Toy Masters is a feature-length documentary (currently in production) on the story behind the toy line and animated series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. In addition to interviews with all the principals behind the toys and Filmation cartoon, the preview below contains the central conflict of the film – the stories of toy designers Roger Sweet and Mark Taylor, both of whom claim to have created He-Man:
My love for bouncy retro-style cartoons has no bounds. This was produced a few years ago (2002?) by Argentine cartoonist and animator Lucas Nine, but I just caught up with it today. This is so good the poor quality of the upload doesn’t spoil it for me.
Momo E No Tegami (A Letter To Momo) from director Hiroyuki Okiura (Jin-Roh) will open in Japan during next spring’s Golden Week holidays. Okiura spent seven years planning, writing, storyboarding, and directing the film. Masashi Ando (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) is overseeing the animation process. Among the animators on the team are Toshiyuki Inoue (Akira), Ei Inoue (The Cat Returns), Takeshi Honda (Evangelion 2:0), Tetsuya Nishio (Ghost In the Shell 2), and Hiroyuki Aoyama (Summer Wars). Hiroshi Ohno (Kiki’s Delivery Service) is serving as art director.
(Thanks, Ben Price)
Here’s another one of those wonderful articles from Popular Mechanics magazine (September 1960) explaining the tricks behind creating animated cartoons: “TV Hit From A Cartoon Factory” by Thomas E. Stimson, Jr.
The piece includes a Huckleberry Hound storyboard sequence, character mouth chart and some great behind the scenes photos. Check out Carlo Vinci animating on the article’s second page (page 121). Read the whole piece through this link to Google Books.
(Thanks, Wynn Hamonic)
Spent the weekend going over some new book acquisitions (and one DVD) and surprise! most were pretty good – and a couple were really great. Here’s what I’ve been reading (and viewing), in no particular order:
Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood (University of California Press), edited by Daniel Goldmark and Charlie Keil, is a fascinating collection of essays by noted animation historians and academics, exploring the link – from the outset of the medium to today – between comedy and animation. Fourteen pieces in all, including J.B. Kaufman comparing Disney’s characters to Chaplin and silent comedians; Mark Langer putting Fleischer’s early films in context to Vaudeville and comic strips of the era; Donald Crafton observing the effect of Hollywood cartoons on Depression era audiences; Linda Simensky on the influences of classic cartoons and earlier animators on the TV cartoon creators of today; and Daniel Goldmark writing about “funny music” in funny cartoons. This one is aimed at the scholarly – but is highly recommended (by me) to all!
Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman, A Celebration by Craig Yoe (Abrams Comic Arts). Another Krazy Kat comics compilation? Not quite. In fact, not at all. Once again comics archaeologist Yoe has unearthed a treasure trove – this time of all things Herriman and Krazy. And once again I’ll say that even if you know nothing about Herriman and his most famous creation, you MUST buy this book. If you love great cartooning, funny drawings, and 20th Century pop culture this is a absolute gotta-have-it volume. It is an absolute joy to leaf through these pages filled with rare unpublished Herriman art – in comics, paintings, doodles, merchandise, etc. This is a companion volume to all the incredible Herriman material now being reprinted – a collection of jaw-dropping “bonus material” (as we say in the DVD world) that even includes several pages devoted to the Charles Mintz animated cartoons of the 20s and 30s. The artwork overwhelms the reader, yet Yoe tops that by including several rare essays on the Kat from the likes of E.E. Cummings, Gilbert Seldes, Bill Watterson, Craig McCracken and Herriman’s grand daughter Dee Cox, among others. I’ve run out of space to continue raving. Only have room for four more words: Buy this book now!
The Saga of Rex by Michel Gagne (Image Comics). I figure there are two types of people out there: those who know the work of Michel Gagne, and those who don’t. Those who do should already have this graphic novel (it came out late last year and I’ve been remiss at plugging it here). If you don’t have it – get it. What a beautiful “trip” this is. This is pure Gagne psychedelia unleashed on 190 color pages. If you don’t know Gagne’s work – he’s an amazing special effects animator (The Iron Giant, among others), currently living in the Pacific northwest doing his own thing when he isn’t animating or designing games…. The Saga of Rex will introduce you to his world in the best possible way. Don’t let the cute l’il furry cover fool you, this is a mind-blowing sci-fi adventure; visual storytelling at its best; and highly recommended!
The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions by Matt. Murray (Abrams Image). What’s more surprising than a first place box-office win for The Smurfs movie? This book! Self described “Smurfologist” Matt. Murphy (former president of New York’s Musuem of Comics and Cartoon Art – and a student in my 1996 History of Animation class at NYU) has put together an informing and entertaining history of the Peyo, his comic strip and all the subsequent animated adaptations. Lavishly illustrated with pull outs (like my The Hanna Barbera Treasury) that include facsimile reproductions of the first “Schtroumpfs” booklets, cels, model sheets, stickers, et al. It’s the ultimate word on the whole Smurfs phenomenon. I never thought I’d say this, but I highly recommend this book. It’s a lot of fun.
Uncensored Animation #2: Cannibals! by Steve Stanchfield (Thunderbean Animation). Stanchfield does it again! He’s just released his latest DVD compilation of classic cartoon obscurities, and I hereby order you to buy it. Here’s the link. You will not be disappointed. This time Steve’s collected the rarest, most obscure cartoons based around the theme of Man-Eating Cannibals. Warning: much of this material is Politically Incorrect. These are rare cartoons from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, from various studios, lovingly preserved in their best possible presentation. Oddities include Korn Plastered In Africa (1931) narrated by radio’s Uncle Don, Chiquita Banana and the Cannibals (1947) by Hugh Harman, and Aroma of the South Seas (1926) with Mutt & Jeff paired with its rare 1931 color/sound remake. Incredibly strange and incredible fun. Highly recommended.
And finally, Animators of Film and Television: Nineteen Artists, Writers, Producers and Others by Noell K. Wolfgram Evans (McFarland & Company), is a book that can best be used by students as basic text to get a grasp on key figures in animation history. As a teacher of animation history myself (currently at Woodbury University in Burbank) I’m well aware that good text books (in print) are hard to find at this time. In this book, author Evans essentially reviews the career highlights of nineteen key figures – including John Hubley, Max Fleischer, Frank Tashlin, Art Babbit, Matt Groening and John Kricfalusi. Notably absent are Walt Disney (intentionally according to the introduction), Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. If you are a longtime fan and have the essential histories and bios, you don’t need this one. Still, this is a worthwhile primer for the interested novice, animation student or casual enthusiast.
Visiting a museum on a weekend is a great thing to do. And thanks to brothers Mark Osborne (More and Kung Fu Panda) and Kent Osborne (Adventure Time, Spongebob Squarepants) you can do so in less than five minutes. Created in an improvisational fashion during three days at the museum, this pixilated short takes a journey through Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), through its current exhibition Art in the Streets with works by Banksy, Rammellzee and Kenny Scharf.
Guess what opens today? They are small and blue and The Los Angeles Times says their film is “…grating and cloying. This misguided attempt at a 3-D family comedy is a project even Neil Patrick Harris can’t save.”
The New York Times says “the movie frequently reminds us that the gimmick of little creatures scurrying about in the human world (Toy Story, Gnomeo and Juliet) is pretty worn out. But on a hot summer day, The Smurfs is a decent enough excuse to haul the little ones into an air-conditioned theater.”
Comments below are open only to our readers who have seen the film and wish to offer their reactions and reviews.
Buckle Up, a team of 3rd year students led by Abe Taraky, created this charming little film at Sheridan College’s BA Animation program.
Brooklyn animation boutique Awesome and Modest created this new music video for The Mountain Goats track, Estate Sale Sign. In the video, two shape-shifting beasts wage a war over a snow globe – with a brief pause for a moment of tenderness.
Director : Awesome and Modest
Editor : Sean Donnelly
Animation: Sean Donnelly, Jordan Bruner, Abbey Luck, Taili Wu, Vanessa Appleby
Avatar: The Last Airbender was a very successful anime-inspired seies for Nickelodeon. Unfortunately the franchise took a hit last year with the M. Night Shyamalan live action feature. Undeterred, Avatar creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are supervising 26 episodes of a new spin-off limited series, The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra, which is scheduled to debut next year. Last week at Comic Con Nick released this first taste:
More Penguins, more dancing, more rap music… Here’s the full theatrical trailer for Warner Bros. Happy Feet 2 which opens on November 18th.
My Mother’s Coat is a beautiful, sensitive film by Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, a freelance illustrator and animator based in South London. She completed her MA in Animation at Royal College of Art; this was her 2010 final project. Tsakiri-Scanatovits’ is also part of the artists collective, MOTH, and we’ve featured her in our “Animated Fragments” section before. She describes the film:
“My Mother talks to me about post-dictatorship Athens, her struggle to adapt to the greek mentality, her memories of motherhood, and her longing to go back to her small town in Italy.”
For more information about the filmmaker, follow her blog.
(Thanks, David Prosser)
Here’s a Cal Arts student film from this past year’s producers show that really impressed me with its storytelling. Obviously I wasn’t the only one impressed. David Wolter just started work this week in Dreamworks story department.
It’s that time of year again. This month the gang at Cartoon Dump invites you to help celebrate their 4th anniversary. Join Jerry Beck and Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank” from Mystery Science Theatre 3000) with Erica Doering as “Compost Brite” and J. Elvis Weinstein as “Dumpster Diver Dan” for Cartoon Dump – for another depraved offering of sketches, songs, puppets, stand-up comedy, and the most God-awful Saturday Morning Cartoons from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Is there any better way to wind down from Comic Con? Special anniversary guests include Emo Phillips, Blain Capatch and other surprises. It’s tonight, Monday July 25th, at 8pm at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. Advanced tickets can be ordered here. Also join the Facebook Page.
Continuing our real estate listings for the legends of animation: Walt Disney’s Los Feliz Woking Way residence is up for sale. The property, where the Disney family resided from 1932 to 1950, includes a Snow White-styled playhouse designed for his daughters. Here’s the complete listing:
Private, Gated, Historic home on large Double lot; over ONE ACRE in total. Mediterranean entry; circular rotunda, painted ceilings, vaulted beamed ceilings, original stained leaded glass, Juliet balcony. The EPIC IMAGERY: PROJECTION and SCREENING Room built for Walt Disney to watch his dailies, perhaps Snow White, Fantasia, Cinderellaâ€¦ and enjoy private screenings. Beautiful Floor Plan: 4 Bedrooms, 5 Baths. Downtown VIEWS, Pretty Swimmers Pool, Billiard’s Room with Sleeping Porch, 2 fun Original Bar areas and the Original Playhouse featured in “The Man Behind the Myth”. Renowned history from Hollywood Royalty, yet a place for your imprint could make this the happiest place on earth.
UPDATE: David Lesjak has posted amazing then-and-now photos of this home on his blog Vintage Disney Collectibles.
(Thanks to David Lesjak, Stepehn Arnold and David Bowers)
The music video for South Korean pop group 2NE1′s new single, Hate You, was directed by graphic artist Mari Kim. The song does nothing for me, but her bold visuals are based on classic anime – maybe too classic. Isn’t that nuclear explosion (at :24) a clip from Akira – or something awfully close?
At a special Comic Con panel today in San Diego, Warner Bros. Senior VP George Feltenstein announced the forthcoming release of the first Blu-Ray collection of classic Warner Bros. cartoons, The Looney Tunes Platinum Collection. The panel, moderated by yours truly included writer Paul Dini, and directors Spike Brant and Tony Cervone, included a video presentation comparing a standard DVD image against the new blu-ray transfers. Two cartoons in blu-ray were also shown, Bob Clampett’s The Great Piggy Bank Robbery and Hanna-Barbera’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Mouse. Information about the Tom & Jerry Golden Collection was posted here.
The Looney Tunes Platinum Collection contains 50 classic cartoons in high definition. Disc #1 includes Hare Tonic, Baseball Bugs, Buccaneer Bunny, The Old Grey Hare, Rabbit Hood, 8 Ball Bunny, Rabbit of Seville, What’s Opera Doc?, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery, A Pest In The House, The Scarlet Pumpernickle, Duck Amuck, Robin Hood Daffy, Baby Bottleneck, Kitty Kornered, Scardy Cat, Porky Chops, Old Glory, A Tale Of Two Kitties, Tweetie Pie, Fast And Furry-ous, Beep Beep, Lovelorn Leghorn, For Scent-I-Mental Reasons and Speedy Gonzales.
Disc #2 includes One Froggy Evening, The Three Little Bops, I Love To Singa, Katnip Kollege, The Dover Boys, From A To ZZZZ, Chow Hound, Feed The Kitty, Hasty Hare, Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century, Hareway To The Stars, Mad As A Mars Hare, Devil May Hare, Bedevilled Rabbit, Ducking The Devil, Bill Of Hare, Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare, Bewitched Bunny, Broomstick Bunny and several others to be announced.
Bonus material includes several Behind-The-Toons pieces and Chuck Jones documentaries, numerous bonus cartoons including Chuck Jones’ FDR re-election film, Hell Bent For Election (1942), a rare Air Force re-enlistment film, A Hitch In Time (1955), and Ken Mundie’s expressionist anti-war animated short, The Door (1967) – plus two all-new documentaries on Marvin The Martian and The Tasmanian Devil.
Additionally, the collection comes in a sturdy plastic box, which will include a 52 page booklet, a commemorative magnet and mini collectible drinking glass. The Looney Tunes Platinum Collection will go on sale in November.
One more time. I promise its the last. Here’s the final version of the upcoming Mexican 3D “Top Cat” feature, coming to theaters in South America this fall:
The doors just opened at Comic Con, and I’m not exactly in a position to “live blog” the event – but perhaps you are. If you are reading this while on line or waiting for a panel to begin, send us your thoughts on how its going, what you’ve seen or any or if you found anything cool in the exhibit hall (like this limited “Con exclusive” Comic Book Guy ornament (above) being sold at the Hallmark booth).
If you are you an animation artist artist who is exhibiting your wares at Comic Con or Tr!ckster, please post that info on our Open Thread. And don’t miss Tr!ckster, across the street in the San Diego Wine and Culinary Gallery. It’s a must see – and I’ll be screening Cartoon Brew’s Student Film Festival Thursday and Friday mornings at 10am!
If you are in San Francisco this weekend, I’d recommend a visit to the Disney Family Museum to see my pal, Disney historian extraordinaire Jim Korkis, speak about Walt Disney’s fascination with outer space. Jim examines Walt’s contributions to the U.S. space program, including his collaboration with Dr. Werhner Von Braun on a design for a working space shuttle, 25 years before one was actually built. Jim will be talking about the Tomorrowland Space Trilogy of shows from the Fifties, merchandise that was spawned from those shows, the film Moon Pilot, Disney space shows that were never made – and much more. Korkis will be speaking at 3 pm on Saturday July 23 at the Disney Family Museum.
Another animation landmark is up for grabs – for $1.1 million. The late Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Disney’s Snow White lived in a house near Larchmont Village (in Hollywood) done up as Snow White’s cottage. If you are in the area this month, they are holding several open house showings of the property – the ultimate collectible for the Disney fanatic who has everything!
(Thanks, James Gibson)
Popeye authority Fred Grandinetti found this clipping in The Miami News (published on December 25th, 1936) in which Max Fleischer predicts a day when audiences will flock to theatres to see 3-dimensional cartoon feature films! Of course, Uncle Max was thinking more along the lines of his Stereo-Optical process, using three-dimensional sets and not computer graphics. Nor motion capture (despite his invention of the rotoscope). Still, Max was a visionary…
When an all-consuming city overwhelms you, remember music can set you free… Thomas Knowler’s post-grad thesis project for the School of Visual Arts, NYC has a Gahan Wilson meets Mobieus vibe. And I like it.
Since Gorge, Knowler has been working on a series of animated-illustrations for JG Ballard’s The Drowned World. Knowler says, “I think it’s evident that as technology provides more areas for animation to be displayed; illustrated books could well take advantage of using short animations as a form of illustration. You can find two I have completed (in serious detail) here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).”
Tim Razumovsky & Eyal Oren’s third year student film at the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design/Israel, is an R-rated tribute to 70s trash films “a la Rodriguez & Tarantino”. Says Razumovsky:
“The film is a kind of short pilot episode which will hopefully become a series in the future. The main characters are a pair of twisted married assassins and the title “The Sleischers” is actually their family name. “The Sleischers” is a sort of a pun for the word “slashers” and a hint that both characters speak with heavy foreign accent and their origin remains unclear. The film is a marriage of various kinky B-Movies that we like. As for the plot, I’ve heard a couple of interesting theories about it – such as hidden religious or feminist messages in it.”
It’s Not Safe For Work, nor for the sweamish. Submitted for your approval, The Sleischers: