Join us tonight for Cartoon Dump, our monthly live comedy and cartoons showcase in Hollywood. We will have two guest comedians performing within our show tonight: Andy Kindler (above left) and Jim Turner (above right). So join Andy, Jim, Moodsy, Compost Brite, Officer Pete, Dumpster Diver Dan, Cue Card Goddess and me, Jerry Beck, tonight Tuesday, August 26th at 8 PM, for an evening of hilarious comedy, demented songs, and really, really crappy cartoons.
Disney animator Lee Blair won a Gold medal for watercolor painting at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. That was back in the day when the Olympics recognized the arts as well as athletics. The LA Times has nice piece on Blair’s win in today’s Calendar section. The print edition has a great photo of Lee and Mary Blair and an image of his award winning watercolor, Rodeo (above). Apparently the painting is lost – its whereabouts unknown. BTW, the Silver medal for watercolor that year went to Percy Crosby, the creator of the comic strip Skippy.
I’ve really been enjoying the posts over at the LP Cover Lover blog. Matthew and Tony have been posting images of their incredible collection of obscure record albums, especially the odd, unusual and unintentionally hilarious. They have a category devoted to Animated Cartoon LP covers, most of which I’ve never seen before, all with terrific publicity artwork (a few samples below). Very inspirational stuff, well worth a bookmark.
I found this on You Tube. Someone took a public domain Popeye cartoon and created a anaglyph 3D version of it… or tried to. It’s not very good 3D. In fact, I screened it with my red/blue glasses and it looks awful. On second thought, it looks kinda cool without the glasses…
Today’s Los Angeles Times has a terrific page-one article on the quirks of Disney’s copyright of Mickey Mouse and explains how the images of the early Mickey may be available for public domain use.
It’s not a news story, but an overview of the company’s 80 years of copyright enforcement, and a profile of several folks (including former Disney archivist Gregory Brown) who have attempted to expose the holes in Disney’s copyright claims. To quote the piece: “Welcome to the wonderful world of copyright law.” To read it online click here.
Ben Balistreri, currently a storyboard artist at Dreamworks on How to Train Your Dragon, and a character designer and board artist for Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Danny Phantom and many others, recently self published his first graphic novel: Seaweed and the Cure for Mildew.
Man, this guy is good! I saw the book at Comic-Con and couldn’t put it down. The project took six years to complete as Balistreri could only work on it on nights and weekends. Each panel and drawing is exquisite. The book itself is a must-see: it’s a handsome hardcover volume, in full color and printed at a huge 12 by 15 inches! It’s 64 pages, of which 24 are dedicated to roughs, designs, and making-of drawings printed on a different paper than the comic.
The story is crammed with great characters, funny dialogue and gorgeous, dynamic artwork – and it’s an epic of high adventure that cries out to be an animated film (by traditional hand-drawn animation). It’s $29.95 and each order comes with an original sketch. I highly recommend this – it’s a bargain. Order it here.
The new direct-to-video Tinker Bell feature will be playing exclusively at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, from September 19th through October 2nd.
The line is blurring as to what actually constitutes a theatrical release these days. This is clearly a promotional engagement for the DVD release on October 28th. But it’s being released with all the hoopla (and advertising) normally reserved for a kids event film (think Disney’s Miley Cyrus/Hanna Montana 3-D concert or that recent American Girl flick). So here’s my question: Does this qualify the film for Oscar eligibility?
Chuck Jones (1912-2002) sketches himself as a boy “conducting the ocean” in a new documentary short directed by Peggy Stern, Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood. This and other Jones drawings come to life in animated segments directed by John Canemaker. Stern and Canemaker captured one of Jones’ last filmed interviews a few years before his death and created a unique film around it. According to the press release:
In never-before-seen footage, the great cartoon director speaks candidly about his family’s experiences in 1920s Los Angeles, recalling events and personalities from his early life that shaped his creative spirit. The 26-minute documentary blends new animation – based on Jones’s spontaneous drawings made during the interview – with vintage Jones family photographs and clips from his classic Warner Bros. cartoons, to reveal Chuck Jones in a new light.
Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood will screen theatrically for Oscar qualification in Los Angeles Friday through Thursday, August 22-28. at 12:00 pm (noon) at the Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. The film is also scheduled be shown on TCM in October. Update: John Canemaker informs me that TCM will not air the film this year. This L.A. screening will be the only public performance for the time being.
A heads-up for animation fans stuck in L.A. over Labor Day weekend. Bill Plympton will present The Best of The Best: An Animated Evening of Oscar Qualifying Shorts for three days only in Los Angeles. This special 35mm presentation of outstanding new shorts will screen from August 30th through September 1st at Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
The program includes Doxology by Michael Langan, Veterinarian by Signe Baumane, Chainsaw by Dennis Tupicoff (above left), Hot Dog by Bill Plympton, A Letter to Colleen by Carolyn and Andy London (above right) and Berni’s Doll by Yann Jouette. Each film has been recognized as a standout in storytelling and technical expertise, entertaining audiences all over the world and receiving awards. Plympton himself booked the program into the Laemmle theatre to help qualify these films for Oscar consideration. The shorts in this lineup have, up till now, only been seen at festivals such as Slamdance, Annecy and the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, among many others.
We don’t often post about Telenovelas, but since Cartoon Network is going live action, here’s one they might consider: Olivia And I. It sounds like a cross between Ugly Betty and Cool World:
Olivia, a very shy cartoonist, works in an animation studio and falls deeply in love with Pablo, the studio manager. But there is also Pablo’s fiancée, Magdalena.
Olivia designs an animation model, a beautiful young girl who resembles her but has completely different characteristics. This drawn character will slowly become real and will interfere at work but it will also help Pablo and Olivia realize they are in love.
I’d be curious to see if this turns out to be any good. 120 one hour episodes are now in production at Illusion Studios in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Who knows? If it becomes popular there, it might spawn a U.S. spin-off.
Over the past year I’ve collaborated with Leslie Cabarga on several Dark Horse Books compiling the best stories of the classic Harvey Comics characters (Casper, Richie Rich and Hot Stuff). None has given me greater pleasure than the forthcoming collection of Baby Huey, which goes on sale in late September. The stories are all drawn by Dave Tendlar (see splash page below) and Marty Taras, who provide some of the best translations of animation-art-to-comic-panels I’ve ever seen. They are as pure to the original source (Taras created Huey and Tendlar was the series main director) as Connie Rasinski’s Mighty Mouse comics for St. John’s, and Gene Deitch’s occasional Tom Teriffic comic pages for Pines.
Amazon has just posted several pages from the book online, including the first Huey comic story from St. John’s Casper No. 1, published in 1949, a full year before Huey’s onscreen debut!
It always delights me when animators do their own thing, like publishing sketchbooks, comics, and creating their own characters outside the studio system. Supervising animator Michael Surrey, who has played major roles on such Disney films as Home on the Range, Atlantis, Tarzan, Hunchback, The Lion King (supervising Timon), Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin (animating on the title character), is presently doing just that. Currently working on both Rapunzel Unbraided and The Princess and the Frog for the studio, he’s also teamed up with screenwriter Ron Harner outside the Mouse House to create a series of children’s books that gently impart valuable life lessons to kids. The first one, Suck it Up, Tate!, was inspired by a Thanksgiving dinner discussion between Harner and his three sisters:
“They all have kids, and they told me I needed to write a different type of children’s story — one that wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops — a story where a kid screws up and has to deal with it.”
Suck It Up Tate! is available for sale at www.ronharnerbooks.com. Harner and Surrey are currently working on two additional books featuring Tate and his pals, which are scheduled for release later in 2008.
Here’s a few Kodak Moments that I’ll bet Disneyland would rather soon forget.
Several blogs and news agencies are posting these photos of Disney characters being arrested during a protest rally this week at the Anaheim resort. Hotel workers there are demonstrating for a new contract that would allow for health care. It would be nice if “The Happiest Place on Earth” were also “The Healthiest.”
There is no denying that the box office reception to Titan A.E. and Final Fantasy ended further production at their respective studios. Whatever the individual artistic merits of a project are, the truth is that hit films keep our medium going, box office bombs can have a devastating effect.
What other animated features sunk the prospects of their Hollywood producers? Treasure Planet? The Secret of Nimh?
Clay puppets, miniature sets, cutouts, replacement animation, aluminum foil, “strato-cut” slices, molten wax, and other techniques…
The Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles is running two nights of rare goodies created by eccentric animator Bruce Bickford. First up, on August 24th, a rare showing (with permission from Gail Zappa) of The Amazing Mr. Bickford, which has never shown theatrically. Bickford will be in attendance for a Q&A after the 7:30pm screening. From the theatrer’s press release:
Bruce Bickford’s art–a hallucinatory stop-motion amalgamation of Peter Pan, Ray Harryhausen, and The Wild Bunch–is nothing short of amazing. Frank Zappa first used the incredible talents of self-taught claymation wizard Bickford as visual companions to his music in the film Baby Snakes, and continued this collaboration in The Amazing Mr. Bickford.
On Tuesday August 26th at 8pm the same theatre will screen “Cas’l and Other Unreleased Bruce Bickford Films”, showcasing some of Bruce’s early Super-8 experiments as a teenager, as well as his unfinished 45-minute opus Cas’l, featuring a live score by The Gaslamp Killer. Also, Bickford will be there to perform one of his “blues raps”. For more information visit CineFamily.org.
For those (like me) who keep score, it’s interesting to note that as of this week Pixar’s Wallâ€¢E and Dreamwork’s Kung Fu Panda are virtually tied at the U.S. box office with approximately $211 million gross apiece. The Pixar film will probably top out at about $215 domestically by Labor Day weekend. Both are strong contenders for the Academy’s Best PictureBest Animated Feature nomination.
On the flip side, Space Chimps is probably doing better than it should with $26 million already collected. Fly Me To The Moon and The Clone Wars are opening this Friday. We’ve got Igor (MGM), Bolt (Disney), Madagascar 2 (Dreamworks), A Tale of Desperaux (Universal) and Waltz With Bashir (Sony Classics) waiting in the wings for this fall.
This could be one of the “Worst Cartoons Ever” if it WAS a cartoon! Just another insane old children’s record found by Mark Kausler on ebay. This is so wrong in every direction – I’d love to hear Shaddup You Face. Sounds like a real winner.
Head’s up on Don Hahn’s new book The Alchemy of Animation, which will be available on October 7th. Hahn is, of course, the producer of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, and is currently developing a stop-motion animated feature of Frankenweenie with Tim Burton.
In his new book Hahn details the process Disney uses to make animated films from traditional animation, to CG to stop-motion. Says Hahn:
It’s been almost seven years since I wrote my first animation book, Animation Magic, and what I really wanted to do this time, was write a book about the making of animated films in the modern age, for a slightly older audience. We were fortunate to be able to pack it with amazing, never-before-seen art from Disney and Pixar films through the ages, including a few sneak peeks at art from upcoming projects such as Bolt and The Princess and the Frog.
I haven’t seen the book myself, but Hahn clearly knows his stuff. Such a book coming from a Disney insider is certainly a positive indicator of the studio’s interest in all three techniques – and that, in of itself, is a very good thing.
Everything I see from Henry Selick’s new film Coraline looks terrific. Rotten Tomatoes is posting a new, different behind-the-scenes video each day this week. It looks to be shaping up to be something very special. Coraline is scheduled for release next February. I can’t wait.
Someone made an unauthorized video for Cartoon Song by Chris Rice, a song intended as a parody but taken to heart by the Christian community. In an article on his web site, Eulogy For A Song About Cartoons, Rice explained that his misunderstood intention in writing the song was to mock the commercial-Christian tendency to “make a Christian version of everything.”
Kevin Kidney has posted a virtual gallery of rare images of original vintage publication art for Walt Disney’s Magazine, featuring art by animation folks Art Riley, Paul Hartley, Herb Ryman, Al Dempster, and others. The work is rarely ever seen – except by those who happen to own old copies of the magazine. The originals were sold off to the public in auction by Disney several years ago without much fanfare, but the imagery is very inspiring. Read more about this on Kevin’s blog.
Once again, I’ve dug out a few embarrassing photos of myself which I thought I’d post online for posterity. In 1982, Will Friedwald and myself took a trip to L.A. to visit a few friends – including our Warner Bros. cartoon heroes Bob Clampett and Friz Freleng.
Clampett was already a friend to us from previous trips and long distance phone calls, and he was delighted to pose with us and our newly printed Looney Tunes guide (the original Scarecrow Press edition). I think he’s reading a direct quote from Bosko’s Picture Show as the camera snapped. This photo is dated 8/25/82.
Freleng was at his office at Warner Bros. in Burbank two days later (8/27/82) when we met him. I recall him showing us storyboards from Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island, which was well into production, during our tour of the studio. Note the Pvt. Snafu statue on his desk – It had been on his shelf and we asked to have it included in the photo. Freleng was great to us and I got to know him well in later years — and he was certainly nothing like the hot tempered Yosemite Sam he was known to have inspired. (Click on photos below for a larger image).
The LA Times is reporting that the ten-year-old Toon Disney cable channel will be rebranded next February as Disney XD. The new format will target tween boys with shows like Batman: The Animated Series and new live action series like Aaron Stone, a live-action show about “a video game virtuoso who leads a secret double life as a crime fighter.” The LA Times notes that this show “boils down to a male fantasy version of Hannah Montana“.