The Pixar “Art of” books are always a treat, and next to that the Little Golden Books and various tie-in publications always feature incredible art, frequently by Pixar artists and designers themselves.
Pixar’s Ronnie Del Carmen discusses and previews his UP book, My Name Is Dug on his blog. It looks gorgeous – and has me doubly excited about the feature film that inspired it. The book comes out on April 14th.
When Shamus Culhane took over the creative controls of the Paramount Animation Studio in 1966, he clearly understood the opportunity he had in front of him. As head of a small animation studio, he was charged with producing a slate of cartoons for the dying theatrical shorts market. But unlike Warner Bros. who had The Road Runner and Daffy Duck, or Universal with Woody Woodpecker and DePatie Freleng’s Pink Panther, Culhane’s studio had no established characters. This handicap gave him the chance to try some original ideas, and he knew it.
Possibly the best of the shorts he produced there was My Daddy The Astronaut (1966), but the idea of a kid narrating a cartoon drawn in a child’s scrawl wasn’t new. UPA had done it (The Family Circus, Baby Boogie), Porky Pig (Porky’s Preview) and Popeye (Cartoons Ain’t Human) tried it, even Paramount under the previous creative director Howard Post did it – adapting Jack Mendelsohn’s comic strip Jacky’s Diary in several shorts.
My Daddy The Astronaut, according to Culhane’s autobiography (Talking Animals and Other People), was a success with audiences and was supposedly booked with first run engagements of 2001: a Space Odyssey. Culhane decided to do a series of cartoons based on the same kid drawn concept. In his book he says they were all popular, but in my opinion the two sequels, The Stuck-Up Wolf and The Stubborn Cowboy are not as clever as the original.
As far as I know The Stubborn Cowboy never played on TV. Nickelodeon didn’t run it due to the use of now-considered-negative stereotypes of native Americans (aka Indians), references to drinking, gun violence and a parody of a cigarette commercial. Culhane wrote it and Chuck Harriton directed it. Al Eugster animated the whole film from Gil Miret designs. Listen for a gag-reference to veteran Paramount animator William Pattingill. It’s cute and rare – and worth a look:
Meanwhile, Brew reader Tammy Tatro sent us this link to these photos of an obscure piece of vintage Oswald merchandise.
“My Dad brought over a box of my late Grandfathers old belongings and when my Mom was going through it she pulled out “a rabbit that looks like Mickey” to show my niece. Upon hearing that I looked over and grabbed it out of her hand and sure enough it seems to be a vintage Oswald The Lucky Rabbit Christmas Ornament. I have looked and looked on-line but have not seen anything like it but I think it dates circa 1929-early 1930′s. I also have no idea how much it is worth or when or where it was originally purchased.”
It’s a new one on me. Perhaps our readers can tell us more about this item.
I’m pleased to report that Darrell Van Citters’s book on the making of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol has now gone to press. If all goes well, advance copies will be available at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, July 23-26 with a wide release in the fall. Darrell has been at work on this labor of love for several years and when he couldn’t secure a satisfactory publisher, he decided to go the self-publishing route. Events to support the book launch are in the works on both coasts with the intent to reach as wide an audience as possible. I will certainly keep you posted about it on Cartoon Brew — I can’t wait to get this!
Continuing our ongoing monitoring of classic cartoon characters on modern food products, animator Alex Kirwan sent in this image of the new Donald Duck Orange Juice carton. Says Kirwan, “They seem to be using the style-guide of a much earlier, circa 40′s Donald, complete with pie-cut eyes, white hat, and black tie. Perhaps they are conciously following the recent trend, lead by Warner Bros. and Popeye, using earlier versions of their characters on their consumer products.”
Pssst! Save the date. Mark your calendar. May 21st, Woodbury University in Burbank @ 7:30PM. ASIFA-Hollywood is organizing a reunion/panel discussion/party to commemorate the 20th anniversary of The Little Mermaid.
Character animator Tom Sito will moderate a panel consisting of Mark Henn (Ariel), Andreas Deja (King Triton), Ruben Aquino (Ursula), Tina Price (CAPS system and early CGI) and Gary Trousedale (storyboards) – with many more guests and panelists to be announced. We’ll keep you posted with updates, but mark the date now!
I’m back with another lame attempt by a classic cartoon studio to be relevant in the 1960s.
Today I’ve got what I believe is the last theatrical one-shot produced by the Terrytoon studio in New Rochelle, New York. Search For Misery (1963) is a real curio. I suspect it was concocted as a pilot, an attempt to break into prime time television. Why not? Everyone else was doing it at the time – and Terrytoons was actually owned by a major network, CBS. With other prime time animated series patterned after sitcoms and adventure shows, director Bob Kuwahara and writer Larz Bourne concocted this spoof based on TV’s most tried and true genre: soap operas.
Though years ahead of Mary Hartman, Pitiful Penelope lacks the wit and social satire this sort of thing required. The humor is labored and deliberate. When the character names (Roland Stone, Big Delia, Kay Niver) are the cleverest thing in the script, you know you are in trouble. Cosmo Anzilotti did all the animation, Tom Morrison is the narrator, Dayton Allen and his wife Elvi portray Roland and Penny, respectively. I give it points for being different, and for its attempt to appeal to adults. It’s certainly one of the oddest things Terrytoons ever produced. Because it is so rarely seen, I thought it would be worth a post.
Good ol’ J.J. Sedelmaier, inspired by our post last month of an animated Koko the Clown flip book by Bob Jaques, reached into his archives and unearthed another vintage Fleischer promotional flipbook sequence. These were printed on gummed back sheets so you could cut them out and stick’em on the bottom corner of a book. J.J. scanned them frame by frame and made ‘em move:
J.J. Sedelmaier recently had a visit from John Canemaker at his studio in White Plains. J.J. sent them in with this note:
“We had a chance to go through some of that art I was given years ago from (animator) Jan Svochak. As we’re rummaging through the stuff John says, “Wait! That’s a Tytla sequence!” John saw Tytla’s extreme drawing “X” marks in the upper right hand corner. When you see the way he’s gesturally thrown the anatomy together so effortlessly, it becomes clearer. . . I’d forgotten he worked on Little Audrey…”
Interesting find. Thanks to J.J. for sharing these with us. These drawings are from a scene in Surf Bored — released well after Tytla left Famous Studios, in 1953. Click thumbnails below to see the drawing closer.
Update from John Canemaker: “Oh, the dangers of the instant communication age. In a casual and (I thought ) private conversation with JJ, I commented that the well-made Audrey drawings resembled Tytla’s work and — “oh look — there’s an “X” in the right hand corners, just like Tytla used to make on his extremes”. There was no further research into dates of his employment, etc. Thank you, Richard, (in the comments) for your vigorous defense, but Thad may very well be correct. I am sorry for any misunderstanding.”
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Paramount Cartoons can be Hazardous to Your (Mental) Health.
We’re ending our series of “dark, domestic” 1960s Paramount cartoons today with the most politically incorrect of them all: In The Nicotine (released theatrically in 1961). Again (like the previously posted The Plot Sickens and Harry Happy), this one was never shown on TV – and never will be. In this one, a shrewish wife commits her smoking obsessed husband to an institution. Hilarity ensues. Though most of the cartoon is taken up with lame gags of “Charlie Butts” (get it?) trying to sneak a cigarette while trying to quit, the resolution (a gag about cigarette gift coupons) is purely pro-smoking! The plot itself is a twist on Gene Deitch’s 1957 Terrytoon Topsy TV — which was ripped off and remade by Paramount in 1959 as TV Fuddlehead — switching to cigarettes from former’s TV addiction. This cartoon was written by the veteran team of Carl Meyer and Jack Mercer, though Mercer doesn’t perform any voices in it (Eddie Lawrence is doing all the male roles). For what it is… Enjoy!
Apparently China had a response to Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda that’s more pointed than the film mentioned in this previous Brew post. According to the KFP entry on Answers.com: “In August 2008, a direct-to-video Chinese animation feature entitled Kung fu Master aka Wong Fei Hong vs Kung Fu Panda was released on DVD in East Asia by Vscape Enterprises. The film is an unofficial sequel; it reportedly combines Kung Fu Panda and Chinese martial arts folk hero Wong Fei Hung. In the film, the panda is assigned by the Buddha to protect an ancient treasure that could give the bearer the power to conquer the world. Upon losing it, the pair sets off on an adventure to retrieve it.”
If anyone has this video, please post a clip. We are anxious to see it. Apparently you can buy it here or here.