In 1984, Christie’s East held a pivotal auction from the John Basmajian Collection of Walt Disney Animation Art. No one had ever seen such an extensive collection of vintage Disney cels and assorted artwork assembled before – it was the first of many upscale animation art auctions to come.
Now, 25 years after that historic auction, the Basmajian family has launched JohnBasmajian.com which tells the story of how this former Disney animator amassed his collection, with exclusive interviews, articles, and animation art galleries. The website is still a work-in-progress, but there is a bio and video profile of Basmajian which tells his incredible story.
The New York Times is reporting that Hayao Miyazaki will indeed appear (with John Lasseter) on July 24th at the San Diego Comic Con.
At Comic-Con Mr. Miyazaki and Mr. Lasseter are expected to appear as part of an animation presentation that will give a glimpse not only at “Ponyo,” but also at a series of coming Disney films, including “Toy Story 3,” “Beauty and the Beast 3-D” and “The Princess and the Frog.”
The only way to see this is to sit in Hall H – NOW!
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants (who first appeared on July 17th, 1999), VH1 will premiere Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants, on Tuesday, July 14 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). This is an original SpongeBob TV documentary from producers Creadon O’Malley (Wordplay, I.O.U.S.A).
From the Viacom press release:
Commissioned by Nickelodeon to commemorate the anniversary of the series’ first episode, the documentary chronicles the beloved character’s journey to international pop culture icon status and showcases the series’ impact on everyone from President Barack Obama, kids across the globe and San Quentin inmates who readily sing its catchy theme song. The one-hour documentary, features an opening song from Avril Lavigne and commentary from creator Steve Hillenburg, cast and crew members, industry experts, fanatics and celebrities like LeBron James, Ricky Gervais and Rosario Dawson.
It also features several comments from yours truly – I wonder if I’m considered an “industry expert” or a “fanatic”? Tune in and find out.
One more tiny plug for my cartoon screening tonight in Hollywood. I’m presenting a full program of classic Frank Tashlin Cartoons at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Ave., Tonight (July 7th) at 8pm. Join us! For more information, visit The Silent Movie website.
Here’s a rare treat. Ralph Bakshi and Don Bluth discuss the future of animation on Nightcap, a literary roundtable hosted by journalists Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin.
Here Bakshi and Bluth are joined by Larry Elin, who represents computer animation. All have great things to say, much of it still relevant — except for Elin, who essentially claims that computer animation will never create real characters. It’s a great peek into the animation mindset of 1982. What a blast to see Bakshi and Bluth on the same set, grilled by two of America’s most noted writers, talking about, among other things, Saturday morning cartoons. It’s also a reminder of how intelligent talk shows used to be — and perhaps, could be again.
Nightcap aired weekly on the forerunner of A&E, ARTS – when the channel aired as the nighttime programming block of Nickelodeon (pre-Nick-at-Nite)! The whole show is about 26 minutes. I split the episode into three parts for YouTube, but for your viewing pleasure, I’ve compiled them into a playlist below:
And for those who cannot make it to Philly, here is a gallery of pics taken at the opening last Friday, and here are several of my favorite pieces in the show (click thumbnails below to enlarge): Bob McKnight doing the Fox and Crow, Hammerson interprets the Fleischer Universe, Chogrin presents Popeye vs. Superman, Tara Billinger does Oswald, Mike Collins imagines Captain Felix, and Guayapizco gives us his version of Popeye. There are many many more great pieces on display there all month.
Yesterday Michael Sporn posted a commentary about how the musical composers at animation studios of the past served as a trademark for a particular studio. Each had a unique style and sound which immediately identify the cartoon to its makers.
Scott Bradley, who composed the music for MGM cartoons from 1934 through 1957, was one of the best. His delightful scores are upbeat and lush sounding, and perfectly capture the right feel of the upscale MGM animation. But what if Bradley had composed a score for a B-Studio like Universal? Well it just so happens that Bradley did take on such a freelance assignment in 1938 just prior to joining MGM full time, where he’d be under contract for the rest of his career (He had previously been a composer at large, creating music for Ub Iwerks and Harman-Ising cartoons).
Baby Kittens (1938) is an unremarkable, run-of-the-mill Universal short, directed by Alex Lovy for Walter Lantz Productions. It’s made even more unbearable by the voice-over “thoughts” of the dog character. Print uploaded (embedded below) has time code obscuring part of the picture, but we present it here for its soundtrack not the animation or story. Bradley’s trademark themes and music cues are all there, and are much more sophistcated than what Lantz house composer Frank Marsales was doing at the time. If you close your eyes and just listen to the track (and try to ignore the dog), you might think you are listening to a 40s MGM cartoon – proving Michael Sporn’s point entirely.
Ger Apeldoorn has posted a selection of rarely seen Tom & Jerry newspaper comics strips from 1950. Though credited to “Fred Quimby”, they were most likely drawn by Gene Hazelton. The strips looks great but, unlike the screen cartoons, T&J do a lot of talking. The strip, which ran between 1950 and 1952, occasionally features cameos by other MGM cartoon stars like Barney Bear and Droopy.
No, it’s not a scene from Cartoon Network Real (though I wish it were), it’s from a wonderful series of photographs posted on the JPG Magazine blog by Dina Goldstein featuring traditional Disney princess figures (and Red Riding Hood) in realistic or socially problematic scenarios. Snow White and Belle are my favorites. And while Rapunzel is incredibly somber and reflective, Jasmine is just laugh-out-loud absurdity come to life.
When I was at Ohio State in Columbus this past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting writer Tom Gammill, who (along with his partner Max Pross) has written some of the funniest episodes of Seinfeld, The Critic, the Simpsons and Futurama. Tom also writes and draws the weekly daily online comic strip The Doozies and started an online series of humorous “How To Draw” videos (several featuring guest cartoonists and celebrity friends).
In episode 17, Gammill visits Greg Ford’s studio in New York to watch a work-in-progress of a Doozies animated cartoon. Gammill first met Ford back in 1986 when they co-wrote the Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary Special for NBC. Let’s see how Ford is doing…