Mathematician and video-maker Vi Hart exposes the mathematical impossibility of SpongeBob Squarepants pineapple:
In ancipation of Andrew Stanton’s (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) live action debut, John Carter, this clip of Bob Clampett’s 1936 John Carter of Mars test footage has recently gone viral (thanks to Geeks of Doom, io9 and The Animation Guild, among others):
Of course, longtime readers of Cartoon Brew know this clip comes off the 1999 Beany & Cecil The Special Edition (Vol. 1) DVD, which we have championed for years. I am happy to report Volume 1 was just re-released in a newly remastered version last month. You can only get it through the official Beany & Cecil.com website, and according to the site “the remastered disc has new menus and loads faster, adds Spanish tracks for all of the cartoons (except Beanyland) and several new audio commentaries by Clampett’s kids on three cartoons. There is also a recently discovered storyboard for an unproduced Clampett autobiographgical cartoon titled Cecil’s Scrapebook. What makes it really unique and strange is that it recounts Bob Clampett’s creative and “surreal” life in the person of Cecil.”
I can’t tell you how much I personally love the work of Bob Clampett. These DVDs (Volume 1 and Volume 2) are vital for anyone interested in classic Hollywood cartoons – or anyone who simply wants to laugh. I’ll end this post with one of my favorite Beany and Cecil cartoons (many are now available on You Tube’s Beany & Cecil Channel). I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite B&C cartoon, but this one is in the top ten – one of the funniest, cleverest and coolest TV cartoons ever, The Wildman of Wildsville:
Here’s the perfect film for me to post in the middle of the night. Andres Tapeton’s graduation film from the Classical Animation program at the Vancouver Film School. It’s quite a trip. Tapeton wrote us to explain:
“This one is really personal, since it’s a representation of the most recurrent dream I have since childhood. I’ve been writing my dreams sporadically through the years, and I always joked when I was in school that some day I would make films out of them. And well, luckily my life brought me to the point that I actually know how to do that now, hah. And that’s why this one is just a prologue of what hopefully will become a personal animated project.”
Actor/comedian Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) will host the 39th Annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 4th at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The annual event will begin with a pre-reception at 5 p.m. followed by the Annie Awards ceremony at 7 p.m. and an after-party celebration immediately following the ceremony. All events will be held at Royce Hall. And for the first time ever, Cartoon Brew will live stream the event!
This year’s Winsor McCay recipients are Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring and Ronald Searle. Searle’s award will be posthumous, as he passed late last year at the age of 91. Other animation luminaries and voice actors scheduled to present awards include Ty Burrell, JK Simmons, James Hong, Jib Jab founders Greg and Evan Spiridellis, Tara Strong, Daran Norris, Dee Bradley Baker and animation legend June Foray – among others to be announced.
For complete ticket information and up-to-the minute details on the 39th Annual Annie Awards, please visit www.annieawards.org or the new Annie Awards Facebook page. And remember, if you can’t be there in person, Cartoon Brew will live-stream the ceremony from 7pm PST (10pm EST). Now you have no excuse to miss this event!
Okay, here’s another post for the animation historians.
Animation pioneer Max Fleischer was an inventor and he was passionate about science and modern technology. When his cartoon studio became established in the 1920s he created several educational films for various clients – not to mention extra-length films devoted to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (both in 1923). Many of these industrial films are lost.
AT&T has dug into its archives an unearthed a pair of sponsored films Bell Telephone commissioned from the Fleischer studio. Fleischer actually produced four nontheatrical titles for the phone company (How the Telephone Talks, 1924; That Little Big Fellow, 1927; Now You’re Talking, 1927 and Finding His Voice in 1929), but AT&T has posted two. Both are pretty rare – I’d never seen That Little Big Fellow myself. They are meant to educate and inform, and are not as inventive (or comedic) as the Koko the Clown theatrical shorts, but are fascinating nonetheless.
So, if you want to learn a little about the science of telecommunications in the 1920s, here are two of Fleischer’s finest. Thank you AT&T.
King Features has collaborated with rock band Wilco on a comic strip/music video tie-in with Popeye. The sailorman and his crew crossed over in last Sunday’s comic strip (1/22/12 by Frank Caruso and Ned Sonntag) and joined the group in this animated music video (embed below), directed by urban fashion designer Darren Romanelli and animated in Singapore by Peach Blossom Media.
Here’s a treat for Fleischer Studio aficionados. In 1935, animator Myron Waldman went to the hospital to have his appendix out. The artists at the studio created a giant hand made “get well” card packed with gag cartoons. Animation art dealer Ken Storms acquired this piece (yes, it’s for sale) and has allowed us to share. A terrific find – It’s great to see the animators behind Popeye and Betty Boop do some off-color gags. There are four pieces, sized 23″ by 13.5″. Click the image above to see the “cover” piece. The other three pieces are below.
Click the thumbnails below to see the art full size. Panel 2 (below left) contains cartoons by Graham Place, Jim Miele, Joe Stultz, Jack Quban, Bill Bird, Tom Antisell and Sam Buchwald (!); Panel 3 (center) has Dave Tendlar, Herman Cohen, Nick Tafuri, Georgew Germanetti, Lillian Friedman, Ed Nolan, Bill Sturm, Ted Vosk, Izzy Sparber and I think, Orestes Calpini; Panel 4 (below right) Max Fleischer, Willard Bowsky, Doc Crandall, Abner Kneitel, William Henning, Harold Walker, Seymour Kneitel, Jim Claboy, Dave Hoffman and Eli Brucker.
Allow me to go off topic (or slightly off topic) for a moment to pay tribute to an old friend, Bingham Ray (he’s at left in the photo above, with a younger, thinner version of me circa 1991 – that’s animator Gavrilo Gnatovich behind us). His unexpected passing yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival has generated a lot a press. The New York Times notes, “He started his formal career in 1981 in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s New York office, where he sold library titles to hospitals, colleges and ships at sea”. Yep, that’s where I met him, where we worked side-by-side in MGM/UA’s nontheatrical department, renting 16mm prints to various venues.
Bing was a hilarious guy and it was absolutely true that everyone loved him. He left MGM/UA and ultimately became the head of several movie companies including Samuel Goldwyn and United Artists. He started his own film distribution company, October Films, in 1991 and one of his first acquisitions was Bill Plympton’s The Tune. He was always there for advice, a joke, or to simply share his enthusiasm for film. He will be missed.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Bing.
Okay, here is an unabashed plug for a video project near and dear to my heart. Animation archeologist/film-restoration hero Steve Stanchfield is ready to unveil his latest DVD masterpiece: Noveltoons Original Classics, a special DVD collection featuring twenty restored “Hollywood” cartoons produced by Paramount from 1943-1950.
Paramount’s in-house cartoon unit, Famous Studios (actually based in New York City), was staffed by a core group of artists from the former Fleischer Studio – in fact, just about everyone minus Max and Dave was still involved. The Noveltoons series became the launching pad for many well known (and not-so-well known) characters: Little Audrey, Baby Huey, Herman the Mouse, Raggedy Ann, Blackie Sheep, Spunky Donkey and others. Unlike other collections featuring some of this material, Stanchfield’s set features these cartoons digitally restored and mastered from original 35mm and 16mm film materials. For the specific cartoon titles, see Menu’s below (click thumbnails to enlarge).
You may have seen some of these cartoons before – but you haven’t seen them look like this. Pristine, colorful, with their original Paramount movie titles. Believe me, this library has been sadly neglected for decades. Previous available copies of these cartoons are usually faded 16mm TV prints with replaced titles, film splices and dirt lines. Your jaw will drop when you see the quality Steve has managed to achieve (check the two frame grabs above, center and right; click thumbnails to enlarge).
Bonus features include commentaries from animators (Bob Jaques, Mike Kazaleh, etc.) and animation historians (including me), Still galleries featuring original model sheets, publicity materials, animation art and comic strips, plus a unique Baby Huey storyboard/final film comparison reel (image below):
Noveltoons Original Classics. Buy it now. I highly recommend it. Help support this kind of film restoration – by a dedicated animation historian, doing the work the major studios do not feel worthy of its time. And if I haven’t convinced you yet, here are a few excerpts from the disc (You Tube does not do this justice):
Stop Hurting by Gareth Axford for group Nova’s Basement.
Set Loose Black Sail by Dave Brodsky
Music Video for NY based rock band “The Smashup” uses charcoal animation mixed with live action. Directed by David Brodsky, animation by Tim Kellen
The Shrine / An Argument by Sean Pecknold
Created by Sean Pecknold in Portland Oregon, for the group Fleet Foxes. Animators: Sean Pecknold & Britta Johnson; Character Illustrations: Stacey Rozich.
Just for fun – and thanks to Chuck Howell, the Archivist at University of Maryland’s Special Collections in Mass Media & Culture – we are happy to show off these cool 1957 Bert and Harry Piel bar coasters. The characters were created in 1953 for a TV ad campaign by UPA New York, under Gene Deitch’s supervision. Jack Sidebotham designed the characters for the Cunningham and Walsh agency – and of, course Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding provided the voices. For more about this (and to see one more of these coasters), read Gene Deitch’s account on his blog.
Pink Panther FAIL!
I have no idea what they are selling, what they are doing or who made this insanity – and maybe its better not to know. This spot for what methinks is a Russian casino is so strange I had to share. Perhaps a reader can translate and explain. Oh, and is that the co-star of Cow and Chicken at the 13-second mark?
Way back in 1992, Ted Turner paid to colorized a batch of black and white Merrie Melodies from 1931-33. This was back before computers were employed to add colors, so the cartoons were shipped to South Korea, traced frame-by-frame (well, almost), new cels were inked and painted and shot under the camera – creating a “color” cartoon from a “worthless” black & white print. For more information on 1967-1992 colorized cartoons, click here. To see how well they did (or just to enjoy the tune Smile Darn Ya, Smile), check out the comparison below:
(via Golden Age Cartoons)
Stop-mo animator Joel Fletcher just posted the behind the scenes tale of a long forgotten Mickey’s Parade frozen treats commercial from 1991. The advertisement was one of the most complex stop-motion spots of the era, due to the sheer number of animated puppets and props. It is also a nostalgic flashback to a Disney licensed food product that is no more. Read all about it and see the commercial on Joel Fletcher’s blog.
As many of you know, every month (on the fourth Monday evening) I co-produce a live comedy/cartoon show, Cartoon Dump, at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. If you are in the area next Monday (1/23), this will be a great one to drop in on. In addition to our regulars, Frank Conniff (MST3K) and Erica Doering, our special comedy guest is once again Patton Oswalt. I’ll be there, showing an extra helping of really horrible cartoons. Showtime is 8pm. Ticket info is posted here. Check out the new FaceBook page for more information and updates.
Unlike the United States, the French considered Tex Avery a genius in his time. When he passed away (8/26/80), the French mourned – and here’s a small example: a TV news broadcast featuring actress/screenwriter and critic France Roche discussing the passing of Tex Avery from August 29th, 1980. I don’t recall such attention being paid on U.S. TV at the time.
(Thanks, Valentin Moretto)
Threadless has teamed with Disney to create a contest to design a Donald Duck T-shirt. Normally I wouldn’t plug such a commercial venture, but I have to admit some of the entries are incredibly cool. One day left to score the designs – the winner will have his design printed on a limited edition shirt. A few of my favorites are posted above (Top: Zinkete; Center: TVSKyle; Botton: Rodgepodge). Check out the complete list of design submissions here.
(Thanks, Trevour Meyer)
Animator Rob Yulfo edited this collection of Peanuts clips set to Vega Choir’s cover of Radiohead’s Creep. This sums it all up.
Longtime readers of this blog know I have a “thing” for retro-style cartoons – i.e. new animated shorts that faithfully mimic a past era of animation. Today I’m proud to present the Internet premiere of one of the best I’ve ever seen: Fernando Miller’s Flea and Fly in City Troubles.
The film follows the antics of two homeless urchins in Rio, recreating the look and feel of late 1920s cartoons by mashing the styles of Otto Messmer with Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising, with a pinch of Tex Avery and a nod to Tezuka (Broken Down Film, in particular). However Miller’s film is not simply a clever homage to old cartoons. It addresses real life problems of poverty and street children in modern day Brazil. Flea and Fly’s antics echo innocent behavior of 80 years ago, updated to reflect today’s realities: They sniff glue instead of drink booze; they also smoke, steal, bathe in public and urinate in the street.
I asked Miller, who works as a freelance animator in Rio, to explain the origin of his film:
“I had the idea for the film about 12 years ago. I was on a bus in Rio, my hometown, and there was this bunch of street kids on it, laughing out loud, slaping each other, screaming out of the window calling people names, and all this sort of things kids like to do to have fun. But the other people on the bus seemed terrified, as if those 10, 11 years old boys were about to shoot them or something. Everybody was so scared with the violence in the city, and the problem of abandoned kids living in the streets of Rio, that no one noticed, above all at that moment, that those were just kids acting as normal kids. On the other hand, those same people would smile at those exact same things while watching old fashioned cartoons – like Katzenjammer Kids – thinking about how inocent kids were at that time! So I wanted to show that things were not that different from the past, and try to create the same sympathy for nowadays kids, despite of the terrible situation they live in.
“That big church in the beginning and the end of the film is Candelaria Church, were in 1993 six street children got killed by police officers. It was a famous and terrible massacre every Brazilian knows well.
“All the places in the film do exist. Here’s a curious fact for animators: those two building behind the man selling food are where Animamundi Festival takes place. It’s across the street to Candelaria Church.”
With the current critical and artistic success of the live action “silent” film The Artist, perhaps Miller’s cartoon is coming out at just the right time. It would certainly make an appropriate short to accompany that feature. It sheds light on an important social issue with unusual finesse. Here, fresh from the festival circuit, is Flea and Fly in City Troubles:
The new year brings a new trailer for the Nick Cross feature Black Sunrise. Nick tells us he has ten minutes completed. Every new image intrigues and excites us. I predict this will be well worth the wait:
Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies’ The Adventures of Tintin won the Best Animated Feature prize at tonight’s Golden Globe ceremony in Beverly Hills. Director Steven Spielberg accepted the award (video below) and seemed genuinely surprised.
How about you? Did you expect Rango, Puss In Boots, Arthur Christmas, or perhaps Cars 2 to win this award? Do you think a Golden Globe award will help Tintin’s chances with Oscar or Annie voters?
Yesterday, Deadline Hollywood posted about Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions signing animation director Roger Allers (Lion King) to supervise an ambitious independent feature based on Khalil Gibran’s 1923 classic The Prophet. Allers will oversee the entire film – and will direct the opening, closing and bridging sequences – which will combine the work of a who’s-who of renown international animators.
The Prophet is a book of 26 poetic essays on life and the human condition. It’s divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.
Already signed on (or in discussions) to participate: Tomm Moore (The Secret Of Kells), Sylvain Chomet (The Illusionist), John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Chris Landreth (Oscar-winning short Ryan), Nina Paley (Sita Sings The Blues), Bill Plympton (Guard Dog) and Kunio Kato (Oscar-winning short Tsumiki No Ie). This “Super Bowl of animation” begins pre-production later this month – and is certainly one we will keep tabs on.