Winnipeg animator Cordell Barker (The Cat Came Back, Strange Invaders) is back with a new film. Runaway will have its World Premiere at the 48th International Critics’ Week (May 14-22) in Cannes.
I’m a big fan of Barker’s cartoons. The NFB just post this promotional video (below) where he explains his latest film, and his creative process. More information and clips on Runaway, and downloads of his previous films are on posted here.
Did you know songwriter E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (lyricist of The Wizard of Oz, Gay Purr-ee and much else) wrote material for the Max Fleischer studio?
Neither did I.
Harburg historian Nick Markovich of The Yip Harburg Foundation has recently discovered evidence that Harburg lyrics were written for at least three Fleischer cartoons from the 1929-30 period — when Harburg was writing for Paramount-Astoria Studios on Long Island. Markovich wrote us, looking for early Fleischer films for research. He says:
“Harburg was employed by Paramount’s Astoria, Long Island studio for a few years starting in 1929 — hence the Fleischer connection. For Paramount he wrote lyrics with such composers as Vernon Duke (with whom he later wrote April in Paris for a Broadway revue) and Jay Gorney (with whom he wrote Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? for another Broadway revue). It’s possible that other lyrics or verses he wrote ended up uncredited in other Fleischer cartoons. The only way to tell definitively would be to watch every single one of them, listen carefully and compare to the dozens of obscure lyric sheets in Harburg’s collection. In the last two years alone I have discovered that several Gorney-Harburg songs were performed in two features, one featurette, and one cartoon from that era, all uncredited. So who knows what’s out there — either in animated shorts or live action features and featurettes?
In The Shade Of the Old Apple Tree — A blurb in the January 19, 1930 Film Daily states: “E.Y. Harburgâ€¦composes those captivating lines which make you want to join in with the crowd on Paramount’s Fleischer cartoon singing reels. His ‘Old Apple Tree’ number is a darb.”
Harburg also apparently provided material to the Screen Song short, The Prisoner’s Song. Also, there is a typewritten lyric sheet by Harburg entitled “Bedtime Story” — a satire of Grimm-type fairy stories that frighten children. A handwritten note at the top of this sheet says “Verse for Fleischer picture.”
The “Bedtime Story” piece, reprinted below, is obviously a first draft for the Bedtime Story broadcast at the end of Radio Riot (1930), one of Fleischer’s earliest Talkartoons. Compare the draft below with the finished film (below it). It wouldn’t surprise me if Harburg wrote all the dialogue in the film — it’s quite clever.
BED TIME STORY
Announcer: Good evening, children. This is station GORe. Tonight you shall have the extreme pleasure of listening to Uncle Grim, the author of Grim=E 2s Fairy Tales, who has a very interesting Bed Time story for you. Children, meet uncle Grim.
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of a child named Goldy-Locks Schnitzelbeer;
Who always wore
For conduct, and virtues that folks all adore.
As she strolled thru the woods in her little red cape,
The clink of her medals attracted an APE!
The Apiest Ape
With unbearable hands,
With horrible ears,
And terrible glands!
His breath was fire.
His eyes were green
His claws were wire
And his GROWL WAS M-E-A-N !X!X!
And Goldylocks Schnitzelbeer said with a laugh,
Vas loffly fillings your back teeth haff!”
Then the Ape he tore her from limb to limb…
‘Cause there was no monkeying ‘round with him.
He cracked her ribs
With a thunderous thud,
And crunched her skull
In a pool of blood,
And there he wallowed
In spleen and gall
Until he swallowed
Her, medals and all.
Till all that remained of Goldylocks
Was a wish bone wrapped in one of her socks.
Now dear children, go to bed. Sleep tight.
Be kind. Be sweet. Happy dreams. Good night!
Announcer: You have just listened to a bed time story by Uncle Grim, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
He comes to you every Doomsday evening thru the courtesy of the Sheepshead Bay Fur Co., manufacturers of Mice Skin Rugs, Bear Skin Coats and Cat Guts for Tennis Rackets.
I love this. Using both praxinoscopes and a technique of matching up the frame rate of the spinning record to that of the camera, animator David Wilson used no computers to create this music video. Watch him explain it all, below:
In case you haven’t been following news developments in the “real world”: Gawker is reporting that the “suspected Israeli operative” whose phone was being tapped by the NSA in conversations with representative Jane Harman (D-Calif.) — was none other than our ol’ friend Haim Saban (the animation schlockmeister who became a zillionaire after dubbing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). That’s him, pictured above, on the far left (in more ways than one). The Gawker piece has a nice profile of Saban’s illustrious career.
I got a peek at the latest Disney Book Group catalog, prepared for this week’s London Book Fair. There are plenty of things coming up this fall of interest to our readers, for example:
THE PIXAR TREASURES by Tim Hauser (similar to The Disney Treasures with all sorts of removable “keepsakes”) – publication date September 2009.
THE MAKING OF DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Diane Landau (based on the Zemeckis motion capture film) – publication date September 2009
SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM DISNEY by Jeff Kurtti (a collection of vintage studio Christmas cards) – publication date September 2009
SOUTH OF THE BORDER WITH DISNEY by J.B. Kaufman (major history of Disney’s South American films) – publication date October 2009
WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS ARCHIVE SERIES: ANIMATION, Intro by John Lasseter – publication date October 2009
WALT DISNEY IMAGINEERING – a sequel to a previous Imagineering book, with a Forward by Bob Iger Intro by John Lasseter – publication date November 2009
WALT DISNEY’S PETER PAN by Dave Barry (yes that Dave Barry) and Ridley Pearson, Illustrated by Mary Blair – publication date September 2009
I was also intrigued by the catalog’s listing of two children’s books based on upcoming shorts: Pixar’s Partly Cloudy and Disney’s Prep & Landing. Click thumbnails below to see the catalog pages about these two unusual projects.
Speaking of Chuck Jones, an anonymous Argentinian Youtube user called “Lafacukur” recently uploaded a video of an edited version of the debut Coyote & Road Runner cartoon, Fast and Furry-ous, with an obviously tacked-on ending where the Coyote actually catches the Road Runner. The video has become viral and the Latin American press and TV media have made a big deal of it. Most of the press reports say that this is cartoon made by an animator by request of a Japanese millionaire that was sick of never seeing the Coyote succeed. I rather doubt it–but it’s a nice try.
George Pal came to America in 1940 with a contract to make animated shorts for Paramount. His Madcap Models (later Puppetoons) were a instant success, and Paramount played up, for publicity purposes, the unique methods Pal used: stop motion and replacement animation.
Mike Van Eaton recently shared this rare publicity photo with me (click picture above to see larger, fuller image). That’s actreses Martha O’Driscoll with Pal in the Paramount commisary, with “Sarong-Sarong” the star of the third puppetoon, Hoola Boola (1941). The caption on the back says “More than 7000 miniature, stringless manikins were used for the eight minute film”.
Here’s a short scene from Hoola Boola, featuring Jim Dandy and Sarong-Sarong:
“Congobeat” has posted on YouTube several really cool, vintage animated advertisments from Australia. Each one put a smile on my face. The first one, dated 1941, is for Bushell’s Tea and features what life will be like in a retro-future down under:
The next one is for Aeroplane Fruit Jellies and features their mascot “Bertie” the airplane:
Another for Aeroplane Jellies, this one a TV spot from 1959 that introduces the I like Aeroplane Jellies theme song.
Big day in the U.S. and Canada for prime time animation. The folks behind the hilarious Arested Development have concocted Sit Down, Shut Up for Fox. The first episode airs tonight at 8:30pm. Meanwhile, in the Great White North, the McKenzie brothers return to Canadian television in the new half-hour animated series Bob & Doug, premiering tonight at 7:30pm on Global. Any thoughts?
I know what Bill Plympton wants for his birthday. He wants you to attend his Idiots and Angels VIP Screening and Birthday Party.
On Thursday, April 30 at 6pm, Bill will screen his latest feature Idiots and Angels at the Helen Mills Theatre (136 West 26st St. between 6th + 7th, in Manhattan) — and everyone who attends will recieve a FREE Plympton original drawing. At 8pm, there will be a VIP After Party with wine, desserts “and surprises”.
Proceeds from this evening will contribute to the production the upcoming documentary project, Adventures in Plymptoons! For more information on this event go to brownpapertickets.com/
You know those Magic Eye pictures? The ones that, if you stare at it long enough, you can see 3-D (without glasses). Here’s an attempt to do that with a moving image –the Pink Panther, animated. It’s a looped sequence of 19 frames converted from Flash animation. I’m not sure if it’s working for me, but I like the idea.
Here’s a picture of me with a very rare pig (Uhh… I’m the one on the left).
Aside from production cels, how many physical props are still in existence from classic Looney Tunes? Mike Van Eaton of Van Eaton Galleries just acquired this piece (it’s not for sale – yet) from the estate of a Termite Terrace animator: It’s the Porky statue seen in the opening titles of Porky’s Hero Agency (1937). Apparently Bob Clampett made several of these and gave them to his top staff. The one in the film is painted, this one is not. This one is also inscribed with Porky’s name on the base, and a “(c) LS” (copyright Leon Schlesinger) on the back of the piece. Click on thumbnails below to get a better look.
Today I’m in New York City and, if I may plug it one more time, tonight I’ll be signing books — in particular Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 5: The Harvey Girls — at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. I’ll be telling the secret origin of how the Paramount Pictures cartoon characters (Casper, Baby Huey, Little Audrey, et al) ended up becoming the foundation of the entire Harvey Comics line. This is also the last weekend to view rare original Harvey Comics art on display at the Museum. The fun starts at 6:30pm. MoCCA is located at 594 Broadway, in Suite 401. More info online at the museum website.