This week Cartoon Brew is traveling to the enchanted land of Canada, home of Officer Bubbles and many other magical creatures. Both Brewmasters will be attending the world-famous Ottawa International Animation Festival along with thousands of other animation folks. If you’re heading out, let us know in the comments and say hello to us.
Crazy rumors floating into our offices this afternoon from reliable sources. We hear that Brenda Chapman, the first woman director at Pixar, has left the studio and is no longer directing Brave (previously titled The Bear and the Bow). We hear that she was pushed aside from full directing a while back, and that story artist Mark Andrews (who also co-directed the Pixar short One Man Band) has taken over directorial duties. We understand that the change officially happened last week, although it had been inevitable for some time.
These type of directorial shake-ups happen so frequently at other feature animation studios that they hardly merit reporting, but this holds special significance because Chapman was slated to be the first woman director at Pixar after twelve straight features directed by men. By contrast, Sony Pictures Animation had a woman director on its first feature (Jill Culton on Open Season) and DreamWorks had a woman director on its second feature–The Prince of Egypt. Who was the DreamWorks woman director? Brenda Chapman.
UPDATE #2: On October 20, the NY Times confirmed our report that Brenda Chapman has been replaced as director of Brave by Mark Andrews. However, the Times says that contrary to our original report, Chapman “remains on staff at Pixar.”
UPDATE: Pocahontas director Mike Gabriel posted in the comments below using his own name. His comment is worth featuring here too. He writes:
Brenda is a class act. A beautiful soul. A star talent in the industry who continues to inspire, more so in adversity than a smooth ride. The Brave release is heartbreaking from the outside but maybe a blessing from the inside. You never know.
Pillow Peter is a junior year film made by Nigel Clark at the School of Visual Arts in New York. It’s an eccentrically drawn film about an eccentric boy who loves pillows. The droll storybook narration works perfectly as does the short’s gentle tone, which masks the heartbreak beneath the surface. Share your thoughts on the film here.
We wanted to take a moment to thank the companies that have chosen to advertise on Cartoon Brew this month. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to devote nearly the time and energy that we do to keeping this site growing and updated.
We make a sincere effort to partner with companies and organizations that provide quality products and services that are relevant to readers of the Brew, and we encourage you to visit and support these companies. If you want your company represented as an advertiser, please contact our friendly ad rep, Reachout Media.
Death Buy Lemonade created by Kyu-bum Lee at Sheridan College is the shortest film in Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival. Don’t be fooled by its running time though. Within its brief length is contained a solidly constructed story, personality-driven animation and chuckles. To learn more about the production of the film and to comment about it, please take the time and visit Cartoon Brew TV.
Word has just reached us that veteran animator Bill Littlejohn passed away in his sleep last night. He was 96.
Littlejohn was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1914. He started his career in 1934 (some dates peg his start as early as 1931) as a cel washer at New York’s Van Beuren Studio where his aunt worked as a camera person. “One of my first jobs was to hand out cels to the inkers,” he recalled. “They were so slippery in their tissue separators that when I first was handed a stack, I immediately let them drop all over the floor!” He soon worked his way up to inking, assistant animation, and later animation. Later, he worked for Ted Eshbaugh in New York.
In the mid-1930s he moved to Los Angeles and completed a degree in aeronautical engineering. “I began work at Lockheed, but the people there were so boring! They would talk all night about the qualities of a rivet.” He returned to animation working for Harman and Ising and MGM (The Captain and the Kids, Jitterbug Follies, Tom and Jerry–he was one of the few people, including Jack Zander, who worked on both the Van Beuren Tom & Jerry series, as well as the more famous Hanna-Barbara cat-and-mouse team).
After serving in the Army as a test pilot during World War II (freelancing for Lantz and MGM during the same time), he struggled to find work in the industry, and in the early-1950s, he worked at a Beverly Hills car garage that was run by Alice Faye, the wife of bandleader Phil Harris. From the mid-1950s onward, with the growth of the TV commercial industry, he never lacked for work and became recognized as one of the fastest and most prolific commercial animators of all time. He animated spots for a multitude of commercial studios including Playhouse Pictures, Jay Ward Productions, Animation Inc., Fine Arts Films, The Ink Tank, and Bill Melendez Productions, where he was a principal animator on numerous Peanuts specials.
One of his most well known associations was with John and Faith Hubley. Over a thirty-plus year association with them, he worked on their short films, commercials and features. He was the primary animator of the Oscar-winning short The Hole, and animated on The Hat, Zuckerkandl, Voyage to Next, Of Stars and Men, People, People, People, Everybody Rides the Carousel, Sky Dance, Enter Life and Amazonia, among many others.
During the production of A Doonesbury Special, Littlejohn went to New York to work with the Hubleys. He recalled:
John [Hubley] called me and said, “Bill, I want you to come out so we can go over some stuff. I have to go into surgery and, in case anything happens, I want this project to get finished.” I did fly out and we went over the schedule and storyboards with John, Faith and Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau. I had done some test animation of Zonker putting flowers in the muzzles of National Guardsmen’s rifles. Trudeau was amazed, he had never seen his characters moving before. The next day, John Hubley went in for open-heart surgery and died on the operating table. We went on with the film and I must have animated about 12 minutes of it myself.
The special went on to receive an Academy Award nomination and won a special jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Littlejohn contributed to Watership Down (1978), Heavy Metal (1981), R.O. Blechman’s The Soldier’s Tale (1984), and Mrs. Doubtfire. A passionate and involved lifelong supporter of the animation art form, he was one of the founders of the International Tournée of Animation in the mid-1960s, as well as a co-founder of ASIFA-Hollywood. He was also a former president of the Screen Cartoonists Guild, and sat on the Academy’s Board of Governors representing short films and animation between 1988-2001. His wife of 61 years, Fini Rudiger Littlejohn, an illustrator, actress, and Disney artist, died in 2004. He is survived by two children–son Steve Littlejohn and daughter Toni Littlejohn–and three grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bill Littlejohn’s memory to ASIFA-Hollywood, 2114 W. Burbank, Blvd., Burbank, CA 91506
A look Bill Littlejohn’s Animation Work Jitterbug Follies, a 1939 MGM cartoon based on Milt Gross’ comics, on which Littlejohn animated.
A photo from a 1956 story session from the production of John Wilson’s TV special Petroushka. left to right: Richard Punnett, John Wilson, Ed DeMattia, Chris Jenkyns, Dean Spille and Bill Littlejohn holding the scissors:
John and Faith Hubley’s The Hole:
One of Littlejohn’s most famous TV commercials for Uniroyal Tires:
A classic Peanuts scene animated by Littlejohn. “At first Charles Schulz didn’t care for all the Snoopy pantomime,” Littlejohn said. “He felt it was deviating too much from his style. He wanted the whole film to be talking heads, doing his dialogue.”
Some stills are below from a commercial that Littlejohn animated in the 1950s for Sohio Gasoline:
Always, Only, Ever was created by Barbara Benas at the Columbus College of Art and Design. There’s so much to like about the film including Benas’s expert handling of color, design, and storytelling, but what stood out above all else was the quality of her animation, both technically and emotionally. From the tender, drunken behavior of the main character to the exuberant choreography of the women, the animation in Always, Only, Ever carries us into a world that is both familiar and magical.
More details about the making of Always, Only, Ever can be found on the film’s Cartoon Brew TV page. Comments are also open on that page.
The spirited fun of Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones is alive and well in today’s animation world, and it’s in the Netherlands. The filmmakers are David de Rooij and Jelle Brunt, and their film Slim Pickings Fat Chances is our pick for this week’s episode of the Cartoon Brew TV Student Animation Festival.
This week in the Cartoon Brew TV Student Animation Festival: Artichoke Hearts by Kazimir Iskander. To read Kazimir’s notes about the film or to make comments and ask him questions about it, visit Cartoon Brew TV.
New week, new film in our Cartoon Brew TV Student Animation Festival: August by Matthias Hoegg was created at the Royal College of Art. To read Matthias’s notes on the making of the film or to make comments and ask him questions about it, visit Cartoon Brew TV.
Welcome to the updated Cartoon Brew. This was an important redesign for us. We wanted to make the site more useful for regular readers without significantly changing the look and feel of a design that already functions well. We also wanted to add more functionality without cluttering it up with bells and whistles that none of our readers would ever use. So we’ve judiciously added a handful of new features that we hope will enhance your site experience as well as upgraded our servers which we hope will make the site a lot faster for everybody. Here is a guide to the new additions;
Industry Headlines: We don’t have the time to write a full post about everything that’s happening in animation, so we created this section, located on the upper side of the right-hand column, where we’ll have a constantly updated stream of links to news from around the animation industry.
Animation Tweets: This box, in the middle of the right-hand column, is a continuously updated feed of tweets by artists working in the animation industry. If you click on the directory link at the bottom of the box, you’ll be taken to the full list of artists and each of their latest tweets. The list is by no means complete and we will be updating the directory regularly to include as many artists as possible.
Top posts: Some of our favorite and most popular posts drop off the front page far too quickly. Our new top posts, located at the top of the site, will offer links to posts that we feel deserve a second look.
Suggest: To suggest an item for inclusion on Cartoon Brew, do not e-mail Jerry or Amid individually anymore. Please use the suggest form which is accessible through the navigation bar at the top of the page.
Commenting: Exciting additions here. You can now respond to specific comments by other readers and your responses will be threaded below the original comment. Simply click on “reply to this comment” below the comment that you want to reply to. Also, if you like somebody’s comment, click on the thumbs up button for that person’s comment. If enough people like a comment, a colored box will highlight the comment permanently.
Sharing: Sharing items on Cartoon Brew is now easier and more efficient than ever before. We have greatly simplified the process for sharing posts via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Simply click on the appropriate button below each post.
Events: The events links in the right-hand column now lead to a map of where each event is located as well as additional information about the event.
Also, we wanted to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to our site designer and new web host, Rob Kohr. None of these changes would have been possible without his expertise. If you need somebody to design a site for you or to host a site, we can’t recommend him highly enough. He has always been incredibly responsive to the specific needs of our site, and is a collaborative partner throughout the design process who offers plenty of good ideas along the way. There is never an unsolvable problem when he’s involved, only potential solutions. Not to mention that on top of being a web designer, Rob is also an emerging filmmaker. His most recent animated film The Lift is playing all over the festival circuit, including in a few weeks at Animation Block Party. What more could we ask for?
We are switching servers this weekend, and as a result, commenting has to be deactivated until Monday. When we return next Monday, the site should not only load faster, but we’ll be unveiling a number of new website features that should enhance your Cartoon Brew experience. See you in a couple days.
Tiny Hats is a fresh and funny mix of drawn and stop-motion animation created by Penelope Gazin during her freshman year at CalArts. We’re delighted to present it as our offering for the second week of Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival. Click here to watch Tiny Hats by Penelope Gazin.
Our special film series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch” continues this week with the rarely seen gem Depth Study which was made during Gene Deitch’s tenure at Terrytoons. The ambitious sales film, designed by Cliff Roberts, was commissioned by CBS Television Head over to Cartoon Brew TV to watch Gene Deitch’s Depth Study.
And for those of you lucky enough to be in LA tonight, Jerry Beck is hosting Gene Deitch at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood (611 N. Fairfax Avenue). The 85-year-old animation legend, who has traveled all the way from the Czech Republic for this rare Los Angeles appearance, will do a Q&A session after the screening. The show begins at 8pm. More details and ticket information at the Cinefamily website.