Next week, on Wednesday January 10th, if you are in L.A. and are a member of ASIFA, you can join me at Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank where I will host a preview screening of several new cartoon shorts. We will be running six Random Cartoons (Frederator’s new series for Nick) including Doug TenNapel’s Solomon Fix, Nikki Yang’s Two Witch Sisters, Pen Ward’s Adventure Time, Hiroshi Chida’s Boneheads, Melissa Wolfe and Anne Walker’s Sparkles and Gloom… and, oh yeah, my Hornswiggle. It’s gonna be fun.Tonight I’m doing a Q&A with producer John Williams at an Asifa-Hollywood members screening of HAPPILY N’EVER AFTER (I’m also showing cartoons at my monthly Janet Klein gig – don’t ask how I’m doing both at the same time, but I am!). Next month is the Annie Awards ceremony in Glendale. In advance of voting, ASIFA-Hollywood members received DVD screeners of HAPPY FEET, CARS, MONSTER HOUSE, FLUSHED AWAY and OVER THE HEDGE. The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive is growing and has become an Internet hit. In case you can’t tell, this is a plug for ASIFA-Hollywood. If you live in L.A. you really should be a member. ASIFA-Hollywood isn’t a closed clique of animation elites – it’s for everyone who cares about the artform – whether your interest is anime, games, stop-mo, cg or traditional; or if your interests are in classic theatrical shorts, current TV animation or the latest feature film; or if you just like cartoons – ASIFA is your resource, an invaluable resource.The group was founded in the 1960s by the likes of Bill Scott, Ward Kimball, Chuck Jones and June Foray. Be part of that tradition. Now is the pefect time to join, we’ve got a lot of great events planned for this year. For more information go here.
Our first contest of the New Year, for the terrific limited edition CD set Tom and Jerry, and Tex Avery Too! was held this morning. The first two respondents to answer this question correctly won a free copy. The question:
What Walt Disney Silly Symphony cartoon did Scott Bradley compose the score for?
The correct answer was MERBABIES. Our winners were Andrea Ippoliti of Italy and Adam Koford of Orlando, Florida. Thank you to all who entered!
Only 3000 were produced. We’ve raved about it. Mike Barrier raved about it. You still have time to get one before they all sell out. Tom and Jerry, and Tex Avery Too!, a two-disc CD compiling the best Scott Bradley scores from MGM animated shorts of the 1950s is an absolute must-have. What better way to ring in the new year than to have the crisp clear fast-paced soundtracks to Dixieland Droopy, Barbeque Brawl and Little Johnny Jet blasting out of your car stereo? Additionally, co-producer Daniel Goldmark’s detailed program notes (in the color booklet included) is the final word on Bradley’s work and career (image above, from the booklet, is of Bradley and Bill Hanna). A second set, examining Bradley’s earlier work, is being considered, but it’s dependent on sales of this first volume. So do your part and buy this CD today.For those of you who need a little coaxing: tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 9AM Pacific (12 noon Eastern) I will post a simple trivia question and the first two Brew readers to answer correctly will win a free copy of the Scott Bradley limited edition CD set. Be here tomorrow and try your luck.
I read the LA Times during lunch today and found this tribute cartoon by Gary Varvel in the Editorial pages. The LA Times printed it in black & white, but I found it online in color for you. It’s a nice piece, but does anyone else find it odd to see Johnny Bravo standing in there?Meanwhile, over in the LA Times Book Review section, Ed Park reviews Fantagraphics excellent POPEYE comic strip compilation book, I Yam What I Yam, Vol.1. A little late for Christmas, but it’s great to see Popeye (in any form) receiving some recognition in a major newspaper.
Karl Cohen (president of ASIFA-San Francisco) reports that Prescott Wright, a co-founder of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and ASIFA-San Francisco, and the original producer of the Tournee of Animation, has passed away.Prescott had been in slow decline for several years with Picks Syndrome, a form of dementia related to Alzheimer. He died on December 28th at age 71. Karl Cohen writes:
“Pres spent about 40 years of his life promoting animation as a great art form. In the late 1960s several of his friends with ASIFA-Hollywood decided to put together an international animation program. It was almost impossible to see quality animation in the US at that time. Pres was active with the group and having worked previously in film distribution, he was asked to head the project, The International Tournee of Animation, when they decided to show the program in other places. He continued to organize and distribute the annual celebration until Terry Thoren’s Expanded Entertainment purchased rights to the program in the late 1980s.”For many years Prescott was on ASIFA’s international board of directors, and was an advisor to the Ottawa and other major animation festivals. More recently he worked for Disney as an artist recruiter and then worked in the Philippines and India as an instructor and in development with emerging animation studios.”
I met Prescott myself shortly after I moved to L.A. in 1986, when I came to work with Terry Thoren to distribute the Tournee for Expanded Entertainment. Prescott was always friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help us communicate with filmmakers and theater owners across the country and around the world. Prescott was a pioneer – in those pre-cable, pre-Internet days – by getting independent and international animation showcased and making those films accessible to those unable to attend festivals in far off lands. Without Wright’s vision, the Ottawa festival would not be what it is; successor touring programs like Spike and Mike and The Animation Show would not be; ASIFA-SF would not be the strong chapter it is. Karl Cohen says Prescott’s family will have a small ceremony in his honor in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a couple of days; and ASIFA-San Francisco will dedicate their annual party, on Friday January 5th, to his memory.
Screenwriter Jeff Massie, an executive board member of The Animation Guild, has started blogging about his life and stuff he likes, mostly about culture and politics. However, earlier this month Massie started posting about his artist dad, Reginald Massie:
Not long after Paramount signed (George) Pal to a contract in 1939, Reg Massie came to work for him briefly between gigs at Disney. Along with much of the Disney studio’s best and brightest, Dad walked out of Disney in the 1941 strike, where he met my mother on the picket line.During WWII he was in charge of effects animation at the Army Signal Corps Photographic Center in Astoria, Long Island, working with Frank Capra and John Huston on animated maps and special effects. After the war, he returned to Pal in time for the Puppetoon’s brief golden era.Although he was only credited for “backgrounds”, Dad was essentially the art director, responsible for the overall look of the shorts.
More on Reginald Massie and downloads of his his Puppetoon films are posted here on Jeff’s This Is Not My Blog.(Image above is a gag drawing by Virgil “Vip” Partch of fellow Disney inbetweeners, left to right: Sam Cobean, Tony Rivera, Bill McIntyre, Partch, Reginald Massie (foreground), and Dick Shaw. More info on this drawing see Massie’s post here)
Scenes We’d Like To See Dept.
Our thanks to Brew reader Steve Austin who sent in this incredible drawing by Chuck Jones.
Sorry for the quality of the pic but I don’t know how to operate my wife’s so-called “idiot proof” camera. Chuck drew this for me in 1977 when I wrote an article on WB cartoons. During the interview I made a few comments about the iconic characters in a “where are they now?” situation. He liked the one about the Coyote so much that he drew it for me. I was stunned. It’s a scenario which never occured in the WB universe… and to the best of my knowledge, Chuck never drew this gag again.
Hopefully we’ll get this (and the other one) on the next Looney Tunes Golden Collection. For now, someone has posted on YouTube a version shot off a TV screen for your holiday enjoyment. How many animators can you spot?
As animated features currently dwell in a CG rut of fairy tale spoofs and talking animal adventures, television animation has become the place to see a more refreshing diversity of cartoon styles. The Nicktoons Network has quietly started premiering original programming – some good (Skyland), some bad (My Dad The Rock Star), some ugly (Thugaboo). I just recieved a preview video for a new one called THE SECRET SHOW, and this one’s pretty good. Keeping in mind that it’s aimed at the kids in the 9 to 14 year old demographic, it’s quite entertaining. Produced in CelAction, with nicely stylized art direction and clever scripts by Britian’s Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment, the show will begin regular weekly airing on the digital Nicktoons channel in January.Each episode starts off with an old Granny welcoming us to The Fluffy Bunny Show, after which secret operatives take over the scene and the real cartoon begins. It’s yet-another spy spoof, with shades of Get Smart, Austin Powers and a bit of Monty Python, but it never takes itself too seriously, and the plots are witty and fun. The Secret Show is certainly worth a look, and you’ll have your chance starting January 20th, 8:30pm on Nicktoons Network.
I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful Boxing Day party last night which was teeming with Hollywood celebrities (not to name drop, but my favorite character actors Fred Willard, Paul Dooley, Robert Forrester and Chuck McCann were there, as well as Stan Freberg, Harlan Ellison and Buck Henry, to name but a few). But, as likewise reported by Mark Evanier, the hit of the evening was this guy making balloon figures and objects. Anything anyone could throw at him, he was able to quickly concoct into a more-than-resonable likeness in colored latex. I saw balloon versions of Elvis, Jack Skellington, Goofy and The Little Mermaid. Songwriter Richard Sherman got a Mary Poppins, painter Olivia DeBeradinis obtained a balloon version of Betty Page, actor/movie collector Bob Burns recieved an amazing balloon rendition of George Pal’s Time Machine. Me? I asked for Tex Avery’s Droopy. And ya’know what? I’m happy! (photo of me with my Droopy balloon here)The balloon maker was Buster Balloon, a stout fellow in a zoot suit, looking like he just stepped out of a Columbia two reeler from 1944. Within a few minutes I was transfixed with his activities – and by the end of the evening he had won everyone over with his art. This is one of those things you just have to see in person to appreciate. I really admired his knowledge of cartoon character design which enabled him to create balloon objets d’art in seconds. If you are in a party planning situation and in need of something guaranteed to delight your guests, get Buster.
And invite me.
For Christmas of 1949, Walt Disney received a miniature ride-on steam locomotive from Santa, as seen in the first Disney TV special, One Hour in Wonderland (aired December 25, 1950). It was built by elves at the Disney Studio machine shop, and when installed in Disney’s backyard, the little train enabled Walt to entertain his guests on a theme park-type ride for the first time. In the photo above, Walt Disney (center) is seen at the premiere steam-up of his partially-completed miniature locomotive Lilly Belle (named for his wife Lillian) on December 24, 1949. Others on hand are (clockwise from left, studio draftsman Eddie Sargeant, machinist Dick VanEvery and animator Ward Kimball). Walt’s miniature railroad hobby was a precursor to what he created at Disneyland just five years later.Now, Disney’s original train can be seen in a rare Southern California appearance at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA (extended through January 11th, 2007; closed New Year’s Day). The train likely won’t be shown again until the Disney Family Foundation opens a new museum at San Francisco’s Presidio in 2009. (The locomotive was once exhibited at Main Street Station in Disneyland, but was replaced by a replica several years ago.) Footage of the train in action can be found on the recently released Walt Disney Treasures DVD, Your Host Walt Disney. The exhibit will be staffed in part by members of Walt Disney’s miniature train group, the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. The Disney train is just a portion of an exhibit that contains what has been called the biggest holiday toy train layout ever constructed. Click here for a CBS newscast video which explains more.(Thanks, Steve Waller)
from Cartoon Brew!
(click here for a larger image)
Here’s an old photo of me in 1964 (age 9) under our pathetic aluminum Christmas tree, all dressed up and proud of my favorite Chiristmas gift that year, the Ideal Monster Lab game (which turned out to be one of lamest toys I ever owned – more info about it here). My sisters Stephanie (middle) and Laurie (right) hold up their favorite gifts, but I’m hogging up the picture space with my prize. Gosh – remember those neck ties? What were they called?
The clock, which is 12 meters tall, 18 meters wide and weighs 28 tons, was made from 1,228 copper plates, and displays 32 mechanical trick features. The clock resembles images from Miyazaki’s film “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and at fixed intervals blacksmith dolls come out of the clock as music is played.
Jeremy Bernstein sent us a You Tube link to a video of the clock.
(Thanks, Tom Bertino)
Gabriele Pennacchioli, an animator/story artist/designer at Dreamworks Animation, has completed his on-line graphic story Kamuc. Says Gabriele:
It “only” took 6 months of my spare time. During this time my main job was animating on “Flushed Away” and as you know, that takes a lot of energies but nevertheless I managed to do the 23 panels that create the full story.
The panels are posted one a day on his blog. It’s best to scroll down to July 13th (that’s the first panel of the story), and work you way up to December 19th to enjoy the full experience.
Michael Barrier returned to his blog yesterday with a lengthy review of Neal Gabler’s WALT DISNEY. Barrier’s been putting the finishing touches on his own Disney bio, and writes about the difference between the two books. He also posts a large list of his corrections to Gabler’s errors, a list worth printing out and keeping with your copy of the book.
The Archie Show was one of the biggest hit TV cartoons of the late 60s/early 70s. And the Archie Comics company has been pretty good about not messing with the formula that has kept the books popular for about 65 years. Well, I guess all good things must come to an end. Starting in May, Archie and the gang will now be drawn in a new, more realistic style, in longer serialized stories.No matter how you draw them, I prefer Betty to Veronica.(Thanks, Thomas Martin)
Today’s the day the annual “wave” of Disney Treasures come out. Leonard Maltin produces these compilations, and discusses the contents of the current sets here. I was delighted to help him quality control the More Silly Symphonies collection and provide several tracks of audio commentary. If you’ve never seen the uncut MOTHER GOOSE GOES HOLLYWOOD – that alone is worth the price of the set. And don’t overlook the Pluto or live action sets. This is rare vault material, no longer run on Disney Channel or available anywhere else. These sets usually go out of print quickly, as Disney makes fewer of these than any other video they produce. They also do almost no advertising for these. Take my word for it, they go on sale today and are totally worth the asking price.
Word is circulating around Hollywood today that Joe Barbera has passed away.
UPDATE (3:29 pm): The sad news has just been confirmed by the Associated Press.
Yet it is in Disney’s odd combination of libertarianism and liberalism, optimism and cynicism, nostalgia and futurism, faith and doubt that one may find not only the real man but the real America he represented.
(Image above, by David Gothard, illustrated Gabler’s piece on the front page of the CURRENT section. It was scanned from my copy of the paper. LA Times apparently does not have it on their website).
Howard Green sent us the sad news that Bill Tytla’s widow, Adrienne, passed away yesterday at her farm in East Lyme, CT. It was the same farm that she and Bill bought back in 1942. Adrienne was 92 years old. Cause of death was cancer-related. Copies of her book are still available by contacting Peter Tytla (Bill and Adrienne’s son) at www.petertytla.com. In addition to Peter, she is survived by a daughter, Tamara Schacher-Tytla, and a granddaughter, Fantasia.
Sad, but true… Ain’t It Cool News has posted the awful one sheet poster to the live action UNDERDOG movie coming out next summer. Directed by Frederik Du Chau (Quest For Camelot, Racing Stripes), the film stars Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl) as “Shoeshine Boy”. Silly me, I was hoping for something more along the lines of the image below.