The Brothers McLeod have recently completed a series of shorts called Pedro and Frankensheep for ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s BBC (CBBC) in the United Kingdom. It starts airing on UK TV everyday begining next week (for the next two weeks at 4:30pm). Ten 5-minute episodes were produced, co-written by the brothers with Phil Cooper. Characters were designed by Greg McLeod in his distinctive style and voices were supplied by Simon Greenall and Myles McLeod (the latter as the voice of Frank and Hugo). Here’s the first one, given an “online pre-release” to generate buzz:
New York: The worst cartoons ever made, live music, and subversive comedy return. Cartoon Dump once again visits the Big Apple this Tuesday, Feb. 19th at 8pm, at Comix 353 W. 14th St. (Just east of 9th Ave.). Special comedy guest: Rena Zager. Order Advance Tickets HERE or call the box office (212) 524-2500.
Next week, back in Los Angeles Cartoon Dump continues its monthly performances at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Our February show is on Tuesday, February 26th at 8pm, with special comedy guest star Morgan Murphy.
It’s a great big load of fun. Don’t take my word for it… read Peter Sanderson’s review at Quick Stop Entertainment. Join us this month!
Indulge me – this post is only for true Looney Tunes trivia nerds. The kind, like me, who find the tiniest piece of cartoon minutiae fascinating.
Last April I posted a TV trailer for Lad: A Dog which contained several seconds of new Bugs Bunny footage from Chuck Jones unit. Recently, film collector Bill Colleton unearthed a companion 20-second TV spot which promotes the initial pairing of Lad: A Dog with the featurette The Adventures of the Road Runner. It’s just a small piece of lost Looney Tunes history, but I think it’s cool – and I just had to share:
The Adventures of the Road Runner featurette has since been released on DVD, included with the bonus materials in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2. (Lad: A Dog, alas, has never been released on DVD).
I’ve neglected to acknowledge the release this week of Warner Bros. Academy Award Animation Collection. It came out last Tuesday and it’s a teriffic compilation containing all the Oscar winning animated cartoons, and most of the nominees, that Warner Bros. owns the rights to. This includes several great Looney Tunes, MGM Tom & Jerry, Tex Avery, Fleischer Popeye and Superman cartoons.
The prints are gorgeous, and there is expert commentary on several tracks provided by Mark Kausler, Eric Goldberg, Greg Ford, Paul Dini and Brewmasters Amid Amidi and Jerry Beck. Also worthy of mention is the special round table audio commentary on Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor by Bob Jaques, Leslie Cabarga and Ray Pointer, moderated by myself. There is also a wonderful one hour documentary on Oscar winning cartoons (with additional clips from Disney, Zagreb and Hubley films) and comments from Michael Sporn, Mark Kausler, Howard Beckerman, Charles Solomon, Bill Plympton, Jimmy Picker, Tom Sito, Eric Goldberg, and archival quotes from Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Many of these cartoons already appeared in several scattered video collections, though several of them were previously issued in edited form. Here, all the cartoons are complete and uncut – and it’s great to have them all collected in one place. A great package, highly recommended.
Next Tuesday, 2/19, at 7:30 p.m., ASIFA Atlanta is putting on To Hell with Hitler, a program of WW2-era cartoons at the Plaza Theatre ($4 members admission; $7 non-members).
Clay Croker (of ArgleBargle blog fame) curated the show, created the cool poster, and is providing the 16mm prints that will be shown. The only caution is that the screening willl take place in a part of the theatre that holds around 100 folks, so expect it to be standing-room-only!
I was a fan of Pen Ward’s warped cartoon genius before I saw his two incredible Random Cartoons: Adventure Time and The Bravest Warriors. I have no idea when this series of cartoons will air on Nickelodeon (I’d assume they’ll show up sometime this year, considering they got a four page spread in the Nicktoons book), but while we wait, Ward has started marketing Adventure Time with a series of tee shirts based on the short.
Ward had a bunch of good ideas for the tees (12 in all) and is making a different one available each week on Cafe Press. Collect them all! The whole set will be posted on Channel Frederator Raw as they are produced.
One of the highlights of the Annie Awards last Friday night was a small video concocted by the cast of Spongebob Squarepants (M.C. Tom Kenny, along with presenters Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence and Bill Fagerbakke), created to prove they shouldn’t be stereotyped simply as Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward and Sandy. Here’s the video, see if you agree:
I just got in from a wonderful night at the Annie Award ceremony, and yeah, it’s my birthday today. What a wonderful present and what a fantastic party.
Ratatouille was the big winner last night, winning several Annie Awards including Best Animated Feature, Best Director and Best Writing (Animated Feature). I’m a bit too tired to recall all the winners, but Pixar’s Your Friend The Rat won for best short, El Tigre for Best Children’s TV Animation, Creature Comforts America for Best Animated Program, Power Shares Escape Average (Acme Filmworks) won for Best Commercial, and Surf’s Up, The Simpsons and Robot Chicken took home other prizes.
It was a blast to be surrounded by some of the greatest names in animation (Groening, Bird, Kricfalusi, Canemaker, Keane, etc.). Tom Kenny did an amazing job as the master of ceremonies (more about this in a future post). The new venue, at UCLA’s Royce Hall, was terrific. If you were there please share your memories of the evening in our comments bellow.
Harry Knowles (of Ain’t It Cool News) has posted a top ten list (with YouTube links) of his some of his all-time favorite animated films. These include Disney’s Music Land, MGM’s Peace On Earth and Little Buck Cheeser, UPA’s The Tell-Tale Heart, George Pal’s Tulips Shall Grow, Ub Iwerks’ Balloon Land and Skeleton Frolic, Will Vinton’s Closed Mondays and Max Fleischer’s Great Vegatable Mystery and Ants In the Plants.
With all the debate over scripts versus storyboards, animation writer Steve Marmel (Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, et al) has jumped into the fray, and put his money where his mouth is.
Marmel, on his Animation Writers blog, has started a contest challenging writers to craft a script from a classic Bob Clampett cartoon. The film chosen, Falling Hare, was selected by scripter Marmel with the help of Stephen Worth of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, one of the most outspoken on the subject of storyboard-driven cartoons.
Once he receives qualified entries, Marmel plans on reaching out to other board artists, directors and story people to help judge and give opinions, but would like the final arbiter of this to be Stephen Worth himself. Marmel asks Worth:
Pick the best of the bunch. Show script writers what’s right. And in return, you can take the worst of the bunch, and gut it.
Here’s what happens when a winner is picked. I will see that the winner is paid a “teleplay fee” for a short-subject script – as determined by the IATSE/TAG 839 rules. I think it’s a little less than $2000. This may be out of my own pocket… (and) I will personally make an in-kind donation to the ASIFA-Archive.
The contest will begin when Worth accepts the terms Marmel proposes. For more information, go to Marmel’s blog.
Here’s a rare treatÃ¢â‚¬”thanks to YouTube. Milton Knight discovered this upload of a rare 9.5mm silent home movie film featuring Mimiche (a character previously known as Mish-Mish). About the animators, Milton says:
The Frenkel Brothers (Hershel, Salomon and David Frenkel) were pioneer animators in Egypt. Moving to France after WWII, one brother continued the series for home movie consumption. Here it is, proving himself still under the spell of John Foster and George Rufle’s TOM AND JERRY cartoons!
While we are on the subject, here’s another animated rarity on YouTube, from France — a cartoon by Andre Rigal about the prevention of accidents at work, Monstres Museles .
ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Archive has post a complete Quicktime movie of John Sutherland’s industrial film Rhapsody of Steel (1959) on their site. At the time it was released, it was the most expensive animated industrial film ever made.
It’s a pretty spectacular film, with incredible design by Eyvind Earle, Maurice Noble and Victor Haboush, music by Dimitri Tiomkin, and animation by Irv Spence and Emery Hawkins. It was directed by Carl Urbano.
This commemorates the 80th anniversary of both Mickey Mouse and Pez candy. These three Pez dispensers (above) — “Steamboat Willie”, “Pie-eyed Mickey” and “Millenium Mickey” — are available separately or as a “Mickey Through the Years” limited edition set (at left). They are just now hitting stores (and ebay). The set is a nice package, with three different Mickeys in a beautiful black metal collectors tin. There were only 400,000 of these made, and they come packaged with a repro Mickey movie poster. There are also a pair of black & white Mickey and Minnie head dispensers that are pretty cool too.
Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, has an upcoming art show, A Band of Bugs, featuring work from animators and illustrators such as Lou Romano (above), Don Shank, Alex Kirwan and others. The show will be on exhibit from February 9th through March 3rd.
The opening reception is this Saturday, Feb 9th, from 7pm to 11pm. Admission and refreshments are free and live music will be provided by Insect Surfers. A Band of Bugs is “an art show dedicated solely to those creepy, colorful, and wonderfully weird creatures that we encounter on a daily basis”. Anna Chambers, has prepared cute plush pests for the show; Megan Brain will be showcasing her incredible paper sculptures; and “the girls“, Amanda Visell and Michelle Valigura, provide several unique interpretations of various bugs. The artists will be in attendance on opening night to meet fans and discuss their work.
For more information, contact curator Wade Buchanan (gallery-at-gallerynucleus.com) or visit the Gallery Nucleus website.
Last week an exhibition of original oil paintings by the late animation director Chuck Jones opened for public viewing at Chapman University in historic Old Towne in Orange California. The exhibition is jointly sponsored by Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, the nonprofit organization founded by Jones before his death, and Chapman UniversityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Leatherby Libraries. From the press release:
ChuckÃ¢â‚¬‘staposed: A Collection of Chuck Jones Oil Paintings from the Humorous to the Sublime reveals some of the more private aspects of the renowned, Academy Award-winning director, producer, artist, and author. The examples of fine art included in this exhibition have their roots in JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ formal training at Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) in Los Angeles and subsequent decades of artistic endeavor; truly a lifetime in art, at its most exquisite, intimate, and meaningful level.
ChuckÃ¢â‚¬‘staposed will be on public display at Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, free of charge, February 2 through February 27, 2008. The opening reception is next Wednesday, February 13th, from 4 to 7 PM. Marian Jones, Chuck JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ widow, and Craig Kausen, his grandson, are co-curators of the exhibition and Trustees of the non-profit Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.
Heads up, East-coasters! Several worthwhile anime screenings are scheduled for later this month.
The Japan Society, in New York, presents Dawn of Japanese Animation from February 13th through the 16th. Digital Meme will coordinate the screening of 38 animated films culled from Japanese Anime Classic Collection, a DVD anthology released last year. It will be the first time ever such a large number of prewar Japanese animated films is shown in the US. Each screening will be accompanying with a live benshi narration by Ms. Midori Sawato. More details here.
Both Movies are based upon manga by Clamp, and both movies will be shown in Japanese with English Subtitles. This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and granted on a first come, first served basis. Reservations are required. RSVP to jiccrsvpwinter08-at-embjapan.org
For more information visit the Japanese Information and Culture Center website.
Remember how cool those Warner Bros. Studio Stores were – at least for the first ten years of their existence, before they went all Scooby Doo, Tweety and Taz, all the time?
Cartoonist Juan Ortiz (the man behind the brilliant retro Silver Comics line) was one of the staff artists creating the incredible merchandise sold in the Studio Stores of the 1990s. Ortiz has now started a new blog, The Warner Bros. Store Is Closed, with rare production artwork, product images and behind-the-scenes commentary.
The good news: It’s still there!
The bad news: It’s been “improved”.
Brew reader Brent Swanson sent in this recent photo. I have mixed feelings about the restoration (above right, which I guess was done several years ago – I never paid much attention to it, despite the fact I drive by it several times a month). I suppose it’s a bit more “on-model”, but it lacks the charm of the original (above left).
I know what you’re all wondering. Where will I be later this week?
Well, Thursday night (2/7) I’ll be at the Steve Allen Theatre, showing vintage 16mm cartoons and shorts as the warm-up for Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Ticket info here.UPDATE: Janet’s got the flu! The Thursday show is cancelled! Join us next month on Thursday March 6th.
And Friday night (2/8) I’ll be attending the Annie Awards at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, where I will be proudly accepting an award from June Foray. Tickets still available.
So now you know. Hope to see some of you at one (or both) of these events.
This post is only slightly on-topic, as I want to give a plug to a new soundtrack CD for one of my favorite live action sitcoms of the 1960s.
La-La Land Records has just released a limited edition CD that contains the musical score for the TV series My Favorite Martian (not to be confused with Filmation’s god-awful My Favorite Martians). The album contains the music cues created by composer George Greely, who cleverly combined ’50s sci-fi musical motifs (i.e. heavy use of the Theremin) with ’60s atomic/ lounge/space age pop. It’s a lot of fun to listen to while driving, which is what I was doing when I first heard it.
In an effort to connect this to animation history, I’ll point out that the My Favorite Martianopening title animation was done at the Howard Anderson optical effects house, with animation by Chuck Jones unit animator Lloyd Vaughan (who animated the titles for a another show, also produced by Martian’s Jack Chertok, called My Living Doll – anyone got an episode of that?).
One of the silliest cartoon shows ever contrived by network executives and foist upon kids, back in those deep dark days of network Saturday mornings, was based on the toy Rubik’s Cube.
At long last, a fan website devoted to Ruby Spears 1983 ABC series Rubik the Amazing Cube is here — with everything you ever wanted to know about the show, including episode guides, character profiles and, should it ever be forgotten, clips of the show itself.