This video had me smiling all the way through. From its funny character designs by directors/animators Ivan Dixon and Greg Sharp – with Marlo Meekins – to its subtle subversive images done with a wink (literally). The music is cool, too.
Produced out of Australia’s Rubber House, with additional animation by Neil Sanders, Gavin Mouldey, Alex Grigg, Peter Lowey and Jérémy Pires, here’s Wouter De Backer’s (aka Goyte) Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver:
Regular readers to this site are well aware by now that I’ll be part of a six-hour presentation of classic animation on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) this Sunday night (Oct. 21st beginning 8pm EST/5pm PST). For more information on the evening, see this Facebook page or TCM.com.
This programming stunt is a big deal, but it’s not about me being on TV or whether-or-not the films are restored with their original logos. It’s bigger than that for those who care about animation history – and its important for the entire animation community.
Classic animated films have no outlet in today’s media. Those of us of a certain age may recall seeing classic cartoons in movie theaters. Many of us grew up watching the entire history of Hollywood cartoons on television. Today, except for a few random showings at a festival, museum or repertory theatre, you’d be lucky to find Tom & Jerry or Looney Tunes buried within a block of kidvid. Look even harder and you might find Mr. Magoo and the Fox & Crow (but you gotta look real hard).
Mighty Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Popeye, Betty Boop, or the works of Tex Avery are no longer there. Don’t even think of seeking out Flip the Frog, Oswald Rabbit, Felix The Cat or Molly Moo Cow. Disney shorts with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck are rarer than Clara Cluck’s teeth. Let me repeat, there is no outlet for classic animation in the traditional media. Sure, you can find much on You Tube, or buy the DVDs… but you have to know what you’re looking for. As a teacher of animation history (at Woodbury University in Burbank), take it from me – the younger generation does not know who Winsor McCay is. Otto Messmer? Dave Fleischer? John Hubley? These names are lost on most animation students under 20 – and to the public at large under 30. There is just no exposure to this material.
Classic TV has several channels devoted to it. Ancient game shows and soap operas have a berth on cable. Animation has a place only on kids and pre-school channels or in prime-time series on Fox, Adult Swim and occasionally elsewhere. Turner Classic Movies is one of the treasures of the media landscape. They show the best (and worst, and everything in between) of classic Hollywood (and foreign) film. They do not run commercials – and thus do not subscribe to ratings services. They are practically a cultural gift from Turner Broadcasting and their parent company, Warner Bros.
The six hour spotlight on classic animation coming this weekend is a test. Will TCM’s traditional viewers respect and understand these are classic films? I’m betting they will. As far as I’m concerned, animated shorts and features – especially those produced for theatrical showing – from 1906 to umm, let’s say 1970 – are “classic film”. They are not “old kids fodder” – which is how they are perceived by their parent companies. They do not get the proper respect they deserve. The TCM broadcast is a rare opportunity for the medium; a great place to expose more people to the art, entertainment and legacy of animation.
I want to see TCM do this again. In fact, I’d like to see a regular place for vintage animation on the channel. Because TCM doesn’t read ratings, the only way they monitor feedback from their viewers is by response on their forum pages – or in written letters. I guess I’m urging you to send them a note, drop them a line; let TCM know you appreciate the telecast of these rare animation gems – and you’d like to see more.
It’s important – and it’s up to you.
UPDATE: In case you missed them, here are my TCM host segments, posted on You Tube.
Diane Disney Miller, author J.B. Kaufman and Lella Smith (creative director of the Disney Animation Research Library) discuss the art just published in Kaufman’s second new Snow White book, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs: The Art and Creation of Walt Disney’s Classic Animation.
This second Snow White book by J.B. – not to be confused with The Fairest One Of All, both on sale today – is primarily an art book published in conjunction with The Walt Disney Family Museum’s new exhibit, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic (opening November 15th and will run through April 14th 2013). This book walks the reader through the movie, scene by scene, accompanying the art with behind-the-scenes stories about the film’s production. I highly, highly recommend it!!
To tie-into my forthcoming appearance on TCM and augment your viewing pleasure, I’m going to post a gallery of art and images each day related to the animation screening on Sunday night, October 21st. Today Fleischer Studios’ Gulliver’s Travels (1939) which will be telecast on TCM at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Here’s a selection of one-sheet movie posters and lobby cards (original release and re-lease, even one from Spain), children’s books, a piece of sheet music and a few model sheets for good measure.
One month to go.
The Creative Talent Network Expo (aka CTN-X), now in its fourth year, has established itself as the premiere character animation conference in the United States, if not the world. Attendance is virtually bursting at the seams of the Burbank Marriott – and yet, CTN head honcho Tina Price tells me that tickets are still available to Cartoon Brew readers if they use the special discount code – BREWX12 – which is good for any 1-day and 3-day general passport.
Why attend? For starters, we’ll be there with a table on the exhibit floor and are hosting a Cartoon Brew cocktail lounge in the lobby. If hanging out with us isn’t enough – how about these incentives:
• CTN-X opens with a few words from director Brenda Chapman (Brave)
• Keynote Speaker Glen Keane
• John Musker interviews Argentinian caricature artist Pablo Lobato.
• 102 year-old Disney Legend Tyrus Wong (Bambi) has confirmed his appearance in conjunction with a documentary-in-progress Tyrus Wong: Brushstrokes in Hollywood.
• Legendary futurist Syd Mead will be doing a seminar about his design career.
• Gaming panel with Doug TenNaple, Creature Box, Michel Gagne and the guys from Halon and Blizzard Ent.
• Sneak peek of Rise of the Guardians at the Dreamworks Animation theater on the studio lot.
• Wreck-it Ralph screening on the Disney lot, in the big theater.
• Gkids will screening all of their new Oscar-qualifying features at the nearby Laemmle NoHo 7.
• New Talent Spotlight featuring 10 international animators, including Jacob Wyatt, Faye Hsu, Elena and Olivia Ceballos and from Madrid, Nacho Rodriguez (I’ll be doing a Q&A with him).
•Other guests include illustrator Jean Baptiste Monge, and the key personnel from Blue Sky Studios.
Not to mention drawing workshops, parties and an exhibition hall with over 100 artists, schools and companies represented – including Stuart Ng, Walt Disney Animation, Dean Yeagle, Wacom, Focal Press, Ryan Woodward, Stephen Silver and on and on…
There’s really too much to mention. The whole thing is one giant artists’ party – and a fantastic networking opportunity. You really should be there. For more information, check the CTN website.
It’s not quite the Madhouse anime feature we posted about a few days ago, but you can’t say Marvel Animation Studios isn’t exploiting all opportunities and every style of animation in their forthcoming direct-to-video titles. Case in point: this just-released trailer for their next feature coming out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in April 2013: The Uncanny Iron Man and the ever-lovin’ Mo-Cappin’ Hulk.
Every year at this time I find myself jealous of the people in the vicinity of Kitchener-Waterloo in Northern Ontario, Canada. No, not because of the weather, but for The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. I’m thankful, however, this event is happening anywhere in North America as it’s the only annual festival devoted to “showcasing the latest unreleased international animated feature films”. The festival just announced the first 12 films (several more to be announced shortly) of the 12th edition of the Festival – and it looks like an incredible program with a strong set of productions from Japan and Europe. The films confirmed so far include:
A LETTER TO MOMO • Director: Okiura Hiroyuki (Japan, 2011)
ANIME MIRAI • Directors: Kawamata, Miyashita, Kaiya and Tomonaga (Japan, 2012) A compilation of “four delightful films that point to the future of anime”
ARRUGAS (Wrinkles) • Ignacio Ferreras (Spain, 2011)
ASURA • Director: Sato Keiichi (Japan, 2012)
AZ EMBER TRAGÉDIÁJA • (The Tragedy Of Man) Director Marcell Jankovics (Hungary, 2012)
BABELDOM • Director: Paul Bush (U.K., 2012)
BLOOD-C: THE LAST DARK • Director: Shiotani Naoyoshi (Japan, 2012)
HEART STRING MARIONETTE • Director: M Dot Strange (U.S.A. / Iceland, 2012)
JENSEN & JENSEN • Director: Craig Frank (Denmark, 2011)
MARCO MACACO • Director: Jan Rahbek (Denmark, 2012)
STRANGE FRAME • Director: G.B. Hajim (U.S.A., 2012)
WOLF CHILDREN • Director: Hosoda Mamoru (Japan, 2012)
The 12th Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema runs November 15th to 18th, 2012. All screenings will be held at The Chrysalids Theatre, 137 Ontario Street North in Kitchener. For more information on each film and how to obtain festival passes click here.
Unabashed Plug: Out next week is Vol. 2 of Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray cartoon collection, Looney Tunes Platinum Collection. I’m a little biased because I helped put together the set which includes fifty Warner Bros. cartoon classics, restored to pristine condition, now in glorious 1080p Blu-ray format – containing such masterpieces as A Wild Hare, Book Revue, You Ought To Be In Pictures, the complete Cecil Turtle trilogy, The Nasty Canasta collection, the Chuck Jones’ Bugs-Daffy-Elmer Hunting trilogy, the complete works of Beaky Buzzard, A. Flea and Tex Avery’s Art Deco classic Page Miss Glory. Not to mention a nifty 28-page color booklet (written by yours truly).
The complete contents are listed here. I just got my advance copy and can’t be more pleased about how it turned out, especially as it restores original titles to several films, and a lost ending gag to the seminal Hardaway-Dalton rabbit-hunting cartoon Hare-um Scare-um (1939). Pre-order it now – and yeah, it’s available on DVD (minus a bonus disc and several bonus features). Highly recommended!
“The film is partly a celebration of the cape-worthy team at the Melbourne zoo who, behind a secret door in the butterfly house, in modest facilities, have quietly, diligently and quite literally saved a species from extinction. It’s partly a love song to evolution, uniqueness, life and the little creatures underfoot. And it’s partly a retelling of the astonishing story of the insects themselves.”
It looks incredible to me. More info on her Facebook page.
I will be presenting a fantastic set of surreal cartoons at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art next Friday night. My show, Animating the Subconscious, is part of a series of film programs at the museum, under the umbrella title of The Surreal Screen, all of which prelude an upcoming exhibition there, Drawing Surrealism. My cartoon show will present 35mm vault prints of ten classic cartoons that explore “imagination’s more outlandish perimeters”. The full list is below, but highlights include Disney/Dali’s Destino, Fleischer Studios’ Betty Boop Snow White and Screen Gems cult favorite Willoughby’s Magic Hat (I can’t wait to see that in 35mm on the big screen). Join me on Friday October 19th at 7:30pm, at LACMA on Wilshire for a bunch of great cartoons that will blow your mind. For more information and tickets, click here.
1908/b&w/1 min. | 35mm supplied by Academy Film Archive
1931/b&w/6 min. | Fleischer Studios | 35mm supplied by UCLA Film and Television Archive
1933/b&w/7 min. | Fleischer Studios | 35mm supplied by UCLA Film and Television Archive
1933/color /7 min. | Silly Symphonies (Walt Disney Pictures) | 35mm supplied by Buena Vista
PORKY IN WACKYLAND
1938/b&w/7 min. | Looney Tunes | 35mm supplied by Warner Bros.
WILLOUGHBY’S MAGIC HAT
1943/b&w/7 min. | Phantasies (Columbia Pictures) | 35mm supplied by Sony Repertory
1943/color/7 min. | Color Rhapsodies (Columbia Pictures) | 35mm supplied by Sony Repertory
THE OLD GREY HARE
1944/color/8 min. | Looney Tunes | 35mm supplied by British Film Institute
1953/color/7 min. | Looney Tunes | 35mm supplied by Warner Bros.
2003/color/7 min. | Walt Disney Pictures | 35mm supplied by Buena Vista
I actually like the U.S. trailer we posted a month ago a little better than this one. Here’s the latest version, created for international release, featuring a few more shots they haven’t shown before.
Perhaps the best book of animation history and Disney scholarship being published this year, The Fairest One Of All: The Making of Walt Disney’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, will go on sale next week. I’ve seen it, I have it, I’ve read it… and I’m urging you to buy it. You will not be disappointed. The publisher produced this exclusive (to Cartoon Brew) promo clip featuring author J.B. Kaufman and Diane Disney Miller (she wrote the foreword) discussing the project. If this doesn’t whet your appetite, you are reading the wrong blog…