…and wanted to share them with you. As I said in a previous post, I attended the 2010 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas yesterday. Here are several items of note (click thumbnails below for larger image), each reflecting a new take on an old favorite.
Left to right: Apparently there’s a new Top Cat movie (filled with ‘tude) coming from South America; The Toon Studio of Beverly Hills is offering up this revised version of The Wizard of Oz; and King Features has a new spin on Olive Oyl.
Don’t ask me to explain it. It’s for Gore Verbinski’s animated film, Rango. All I know is the film features Johnny Depp as “a chameleon with an identity crisis”. I attended the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas today and snapped this shot (below) of the teaser poster:
Collider.com has posted this image from the new CG Road Runner and Coyote shorts being produced for the new Looney Tunes Show coming to Cartoon Network. This new picture isn’t as exciting as the previously released image – but I believe the previous shot was from one of the upcoming theatricals and this new one is from the TV series. If anyone from the production would care to enlighten us, we’re all ears.
The image above left is the original art, for the original title card of Rudolf Ising’s 1940 MGM Cartoon, The Fishing Bear. The image above right is the original art for the reissue print of the same cartoon in the 1950s. MGM did that. They re-did the titles when they reissued a cartoon. Unfortunately the original negatives to their pre-1952 cartoons no longer exist, so finding original nitrate film prints – or the incredibly rare original art – is a big deal to those of us who regularly research cartoon history.
Both these pieces above were recently acquired – along with 18 other astounding MGM animation originals – by my favorite gallery owner Mike Van Eaton. Mike’s my favorite because when he gets stuff like this he calls me over to look at it and help him identify it. This mother-load of MGM Holy Grails includes background art from such films as Abdul The Bulbul Ameer, Blitz Wolf, Farm of Tomorrow and Good Will To Men; and title cards from Peace on Earth, The Goose Goes South, Dance of The Weed and Milt Gross’ Jitterbug Follies.
I can’t post them all here, but click thumbnails below to enjoy a few scans from this cache. Yes, they are for sale. If interested contact Mike right now.
An early heads up on my next CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre screening next month. Animation director, cartoonist, creator of Tom Terrific and father of Kim and Simon (pictured above), Gene Deitch will join us in person for a screening of rareties from Terrytoons, UPA, his commercials, his award winning short films – and yes, we’ll have him explain his Popeye, Krazy Kat and Tom & Jerry cartoons.
As you know Deitch lives in Prague, Czech Republic, and rarely visits L.A. — so don’t miss this rare one-of-a-kind evening of amazing animation with a living legend. More details when I post about this again later this month. Yes, you can reserve tickets now. If you live in L.A. you should not miss this show.
Tonight was the debut of TBS’ new animated series, Neighbors From Hell. The show was co-produced by 20th Century-Fox TV and Dreamworks, and was animated by a new studio, Bento Box, formed last year by Scott Greenberg (Film Roman), Joel Kuwahara (The Simpsons) and Mark McJimsey (King of the Hill). We missed it. If you tuned in, we’d like to hear how it was.
If you’ve been following recent trends in animation you’ve noticed that stop-motion is alive and well, in fact in better shape today than it’s ever been. And if you are a fan or practitioner of the art, I’ve just received two new releases–a DVD and a book–that are absolute must-haves.
Stop Motion Marvels is the latest release from Steve Stanchfield and his Thunderbean Animation Company–and this may be his most important release yet. I cannot over-state how amazing this DVD compilation is. It contains over forty stop-mo puppet films ranging from 1909 through 1972, short subjects, commercials, home movies, and work prints; mostly stuff you (or I) never heard of, rescued from obscurity by Stanchfield and his team of animation archivists. The highlight of the set is the collected works of the Kinex studio, a forgotten creator of direct-to-home movie films featuring the strangely appealing antics of Snap the Gingerbread Man, Chip the Wooden Man and Daffy Doings in Doodlebugville. There are examples from animation notables (Willis O’Brien, J. Stuart Blackton, George Pal, Lou Bunin, and the most bizarre Len Lye experiment you’ve ever seen), but the real surprise are the John Burton (future Looney Tunes producer) shorts of the 1930s (including one in color) which pre-date all others in trying to incorporate a cartoonists’ sensibility into puppet animation.
There’s audio commentary by stop motion experts and animators, a still gallery of rare photos (including a George Pal Puppetoon exposure sheet – Wow!) and a twelve-page information booklet (written by cover illustrator Stewart McKissick) round out this remarkable DVD set–an achievement in documenting a long-neglected segment of animation history. Bravo, Steve! This may well be the best video release of the year. Buy it now- you will not be disappointed.
If you are interested in stop motion character animation – past, present or future – then Barry Purves’ Basics Animation: Stop Motion is for you. Who better to guide us through the history of the medium, the techniques and the process of filmmaking than master animator Purves (Screen Play) himself. He concentrates on explaining the technique through examples by Jiri Trinka, Ray Harryhausen, Norman McLaren, The Brothers Quay, Mackinnon and Saunders, Adam Elliot, Aardman, and a dozen other leading lights. A good basic text book for any student of the art form, and a great read for those of us who simply enjoy watching it. Everyone should order it ($19.77) from Amazon.com.
(Embed below is one of the few films – a 1960s Chocks Vitamin commercial featuring the voices of Dick Beals and Paul Winchell – on Thunderbean’s Stop Motion Marvels that could be found on You Tube).
This week’s crop: Wulffmorganthaler (6/3) by Mikael Wulff and Anders Morganthaler; My Cage (6/4) by Ed Power and Melissa DeJesus; Lio (6/3) by Mark Tatulli; and Rubes (6/1) by Leigh Rubin.
(Thanks to Jim Lahue, Jed Martinez, Kurtis Findlay and David White)
Below is a 4 1/2 minute viral commercial for Taco Bell. It’s another parody of 1970s Saturday morning super-hero TV cartoons — the kind J.J. Sedelmaier has been doing to perfection for years — crossed with a Aqua Teen Hunger Force camp sensibility. Todd Durston and his creative crew at DraftFCB Chicago collaborated with legendary comic book artist Neal Adams to conceive this campaign.
Nice tribute to classic Ninetendo from Cory Godbey.
(Thanks, Gibbs Rainock)
The Al Basama Al Beeiya (or United Arab Emirates Ecological Footprint) is an initiative aimed at inspiring people in UAE countries to reduce their individual footprint. This clever stop-motion promotional makes the point by using recycled paper figures and settings. Produced by the UK production company Asylum. Directors: Ben & Jos. Animation director: Jordan Wood.
I have friends in the stock footage business. They buy large libraries of old 16mm movies by the ton (usually home movies, travelogues and educational films) and every once in a while, while digitizing and archiving their latest acquisitions, they come across an animated film they cannot quite identify. When that happens they usually send it to me to examine.
This past weekend I screened one of those films and it’s a real mystery. It’s not a particularly great cartoon, but its quite an exciting find. Watching it conjured more questions than answers. But one thing’s for sure: It’s an undocumented product of the Miami Fleischer studio. I’m posting an excerpt below (the first 90 seconds) in hopes that others may have more clues to explain its existence – and its 70 year absence from any animation reference.
The Vacationer’s Paradise is apparently part of a proposed series called Traveltoons. It’s sort of an animated travelogue – not unlike what Famous Studios would base their later 1940s series of Screen Songs (like The Sunshine State or The Golden State).
First off, notice the title lettering done by that mysterious Fleischer/Famous studio calligrapher, whom I’m a big fan of. Next note “Mrs. Doe” – a character design that answers the burning question of what happened to Betty Boop after she retired and moved to Miami.
Could this have been a pilot for a new series of Fleischer cartoons? Was material created for this series later recycled in the Famous Screen Songs? Could this possibly be the first Famous Studios cartoon? A “blackout” reference certainly places it in either late 1941 or 1942. Note it’s really more of a film about Florida etiquette than Florida tourism. Perhaps it was created for a Miami Visitor’s Bureau?
Was the film perhaps a contractual obligation of the studio, produced for the Miami Chamber of Commerce, as part of Fleischer’s deal to re-locate to Miami? Why does the film feel so cheap? Why the absence of music in the main body of the film? Why are their no credits whatsoever? Note the voice of Jack Mercer among the background voices. Note the narrator may be Charles Irving, who voiced many of the later travelogue Screen Songs.
Bob Jaques believes that the man in the live action footage to be animator Tom Johnson. Did Johnson direct the film? Was this done by a group of ex-Fleischer artists as a sample film, perhaps to start their own Miami studio after Paramount took over Fleischers? And yet, there is a fair amount of live action and animation material, which leads me to believe this was done under Max or Dave Fleischer’s watch.
Lots of questions, no answers… but we have the film.
What do you think?
UPDATE: We got a few answers! See the bottom of the comments section below.
First Popeye was selected to front a a sex shop in Tokyo. Now, who better to represent a line of products using Extra Virgin Olive Oil than… the extra virginal Olive Oyl.
Reader John Hall sent in this new character merchandising find:
I was traveling through the Nashville, Tennessee area yesterday and found a bag of Olive Oyl Popped Corn at a local grocery store. The bag has 3 nice drawings of Olive on the bag that look like artwork from the early ’40s Fleisher cartoons. Also on the back is a nice trademark showing the whole Popeye clan with a 2009 King Features copyright. Here are some photos of the used bag (click thumbnails below to enlarge). Oh, and the popcorn is pretty good.
Way back in March 2009, we told you to keep an eye on animator Nate Theis. One person who took our advice was Evan Spiridellis at JibJab, who contacted the animator after reading Amid’s original post. Evan says:
“I was so impressed with his work that I reached out to him, explained how we were really trying to give our ecards some class and style by bringing amazing artists to it. He just emailed some storyboards and we were off.”
Above and below are Nate’s first two Birthday ecards for JibJab and they are just as funny and stylish as his past films. I want more!
Come celebrate the publication of my latest book tonight at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Ave. We are having a screening of Technicolor Looney Tunes in 35mm, and a special first-day-of-publication book signing (be the first to obtain a copy – autographed no less). On top of that, PBS’ History Detectives will be there filming a segment tonight and will be taping the audience reaction to Buddy’s Day Out (the first “Buddy” cartoon – and NO, not one of The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes. Far from it, in fact).
Join us tonight night (6/1) at 8pm, in Hollywood, at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre. (And if you can’t make it tonight, the book should ship today via Amazon and be in a bookstore near you in a few days.)
Here’s a 15 second clip from Teddy Newton’s Pixar short Day and Night which will be released with Toy Story 3 on June 18th. The short is essentially hand drawn, being Pixar’s second film to be animated in 2D animation (Your Friend the Rat was the first). The insides of the characters are CG. Man, this looks good.
Always on the outlook for animated features, good or bad, to post about – I came across this flick which was independently produced by a small post-production and animation studio in Glendale, California, Hyper Image. Animated in 3D Max and aimed towards gamers and Star Wars: Clone Wars fans (It’s rated PG-13 for “some suggestive images and action violence”), Race came out on DVD last week through Phase 4 Films after a decade of development, production, post production — and a long search for distribution. Hyper Image is now at work on their next feature, the furry-centric N.O.R.M.A.L. the Movie.
Our weekly survey of selected comic strips that reference animated characters. This week: Zippy (5/28) by Bill Griffith; Mother Goose and Grimm (5/28) by Mike Peters; Speed Bump (5/25) by Dave Coverly; Strange Brew (5/24) by John Deering; and Argyle Sweater (5/24) by Scott Hilburn.
(Thanks to our loyal comic strip crew: Jim Lahue, Ed Austin, Kurtis Findlay, Jed Martinez and Uncle Wayne)
Blow me down! On second thought, let me rephrase that.
First a Preston Blair piggy sex toy, and now this: A “Popeye” porn shop spotted in the main gay district of Tokyo. This is obviously not an officially licensed use of the character. Do you think someone over there is still sore over World War II Popeye cartoons like this one?
Need a powerhouse gift for the cartoon lover in your life? Look no further than this completely authorized (by the Raymond Scott Archives) Raymond Scott 100th Anniversary Doll + CD set. This came out two years ago, but I just discovered its existence yesterday. Designed by musician/cartoonist Archer Prewitt to celebrate Scott’s centennial anniversary in 2008, it comes with fabric cloth jacket, mini clavivox (carefully designed to look as close to the original model as possible), and a CD with 5 songs (Powerhouse, The Happy Whistler, and several previously unreleased super-rare demonstration pieces). Act fast, this is a limited edition. Apparently the first of the series, the Bob Moog doll, is long sold out.
We’ve posted so many examples of Preston Blair art swipes in the past, the novelty has long worn off. We’ve pretty much stopped paying attention to the emails that still pour in with various sightings around the world with images ripped from Blair’s seminal Animation Book, first published in the 1940s by Walter Foster.
Now comes one I couldn’t ignore. Thanks to our ever vigilant readers, perhaps the saddest Blair swipe yet: the Ms. Piglet Party Pig
I really don’t want to know what this is, but according the the product description:
“The inflatable Party Piggie is a hilarious addition to any event. Known as the Famous Erotic Love Piggy, you and your guests will get a kick out of the fun that can be had with this inflatable novelty party toy.”
(Thanks, Chris Garrison)
Here’s one for the history buffs: a link to a fascinating online archive of fifty vintage Japanese animated commercials.
This site is part of an on-line exhibition showcasing domestic life in Japan during the “Showa” period (the Hirohito era, 1926-89). Japan’s Research Institute for Digital Media and Content (DMC Institute) digitized of a large collection of TV advertisements obtained from the Momoya Co., a leading food company. The collection consists of 218 animated TV spots that date back to 1953. Of the 50 pieces posted on-line, the earliest one was produced in 1958. These provide a glimpse at a rarely discussed early phase of anime history.
(Thanks, Carlo Guillot)
I’m not a gamer, so I can’t speak for the playability, but the design work by Peter Wagner for the new Xbox Live Arcade game Snoopy Flying Ace works for me. I’m not thrilled by the character voices (see trailer below) but the 3-dimensional realization of the Peanuts characters is right on. Wagner writes:
Smartbomb Interactives team of artists were tasked to re-imagine Snoopy (as the WWI flying ace) and give the cultural icon a fresh new feel. My job was to capture the essence of what it was like to be the fearless beagle, piloting a little red doghouse over Europe during the Great War.
The game comes out on June 2nd.