I’ve been periodically posting the progress of my very own six minute cartoon on a separate blog.Frederator Studios is producing 39 such shorts for a new series on Nickelodeon (Fall 2006 or sometime in 2007). All 39 creators are doing blogs and documenting their productions online. There are some real goodies in the works. Mine is HORNSWIGGLE, and it is being directed by Rich Arons (Tiny Toons, Animaniacs) and produced with Gang of 7 Animation in North Hollywood. The project is in post production this month and will be completed in early April. I’m very proud of the film, it’s shaping up very nicely. Obviously I’ll be promoting Hornswiggle much more as we get closer to its airdate – I’m planning some limited edition promo pieces that I’ll be giving away at the San Diego Comic Con (and on Cartoon Brew). More on that – and Hornswiggle – later.
Incredible find on eBay – Walt Disney’s 1923 business card. From the listing:
This business card was found in a career scrapbook compiled by Bert Sylvester of Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Sylvester founded one of the first electrical lighting companies in L.A. during the Silent period. Bert Sylvester was right in the center of moviemaking during the early Hollywood years and would very easily have known and worked with Walt Disney in any number of ways. Since the card still has Walt Disney’s Kansas City address, it is likely that he handed this out when he first arrived in L.A. in 1922-1923.
On the flip side, also on eBay is animator Fred Kopietz’ rather dull business card from Walt Disney Productions in the 1960s.
95-year-old artist Tyrus Wong (Bambi) was honored with a Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Annie Awards ceremony. Here is an excellent 8-minute bio of Wong (Real Player required), from the PBS series Life & Times, which documents highlights of his long career – and what he’s been up to lately.(Thanks, Bob Miller)
I recieved a 300 page full color auction catalog in the mail yesterday and have been mesmerized by it for several hours. It’s an auction of various collections (buttons, postcards, toys, advertising items, World’s Fair memoribilia, etc.) compiled by adman Roger Steckler for Random Treasures Auctions. 2500 lots being auctioned off over four nights. It closes next week. Check this BETTY BOOP wall fixture, this bizarre MICKEY MOUSE ashtray and a set of rare 1930s cartoon buttons (pictured above). Amazing stuff – Worth a browse!
To all our friends out in Dallas, Texas – take note: legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen will be discusing his craft and career on Thursday, March 30, 2006, 7:00 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center, Mockingbird Station, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. Harryhausen will be interviewed by producer, Arnold Kunert, followed by a question and answer period. After the event, Mr. Harryhausen will autograph copies of his new book. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or in advance at www.abunchofshortguys.com. For the diehard fans, a limited number of VIP tickets are available to the pre-event reception at 6:00 p.m., the opportunity to meet Mr. Harryhausen, and reserved seating for the event.
The biggest animation event of 2007 – in the United States – was formally announced this weekend.The Platform International Animation Festival will make its debut in Portland, Oregon during June 25-30th 2007 and its goal is to become America’s version of Annecy and Zagreb – an international animation competition with retrospectives, panels and special events. The festival has just opened offices in Portland and North Hollywood and has already started preliminary plans for programming and publicity. And they are off to a good start.Animation producer Irene Kotlarz has been appointed Festival Director. Irene was Director of the Cambridge, Bristol, and Cardiff International Animation Festivals in Britain. Marilyn Zornado, animator and producer at Will Vinton Studios, is Festival Coordinator. A website will debut this summer. Cartoon Network has signed on to financially back this event.Personally, I’m very excited about this project. An annual U.S. animation festival has proven difficult to maintain without the kind of government support international festivals regularly receive. Having been involved with several Los Angeles Animation Celebrations, and as a guest programmer at Annecy and Ottawa, I know the hard work that will be involved here. Amid and I have been in contact with Irene and Marilyn and plan to have some role in planning tributes and retrospectives.To be continued…
Tomorrow night is Oscar night and nothing seems as certain as the WALLACE & GROMIT win. However, the only suspense around here is for who will win the award for animated short. They are all outstanding, and the winner will seem obvious in hindsight.John McElwee on his Greenbriar Picture Shows blog takes an affectionate look at how RKO and MGM touted their Oscar winning cartoon characters with ads in Hollywood trade magazines 60 years ago.
A must-see: live-action SIMPSONS opening from the UK’s Sky TV.
University Press of Mississippi has two great new Disney books coming out in the next few months. Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar, is an appreciative overview of the oft-overlooked Disney record company.
The book chronicles for the first time the fifty-year history of the Disney recording companies launched by Walt Disney and Roy Disney in the mid-1950s, when Disneyland Park, Davy Crockett, and the Mickey Mouse Club were taking the world by storm. The book provides a perspective on all-time Disney favorites and features anecdotes, reminiscences, and biographies of the artists who brought Disney magic to audio. Authors Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar go behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Studios and discover that in the early days Walt Disney and Roy Disney resisted going into the record business before the success of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” ignited the in-house label. Mouse Tracks reveals the struggles, major successes, and occasional misfires. Included are impressions and details of teen-pop princesses Annette Funicello and Hayley Mills, the Mary Poppins phenomenon, a Disney-style “British Invasion,” and a low period when sagging sales forced Walt Disney to suggest closing the division down.
The book is loaded with performer biographies, reproductions of album covers and art, and facsimiles of related promotional material. It’ll be out in May.The other book, Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity by Thomas Andrae, will be published in July. This is a critical study of Barks’s work from a cultural perspective. Andrae analyzes all phases of Barks’s career from his work in animation to his postretirement years writing Junior Woodchucks stories. Barks is one of America’s greatest storytellers and, Andrae contends, “lifted the comic book form to the level of great literature.”
Tonight, March 2nd at 8pm, Janet Klein and the Parlor Boys celebrate the release of their 5th album, entitled: “Oh!” So, if you have yet to thrill to the sweet syncopations of Janet and her band, then this is the night! As always, the musical program will be preceded by another great selection of vintage cinematic goodies presented by Brewmaster Jerry Beck. THE STEVE ALLEN THEATER (Center for Inquiry-West), 4773 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood (Two blocks west of Vermont — Plenty of FREE parking in the rear). Tickets $15.
A super-cool and incredibly rare 1928 Oswald The Lucky Rabbit Stencil Set sold on ebay today for $1525. Click here for photo gallery of this item, one of the earliest known pieces of Disney licensed merchandise to exist. Would this have sold at that price a few weeks ago?
Heads up for those in Los Angeles area. On Friday (3/3, 7:30pm) the UCLA Film & Television Archive is running a tribute to Comic Art Onscreen. The Friday night program presents a selection of animated cartoons from the silent to early sound era (drawn from the Archive’s own collection, the Museum of Modern Art, Library of Congress, George Eastman House and Columbia Pictures).
Titles include: LITTLE NEMO (1911), DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND: BUG VAUDEVILLE (1921), Fragment from THE CENTAURS (1921), GERTIE THE DINOSAUR (1914), BOBBY BUMPS STARTS A LODGE (1916), BOBBY BUMPS AT THE DENTIST (1917), INDOOR SPORTS (1921), BREATH OF A NATION (1919), THE BEER PARADE (with Scrappy, 1933), KRAZY KAT GOES A-WOOING (1916), KRAZY KAT AND IGNATZ MOUSE AT THE CIRCUS (1916), THE APACHE KID 1930 (Krazy Kat), FELIX THE CAT IN BLUNDERLAND (1926), FELIX THE CAT WEATHERS THE WEATHER (1926).
A second program (Saturday March 11th, 2006, 7:30PM ) features another rarity, the only non-live-action feature film by Japanese New Wave master Oshima Nagisa (MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE , IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES ). BAND OF NINJAS (1967) is not animated, but rather a filmed manga (comic book). Using sound and montage techniques, Oshima made an action epic by filming the pages of Shirato Sampei’s 16-volume manga classic about bloody revenge and revolt in feudal Japan.(Thanks, Sharon Burian)
Our pal Harry McCracken goes inside Pixar and tells us about it on HARRY-GO-ROUND.
Good article on the CG rotoscope technique used in WAKING LIFE and challenges in making the forthcoming A SCANNER DARKLY in the latest WIRED. Worth reading.