I’m still at Cinecon watching movies. Picked up a few nice stills and lobby cards in the dealers room. Here is something I got cheap: an incredibly ugly Spanish movie poster for Beaver Valley and some Disney cartoons, with the strangest drawings of Mickey, Donald and Goofy… err, Pluto, ever seen on studio approved publicity. I both love it and hate it. And that giant realistic beaver hovering above them doesn’t help. Click on thumbnail below to see larger image of the piece.
If you are wondering where I am this weekend – I’m hanging out all day and night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, attending the annual Cinecon convention. Cinecon is essentially a non-stop schedule of screenings of classic Hollywood films – from 1914 through the mid-50s, new restorations of mostly obscure films, projected in 35mm, from 9am to midnight for four days. Highlights include several films with Shemp Howard, the final chapters of The Iron Claw, and the rare Krazy Kat cartoon, Southern Exposure. Complete schedule here.
Also on the program, a rare theatrical showing of Crazy House, Olsen and Johnson’s zany follow-up to Hellzapoppin’. Someone posted the first five minutes of this film on You Tube. Check it out and you’ll have an idea of how bizarre this film is. And what kind of films I’ll be seeing this weekend.
Join us tonight for Cartoon Dump, our monthly live comedy and cartoons showcase in Hollywood. We will have two guest comedians performing within our show tonight: Andy Kindler (above left) and Jim Turner (above right). So join Andy, Jim, Moodsy, Compost Brite, Officer Pete, Dumpster Diver Dan, Cue Card Goddess and me, Jerry Beck, tonight Tuesday, August 26th at 8 PM, for an evening of hilarious comedy, demented songs, and really, really crappy cartoons.
Disney animator Lee Blair won a Gold medal for watercolor painting at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. That was back in the day when the Olympics recognized the arts as well as athletics. The LA Times has nice piece on Blair’s win in today’s Calendar section. The print edition has a great photo of Lee and Mary Blair and an image of his award winning watercolor, Rodeo (above). Apparently the painting is lost – its whereabouts unknown. BTW, the Silver medal for watercolor that year went to Percy Crosby, the creator of the comic strip Skippy.
I’ve really been enjoying the posts over at the LP Cover Lover blog. Matthew and Tony have been posting images of their incredible collection of obscure record albums, especially the odd, unusual and unintentionally hilarious. They have a category devoted to Animated Cartoon LP covers, most of which I’ve never seen before, all with terrific publicity artwork (a few samples below). Very inspirational stuff, well worth a bookmark.
I found this on You Tube. Someone took a public domain Popeye cartoon and created a anaglyph 3D version of it… or tried to. It’s not very good 3D. In fact, I screened it with my red/blue glasses and it looks awful. On second thought, it looks kinda cool without the glasses…
Today’s Los Angeles Times has a terrific page-one article on the quirks of Disney’s copyright of Mickey Mouse and explains how the images of the early Mickey may be available for public domain use.
It’s not a news story, but an overview of the company’s 80 years of copyright enforcement, and a profile of several folks (including former Disney archivist Gregory Brown) who have attempted to expose the holes in Disney’s copyright claims. To quote the piece: “Welcome to the wonderful world of copyright law.” To read it online click here.
Ben Balistreri, currently a storyboard artist at Dreamworks on How to Train Your Dragon, and a character designer and board artist for Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Danny Phantom and many others, recently self published his first graphic novel: Seaweed and the Cure for Mildew.
Man, this guy is good! I saw the book at Comic-Con and couldn’t put it down. The project took six years to complete as Balistreri could only work on it on nights and weekends. Each panel and drawing is exquisite. The book itself is a must-see: it’s a handsome hardcover volume, in full color and printed at a huge 12 by 15 inches! It’s 64 pages, of which 24 are dedicated to roughs, designs, and making-of drawings printed on a different paper than the comic.
The story is crammed with great characters, funny dialogue and gorgeous, dynamic artwork – and it’s an epic of high adventure that cries out to be an animated film (by traditional hand-drawn animation). It’s $29.95 and each order comes with an original sketch. I highly recommend this – it’s a bargain. Order it here.
The new direct-to-video Tinker Bell feature will be playing exclusively at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, from September 19th through October 2nd.
The line is blurring as to what actually constitutes a theatrical release these days. This is clearly a promotional engagement for the DVD release on October 28th. But it’s being released with all the hoopla (and advertising) normally reserved for a kids event film (think Disney’s Miley Cyrus/Hanna Montana 3-D concert or that recent American Girl flick). So here’s my question: Does this qualify the film for Oscar eligibility?
Chuck Jones (1912-2002) sketches himself as a boy “conducting the ocean” in a new documentary short directed by Peggy Stern, Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood. This and other Jones drawings come to life in animated segments directed by John Canemaker. Stern and Canemaker captured one of Jones’ last filmed interviews a few years before his death and created a unique film around it. According to the press release:
In never-before-seen footage, the great cartoon director speaks candidly about his family’s experiences in 1920s Los Angeles, recalling events and personalities from his early life that shaped his creative spirit. The 26-minute documentary blends new animation – based on Jones’s spontaneous drawings made during the interview – with vintage Jones family photographs and clips from his classic Warner Bros. cartoons, to reveal Chuck Jones in a new light.
Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood will screen theatrically for Oscar qualification in Los Angeles Friday through Thursday, August 22-28. at 12:00 pm (noon) at the Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. The film is also scheduled be shown on TCM in October. Update: John Canemaker informs me that TCM will not air the film this year. This L.A. screening will be the only public performance for the time being.
A heads-up for animation fans stuck in L.A. over Labor Day weekend. Bill Plympton will present The Best of The Best: An Animated Evening of Oscar Qualifying Shorts for three days only in Los Angeles. This special 35mm presentation of outstanding new shorts will screen from August 30th through September 1st at Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
The program includes Doxology by Michael Langan, Veterinarian by Signe Baumane, Chainsaw by Dennis Tupicoff (above left), Hot Dog by Bill Plympton, A Letter to Colleen by Carolyn and Andy London (above right) and Berni’s Doll by Yann Jouette. Each film has been recognized as a standout in storytelling and technical expertise, entertaining audiences all over the world and receiving awards. Plympton himself booked the program into the Laemmle theatre to help qualify these films for Oscar consideration. The shorts in this lineup have, up till now, only been seen at festivals such as Slamdance, Annecy and the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, among many others.
We don’t often post about Telenovelas, but since Cartoon Network is going live action, here’s one they might consider: Olivia And I. It sounds like a cross between Ugly Betty and Cool World:
Olivia, a very shy cartoonist, works in an animation studio and falls deeply in love with Pablo, the studio manager. But there is also Pablo’s fiancée, Magdalena.
Olivia designs an animation model, a beautiful young girl who resembles her but has completely different characteristics. This drawn character will slowly become real and will interfere at work but it will also help Pablo and Olivia realize they are in love.
I’d be curious to see if this turns out to be any good. 120 one hour episodes are now in production at Illusion Studios in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Who knows? If it becomes popular there, it might spawn a U.S. spin-off.
Over the past year I’ve collaborated with Leslie Cabarga on several Dark Horse Books compiling the best stories of the classic Harvey Comics characters (Casper, Richie Rich and Hot Stuff). None has given me greater pleasure than the forthcoming collection of Baby Huey, which goes on sale in late September. The stories are all drawn by Dave Tendlar (see splash page below) and Marty Taras, who provide some of the best translations of animation-art-to-comic-panels I’ve ever seen. They are as pure to the original source (Taras created Huey and Tendlar was the series main director) as Connie Rasinski’s Mighty Mouse comics for St. John’s, and Gene Deitch’s occasional Tom Teriffic comic pages for Pines.
Amazon has just posted several pages from the book online, including the first Huey comic story from St. John’s Casper No. 1, published in 1949, a full year before Huey’s onscreen debut!