In today’s installment of “Animation WTF?”, I hereby submit this trailer for After School Midnighters (HÃ´kago middonaitÃ¢zu) by artist/animator Hitoshi Takekiyo. The official synopsis reads…
“The main character ‘Kynst Lijk’ is a human body model that stands in a science room of an elementary school. Kynst Lijk also reigns over the school after midnight. One day, when a naughty kindergarden trio accidentally meets him, his ordinary life changes. The scariest and craziest after midnight adventure begins…”
Around the same time we’ll be watching Brave, Ice Age: Continental Drift and ParaNorman, this film will be opening in Tokyo theaters:
First, I’m presenting a mini survey of Paramount theatrical animation (1930-1967) this Thursday, April 26th. As part of the museum’s film series celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Paramount Pictures, there will be a double bill saluting the studio’s animated legacy. At 7:30pm South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut will screen – followed at 9pm by my tribute (introduced by yours truly, Jerry Beck); a full program of rare 35mm archival film prints, which will include Fleischer Betty Boop, George Pal Puppetoons, Famous Studios’ Baby Huey, Gene Deitch’s Munro and John Hubley’s Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass Double Feature. An incredible show that would be difficult to repeat. If you want to buy a separate admission ticket ($5) for just the Paramount shorts at 9pm, click here.
On Friday April 27th LACMA will host a double feature of experimental classics. First, at 7:30 Design In Motion: Oskar Fischinger and Abstract Animation a program of 35mm preserved prints of Fischinger’s visual music films: Allegretto, Motion Painting no. 1, Composition in Blue, Kreise, An American March, Radio Dynamics, Spirals, Spiritual Constructions, Studies 5,6,7 and 8, and more. At 9pm, a program of modernist animation by California artists (including 16mm films by Jordan Belson, Jules Engel, Harry Smith and others). These programs will introduced by Cindy Keefer of The Center for Visual Music.
Here’s what I believe to be the final, all-encompassing, mega trailer for Brave. It reminds us that Pixar created Wall-E, Toy Story 3 and Up (so as not to confuse this pic with any DreamWorks/Blue Sky/Illumination film), and includes several gorgeous new shots we haven’t seen before. Looks good, sez I…
Adam Ciolfi has been essentially working alone on his stop-motion feature The Lady of Names for the last 15 years. He’s done almost everything himself, from designing the sets to photography and animation; he even constructed the orchestral score. Is it a masterpiece or a misguided mess? Either way, you have to admire Ciolfi’s obsession in finishing the picture. In L.A. the film will be screened this Sunday, April 29th at 2:45pm at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
It wouldn’t be a book round-up without one or two from Craig Yoe. His latest compilation is this remarkable 256 page hardcover collecting much of Frank Frazetta’s (Fire & Ice) funny animal comic art of the 1940s. These comics, which emulate Hollywood cartoons of the era with characters like “Hucky Duck” and “Bruno Bear”, show that Frazetta was equally skilled at exaggerated cartoon line art as he was with his later realistic fantasy paintings. The book devotes over 70 pages to these rare “animated” stories, over 60 pages to his remarkable text-page header illustrations (for such tales as Percy The Pufferfish and Abbott the Rabbit), and another 70 to humorous stories drawn in Frazetta’s more realistic style. Yoe recounts Frazetta’s earlier years in his lavishly illustrated (with rare art) opening essay, and Ralph Bakshi contributes his memories in a sincere Introduction. All in all, its a lot of fun!
If you’ve ever admired the art or illustrations of cartoonist Otto Soglow, this book is a must-have. Over 400 pages filled with Little King Sunday strips, including a sampling of his associated characters The Ambassador and Sentinel Louie. The book includes a thorough biographical introduction by Ohio State University comics historian Jared Gardner accompanied by numerous rare Soglow images, animation art, advertising pieces and commercial illustrations. A beautiful package, a wonderful collection.
If you collect any and all things related to classic E.C.’s original Mad comics – here is the missing link! This 192-page trade paperback is the last word on the bakers dozen of Mad knock-offs produced by Marvel (Atlas), Charlton, St. John, Harvey Comics and others in 1953-54 pre-comics code era. Editor John Benson compiles the best of these humor comics – with art by Jack Kirby, Norman Maurer, Howard Nostrand, Dan DeCarlo and others – and writes an informative and lavishly illustrated essay on the history of these books and their creators. Hilarious fun, The Sincerest Form of Parody is sincerely great.
Ahhh, the joys of Nancy!
Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy is one of those acquired tastes. Deceptively simple, it’s the comic strip stripped to its bare essentials. The end result may be perfection; there are many who think so. They’ll get no argument from me. This new compilation book is lavishly produced (by Fantagraphics Books), with an introduction by Daniel Clowes, and compiles the daily strip from the wartime years (not that you’d know that; the strip rarely references the war). If you like Bushmiller no explanation is necessary; if you don’t, no explanation is possible. Buy this book and make Nancy happy.
Finally, I must note IDW’s new Popeye comic book (32 pages, $3.99). It’s cover is a take-off of Action #1 – which is appropriate as some consider Popeye the first comic strip superhero. It’s also available with an “incentive cover” by cartoonist/Popeye screenwriter Jules Feiffer. Craig Yoe, Ted Adams and Clizia Gussoni are editing this four issue series with writer Roger Landridge (The Muppets) and artist Bruce Ozella. Ozella’s art is so authentic you’d think this was a reprint book. If you are going to revive Popeye – this is the way to do it. Five thumbs up, sez I.
Ya’ know, I was just thinking that I haven’t done a post about Little Audrey in a long time. So to remedy that, here’s a fun children’s 78rpm Golden Record from 1951, featuring Mae Questel (Betty Boop, Olive Oyl and Little Audrey) with Mitch Miller and his Orchestra. The song is a lively variant of the Little Audrey theme song written by Buddy Kaye and Winston Sharples (first and best heard, swing-style, in Butterscotch and Soda (1948)). Little Audrey is, of course, a knock-off of Little Lulu – a minor player promoted to her own series after Paramount lost the rights to Lulu in 1947. Paramount then vigorously exploited the character with records, comic books, dolls and toys in the early 50s, long before it sold the rights to Harvey Comics. So let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on Little Audrey, pretty much forgotten today, part of another era of animated cartoons.
Donald leads a tormented life on the unforgiving streets of Duckburg, where sometimes he must betray his own conscience to make ends meet. Donald has to raise his 3 nephews, deal with his girlfriend and put up working for his stingy uncle; the richest duck in town.
Sounds like Carl Barks? Think again. From Icelandic comedy group Mid-Island, comes this mock trailer about the lives and times of Donald Duck… in Danish and filmed in the style of Lars von Trier’s Dogme 95.
For those of you still recovering from the overdose of eye-candy contained in TCM’s UPA: Jolly Frolics Collection here’s a additional blast of 50s design goodness you simply gotta-have. Animation archaeologist Steve Stanchfield has just released his latest DVD compilation: Mid Century Modern Animation. It’s an incredibly cool set of theatrical cartoons, industrial films and vintage commercials that embraced the modernism movement of the era. Disney fans: this set features the largest collection of those 50s Disney “Alice in Wonderland” Jello promos, stylized Tinkerbell Peter Pan Peanut Butter commercials, and the Nash and Rambler automobile spots featuring Tom Oreb’s redesigned Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket.
Other highlights on the disc include a rare reel of the Soundac TV Weatherman shorts and a Shamus Culhane commercial sample reel. I hate to admit it, but Steve located a much better copy of UPA’s Magic Fluke than the one that appears on the Jolly Frolics set (it’s from a rare 35mm Technicolor print but contains a few splices). UPA’s industrial Big Tim, from a beautiful 35mm IB tech nitrate print, and John Sutherland’s Oreb/Haboush design masterpiece Destination Earth, transferred from a mint 16mm IB, are here. There’s much much more – shorts and oddities, like Grantray Lawrence’s lost pilot Planet Patrol, a rare workprint of a Paramount Popeye cartoon, and Zagreb’s The Cow On The Moon (1959).
The quality of this material is superb, the presentation is perfect and the DVD is labeled “Vol. 1″ – indicating that Steve has more goodies up his sleeve. Check out these frame grabs below – if this is your cup of tea, I highly recommend you pick up his Mid Century Modern Animation as soon as you possibly can.
If you are unfamiliar with the life and work of John Halas (1912-1995), or simply know his name from his feature length Animal Farm (1954) – or TV cartoons like Do-Do The Kid From Outer Space (1964) – you owe it to yourself to watch this 12 minute tribute. Released online today in celebration of her father’s 100th birthday, Viviene Halas produced this short documentary about her dad (one of the founding fathers of ASIFA, co-director/co-producer of numerous animated shorts and commercial films, and author of several important books on animation) containing some rare footage and reminiscences by studio survivors.
In 1982, Alan Kay and Bob Stein of Atari’s Research Group began conceiving the idea of an “intelligent encyclopedia”. They hired young hot-shot Disney animator Glen Keane to create pitch art, to help visualize the concept to Atari’s owners (at the time): Warner Bros. Stein, now co-founder of The Institute for the Future of the Book, has posted the lost Keane drawings on his if:book blog. Check out the nine images, which are surprisingly accurate in their prediction of how we use the internet.
Three, count ‘em Three (3), animation events hosted by yours truly, all within a week of each other and coming up soon. Please consider joining me and my cartoon pals at any or all of the following screenings in Hollywood, California:
Saturday April 21st: The first of my all-new series of monthly animation matinees at The Cinefamily on Fairfax. This inaugural show features a collection of the trippiest animation in cartoon history, as classic toon-dudes from Porky Pig to Popeye enter strange new worlds, see spaced-out sights, and smoke some seriously wacky weed (no joke – we are running the Andy Panda cartoon called Wacky Weed)! You won’t need any prescriptions to inhale these hallucinations – so just sit back, relax and let the sunshine in. Munchies will be on sale at the candy counter, but the good stuff will be on screen in rare film prints (some in psychedelic Technicolor, even.) Tune In, Turn On, Admit One! Showtime is 4:30pm. For more Info, click here!
Monday April 23rd: Yep, its that time of the month again, and boy am I cranky. A bunch of truly awful cartoons surrounded by an absolutely hilarious live comedy/music show with Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein (both of MST3K) and Erica Doering. We call it Cartoon Dump and perform it at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. Showtime is 8pm and tickets can be purchased here. Check out the new FaceBook page for more information and updates.
Thursday April 26th: Part of the LA County Museum of Art film series celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Paramount Pictures is this one-night tribute to the studio’s animated legacy. At 7:30pm South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut will screen – followed at 9pm by a tribute (curated by me, Jerry Beck) to Paramount Cartoons where I will introduce a full program of 35mm archive prints – including Fleischer Betty Boop, George Pal Puppetoons, Famous’ Baby Huey, Gene Deitch Munro and John Hubley’s Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass Double Feature. The double bill with South Park is $10. There will also be a separate admission available ($5) for just the Paramount shorts at 9pm. Come! LACMA ticket info here.