Disney story artist Paul Briggs has started an unusual art project/blogsite called Dog Days of Animation. Says Paul:
It all began back in 1996 when I wanted to ask a colleague in the animation industry for a drawing. I was embarrassed to ask because I knew the pressure of being an artist and having to “think” of something to draw. So, I decided to use this photo of a random dog that I took one day in a flower shop. I had no connection to the dog so therefore there were no expectations of the subject matter from my end as well. All I wanted was the artists to represent themselves.
Most of the drawings are done by Paul’s Feature Animation colleagues at Disney – including Chris Sanders (above), Alex Kupershmidt and Aaron Blaise. Twenty drawings have been posted so far, but Paul tells us he has over sixty drawings in total that he’ll be putting up over the next several months. If you’re interested in participating or want to see a photo of the original dog, visit this page.
Forget LOONATICS.It seems the classic Looney Tunes characters are getting another makeover, in a slightly different manner, with Warner Bros.’s full support. Three weeks ago, I noticed a mysterious new mural on a wall near my home in Hollywood (on LaBrea, near Melrose). It featured Bugs, Daffy, Tweety and Sylvester in an operating room – a strange, but cool, piece. I looked into it and it turns out to be the work of a Dr. Romanelli (an artist, clothing designer and “brand reconstructionist” also known as DRx) who has been engaged by WB to spearhead a new line of urban marketing and alternative merchandise.The DRx line will include everything from a clothing collection (by upscale Japanese clothing label Over The Stripes), to a high end DRx/BUGS vinyl toy (by Span of Sunset). The official launch of this art project-slash-marketing effort will commence this Friday with an opening at the 181 Martel gallery space. I got myself invited. The gallery will also be unveiling a limited edition DRx/Looney Tunes Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker that night. I know a certain orange furry monster who might like that for Christmas.
Gallery 1988 on Melrose and LaBrea is opening another theme show on Saturday, based around the Cheshire Cat from Disney’s Alice In Wonderland. For one week only, amazing art and vinyl toys will be on display celebrating the surreal feline created and animated by Ward Kimball in the classic 1951 animated film. Opening reception begins at 7pm. If it’s anything like past openings there, it’ll be quite a crowd.
Wanted to point you in the direction of a small Chicago collective, Chewbone Animation, who are nearing completion of a 5-minute animated short: A Time For All Seasonings. They’ve been at it for two years and their production blog displays some promising sample animation.
An early plug for my monthly movie gig with Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. As always, the live musical program will be preceded by a selection of several cinematic goodies, screened in glorious 16mm celluloid. Join us, October 5th at 8pm, at THE STEVE ALLEN THEATER (Center for Inquiry-West), 4773 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood (Two blocks west of Vermont — Plenty of FREE parking in the rear). Admission $15. – a bargain!
The Little Explorer is an alternative band out of London. Aaron Bradbury is an animator from Derby. The Fool Looks at the Finger that Points to the Sky is a remarkably cool CG music video by Bradbury set to Little Explorer’s music. His website details the production with concept art and video tests. Worth a look.
Yes, that’s me as “Scientist #3″ in Teddy Newton’s new film, THE STUDIO OF TOMORROW. I’ve been spending the last few days helping Teddy (of Pixar and Boys Night Out fame) by being an extra in his live-action comedy short – a film which demonstrates how modern technology will improve the “future” of the animation industry. Teddy will wrap principal photography this week, with editing and post production scheduled over the next few months. I’ll post more information on this film later on, down the road, when it’s finished and available for viewing. My part is very small (it’s one of those blink and you’ll miss me cameo roles), but if you’re alert you’ll also catch Mike Mitchell (Spongbob, Ren & Stimpy, Sky High), Tom Winkler (Doodie.com), Lou Romano (Pixar, Powerpuff Girls), Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) and other animation notables, in bit roles. It’s a hilarious concept – one which every BREW reader will particularly enjoy.
I had the pleasure of seeing my old friend Marv Newland (Bambi Meets Godzilla) up at the Ottawa Festival last week. He was handing out postcards to promote his INTERNATIONAL ROCKETSHIP Garage Sale this Saturday, September 30th, starting at 9am. If you are in Vancouver, it would be worth a peek for some of the books, animation desks, art supplies, production equipment and other assorted strange goodies that they are getting rid of. The address is 8938 Shaughnessy Street (in the rear). The phone number is (604) 738-1778.
So much to do at the Ottawa festival, and no time to blog.I am delighted to meet so many people who read Cartoon Brew up here. I’ve made a bunch of new friends and it’s great to see my old out-of-town buddies Mark Mayerson (we go back over 30 years), Linda Simensky, Michael Sporn, J.J. Sedelmaier, Steve Stanchfield, Mark Langer, Kelly Armstrong – not to mention my regular L.A. colleagues Heather Kenyon, John K., Tom Knott, Fred Seibert – and a host of others, including Chris Robinson and the staff of the Ottawa Festival. Wonderful people, all.The first two days here feature a business conference devoted to Television animation, with many great panelists and talent. One thing that emerged from the conference: Nelvana’s RUBY GLOOM looks very promising.The festival competition is wonderful. It’s not over yet, but the best films I’ve seen so far include Joanna Quinn’s DREAMS & DESIRES: FAMILY TIES, Georges Schwizigel’s JEU, Obom’s HERE AND THERE, Mait Laas’ GENERATIO and Run Wrake’s RABBIT. John Kricfalusi gave a great speech about the influence of Bob Clampett with numerous clips and John’s wonderful commentary on what makes them so great. The festival ran a group of Clampett’s best films, most of them in gorgeous 35mm prints.Well, I gotta get back to the festival. I’ll be back home on Monday night.
Today’s a travel day. I’m on my way to Ottawa to attend the International Animation Festival, this time as a spectator. Last year I was a Judge and presenter of two programs. This year I’m just hanging out, with the intent of watching as many films as I can.I’ll be bringing with me a bunch of Hornswiggle buttons and postcards to give away, and I’ll have a few DVD copies to sell of the all-new 2006 edition of WORST CARTOONS EVER. I’ll be around all week, but you can count on my presence at the Clampett retrospective, Amid’s book signing, the Cult Toons screening and the Animators picnic – so feel free to come up and say hello.
Like the Famous Studios cartoons which inspired (and ultimately dominated) them, Harvey Comics has gotten little attention (or respect) from the comics community at large. But its establishing artists in the 1950s consisted of such talented East Coast animators as Steve Muffatti, Dave Tendlar and Marty Taras. Then a second generation of cartoonists in the 1960s and 1970s – including Howie Post, Ernie Colon, and especially Warren Kremer – did an amazing job creating a comic book universe that kids really cared about, years before cable TV and video games.One of those kids, Mark Arnold, has been publishing a fanzine devoted to Harvey Comics for 16 years. Long before the Internet, his Harveyville Fun Times was all there was for devotees of Casper, Richie Rich and Baby Huey. In case you missed the first fifty issues, Mark has now compiled a 400 page “best of” volume, which is currently being printed “on demand” at Lulu.com. The book contains numerous indexes to Harvey animated cartoons and comic books, as well as reviews, commentary and interviews with Harvey writers and artists.I hope to see further research on the history of Harvey and Famous (in fact, I hope I get a chance to write some of it myself), because there is more there than meets the eye. For now, Mark’s efforts are a real good start.
Three nice cels from Polar Playmates (1946) are currently up for sale on ebay.Polar Playmates, directed by former Disney animator Howard Swift, with characters designed by Charles Thorson, is arguably one of the better cartoons in the later batch of Columbia Color Rhapsodies. Columbia’s Screen Gems studio of the 1940s produced the greatest mixed bag in cartoon history. There were wise guy characters in the Bugs Bunny mold (The Fox & Crow), comic strip adaptations (L’il Abner), surreal experiments (John Hubley’s Professor Small and Mr. Tall), and too many newsreel spoofs (most of them painfully unfunny). Occasionally they’d try something in the Disney vein of personality animation – and Polar Playmates hit the mark with charm and style. The characters were strong enough to be adapted into a short lived series of comics – a back up strip in the earliest issues of DC’s Real Screen Comics. Howard Swift would go on to establish Swift Chaplin Productions, a leading maker of animated TV commercials (with partner Charlie Chaplin), and Columbia’s cartoon library would drift into obscurity (superseded by the acclaimed UPA cartoons in the 1950s). But there are nuggets of gold in that collection – and hopefully someday they’ll be seen widely again.For more information on the Columbia cartoon library, visit my Screen Gems webpage and the Columbia Crow’s Nest website.
Animation designer Pete Emslie wants us to to be aware of a new Canadian cartoon show. Pete writes:
I’d like to direct your attention to this show Yam Roll, as I feel it has been getting a free pass for too long. Currently it airs on CBC in Canada, but I gather it is trying to get picked up by one of the U.S. cable channels as well. Frankly, I consider it an embarrassment and, due to it being on our public broadcaster, a needless waste of taxpayer dollars that should instead be spent on a show with higher artistic and entertainment merit. It is the current poster boy for bad animation design, in my opinion.Also, to be honest, I’m hoping you’ll be able to direct some of your readers to their blogsite so that I can get some much needed support in my dissenting view on the show. As it is, I’m being attacked as a know-nothing despite my longtime experience as a successful character illustrator. I really feel like these folks should have more critical attention focused on their awkward, primitive little efforts.Anyway, here are both the main site and the contentious blogsite of which I speak. I really would appreciate it if you could shine some light on the matter.
Well, that’s what Pete thinks. I’ve heard from readers who say it isn’t all that bad. Apparently
Cartoon Network is planning to air the YAM ROLL cartoons sometime this fall in the U.S. I’ll make up my mind then.
I’ve made it no secret I’m a fan of Xeth Feinberg’s Internet cartoons (particularly BULBO) and his Queer Duck films. Dave Levy has posted an informative interview with Xeth on the ASIFA-East website about his involvement with the Queer Duck series, and how he put a studio together from scratch to make a feature length version.
After the 3-D cartoons at the Egyptian tomorrow afternoon, I recommend bopping over to Meltdown Comics at 7522 Sunset Blvd. where, from 7-10pm, animator/illustrator/character designer Rik Maki (THE LION KING, FINDING NEMO, A BUG’S LIFE , HERCULES, TARZAN, etc.) will be signing his new sketchbook and giving a drawing demonstration. There’ll also be free food and drinks.
I’m telling you for the last time! Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday September 16th at 3:30pm, a once in a lifetime screening of all six Hollywood cartoons made in 3-D (featuring Popeye, Casper, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Donald Duck) – cartoons by Chuck Jones, Ward Kimball and Walter Lantz during the 1953-54 3-D movie craze – along with six other rareties from around the world, will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. If you live in this area, I insist you attend. Due to the technicalities of showing these films, and the negotiations with the dozen copyright holders, this compilation of films will not be repeated anywhere in the world, ever. Here is a great way to see all of them in one sitting – and the chance to talk about it all afterward with a large group of likeminded folks.Join us!
This clever Mexican RED CROSS spot (click HERE for a better rez version of it) was directed by Javier Gutiérrez for Saatchi & Saatchi (Mexico). Nicely done!
Animation veteran Berny Wolf died last week at the age of 95. He had incredible success in the field, with work ranging from pioneering Fleischer silent cartoons through classic Disney features; and ultimately to a producing stint with Hanna Barbera. We asked animator and historian Mark Kausler to recount his amazing career:
Berny or Bernie Wolf started his animation career in New York City in 1924, inking on the silent Krazy Kat cartoons that Ben Harrison and Manny Gould released through Paramount. He got a job at Max Fleischer’s Inkwell Studios soon after, inking, maybe animating on the KoKo Song Cartoons, such as MOTHER PIN A ROSE ON ME (1924), GOODBYE MY LADY LOVE(1924), EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1926) and many more. He became friends with Shamus Culhane and Al Eugster at Fleischer’s. In Shamus’ book TALKING ANIMALS AND OTHER PEOPLE, Shamus relates the story of how the three amigos broke into animation on the Talkarartoon SWING, YOU SINNERS in 1930, although it appears that Berny may have animated before that. Berny became a Betty Boop specialist in the early 30′s, working on such cartoons as MINDING THE BABY (1931), BETTY BOOP’S BIZZY BEE (1932) and THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN (1933). The three musketeers then went west, winding up at Ub Iwerks’ studio and worked on the Willie Whopper series and ComiColor cartoons. Berny animated and designed characters with Grim Natwick on such cartoons as THE CAVE MAN (1934), VIVA WILLIE (1934), THE VALIANT TAILOR (1934) and SUMMERTIME (1935).By 1938, Berny, Al Eugster and Shamus Culhane had broken into the Disney Studio. One of Berny’s first cartoons there was DONALD’S NEPHEWS (1938). According to Shamus’ book, Walt made it hard for “old-timers” and ex-New Yorkers at his studio, chiding them for their “bad drawing habits” and training on “cheap productions”. Berny overcame this prejudice and animated Jiminy Cricket in PINOCCHIO (1940). Some of his scenes are Jiminy meeting the Blue Fairy in Sq. 1.5, Sc. 46, where he says “No tricks, now!”, Sq. 1.7, Sc. 59.7 where Jiminy dances with a music box doll and slyly says: “How about sittin’ out the next one babe, huh?” and Sq. 4.9, Sc. 17, where he emerges from a bird seed container in a cage and shyly speaks to the Blue Fairy (“This IS a pleasant surprise!”), tips his hat and gets a shower of bird seed pouring from the hat. Berny was one of the key animators on Jiminy, doing many such personality scenes, no doubt working closely with Ward Kimball. On FANTASIA, Berny worked on the Pastoral Symphony sequence, animating Fauns, Unicorns and the Centaurs and Centaurettes that Fred Moore designed. He animated a beautiful scene in part where the Centaurettes are dancing around Ward Kimball’s Bacchus, and a tender scene of a Centaur shielding a Centaurette from the raindrops at the beginning of the storm sequence. Berny also animated the famous scene at the end of the “romance of the Centaurs” sequence, in which the cupids close the curtains on the proceedings, leaving one cupid to peek through at the centaurs. His hovering buttocks form a heart. This scene infuriated critics such as James Agee, it was animated by Berny Wolf. By 1941, Berny seems to have fallen in estimation at Disney, he got one sequence in DUMBO, of the clowns bragging about their “coitain calls” in Sq. 14.1, all in silhouette. This is really an outstanding job of animation, though, as all the poses have to read solidly just in black, showing that Berny had good caricature and staging skills.After 1941, it appears Berny must have gone out in the famous Disney strike. He landed at MGM cartoons, doing layout and storyboard for Tex Avery. He was then drafted and wound up directing animation for the First Motion Picture Unit. After the war, Berny worked for Rudy Ising independently and headed up a company called Animedia Productions. He probably also got involved in the television commercials boom of the 1950s. In the 1980s, he produced such shows as THE FLINTSTONE KIDS, and THE SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES for Hanna-Barbera and worked as a Film Editor and Producer on a TV feature cartoon: THE LITTLE TROLL PRINCE in 1985. He would have been 74 then. I suppose Berny must have retired after that, as he disappears from the credit sheets. Evidently he kept up his artwork in his last twenty years, making many drawings and doing some painting.My only memory of Berny Wolf, is seeing him hanging out at the old Gus Jekel FilmFair studio, with his friend Rudy Zamora Sr. They probably worked at the Fleischer and Krazy Kat studios in New York together in the 1920s and 1930s.Berny Wolf obviously was a very talented animator who is largely forgotten today, due to the anti-New York, west coast prejudice, the fact that he was on the “wrong side” of the Disney strike and worked in limited TV animation. He had an amazingly long career, and by all accounts was a very nice man.
Berny Wolf holds a model sheet he drew with Grim Natwick
for the Willie Whopper cartoon The Cave Man (1934)
Photo from the collection of Mark Mayerson.
More Berny Wolf model sheets posted on the Asifa Hollywood Archive
There’s a really good Flash animation piece on the BBC website created as biographical background relating to their mini series of Charles Dickens’ BLEAK HOUSE. The animation team credited is the Rufflebrothers. Real charm and nice design.(Thanks, Lee Leslie)
Three different artists, three different studios, three blogs worth noting:Colin Giles, an animator with Carbunkle in Vancouver, has started posting his work from Ren & Stimpy, with drawings and photos.Eric Wiese, a director at Laika Animation in Portland, doesn’t update his blog very often, but his artwork is so delightful I couldn’t resist mentioning it.Jakob Jensen, an animator and character designer at Dreamworks, is showing off his amazing talent and blogging about his drawing techniques.
If this doesn’t kill the SPONGEBOB craze, nothing will.(Thanks, Uncle Wayne Daigrepont)
I will never understand the appeal of HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, but to many of our readers under the age of 30, nostalgia for the Filmation series is very strong. If you are one of those compelled by the power of Greyskull, James Eatock has a blog for you. He writes:
I’m an animation enthusiast, Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Don Bluth, John Kricfalusi are guys whose work I adore – BUT I have a dark secret; I was born in the late seventies, thus my eyes, ears, and heart belong to Filmation studios, mainly He-Man and She-Ra…In short, since the beginning of this year I have been running a near-daily The He-Man and She-Ra BLOG which focuses on all aspects of He-Man and She-Ra, but more importantly I talk about the people who worked on the animated series; Bruce Timm, Tom Sito, Tom Tataranowicz, Don Manuel, Bob Kline and others.
And for those of you who can’t get enough of Filmation… Lou Scheimer now has a website.
Here is something to look forward to… high definition LOONEY TUNES! The first ones will debut on the ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD ultra-rez edition on sale September 26th (HD-DVD format only at this time. Blu-Ray format to follow in 2007 at some point). Bonus cartoons KATNIP KOLLEGE, RABBIT HOOD, and ROBIN HOOD DAFFY have been converted to true Hi Def from brand new HD 1080p transfers. (Image posted above is NOT from the Hi-Def version). This marks the debut for not only WB cartoons, but for any classic animation on High Def DVD. I’ve had a peek… and the quality is mind blowing!
And don’t download this Weird Al video animated by Bill Plympton.
Tonight, I’m showing cartoons at the Janet Klein show at the Steve Allen Theatre. Join us in Hollywood at 8pm!Tomorrow night, Friday September 8th, I’ll be at the opening night festivities for the World 3-D Expo at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. A restored print of POPEYE THE ACE OF SPACE will be screened in 3-D tomorrow night for the first time in 52 years! That film, along with ALL the other Hollywood cartoons released in 3-D (Disney’s Melody, Donald Duck, Casper, Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker, and others), will be presented next Saturday afternoon, September 16th, in one special program (hosted by yours truly). If you are anywhere near Los Angeles, I urge you to attend this once-in-a-lifetime – never to appear on DVD – show.
You can hear Charles Solomon discuss Oskar Fischinger – and download Fischinger video clips – on the NPR website.(Thanks, Brian Kolm)