That’s today’s topic of discussion on the Cartoon Brew Facebook page. We’re planning a refresh of the site and want to hear from Brew readers how you’d improve the site’s design and layout, and which technical features and additions you’d like to see implemented on Cartoon Brew.
Cartoon Brew was launched four years ago this month – and my, how we’ve grown. Below are some thoughts on the anniversary from the Brewmasters:
Back in 2003, Amid was updating his Animation Blast website with commentary and news; likewise, I was posting a stream of information and reviews on my Cartoon Research page. I recall a conversation we had at the time, both of us enthused about the potential of the Internet to expand our writing about animation. We were eager to communicate our thoughts, comments and criticism and saw a huge opportunity to expose new talent. This discussion led to our decision to “team up”, and create a new blog to share our ideas on one dedicated site that could lead to something more valuable to us – and our readers. We launched Cartoon Brew on March 15, 2004.
It’s turned out to be the most exciting, fulfilling, pleasurable and yes, time consuming, project we’ve ever taken on. For me, Cartoon Brew is a natural extension of what I’ve always done: communicating with fellow animation buffs and sharing my views, as well as trivia and souvenirs, from a lifetime of cartoon research. I love it.
We’ve watched our humble blog grow from several thousand readers a week to several thousand each day. A little over a year ago we opened our posts to comments from our readers, expanding the conversation to include the entire animation community. I’ve considered all Brew readers to be my friends, as we all share a love for an art form which, despite all its commercial success, is still not completely understood and fully explored by the mainstream public.
And that’s why Cartoon Brew is important to me. If I can enlighten someone to the latest film by Miyazaki, alert you to specific classic animation on DVD, or point even one person towards a Spongebob Squarepants Musical Rectal Thermometer, then I can rest a little easier, knowing I’ve done my job.
Wake up, brush teeth, wash face, put on coffee, log onto the Brew. Working on the site has become second-nature to me. I’m always amazed at how many people tell me that Cartoon Brew is one of their essential daily reads, but what I always forget to reply is that it’s exactly the same for me on the other end. The Brew is such an essential part of my daily life. Even on days when I have nothing to say (obviously, those are pretty rare days), I still check into the site to see what Jerry is writing and what readers are discussing.
As we begin our fifth year, we have big plans for the website. We are currently hard at work on a relaunch of CartoonBrewFilms. The idea continues to grow and morph but our goal remains the same: making quality animation available to a wide audience while making filmmakers money for their work. We’re also looking at numerous ways to extend the Cartoon Brew community, both through real world events and through online sites. Along those lines, we recently started a Cartoon Brew Facebook community (for Facebook members only) that allows readers to interact with one another through the discussion boards, and share links to films and articles with one another. Whereas the comments section on the Brew is for specifically responding to items that we post, the Facebook community is an opportunity for any reader to initiate a discussion or post interesting items.
This is also a good time to thank a few of our friends without whom we couldn’t be doing this site: the fine design team at Also Design who redesigned our website and logo, the sales team at Federated Media who help bring us corporate advertisers that we could otherwise never get on our own, and Leslie Cabarga who came up with the original set of Brew logos…remember these?
We’re going to begin doing a regular roundup that indexes some of the more noteworthy items on Cartoon Brew. Here are some of the news items that created the most buzz and generated the most discussion during the past couple months. Any that we missed?
The Little Island by Richard Williams
Hatti Noel as Hyacinth Hippo: Part 1 and Part 2
1930s Wartime Japanese cartoon
The Rocky and Bullwinkle statue: Part 1 and Part 2
Spongebob Rectal Thermometer and Spongebob Voice-overs
Kung Fu Panda Trailer
In by Philipp Hirsch and Heiko Tippelt
Why Don Hertzfeldt Probably Won’t Win An Annie
Marcell Jankovics’s FehérlÃ³fia
Lili Chin and Eddie Mort Abandon Flash Animation
Diznee’s Aladin and Ratatouille Knock-off
Studio 4Â°C’s Genius Party
The Hard Lessons of Kwicky Koala
Academy Ignores Animation for Best Foreign Film
Who Writes Cartoons?
After some record-breaking days of traffic last week, we’ve decided to take the next big step and upgrade Cartoon Brew to its own dedicated server. We hope that this will speed up everybody’s site load times as well as prepare us for future traffic spikes. The transition to a new server has not been especially smooth, hence the downtimes during the past couple days, but everything should be back to normal after this weekend. Thanks to all the Brew readers for your patience and support!
We are happy to announce that Cartoon Brew is now accepting ads from third-party advertisers (in other words, you) in our right-hand column. Many individuals and companies have commented to us throughout the past year that they’d like to advertise on Cartoon Brew but that they can’t afford the prices that our ad partner, Federated Media, charges for the large vertical and horizontal banners. While we’re thrilled to have major advertisers like Adobe, Cartoon Network,Verizon, Toyota and Hewlett-Packard occupying those spots, we also recognize the importance of giving independent companies, studios and individuals the chance to promote their projects in an affordable manner to the Cartoon Brew readership.
So we’ve decided to introduce a new advertising option of 125x125px square boxes in the right-hand column of this site. Previously we have only used these smaller ads to promote our personal projects and to support special causes, but now we will be adding your ads to the mix. We are selling these spots for only $250/month. That buys you an uninterrupted month-long campaign on Cartoon Brew, which receives an average of over 200k unique visitors/month and over 300k page views/month. If you’re interested in purchasing an ad, contact either Jerry or Amid through our bio pages at the top of this site and we’ll set you up. As a bonus, the first two advertisers who sign up will receive $50 off of their first month.
Good Grief! The conversation continues on our post about the Michaelis bio of Charles Schulz. Schulz son Monte adds some additional comments today, as well as new reactions from Schulz daughters Amy and Jill.
(Note: To keep the discussion from breaking into numerous threads, comments are closed for this post but can be continued in the other post with Schulz’s family comments.)
A new short (notably our first foreign one) launches this afternoon on CartoonBrewFilms: Carnivore Reflux directed by Eddie White and James Calvert of the People’s Republic of Animation, a young and quickly rising Australian animation studio. Stay tuned for many more terrific animated shorts, both international and domestic, set to debut on BrewFilms in the coming months.
It’s so difficult to find folks down at the Comic-Con so here’s a thread where we can do a roll call of animation folk who’ll be attending this year. If you’re on a particular panel or just want to mention that you’ll be in attendance, let us know in this thread. Both Brewmasters Jerry and Amid will be down in San Diego. Say hello if you see us there. This comment thread is ONLY if you want to mention that you’ll be down there next week.
We’re starting to receive a lot of announcements from animation folk about what they’re selling next week at San Diego Comic-Con International. In fact, the amount of emails is becoming a bit overwhelming so we’re creating this open thread where any animation artist can announce what they’re selling. Be sure to include your booth number, website, and any other relevant details. It’s a huge convention center and we want to find you. This thread is ONLY about what cool things are being sold on the convention floor by animation folk; to keep things organized, all other comments will be deleted from this thread.
What We Call The News, the latest JibJab effort, premiered last night at the Radio and TV Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, D.C. and then later on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The short, which lampoons the inanities of contemporary TV journalism, can be viewed online at JibJab.com.
Now here’s what we call the news: normally JibJab charges $1.99 for a high-quality downloadable version of their films. However, this time around, JibJab studio founders Evan and Gregg Spiridellis have graciously given CartoonBrewFilms a 1-month exclusive on the high-quality download (640×480) of What We Call The News. And even better, they’re making it available for one cent to BrewFilms users. It’s a great way for everyone to sample how easy CartoonBrewFilms is to useÃ¢â‚¬”and to obtain the latest JibJab masterpiece for your iPod or to look at frame-by-frame on your PC/Mac.
Remember, this deal is only good through April. After that, you’ll have to fork over your hard-earned money at JibJab’s own website to get the downloadable version.
We are happy and excited to announce the launch of CartoonBrewFilms.com, a new site that makes the world’s finest animated shorts available for convenient download to your iPod and personal computer. Our three launch films are Teddy Newton and Bert Klein’s Boys Night Out, Frank Tashlin’s The Lady Said No and Grantray-Lawrence’s The Hope That Jack Built. Films, both classic and contemporary, will be added to the library every week.
Here’s a few brief thoughts from BrewFilms foundersÃ¢â‚¬”Jerry Beck and Amid AmidiÃ¢â‚¬”which should offer a bit more insight into why we’re starting this company, and also explain what sets us apart from all the other animation download sites popping up nowadays.
I remember the first time I wanted to collect animated films, back in the 1970s, while I was still in high school. There was no Internet, no home video, no 24-hour cartoon cable channels. I had to find 16mm film prints, which cost a fortune and were technically illegal to own. Because I had such a hard time doing my cartoon research back then, I made it one of my goals in life to find ways to spread information about cartoons and to make available the hard-to-find films themselves.
To that end I created books like Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide and The Fifty Greatest Cartoons. I worked in film distribution, releasing independent and international shorts through the Tournee of Animation, and putting anime, like Akira, into movie theaters and onto home video. Websites like Cartoon Research and Cartoon Brew have been another avenue in my continuing mission to connect animated content with like-minded individuals. Today, we are starting a new venture, but the objective remains the same.
This blog is read by a diverse collection of individuals, from students to cartoon aficionados, from directors and animators at the largest animation studios to commercial directors and independent filmmakers. What binds us all is our passion for the art form, and our desire to discover new animated films of all stripes and colors. CartoonBrewFilms aims to make available the most interesting, highest quality and rarest pieces of animated filmmaking, to offer hand-picked animation not found anywhere else. These are films that are not readily available; they are films that deserve to be seen, enjoyed, studied, discussed.
Not everybody can attend animation festivals like Ottawa, Annecy, Zagreb or Hiroshima, but with BrewFilms, your personal and portable animation festival is just one mouse click away. More importantly, we’re determined to do this in a way that is fair and financially equitable to the animators who are producing these shorts. Filmmakers contributing to our site will be compensated for their films; older films are being licensed from their respective owners. Every purchase you make sends a clear and direct message to filmmakers that you appreciate their hard work and want to see more animated shorts.
We’ve come a long way since I first collecting animated shorts in the 1970s, but I can say with confidence that the best is yet to come.
If I had to single out one moment during the development of CartoonBrewFilms where I became confident that we were on the right track, it would be an evening in May about ten months ago. Jerry and I were meeting with our distinguished attorney Ken. The purpose of the meeting was to hammer out the terms of the contract which filmmakers would have to sign so we could sell their work. Seemingly, every time Ken would make a suggestion (the type of suggestions that all good lawyers are supposed to make), Jerry or I would object saying that that wouldn’t be the fairest deal for the filmmaker. In the cutthroat world of business, some might say our desire to create a fair deal for all parties is naive, that it dooms us to failure. That’s not how we look at it though.
We think it’s smart business to create relationships with filmmakers that benefit them financially as much as they do us. There’s enough exploitation of animation artists as it already is; we’re setting out to create something wholly different, a company that supports, promotes and respects filmmakers. Video has barely arrived on the Internet, and like clockwork, the opportunists have already begun exploiting artists through myriad ways: paying filmmakers pennies through ad-based revenue sharing schemes, running “contests” to cheaply acquire new content, and asking you to submit your work for free because it’s “user-generated content.” CartoonBrewFilms doesn’t play those type of games. We aim to become the alternative that everybody has always wanted and nobody has had the guts to create.
This blog, Cartoon Brew, has been a consistent voice in the animation community since 2004; Jerry and I have been in the industry far longer than that. We’re in this for the long haul and we’re committed to making CartoonBrewFilms work. The idea for CartoonBrewFilms will surely continue to evolve over the coming months and years, but what will not change is our commitment to treating filmmakers fairly and with respect. TogetherÃ¢â‚¬”filmmakers, animation lovers and BrewFilmsÃ¢â‚¬”let’s build a new type of animation company that we can all be proud of.
Well, we’ve wrapped up our first week of the new comments-enabled Brew. We were both surprised by the sheer number (as well as consistently high quality) of commentsÃ¢â‚¬”over 350 in the first seven days, or an average of more than fifty a day. We love to hear from so many people, but since comments are moderated, please make our lives easier by reading the “ground rules for posting” before posting comments on the Brew. One of the most common problems we encountered was folks who sign their posts at the bottom. Your name (and website address, if you have one) are already included at the top of the post so please don’t repeat that information a second time.
Please take note that there are plenty of reasons your post might not get approved for the site. Here are some of the reasons from the past week: the comment includes factually incorrect information, posting a one-word comment, too many grammatical/spelling errors, making a point that is unclear or difficult to understand, and repeating info that is already included in the post. Also, keep in mind that your contributions will be most valued by the Brew community if you have something unique to add to the discussion. Posting for posting’s sake benefits nobody.
Overall, we enjoyed reading the huge variety of thoughtful comments and discussions on topics as varied as Pogo, the value of owning your creations and Disney’s American Dog, as well as the lovely memories of Peter Ellenshaw and Ryan Larkin. Thanks to all who contributed. We hope many more Brew readers will also join the discussion.
It’s been a long time coming and here finally is the new Cartoon Brew.
Cartoon Brew launched in March 2004 and in the nearly three years that it’s been up, we’d never bothered to redesign the blog. When we finally decided to update the look, we not only wanted to make it more elegant and easier to look at (fixed column widths anybody), but also to add functionality that had been missing from the original design. To that extent, we’ve added post categories, individual page entries, article search/sharing capabilities, better organized monthly archives, and yessirree, the oft-requested ability for user comments.
None of this would have been possible without our incredible designers (Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman and Matt Lamothe) at Also Design. We’ve been working with Also on another big project as well so stay tuned. These guys can do it all whether it’s web design, graphic design, Flash or anything else you can imagine, and both of us Brewmasters are thrilled with what they’ve been able to do for us.
A few house notes:
* To make things less confusing, we’re keeping comments closed on all posts prior to the redesign. But posts on CartoonBrew from today forward will typically have comments open. If you have any questions about the ground rules for commenting on Cartoon Brew, check out these notes.
* Most of our older posts are not categorized. So when you click on categories, keep in mind that they are only for posts from January 07 forward. Time-permitting, we will go back and try to categorize some of the older posts.
We’d love to hear what you think of the new look. We’ll be working over the next few days to iron out any kinks so let us know if you encounter any issues. Let the posting and commenting begin!
Today is a big day for our friends at the Animation Show. It marks both the theatrical premiere of their third edition as well as the release of the ANIMATION SHOW Volumes 1 & 2 Box Set. Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt deserve props for creating the Animation Show and providing a way for US animation fans to see quality animated shorts on the bigscreen.
The Animation Show has generously offered 4 boxed sets for us to give away to Cartoon Brew readers. We’ll ask a trivia question tomorrow morning, Wednesday, at 9am Pacific (12ET), and the first four people to answer correctly will each receive a set. The dvd is packed with tons of superb films including MT. HEAD, WHEN THE DAY BREAKS, WARD 13, HELLO, THE MEANING OF LIFE, GUARD DOG and ARIA. It also includes commentaries by Bill Plympton, Corky Quakenbush and Don Hertzfeldt, bonus materials for various shorts, and a mini-documentary about the history of the animated short.
The new theatrical edition premieres tonight in Santa Barbera and Seattle. It’s also playing this week in Boston, Portland, Tuscon and New Brunswick, NJ. For a complete list of cities, go HERE. Here’s the trailer for the third edition:
Circulating amongst animators this week was the shortlist of possible Oscar nominees in the Animation Short Film category. The final nominees, chosen from this list, will be announced in February. Till then, here’s what Academy members will be considering:
The Danish Poet by Torill Kove (NFB)
Everything Will Be OK by Don Hertzfeldt
Family Ties: Dreams & Desires by Joanna Quinn
Guide Dog by Bill Plympton
Lifted by Gary Rydstrom (Pixar)
Little Match Girl by Roger Allers (Disney)
Maestro directed by Géza M Toth
No Time for Nuts directed by Chris Renaud & Mike Thurmeier (Blue Sky)
Tragic Story with Happy Ending by Regina Pessoa
One Rat Short by Alex Weil
It wasn’t easy but Brewmasters Amid and Jerry have selected the two winners of our Ottawa International Animation Festival 2006 contest. They are Bill Robinson (East Aurora, NY) and Dav-Odd (NYC, NY). Each of these guys will receive a full Animapass (valued at $200Can) to next month’s festival. Their entries are below (click for larger versions). We chose Bill’s not only because it’s a fine tribute to Bob Clampett, who is the subject of a retrospective at Ottawa this year, but because of the extra effort he invested in the layout and typography to create a complete package. Dav-Odd’s piece should hit home for any animation lover: yes, a true animation fan can find things to admire even in a Chiquita banana commercial.
We received so many entries that we decided to honor five runner-ups as well. The five runner-ups will each receive an issue of ANIMATION BLAST 9. These winners are Raymond Xu, Marc Crisafulli, Mitch Kennedy, Brian Montenegro and Jess Elwood. Their entries are in order below (click for bigger versions). A BIG thanks to everybody who entered and we’ll see ya next month in Ottawa.
Just a reminder that your chance to win a free full-access pass to the Ottawa International Animation Festival (Sept. 20-24) ends this Sunday. We’ve got two passes to hand out and we want to give them to folks who really really want to attend the festival. For entry details, read our contest rules here.
For the second year in a row, Cartoon Brew is giving away two full festival passes to the Ottawa International Animation Festival (September 20-24) courtesy of the fine folks up at the Ottawa fest. This is North America’s biggest, and quite frankly, only major animation festival. It’s THE place to get connected with animation artists and other people who love the animation medium. This year promises to be extra special since it’s the festival’s 30th anniversary. And, of course, both Brewmasters – Jerry and Amid – will be hanging around the festival as well.
Each pass we’re giving away is valued at $200 (Canadian) and includes:
* Access to all OIAF screenings and workshops
* Access to the OIAF picnic
* Access to all parties
* OIAF Program Book
* Personal hug from the festival’s artistic director Chris Robinson
Ok, we made up that last perk, but you get everything else. To enter just send us a drawing that tells us why you deserve to go to the festival. Creativity, originality and draftsmanship count. The deadline to enter is by the end of this Sunday, August 27. Email your drawings to amid (at) animationblast (dot) com and jbeck6540 (at) aol (dot) com. Here are last year’s winners.
We recently signed on with John Battelle’s Federated Media to represent us for online advertising. Federated is a boutique ad rep representing only a limited number of blogs with strong author-driven voices, including sites such as BoingBoing, MetaFilter and Digg. We’re proud to be associated with them. To help us gain a more accurate sense of who’s reading Cartoon Brew and so that Federated can get us ads geared to stuff that we like, please take a moment to fill out this SURVEY here. The survey is completely anonymous and takes only a few minutes to fill out. We’re going to run it for a couple weeks, and if there’s any interest afterwards, we’ll share the compiled statistics with everybody.
We’re starting a Cartoon Brew mailing list. The Brew will be undergoing some major changes in the second half of 2006 and we want to keep our valued readers in the loop about all these exciting developments. Besides special messages from Jerry and Amid, list members will also be able to score free swag as we’ll be running exclusive contests for Brew list subscribers. If you want to get on the list, drop us an email, with only your email address in the subject header, to cartoonbrewlist [at] yahoo.com. The list will be low-volume (between 1-2 messages per month), and we also promise to NEVER share your email address with any outside party; we hate spam as much as you do.
The Brewmasters need your help. We’re redesigning our blog template – it’s about time for a change after two years – and as part of that, we’d like to switch our site’s blogging software from MovableType to WordPress. We want to preserve all of our old posts when we make the switch. Neither of us are technical whizzes, and if somebody out there is familiar with this type of blogging back-end stuff, we’d appreciate your assistance. If you can help out, please contact us at jbeck [at] aol [dot] com and amid [at] animationblast [dot] com.
Remember folks, the deadline is tomorrow afternoon to submit your entries for becoming a “guest brewer” on Cartoon Brew. We’ve already received dozens of terrific entries, and it’s going to be mighty difficult choosing our first winner. Submission rules are HERE.
We’ve had some crazy ideas before here at Cartoon Brew, but this one may top them all. We’re having a contest to find a Guest Brewer, somebody who will blog right alongside the Brewmasters – Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi. Anybody can enter – animators, fans, directors, historians, board artists, executives – if you like the Brew and feel you have something interesting to say, we want to hear from you. The winner will receive a two-week gig on the Brew. Now here’s where it gets interesting. At the end of two weeks, the entire Cartoon Brew readership will get to vote on whether the Guest Brewer can continue blogging or not. If so, our Guest Brewer gets another two-week term, if not, we introduce the next Guest Brewer.
Why are we doing this? Because while we both love discussing the art and craft of animation, we know that we’re not the only passionate voices out there. By doing this, we hope to encourage new voices in the animation blogging community and bring to light different points of view about the art form. Plus, we think it can be a lot of fun. If you’re interested, simply send an email to cartoonbrewer [at] yahoo.com. Tell us (briefly) why you should be our Guest Brewer. Tell us your areas of expertise and give a sense of the topics you’ll be writing about. This is such an untested idea that we don’t quite know how we’ll be judging this yet. We simply want to hear from passionate voices in the community and give them exposure on the Brew. Convince us that you’re going to be the best Brewer. Entries will be accepted until noon on Thursday, May 25. We’ll announce a winner here on Friday, May 26.
The Tale of How is a mostly CG animated short produced by the South African animation collective Blackheart Gang. Credits are Marcus Wormstorm (music, writer), Cherie “Ree” Treweek (design/illustration), Jannes Hendrikz (creative director/2D animation and compositing) and Justin Baker (lead CG animator). According to the filmmakers, the story is about an octopus named Otto, “and he’s an island that all the Piranha birds live on. His broken heart has made him mean, and he eats piranhas even though he’s not hungry.” The lush, densely layered visuals look completely unlike anything else out there. Blackheart Gang doesn’t fall into the all-too common trap of using computer animation to make photorealistic art, instead creating a fluid and organic world that draws upon the tradition of illustrators like Rackham, Nielsen and Beardsley.
(Thanks, Craig Clark)
Ok folks, something a bit different. We’re looking to redesign the CartoonBrew logo. It’s been up for two years, and we think it’s high time for a new look. We want something really solid, worthy of the Brew name. The project is a little more involved than just a logo for the site, so make sure you’re good. Also, we are paying. Not a fortune, but enough that hopefully you won’t want to do bodily harm to us. Please send links to your portfolio site or email examples of your work to both of us at:
amid at animationblast dot com
jbeck6540 at aol dot comThanks,
Better late than never. Here are a few thoughts from your Brewmasters – Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi – about what might happen in animation during 2006. It’ll be difficult to top the excitement of last week’s Disney-Pixar deal, but we think there’s still room for other interesting things to develop during the next eleven months.
→ 2006 will be the great shake-out of computer animated features. More CG films are planned for release in 2006 than ever before, and most of them (at first glance) range in quality from mediocre to awful. As we earlier noted HERE, there are at least eight films planned for 2006 release that are about a group of anthropomorphic animals on a grand adventure. Throw in FOODFIGHT, MONSTER HOUSE and YANKEE IRVING, and it’s a virtual guarantee that there’s going to be a lot of animated flops this year. We feel that these poorly conceived, hastily executed, unoriginal CG features will erode the cachet of CG animation, while at the same time leveling the playing field and creating new and exciting opportunities for films of different techniques, styles and stories.
→ Pixar’s CARS will be the most financially successful animated feature of 2006. CARS may not be the envelope-pushing artistic achievement of THE INCREDIBLES, but it looks like solid entertainment. Furthermore, the weak slate of animated films this year will only will reaffirm Pixar’s dominance in the field of computer animation, and remind us why the studio has yet to fail at the box office.
→ Los Angeles, which used to be the only major center of feature animation production, is increasingly losing that distinction. Feature production has been slowly moving northward for a number of years. Pixar and Dreamworks/PDI are already producing animated features in the Bay Area. Now, the Orphanage and Wild Brain are joining them in 2006, and the Bay Area is on its way to becoming a major center of feature animation production. A little further north in Portland, Laika is also staffing up for feature production, and the feature industry is becoming less LA-centric than ever before.
→ If a 20-year-veteran of the cable industry and the president of the #1-rated kids’ network (Nickelodeon) resigns from his post, wouldn’t the number #2 and #3 kids cable networks be lining up to grab him, no matter what the cost? The reality is that Herb Scannell is either talking to (or already has a deal with) Disney Channel or Cartoon Network to become the new boss. Both are rumored to be undergoing major shake-ups this year. With Jobs and Lasseter in control at Disney, Scannell at Disney Channel seems like a perfect fit. If not CN or the Mouse, where then? Perhaps Comcast. The cable giant has long announced plans to create new cable channels using its programming content acquired as a result of the Sony-MGM merger. Herb could come in and launch a slew of new networks for cable, Internet and broadcast TV. Wherever Herb lands, he’ll do a great job. A beloved creative exec with a proven track record won’t be idle for too long.
→ “Adult Swim” will spin-off into its own channel by the end of the year, due to changing cable laws and the “a la carte”-ization of the cable industry. Cartoon Network proper will continue its decline, if not in ratings then in quality of programming. Once a powerhouse of ‘creator-driven’ animation, it has increasingly lost its focus and sense of direction. There is so much confusion that the network has taken to screening live-action programming in recent months. The network’s vice president of development, Sam Register, recently stepped down from his post, highlighting the internal turmoil and lack of clear consistent direction for the network.
→ The new CW Network (combining the WB and UPN) could have had a Saturday Morning combining Nickelodeon cartoons (recently ousted from the CBS Saturday Morning schedule), Kids’ WB! animation and Cartoon Network originals. The combined Viacom and Warner Bros. Animation library is a goldmine of classic cartoon greatness: Looney Tunes, Terrytoons, and Tex Avery to name but a few. Just imagine a new special featuring Spongebob beating the crap out of Coconut Fred, or THE MIGHTY HEROES taking on the LOONATICS – now that would be worth getting up early for. But forget about that. Word on the street is that Kids’ WB! alone will continue to supply the Saturday morning block with its own brand of derivative pap. We do hope they will at least allow us to see the thirteen half hours of new TOM & JERRY TALES which WB Animation produced last year for foreign broadcast and is otherwise sitting on the shelf. And CBS has announced a Saturday morning schedule that sounds like an acid flashback to 1975: ARCHIE, SABRINA, THE LITTLES, INSPECTOR GADGET and STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE. The entire line-up produced by DiC. If someone had told us 20 years ago that Filmation and Hanna Barbera would be gone and that DiC would produce an entire Saturday morning network schedule, we’d never have believed it. The bottom line: We predict low Saturday morning ratings for CBS and CW – while the dedicated cable channels continue to dominate the children’s cartoon market.
→ We previously labeled 2004 “the year of the animation blog” and the summer of 2005 as the “animation artist’s blog renaissance.” What will 2006 be? There is little doubt that blogs will continue to grow in importance within the animation community. Moving beyond a place for showcasing art and sharing opinions, blogs will increasingly become a vital networking tool. Blogs are connecting animation artists all over the globe in ways previously unimaginable, allowing talented artists from around the world to show their artwork to the rest of the animation industry and receive instant feedback on their work. Future animated productions will benefit by having an entire world of talent to choose from, with blogs becoming a modern, more efficient, form of the portfolio. Also, in the second half of 2005, many animation bloggers began adding video to their sites, including Seward Street and Nick Cross, and the video trend will only grow in 2006.