If you haven’t been to live performance of Cartoon Dump, my monthly live comedy show in Hollywood, this month’s program is a perfect one to sample. In addition to another fine selection of truly awful vintage animated cartoons and musical comedy skits from MST3K’s Frank Conniff (as Moodsy the Clinically Depressed Owl) and Erica Doering (as Compost Brite), our special guests include twin comedy stylings of The Sklar Brothers. The show starts at 8pm and we are expecting a big crowd this month – but you can reserve tickets online at the Steve Allen Theatre website.
The local monthly Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles Comic Con has three great guests lined up for the May 4th show. Trixie herself, Corrine Orr, will make a rare west coast appearance to sign autographs and answer questions. I’m a big fan of Orr’s voice – she was in Speed Racer, Marine Boy, Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero and hundreds of Japanese monster movies. That’s her doing the female voices in Ralph Bakshi’s Marvin Digs.
She will be joined at the con by two other pop culture legends: Art Clokey, creator of Gumby and producer of Davey & Goliath, and Stan Lee creator of… Do I really have to tell you?
The Smurfs are celebrating their 50th anniversary (and promoting their recent DVD release) with a party at Coachella, the big California desert music festival taking place on April 25th-27th. There will be a Smurfs Village set up, with Good Charlotte and “Vanity Smurf” (supposedly Paris Hilton) DJing the opening party. Local graffiti artists are drawing their own Smurfs for the party.
I will personally be nowhere near this. It sounds like my worst nightmare.
All those who have won one of our contests in the past 12 months are disqualified from winning this contest. Also, if you’ve already bought a copy, do a fan a favor and do not enter the contest. Give someone else a chance.
QUESTION: Mel Blanc originated the voice of Woody Woodpecker in 1940, and Bugs Hardaway took over from him in 1941. During the 1950s, 60s and 70s who was the voice of Woody Woodpecker?
The contest is closed! We have a winner: Kelly Kilmer! Thank you all for participating.
The Matinee At The Bijou blog has just posted an informative three-part interview with animator, animation historian and film restoration specialist Ray Pointer. The site has posted five of Ray’s restored silent cartoons including a Disney Laugh-O-Gram, Puss In Boots (1922), an Alice Comedy, as well as cartoons starring Ko-Ko The Clown, Mutt & Jeff, and Felix The Cat. Most importantly, they’ve posted an excerpt from one of Ray’s documentaries pertaining to Max Fleischer during his Bray Studio years. Go there, check it out.
Channel Frederator has announced the nominations for its second annual Channel Frederator Awards (CFA). The competition includes 33 nominated films in a total of 11 viewer-voted categories, as well as 7 juried categories.
Anyone can vote – the process is simple and there are a lot of good films to view online. Winners will be honored at an awards party June 4th in New York City, which will be webcast on June 10th. The voting pages went live today on the CFA website.
Here is a rarely seen film by Kenneth Anger (best known for the book Hollywood Babylon and his landmark avant-garde film, Scorpio Rising), using vintage Mickey collectibles set to an eclectic score of tunes from such artists as The Boswell Sisters, The Proclaimers and Ian Whitcomb. We first posted about this film in January 2005; Anne D. Bernstein reported here on its premiere screening at the Museum of Modern Art the same month .
Its technically not animated, but I’m highly amused by this stick-puppet anime music video by Masakazu Amahisa for the Japanese techno-pop group Denki Groove.
The video tells the story of a couple who crash their car on a dark forest road and encounter a Konaki-jiji (a monster baby with the face of an old man) who leads them deep into the woods to a wild party for yokai (a klatsch of traditional Japanese monsters). The music comes from Denki Groove’s theme for the current anime horror series Hakaba Kitaro. This video, by manga artist and animator Amahisa (check out his previous animated video for the same group), has nothing to do with the TV series.
I’m obviously excited about the release next Tuesday of Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Vol. 2. It’s an excellent companion to the first volume with 75 restored cartoons including classic Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Andy Panda and Swing Symphonies cartoons, and well as a dozen of those Walter Lantz behind-the-scenes films demonstrating how his studio made cartoons in 1957 — and much much more. Hours of fun. Best Buy will be selling it for $29.99 with an exclusive 4×6 inch limited edition “cel” from Wet Blanket Policy (above). A bargain! (Oldtimers, remember when Castle Films sold only one color Woody Woodpecker cartoon (with magnetic sound) on Super 8 for $22.95 and in 16mm (optical sound) for $49.95?).
Here are a few frame grabs from this set to whet your appetite (click to enlarge).
Animation historian/author and voice actor Keith Scott, a foremost authority on Jay Ward, old-time radio and cartoon voice actors, has published an article on the origin of Foghorn Leghorn that is a must read. The common story of how Foggy’s characterization was based on Kenny Delmar’s radio character Senator Claghorn is only half true. Keith has finally cleared up the published misinformation which was mainly propagated by the animators themselves, including Bob McKimson, Chuck Jones and, in particular, Mel Blanc. Keith has allowed me to post the article online, and you can read it here.
The article is an excerpt from Keith’s ‘zine, (cleverly titled Eh… confidentially, Doc – I AM A WABBIT!!!), published in the current edition of Apatoons (#150, April-May 2008). Apatoons is a long running amateur press association publication, a private mailing for members only. If you are interested in joining the apa, or buying a sample issue, check its website for more information.
I was getting ready to junk a flyer I’d received for the Hiroshima International Animation Festival when I noticed a tiny image printed on the back of it that I hadn’t seen before: a still from the new Pixar short Presto that will open in front of Wall-E. It marks the first directorial effort by supervising animator Doug Sweetland.
Disney’s reuse of past animation is nothing new. But seeing these sequences in motion, one scene followed by its subsequent reuse, is fascinating. Animator Michael J. Ruocco, on his For The Birds blog, has started compiling a series of videos comparing the original animation from Disney features with the later films in which the same animation is reused. He’s just posted Disney’s Gettin’ LazyEpisode #3 showing that Bambi’s Mom didn’t die – she lived on to appear in The Sword In the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Rescuers and Beauty and the Beast. My favorite is Episode #2 (embedded below) comparing a chase scene from Mr. Toad with one in The Jungle Book:
Also check his Episode #1 (which compares a bit from Fantasia with Make Mine Music and The Black Cauldron), and note that Ruocco’s planning many more of these.
A Brew reader sent me this link from ebay, wondering ‘what year this Betty Boop model sheet was from, or did the seller mis-identify this Fleischer character?’ The seller had identified it as a Warner Bros. model sheet – and he got that correct… it is a Warner Bros. model sheet, but certainly not Betty Boop. It’s an early model chart for “Cookie”, the girlfriend of Buddy in several Looney Tunes entries from 1935-36 (click on Looney Tunes frame grab at left for larger image). Since it’s something you don’t see everyday (at least, I don’t), I thought I’d post it on the Brew for our enjoyment.
The tortured history of the TMS feature film Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland (1992) could rival that of Richard Williams The Thief And The Cobbler. It was an American/Japanese joint project, with no less than Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata involved in the pre-production stage (1982-83).
George Lucas, Chuck Jones, Gary Kurtz, Ray Bradbury, Chris Columbus, Moebius, John Canemaker, Leo Salkin, Paul Julian, Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas and Brad Bird (who talks about his involvement in the comments below) were attached to this film at one time or another. Bill Hurtz (George of the Jungle, Unicorn In The Garden) and Masami Hata (Sea Prince and the Fire Child) ultimately directed the final release, admittedly a mixed bag.
The idea of making a fully animated adaptation of Winsor McCay’s comic strip masterpiece somehow seems like a good idea (McCay himself authorized a musical stage play based on the strip in 1908), and the names assembled (above) to tackle such a project were certainly capable doing so.
If you’re wondering what a Miyazaki version might’ve been like, check this out. Below I’ve posted a short test film dating from December 1984. Key Miyazaki animator/director Yoshifumi Kondo (Whisper Of The Heart) directed this test sequence, supposedly filmed in 70mm. The mind boggles as to what could have been.
How much is it worth to you to visit Pixar? What if we threw in tickets to the world premiere of Wall*E, a tour of Disney Studios Studios in Burbank, lunch in the executive dining room and personal meetings with Disney and Pixar animators? Maybe $15 Grand?
Starting in two weeks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills will begin the fifth edition of their annual Great To Be Nominated series. Each Monday at 7pm an Oscar nominated feature (no winners, just nominees) will screen with selected nominated shorts. The features to be shown are listed here. The animated shorts are not posted on the Academy’s website, but the following are scheduled to be shown:
4/21 – THE MIGHTY RIVER
4/28 – THE BIG STORY
5/5 – RUNAWAY BRAIN
5/12 – LA SALLA
5/19 – REDUX RIDING HOOD
6/2 – THE MERMAID
6/9 – JOLLY ROGER
6/16 – WHEN THE DAY BREAKS
6/23 – REJECTED
6/30 – STRANGER INVADERS
7/14 – DAS RAD
7/21 – DESTINO & NIBBLES
7/28 – LORENZO & GUARD DOG
8/4 – BADGERED & 9
8/11 – NO TIME FOR NUTS
8/18 – LIFTED
8/25 – I MET THE WALRUS
Notable among the titles selected are Don Hertzfeldt’s Rejected, Disney’s Destino, Runaway Brain and Redux Riding Hood. The latter film is particularly hard to see and shouldn’t be missed–it’s one of the best studio shorts of the last twenty years.
Redux Riding Hood (1997) was produced by Disney Television Animation for an aborted series of Twisted Fairy Tales. This one, written by Dan O’Shannon (The Fan and The Flower) and directed by Steve Moore (Flip Magazine) tells the tale of an obsessed wolf (voiced by Michael Richards, before he was un-P.C.) who builds a time machine to undo his previous mistakes in catching Red Riding Hood. It was never really released, and who knows if anyone at the studio will ever figure out a way to put it out on video. Michael Richards’ involvement may seal its fate forever. It’s screening on May 19th with L.A. Confidential, a terrific double bill. This, along with Song of the South and The Sweatbox, may be the one of the best films perpetually locked in the Disney vault. If you are in L.A., make plans to see it.
It’s no masterpiece, but it is rare and significant.
Below is the first four minutes from the Joe E. Brown comedy When’s Your Birthday? (released February 19th, 1937) and it marks the first directorial effort of Bob Clampett. Those familiar with Bob’s art and Chuck Jones drawing style from this period can pick out the scenes they did. There is little of Bob’s trademark zaniness (though there are a few semi-naked girls running around Zodiac heaven), but my guess is that this sequence was probably script-driven – as any dream sequence in a live action movie would’ve been back then.
When’s Your Birthday?, which isn’t very good by anyones standard, was extremely hard to see in the last 25 years. The print that turned up last week on Turner Classic Movies wasn’t very good either – and the “Technicolor sequences” (which I assume included this opening cartoon bit) only exist in black and white. As this will not be included on any DVD any time soon, I’ve posted it on YouTube as a public service for all the Clampett completists who missed it.
Lawyers from Warner Bros. have come down on a firm called Booby Doo, a maker of sports bras in the UK. Booby Doo’s owners want to register the name as a trademark, but the lawyers representing Hanna Barbera properties say it sounds too much like the name of their famous doggy detective. Read the full story in London’s Daily Express.
The Wexner Center for The Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus is opening a show devoted to animator-turned-comic book great, Jeff Smith, in May. The exhibit will include about 70 original BONE pages and covers, work from his recent SHAZAM! series and current RASL project, and work by artists who have influenced him including Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz, Garry Trudeau, Carl Barks, George Herriman, E.C. Segar, and Will Eisner. Ohio State’s Cartoon Research Library will be hosting a sidebar show at the same time that features Jeff’s work when he was a cartoonist for the Ohio State student newspaper back in the 80s.
In addition, The Wexner Center will host a number of related panels and events, including a conversation between Jeff Smith and Scott McCloud on May 10th at 2pm; and A Looney Tunes Evening with Jeff Smith, where Jeff will introduce a selection of WB cartoons that most-influenced BONE (especially the Chuck Jones ‘hunting trilogy’), on June 5th at 7pm.
Perhaps the most obscure of the pioneering anime series imported to the U.S. in the 1960s was Osamu Tezuka’s The Amazing Three. Why has it has been missing-in-action for so long? Perhaps because, unlike Astro Boy, Gigantor, 8th Man and Prince Planet the show did not feature a costumed super-hero or high tech robot. Or perhaps, unlike Speed Racer and Kimba, the show wasn’t produced in color.
It did have a science fiction premise – three aliens come to Earth disguised as a rabbit, a duck and a horse and must decide if they should blow up the planet, or save it. The design of this show was faithful to Tezuka’s original manga, and the stories were always a fun mix of comedy, drama and action.
Now, as all things must, it has shown up on ebay. Someone has found twelve original negatives to the English dubbed version in the vaults of Los Angeles’s KCOP-13 and is selling them on ebay for $24,000. Close up images of these negs can be viewed here. Note that one is marked for use by New York’s TV station WPIX (where I saw it as a kid).
Twenty-four Grand is too rich for my blood. Let’s hope someone smart acquires this material and puts it out on DVD for all of us to enjoy. In the meantime, courtesy of Toontracker (via You Tube), here is the rarely seen opening to the American version:
Mike Van Eaton has unearthed the original art to a rare Looney Tunes promotional book from 1939 – apparently created exclusively either for motion picture exhibitors or merchandising licensees. He sent me scans of the pages (below; click on each to see a larger image).
1939 was an interesting year for Leon Schlesinger’s studio. The text page here refers to Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies as being “constantly before the public as they are played in over 8500 theaters throughout the Unites States and Canada”. Wow. If it were only so today. Note that “Elmer” (nee Egghead) was promoted as the star of Merrie Melodies, while Bugs Bunny was considered only as an “incidental character” (see the last page). Were they really planning further cartoons with “Spunky” (from Now That Summer Is Gone), “Patrick Parrot” (From I Wanna Be a Sailor), “Little Eva” (from Uncle Tom’s Bungalow) or “Fluffnums” (from “Porky’s Romance”)? I don’t think so. And for some reason Sniffles rates both a full page portrait (by Charlie Thorson) and is included with the “incidental characters” as well.
Van Eaton is selling most of the pages individually. He has the originals on display at his gallery in Sherman Oaks, California. Contact Mike directly if you are interested in acquiring some of these pieces.
Meltdown Comics in Hollywood is celebrating the “wonderfully mesmerizing phenomenon of ’80’s era cartoons” with a gallery show opening this Saturday (4/5). Gag Me With A Toon features a fine array of artists (including Jim Mahfood, Roman Dirge and 24 others) re-interpreting their favorite little blue creatures and transforming robots from that mind numbing decade, in a show show curated by artist Steven Daily. Sneak peek online here.
Is it a book or a set of hankerchiefs? I’m not exactly sure what this is, but clearly it’s another example of bizarre Van Beuren cartoon merchandise from the early 30s. Brew reader Anita Holmes found it and shared these photos (click on images below to enlarge) with us. Beloved Van Beuren regulars Don Dog, Puffie, Al Squirrel and The Countess each get a full page (or hankie).
The hard to see words on the bottom left hand side say, “‘Tis Maytime and the fables gang Are dressed in colors bright. Genuine Aesop’s Fables Film Characters.” The right hand bottom says “We watched them as they danced around The pole in sheer delight.” Copyright Sept. 1, 1931 by The W.R. Woodard Co. By Permission of Van Beuren Corporation.