Longtime animator and director Jaime Diaz passed away this past Saturday.
I met Jaime several times during 2005-6 when I was working at Nickelodeon on my Random Cartoon, Hornswiggle. Jaime was an amazing talent and generous with his memories of breaking into the animation scene during the 1960s. You’ll see his credit on some of the last Warner Bros. cartoons of the late 1960s. From there, he worked mainly on Saturday morning shows for Hanna Barbera and Filmation in a variety of roles, from storyboard to character designer. He became a director on Duckman and on later Frederator shows like ChalkZone and Fairly Odd Parents. I really enjoyed his designs from his Random short Dr. Froyd’s Funny Farm (Diaz, pictured below left with Froyd co-creator Bill Burnett).
Larry Huber has posted a wonderful heartfelt remembrance of Jaime on his website.
I don’t know how I missed this on my radar. It’s a new feature from “Picha” (Jean-Paul Walravens, of Shame of the Jungle fame) with English dialogue by Tony Hendra (National Lampoon) and narration by Stephen Fry (Harry Potter).
It was produced in 2007 and never released in the U.S. as far as I know. It’s crude, silly, X rated, and definitely NSFW.
If Jay Ward, Hanna Barbera and Rankin-Bass rate biographical tomes, certainly the output of Total Television deserves a historical overview. Sight unseen (except for its fabulous Mike Kazaleh cover – click thumbnail below to enlarge image) I am recommending this forthcoming book by Mark Arnold: Created and Produced by Total TeleVision Productions.
Frequently compared to and confused with Jay Ward Productions, this is the company that created such characters as Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, Tooter Turtle, Commander McBragg, Go Go Gophers, King and Odie, The Hunter, and The Beagles. The history of Gamma Productions, the little Mexican animation studio that animated most of the Jay Ward Productions, is covered — and the book contains a complete episode listing of every known Total TeleVision production. Illustrated with storyboards and character merchandise, Arnold wrote the book using personal interviews with the four owners of TTV (Buck Biggers, Chet Stover, Tread Covington and Joe Harris) as well as voice artists Allen Swift (Simon Bar Sinister), Bradley Bolke (Chumley the Walrus), animators Frank Andrina of TV Spots and Roman Arambula of Gamma Productions. And the book promises to finally answer a question we’ve been asking ourselves for years: What the heck is The Colossal Show? Copies are now available from BearManor Media.
There’s no debate that animator Irving Spector was, like John Dunn, an under appreciated cartoonist and storyman — working in animation at a time when the finished product didn’t do justice to the talents behind it. Thanks to Spector’s son, Irv’s work is getting some long overdue appreciation in a blog dedicated to his work.
Among the best of the late Paramount output, Chew Chew Baby was produced during a brief period when the studio put some actual effort behind its limited animation. This particular film is one of my favorites, and contains one of Jackson Beck’s (no relation) best performances. It’s also notable as one of the last cartoons to ignore political correctness and feature a pygmy cannibal – as well as one of the last cartoons credited to Isadore Sparber, released a few days before his death in August 1958.
This is also one of the “Harveytoons” not contained in Classic Media’s Complete Harveytoons DVD collection. Mike Van Eaton (of Van Eaton Gallery) recently unearthed a cache of original Spector storyboards from this film (click thumbnails below to enlarge). These drawings are a lot of fun – and this film may be the closest representation of Spector’s design style to make it faithfully to the screen.
Here’s an update on the doings of my old colleague and friend Will Friedwald (my co-author on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide To the Warner Bros. Cartoons and Warner Bros. Animation Art). Will has gone on to become one of major authorities on vintage Jazz, Frank Sinatra, and American music in general — with numerous books to his credit. Most recently, he’s been writing a great series of columns on Jazz for The Wall Street Journal.
The latest news on Will is his donation of over 14,000 record albums, the largest personal Jazz collection in New York if not the United States, to two major music archives. The jazz albums are going to an archive in Washington, D.C. while the popular music and show tunes are going to the Michael Feinstein Foundation for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook.
More heart-breaking than the first ten minutes of Up: this story from the Orange County Register.
A dying 10 year old with a rare form of cancer wanted to see Up. Her mother cold called Pixar and got through to the right person. The next day “a Pixar employee” came to the girl’s house with the DVD and a bag of stuffed animals of characters in the movie. “He shared some quirky background details of the movie and the group settled in to watch Up.”
There’s a lot of speculation as to who the “Pixar employee” is, but more important is that the act happened at all. Read the full story here.
I’ll be there, in Columbus Ohio, next week (Saturday June 27th) to introduce a screening of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians (1961) and to celebrate the recently transferred International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection to OSU’s Cartoon Library and Museum. The union of these two collections creates the largest archive of original cartoon art in the world.
There will be several events going on next weekend, some of them free, all of them worthwhile. I will be doing a book signing Saturday 6pm at Wexner Center, then at 7pm we’ll be screening Disney’s 1961 feature. The movie will be preceded by the 1938 Mickey Mouse short, The Brave Little Tailor, and the 1949 Paramount cartoon Leprechaun’s Gold – all in beautiful 35mm! For information on this screening and tickets, go to the Wexner Center website.
On Sunday, the 28th, there are three free open-to-the-public events: In the Grand Lounge, The Ohio State University Faculty Club, 181 South Oval Dr. at 1:00 pm, Milestones of the International Museum of Cartoon Art: A panel discussion with former trustees Brian Walker, Jerry Robinson, and Arnold Roth. At 2:15 pm Keynote Speaker Jim Borgman (Zits) will give an opening address. An Exhibition Opening and Reception at the Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor, will commence at 3:30pm. Refreshments will be served. For more information, check the Cartoon Library website.
Combining two iconic Hollywood stars, pop artist Ron English has created a limited edition “bust” of Marilyn Monroe (click on image above to see full sculpture). For more info on these works of art, see the Toys R Evil blog.
Rolling Stone reports that Paul McCartney will be writing a score for a new animated feature, based on a book he co-wrote, High In The Clouds. Caroline Thompson (Nightmare Before Christmas) is writing the screenplay, Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) is attached to direct.
The Rolling Stone piece ties McCartney to Yellow Submarine as an example of his past involvement with animation. Truth be told, the Beatles had almost no creative input in that feature, but Sir Paul did produce several nice pieces of animation over his career. My favorite is the video for Seaside Woman (1980) directed by Oscar Grillo, and Rupert and the Frog Song (1985) directed by Geoff Dunbar. Here’s the big “frog song” number from Rupert; note the abstract sequence at the 3:50 mark:
Heads up on a new animated feature coming from China. Road To Home is in pre-production at Beijing-based Magic Dumpling studio, on track for an October 2011 release in China. The teaser above reveals the film as a hybrid of painted backgrounds and CG character animation. A report on the studio’s recent presentation at the animation conference in Stuttgart is posted here. A plot synopsis and some production art can be found on Twitch Film.
The infamous Lou Romano has been posting much inspirational art from Up on his blog. I don’t know if this is material featured in Chronicle’s Art of UP book, but no matter – here it is posted much larger, for closer study. Yesterday Lou posted his color script for the film. It’s absolutely gorgeous stuff.
This has to be the most trivial post I’ve ever written – and I’ve written some pretty trivial posts – but at least it gives me the chance to once again plug the latest Pixar Little Golden Book tie-in.
Animator Ken Priebe discovered on the first page (center image, click thumbnails below to enlarge) of the Golden Book adaptation of UP, if you look carefully at Carl’s scrapbook, spin it upside down (below right), you can see a microscopic image of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit! Those sly devils at Disney Publishing. Tried to pull a fast one on us, aye? Last year we found an Oswald “cameo” in the Wall-E Little Golden Book. Perhaps this is the beginning of a trend?
Kudos to designer Stuart Smith and illustrators Jean-Paul Orpinas and Scott Tilley. You keep making these books look cool, and I’ll keep buying ‘em!