D). I would take the stinky bastard out a few hours ahead of shooting, while setting up the lights and camera. The fish would thaw from stonehard to kind of rigid in 3 hours, and for a while, its head, fins and mouth would have the right rigidity in order to hold a pose for a while.
So I’d animate as fast as I could, until the fish thawed completely and its jaw went slack… that is when invisible thread was useful : I’d lift the slack jaw with a string which I’d attach to an overhead structure off-screen. Later I could easily mask the thread out of the frames, if it showed too much.
Gross Trivia : somehow the inner stuff of the fish started bloating after a week, and that pressure tended to push its tongue out of its mouth… I had no choice but to ram it back down its throat with my fingers, and was instantly rewarded with a sound that it is too obscene for words. It was easy to forget that this was actually a slowly decaying dead body I was animating. Some orange pus oozing from underneath its gill cover during the shooting was a nice reminder of that.
There’s a satisfying sense of drama and mystery in this new work by RISD grad Caleb Wood: Mobile was a “a quick one week project, all hand drawn in Photoshop, composited in After Effects. (some crayon scribbs for texture). Kalimba and Garageband for sound, frogs recorded in backyard.”
The new issue of Juxtapoz is dedicated entirely to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. Issue preview HERE. Description below:
Just in time for beach trips, travel, and Comic Con, we present to you our very special collaboration with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim on the July 2012 Special Adult Swim issue. Adult Swim has taken over ever feature, profile, photo, review, Pop Life moment, featuring their brand new program, Black Dynamite, on the cover. We got the makers of Venture Bros, Squidbillies, Metalocalypse, Superjail!, Aqua Teen, Childrens Hospital, Robot Chicken, and Loiter Squad all to talk about the stories behind their shows. Throw in exclusive interviews with the likes of Rob Corddry, Seth Green, and special exclusive artwork by Skinner, Tim Biskup, and Olek, with Kevin Kirkpatrick creating a special bust of Carl from Aqua Teen.
(Venture Bros. illustration by Patrick Leger)
This impeccably cute Fifties era Hallmark booklet was drawn by Louie Schmitt (1908-1993) and painted by Stan Spohn (b. 1915), both of whom were Disney trained artists. Schmitt had animated at Disney since the mid-1930s, but is best known for being Tex Avery’s layout man and character designer for a series of MGM shorts in the late-1940s such as Little ‘Tinker (below), The Cat That Hated People, Lucky Ducky, and Bad Luck Blackie. Spohn was an Art Center-educated Disney background painter who did some terrific development artwork on “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in Fantasia.
Around 1948, give or take a year, Schmitt and Spohn met J. C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards. Hall offered them a lucrative deal to come and work at Hallmark’s headquarters in Kansas City. Schmitt and Spohn told their story to cartoonist Dean Norman, who recounted it in his fantastic self-published book Studio Cards: Funny Greeting Cards and People Who Created Them:
“When we first came [to Hallmark] they said they didn’t have space for us yet in the art department. They really just didn’t want us to corrupt the sweet young girls that worked there, because our language can get sort of salty. So they made us work in a tent on the roof. It was hotter than hell in the summer in Kansas City. After a couple of weeks of sweating it out in the tent we came down off the roof, found an empty office and moved our stuff in. The Old Man thought the girl artists would be jealous, because we got an office while they worked in booths. But they didn’t mind. We got along fine and didn’t corrupt any of themâ€¦We thought we would go nuts. A whole building full of twittering young girls, and the stuffy work rules! We hated it, but it was good money, and we did get to do complete art on our cards. Mr. Hall loved our art. So after we had been here a few months, we told him our wives missed California so much that they were going to leave us. We was awful sorry, but we had to quit. Well, the Old Man did what we figured he might do. He offered us contracts to mail in our art from California.”
Schmitt, who I believe did the drawings for the “How to Take Care of Baby” booklet, had a style that was pure syrupy cartoon formula–historian Michael Barrier dismissed Schmitt’s designs as “bargain-basement-Bambi flavor”–yet he also had terrific command of cartooning principles and knew how to inject personality into his characters. It’s easy to understand why his work was so highly valued by Hall, especially when contrasted to the listless illustrative style that was predominant in the greeting card industry at the time:
It seems that Schmitt and Spohn worked as a team, and even had an art studio together after they moved back to Los Angeles. Schmitt died in 1993, but Stan Spohn is (I believe) still with us at the age of 97. There was an article about Spohn in the Monterey County Weekly a few years back where he was holding up one of his Hallmark paintings:
If anyone at Hallmark is reading this, please consider doing a book of Schmitt and Spohn’s artwork. I’d be happy to help–just drop me a line. Their work looks deceptively simple, but there’s a real art to creating such aggressively cute cartoon characters. I have more of their booklets and fold-outs that I will post here if there’s interest. Click on any of the booklet images in this post for a larger version.
Ren and Stimpy creator (and my former boss) John Kricfalusi made this 3-minute commercial for Stussy to advertise four new T-shirt designs he created for them. John talks production process on his blog.
Golden Age animator Phil Monroe (1916-1988) is rarely discussed, even amongst animation cognoscenti, which is unfortunate because he had an amazing career. Over the course of his career, he animated for an honor roll of legendary directors including Bob Clampett, John Hubley, Chuck Jones, Pete Burness, Friz Freleng, and Frank Tashlin. Animation historian Michael Barrier has posted a never-before-published 1976 interview with Phil Monroe that he and Milton Gray conducted.
The interview delves into details that may appeal to only a small portion of our twenty thousand-plus daily readers, but if you appreciate classic Warner Bros. shorts and animation history in general, the interview is guaranteed to blow your mind. There’s even a great story about how Monroe got Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng to square dance with one another, even though “they were barely on speaking terms.” Barrier conducted a follow-up interview with Monroe in 1987, which he promises to publish online soon.
Just in time for Father’s Day: A Family Man is the latest animated documentary short from the Rauch Brothers, and the nonprofit oral history project StoryCorps. The Rauch Brothers’ work combines intelligence, heart and humor in the space of a few minutes–a rare feat in animation. Character design is by Tim Rauch, storyboard by Stephen DeStefano and BG layout and painting by Bill Wray.
UPDATE: The winner in the animaiton category last night was Malcolm Sutherland’s Umbra.
Tonight in New York City is the second annual Vimeo Awards. I was one of the judges in the animation category, and one of these four nominees in the category will receive $5,000:
Little Boat by Nelson Boles (US)
Les chiens isolés by Rémi Bastie, Nicolas Deghani, Jonathan Djob-Nkondo, Paul LaColley, Nicolas Pegon, Jérémy Pires, Kevin Manach (France)
Umbra by Malcolm Sutherland (Canada)
Cross by Fabian Grodde (Germany)
Tickets are sold out to the award ceremony, but there are still tickets left to the Vimeo Festival which takes place tomorrow and Saturday, and offers lots of interesting talks targeted toward short filmmakers. Vimeo is offering a special deal for Cartoon Brew readers. For a $40 all-access pass to the 2-day festival, go to Ticketfly and use the discount code “brew”.
Today would also be a good day to:
Read a funny anecdote from Brad Bird about Ray Bradbury’s work on the animated feature Little Nemo.
See the never-before-published notes from a space-related meeting at Disney with Ray Bradbury and Ward Kimball.
In the mid-1990s, Bill Damaschke was a struggling LA actor who found a job working as a PA on Pocahontas. Today, he is the Chief Creative Officer of DreamWorks Animation. He also owns a classic Modernist home in the Hollywood Hills. The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece about how Damaschke and his partner, John McIlwee, have restored the home. The article comes complete with a quote from Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The architect of the house, John Lautner, also designed the UPA studio in 1949, that sadly was demolished a long time ago. Damaschke and McIlwee purchased the Lautner classic in 2002 from actor Vincent Gallo. They paid $1.3 million for the home, and have spent another $1 million on renovating it. The article doesn’t mention that a few months ago, Damaschke and McIlwee also bought President Gerald Ford’s Rancho Mirage retreat for $1.675 million.
Here’s another success story from LA’s growing independent studio scene. Veteran feature film animator Ken Duncan, responsible for characters like Meg in Disney’s Hercules and Jane in Tarzan, has successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign for the interactive iPhone/iPad app My Beastly ABC’s.
Duncan’s fundraising goal for the project was $35,000, and he ended up with $37,900 from 405 backers. The project will be produced through his company, Duncan Studio, which also recently produced the drawn animation for the short Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters. My Beastly ABC’s is slated for release this September.
A companion to my upcoming biography of Ward Kimball, 365 Days of Ward will be updated EVERY SINGLE DAY for the next year. The site is a bit of an online experiment–an attempt to explore biographical storytelling through the crisp rapid visual bursts of the Tumblr format. Perhaps there’s something dissonant about presenting someone’s life via a blogging platform that didn’t exist when they were alive, but considering Ward’s forward-thinking approach to life, I want to honor his legacy with a little unconventional thinking.
By itself, I hope 365 Days of Ward will provide a daily jolt of inspiration–an introduction to the wealth of creativity that flowed from Ward’s mind for over 80 years–but I also hope it’ll whet your appetite for the in-depth book Full Steam Ahead!: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball, which provides the context for much of what I’ll be sharing over the next year.
Below is the daily schedule of posts. I anticipate there’ll be breaks in the format, but this is the general plan:
Mondays: Animation-related artwork by Ward
Tuesdays: “Asinine Alley”, a look at the antique automobile comics that Ward drew for thirty years
Wednesdays: Animated GIFs of some of Ward’s famous animation moments
Thursdays: Dedicated to the Grizzly Flats, the legendary full-sized railroad that Ward operated in his backyard
Fridays: Music-related posts that explore Ward’s twenty-plus years as the leader of the quirky jazz group The Firehouse Five Plus Two
Saturdays and Sundays: Random fun–childhood artwork, personal sketches, caricatures, posters, photos, and other ephemera
If you’ve always wanted to know more about animation’s rebellious wild man, pay close attention for the next 365 days.