This fan-made animated Batman film uses stop motion toys that turn out to be just as emotive as the actors in the live-action feature films – maybe more so. Bravo to filmmakers Derek Kowk and Henri Wong.
With the Ottawa festival on the horizon, here are the trailers for two new shorts just hitting the festival circuit that look quite intriguing.
First up, from Connor Finnegan, a film about a bird with A Fear of Flying who tries to avoid heading South for the winter.
Next, animator Leah Shore illustrates a conversation between Canadian author Marlin Marynick and cult killer Charles Manson in Old Man:
This is cute. Dave Carter’s clay animated How to Lose Weight in 60 Seconds won Best Minute Film at last year’s Animation Block Party. Funny and informative… watch and learn:
Feeling thirsty for a hand drawn short? Animator Frodo Kuipers of Netherlands-based Studio Mosquoito created this independent film, currently on the festival circuit.
This very month in 2007, Cartoon Dump was born. Come celebrate our 5th anniversary with our performance, Monday night, filled with sketches, songs, puppets, and some very funny comedians! And some very awful cartoons.
This month’s guest stars include Jimmy Dore, Emily Maya Mills, Paul Gilmartin and Dylan Brody. Plus, as usual, TV’s Frank Conniff as Moodsy the Clinically Depressed Owl, Erica Doering as Compost Brite and J. Elvis Weinstein as Dumpster Diver Dan. Showtime is 8pm tonight, July 23rd, at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood (4773 Hollywood Blvd; two blocks west of Vermont), and tickets can be purchased at the door or online here. Join our FaceBook Event page for more information and updates.
(Art above by Thom Foolery)
Finally, something appropriate to wipe yourself with…
This unusual toilet paper is part of a whole collection of collaborative merchandise between Sanrio and Gene Simmons, tying Hello Kitty and KISS. Other products include Hello Kitty/KISS dolls, T-shirts, tissues, and posters. These items are primarily being sold at KISS concerts worldwide.
(Thanks Ed Austin via Trend Hunter)
The beautifully designed Ozo, a thesis film from Supinfocom by Alex Vial, Martin Brunet, Leslie Martin & Matthieu Garcia, was made with Photoshop, 3dsmax, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
I was just cleaning out my bags from the Comic Con last week and found this postcard (both sides, below) for Disney’s forthcoming Craig McCracken series. I’ll bet this was posted on the internet somewhere, or Facebook, but I hadn’t seen it myself till now, so I thought you should see it too. Intriguing images… I can’t wait to see the show!
Three new books popped into my mailbox this week. What were they? Funny you should ask…
I’m a big fan of Chronicle’s Art-Of books for Disney and Pixar’s recent animated features – but this one, based on Laika’s new stop-motion feature, is one of the best yet from the publisher. The Art and Making of ParaNorman is not only loaded with the usual gorgeous pre-production art and character designs – it’s got that in abundance – but it takes you through the entire process of making a modern stop motion feature. Jed Alger’s text goes beyond the usual artist interviews and tells us the whole story – the book is crammed with behind-the-scenes images; illustrating all the puppet parts, the sets and the people behind them. Bravo! This is a wonderful peek behind the curtain for anyone who loves hand-crafted animation – and if stop-mo is your thing, this book is a must-have.
This is an unusual surprise: a newspaper comic strip I never heard of, The Adventures of Buck O’Rue and his Hoss, Reddish written by animation legend Dick Huemer (Scrappy) and Disney animator and comic book artist Paul Murry (Mickey Mouse, Goofy). It lasted about two years and was unsuccessful, but now Huemer’s son Richard, and comic book editor Germund von Wowern have collected all the strips (daily and Sunday) in this beautiful volume, augmented with several articles, prefaces, epilogues and appendiices filled with rare Murry and Huemer art, newspaper clippings, photos, the stories behind the men, their careers and newspaper syndication. The strip itself is an amusing parody of cowboys and western lore – but it’s the “bonus materials” that bookend the strips that make this a must-get. The project as a whole an interesting footnote to the history of Huemer and Murry – and, by extension, to the history of Disney.
Iwao Takamoto’s 2009 autobiography (written with Michael Mallory) was an excellent account of the animator’s career. Now his step-daughter, Leslie E. Stern, has written another account, Living With A Legend, from her point of view and its a nice memoir of a life with Iwao behind the scenes. Her publisher send me an advance copy and I can attest that its a well done tribute. Apparently their will be several versions of the book available at various prices. For anyone, everyone, who grew up with Hanna Barbera, this is a treat.
The 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced today by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Congratulations to all our animation industry honorees. These include:
Outstanding Animated Program
American Dad! – Fox Television Animation
Bob’s Burgers – BentoBox Entertainment
Futurama (The Tip Of The Zoidberg) – The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
The Penguins Of Madagascar (The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole) – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation
The Simpsons (Holidays Of Future Passed) – Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Outstanding Short-format Animated Program
Adventure Time (Too Young) – Cartoon Network Studios
Disney Phineas And Ferb (The Doonkleberry Imperative) – Disney Channel
MAD (Kitchen Nightmare Before Christmas / How I Met Your Mummy) – Warner Bros. Animation
Regular Show (Eggscellent) – Cartoon Network Studios
Robot Chicken (Fight Club Paradise) – Stoopid Monkey, Shadow Machine, Williams Street
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance
Disney Phineas And Ferb: Across The 2nd Dimension – Disney Channel
Dan Povenmire as Doctor Doofenshmirtz
Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Rob Riggle as Noel
Futurama â€¢ The Silence Of The Clamps – The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Maurice LaMarche as Clamps, Donbot, Hyperchicken, Calculon, Hedonismbot, Morbo
The Looney Tunes Show â€¢ Double Date – Warner Bros. Animation
Kristen Wiig as Lola
The Simpsons â€¢ Moe Goes From Rags To Riches – Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Hank Azaria as Moe Szyslak, Duffman, Mexican Duffman, Carl, Comic Book Guy, Chief Wiggum
Created at The Academy Of Art University in San Francisco, Bhavri, by Northern California-based animator Sonia Tiwari is just off the festival circuit – and now online. It’s a cute little film, more an exercise in design and eye-candy color theories, but nonetheless a bittersweet fable about life and death.
Okay, all you lovers of experimental animation – here’s one for you: What is Dead May Never Die by Kadavre Exquis (aka FranÃ§ois Grumelin-Sohn) a french graphic designer and musician living in the Netherlands. The film celebrates various images of retro technology, influenced by the utilitarian design of NASA computers, TV logos, film credits and other lo-fi animation from the 1970s and 80s. None of this is stock footage, it’s all created by Exquis – who also released a small soundtrack CD composed with various jingles he created for the film.
This was just screened at Comic Con and worth a look – it’s the intro to the forthcoming Epic Mickey 2 video game, featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Gus Gremlin and a host of early 30s Disney bit players.
While we’re at it – and not to be a complete shill for the product – this promo (below) on the history of Disney’s Oswald is pretty good. Game designer Warren Spector and Disney archivist Becky Cline discuss and review the history of the character. Makes me feel good to see a 1920s cartoon star re-emerge with such fanfare in the 21st Century. The prospects for reviving Koko the Clown and Farmer Al Falfa are looking better every day.
(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)
UPDATE 7/23: It’s official! The Wall Street Journal has reported that Dreamworks is paying $155 million to acquire Classic Media LLP, owners of numerous cartoon stars and iconic intellectual properties.
Classic Media will now operate under the name DreamWorks Classics and co-Chief Executives Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman will remain as co-heads, though the exact organizational structure is still being sorted out.
ORIGINAL 7/16 POST: According to The New York Times, Dreamworks Animation has made an offer to acquire Classic Media – the owners of UPA, the Harvey Comics library (Casper, Richie Rich, etc), Roger Ramjet, Underdog and Total Television properties, The Lone Ranger and many Rankin-Bass specials including Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Classic Media also represents many intellectual properties owned by others including Jay Ward shows (Rocky & Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle, etc.), Felix The Cat and Archie.
I, for one, would like to see Dreamworks Animation complete this deal. It’s good business for Dreamworks and it could be a good home for the characters. Certainly better than the hands they’re in now. It’s debatable how well Classic Media did licensing its properties throughout the years. Their handling of DVD releases of its classic material was particularly irritating. The company’s track record of making new movies from its classic properties (think Underdog, or the upcoming Johnny Depp Lone Ranger movie) was troubling.
Good luck acquiring Classic Media. I hope you succeed.
I understand you are planning a Dreamworks theme park in New Jersey – these characters will augment the stars of Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda you’ll have running around there. I look forward to seeing Casper’s Haunted Mansion, exploring Richie Rich’s Enchanted Money Vault, and taking a spin on Mister Magoo’s Wild Ride. Should be fun!
I also look forward to seeing CGI, 48-frames-per-second, 3D versions of Go-Go Gophers, Tennesse Tuxedo and Baby Huey – but I hope you will consider releasing UPA’s Boing Boing Show on DVD (or for download) and restoration of the Harveytoons with their original credits and titles.
You will have an incredibly rich library with dozens of strong, pre-sold properties with famous name characters that are beloved by millions. If you take good care of them and treat them right, you will be rewarded with more than just my gratitude. They’ll repay Dreamworks back many times over. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
A last look at some of my coolest finds at the Con. And here’s a real winner: this unframed cel, found in a stack of MGM odds and ends.
The Con is over. I’m safely back at home. The event has forever turned into a Hollywood Mardi Gras, with an actual comics convention under the surface. And if you dig deep enough, you can still find stuff like this: a Barney Bear title card layout and a Rudolf Ising credit title cel (they happened to be one on top of another and I thought it looked good):
Or this original title card layout drawing for The Univited Pest (1943)
These boots are made for walking… in cycles! Someone was selling a pair of cool Hanna Barbera shoes from the 60s.
Yesterday, at virtually the same time I was extolling the praises of producer Sam Singer (the “Ed Wood of Animation“) at my Comic Con presentation of the Worst Cartoons Ever!, Deadline Hollywood broke the news that Evergreen Media Group has made a deal with Telefeatures to acquire rights to the 1960s cartoon series Courageous Cat. According to Deadline’s Mike Fleming:
Evergreen is prepping a contemporary live-action/CGI feature with a new mythology for the character, one of only two properties originated by Batman creator Bob Kane that isn’t owned by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Telefeatures syndicated the original cartoon series, which Kane created as a parody of his earlier Batman work. “For years we resisted overtures for the property,” Telefeatures director Debbie Litt said. “However, because of Tony and Evergreen’s longstanding track record of finding great new takes to reboot classic properties we had a significant comfort level in entrusting them with Courageous Cat.”
The other non-DC property by Bob Kane, referred to the article, is Cool McCool (owned by King Features/Hearst Entertainment). Courageous Cat was probably the best known – and best produced, but that’s not saying much – of Sam Singer’s output, which included such notable productions as Pow Wow The Indian Boy, Bucky and Pepito and the infamous Paddy Pelican.
Courageous Cat was a parody of Kane’s Batman and Robin – done with much less style and wit than the 1966 Adam West show. It’s not funny enough – nor bad enough, I will admit – to be shown in my Worst-Of programs. But boy, Hollywood is really scouring the bottom of the barrel to cash in on the current super-hero craze. What next, Sinbad Jr.?
Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times generally liked it – saying “The dialogue is sometimes too sluggish and definitely too preachy, the ending is a little too sappy, yet somehow this strange collection of prehistoric critters and their completely illogical life are consistently likable, if not quite lovable.”
A.O. Scott in The New York Times also found it watchable: “It may be too much to expect novelty – then again, why shouldn’t we? – but a little more conviction might be nice. “Continental Drift,” like its predecessors, is much too friendly to dislike, and its vision of interspecies multiculturalism is generous and appealing.”
Both critics – and everyone else – agrees that the new Simpsons short, The Longest Daycare is worth the price of admission. I’m stuck at Comic Con and will have to wait until next week to catch up. Help me out – if you’ve seen Ice Age 4 and the Simpson’s short – and only if you’ve really seen them – please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Reasons I still go to Comic Con… to see stuff I can’t afford, but am delighted still exists. Here’s a few snaps from my iPhone:
A Scrappy booklet printed on fabric!
A one-page glossy flyer (not a magazine trade ad) sent to theater owners in 1954:
Disney is giving out these Oswald caps – and it seems like half the convention attendees are wearing them!
Hellooo, Nurse! Animaniacs fans in L.A. later this month are in for a treat. Voice actor Rob Paulsen (Yakko) and composer Randy Rogel will perform songs from the Steven Spielberg/Warner Bros. animated series’ Animaniacs for a live podcast. On Friday night, July 27th, Paulsen and Rogel will take center stage at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club at Universal City Walk to sing some of Animaniacs most memorable tunes including Yakko’s World, Yakko’s America, I’m Mad, Variety Speak, The Presidents Song along with several musical numbers that never made it into the animated series. The 90-minute show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online. According to the press release:
Since 2011, Paulsen has been hosting his own weekly podcast series based around cartoons. The shows have been such a hit on iTunes; they’ve reached #1 in the audio Film and TV category. Some of animation’s biggest stars have been guests on Paulsen’s show including actor Mark Hamill, Debi Derryberry (voice of Jimmy Neutron and Speedy Alka Seltzer), Bill Farmer (voice of Disney’s Goofy and Pluto), Kevin Michael Richardson (voice of Cleveland Brown Jr. from The Cleveland Show), and Emmy Award winner Maurice LaMarche (voice of The Brain from Pinky & The Brain, The Chief on Inspector Gadget, Futurama) to name a few.
I’m heading down to Comic Con right now and will be there tonight and for the next few days. In addition to funky old comics, here’s a couple of new items I’ll be looking for in the dealers room:
South Park designer and storyboard artist Greg Postma is sharing some space at booth #1223 with his fellow co-workers, selling a sketchbook compiling production sketches from the first 8 seasons of the show. The Bunker also includes samples of the artists own work. Finally the talent behind the show step out from behind the scenes. Can you buy it online? I’m not sure, but here’s the website associated with it.
When you work on kid shows all day, you’re bound to create something a bit dark. Nick, Sony and Dreamworks story artist Jeremy Bernstein has new book out in time for Comic Con. His sixth self published book in six years – Texts – takes drawings done in workshop and mashed them up with hand written text messages that were in his phone. Sounds strange, but Bernstein’s art is always worth the trip.
A contemplation of an animators life in 4321 frames, from animator Bruce Woodside (Mighty Mouse, Lord Of The Rings, etc.)
From Marty to McHale to… Mermaidman. Ernie Borgnine was one of my favorite actors, whether playing super-hero or super-villain.
Borgnine died today at age 95 in Los Angeles. In addition to his semi-regular role on Spongebob Squarepants, in animation Borgnine lent his unique vocal talents to characters in All Dogs Go To Heaven (#2 and the TV series), Pinky and The Brain, The Simpsons (as himself), and in Joe Dante’s Small Soldiers. He made so many people happy with his many many on-camera performances. He was one of the best. Rest In Peace, sir.