The sixth in a series of holiday gift-giving suggestions from your pals at Cartoon Brew.The big video event this week for Disney buffs is the release of the new Disney Treasures wave – particularly the incredible must-have More Silly Symphonies (take my word for it – you want this!). However, Inkwell Images just released a perfect companion piece which will also make a great gift (to yourself or that animation geek closest to your heart), The Legendary Laugh-O-Grams Fairy Tales. I just got my copy and it may be Ray Pointer’s best release yet. The DVD contains exceptional copies of four of Disney’s earliest known cartoon shorts (from 1922 – way before Mickey, Oswald and Alice). Bonus materials include Disney’s first educational film, Tommy Tuckers Tooth (also from ’22) and an excerpt of a rare audio interview with Laugh-O-Gram employee Rudy Ising. Perfect accompaniment to the above mentioned Silly Symphonies dvd and Neal Gabler’s excellent new Disney biography.
Attention all Angelenos: Tom Sito, Disney animator, former president of the Animation Guild, and now author of Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson will speak Thursday, December 14, 2006, 7:30 pm, at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. No one has collected more stories about the Golden Age of Hollywood animation than Tom, and his book is a must have. The Hollywood Heritage Museum is in the Lasky-DeMille Barn at 2100 North Highland Avenue (across the street from the Hollywood Bowl). Parking is free. Admission is $8 (Hollywood Heritage Members: $5) for this special event.
Animation director Matt Ferguson (Harold Rosenbaum Chartered Accountant and Grossology for Nelvana) has, over the past week, been posting clips and full versions of the 2006 Annie Award nominees on his new blog, The Living Animation Festival. Matt’s also been posting all kinds of great stuff he finds on YouTube, including early films of John Lasseter and Michael Dudok de Wit. Well worth a daily visit.
What are you doing on Pearl Harbor Day?This Thursday (tomorrow, Dec. 7th) John Canemaker will be in Hollywood, hosting a program to celebrate the DVD debut of DISNEY TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURES 1949 -1960. He’ll be screening highlights from the pioneering live action Disney film series, and lead a discussion with a panel of filmmakers, including Roy E. Disney. Paul Kenworthy, Bruce Reitherman, and David Bossert. At 7:30 p.m. in the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA.I myself will be half a mile away, running a fine selection of vintage animated cartoons at the Janet Klein concert at The Steve Allen Theatre. I do this every month, the first Thursday of each. It’s a great evening of fun which starts at 8:00pm. For more info go here.
The nominees for the 34th Annual Annie Awards have been announced. The complete list is posted here. Here’s a sampling of some of the nominees:Best Animated Feature
Cars – Pixar Animation Studios
Happy Feet – Warner Bros.
Monster House – Columbia Pictures/ImageMovers/Amblin Production
Open Season – Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures
Over The Hedge – DreamWorks AnimationBest Animated Short Subject
Adventure Time – Nickelodeon
Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot – Thunderbean Animation
No Time For Nuts – Blue Sky Studios
Weird Al Yankovic “Don’t Download This Song” – Acme FilmworksThe Awards will be presented Sunday February 11th at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. For more information click here. Congratulations to all the nominees.
Mark Evanier is the first to note the passing of my friend Sid Raymond. Raymond was best known as the voice of Baby Huey and Katnip for Famous Studios during the 1950s. He also did voices for Terrytoons and radio, and appeared in many classic TV shows (including The Honeymooners) and movies. He made a fortune playing a bartender in a series of commercials for Schlitz Beer in the early 1960s.That’s a picture of Sid and I, above, taken in Vancouver during the voice recording sessions for the new Baby Huey cartoons produced by Carbunkle Cartoons for Harvey Entertainment in 1994. If you want to see a larger version of the photo click here. I not only spent a whole week with Sid that year, but subsequently met up with him in New York (where he took me to breakfast at the Friars Club, and to a party at Jackson Beck’s apartment!). If that weren’t enough, I visited with Sid and his lovely wife in Miami where he showed me several pieces of Famous Studios memorabilia. We kept in touch throughout the years – and Sid never stopped working! He was on The O.C. last year – that was his last appearence on screen. Say what you will about the Famous Studios cartoons, the voice work is teriffic. Stang, Mercer, Beck, Questel and Raymond are hilarious, and give classic vocal characterizations.Howard Weinberg made a documentary about Sid a few years ago, Sid At 90 which is well worth buying. Below is a brief clip from the film where Sid discusses voicing Baby Huey, his small part in The Prize (1963) and excerpts from his Schlitz Beer commercials.His niece wrote about him on my My Space. He will be missed.
Not my favorite decade for animation, but James Eatock of Busta Toons Productions (the folks behind the He Man/She Ra blog) is starting cereal:geek, a new magazine that focuses strictly on animation from the eighties and, he says, “challenges the perceptions of the reader”.Eatock envisions a glossy publication, published on a quarterly basis, with articles, illustrations, scripts, storyboards, “a wealth of unseen production materials from your favorite shows, and interviews with those individuals that helped shape this particular decade of animation history”. Visit the website and register your interest and you will receive updates about the magazine in preparation for its January 2007 debut.
Here is everything you ever wanted to know about BEWITCHED – the 1964-1972 ABC TV comedy series about a regular guy who marries to a immortal magical witch. This page has more than you ever thought possible about the show’s Hanna Barbera opening titles: frame grabs, audio, alternate titles, etc.(Thanks, Mike Owens)
Hmmm… the trade papers usually don’t post new stories over the weekend. Here’s one that popped up this morning in The Hollywood Reporter about Disney laying off 160 people in Feature Animation. It’s never a good sign when a company announces news late Friday so it appears in print Saturday (traditionally less people watch or read news on Saturday). The L.A. Times also has the report today:
“The management team at Walt Disney Animation has determined that each film will dictate its own appropriate production schedule,” Disney Studios spokeswoman Heidi Trotta said. “The result of this necessitated a reduction of staff.”
Brewster Rockit is a very funny sci-fi parody comic strip running in the L.A. Times and many other papers accross the country (via Tribune Media Services). Today’s strip was right up our alley. Perhaps Brewster’s fictional outer space Cartoon Network is starting to show live action? Now that would be science fiction – wouldn’t it?
The third in a series of holiday gift-giving suggestions from your pals at Cartoon Brew.
The self proclaimed “most obscure strip of the 1950s”, Gene Deitch’s daily and Sunday Real Great Adventures of TERR’BLE THOMPSON, Hero of Hist’ry has been collected in a wonderful trade paperback by Fantagraphics Books.I love Gene Deitch’s animated cartoons (especially his Terrytoons), and his print cartoons like The Cat are stylish, funny and – in the case of Terr’ble Thompson – Terrific! That’s because Thompson is the forerunner and template for Gene’s most popular cartoon creation, Tom Terrific. The obscure strip ran less than a year (from October 1955 through April 1956, while Dietch was running UPA New York, until he got the call to head Terrytoons) in no more than 14 papers. Gene himself didn’t save any of the original art. The book masterfully reprints all the original strips from digitally retouched newspaper clippings (you’d never know) and Gene recounts the entire experience in his introduction and footnotes (among the various tidbits, details of Jules Feffier’s failed attempt to become Gene’s assistant – with an example of Feffier’s try out strip; the villian, Mean Morgan, is a charicature of John Hubley; and information on the aborted Golden Record and animated pilot).Deitch’s modernist artwork and bold color design were way ahead of the curve for most comic strips of the era. The stories are great fun, and the art is eye-candy cool. Deitch’s son, Kim, and comics historian Dan Nadel contribute an informed foreword and afterword, respectively. Put it on your holiday list. For comics fans or animation fans, I think this is an absolute must.
I came across this commercial for BLIP, the digital game, while I was transfering to DVD some cartoon shows I taped in 1980. It’s not animation, but I thought it was worth sharing on You Tube. My, how far we’ve come in 30 years (the toy was first released in 1977).
Here’s an oddity I just had to share. If you thought a live-action Flintstones was a bad idea, check this out. A live action Japanese ASTRO BOY movie (or TV show?) from the early 1960s, followed by a few seconds of a live action GIGANTOR film from the same period. Anyone know what year these clips are from? There are other clips from the GIGANTOR movie scattered on YouTube (here’s one and here’s another). But this Astro Boy footage is unique and hilarious. Maybe Cartoon Network ought to dig this up for their live-action Adult Swim block.UPDATE: Reader Charles Brubaker writes:
Regarding the live-action “Astro Boy” clip you posted on Cartoon Brew. That was from the live-action TV show that came out BEFORE the anime version. It ran March 7, 1959 to May 28, 1960 on Fuji Television. 65 episodes were made.
Our buddy Tee Bosustow has just started broadcasting a new radio show dedicated to classic animated cartoons. Toon In! … to the Masters of Animation airs weekly on Southern California’s KCLA 99.3 FM Sunday nights, 7:30pm -8pm. Tee writes in to tell us:
We are having a little technical trouble with the radio shows themselves, so there is no way to listen to them yet on the web, but we should start getting them up on the site in the next week or so, then one a week for who knows how long.There is plenty of material on the website to explain the show in much more detail than this email. But, the main idea is to interview a different guest each week, who has something to do with animation, not just animators, but all sorts of people in the business. Since animation is largely a visual art, the companion site is there to show the listeners some of the guests’ art work, find out more about them, and enable visitors to contact them, either through our email address, or in some cases, directly with the guest themselves. We have also started a campaign to bring some sponsors aboard, who are in the animation field, schools, producers, festivals, and the like, and we have a page just for them, because presumably they will be as interesting as some of the guests, to our listeners.
The first five shows are:Show #1: Tom Roth – Air Date: Nov 26.
Roth was a hand-drawn and computer animator for Ralph Bakshi, Richard Williams, Disney, and many others.Show #2: Mark Kausler – Air Date: Dec 03.
Artist, animator, collector, and historian, on Yellow Submarine, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and much more. Show #3: David Evans – Air Date: Dec 10.
Screenwriter and gag man, specializing in animation, for Jay Ward, Bill Hurtz, and many others.Show #4: Joe Siracusa – Air Date: Dec 17
Former gag man/musician for Spike Jones, animation sound effects career began at UPA Pictures.Show #5: Cathy Karol – Air Date: Dec 24
Fine artist, animator, independent animation filmmaker, and teacher, knows all facets of the animation industry.
Here’s a new item that needs to be on every Brew readers’ X-mas wish list. Screen Archives Entertainment/Film Score Monthly has just released a limited edition Scott Bradley CD soundtrack Tom and Jerry, and Tex Avery Too! Vol. 1: the 1950s. This goes on the shelf next to the classic Carl Stalling Project CDs – as the same loving care went into this long overdue package. You get two CDs filled with some of Bradley’s greatest scores (just the music – no dialogue or sound effects) from MGM cartoons of the 1950s. These particular scores were recorded on magnetic film and have been restored with a clarity you’ve never heard before. Nine (of the twenty-five scores) were originally recorded in stereo and, to quote the liner notes, “the sound quality of these shorts is breathtaking”. Even if you know these films by heart, you’ll be particularly amazed by the scores for lesser cartoons like DOWNBEAT BEAR, BARBEQUE BRAWL and TOT WATCHERS. His Avery tracks (like CELLBOUND, BILLY BOY and DEPUTY DROOPY) are revelations. And the Tom & Jerrys are pure genius.Speaking of the liner notes, Daniel Goldmark (who produced the CD with Lukas Kendall) wrote the 24-page illustrated booklet giving a thorough history of MGM music, Scott Bradley and his relationship with Hanna, Barbera and Avery, notes on the guest musicians, singers and the musical choices – as well as specific production notes for all 25 tracks. This booklet – and Shug Fisher’s vocal track for Pecos Pest – are worth the price of the CD alone!This is a must-have. Bradley was one of the greats, but his work has been overshadowed in recent years by Carl Stalling’s memorable and pioneering scores for Disney, Iwerks and Warner Bros. This CD set will help put things in perspective.You have been warned: Only 3000 copies of this incredible CD have been pressed. I highly recommend you order it right now!
In the 1950s it was comic books and rock & roll, in the 1990s it was video games and the internet. Now Steven Benen on The Carpetbagger Report.com recounts the numerous warnings against Dreamworks’ Shrek 2 and Shark Tale, Nick’s Spongebob Squarepants and PBS’ Postcards From Buster. And now Happy Feet joins the legion of Hollywood films apparently brainwashing our youth. Not only that, the Parents Television Council, a watchdog group, is preparing to boycott Comedy Central’s Drawn Together (according to this article on adult animation in Multichannel News). We agree with Steve Benen’s conclusion: “They’re just cartoons. It’s probably time for a priority check.”
RIT’s character animators took all but one of the top prizes for student films at the 2D or Not 2D Animation Festival. Tony White originated the idea of giving awards to animation in a film as well as for the film itself, so that good animation could be judged independently of the story.The festival featured screenings of restored prints of ANIMAL FARM, retrospectives of Tony White’s work, a tribute to Halas and Batchelor, and many other surprises. Keynote speaker Roy Disney (pictured above with Steamboat Willie)stated that he wished to “refute that ridiculous statement of Michael Eisner’s that 2D was dead. It is not dead, and the statement is not true.” Mr. Disney presented a wonderful series of Disney short films inlcuding LORENZO and the Salvador Dali-Walt Disney coproduction DESTINO, and generously donated the use of the audiovisual equipment used for the rest of the festival entries. Eric Goldberg’s latest animation for a Buddhist theme park, featuring greedy monkeys, was another high point of the festival.Films in competition were sent from as far afield as Germany and Wales, with East and West Coast animation schools well represented (though Cal Arts and Ringling were surprisingly absent–we’ll get them to participate next year!)”Golden Pencils” were won by RIT seniors Brittney Lee, Joseph Daniels, and Jedidiah Mitchell, with Merit Awards given to graduate student Adam Fisher and sophomore Wesley Storhoff. Some of their prizewinning RIT films from the 2D or not 2D festival are available online.You can view Brittney Lee’s THE MUSICAL GENIUS OF MOZART MCFIDDLE (Winner, Best Animation in a Student Film with Special Merit for Art direction). Merit Award winner THE BALLAD OF THE PURPLE CLAM, is (partly) here: Adam Fisher’s advisor was Tom Gasek (of Aardman, now of RIT). Joe Daniels and Jed Mitchell won the Best Student Film award for THE WAY OF THE MANTIS, tied with A MANO (from VanArts) Even though MANTIS appears to be hand drawn, it is in fact a CGI film that is rendered to look like paintbrush work–the students designed the plug-in for Maya themselves. Merit Award winner Wes Storhoff’s THE INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM is not online, but it’s hilarious–the young man produced it in Nancy Beiman’s ‘one quarter project’ class, which lasted ten weeks. One of my students, Nathaniel Hubbell, sadly did not enter his film, Pygmalion Dreams, but it’s gorgeous. He also made a strange little film called DINNER (both made under my supervision).All of these students save Adam Fisher were my advisees and most have allowed me to use their preproduction artwork to illustrate sections of my book, which is now available for preorder on amazon.com. A special Golden Pencil Award was also awarded to their teacher. I was certainly not expecting that! The festival was well attended and we hope that it will be even ‘bigger’ next year.
(Photo courtesy of Mark Gittman)
Did you know Charlie Brown’s parents were organ donors? When Charles M. Schulz agreed to using Peanuts characters for MetLife’s brochures, there were unexpected consequences.It’s one of many strange moments in Peanuts history noted for posterity in a new post, 5 Lamest Charlie Brown Cartoons, on the 10 Zen Monkeys blog. There’s five YouTube clips documenting several oddball Peanuts moments from 40 years of Charlie Brown animation. (Snoopy as Flashbeagle; Charlie Brown shilling for Cheerios; et al). Needless to say, these clips (and the commentary by blogger “Destiny”) are a lot funnier than last night’s new Peanuts special, He’s A Bully, Charlie Brown.
The San Francisco Society of Illustrators is letting everyone know about the event PIXAR UNDER THE HOOD: The Making of Cars happening a week from Friday at Morgan Auditoruium.PIXAR UNDER THE HOOD: The Making of Cars (and a few other things)
Friday, December 1, 2006, 7PM
San Francisco, California
Dan Hollis has been working in radio for the past 10 years as both the sales manager for Hackettstown, New Jersey radio station WRNJ and co-hosting a radio program with his colleague, Jeff O’Boyle. The show is called Time Travel and it’s dedicated to pop culture and nostalgia. The show is primarily interviews with celebrities, with the focus on television, film, old time radio, comic books and of course, animated cartoons. Recent guests have included: Paul Winchell, Katie Leigh, Mel Stuart, Noel Blanc, Lee Mendelson, George Carlin, June Foray, Scott Shaw, Micky Dolenz, Marty Krofft, Robert Sherman (Allan’s son), Phil Vischer, Joe Kubert and others. The good news is that Dan has posted many of his previous interviews on a work-in-progress website entitled Time Travel Is Possible. Good stuff.
After old comic books and classic animated cartoons, the number #3 most influential art to aspiring animators has to be on cereal boxes. Especially old cereal boxes from the 1960s. The whole design of the packaging itself was/is inspirational. Just ask Thorsten Hasenkamm or Dan Goodsell or Ridd Sorenson. Their blogs are filled with modern interpretations of old packages (or the actual old boxes themselves).Bob Staake is an incredible commercial artist and children’s book illustrator with an obsession: breakfast cereal. To him, it’s not what the flakes taste like, it’s the box design and the groovy prizes inside. Bob is proposing his own line of cereal, centering his efforts around his iconic product characters. Check out his website for Freebies Cereal.
And what ever happened to the project Von Kreep (of Kreepsville.com) was doing called Cereal Killers. He had asked illustrators and animation artists to do box covers of “scary” cereals. It was supposed to be out this past summer and I don’t know what happened to it, but a lot of the art is online on various artist blogs, like: Rob Lilly, Johnny Yanok, Ben Balistreri, Kevin Schmid, Gabe Swarr, Brandon Scott, Saxton Moore. This stuff is mighty tasty.UPDATE: Bob MacNeil sent me a link to a list of all the Cereal Killer artists and their contributions to the project.
Does that creepy guy on the far right look familiar?Yeah, it’s me. You never know where you’ll end up if you let Evan and Gregg Spiridellis take your picture. But I couldn’t be more honored. Al Yankovic is an old friend and the folks at JibJab are my heroes. So when they asked if they could use my mug in the latest Weird Al music video, “Do I Creep You Out”, how did I know they’d actually use it as a mug shot?The video is hilarious – and I’m a star (for about six seconds). Check it out for laughs!
Long before Paramount Pictures was affiliated with Nickelodeon Movies… a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… they had an animation studio. And before that, they contracted animated shorts and features from the Max Fleischer studio.Mr. Bug Goes To Town (1941) was the second feature film from Fleischer Studios, produced at their state-of-the-art animation facility in Miami Florida. It had the misfortune of not only being produced during a tumultuous rift between brothers Max (the producer) and Dave (the director), but during a period of heated battle between Max and Paramount Pictures. Paramount released the film during the first week of December 1941 and audiences stayed home in droves due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and our imminent entry into World War II.The film has been unjustly neglected for 65 years (so much so its latter day owners forgot to renew the copyright; the film is now in public domain and is widely available with inferior image quality). It was reissued as Hoppity Goes To Town and has become a cult favorite to a younger generation of animators and animation buffs. On New Year’s Day 2007, Mr. Bug Goes to Town will be presented at The Museum of Modern Art. If you live in, or are visiting New York City during the holidays, I urge you to GO!Here’s one reason why: The Museum has one of the only existing original Technicolor prints (with its Paramount logos and original titles intact). Most of the bad dubs on video (and the Internet) are so far from its original intended presentation, it’s pathetic. This print was shown at LACMA (L.A.’s equivalent of MoMA) several years ago and it absolutely blew my mind. The film was meant to be seen in a theater, and the vibrant colors of this print show it to be on par with anything Disney did during the same period. You’ve got two chances, Monday, January 1st at 11:00am and 2:00pm.The film also has a clever story, wonderful songs (by Frank Loesser, Hoagy Carmichael and Sammy Timberg) and great animation – and it’s a great way to start the new year.
The first in a series of holiday gift-giving suggestions from your pals at Cartoon Brew.Editor Piera Patat of La Cineteca Del Friuli heard my plea and sent me a review copy of Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman’s Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series which was published in Italy last month.My high expectations for this long awaited tome were more than met. Merritt and Kaufman’s Silly Symphonies is a must-have reference for everyone, from Disney aficionados to aspiring animators, anyone interested in animation history. The Silly Symphonies were a significant stepping stone in the aesthetic progression of animated cartoons in general, and Disney’s artistic growth in particular.This book documents each and every film in the series with facts, commentary and detailed minutiea. Full credits, from studio drafts, crediting animators with their specific scenes along with working titles, complete voice credits, length (by footage), negative costs, TV premiere dates, musical credits and my favorite bit of trivia: what feature films each Silly opened with in its initial New York (usually at Radio City Music Hall) and Los Angeles (usually the Loews State or Grauman’s Chinese) theatrical engagements.The filmography takes up half the book, the other sections include a lengthy introduction detailing the history of the series, how it changed as Disney moved from one distributor to another, what influenced the stories the series told and how the Sillies were used to train Disney’s staff for eventual feature production. Appendicies detail Unfinished Symphonies, a discography, a bibliography of licensed childrens books based on the series and further information on offshoots like Hot Chocolate Soldiers (a Silly Symphony created for MGM’s 1934 feature Hollywood Party).It’s all here. Each film is illustratred with several rare images, however if I had one quibble with the book, it’s that I wish they had used more original art, production stills, pressbook and poster images over certain frame enlargements used here. It’s hard to complain though – the book is a necessity, a first class piece of research. Editor Patat informs me that Indiana University Press will be distributing the book in the U.S. (though it’s not listed on their website, nor on amazon, yet).While you’re waiting, I highly recommend pre-ordering Walt Disney Treasures – More Silly Symphonies which goes on sale December 19th. This second volume contains the rest of the Silly Symphonies series not already released on DVD – including several never before released on video in any format (Hell’s Bells and Cannibal Capers are two notorious titles rarely seen since their original theatrical release). The films have been completely restored and several cartoons have audio track commentary by the likes of Leonard Maltin, J.B. Kaufman, Daniel Goldmark, Ross Care, Dave Gerstein, Richard Sherman and me. The book and the DVD set make a killer combination of cartoon greatness. Highly Recommended!
Just a subtle reminder that the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 4 goes on sale today at your favorite video retailer. Take the rest of the day off and watch cartoons.