(Thanks Steve Moore)
Independent animator Jeff Scher (who won the New Media prize in Ottawa on Sunday for his TimesSelect piece L’eau Life) made another little film of note, Lost and Found, by tracing over several bits of Fleischer, Van Beuren and Felix animation. I love stuff like this. It’s fun, and takes nothing away from the original works (and may encourage artier types to take a closer look at classic cartoons).
Here’s a contest for the super-nerds in our readership (and I use the tern super-nerds in the most affectionate way – I’m one, too). Whoever is first to name all the clips rotoscoped in Lost and Found will win a brand new DVD collection: Felix the Cat: The Complete 1958-1959 Series. I will select the winner (at my discretion) from comments recieved today (9/25). Winner will be announced on Wednesday.
For those who doubt it – Hand drawn animated features are alive and well in Europe. Case in point: Die Drei Rauber (The Three Robbers).
Unfortunetly, as stated here before, this is one of dozens of foreign animated films produced every year that don’t get distributed in North America. Our friend Sinem Sakaoglu writes:
I thought it might interest you to know we’ll soon be premiering (so far only in Germany and France) the feature version of The Three Robbers (based on the book by Tomi Ungerer; Gene Deitch produced a six minute short version for Weston Woods in 1972)
It was a relatively small crew that made it all happen and though I now have a few more gray hairs than when I started the project (I did production management and overseas supervision), it was a fun and rewarding time… Hope it gets over to the other side of the pond.
So do I. It looks cute. See the trailer here.
Another quick little plug for our Cartoon Dump live comedy show tonight in Hollywood. Join us at 8pm.
Guest comedians Andy Kindler and Michelle Maryk join our regular cast, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, Kathleen Roll, Erica Doering, Joe Keys and Eddie Pepitone and me, in presenting the worst cartoons ever!
P.S. New podcasts resume later this week.
From the sublime to the ridiculous…
My laryngitis on Wednesday developed into a full fledged cold on Thursday and Friday, forcing me to to miss many screenings and events at Ottawa this year. However, I did manage to sneak out each day to attend at least one screening or panel (and the picnic) and still had a great time. Of the Competition screenings and International Showcase I attended, I didn’t see any film unworthy of showing. Either it was a great year for short films, or the selection committee really did a great job (or probably, both).
Persepolis – This is an important film. I’m not saying it’s a great filmÃ¢â‚¬”or the best animated film of the yearÃ¢â‚¬”but it’s a good film with a great story. More significantly, we in animation need it.
It’s a mostly black and white 2-D hand drawn cartoonÃ¢â‚¬”think Little Lulu, if Lulu grew up in Tehran during the overthrow of the ShahÃ¢â‚¬”and strictly for adults. It’s the antithesis of the Hollywood CG blockbuster mentality that is currently stifling creativity in animated feature films. This film’s success could help revive the idea that animated films could be drawn by hand.
It’s based on Satrapi’s own life story and her heartbreaking graphic novel, and it’s been faithfully adapted in such a way as to make palatable a tale which would perhaps be less compelling in live action. It’s both dramatic and comedic, and never dull for a moment. A must see for anyone interested in animation or current world events.
Compared to other recent foreign films, it doesn’t have the character animation and design of The Triplettes of Belleville, or the cutting edge graphics of anime, but it has something those other films don’t – a coherent storyline, told against a backdrop of contemporary life in the Middle East. France has qualified the film for an Academy Award, as its entry for Best Foreign Film. It also has a good shot as Best Animated Feature Film. I’m crossing my fingers for its nomination.
How To Hook Up Your Home Theater – They nailed it.
Unlike other recent tries at reviving Disney classic characters via new shorts (think The Prince and the Pauper or Runaway Brain), the goal of this new film was not to reivent Goofy but to recapture the spirit of the Disney shorts of the late 40s, particularly the Jack Kinney classics like Hockey Homicide or a Goofy Gymnastics. They did it. It all felt right to me.
Though the film boasts the cream of the crop of current Disney animators (Deja, Henn, Baer, Goldberg, etc.), this isn’t an animators film – it’s a director’s picture. Just as Tex Avery’s cartoons are masterfully skewed through his twisted vision, here directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (the first woman to direct a Disney cartoon!) take control, weaving numerous contempory gag situations into a refreshingly old school cartoon structure.
The red burlap opening titles are back. Michael Giacchino provides a perfect Oliver Wallace-styled musical score, and Corey Burton narrates with intonations falling somewhere between John McLeish and Frank Graham. Certain layouts are direct lifts from Motor Mania (Goofy’s home) and How To Play Football (the football field). And there are literally dozens of gags – truly funny ones and several visual in-jokes for those looking extra hard – packed into the six and a half minute running time.
The bottom line: How To Hook Up Your Home Theater feels exactly like a contemporary 1949 Goofy cartoon – and I can’t pay it any higher compliment than that. It’s the perfect film to start the new shorts program with. A nod to the past as the studio looks to the future. I just hope the studio will promote it properly when it decides to release it later this fall.
Despite the haze I was in due to the cold medicines I was on, I understand our blogging panel went pretty well. We had a full house at the venue selected and great questions from our lovely moderator, Maral Mohammadian (Associate Producer at the NFB). Don’t let the drowsy group in the photo below fool you… it was quite a lively panel. (left to right, yours truly Jerry Beck, Jeff Hasulo, Mike Barrier and Mark Mayerson).
(a photo of four bored bloggers by Alan Cook)
We’ve plugged the blogs of both Hans Bacher and Rob Richards numerous times recently. Both are putting a spotlight on the unsung work of background painters in animated cartoons. Today, Richards posts a composite of the pan shot showing the three dimensional cave (actually an intricate miniature live action set) in Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor. Fleischer artisans clearly put a lot of thought, hard work and artistic know how into these Stereo-Optical “set-backs”. Considering how some of these elaborate shots only appear on screen for several seconds, I encourage Rob to create more composites of these. They certainly deserve a closer look.
Above and below are two parts of one interesting piece of WB ephemera that that one of our readers (who wishes to remain anonymous) acquired recently. We believe it may have been a first, more informal get well card to Mel Blanc very shortly after his catastrophic auto wreck on Jan. 24, 1961. This would have been before Chuck Jones did his Magnum Opus card – almost 4 feet long that showed all 14 WB characters lying side-by-side in bed with thermometers in their mouths being attended by a doctor and a nurse with the Doc saying “I don’t know what is wrong with them, they have all lost their voice.” The names seem roughly right for 1961. But were Maltese and Scribner there at that point? Perhaps it was created for another?
Can any of our readers, researchers and historians attribute who it was done for, and who drew it???
Brew reader Steve Flack sends this report from midtown Manhattan:
I was at Midtown Comics in New York City yesterday, buying my weekly comics, and they had a countertop display of pop culture refrigerator magnets. I was shocked when I saw this one (below), with the classic Looney Tunes Henery Hawk character.
Am I right in being confused as to how this passed the licensing department?
I learned the score to a Tom & Jerry cartoon and then performed it entirely on guitar includng most of the sound effects, including a drum track that does not appear in the original cartoon. It took me six months. I play heavy metal, so without purposefully trying to “metal-ize” the music, it nonetheless took on a slightly more aggressive tone.
I don’t want to give the Cartoon Network any encouragement…but if you’re into heavy metal, this isn’t half bad.
This just in! Another candidate for my Comic Con program,Worst Cartoons Ever!…
Talk about motion capture! It takes the Clutch Cargo/Syncho Vox concept to a whole new level. Director Peter Avanzino (Futurama) found this test clip (circa 1962) posted by Something Weird Video on YouTube. Pete thinks this technique might be good for a Beowulf remake.
The clip is credited to Leon H. Maurer, who has quite an impressive resume, and is apparently related to Norman Maurer (comic book artist, film director, Moe Howard’s son-in-law), who used a similar process (called “Cinemagic”) in his 1960 feature film, The Angry Red Planet. In 1955 Leon started Illustrated Films, Inc. (with Norman) and they co-invented Artiscope, a “full animation-by-automation” system (per Leon’s resume, “Realistic character animation without artists – world’s first practical “real-time motion capture” system”). If anyone can shed any further light on this technique, please let us know.
It’s me (above left) – with animators Xeth Feinberg (Queer Duck) and Joey Ahlbum (Sesame Street, etc.) at Patrick Smith’s packed gallery opening on Tuesday night in SoHo. I did so much talking on Monday and Tuesday I completely lost my voice on Wednesday. That was okay, as all I had to do was fly to Ottawa and go to two screenings… (I’ll report on those later). Pat’s art is amazing. If you are in New York this month, check it out at the CVZ Gallery (through Oct. 16th).
I’m in New York today and having a blast with barely any time to read email or blog. The weather is really beautiful this week and that may have something to do with how much I’m enjoying the city. Had a great screening last night at ASIFA-East, and thanks to all the Brew readersÃ¢â‚¬”and all my big city buddiesÃ¢â‚¬”who showed up to razz the Worst Cartoons Ever.
Right before the screening I tried checking in with Fred Seibert. He was in L.A., so Lee Rubinstein and Jeaux Janovsky (pictured below right) showed me around the Frederator/Next New Networks offices – we sat in Fred’s office and looked at all his DVDs. I stole one of those Frederator awards, but I traded it back to Jeaux for a can of ginger ale. Tonight I’ll try to crash the Pat Smith opening, then off to Ottawa for the animation festival tomorrow.
I’ve gotten more than several emails from readers concerned about edits, cuts and omissions from forthcoming Popeye and Looney Tunes DVD collections. Let me assure you that classic cartoons on both these series will remain uncensored on their upcoming DVD releases. Scenes, such as this brilliant take-off on Cab Calloway (that’s Porky Pig above, in Frank Tashlin’s Porky At The Crocadero), remain completely intact in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 5.
In fact, the DVD will not only include the uncut suicide gag from Clampett’s Hare Ribbin’ (two frames pictured below), in which Bugs hands his opponent a weapon to blow his brains out, the DVD will also include the alternate “director’s cut” version (bottom image) in which Bugs Bunny himself pulls the trigger!
In today’s edition of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, television columnist Tom Jicha answers reader’s mail. Here is a slightly edited version of today’s first question (you can read the complete version here):
Q. What do you think of adults watching cartoons? Since your sense of humor is counterintuitive, I assume you won’t even dignify an adult watching a cartoon. But the writing in cartoons is sometimes brilliant and the jokes go way over most kids’ heads. I’d appreciate your opinion on adult cartoon watching. – S.E., via e-mail
A. If you’re out of your teens and still watching Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, I don’t think I’d want you baby-sitting my kids. But The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy and South Park are among the smartest shows on TV. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim apparently has some gems, too, although they’re not on my TiVo Season-Pass list. Going back a bit, Rocky and Bullwinkle worked for adults and kids for different reasons. I still get a kick out of those on DVD.
Well I don’t know about you, but as someone who still enjoys Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck – often over the antics of South Park and Family Guy – I’m insulted. Couldn’t Jicha have chosen two other characters to make his point than Bugs and Donald? Couldn’t he have used Clifford and Blue’s Clues? What would you suggest?
Of course I couldn’t help but think about how far we’ve come from those cheapie Marvel Super Heroes cartoons from the late 1960s. Actually. most of us who grew up with these god-awful things have fond memories of them. At the time, it was all we had. Among its assets, John Vernon (“Dean Wormer” from Animal House) as the voice of Tony Stark (he also did double duty as Sub-Mariner), and the Iron Man theme song is a classic.
From Thursday’s Wall Street Journal:
Score one for the nerds! Shares of Japanese companies involved in the production of animated films and comic books soared in Tokyo Wednesday amid speculation that Taro Aso, secretary-general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party — and a well-known comic-book fan — may be the nation’s next prime minister. Following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s surprise resignation, shares linked to hobbies associated with “otaku,” or nerds, jumped.
In May, while serving as Japan’s foreign minister, Mr. Aso unveiled plans to establish the International Manga Award to recognize foreign cartoonists. When the winners were announced in July, Mr. Aso told Kyodo News, “It is my hope that manga, through these works, will act as a bridge to the world.” Mr. Aso’s official Web site contains an ode to “manga” published in August that praises the genre for lifting Japan’s standing on the international stage and urges his countrymen to be proud of this success.
Check this out. Starting last month a portion Eric Calande’s Looney Tunes collection went on display at the San Francisco International Airport. The show is located in the international terminal (section A2) and consists of 20 cases worth of material featuring vintage production artwork and rare collectibles. The show is FREE to see and because it sits out side of the security area there is no need to be a ticketed passenger. If you are in the Bay area, or planning to fly through it, the terminal will display the exhibit through March 2008.
Readers of Cartoon Brew should know the name Jim Tyer. He’s the cartoonist whose each and every drawing will immediately make you laugh, and an animation style you can never forget. At first glance his animation looks wrong, sloppy and way off-model. You wonder how he got away with what he did. But upon closer inspection, you realize the guy knew exactly what he was doing, and was a refreshing counterpoint to the Disney-inspired “illusion of life” other animators were striving to achieve. If there is such a thing as a “cult animator”, Tyer would be leader of the pack.
Thad K., who updates his Animation ID blog with neat things everyday, just posted this incredible Tyer sequence below, from a 1950 Terrytoon, Dream Walking. It really sums up everything we love about this animator.
I like Disney cartoons. And I like Disney music. So here’s a new Disney blog that pays unique tribute to the songs: Covering the Mouse, a blog dedicated to musicians and singers who have covered Disney songs.
Webmaster Kurtis Findley has just started blogging, posting Disney tunes by the likes of Usher, Bobby McFerrin and LL Cool J. My hope is that he delves into the stranger stuff from the past – like Louis Prima singing Supercalifgragilisticexpialidocious! and Satchmo covering Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.
Starting today, animator David B. Levy (president of Asifa-East) starts a new blog, Animondays, which he will update once a week. I’m really looking forward to this, as David has become one of my favorite commentators on animation with his clever, informative columns in the ASIFA-East newsletters and his excellent book, Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive. Here’s hoping David catches the blogging bug and adds AniTuesday, AniWednesday and so on, to his schedule.
Speaking of Mondays, next Monday night I’ll be presenting my Worst Cartoons Ever! screening for ASIFA-East in New York City. I’ll only be in the city for two days, (as I’m en route to the Ottawa Animation Festival) and I’m hoping to see as many of my old friends and Brew readers there as I can. This is a great way for everyone to meet up and say hello.
The screening will take place at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, 721 Broadway (between Waverly and Washington Place), Room 017 at 7 PM. The program is technically for ASIFA-East members and NYU students/faculty/alumni only. However, if you are not a member of ASIFA (and you really should be) or not affiliated with NYU, please contact me by Thursday Sept 13th – and I’ll put you on the list. Should be fun… I can’t wait to inflict this bad stuff in the Big Apple.
Just a reminder that for those of you on the east coast, The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention is the end of this week, September 13 through the 15th at The Clarion Hotel in Aberdeen, Maryland. Among the events scheduled are an in person appearence by Virginia Davis who will talk about working for Walt Disney at the start of his career – and a screening of Ray Pointer’s Alice In Cartoonland program featuring some of the earliest Alice Comedies. Thad Komorowski is running two separate programs of classic animation, A Salute To Frank Tashlin and Golden Age Cartoons there as well. Consult the convention website for more information.