Veteran Disney animator Ken Walker passed away last Saturday, August 18th, The Orange County Register posted his obituary on Wednesday. He was 91.
Walker began working at Disney right after graduating High School in 1940. After two years he joined the Navy, and after the war rejoined Disney as an assistant. In the mid-1940s, he was one of Ward Kimball’s assistants. Ward drew the gag drawing below of himself (left), inbetweener Mary Schuster and Walker. Walker later worked as an animator on Alice In Wonderland and numerous shorts (including Trick or Treat and Pluto’s Party, both 1952). He also animated for Film Graphics, Bill Melendez, DePatie Freleng, among others.
He was featured in this clip from the 1950s TV show, You Asked For It, which we posted on the Brew several years ago. In it, host Art Baker answers viewer mail about how animated cartoons are made, having Walker demonstrate by flipping scenes from the short Plutopia (1951). Walker’s appearance starts at the 3:20 mark.
Eyal Lebovich’s final project at the Bezalel Academy in Israel – the story of a lonely, outcast pigeon who becomes the center of attention – thanks to a bagel.
My old friend RaÃºl GarcÃa (The Missing Lynx) has a new short film opening this week in LA to qualify for an Academy Award. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher, the 17-minute film is narrated by Christopher Lee. Garcia’s previous Poe short, The Tell-Tale Heart won over 25 international awards. Usher will screen tonight Friday 24th through Sunday 26th at 12:00pm & 12:20pm at Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, California. A trailer is posted here. For more information on the film check the film’s Facebook page.
It’s August and hot as hell, and that means it’s time for another steaming pile of crappy cartoons from your inconsiderate friends at Cartoon Dump. There’s also sketches, stand up comedy, puppets and songs to ease the poorly animated pain. Join us: TV’s Frank Conniff as Moodsy, the Clinically Depressed Owl, Erica Doering as Compost Brite, J. Elvis Weinstein as Dumpster Diver Dan, Kristin Ariggo as Cue Card Goddess – plus special guest comedians Jackie Kashian, Brian Kiley and Hannah Gansen. I will be there as your humble host and the show’s co-producer.
Showtime is 8pm Monday night, August 27th, at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood California (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.
(Art above by Thom Foolery)
This is guaranteed to inspire you. NYU student Christine Chen’s thesis film, Rain:
It’s always a good day when animator Aaron Long releases a new Fester Fish cartoon. We’ve featured the previous two and now here’s the third – in which Fester realizes nobody likes him, and tries to make some new friends. Long took about a year to make it; all in Flash, coloring the backgrounds in Photoshop.
Very sad news today: New York animation legend Tissa David passed away last night at age 91. Michael Sporn broke the news on his blog and gives a recount of her career better than anyone one else could. Animator David Nethery wrote an appreciation of Tissa a few years ago on his website.
Tissa David was New York’s master animator for over five decades. Born in Transylvania, Tissa moved to Paris in 1950, where she worked for producers Jean Image and Paul Grimault. In 1955 she moved to New York where she worked as Grim Natwick’s assistant at UPA. Her work for John Hubley included commercials, shorts and features. Tissa may be best known to the public for developing and animating “Raggedy Ann” in Richard Williams’ 1977 feature Raggedy Ann and Andy. In 1978 she began a long stint animating for R. O. Blechman (including on Simple Gifts and A Soldier’s Tale).
Below, in tribute, is something we posted here a few years ago, a fuzzy video copy of one of Tissa’s pencil test from the “Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers” scene in Raggedy Ann and Andy.
You can’t go wrong with a film about a spaceman – with hay fever. Here’s Jeremy Bondy’s Sheridan College thesis film; designs, story reel, production blog: here.
Dreamworks Animation has announced today its new theatrical distribution arrangement with 20th Century-Fox. It’s a 5-year deal for Dreamworks animated features to be released from 2013 through 2017. Paramount will release the forthcoming Rise of The Guardians, the last film in its previous arrangement with the studio, and Paramount will continue to distribute all the previous Dreamworks films it handled to TV, DVD and ancillary markets.
Unlike the deal with Blue Sky Studios (which Fox owns completely), Dreamworks remains an independent producer who will pay Fox a fee for its distribution services. It’s an interesting move for both Dreamworks and 20th Century-Fox. For Fox, it gives them two major animation studios to compete against the Disney/Pixar powerhouse. For Dreamworks, it assures first class worldwide distribution for its hefty line-up of films in production. In theory, it sounds like a win-win for everyone – everyone but Paramount.
Not sure if this is an anti-drug film, a warning against pedophilia, or both – but its Kyle Couture’s thesis film from the Kansas City Art Institute. Check it out:
This is the story of Pixar, John Lasseter and three of the most important animated features of the last 20 years. It’s also one of Charles Solomon’s best books – and that’s saying something. The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey is one of those oversized art books – loaded with great graphics that alone would be worth the purchase – in which the text is equally important (and possibly more significant) than the images accompanying it. Solomon begins with the story of Lasseter at Disney and his journey to into CG, Lucasfilm and ultimately to Tin Toy, the short that inspired the Toy Story films. Three chapters detail the making of the Toy Story films in-depth (and lavishly illustrated with production art and photographs I’ve never seen before – a photograph of John Lasseter holding his childhood Casper The Friendly Ghost doll on page 45 is worth the price of this book alone). A chapter called Buzz and Woody in Limbo goes into the years between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, when the characters were part of TV’s Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and the ill-fated Circle 7 version of Toy Story 3. His final chapter on the making of Pixar’s triumphant Toy Story 3 brings the book full circle and cements Pixar’s place in animation history.
I didn’t see this one coming – it’s one of the best animation books of the year (and this is a pretty good year for animation books). It compliments the other books on Pixar’s history with ease, by focusing on three of their greatest films with new insights and fresh perspective. Hayao Miyazaki penned an affectionate Foreword, John Lasseter explains how personal these films are to him in the Afterword. This one’s the real deal, a great read – and I sincerely urge all of you who collect animation history to get it. That goes double for you Disney, Pixar and Toy Story buffs.
Charles Solomon also pens the Introduction for Sketchtravel, an exciting book project just published by Chronicle Books. French Illustrator Gerald Guerlais and Pixar art director Dice Tsutsumi passed a sketch book to over 70 artists around the world over the past 5 years. This book reproduces the artwork collected and tells the incredible story behind the project. It’s a gorgeous collection of material and great way to celebrate the artists represented. These include Hayao Miyazaki, Frederic Back, Bill Plympton, Enrico Casarosa, Bill Pressing, Peter DeSeve, Ronnie Del Carmen, Glen Keane, Nicolas Marlet, Mike Mignola, Lou Romano and many many others. It’s truly inspirational stuff. Highly Recommended!
From coast to coast, the reviews are coming in and its looking good! Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times says ParaNorman is “the most fun you’ll have with ghosts and zombies all year”. Manolha Dargis in The New York Times admires “the movie’s meticulously detailed pictorial beauty, which turns each scene into an occasion for discovery and sometimes delight.”
ParaNorman opens today and its a great little film. I highly recommend you check it out – and report to us right here with your opinion in the comments below. Only those who have actually seen the film will be allowed to post below.
Attention those in Southern California: Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra California is hosting a ParaNorman event this Sunday with character and armature designers Vera Brosgol, Jeremy Spake, Heidi Smith, and Alan Cook all flying down for the event. Story boards, models, and lots of designs will be on display. There will also be free posters to the those who attend (while supplies last) and the admission is free! Here is the link.
For those of you wondering who Yoram Gross was, your questions are about to be answered. The man behind the Australian series Blinky Bill and Dot and The Kangaroo is the subject of a brand new feature length documentary, Blinky and Me. According to press materials:
The untold story of Australian animator Yoram Gross comes to life in this new film that follows the artist and his family through his childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland, to Israel, where he began creating animated art films, all the way to Australia, where he found his fortune and happiness through animated features for children and the popular film series Blinky Bill, for which he received the highest honor in Australia. Gross continues to create even today, with his 85-year-old youthful enthusiasm.