More from that cache of vintage MGM model sheets obtained by Mike Van Eaton. I don’t think these have been reprinted, or are on any other websites (though I’m happy to informed otherwise). Above, the warden and the prisoner in Avery’s final MGM short, Cellbound (1955); below from the animation sequence of Gene Kelly’s dance film Invitation To The Dance (1956). Click on images below, and thumbnails below that, to enlarge.
The zany bird from “an Avery epic”, Jerky Turkey (1945)
The Truant Officer from another “Avery epic”, The Screwy Truant (1945)
The tormented cat from The Cuckoo Clock (1950)
Here’s a potpourri of goodies: Butch from the Hanna Barbera Tom & Jerry series; Spike from the Tex Avery cartoons; Barney and the seal from the Mike Lah-Preston Blair film, Goggle Fishing Bear (1949); 1941 vintage Jerry model sheet; and two sheets from the Hugh Harman cartoon, Abdul The Bulbul Ameer (1941).
Several years ago I was invited onto Stuart Shostack’s internet radio program, Stu’s Show, to discuss the history of Terrytoons animation studio. Somehow we never got around to it. It’s been a running joke of my visits there ever since. So this week we’ve decided to cut the listener phone calls, dispense with the news and just concentrate on discussing the story behind the company that brought us Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Hashimoto Mouse, Tom Terrific, Mighty Heroes, Deputy Dawg, Gandy Goose and Farmer Alfalfa. At least, we’re gonna try.
To be clear, we will NOT be accepting any questions regarding DVD news of any kind; if you want to send in a specific question regarding Terrytoons you may do so at comments-at-stusshow.com today only. Oh, and as a side note, don’t miss the first half hour – June Foray will appear in-studio to discuss her reactions to winning her first Emmy Award. Should be a great show. Tune-in live on Wednesday at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific right here!
Daniel Sousa’s beautifully crafted Fable, a subtle tale of two shape shifters, has been on the festival circuit for a few years and is now online. Sousa tells us of his technique:
“Most of the rough animation was prepared in Flash along with the corresponding color fill layers. The drawings were then printed, traced, and cleaned up on paper to achieve a more organic quality. They were then re-scanned and composited in After Effects. Some of the drawings were etched on acetate and rubbed with ink. The backgrounds were a combination of paintings, collages, and photos. The animation was rendered in HD and transfered to 35mm film.”
Sousa works out of Providence, RI, where he’s also an animation teacher at RISD. You can read about his current animated project, Feral, on his production blog.
A lot of divided opinion about this film. Manohla Dargis in her review in The New York Times focused on feminist stance of Merida, the heroine of Brave, calling her “a marvel of computer imagineering”. Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times took a little closer look at the film’s story and says it “doesn’t hit the bullseye.”
There’s no doubt Brave is Pixar at its best – visually. The film begins as the kind of forward-thinking original story we’ve come to expect from the studio – something bold, new and different; a tale that hasn’t been told this way before. But alas, the story veers into territory already explored in Brother Bear, The Princess and The Frog — even The Emperors New Groove. Is it entertaining: yes. Is it gorgeous to look at: absolutely. Is it Pixar’s best? Or is this the year the frontrunner joins the rest of the pack? That’s what I want to know from you.
Comments accepted below only by those who have seen Brave in a theatre. Oh, and let us know how you liked Enrico Casarosa’s La Luna, the marvelous short playing along with the film.
Has it really been five years since Cartoon Dump started its unholy life as a live show in Los Angeles? Our 5th Anniversary is either this month or next month, or maybe August (we’re too depressed to remember for sure), so we’re kicking off our summer-long celebration with a sensational lineup of hilarious talent and a craptational lineup of awful cartoons.
Showtime is 8pm on Monday June 25th at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood (4773 Hollywood Blvd; two blocks west of Vermont), and tickets can be purchased at the door or online here. Join our FaceBook Event page for more information and updates.
Sara Gunnarsdottir just graduated from CalArts with a masters degree in experimental animation. This spring Gunnarsdottir has been working with Icelandic musician Kira Kira on her new album, Feathermagnetic, making concert visuals and music videos based on her sound. This stunning video, taken from her work, was edited to the song Hamar. Turn the volume up.
I asked Gunnarsdottir to explain how this film came to be – and how she created it. She said:
“Originally I created the loops as visuals for Kira Kira’s concerts, and she has already performed using them in Moscow and Tokyo; next up, her concert in Berlin July 8th. For that concert the visual piece lasts for 47 minutes – the total length of the album. I decided to use the bulk of the visuals for a shorter piece, a more music video-type version, Hamar. The loops are hand drawn on paper and then colored in photoshop. I used the same loops more then once, in most cases, to make different cycles or various movements within After Effects. It was both fun and surprising experimenting with the effects and blending modes in AE.”
I’ll bet you’ve never seen the actual opening of an early 1930s Mickey Mouse cartoon. Oh, you may think you have – but only animation historian David Gerstein really has – and thanks to him, now we can too. Gerstein’s spent years researching and accumulating rare prints and original film elements to these early 30s Disney cartoons – and has compiled all that research into his latest post on his blog.
Gerstein, editor of Fantagraphics’ Floyd Gottfredson Library, is displaying images from more than a dozen of these rare title frames – like this lost one above from Giantland (1933) – he found in various private collections. The newly recovered title cards include several styles previously unseen by modern-day Disney buffs and serious researchers. Calling all Disney Nerds: look closely at some of this material and you’ll note even some copyright lines and sound system credits differ from versions we’ve seen for years. This is some heavy stuff – and I love it! Thanks, David… Mickey mavens, check this out!
Lil’ Red is a beautifully designed minimalist animated short by Canadian animator Cale Atkinson. Atkinson simply made it to practice his artistic skills. He writes, “My intention from the beginning was to create a very simple and graphic style, while playing with colour and atmosphere.” I’d say he succeeded brilliantly. A Making Of Lil’ Red is posted here.
Once upon a time, way back in 1937… MGM decided to produce its own cartoons and set up a studio on the lot. They ended their arrangement with Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising (and their Happy Harmonies series), bought the rights to popular comic strip The Captain and The Kids, and hired Friz Freleng away from Leon Schlesinger to direct the shorts. A funny thing happened on the way to the big screen – the cartoons were not popular. Here’s an example:
A year later Freleng went back to making Looney Tunes, the studio brought back Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising — and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had an opportunity to emerge…
Cut to 75 years later… Mike Van Eaton has come into a cache of Captain and The Kids model sheets and has graciously agreed to let me post them here. As best I can tell, these were all drawn by Charles Thorson. Thorson really got around, designing significant characters for Disney, MGM, Screen Gems, Warner Bros., Fleischer, Terrytoons – even George Pal – in the 30s and 40s before settling into a career in advertising and illustrating children’s books. Now everything you need to know about drawing the Captain and the Kids is here for you to enjoy (click on images below, and thumbnails below that, to enlarge).
Here’s a few more (below). The first two – probably not designed by Thorson – are from the short Old Smokey (1938).
And that’s not all, folks. Van Eaton has obtained a whole bunch MGM model sheets from later productions (Tom & Jerry, Avery, etc.). I’ll be posting them later this week…
Not pictured in that Animation Auction catalog we posted about last week is this extra piece that comes with the autographed Snow White storybook. It’s the menu (below, click to enlarge) for the private luncheon of 24 RKO execs at their international distribution convention in Paris, at the Hotel George V on September 6th, 1938.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on Snow White’s Magic Pears or have a taste of Clarabelle Cow’s Creamy-Butter!
Once again we are happy to alert you to an upcoming don’t-miss John Canemaker lecture. In conjunction with the Walt Disney Family Museum’s current exhibition of original drawings by German artist and caricaturist Heinrich Kley, Oscar-winning animation filmmaker, author and historian Canemaker presents an illustrated overview of the varied European aesthetic influences that found their way into Disney feature animated films.
Canemaker will discuss the anthropomorphic art of 19th-century artists Heinrich Kley and J.J. Grandville, as well as the expressionistic silent films of German director F.W. Murnau, and how these sources inspired the visual style of SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA, among other early Disney features. He also spotlights the contributions of European artists who worked at the studio, such as Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Horvath, Gustaf Tenggren, Sylvia Holland, and others.
This looks insanely cool to me. Coming this winter – a new, unique Spongebob Squarepants Christmas special animated in stop motion. The production was supervised by our pals Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh of Screen Novelties. Here’s the first look:
Mark Evanier just tweeted from the Emmy Awards ceremony that June Foray, at age 94, won her first Emmy Award for Voice Acting. Long overdue – is an understatement. I wish I was there tonight – The photo above (by Scarlett Stahl) was taken a few years ago at the Annie Awards. Congratulations, June!!
I’m getting a kick out of this TwitterArt by Gregory Wadsworth, a freelance 3D illustrator in Manhattan. He’s creating a chronological series of tweets commemorating Hollywood cartoon stars – in tweets composed of the maximum of 140 characters.
I’m not sure I understand how he does it, but Greg explains:
“The tweets are composed of a maximum of 140 Unicode box-drawing characters. Box-drawing characters were developed to create tables (frames, or row and column separations) for early text-based computer interfaces, like DOS. To create the imagery, each box-drawing “word” – separated with a space or line-break character – has to be long enough so that it wraps under the previous “word.” Here is a list of articles about “twitter art”.
I’m only representing characters that were created for animation. Adapted characters like Popeye and Bonzo aren’t included. It’s limited to headliners who appeared in four or more cartoons, which excludes characters like Gertie and Goopy Geer. For teams like Tom and Jerry, only one character will be represented. Many early characters, whose images were difficult to obtain, were also left out. Some browsers will display the designs better than others. The series will likely end with 1949.”
A Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs storybook autographed by the entire staff of the picture…
An original cel and background, from the first Max Fleischer Color Classic, Poor Cinderella (1934):
The actual camera Walt Disney first used to produce Laugh-O-Grams and Alice Comedies in the 1920s…
These are a scant few of the aesthetically wonderful and historically important items Mike Van Eaton has gathered for his latest animation auction with Profiles In History. The complete catalog is now available online. The auction itself takes place on Sunday July 29th. Van Eaton will have much of this material on display at his booth at the San Diego Comic Con.
Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images of a few of my personal favorite pieces in this auction: Mary Blair concept paintings for Alice In Wonderland; cels and backgrounds from Tex Avery’s Hollywood Steps Out; producer Fred Quimby’s autograph on a classic Tom & Jerry, Spike & Tyke cel set-up; and Fred Flintstone putting out a cigarette, from the Winston commercial from the show’s first primetime season. Wonderful stuff. Check out the catalog and dream!
Here’s a half hour pilot by those wonderful, whimsical, BAFTA & Webby Award winning Brothers McLeod. They finished it last year and it’s done a few festivals, now they’ve released it to the rest of the universe. The series focuses on Inger and Herring, a fisherman and mermaid living in amongst a seaside community of Spagg. Says Myles Mcleod:
“Yes, it’s a TV pilot. We started the process back in 2008 when we went down to Cornwall for a week and just came up with characters, location details and story ideas. Then we wrote a bible, script and designed the characters we liked to finished artwork. We basically made it off our own backs — we wanted to show we could make longer form stuff as well as all the shorts we’ve made. We stumped up half the money ourselves and found the rest from the MEDIA fund in Europe. We used professional comedians and actors to do the voices including Richard Ridings (who was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit). We finished the animation last year — most of it was animated by the very talented Tom Evans and Kirsten Thacker, though there were others involved too, not least Robert Brown who did all the beautiful hand drawn moments — like the fire and the sea lapping on the beach. He also prepared the turnarounds (I’ve attached one of the sheets – click to enlarge)”.
A few weeks ago I was invited over to Disney Television Animation and had an advance look at their new series Gravity Falls. And tonight you can have a peek, too. The Disney Channel will air a special preview tonight (6/15) at 9:55pm ET/PT.
The Disney TV group is on a roll. I was impressed with Motorcity and blown away by Tron Upsrising, but closest to my heart is the humor on this show. Creator Alex Hirsch (from Cal Arts, and previously on Flapjack and Fish Hooks) has successfully channeled some kind of mash up of Goosebumps and Jay Ward–leaning more towards Ward–with a very funny, smart, not-necessarily-aimed-at-kids subversiveness in the writing and the direction. While I’ve been down on most new shows these days (Pen Ward’s Adventure Time is clearly an exception in this era), Gravity Falls takes on tried and true kids’ tropes and turns them inside out (sometimes literally). The series itself begins regular airings on Friday, June 29th, at 9:30pm. Check out the sneak peak tonight, and let us know what you think.
So consider this an unabashed plug. Check it out. It’s a good “creator-driven” show. The premise follows a pair of city kids who are sent to spend the summer with their eccentric uncle who runs a tourist trap called The Mystery Shack. The cast includes Jason Ritter, Kristen Schaal and Linda Cardellini. Below are a few story board images and a photo of me (click to enlarge) during my recent visit with series creator Alex Hirsch, Disney TV’s Eric Coleman and director Joe Pitt.
Polder Films is carving out its own style of CG filmmaking in The Netherlands. This cute short played theatrically with Sony’s The Smurfs movie in all Pathe Cinems in the Netherlands as part of an initiative by The Netherlands Film Fund and Pathe.
While visiting with animation art dealer extraordinaire Mike Van Eaton today, he showed me a piece of Eyvind Earle art I was unfamiliar with (click above image to see larger version). It’s from Earle’s animated teaser trailer for West Side Story (1961).
Earle animated this brief trailer (embed below) in 1960 after coming off the production of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It’s obviously based on Saul Bass’ designs for the logo and poster art – but Earle’s graphic design sense, similar to this Chevrolet spot created around the same time, comes through – a unique, stylish way to sell a movie.
More about my visit with Van Eaton next week, when I’ll post some incredible classic cartoon art he has agreed to share exclusively with our readers.
Our friends at ComingSoon.net snapped some intriguing images from the floor of The Licensing Expo, the industry trade show that started today in Las Vegas. Here’s another look at Chris Sanders highly anticipated The Croods; Dreamworks’ racing snail film, Turbo; and Chris Wedge’s Epic (formerly known as The Leaf Men), based on William Joyce’s book. Which one are you most excited about?
Paco Vink and Albert ‘t Hooft of The Netherlands’ Anikey Studios, created this stylish piece of animated film noir – with a twist – Little Quentin. Produced by il Luster Productions, it’s well worth nine and a half minutes of your time:
From the archives, here’s the 1992 student film that Trey Parker, co-creator of “South Park”, made at the University of Colorado – a film that went on to win a student Academy Award (Silver Medal) in 1993. It was co-directed by Chris Graves.
Apparently Trey got his Japanese roommate to talk about the history of America as he knew it, which Trey then animated with crude paper cut-outs. The rest is… American History!