If you are a fan of animated opening titles, as I am, you’ll want to take note of these three items:
â€¢ A special tribute to Bob Kurtz is being featured on the Forget the Film, Watch the Titles website. Kurtz has done a number of distinctive animated film titles, mostly in cooperation with top title designers. So far the site has posted seven: City Slickers, Max Dugan Returns, Are We Done Yet?, The Pink Panther, Straight Talk, Honey I Blew Up The Kid and Four Rooms – and more to come. Kurtz himself contributes comments on every sequence posted.
â€¢ And finally, an incredible oversized 320 page book which surveys the history of movie title design has just been released by BIS Publishers. Uncredited: Graphic Design & Opening Titles in Movies sheds insight into the work of dozens of title designers, including such artists as Saul Bass, Pablo Ferro, Maurice Binder and Milton Glaser. It retails for $55, but Amazon has it for $34.65. Highly recommended.
Not the most embarassing moment in my life, but it comes pretty close. By popular demand, and as a Brew 4th Anniversary special, here’s my appearance on Joan River’s syndicated TV show, Can We Shop, in February 1994. The longest eight minutes of my life:
There was absolutely no prep for this show. I met Ms. Rivers on the set. I have no idea what she would ask – and they had no idea what I might say. The show needed a “Looney Tunes expert” and they located me in L.A. on a Friday, flew me to tape the show in New York on Monday. I recall the day this was taped there was a horrible blizzard hitting the city. I took the opportunity of being in Manhattan to schedule a meeting at The Museum of Modern Art later that day to pitch a Famous Studios retrospective. Thanks to Joan Rivers flying me into New York for this, the February 1995 Cartoons From Times Square screenings and Famous Studios reunion at MoMA took place – one of the greatest moments of my professional life.
Next Thursday, share an interactive evening with some of the most influential and creative artists on the east coast: J.J. Sedelmaier (producer of Beavis and Butt-Head, SNL “TV Funhouse Cartoons,” etc.), Ward Sutton (Village Voice cartoonist and animation designer) and Barry Blitt (political cartoonist, NY Times, The New Yorker, etc.).
Cartoonist Sherm Cohen (Spongebob Squarepants, The Mighty B) has a great blog where, for the last several weeks, he’s been posting complete comic book stories from the golden age. His latest post is a Milt Gross classic starring Count Screwloose and previous posts include Jim Tyer Heckle & Jeckle (panel above), Sam Spade Wildroot Creme Oil ads, and some of the wildest Jack Kirby, Wally Wood and Dan Gordon comics I’ve ever seen. Check out Cartoon Snap.
A pair of animated films, discovered last year at an antique market in Osaka, have been identified as two of the earliest cartoons ever produced in Japan. Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art has announced the restoration of Jun-ichi Kouchi’s 1917 Namakura-gatana (“An Obtuse Sword” pictured above) and Seitaro Kitayama’s 1918 Urashima Taro (Taro, The Sentry: Submarine). Both films will be screened publicly on April 24th at the Museum’s National Film Center.
Our friends at Renegade Animation (Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, The Mr. Men Show) have obtained the rights to the Funny Face characters, originally featured on Pillsbury drink packets in the ‘60s, from Boston-based Carson Creations. Renegade plans to produce an animated television series based on the property. The studio is currently producing a pilot episode while seeking distribution and licensing agreements. According to the press release:
The Funny Face television series will be aimed at kids from 6 to 11 and will recall the animation style and the spirit of classic, theatrical cartoons such as Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes. “It’s a delightful opportunity to be funny in a way that is missing from the cartoon landscape right now,” said Renegade’s Ashley Postlewaite, who will executive produce the series. “These characters are perfect for that style of comedy.” Darrell Van Citters will direct the series. “I can’t wait to get back to the kind of flat-out physical comedy that insired me to get into animation in the first place!” says Van Citters. Michael Giaimo is heading up visual development on the series. Renegade Animation plans to produce the series using its proprietary “paperless” animation pipeline with all phases of the animation process being completed at its studio in Glendale. Renegade is the only animation studio that produces animated television series entirely with U.S. talent.
Jaime Weinman has just posted a rare — and significant — piece of cartoon research: an interview with Tex Avery, from 1933, published in the Dallas Morning News.
It’s a pretty good article in which Avery explains the inner workings of the Walter Lantz studio (where Tex was working at the time). My favorite quote (and there are many) involves his thoughts on what it takes to be an animator. Says Tex:
“The secret in animating is first to have an everlasting sense of humour, next to be able to see the commonplace in a funny way and most important of all, to be able to sketch your idea so that the other person will think it’s funny.”
The image above is from Five And Dime (1933) a picture Tex worked on around the time of the interview. It will be included in the forthcoming Woody Woodpecker and Friends Vol. 2.
Imagine curling up in your comfy recliner chair, snug in your smoking jacket, slippers and monocle, pipe in your mouth and brandy snifter at your side, perusing your personal leather bound copy of The Hanna Barbera Treasury.
Yes, The Easton Press has just published a limited edition leather-bound edition of my H-B book for royal sum of $147. (payable in three monthly installments of $49.00). I don’t have one myself – I didn’t even know they were publishing such an edition – but I’d certainly recommend it for the cartoon fan who has everything – and I do mean everything!Place your order here.
Here’s one for you night owls: Once again I’ll be discussing classic cartoons with Morgan White Jr. on Boston’s oldest and biggest radio station WBZ 1030AM Friday night (or early Saturday morning, depending on where you are). Tune in or listen live on the Internet, tomorrow night (3/28) at 11pm Pacific (3/29, 2am Eastern). Live phone calls will be taken, and questions will be answered. Join us!
Starting this Saturday the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles (at Fairfax and Wilshire) will be hosting an Art of Cars Exhibition. It’s a great way to see some of the original watercolor paintings, pastel drawings, three-dimensional pieces, and pencil and marker sketches created in the process of developing the 2006 Pixar animated feature. Admission price is $10 for adults, $3 for children and the Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday and holiday Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit runs through November 2nd.
Above is one of the menus, and at left (click to enlarge) is the back cover of the DVD package. Universal has also just refreshed the Woody Woodpecker.com website with info on Volume 2 including new clips, a photo gallery, complete cartoon and bonus listing and more. Check it out!
Speaking of Fleischer Studios (as I did in the post below), I love these Paramount publicity shots. Here’s a great photo from 1938 featuring Popeye with one of Paramount’s top box office draws at the time, Dorothy Lamour. Click here for full length, larger image.
Animator, filmmaker, and cartoon historian Ray Pointer will be dispensing his wealth of knowledge for two full hours on Stu’s Show all this week (March 26th through April 2nd) from 7pm to 9pm Eastern, 4pm to 6pm Pacific on Shokus Internet Radio. Ray will discuss his career, including meeting his idol Max Fleischer and eventually becoming a top authority of the Fleischer Studios. Click here and listen!
Super*market LA is a quarterly independent comics event based in Los Angeles. The next one, this Sunday March 30th, will spotlight comic book creators working in the animation industry. The show will also include comic book and indie artists from the local area and as far as New York bringing their books, mini-comics, zines, and original art. Our friend Stuart Ng will have a special booth there showing off comics and sketchbooks by French and European animators.
Publishers/creators wanting to sign up for the event can follow the link above or email exhibitors-at-supermarketla.com. More info about Super*market LA can be found on its website.
They say animation warps impressionable minds. Here is a piece of propaganda that was created to scare people from becoming Mormon, produced on the level of a 1970s Filmation cartoon.
Let me apologize in advance. This may be one of the all-time worst things I’ve ever posted on the Brew. It’s not a TV Funhouse parody, it’s for real; it includes some scary, racist propaganda. I do not condone the message or beliefs presented in this film, it is posted as part of my ongoing research for the Worst Cartoons Ever Made.
I just found out that my Hanna Barbera Treasury has become a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’sBook of the Year Awards.
Before we get too excited, keep in mind I’m competing against 652 finalists in 61 catagories. The Hanna Barbera Treasury is nominated in the Popular Culture catagory, against some strong competition, including one book on The Beatles and another on Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon).
According to the ForeWord Magazine website, “ForeWord’s Book of the Year Awards program was designed to discover distinctive books across a number of genres. The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers, selected from our readership. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at BookExpo America at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles on May 30. The ceremony is open to all BEA attendees.”
My thanks to the editors and designers at Palace Press/Insight Editions for creating such an incredibly fun tribute to the legacy of Hanna Barbera. This was a rare case where the finished book turned out exactly asbetter than I envisioned it.
Last night, while clearing things out of a glass display case, I found the this plastic bag that someone sent to me probably 20 years ago. I thought you might get a chuckle out of such blatant H-B trademark infringement. All I can say is that it’s a good thing Officer Dibble wasn’t a vegetarian… or a rabbit…
“Yes, he’s a chief, he’s the king, he’s a vegetable thing…”
Animation historian Jim Korkis had a series of three small strokes last week. The strokes were in a portion of the brain that control balance and equilibrium, so he’s a bit unsteady, but he has no paralysis or speech impediment, and did not have a heart attack (as many stroke victims do after their initial incident). I understand he’s doing pretty well, all things considered.
Jim is one of the most renown and respected animation historians in our field, and certainly one of the most knowledgeable Disney scholars I know. He’s also a great friend. Get well soon, Jim!
Mike Nguyen is one of the best traditional character animators I know. Fiercely independent, Mike’s working on his own feature film essentially by himself, and has been blogging about it, and his random thoughts about animating – with video clips, sketches and sculpture online – every week on rainplace.net. Check it out. To paraphrase the motto of the old Gotham Book Mart: “Wise animators fish here”.
Live comedy! Horrible animation! Cartoon Dump is live in Los Angeles every 4th Tues. of the month at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. Hope to see you on Tuesday March 25th when we welcome this month’s Special Guest: Greg Proops!!
I see a lot of animated features in advance and, for the most part, keep my opinions to myself until the movie is in general release. Today I had the opportunity to screen Kung Fu Panda and cannot contain myself. I’m not going to write a review or post spoilers – but I just want to alert you to what I believe is one of the best CG animated films I’ve ever seen.
Yup. Right up there with The Incredibles. Dreamworks has done it. No joke.
The art direction, the voices, the character animation, the comedy, the action scenes, the opening 2-D cartoon sequence, the heart… it all works. Don’t miss this in a theatre. I don’t care what you think of the trailer, or Dreamworks track record, or anything like that. None of that matters. This film is good, and will a big hit. Mark my words – you’ll want the action figures.
Yes, this is a rave. I’ll post a more formal review as we get closer to its release. I just wanted to be the first to tell you.
[Disclosure: I am currently working on a book (unrelated to Kung Fu Panda) for Dreamworks.]