The dancing fire fairy “Ho-Ho” runs around Tokyo spreading happiness – or something like that – in this inventive cut-out music video by Masanori Okamoto. Okamoto is currently an animation student at Tokyo University of the Arts. The music is by 8-bit artist Saitone.
I love Popeye cartoons as much as the next guy – maybe a little more than the next guy – but even I can’t afford the new clothing line now on sale at Bloomingdale’s. The store is promoting its new King Features Collection featuring designs using Popeye, Beetle Bailey, The Phantom and Hagar the Horrible at its stores this week. Popeye T-Shirts for $40 bucks, a pair of socks (left) is $45 and a Popeye scarf for $145? Blow that down! The department store even took out full page ads in major newspapers yesterday to hype its annual “New York Nights” event, taking place tonight at 6pm in stores in New York (including the Men’s Store on 59th street and Third Avenue in Manhattan) and Los Angeles (in Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, and at The Beverly Center). “Attendees are invited from 6 to 8 p.m. to see the merchandise, which includes everything from T-shirts and overcoats to sneakers and toys. All of the merch will be available for purchase through the holiday season.” All of it way overpriced! In this economy, I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday (2016) for those Popeye socks at today.
I know, I know… you think I’m simply a shill for everything Craig Yoe and Steve Stanchfield produce. I admit I’m a minor contributor to many of their projects… but ya gotta believe me: their stuff is great! Both are back this week with two new items I can’t recommend highly enough:
Making ‘Em Move:Rare Behind the Scenes footage of Vintage Animation Studios, is the new DVD from Stanchfield’s Thunderbean Animation studio. I really thought I knew of all the classic studio “behind-the-scenes” films – like the Paramount Popular Science short (from 1939) at the Fleischer Studio (included on the Warner Bros. Popeye Vol. 2 dvd set), Disney’s Reluctant Dragon feature (1941), the Universal Cartoonland Mysteries (1936) short that goes to the Walter Lantz studio, heck even Gertie The Dinosaur (1914)… but none of those are included here. Instead Steve packs this disc with ten rarely seen films made from 1919 through 1967 that are equal parts educational, entertaining and eye-opening!
The set begins with the long lost educational film, How Animated Cartoons Are Made (1919), featuring animator Wallace Carlson showing us how they did it at the pioneering Bray Studio. This print has been gorgeously restored from an uber-obscure 28mm original! Other incredible finds on this disc include the Jam Handy Drawing Account (1941) featuring animator Robert Allen explaining the nuts and bolts (literally) of cartoon production in the 1940s; Old Chinese Proverb (1941) featuring a look inside the Jerry Fairbanks (Speaking of Animals) Studio; rare color footage of animators at work at Terrytoons in the 1940s; Disney animator Clair Weeks setting up a modern (1956) animation studio in India; and Otto Messmer animating the giant electric Time Square billboards. There is also a Disney behind-the-scenes promo from a forgotten RKO Newsreel; a rare Paul Terry Social Security sales pitch; and just for fun, Van Bueren’s rubber-hose animation classic Makin’ ‘Em Move (1931) – which is probably the most accurate film in the whole bunch!
This is a must-have video compilation for everyone reading this blog – yeah, even you! Animators, educators, students, vintage cartoon collectors. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore – here’s everything you need to know about how they did it. Buy it today.
Wowie-KaZowie! Speaking of “not making ‘em like this anymore” – The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear is the latest Craig Yoe hardcover collection of classic comic book stories, this time bringing together the 1940s Barney Bear comics – written and drawn by Disney Legend Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge)! Barney Bear was an MGM animated cartoon star and these stories originally appeared in Dell’s Our Gang Comics. They feature Barney teamed with one Benny Burro – a team that began on screen in MGM’s The Prospecting Bear (1941) and ended with Half Pint Palomino (1953); though Benny also appears solo in Rudolph Ising’s short Little Gravel Voice (1942). Barks was a major creative figure in comics: an outstanding gag writer and story-teller who’s work has gone on to influence comic artists, filmmakers and animators. Everything he did is worth a read – and this is no exception. Barney and Benny may not been Disney characters, but these stories are pure Barks – superbly drawn, cleverly staged and very funny. My favorite is one where Barney tries to catch an escaped convict, Klepto Klippo – a character designed to look like a 8-foot Mickey Mouse. I almost forgot to mention that Jeff Smith provides an Introduction and a wonderful tribute cover. If you love cartoons, MGM cartoons in particular or Carl Barks you need to buy this right now.
Paramount has named David Stainton president of its new animation division. Stainton, the controversial former president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, will now report to Adam Goodman, President of the Paramount Motion Picture Group and will begin setting up shop this week. According to the Paramount press release:
“Paramount Animation aims to focus on high-quality animation with budgets per picture of up to $100 million, with an initial target of one release per year. The division’s mandate will be the development of the broadest range of family CGI animated films, with a key piece being titles under the label of Viacom’s Nickelodeon, the No. 1 entertainment brand for kids worldwide. Paramount will also build on Viacom’s already thriving global consumer products business by seeking to capitalize on merchandising opportunities tied to all Paramount Animation releases.
“David’s accomplishments speak for themselves, and I am glad to welcome him to the lot as we start this exciting new chapter,” Adam Goodman added. “With David’s leadership, we will look to build on what has been a very strong year for our studio in animation, with Rango and the upcoming Adventures of Tintin pointing to the kind of artist-driven, broad-appeal films we intend to make at Paramount Animation.”
Paramount announced last July that it was launching an in-house animation division. It expects to release its first feature under Stainton in 2014.
Our friends at Pepper Melon, a motion graphics company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, sent us their latest project, created for client MTV Stockholm. I don’t completely understand what’s going on, and there is considerable live action, but it’s certainly visually arresting. Tomas Garcia directed and designed.
(Thanks, Fernando Sarmiento)
This is pretty neat: a caricature of the layout, story and assorted production crew on the staff of Tiny Toon Adventures drawn by Bruce Timm (circa 1990). Among the notable names and faces are future Spumco bigshots Jim Smith, Bob Camp, Chris Riccardi, Eddie Fitzgerald, Mike Fontenelli, Charlie Bean and Rich Pursel, veteran animators Norm McCabe, Art Leonardi, Gerard Baldwin, Tom Ray and Art Vitello, Pixar’s Jeff Pidgeon and future Simpsons, Pixar, Disney writer Jim Reardon as well as friends Paul Dini, Mike Kazaleh, Jenny Lerew, Rich Arons, Tom Minton, Ken Boyer, Kent Butterworth and on and on…
Click on thumbnail at left below to see the drawing at full size; at right below for a key to identifying this incredible group of artists. (And if anyone can I.D. #28, please let us know)
Here is the new improved trailer for Happy Feet 2. Visually beautiful, yes! Story? We’ll wait and see. In the meantime:
Warner Home Video has launched a Facebook page that is worth a look – and a “Like”. WB Classic Animation went live late yesterday and the first thing posted is a simple comparison video showing two steps in the restoration process for upcoming Tom & Jerry Golden Collection Blu-Ray DVD set. But coming in the next few days and weeks will be direct input from Senior VP George Feltenstein, including new product information direct from the source, with accurate on-sale dates and content information on new releases.
I’m always asked how one can communicate directly with Warner Home Video. At last, I have an answer. You can now voice your opinions, ask your questions and send your comments to the powers that be – and they will actually read it. George Feltenstein himself will be doing a once-a-month live Q&A; their will be clips, previews and contests. Note that this Facebook page is solely for information on their classic theatrical cartoon library – Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry titles for now; hopefully Popeye, Tex Avery, Censored 11 in the future. Other classic properties owned by the studio (Hanna Barbera TV cartooons, animated features and TV specials, etc.) are not being covered on this page.
So go on over there and “like” ‘em. And keep checking in to see what’s up… doc.
Interesting hand-drawn (on Cintiq, using TVPaint) film by Erick Oh (Student Academy Award finalist, Heart). Oh is a Korean animation artist based in California, currently at Pixar. His independent films have been screened at Annecy, Hiroshima, Zagreb, SIGGRAPH and Anima Mundi.
(Thanks, David Nethery)
Ben Cady’s graduation film from University of Wales, Newport (UK) The Goat and The Well won both the NFB Public Prize and Best Undergraduate Animation at the Ottawa Animation Festival last month. Cady is currently a student at the Royal College of Art in London.
Director: Hoku Uchiyama
Produced by: Erich Lochner, Matt Miller, and Adam Bolt
Lead Animator: Adam Bolt
Executive Producers: Jason Webley & Amanda Palmer
Director of Photography: Adam David Meltzer
Evelyn Evelyn played by: Lexi Ibrahim & Nikki Ibrahim
Composite Work: Travis Gorman & Michael Scott
Skeleton-Dance Animator: Julian Birchman
Additional Animation: David Johnston
Character Design: Adam Bolt
Additional Character Design: Odessa Sawyer
(Thanks to Sarah Miskoff for posting this on CB’s Facebook page)
Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs passed away this afternoon. He was 56.
I am typing this on an old Powerbook G4, and moderating comments on my iPhone. For all his visionary leadership, which you’ll be reading about everywhere else in the next few days, it’s important to remember it was Steve Jobs who had enough faith in the future of computer graphics to save Pixar by buying it from George Lucas in 1986. It was Jobs who fought for the first Pixar feature film and maintained the working relationship with Disney – despite difficult times with Michael Eisner – which led to the historic acquisition of Pixar by Disney in 2006. As Disney’s largest stockholder, Jobs was a member of its Board of Directors, and had installed Ed Catmull as President of Pixar and Disney Animation, and named John Lasseter to Chief Creative Officer.
Pixar, of course, is the leader in computer animated feature films. Apple is the number one computer maker in the United States. Jobs was an innovator, a visionary and yes, an artist. He allowed Pixar to flourish and develop the creative atmosphere that allowed the greatest animated features (so far) of the 21st Century to exist.
Thank you, Mr. Jobs. Rest In Peace.
(Photo above: Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, Robert Iger, John Lasseter in 2006)
The latest trailer from Aardman/Sony’s feature Arthur Christmas, opening in the U.S. on November 11th.
The Animation Guild had already scheduled an open-to-the-public Fine Art of Corny Cole exhibit and reception for this Friday, October 7 at 6pm. However, the official memorial event has been added on Sunday, October 9, from noon to 6pm in the Guild’s meeting room on the second floor. Both these events will be held at The Animation Guild building, at 1105 N. Hollywood Way, in Burbank, CA.
For the Sunday memorial, which will open at 12 noon, attendees are encouraged to bring Corny Cole artwork to display or any video of his work, or of him, on DVD. At 1pm Tom Sito will introduce several friends and guest speakers. Anyone who has a Corny story to share is invited to do so. Contact Sito at tom (at) tomsito (dot) com so he can add you to the list and introduce you. Refreshments will be served.
(photo above via Jon Gomez)