If you want to see DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT, the new four-minute cartoon based on a 1997 Chuck Jones book, you could go out and blow a lot of money on the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME TWO set. OK, you’re getting that set anyhow, and should, but if you haven’t gotten around to it yet (or, like me, are waiting for an Amazon shipment), you can still see the new Daffy cartoon. Yahoo lets you watch it online here, in an apparently exclusive deal with Warner Bros.. (If you still hold out hope that an unexpected recount may make the mallard our next president, you might also want to check out DaffyForPresident.com, which offers an MP3 of a hip-hop campaign song and some screen savers, among other items.)Chuck, despite not being with us any more, is the only guy credited in DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT’s opening, but the short was directed by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone. It’s an odd combination of comedy and civics lesson that vaguely reminds me of Chuck’s 1939 short OLD GLORY (which is also in the GOLDEN COLLECTION 2 set, by the way).This cartoon does feel like it’s based on a book that Chuck Jones did in 1997–which I don’t mean as a compliment–but it’s a pleasant way to spend a few minutes, which I can’t say about all the cartoons that Jones was actually involved in as an active participant in his later years. The backgrounds and color styling are particularly nice.You do sort of get the feeling that the only reason anyone saw the 1997 book as material for a new short is the Jones connection, which makes one wonder: Are there any other Jones stories out there that someone is going to decide need to be adapted into a cartoon? Was WILLIAM THE BACKWARDS SKUNK ever animated?
Turner Classic Movies will debut a new monthly half hour program tomorrow morning (Saturday 10/6 at 9:30am EST/ 6:30am PST), CARTOON ALLEY, a showcase for classic cartoons in the Turner library.Now that Cartoon Network has abandoned their classic library (Boomerang doesn’t count in my book – and besides, the rumors of that channel going with exclusively pre-school programming have been getting hotter with each passing month), it’s great to see TCM pick up the ball, and hopefully present these cartoons as the classic films they are. The first outing highlights Warner Bros. cartoons with Clark Gable charicatures (Hollywood Steps Out, Coo-Coo Nut Grove, Malibu Beach Party), the second episode (in December) contains Christmas themed cartoons and the third (during January) features various Oscar nominees. The show is tucked away at wee hours so set your VCR’s & TiVo machines. Consult the schedule on their website for showtimes.
The trailer for Pixar’s final Disney release, CARS (Directed by John Lasseter) is online here.
According to Daily Variety, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has officially qualified 11 films for competition in the animated feature race. The 11 are Disney-Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” Disney’s “Home on the Range” and “Disney’s Teacher’s Pet”; DreamWorks’ “Shrek 2,” “Shark Tale” and “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence”; Paramount-Nickelodeon’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”; Warner Bros. “Polar Express” and “Clifford’s Really Big Movie” (two ends of the spectrum, both distributed by WB); Masquerade Films’ “Sky Blue” (Korean anime); and Pentamedia’s “The Legend of Buddha” (traditional 2D from India).The Academy has an eight-16 rule for animation features: For there to be a category with three nominations, eight features must open within a given year. For five nominations, there must be 16 or more. The Academy’s executive committee of the short films/feature animation branch declared these 11 eligible. That panel technically has the right to state that there will be no category this year, but it is expected to recommend to the board of governors on Dec. 14 that the award be given. Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 25, and winners will be unveiled Feb. 27.
When the clock strikes midnight tonight, Brad Bird’s THE INCREDIBLES hits theaters–and yes, there’s a 12:00am showing. I was going to celebrate with some links to reviews, but it’s easier to simply point you to Ken Bautista’s Pixar blog, which is doing an excellent job of collecting pointers to reviews and other Pixar stuff on the Web (including items relating to John Lasseter’s CARS, which won’t show up until next year).
Oh, OK, one INCREDIBLES review link: When I looked, Ken hadn’t yet pointed to David Edelstein’s rave review at Slate, which intriguingly says that it’s one of his favorite live-action (sic) superhero movies ever.
Still upset over the election? I know what you need. You need something warm and cozy. Safe and reassuring. Something like the trailer for POOH’S HEFFALUMP MOVIE.It comes out on February 11, 2005, a perfect way to start the next four years…
One of the most essential animation reference works ever created is E.O. Costello’s Warner Bros. Cartoon Companion–a remarkably erudite guide to the studio’s films and history, and particularly to the cultural references the cartoons contain. I liked it so much I put it on my list of the 100 Greatest Things About Animation.
The WBCC first appeared almost a decade ago, and a few years after that, it found a home on Spumco’s Web site. But it’s been a long time since it was available there. And I, for one, have missed it.
I’m tickled to report that I’ve just heard from E.O. that the Spumco edition of the Companion is available again at this site. E.O. cautions that this version has some bugs and other little glitches, and hasn’t been updated. He plans to address both of these issues, and invites Cartoon Brew readers to send him suggestions at this address. Even in a somewhat raw form, it’s great to have the WBCC back. If you never knew it in the first place, you’re in for a treat…
If you are still smarting over yesterday’s election, one remedy is to cast your vote on Britian’s Channel 4 website – where they are sponsoring a 100 GREATEST CARTOONS poll. This is part of their research for a new TV special they plan to produce honoring the winners.They have an alphabetical list of pre-selected nominees (mixing features as diverse as A Bug’s Life and Akira, next to TV shows like Battle of the Planets, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, along with characters such as Beavis & Butthead, Betty Boop and Huckleberry Hound!). You can vote for these pre-selected nominations – or write-in your own candidates.
CNN is reporting that NBC is about to quietly cancel Dreamworks’ FATHER OF THE PRIDE, the pricey and apparently lousy (I haven’t seen it) animated series about Sigfried and Roy’s lions.
Why did I never get around to watching the show? In part because just about every animation fan I respect who saw it was revulsed by it. But subconsciously, I think, I was also put off by the Sigfried and Roy angle–there was just something wrong about animated, cuddly S&R animals showing up so soon after poor Roy’s unfortunate incident. I’ll bet that a goodly percentage of America felt the same way.
Anyhow, yet another prime-time animated series has failed. Looks like bad computer animation is no more of a surefire thing than bad hand-drawn animation. Who knew?
Aubry Mintz of the Laguna College of Art & Design writes in to inform us about an exciting event there:
I am the chair of an Animation Program in Laguna Beach CA. We are running a great show for our students but have enough seats to open it up to the public. This is totally free and a great opportunity to honor Chuck Jones and meet and listen to some animation veterans.Laguna College of Art and Design will be hosting a very exiting event Saturday Nov 20th. We are fortunate to be able to showcase a collection from the archives of the Chuck Jones Foundation in our school gallery. We will be showing the development of Chucks work from though process to creation of his characters and fine art. Also we are honored to have Animation director (Looney Tunes Back in Action, Pochahontas) and good friend of Chuck’s, Eric Goldberg visiting. We have rented out an old movie theatre in Laguna and Eric will be screeing some of Chuck’s rare films and dissecting the work frame by frame.Also that evening there will be the gallery opening and industry meet and greet from 7-9 at the college.
For more info & directions go to www.lagunacollege.edu
(From POPEYE FOR PRESIDENT, 1956)
I scarcely need remind anyone that today is one of the most important days in the history of American presidential campaigns. Yes, today isâ€¦well, it’s the day that the new cartoon DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT (based on a 1997 Chuck Jones book) is released as part of the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 2.
Yep, in this country, anyone can grow up to run for President – and sometimes it seems like being a cartoon character actually helps. Heck, if you were a Fleischer or Famous Studios character, the chances that you threw your hat into the ring were remarkably high.
Herewith, a look at some of the elections in which at least two cartoon candidates ran, the bottom line on who I would have cast my vote for if I’d had the chance, and a trivia tidbit or two:
Betty Boop versus Mr. Nobody versus Mutt versus Barney Google (1932)
As the country sunk ever deeper into depression, Betty Boop battled the eerie and unlikable Mr. Nobody in BETTY BOOP FOR PRESIDENT, while the funny papers chronicled the campaigns of Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Billy De Beck’s Barney Google, both of whom had run before. This time around, Mutt represented the Lion Tamers and Barney was the nominee of the Square Deal Party. The bottom line: I would have enthusiastically voted for Betty, and in fact, the end of the cartoon indicates that she did indeed become president in 1932. Fun facts: Betty’s victory presaged Grampy’s later election as mayor in THE CANDID CANDIDATE; Barney’s running mate was Fanny Annie Boggs.
Pogo versus Popeye versus Bluto (1956)
Walt Kelly’s practical possum ran for the second time in ’56; the same year, America’s favorite one-eyed sailor ran against his bearded arch-rival in the Famous Studios cartoon POPEYE FOR PRESIDENT. Popeye was the nominee of the Spinach Party, Bluto represented the Blutocratic Party, and it was all eerily prescient of the Bush/Kerry race – the candidates beat the tar out of each other only to find themselves tied on election day. (The tie is broken by Olive, who had herself run in 1948′s OLIVE OYL FOR PRESIDENT.) The bottom line: My heart would have been with Pogo, but I suspect that in the privacy of the voting booth, I would have opted for Popeye’s track record of courage. Fun fact: Popeye and Dwight Eisenhower (whom some reference works say won in 1956, although the cartoon shows Popeye in a victory parade) were both bald, genial military types.
Fremount and Pogo (1960)
If you can find a copy of Walt Kelly’s POGO ELECTION EXTRA collection, grab it – it chronicles the bizarre campaign of Fremount, boy bug, who only knew how to say “Jes’ fine,” and who was forced out in scandal when it was discovered he was a cannibalistic Ant Lion. Veteran candidate Pogo was drafted in his place. The book doesn’t definitively state who won the election, but in the Okefenokee Swamp, only Porkypine voted for Pogo (who voted for Porky). The bottom line: This year, I would have gone Pogo. Fun fact: Twenty years later, the 1980 stop-motion film I GO POGO pitted Pogo against Fremount.
Magilla Gorilla versus Yogi Bear versus Alvin (1964)
Hanna-Barbera squared off two of its characters in a comic book (here’s Scott Shaw’s excellent campaign analysis). And Don Markstein reports that Ross Bagdasarian’s cherished chipmunk also threw his hat in the ring in a Dell comic book that year. The bottom line: I have trouble stomaching Yogi or Magilla in five-minute cartoons, so the idea of four years’ worth of them in the White House is a non-starter – Alvin wins almost by default. Fun fact: I owned a 45-rpm recording of the Yogi Bear theme song as a kid, and can still sing most of it.
Snoopy versus Pogo (1968)
By 1968, Pogo was a positively Stassenesque figure, while Charles Schulz’s beloved beagle was the subject of “Snoopy for President,” one of the Royal Guardsmen’s last, least inspired Snoopy-related songs. The bottom line: Once again, I would have gone with the possum. Fun fact: Both Richard Nixon and Pogo ran in 1968 after having lost in 1960.
Winnie the Pooh versus Howard the Duck (1976)
Pooh ran in a promotion for Sears’ kids’ clothes and was the favorite son of Disneyland; Howard was the candidate of the All Night Party in Steve Gerber and Gene Colan’s classic comic book. The bottom line: Who was Pooh trying to kid? He was born in the UK and therefore ineligible to run. But I would have voted for Howard in any event – I liked his street smarts. Fun fact: Howard’s campaign collapsed when The Daily Bugle published a forged photograph of him taking a bubble bath with his close personal human friend Beverly Switzler.
So ends my history lesson – get out there and vote, everybody!
We’d like to welcome our new Guest Brewer – Harry McCracken – one of the most knowledgeable cartoon connoisseurs around. We’ve always enjoyed hearing his thoughts on both the classics and modern animation, and we think you’ll enjoy Harry’s insights as well. Here’s a bit more about the man:
Harry McCracken is the editor-in-chief of PC WORLD (the world’s largest monthly computer magazine) and a new consumer electronics publication called DIGITAL WORLD. But animation fans may associate him more with ANIMATO!, the animation magazine he edited from 1987-1991. These days, he hangs out at his own site, HarryMcCracken.com, and is readying Scrappyland.com, the first Web site about the Mintz Studio’s greatest character. Harry is also a contributor to ANIMATION ART, the new book edited by Jerry Beck. And he’s belonged to APATOONS, the animation apa, for a startling 22 years. [McCracken caricature by Barry Blitt]
Scott Shaw informs us:On Thursday, November 4th, the multi-talented Jack Mendelsohn — creator of the classic Oddball comic strip, comic book and Paramount animated cartoon JACKY’S DIARY, among many other animated projects (including YELLOW SUBMARINE) — will be honored by The Writer’s Guild of America, West with their Lifetime Achievement Award for Animated Cartoon Writing.The event will take place on Thursday, November 4, 2004, at the Writer’s Guild of America, West headquarters at 7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90248, 323/951-4000. A reception begins at 7:00pm and the awards ceremony starts at 8:00pm. Reservations are NOT necessary.
I haven’t liked what I’ve seen so far on THE POLAR EXPRESS, but I’m willing to give Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks the benefit of the doubt – for now. However, the hype machine is getting on my nerves. Like this quote from director Zemeckis:
“I think when you see the movie, you’ll realize it’s absolutely nothing like an animated movie,” Zemeckis said. “You’ll see such subtlety in the performance of these characters that you would have to have the genius-of-all-genius animators. In my opinion, there’s no animation in the world that could have created it.”
Is he kidding?It’s motion capture – the CG equivalent of the rotoscope. This quote is not unlike the B.S. hype that surrounded Bakshi’s LORD OF THE RINGS in ’79. Wait’ll Zemeckis sees THE INCREDIBLES. And Hanks (aka Woody) should know better.You can read the article that goes with the quote here.
I hope you are a member of ASIFA-Hollywood. If so, you are getting an invitation in the mail to see THE INCREDIBLES, free, opening day, with Brad Bird in person. You need to be a member and you must RSVP. More info at Asifa-Hollywood.org
The Los Angeles comics and animation scene lost a big man today – Bill Liebowitz, owner of Golden Apple Comics passed away this morning from a heart attack.This is sad news indeed. When I first arrived in L.A. in 1986, I asked a friend where the best comic book store was. I was told Golden Apple, and set out to find it. I met Bill behind the counter on my very first visit. He welcomed me to L.A. as one ex-New Yorker to another. I think I’ve seen Bill almost every week since that time. I happen to live a block away from the store at the present time.Bill always reminded me of Phil Sueling, the New York comic book impresario, whom I had also known. Bigger than life, big hearted, open minded and forward thinking. Bill always greeted me with a nickname, “Mr. Animation”, because he knew of my interest in said genre. When I started Streamline Pictures, Bill supported our efforts and was the first to order, and in large quanity, our anime videos. Bill always displayed my books and we did several book signings. In fact, I’m currently doing some lectures locally, this month, due to Bill, and I’ve been helping him arrange an IRON GIANT reunion dvd signing event (Nov. 20th). I was very proud when Bill’s store (and wife Sharon) were featured in the movie FREE ENTERPRISE.I’m still in shock over this news… Check out Golden Apple this week, either in person or on-line – it’ll always be a great store, but it won’t be the same.
The Brewmasters – Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi – would like to thank Ken Pontac for being our “Guest Brewer” the last couple months and delighting us, and other readers, with tales from his animated sojourn to Iceland. You can see the results of his trip on Nick’s TV series LAZYTOWN. This will be Ken’s last entry on the Brew. We’ll be joined by a new guest blogger on November 1. Thanks, Ken!
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
The Sunday pub tour with Thorir was fantastic (the parts that I remember, anyway). I was somewhat negligent in taking pictures or writing down the names of any of the places we went, but here are a couple of images that I probably took, because they were in my camera:
I remember a few things about that night:
> I ate three hot dogs, a slice of pizza, and a big old sandwich.
> I won a jackpot in a slot machine.
>I killed many Vikings.
After drinking until 4AM, the next day was pretty much a waste. I have no recollection or documentation of Monday at all. I was probably in an embarrassing stupor or some such thing.
That brings us to today, when I stepped outside my door to go to the little cafe that’s my home away from home, and while walking down the street saw a woman so remarkable-looking that I was compelled to take her photograph. One thing led to the next and soon she was joining me for a chat and a groove in the little cafe. It turned out that this formidable Amazon was Andrulla Blanchette, Ms. Olympia 2000. We chewed the fat for half an hour, then Andrulla had to hop on a plane to her next She-Hulk-style adventure.
Later that morning I enjoyed a ninety-minute soak and massage at the Nordica Hotel Spa, then cabbed it back to the hot dog stand to undo any of the medicinal benefits of that experience. This was followed with a quick nap and some intense LAZYTOWN writing, all washed down with a delicious dinner of Icelandic sushi (no whale or baby seal included). A few hours later I hooked up with Thorir at Club Nasty to listen to Long John Baldry. The place was packed, but we snagged a corner by the bar where I was able to buy drinks and shoot some great bootleg video of the legendary bluesman. This was the best day in Iceland ever! – Ken Pontac
Today is the official publication date of the new book ANIMATION ART which I participated in as a writer and General Editor.The book is a 384 page “coffee table” book, a lavishly illustrated general history of worldwide animation, attempting to touch upon every significant filmmaker, event, studio, trend and technique during the last century. It also has a groovy giant eyeball on the cover (that wasn’t my idea).The book was written by a number of animation experts, including myself, Harvey Deneroff, Michael Mallory, Chris Robinson, David Gerstein, Keith Scott, Graham Webb, Mark Mayerson, Harry McCracken, Fred Patten, Will Ryan and Ray Pointer. If you need a crash course in animation history – this one’s for you. To order it from amazon.com, click here.
My pals Tom Sito, Roger Shulman and Heather Kenyon are appearing on a panel together on Wednesday night, for the Learning Annex in L.A., simply titled: Learn About Careers in AnimationThe panelists will discuss the state of the animation industry today, where the jobs are – in movies, TV, direct-to-video, traditional drawn animation vs. CGI and the development process. Panelists include:Jeff Howard (moderator): Director of creative affairs, DisneyToon Studios.
Saul Blinkoff and Elliot Bour: Directors, DisneyToon Studios.
Karen Foster: Development executive, Dreamworks Animation.
Heather Kenyon: Director of development, Cartoon Network.
Tom Sito: Director (Osmosis Jones), Animator and storyboard artist.
Robert Souza: Story artist on Shrek, Spiderman and Pocahontas II.
Roger S.H. Schulman: Screenwriter/producer. Credits: Shrek, Balto, Mulan II and The Jungle Book II.Wednesday, October 27, 2004 from 06:45 PM to 09:30 PM. For more info click here.
Two years ago I helped Kit Parker Films and VCI Entertainment put out a dvd compilation of Max Fleischer Color Classics, under the title SOMEWHERE IN DREAMLAND. It sold moderately well, in fact VCI is completely sold out at the warehouse. Before they do another press run, I’d like to “fix” the problems and upgrade the quality.VCI is going to correct the authoring and technical imperfections (sound pops, menu problems, etc.). I’m on the hunt for better print elements. I’d had several collectors write in to tell me they have a color print of TIME FOR LOVE. If that was you, I’d like to borrow it. If you have better copies (16mm or 35mm film only) of COBWEB HOTEL, FRESH VEGETABLE MYSTERY, PEEPING PENGUINS, or better copies of any of the Color Classics than were on the disc, and are willing to loan them to me, contact me at [email protected]I don’t need any video copies – and yes, I know the original materials are at UCLA Archives, but without permission of Republic/Paramount/Viacom we can’t touch ‘em.
I was invited at the last minute, last night, to attend the world premiere party for THE INCREDIBLES. Antran Manoogian (president of ASIFA-Hollywood) had an extra pass and gave me a call (Thanks Antran – I guess it really does pay to be a member of ASIFA!) and luckily I could go – actually, I’m facing deadline hell on a few assignments, but who can turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity like this!Get ready, I’m going to name drop. This was one of those big events, under a tent in the parking lot of the El Capitan theatre on Hollywood Blvd. I saw Jon Voight, Paul Dooley, Jeff Garlin, Sarah Vowell, Craig T. Nelson, Samuel Jackson, Edie McClurg, John Lasseter and Michael Eisner from afar… Tons of celebrities… Antran and I met up with and talked to Matt Groening, and we’ve hopefully convinced him to be a presenter at the Annie Awards in January. He seemed up for it. Then we ran into friends whom we talked with a bit: Bill & Sue Kroyer, Pixar’s Joe Ranft, Teddy Newton and met Lou Romano. I think I’m forgetting who else I talked to and saw… mainly because we closed the place talking to the man of the hour, Brad Bird (who reads the Brew regularly… and said everyone up at Pixar reads it too). I had only met Brad once before, we had lunch in 1995 or so… but he remembered exactly where we ate!What a night. An incredible party for an incredible movie. Gotta get sleep…
It shouldn’t. These are images (mainly original title graphics) from the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION V.2 that have been restored to these classic cartoons for the first time in over 50 years. And wait’ll you see the restored versions of these cartoons that follow the titles. If for no other reason, this is why you should support the Golden Collection series – which goes on sale Election Day, November 2nd.
Saw THE INCREDIBLES tonight. The last time I felt this good was after seeing THE IRON GIANT.Brad Bird taps into my inner geek like no one else. I loved the film, which – along with the recent X-MEN movies, the Raimi SPIDER-MAN films, the 1941 CAPTAIN MARVEL serial and Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons – ranks with the best superhero movies ever made. If you are a Pixar fan or a comic book freak; if you loved THE IRON GIANT, love superheroes, CG movies, great art direction, amazing visuals, action films, personal dramas, family films, and great fillmmaking… you will love THE INCREDIBLES. From it’s grainy 16mm newsreel opening to its 2-D stylized end title crawl – it’s a blast. It blows away those Soprano sharks and patriotic puppets. Pixar is six for six. Yay!
I saw a check disc a few weeks ago, but tonight I got a physical copy of the finished product in my hot little hands. The LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION Volume 2 is (in my humble opinion) even better than the first volume released last year. Better cartoons, fantastic restorations, great sound, improved packaging, and amazing bonus materials.Obviously I’m a bit biased. I was a consulting producer on the project, contributed to several on-screen sound bites and audio track commentaries. You can read about the contents elsewhere – I’ll just tell you I’m proud of this beautiful product. Is it perfect? No. The package artwork could be better, the menu graphics are… well, ugly, and I made a small boo-boo in one of my commentaries (I refer to My Dream Is Yours at one point on my commentary for YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES, but say Two Guys From Texas instead – my bad). There is also a reference on the packaging to disc 4 containing SINKIN’ IN THE BATHTUB. This was an error. SINKIN’ will appear on a future volume (though fans of earlier black & white Looney Tunes will be happy with numerous clips from Foxy, Buddy and Beans cartoons sprinkled in the various bonus documentaries – heck, there’s even a few “incorrect” clips from TIN PAN ALLEY CATS placed on the docs, for good measure).The new short, DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT is a real surprise! It’s funny, well made, and… educational! Fits right in the dvd along side OLD GLORY and SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE.LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION Volume 2 will live up to your high expectations. “Thank you’s” for making this dvd set a reality should go to George Feltenstein, who oversaw the project for Warner Home Video; Constantine Nasr and his team at New Wave Entertainment for putting the bonus documentaries together with such care; Rick Gehr, the unsung hero behind the restoration process; and all the experts who lent their time and knowledge to making this set teriffic: Michael Barrier, Greg Ford, John Kricfalusi, Milt Gray, Mark Kausler, Daniel Goldmark, Keith Scott, Ruth Clampett, Stan Freberg, June Foray, Leonard Maltin, Willie Ito, Bill Melendez, Corny Cole and many others I’m forgetting at the moment.No matter what happens on Election Day, this dvd is guaranteed to make you feel better. Buy it!
From the current issue of TIME Magazine:
“Brad and I were in the first year of the character-animation program,” recalls Lasseter, “and we bonded with our love of cartoons. At that time animation was thought of as something just for children. But Brad and I believed animation was for everybody. That’s the way Walt Disney made his films. That’s the way Chuck Jones made his cartoons.”
Read the whole piece by Richard Corliss here.