New trailers were released this week giving us a better look at this summer’s potential animated blockbusters. What do you think?:
NYC based Animation Block Party, is coming to Los Angeles this week.
ABP is an annual New York festival dedicated to showcasing the world’s best independent, professional and student animation. The Best of Animation Block Party will be screening at the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood on Thursday February 18, 2010 at 7:30pm and 10:00pm.
This program is highly recommended. A complete list of the films being shown is listed here. Filmmakers in attendance at screenings include Mike Hollingsworth, Rebecca Sugar, Max Winston, Turner Lange, Ben Li and Caroline Foley. Both shows will be introduced by ABP founder, Casey Safron. You can buy tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets.com.
At the top, today’s (2/14/10) Ink Pen by Phil Dunlap (it looks like the arms/legs belong to: (1) Mickey Mouse, (2) Hippety Hopper, (3) Popeye, (4)
Magilla Gorilla The Grape Ape, (5) Snagglepuss & (6) Heathcliff); in the middle, Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn (2/11/10); and Adam at Home by Brian Basset (2/7/10).
(Thanks, Jim Lahue and Charles Brubaker)
According to Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay news blog, the so-called “Hell house” at 1811 Voorhies Ave. (between Ocean Ave. and Shore Road) — currently inhabited by a horde of insects — turns out to be a former residence of legendary cartoonist and pioneering animator Winsor McCay.
According to the blog, “…the property’s owners seek to tear down the structure and replace it with condominiums. Failing that, they’re attempting to subcontract it to the city for a new life as a halfway house or homeless shelter. What should be done is a full restoration and landmarking.” We couldn’t agree more.
(Thanks, Anne D. Bernstein)
Last month I told you about Debra J. Solomon’s remarkable one-woman hand drawn independent animation special, Getting Over Him in 8 Songs or Less. Tomorrow night, on Valentine’s Day, the film will receive it’s television premiere on HBO2 at 7:30pm Eastern/4:30pm Pacific.
This is a beautiful, funny and poignant film – and a rarity for HBO or any U.S. broadcaster to produce. Highly recommended – set the TiVo.
Animator Nick Childs just finished this dream-like, semi-abstract, stop-mo music video he’d been working on during the past year.
“It’s a stop mo piece that the folks at LAIKA/house in Portland Oregon were kind enough to give me some space on the stage to shoot. It’s for the band Eulogies, off their 2009 album Here Anonyomous. The song is called Goodbye. As I recall from back in my school days it may considered kinesthetic animation. I see it as a stop motion piece with a minimal style that fits with the song, hopefully.”
Any excuse to post David Silverman (The Simpsons) playing his flaming tuba on The Tonight Show is worth it. My excuse this time is Silverman’s upcoming appearence with Fire Groove as part of the evening’s entertainment at the upcoming Pasadena Rock’n Comic Con this Memorial Day (May 28-30th) at the Pasadena Convention Center.
This event is a “film, art, music & entertainment convention” sponsored by Animation-Ink.com. They are planning rock concerts each night, and a full comic con experience during each day. “Top talents from major Animation Studios & Comic cons, lecture panels, art demos, autograph signings, recruiters, portfolio reviews, and an Animation Festival in a 3000 seat theatre”. Tickets for this have just gone on sale. For more information, visit their website.
Well, it’s official. Disney’s Rapunzel has been renamed Tangled. *sigh* Not as bad a title as The Emperor’s New Groove, but still…
They obviously want to make it very clear that this isn’t a traditional re-telling of Rapunzel. In fact, according to Tangled’s producer Roy Conli on Facebook, “It’s a really fresh, smart take on the Rapunzel story.”
“In our film, the infamous bandit Flynn Rider meets his match in the girl with the 70 feet of magical golden hair. We’re having a lot of fun pairing Flynn, who’s seen it all, with Rapunzel, who’s been locked away in a tower for 18 years.
“I’m so proud of the crew working on this film — they’re doing a fantastic job creating an awesome story with great characters and a stunning world — and it’s all going to look amazing in 3D. All of us here at the studio are incredibly excited for you to see Tangled when it comes out in theaters this November.”
(Thanks, Edward Himmel)
Over at Bob Shea and Lane Smith’s wonderful Curious Pages blog, they’ve posted the classic Jim Flora children’s book, The Fabulous Firework Family (1955). Flora is best known for his distinctive designs for RCA and Columbia Record jackets, magazines and various commercial art projects of the 40s and 50s. The Fabulous Firework Family launched Flora’s second career as a children’s book author and illustrator.
The book was acquired by Terrytoons during the Gene Deitch era (1956-1958) and the resulting film turned out to be the last cartoon Deitch personally produced at the studio. Al Kouzel directed and, though Flora was involved with adapting the story to the screen, the final result wasn’t entirely successful in translating the charm of the original book.
It’s illuminating to compare the book to the cartoon. Below is a pan-and-scan TV version of the Terrytoon, sans credits. (The original CinemaScope version of the film, with full credits, will be screened March 2nd at my Wide Screen Cartoons program at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre).
Animation students Henril Sonniksen and Benjamin Neilsen made Vegeterrible in their third year at The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark. The film takes place inside a refrigerator, where a hungry, rotten avocado crashes a Mexican fiesta and starts devouring the guests… and the struggles of a tomato’s fight for survival.
Warner Bros. and TCM are running a Classic Film Festival in Hollywood on April 22nd-25th, showcasing restored prints of more than a dozen classic movies on the big screens of the historic Chinese and Egyptian Theatres. Robert Osborn will be hosting in person, Jerry Lewis will introduce The King Of Comedy, Tony Curtis will present Some Like it Hot and Leonard Maltin will introduce a program of classic MGM and Warner bros. live action shorts.
However, for cartoon buffs, here’s a big screen program we’ve been waiting decades to see publicily:
Removed from Circulation: A Cartoon Collection — Presented by author Donald Bogle
Donald Bogle, author of Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: A History of Black Hollywood, will present cartoons that have been kept from the public eye because of negative racial or cultural stereotypes. The collection includes several classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Bogle will provide insight into the racial attitudes of the times in which the cartoons were created. Titles include Clean Pastures (1937), Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves (1943), Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (1944), Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938), Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (1936), Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943) and Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (1937).
My sources say all the infamous Censored 11 cartoons will be screened. A complete list of all previously announced programming for the TCM Classic Film Festival is available here. Festival passes and additional information are available at www.tcm.com/festival.
Longtime readers of the Brew know I collect old Little Golden Books of the 50s and 60s because the standards of the artwork, particularly for the titles based on animation properties, is so high.
Ten years ago, in 1999, Craig McCracken ushered in a new era by illustrating a Powerpuff Girls book (“Big Terrible Trouble?”) in classic Little Golden Book style of the 50s. Since then, Pixar and Disney artists also began creating Little Golden Books, tied into their studio’s current features and shorts, using the same aesthetic.
Yesterday, while in a book store, I came across two more recent Little Golden Books – not tied-in to any animation – that didn’t suck, and I’m wondering if this is the beginning of a new trend. Do any of our readers know? The books I found up were Lasso The Moon by Trish Holland, illustrated by Valeria Petrone – and I’m A Truck by Dennis Shealy, illustrated by Bob Staake.
Lasso The Moon, from 2005, is a charming bedtime story told in pictures that are worthy of glossy pages and hardcover presentation. I’m A Truck (2006) features Bob Staake’s classy shape-driven designs and bold colors. Eye candy for kids of all ages. And only $3.99. Are these flukes? Is there more? I did a quick online search and found that Staake also illustrated a Little Golden Picture Dictionary, and Come Back Zack illustrated by Japanese painter Sachiko Yoshikawa. If anyone knows what’s going on at Random House regarding this line of books, I’d love to hear. I’m becoming a fan.
This is seven minutes long, but I promise you it’s well-worth watching. It’s an animated film from Armenia, in Russian with sub-titles, written, produced, animated and directed by Robert Saakyants. It’s based on an Armenian folk tale, and at about 1:30 a wizard appears — the animation of this shape-shifter makes this a classic. Check it out:
(Thanks, Thorsten Fleisch)
Tonight is my monthly cartoon screening at the CineFamily / Silent Movie Theatre so I’ll be spending my birthday doing exactly what I love to do: screening 35mm Technicolor film prints on the big screen to an appreciative audience. The theme of the evening is Valentine’s Day and we’re calling it Toonstruck: Cartoons In Love. To reserve tickets or more information, check the website or our new Cartoon Tuesday’s Facebook page.
Eek! By Scott Nickel (2/3/10), Boffo by Joe Martin (2/3/10), and Brewster Rockit by Tim Rickard (2/6/10).
(Thanks, Jim Lahue, John Hall and Uncle Wayne)
The 37th Annual Annie Awards were given out tonight at Royce Hall on the UCLA Campus. The winners included:
Best Animated Feature
Up (Pixar Animation Studios)
Best Animated Television Production
Prep and Landing – (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Best Home Entertainment Production
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder
Best Animated Short Subject
Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2.5
Best Animated Television Production for Children
The Penguins of Madagascar (Nickelodeon and DreamWorks)
Character Animation in a Feature Production
Eric Goldberg for The Princess and the Frog
Character Design in a Feature Production
Shane Prigmore for Coraline
Directing in a Feature Production
Pete Docter “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Writing in a Television Production
Daniel Chun – The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX
Writing in a Feature Production
Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach – Fantastic Mr. Fox
Congratulations to all! Click here for complete list of winners.
I’ve always been aware of John Stanley, the comic book writer and artist best known for his classic Little Lulu stories (drawn by Irving Tripp). But until recently, I had no idea that any of Stanley’s work had been adapted to animation. Apparently two of Stanley’s Lulu stories were adapted (quite poorly and without credit) by Paramount’s cartoon studio in 1961 and ’62. Frank Young, on his excellent blog Stanley Stories, has compared the animated films to the original comics stories, showing up how poorly Seymour Kneitel understood comic timing while at the same time, showcasing how funny Stanley’s original source material was – and still is.
Here is Frog’s Legs (embed below), the second Paramount release from ’62, and Young’s post reprinting the original comic story for comparison.
Young also dissects the first cartoon, Alvin’s Solo Flight. It was through Young’s blog that I discovered Stanley also wrote hilarious stories for Tom & Jerry, Raggedy Ann, Andy Panda and other Western comics titles.
Animation director Yvette Kaplan (Beavis and Butt-head) not only grew up reading Stanley’s stories, but his influence has inspired her storytelling talents and her career as an animation director. I asked her to explain her passion for John Stanley’s comics and what animators can learn from his work. She responded with the following essay:
When I was a kid, nine, ten, eleven, I loved reading comics. “Archie” mainly, as the luncheonette down the block had a rack reliably filled with them. Betty was my fave. Sure, Veronica was rich and pretty enough, but I didn’t get her at all. How could I, growing up in working class Bensonhurst, Brooklyn? Couldn’t Archie see how great Betty was? Apparently not. Clearly, Archie was a jerk.
I liked Betty so much that I once even dreamt she had her own comic book! I was sad when I woke up and realized the dream wasn’t real. But guess what? Within weeks of having that dream, it came true! Betty suddenly had her own comic called ”Betty and Me.” I was amazed! Thrilled! Butâ€¦ if truth be told, I was bummed: my secret was out. I was jealous! She wasn’t ”my” Betty anymore. She was –(gasp!)– popular! So what did she need with me?
Happily, miraculously, the pain of my loss was eased when I found another comic that I loved even more. Starring (could it be?) another blond! She, and the comic book itself, was so funny it made me laugh out loud, and I found myself searching the comic racks day after day in hopes of more — usually in vain. This comic was scarce, not omnipresent like the Archie bunch. “Do you have any new Thirteen Going On Eighteen comics?” I’d ask Murray, the owner of the luncheonette. “What?” he’d bellow. I’d say it again louder; “Thirteen Going On Eighteen!” “What the heck is that?” he’d mutter. “Get an Archie.” But I was hooked. Having no other choice, I was content to read my few precious copies over and over and over, and soon I knew every panel, every line, and every crazy, energetic, life filled drawing by heart. Dog eared, worn down and shamefully cover- less, While a pile of Archie’s languished in a shopping bag in the back of a closet in my mother’s apartment, I’ve kept my Thirteen Going On Eighteen’s with me for my whole life; through high school, college, marriage, motherhood, 3 houses, divorce, and a cross country move. Over the years I managed to collect a few more issues — thanks to a dear comic-collector friend of mine who tracked them down. But it wasn’t easy, since hardly anyone seemed to know they ever existed. This was surprising especially since my comic-collector friend told me they were drawn by a famous cartoonist named John or Stanley something, I didn’t pay much attention at the time. Because I didn’t really mind that nobody knew about it. Not one bit. Because for all these years, all these wild, loud, crazy, funny, larger than life characters; Val and Judy, Evie, Billy, Wilbur, Judy Jr. and Jimmy Fuzzi have been unpopular, undiscovered and absolutely perfect. They’ve been my little secret. Until now.
I knew it was coming. With the recent publications of the other wonderful John Stanley collections, Melvin Monster, Nancy and Little Lulu, it was clear that the world would soon know about his somehow hitherto unacknowledged masterpiece, my beloved Thirteen Going On Eighteen. And the truth is, I’m delighted. Happily, I’ve finally matured enough to be able to share.
I first became aware that I had a knack for comedy timing in 1993 when I started directing on Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead series for MTV. Luckily for me, I had been reading John Stanley’s brilliant, and insanely funny, Thirteen Going On Eighteen for years. I have no doubt whatsoever that I learned, or more accurately, absorbed the essence of comedy timing from inhaling pages just like these:
Judy has convinced Wilbur that she just fed him his ratty old hat for dinner.
Rapid mood swings
Lots of yelling
As far as I’m concerned, Wilbur stopping in the midst of his agony to stare pensively at a motorcycle is comedy timing at it’s best. A single panel, that’s all. He doesn’t notice it as he passes, doesn’t turn around and go back. We don’t see him stop, he’s just there. (cue the soundtrack of your choice; sometimes I hear a soft whistling, sometimes crickets, sometimes muzak) And then he’s screaming his head off again a panel later. Ah, the beauty of manic behavior!
And in this one, Judy has just informed Val that she saw Val’s boyfriend Billy with her dreaded rival Janie Kilboy. Cool as ever, Val feigns indifference, but thenâ€¦
Thinking characters with an unedited inner life
Zen-like self-obsession and commitment to a cause
And lots of yelling
And on the very next page of the same story (above), Val’s search for Billy and Janie Kilboy; one of the funniest, most effective and definitely most economical time passage I have ever seen:
Instantly understood body language
Obsessive, compulsive behavior
Periods of relative inactivity
The surreal and the downright silly
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more, lots more. Thank you John Stanley, from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know what I’d have done without you and your wonderful cast of delusional egotists. And to everyone else out there, those who already know and especially those who don’t, I welcome you to fall in love with my favorite comic book of all time.
All you need to know in 14 seconds…
Here’s the reel from London-based boutique animation studio Sweetworld. Founded in 2006 by Yasmeen Ismail and Sandra Salter, the studio specializes in designing, directing and producing commercial animation with an emphasis on traditional hand-drawn styles. Check out their website for complete examples of their work.
The master of Chinese animation, Te Wei (Sheng Tewei), has passed away at age 95.
Te Wei, a pioneering animator and cartoonist, was one of the founding fathers of the Shanghai Animation Studio. His most significant film of the 1950s was The Conceited General, which I’ve embedded below:
In the 1960s his animation style was influenced by the painter Qi Baishi. His 1963 mastepiece, The Cowboy’s Flute (Part 1 below), is one of the most beautiful films from China – or anywhere.
This animated short was made with post-it notes and markers for Dutch channel RVU. They asked several animators to illustrate and interpret the writings of philosopher Bas Haring. Mustafa Kandaz – we posted his film protesting foie gras at Euro Disney last April – created this one about instinct. It was made in 3 days: 1 for animation, 1 for editing and 1 for the sound.
I did a post about Cathedral Films back in 2007 when we found a connection between this religious film strip producer and Bill Hanna and Gene Hazelton. Filmstrips are still in a side-alley of animation history that has yet to be explored. Artists from MGM, Disney and others worked on these after hours. Here’s another filmstrip somebody posted in its entirety on the internet, and artwork here is pretty good (note Paul Frees as the voice of the ocean). Anyone recognize the art style?
Cartoon Network may be trying to attract teens through live-action, but never fear – they haven’t left animation completely behind. Apparently in an effort to sponsor the worst animation in the world, they’ve greenlit a new sci-fi cartoon show being made by an Italian company called Mondo TV (the lovely people behind Titanic: The Animated Movie). It’s called Virus Attack and it’s about five teens who fight alien viruses who turn out to literally be aliens. It’s coming to Italy in December 2010, just in time for the holidays, before coming to Cartoon Network USA sometime in 2011. Here’s a sneak peek: