Reut Bortz recently graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel. Her graduation film Stitches took a year and a half to complete, and it deals “with the question of whether it is possible to adapt every child to one specific mold”.
“I define the movie as semi–autobiographical,’ says Bortz. “In some parts it is based on my life, but mainly on the lives of hundreds of others who feel like they can’t be themselves among their own families and communities.” I think the message is universal – and the film is beautiful:
I’ve previously plugged Harry McCracken’s ongoing efforts to recognize Columbia Picture’s most popular (and now long forgotten) cartoon star of the 1930s – via his outstanding website Scrappyland. Now Harry has revised the site, presenting new material in blog format – and he’s begun posting updates with his latest Scrappy merchandising finds, rare art, reviews, and vintage cartoons. The whole thing is now easier to navigate and more fun than ever. Ahh, if only all classic cartoon characters had champions like McCracken and sites like this, the world would be a better place. For now, we have brilliantly realized Scrappyland: Bookmark this TODAY!.
I never thought I’d be posting about Scooby Doo ever again, much less be enthusiastic about it – but I happened to catch a few episodes of Warner Animation’s new Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated on my flight back from a quick trip to New York last month and became fascinated with them. My mind was saying “hate this”, “turn the channel”… but my eyes and ears were sorta digging it. I’d totally ignored this show for over a year – and now I found myself liking it. A lot.
I’d always been partial to A Pup Named Scooby Doo, but there’s something odd – and cool – about this latest take on the series. First off, there’s now a story arc for the entire show, Scooby apparently has more “dialogue”, Jonny Quest and Yogi Bear make cameos, Harlan Ellison (!!) plays himself (see clip below), Shaggy gets a crewcut (and it takes several episodes to grow back!), the characters poke fun at their personalities, yet stay true to the original series — and dammit, it’s fun! Heck, it even looks a hell of a lot better than any of the previous “takes”. So I contacted producer Tony Cervone and asked him to give me the scoob… err, scoop on this show. Here’s what Tony had to say (edited for space):
“We started with the premise that they really are “meddling kids”; teenagers going to high school, doing things they shouldn’t be doing. The show is a reboot universe, but we borrowed things from the entire history of Scooby-Doo. The characters elude to things in the past, from Scooby-Doo Where Are You?, they meet characters they met in the direct-to-DVDs, references to things in the live action movies, Vincent Van Ghoul from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo is in it. We pick and choose what to include.
“There is a 52-episode story arc, and in Season 2 (currently airing) every episode counts to tell the larger story. The characters are now more like normal teenagers – they hook up on occasion and break apart. We started the series with Shaggy and Velma paired off, but then Scooby found out and there was a weird romantic triangle. Yeah, Shaggy broke it off with Velma because he didn’t want to upset his best friend too much.
“We learn who the original “Mystery Incorporated” were. They were a high school club from decades past. They come back as adults (voiced by Lewis Black, Vivica A. Fox, Tia Carrera, Udo Kier and Tim Matheson) and they’re not what the gang thought they were. It’s deep and it’s dense and it only gets deeper, denser and stranger from here on in. Dan Krall art directed the first season and set the style for the show, Steve Nicodemus has followed up on the second 26 episodes. It’s so great – I don’t even know how why they let us make it.”
The show airs every weekday at 2pm EST/11am PST on Cartoon Network, right after the classic Looney Tunes, and it’s worth a look. Cervone tells me that next Thursday’s episode (Heart of Evil) contains a new, “Dark Knight” take on Dynomutt and The Blue Falcon. Those who hate Scooby-Doo will never watch this (and I totally understand) – but I’d love to hear from anyone who’s been following it. What’s your take? C’mon Scoobie fans, back me up on this.
NOTE: The black-light publicity image at the top (above) – drawn by Derrick Wyatt, painted by Peter Girardi and Dan Krall – was never printed as intended (it was supposed to be in day-glo inks on those giant bags they give away at Comic Con). Click it to see the full rich colors that were never used.
This weekend is Disney’s D23 event at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The focus of the conference is on 75 Years of Disney Animated Features, with appearances by studio super-stars (past and present) including Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Sanders, Burny Mattinson–not to mention actor Dick Van Dyke and composer Alan Menken–among others. The full schedule is posted here.
On Sunday morning, Eric Goldberg and I will discuss Wild and Wacky Disney Animation. Moderated by by Billy Stanek (co-host of D23′s Disney Geek), Eric and I will explore the surreal side of Disney animation, with excerpts and images from some of the most psychedelic and humorous animation in Disney animated features (and shorts). We’ll also discuss the artistic contributions of Ward Kimball, Salvador Dali and other important creative collaborators. It’s going to be a lot of fun. If you are going to D23, please come by and say hello.
In case you missed the live stream here last February, Asifa-Hollywood has now post the entire 39th Annual Annie Awards ceremony online. It runs about about an hour and twenty minutes and, on second look, it’s quite entertaining. Patton Oswalt hosts, and dozens of animation celebrities appear – including (in no particular order) June Foray, Gore Verbinski, Art Leonardi, Weird Al Yankovic, Borge Ring, James Hong, Walt Peregoy and many more. Sit back, relax and enjoy…
Neta Cohen’s imaginative Tap To Retry is a wonderful jumble of stop-motion paper sculpture eye-candy. Cohen recently graduated from the department of visual communication at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I’m seeing a lot of good films coming out of Israel lately – check Vimeo’s Israeli Animation channel to see a nice cross section of the talent percolating there.
Later today, I’ll be appearing again on Stu’s Show, the popular internet radio program hosted by Stu Shostack. We are going to discuss a wide variety of topics, but essentially we’ll debate the merits of current animated features, TV shows and forthcoming DVD releases (like the upcoming Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Vol. 2 at left). We will also talk about what the acquisition of Classic Media by Dreamworks is going to mean for animation collectors. Stu’s Show will be broadcast live at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific at StusShow.com. It’s free to listen live today – but after that you can download the show anytime for a mere 99Â¢. We’ll take a question or two via phone, but if you have a questions I encourage you to email Stu in advance (email address here) of broadcast. Join us and listen in here.
Animator Kurtis Scott has posted eight episodes of an ongoing series called Subway Thoughts. They focus on the protagonist’s train of thought as he makes his daily commute to work. The animation is minimal, but they make me laugh. Very neurotic stuff, but I can totally identify with it. Scott’s posting one or two new ones every week. Here’s a few samples:
Looney Tunes mega-fan Matthew Hunter (of the Misce-Looney-Ous blog) has started another worth-while project for the benefit of mankind. It’s a new site dedicated to showcasing Looney Tunes stories from classic (and some modern) Looney Tunes comics, an aspect of the Looney Tunes universe that we can all agree has been woefully neglected and under-appreciated for too long.
Hunter is highlighting the amazing work of artists including Pete Alvarado, Phil DeLara, Vivie Risto, Tom McKimson, David Alvarez, Walter Carzon, and many, many others both credited and uncredited. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, not to mention lesser lights like Henery Hawk, Merlin the Magic Mouse and other favorites are all here, in full color scans of stories ranging from the early to mid 1940′s to the early 2000′s, from Dell, Goldkey, Whitman, and DC… from his huge personal collection and from some “donations”. Check out the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics blog – with the iPad making it easier than ever to read comics online, this is a much needed resource – or at least, I think so.
This recently completed animated music video for Astronaut In The Aftermath was animated entirely within Toon Boom Animate Pro, all FX animation hand drawn on 1′s, frame by frame, without any cycles or repeats. The ghost at the beginning and end was on traditional 2′s.
I wasn’t going to announce this just yet – because its still over two months away – but since the information has already leaked and beginning to spread, there’s no reason to hold back. Turner Classic Movies will present a an evening of rarely televised animated films on Sunday night October 21st 2012. Yours truly Jerry Beck will co-host with TCM’s Robert Osborne this unique program block – six hours total – which will include restored UPA cartoons, Max Fleischer’s two feature length films, a selection of silent era cartoons from the collection of Thomas Stathes and Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 masterpiece, The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
Classic animation – which I define as theatrically-released studio or independent animated shorts and features from 1906 through roughly 1976 – has almost no outlet on television today. There is a smattering of Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry and sometimes Popeye on Cartoon Network, and a few classic TV broadcast channels (Antenna TV, This TV, KTV) with a several offbeat offerings. While much is on You Tube or other internet outlets, this is not the way to see or present such material. Public screenings at museums and repertory theaters (of the kind I do in Los Angeles at various venues) and festival retrospectives, are significant – but they do not reach the mass audience who do not know what they are missing: the incredibly entertaining legacy of animation history.
I’ve always wanted to see classic animation given its proper due; and Turner Classic Movies is the only channel capable of doing it right. And I have to admit, its been a goal of mine to make that happen. Please mark you calendar and tune in (or record) Sunday October 21st. I think you’ll enjoy the films we have lined up – and if you do, please tell TCM (via their online forums, or snail mail) that you want more. Here’s the schedule:
Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels (1939) at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific
Max Fleischer’s Mr. Bug Goes To Town (1941) at 9:30pm Eastern/6:30pm Pacific
A selection of UPA’s Jolly Frolics at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific
Silent Era Animation from the collection of Tom Stathes at 12 midnight Eastern/9pm Pacific
Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed at 1am Eastern/11pm Pacific
More details and information will be posted periodically as we get closer to the air date. I wouldn’t want any of you to miss this.
Friggin’ hilarious, beautifully designed – and you’ll never see this on DC Nation! Safe for work, but let’s just say if “Mr. Hanky” offends you, do NOT watch. Brooklyn-based filmmaker Brett Underhill can really tell a story with minimalist movements, but what’s more important here is that he made me laugh.