Great news for fans of Walt Kelly (like me). Fantagraphics Books has acquired the rights to publish a comprehensive series of Walt Kelly’s classic POGO comic strip. The first volume will appear in October, 2007, and the series will run approximately 12 volumes.
Kelly joined the Walt Disney Studio in 1935, where he worked on numerous shorts and features, including Pinocchio, Dumbo, and The Reluctant Dragon. Kelly left Disney in 1941, moved back east and began drawing comic books for Western Publishing (Dell comics). It was during this time that Kelly created the character Pogo Possum for Dell’s Animal Comics (as a supporting player in the Albert the Alligator stories). In 1949, the Hall Syndicate started distrbuting Pogo as a comic strip to newspapers in the United States.
Each Fantagraphics Pogo volume will be designed by Jeff Smith (Bone). This continues Fantagraphics teriffic series of hardbound comic strip collections – which already include Schulz’ Peanuts, Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace and Segar’s Popeye. For more information, check the Fantagraphics website.
Tonight I’ll be in Pasadena at the Rialto Theatre to catch the latest edition of The Animation Show. I will also be doing a Q&A with filmmaker and SHOW co-founder Don Hertzfeldt after the the 7:30pm show and before the 9:45pm. This is an incredible collection of the world’s best contemporary animationÃ¢â‚¬”presented the way the filmmakers intended, on the big screen. Join us!
(The Animation Show is also playing tonight at the Main Art Theatre in Detroit Michigan. Check out the remaining cities and playdates here)
Click here to see the large size version of this promotional image, above, from Foodfight.
Can you spot the product placement? Foodfight is now scheduled for theatrical release this fall from Lions Gate Films (the same people who brought us Happily N’ever After). It’s a great idea for a film: after midnight all the packages in a local food store come alive, with the goodguy characters (including Mr. Clean, Cap’n Crunch, Charlie the Tuna, the Engergizer Bunny, et al) taking on a villainous band of Brand X characters for control of supermarket aisles. Of course this plot harkens back to several Merrie Melodies of yore (September In The Rain (1937), Goofy Groceries (1941), etc.). So far so good.
However, the real trouble begins with a visit to the Foodfight website. The character designs look awful. B-list celebrities are doing the voices. The film’s partners (read: producers) include Proctor and Gamble, Del Monte and Tootsie Roll, among others. We already get enough commercials at the movies as it is. I don’t know about you, but I predict a short shelf life for this flick.
Earlier coverage of Foodfight on Cartoon Brew here.
What does this Scrappy toy (pictured above) have to do Humphrey Bogart?
Harry McCracken, the mastermind behind the much acclaimed Scrappyland website – and the expert on all things concerning this forgotten 1930s cartoon character – continues his extensive research on his blog. Recent updates include these incredible finds: Scrappy comics, French strips, U.S. panels and a theory linking them to Will Eisner(!); and Scrappy’s cameo appearence in Bogart’s 1942 film All Through The Night(!!)
Jim Hill blogged today about how Disney is revamping story of American Dog, now that Chris Sanders has been let go. Hill reports that:
“He’s no longer a cute little round brown hound dog. But — rather — a heroic-looking white German Shepherd with a lightning bolt-shaped patch that runs down the left side of his body. In fact, Bolt is actually this character’s new name. And Bolt stars with Penny (a 12-year-old girl) in the hit television show, “American Dog.”
After getting accidentally shipped to New York, Bolt is befriended by a hamster (named “Rhino”) who “is a huge fan of “American Dog,” having seen & then memorized virtually every episode of the series.”
For all the negative talk about direct-to-video sequels, some of these changes bring to mind plot elements and characters in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure (written by Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith). Co-producer Leslie Hough writes us:
Our film “Dalmatians II” features a German Shepherd deluded by his own stardom named Thunderbolt. In our version Patch, the puppy, is Thunderbolt’s biggest fan and has memorized all the episodes of his show. When I first heard about American Dog, I thought the story was similar, but now it is too close for comfort.
Is it possible that the people at Disney Features have never seen 101 Dalmatians 2? Or have they and thought it was so good that they would use the same story in a bigger budget arena? Or do they just not care? Leslie Hough says, “Disney is welcome to rip itself off, but we, the filmmakers of the first film are kind of shocked.”
Dave Smith reports that Peter Ellenshaw passed away yesterday, in Santa Barbara.
Ellenshaw is best known for his incredible matte paintings in Disney live action films ranging from The Story of Robin Hood through 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Mary Poppins (above). His work can also be seen in Spartacus, Superman IV and The Black Hole. He is the father of Harrison Ellenshaw (Star Wars).
J. J. Sedelmaier (The Ambiguously Gay Duo, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, The Colbert Report’s Tek Jansen, etc.) will be back next week at the New York Comic-Con. This year, Sedelmaier will discuss interpreting the work of print cartoonists and illustrators into animation in a talk titled, Translating Art in Animation. Sedelmaier will show the work of such artists as Garry Trudeau, Barry Blitt and Al Hirshfeld, among others, and will demonstrate how he translates their work into animation. He’ll also screen a selection of his studioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work for Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and other clients.
Translating Art Into Animation takes place on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007, from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, at the Jacob Javits Center.
Here is it. The whole thing, by one of the true pioneers of the industry. Terry was actually one of the field’s leading lights during the silent era. It’s been said Disney studied Terry’s Aesop’s Fables, back then, for their craftsmanship. His drawings accompanying the article are teriffic.
Caricatures of Hollywood celebrities have been common practice in animated cartoons since the silent era. And comedians authorizing their personas for animation go back just as far (Otto Messmer’s series of Charlie Chaplin cartoons may have been the first). Since then, the essence of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Three Stooges, et al.Ã¢â‚¬”all the way through Rodney (Rover) Dangerfield and coming up next fall, Jerry Seinfeld (Bee Movie)Ã¢â‚¬”live on in animated form. The cartoon counterpart for Mexican comedian Cantinflas continues today in animated shorts south of the border.
Comedy writer/actor/comedian Bill Dana created a Hispanic personality, Jose Jiminez, as a character for THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW in 1959. As Jiminez, Dana appeared on all the top variety shows, nightclubs, made record albums and even had his own TV series (although titled The Bill Dana Show, the 1963 NBC series starred Jose).
Mark Evanier has posted several times recently about Dana and what a fine comedian and writer he was. In the mid 1960s, Dana apparently explored the possibility of adapting Jose Jiminez to animation. Jose appeared briefly in the 1966 Hanna Barbera TV special (which he wrote) Alice in Wonderland or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (which is being rerun on Boomerang Sunday Feb. 25). He also made a deal with Paramount to make an animated short, that was probably created as a pilot for a series.
But Jose Jiminez just didn’t cut it as an animated character. The Paramount short, posted below, is pretty darn poor. I WANT MY MUMMY was released in March 1966 and hasn’t been seen since. It wasn’t even shown on Nickelodeon when they had the package of Paramount theatricals they used to run on Cartoon Kablooey and Weinerville, perhaps not wanting to take a chance that Jose might offend Hispanic people. It was co-written by Dana and cartoonist Howard Post, who was running the studio at the time. Post started production on the film when he was abruptly replaced by veteran animator Shamus Culhane. That might explain some of the films crudeness. Or maybe not. This was Culhane’s first credit for Paramount as directorÃ¢â‚¬”not a good startÃ¢â‚¬”in a job he’d hold for a year and a half before being replaced himself by Ralph Bakshi. That’s Bob McFadden doing all the other character voices.
Submitted for you approval, Jose JiminezÃ¢â‚¬”Cartoon Brew’s Forgotten Cartoon Legend of the week.
Three years ago, I Ã¢â‚¬“ and twenty-three colleagues of mine Ã¢â‚¬“Ã‚Â put together an illustrated animation history timeline called Animation Art. The goal was to create a concise visual overview of animation history over the past hundred years. I’ve been delighted to hear, during the last year, from many college and high school teachers who have told me the tome makes a great text book and starting point for discussion of animation history.
Now, particularly for those who were afraid to get the book due to the strange, off-putting psychedelic eyeball on the cover (above left), I’ve got some good news. Our long international nightmare is over. My publisher has changed the cover image. Now it’s a mongtage of current (mostly CG) images. At least the forgotten 1930s inkblot “Foxy” rates a spot Ã¢â‚¬“ pointing a gun at my byline. If the cover kept you from getting a book before, now you have no excuse to pick it up and take a peek. It’s back in bookstores this month.
Ward Kimball made this film independently from the Disney Studio in 1968. It is the only independent short ever made by one of Disney’s Nine Old Men. He screened it at film festivals, college campuses and personally gave 16mm copies to friends and liberal-minded fans. The film below may be considered NSFW depending on where you work.
(Thanks to Ted Thomas, Steve Segal, John Canemaker)
On Monday, Turner Broadcasting and the advertising agency involved agreed to pay $2 million in compensation to Boston over the AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE publicity-stunt-turned-bomb-scare. Today Cartoon Network president Jim Samples resigned over the matter.
From: Jim Samples
I am sure you are aware of recent events in which a component of an Adult Swim marketing campaign made Turner Broadcasting the unintended focus of controversy in Boston and around the world. I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign. As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch. It’s my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages. As for me, there will be new professional challenges ahead that will make the most of the experiences I’ve had as part of this remarkable company. Through my 13 years at the company I have found myself continuously in awe of the talented artists and business people surrounding me, from those who realize their vision in creating a cartoon to those who so brilliantly deliver the animation to viewers. I will always cherish the experience of having worked with you. I appreciate the support that you have shown me. As a friend and a fan, I also look forward to seeing your best and most personally fulfilling work yet. Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and each of you deserve nothing less.
If they would just stick to making and showing cartoons…
If you couldn’t make it to last summer’s incredible Tokyo The Art Of Disney exhibition, or couldn’t get a copy of the fantastic exhibition catalog (pictured above), you still have one more chance at it. Disney Japan is releasing a DVD/Blu-Ray copy of the exhibition on April 25th. Click here to see a trailer for it. The question is: Will it be accessible outside of Japan?
ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Archive has posted a rare 1938 animators handbook, the Disney Studios Artist’s Tryout Book. It outlines what each department does and what is expected of each employee. This book is fascinating, especially in comparison to the way studios operate today. Story Men are required to draw. Inking and Painting is the only department open to women. Special note is made of Television, which shows the studio was thinking ahead, to how animation would adapt to a new medium.Speaking of new mediums, ASIFA-Hollywood’s annual event, The Annie Awards, are being bestowed this Sunday in a star-studded presentation at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. VIP tickets are sold out, but I’ve been told there are still a few general seats available. The pre-show reception starts at 3pm, the award ceremony begins at 5pm and the gala post-event party (this year in a tent behind the theatre) starts around 7:15pm. See you there.
“Hi! I’m Mr. Mo Cap! I’m the future of animation!”
I woke up this morning to the news that Disney is entering a partnership with Robert Zemeckis to create a new in-house studio to produce motion capture films.
Mo-Cap? Oh-Crap! In a parallel universe, (the one in my mind, anyway) Disney was supposed to make a deal with Aardman for clay films… not with Zemeckis and motion capture. There is a part of me that would like to think that Disney bought in with Zemeckis just to keep him and his future “performance capture” projects off the market… but I doubt it. The grosses (and Oscar prestige) of Happy Feet and Monster House are too great for Disney to ignore.
I’m guessing this is an Iger-led business decision, not a Lasseter-led creative one. Let’s not forget the studio’s mandate: Disney must dominate animated features. Number 1 – buy Pixar. Number 2 – buy any other technique or filmmaker encroaching on our dominance in the market. Teaming with Zemeckis is part of that plan.
I hated the look of Polar Express, but could see some potential for the technique in Monster House. However, neither film can be compared to the true art of hand-drawn Disney animation. John Lasseter is commited to reviving traditional hand drawn character animation at the studio and this new business deal does nothing to slow those plans. While this new arrangement doesn’t bode well for Disney’s own (non-Pixar) CG feature projects, it does keep Disney at the forefront of digital filmmaking – with a new twist on an old technology. I can’t help but think that Max Fleischer is looking down on all this and having the last laugh.
I can’t explain MUGGY-DOO BOY CAT, but I feel compelled to acknowledge its existence.Animator Hal Seegar (1917-2005) had a prolific career, as a Fleischer animator (Mr. Bug), a Hollywood screenwriter (several forgetable B pictures in the 1940s) and a latter day producer of TV cartoons (Milton The Monster, Batfink, Out Of The Inkwell, etc.). In the 1950s he wrote comic books (Leave it to Binky and A Date With Judy for DC) and briefly partnered with publisher Stanley Estrow to start Stanhall Comics (G.I. Jane, The Farmer’s Daughter, et al). Seeger apparently created all the humor comics for this line. The one “funny animal” entry was Muggy-Doo Boy Cat. The character had a strange combination of inspirations – not the least was his “Yellow Kid” sweat shirt which would have a different zany slogan in each panel. Cartoonist (and animation storyman) Irv Spector drew these books in a funny Milt Gross meets Walt Kelly style.Apparently Seeger had big plans for the Boy Cat. Ten years after the comics made their debut, Seeger, having hit it big producing low budget animation for TV, made a pilot with Muggy Doo in 1963. It failed to sell, but he did however sell it to Paramount Pictures who, strangely enough, released it as a theatrical short subject! Seeger revived Muggy Doo one more time – this time as a Boy Fox – as a back up feature on The Milton The Monster Show (ABC, 1965).Muggy-Doo Boy Cat, we salute you. The public never did catch on to your comic genius despite your creator’s persistence. Below is the first three minutes of the 1963 pilot, animated by Myron Waldman. The film credits Seeger’s wife, Beverly Arnold, as creator – but don’t you believe it. This is Seeger’s masterpiece. He deserves all the credit. UPDATE: Kiddie Record expert Greg Ehrbar adds this additional tidbit: “Muggy Doo sounds like New York actor Herb Duncan, a stage actor who did lots of commercials, some TV, some animation (The Ballad of Smokey the Bear) and records (he was George and Elroy on the Jetsons on Golden Records and Mike on MAD’s “Gall in the Family Fare” flexi-disc.” Previous Forgotten Cartoon Legend – SUPERKATT
Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday February 3rd, the Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood and Women In Animation will present an AFTERNOON OF REMEMBRANCE, the annual memorial to honor those in the animation community who passed away in 2006. This year tributes will be paid to Joe Barbera, Ed Benedict, Brad Case, Chris Hayward, Norm McCabe, Sid Raymond, Joe Simon, Alex Toth, Myron Waldman, Robert “Tiger” West and Berny Wolf, among many others. This event happens at the Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) at 2100 N. Highland Ave., across from the Hollywood Bowl. Doors open for food and refreshments at 1 pm, Memorials begin at 2 pm. The Afternoon is free of charge and is open to all; no RSVP necessary.
The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive has done it again. They’ve just posted an amazing scrapbook of farewell messages, drawings and signatures from the Disney animation staff in 1952, given to assistant animator Clair Weeks on the occasion of his departure from the studio. It’s pretty much a who’s who of Disney – everyone, from Walt Disney himself to Ward Kimball (above), Fred Moore, Marc Davis, Don DaGradi, Joe Rinaldi, Norm Ferguson, John Sibley and John Dunn. Click here to see the pages. And Steve Worth tells me he’s got more killer Disney items to post next week.
One of the pleasures of my monthly cartoon screening gig with Janet Klein at the Steve Allen Theatre (first Thursday of every month at 8pm, next one on March 1st) is meeting many actors, comedians, artists and animators who attend each month to bask in 1920s-30s movies and music nirvana. Last night I met Noir Nouar, an illustrator and painter just finishing a stint on Nickelodeon’s Catscratch. Nouar has her own following as a fine artist and painter, and a website full of fun artwork. I love this piece (above) inspired by the Betty Boop cartoon MORE PEP – or at least by a line in Sammy Timburg’s song in that cartoon.
Disney has licensed several of their characters for use as USB Flash Memory Drives. Buffalo Technology will put these devices on sale next month, but only as a limited edition of 5000. The tech blog Engadget reports:
With just 512MB of capacity, it’s fairly clear that these are aimed squarely at Disney fanboys (and girls) who just can’t let the opportunity to own a “limited edition” Disney item pass them by.
Call me a “fanboy”. The Steamboat Willie one looks pretty cool.(Thanks to Bill Robinson for the heads up)
Between the years he directed Popeye, Superman and Stone Age cartoons for Fleischer & Famous Studios in the early 40s, and his story and direction for Hanna Barbera in the late 50s and 60s, (where he was a chief architect of The Flintstones) animator Dan Gordon made a living as a prolific comic book artist. One of his most beloved creations was SUPERKATT who graced the pages (and covers) of GIGGLE COMICS for over 10 years (1944-1955).John K. writes about Gordon’s comic books here. Also Asifa Hollywood’s Animation Archive and Kent Butterworth have posted various pages for your enjoyment.In the mid-40s, a desperate Columbia Pictures licensed Gordon’s SUPERKATT comic strip for its Screen Gems animation studio. Why? It’s still a mystery. Was SUPERKATT that popular with the public to make a movie star of him? I doubt it. Did Dave Fleischer, while he was head of the studio several years earlier, make a deal with his ‘ol buddy Gordon? Maybe. Regardless, the cartoon – Leave Us Chase It (1947), produced in low budget two-color Technicolor – made no impression on anyone back in the day. The only promotion we can find is hidden in this puzzle in GIGGLE COMICS #31 (July 1946, almost a year before the film’s release). It’s been practically forgotten (as has the rest of the Screen Gems cartoon library) for six decades. In honor of 60th anniversary of Superkatt’s screen debut, we’ve posted the first three minutes of this curio You Tube for your enjoyment.We invite you to join the cult.
(Thanks to William Sobieck for the puzzle page scan)
Brew readers with a keen eye and a vast knowledge of Disney TV and movies, here’s a question for you. These cels (above) were recently acquired by self-admitted animation addict Rob Richards, House Organist at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre (If you’ve been to the El Cap, chances are you’ve heard Rob. He’s played over 4000 performances since the organ debuted in 1999). These are Disneyland Art Corner setups. Rob is completely stumped. I don’t know what they are either – but I suspect they are from a Wonderful World of Color episode.UPDATE: Rudy Agresta and Darrell Van Citters wrote in to identify the cels, both will get a free copy of Rob’s El Capitan Theatre CD, Mighty Wurlitzer! Darrell says:
Those cels were from a project done for Latin America. All I can with certainty is that John Lounsbery animated the opening stuff up to the point where the pigs become the Disney version of the Three Pigs. I saw the scenes in the old morgue (as we called it). The drawings are awesome – I loved them so much I photocopied some of them. There’s even some of the Big Bad Wolf. They were done with lots of blue colored pencil under-drawing and the extremes were tied down quite loosely, along the same lines as John’s drawings of the Colonel in 101 Dalmatians. The sheets indicated that the tracks were in Spanish so I don’t think it was ever shown here. If someone on the inside wants to do more research or get better quality scans, the production number is 5954, Los Tres Cochinitos.
The cels in question on your site are from the film titled Cri-Cri el Grillito Cantor (Chi-Chi, the Singing Cricket). This was a Spanish made live action film that the producer (Carlos Amadour, S.A.) made in 1963. The Disney studio was contracted to produce the animated segment. This was left in the capable hands of Bill Justice and X. Atencio. It featured the 3 Little Pigs, their mother and the wolf.
Lino Corio, a Brew reader in Mexico adds this:
The movie is a biopic of Francisco Gabilondo Soler, a Mexican that wrote dozens of songs intended for children. However, his music was not simple… it is the kind of music that both children and adults can enjoy: funny, touching and, sometimes, very sad. One of his most popular songs is called “Cochinitos Dormilones” (Sleeping Pigs) and is some sort of lullaby that talks about the three little pigs going to bed and what kind of dreams they have (one dreams of becoming a king, another one dreams of sailing on a boat and the third one dreams of helping his mom). When the movie was made, Disney animated the song and then, some extra stuff was added… like the three little pigs breaking a piÃ±ata.
Since we’ve been down for several hours (changing servers), we have a lot to catch up on. Yes it’s true. Dreamworks and Aardman have officially split up. Is there anyone, anywhere, upset by this news? I think this is a good thing for Aardman. They are free to pursue making the movies they want. I would love to see them enter into a distribution deal with Disney, however I doubt they will have any trouble finding another U.S. studio to align with. We plugged Fred Cline’s blog last week, but it’s worth another visit. Cline is posting his color keys for the aborted 1993 BETTY BOOP movie – and he’s posted video of the animated Mary Blair/Lee Blair Meadow Gold commercials. Cool. Jules Feiffer will recieve the Writers Guild of America’s Animation Writing Award for lifetime achievement. The WGA West’s Animation Writers Caucus tapped Feiffer whom, it should be remembered, wrote Terrytoons (including Tom Teriffic) in the 1950s, as well as a recent series of animated films being directed by Gene Deitch. Feiffer also wrote the live action Popeye (1980) feature, but let’s ignore that for the moment. Feiffer will be feted at the Writers Guild Awards on Feb. 11 at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles and simultaneously at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York.