I have no love for Cartoon Network these days, but I will not let that stop me from trumpeting the forthcoming debut of Pendelton Ward’s animated series Adventure Time (it’s official title is Adventure Time With Finn and Jake but it’ll always be simply Adventure Time to me). The on-air promos have started playing and the production blog is loaded with cool artwork. I’m excited!
Jason Brubaker, currently at Dreamworks, has been working in the freelance commercial world, art directing, animating and toiling on a graphic novel on the side. His “reMIND” graphic novel was originally going to be animated but, he says:
“I scrapped it after doing 5 minutes because it took way too long. Jim Ballantine suggested I make a graphic novel instead and here I am now. Most of this art is what got me hired at Dreamworks to do visual development, but I still force myself to work on it at nights and weekends. Gotta keep the dream alive. Luckily most of it was finished before I started at Dreamworks so I’m more or less just finishing the coloring now days.
“I’m giving myself the goal of November to finish so that I can have it ready for the next Comic Con. Basically by the time I have most of the pages online, It should be in print. Hopefully. My site features my working pages as well as what I’ve been learning in the process.”
The reMIND blog not only previews Jason’s incredible art and comics, but offers invaluable step-by-step lessons on creating a graphic novel. Well worth exploring.
I’m way overdue in reporting on the current activities of cartoon creator Craig McCracken (Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home) and his wife, animator Lauren Faust (Iron Giant, Cats Don’t Dance). I caught up with them at the CTN Expo last November where they were displaying their latest projects.
Craig is developing Wander Over Yonder (above), a new character he hopes to bring to life in animation but is only available now in sneak peek form – in a sketchbook and on a T-shirt available directly from Craig himself. The sketchbook is really cool because, though it’s a series of still pictures, it tells a little story about an appealing oddball character. Check it out here.
Lauren has developed a line of girl characters and limited edition dolls (available only at FAO Schwarz) called Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls (below). Apparently it’s catching on, and gaining quite a cult among gals of all ages. I love it when animators like McCracken and Faust use their skills to create their own properties and find ways to bypass the traditional business model to connect with an audience. That’s the way it should be.
I figure a blog named Cartoon Brew should report on anyone who combines animation and beer. Thus, Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont, just released a new beer this week, named Vinyl. The intro to the beer on their website is done in stop-motion, old school style. Not sure who did it, maybe in-house, but thought it was cute and kitsch – and worth 45 seconds of your time.
(Thanks, Cousy Kane)
“Animation is not just for kids. It is also for adults who take drugs.”
And there you go. That’s how Hollywood perceives us. Paul McCartney delivered that line (and yes I know it was a joke) – and referenced Rock Band and the forthcoming Zemeckis travesty of Yellow Submarine – in his introduction to the Best Animated Feature presentation at tonight’s Golden Globes.
As one of the “adults” who loves animation, I want to congratulate our friend Pete Docter and the whole team at Pixar for winning the animation prize for UP.
UPDATE: Here’s the video of Pete’s acceptance speech:
Our roundup of recent comic strips and editorial cartoons that reference animation characters returns – first with today’s Mother Goose and Grimm by Mike Peters:
Francesco Marciuliano’s Medium Large featured this strip on Friday (though I’m told it was a reprint from 2005):
(Thanks, Jim Lahue and Uncle Wayne)
This is one of the most beautiful short films of the year. Everything you see is CG except for the photographer (shot on greenscreen), pigeons, timelapsed growing flowers, the flying airplane and sky backgrounds. Stunning realism, artfully done.
(Thanks, Gibbs Rainock)
We don’t cover video game animation as much as we should, but this story erupting among animators in the gaming industry cannot be ignored. Apparently, Rockstar San Diego (a branch of the makers of the Grand Theft Auto videogame series in San Diego) has been working their crew six days a week, 12 hour days since last March. Conditions are said to be bad, and getting worse.
“Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego” sent Gamasutra.com this letter, which describes the poor working conditions, which include “mandatory to work close to twelve hours a day including Saturdays” and that “for four consecutive years, salary raises have not adjusted properly to cover inflation.”
Rockstar has issued an internal email rebuttal, as mentioned in this article, on kotaku.com. All I know is Grand Theft Auto has made billions of dollars. There’s no excuse for any company to treat its employees like this. We’d love to hear from anyone with first hand knowledge of this situation.
The FX channel is premiering a new spy spoof, Archer, tonight at 10pm. I was able to preview several episodes and, though its primarily a dialogue driven show loaded with sexual innuendo, I found the visuals slick and attractive and the scripts to be quite funny. If you like the current crop of animated sitcoms on Comedy Central and Adult Swim, you will probably enjoy this.
What did you think? Comments will be posted below.
Walt Kelly, a former Disney animator and one of the greatest cartoonists of the 20th Century, is not one usually associated with the likes of Paramount’s Famous Studios. But did you know Kelly illustrated two comic book stories starring Paramount’s animated characters of the 1940s?
Long before Harvey Comics, or St. John for that matter, had the rights to Paramount’s cartoon menagerie, Western Publishing (Dell Comics) acquired those rights in the mid 40s — and produced comic stories featuring such animated “stars” as Hector the Henpecked Rooster, Herman the Mouse, Blackie Sheep and Cilly Goose. Kelly illustrated two 8-page stories – the first of which I’ve post below (click thumbnails to enlarge each page). These were done for Animal Comics, the book in which Kelly developed Pogo Possum and are thus worth hundreds of dollars each. My thanks to Mark Kausler for loaning me his copies to scan. Cilly Goose is based on a one-shot Noveltoon cartoon of the same name from 1944. The Famous Studios comics ran from issue #7 through #17 as far as I can tell. This Cilly Goose story, from Animal Comics #15 (June-July 1945), has no relation to the animated film, and I have no idea who might have written it.
This post was inspired by the many new sites popping up reprinting classic comic books (such as Cartoon Snap and The Big Blog of Kids Comics). I have no intention to compete with them – though if there is interest in seeing Kelly’s other Famous story (featuring Blackie Sheep) let me know.
In 2004, CG animation studio Threshold Entertainment and Motion Picture Magic, a product placement company in Encino, teamed up to produce a food version of Toy Story titled Foodfight. Announced with great fanfare, Foodfight would team 80 name-brand products and their associated characters, including Mr. Clean, Cap’n Crunch, Charlie the Tuna, the Engergizer Bunny and the Brawny paper towel man, in an adventure set in a supermarket city – and a voice cast including Charlie Sheen, Eva Longoria, Chris Kattan and Christopher Lloyd. The last time we reported any news on the film was in 2007, when Lionsgate supposedly picked up the film for release.
I’d completely forgotten about the project until Brew reader Kurtis Findlay sent me this pic of merchandising (photo above) he found while he was Christmas shopping. Kurtis says, “I have to say that the characters look far better in 2D than they do in 3D! Do you think the manufacturer of this product got sick of all of them sitting in their warehouse and just released them without the movie tie-in?” Probably. And one look at the characters tells me this film might have better luck remaining unseen and on the shelf.
I’m happy to confirm the news – first reported on TV Shows on DVD – that Warner Bros. is indeed continuing to release Looney Tunes on DVD beginning in April.
Two new single disc releases are scheduled for release on April 27th – with more being planned for release later this year. The first two in the Looney Tunes Super Stars line are Bugs Bunny: Hare Extraordinaire and Daffy Duck: Frustrated Fowl. No bonus material or audio commentaries – just straight cartoons. Fifteen on each disc, restored, uncut and previously unavailable on DVD.
BUGS BUNNY: Mutiny on the Bunny (1950), Bushy Hare (1950), Hare We Go (1951), Foxy by Proxy (1952), Hare Trimmed (1953), Lumber Jack-Rabbit (1954), Napoleon Bunny-Part (1956), Bedevilled Rabbit (1957), Apes of Wrath (1959), From Hare to Heir (1960), Lighter than Hare (1960), The Million Hare (1963), Mad as a Mars Hare (1963), Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare (1964) and False Hare (1964).
DAFFY DUCK: Tick Tock Tuckered (1944), Nasty Quacks (1945), Daffy Dilly (1948), Wise Quackers (1949), The Prize Pest (1951), Design for Leaving (1954), Stork Naked (1955), This Is a Life? (1955), Dime to Retire (1955), Ducking the Devil (1957), People Are Bunny (1959), Person to Bunny (1960), Daffy’s Inn Trouble (1961), The Iceman Ducketh (1964) and Suppressed Duck (1965).
The Weinstein Company’s new film, Youth In Revolt, opened in ninth place at the box office this weekend. I haven’t seen it myself, but have recieved reports that the film uses quite a bit of animation — from stop-motion opening credits, to pixilation and pornographic hand drawn animation in the middle of the film, and traditional 2D animation during the end credits.
Peter Sluszka of New York-based Hornet Inc created the animation, shot both in New York at Hornet’s Brooklyn stage and on location in Michigan (for the pixilation sequence). Here’s a link to the stop-mo opening credits.
(Thanks, Ryan McCulloch)
Here’s a film I hadn’t seen before, and I want thank Brew reader Michael Lanigan for bringing it to my attention. It’s a great example of current Russian animation, much of which is still unseen by the Western world. The Stormy Petrel (2004) is by Alexei Turkus (full credits here), and was produced at Russia’s leading animation studio Argus International. It satirizes the poem Song of the Stormy Petrel by Maxim Gorky and serves as a commentary on the Russian educational system. It’s nine minutes and definitely worth watching – it gets crazier and crazier as it goes on.
Hot of the heels of the recent spate stop-motion features – Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, Mary and Max, $9.99 and A Town Called Panic – comes word of production of even more! A new UK feature called Jackboots on Whitehall is an epic World War Two satire, animated with what look like “Ken” dolls. Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson and Alan Cumming are among the voice cast. Written and directed by newcomers Edward and Rory McHenry, the film is scheduled for a release later this year. Twitch Film has posted a dozen stills which display the scope of the production. For more information, join the film’s Facebook page here.
Then there is a Polish film about Chopin on a flying piano! The Flying Machine (aka Project Chopin) seems to be a combo of CG and stop motion, and of course it’s in 3D! Animators Martin Clapp, Marek Skrobecki and Adam Wyrwas (of Susie Templeton’s Peter and The Wolf, 2006) are teaming with famed Chinese composer/pianist Lang Lang to create this feature. Here’s a behind-the-scenes promo:
Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, died this morning according to San Luis Obispo.com. Clokey, who lived in Los Osos, California was 89.
Clokey popularized clay animation with his Gumby cartoons in the 1950s and 60s. His studio thrived for decades doing various Gumby adventures and Davey and Goliath films for television. An excellent illustrated Clokey timeline is at the Premavision website. Gumbasia (1955) is the film that started it all – it’s success led directly to creating the Gumby universe and the Clokey style:
Here are Clokey’s opening titles for Dr. Goldfoot and His Bikini Machine (1965) – with vocals by The Supremes:
Clokey also did a more inventive 3-minute opening title sequence for How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). No one posted that on You Tube, but the whole film is available free (and high quality) on Hulu.
You know this can’t be good. A press release from Mumbai brings news of a new television series to be based on legendary screen comedian Charlie Chaplin:
Charlie Chaplin is to be brought to life as a cartoon character via an Indian-French collaboration that will see the legendary British comedian featured in an animated television series. DQ Entertainment, an animation and special effects firm based in the southern city of Hyderabad, says it is to reproduce the entertainer’s slapstick in 3D and computer-generated images for television.
The eight-million-euro (11.5-million-dollar) project is a joint venture with French media groups Method Animation and MK2, according to the companies. Further details were set to be announced by DQ Entertainment at a press conference in Mumbai on Friday. DQ and Method Animation will make a total of 104 six-minute episodes in India and France, Method’s chairman Aton Soumache told AFP in Paris last November. The animated shorts — aimed at children aged six and above — will not have any dialogue and are set to hit screens from early next year.
“We’ve been working for more than a year on the graphics concept to find an original way of adapting Chaplin’s world,” said Soumache. “It won’t be a realistic portrayal but more like a puppet in an offbeat universe. We’ll put him in modern situations but at the same keeping his poetic, child-like view of the world with a retro feel.” The episodes have been inspired by sketches and gags culled from some 70 short films made by Chaplin involving his trademark bowler-hatted vagabond character sporting a toothbrush moustache, ill-fitting suit and twirling cane. But there will also be original content, Soumache added.
Hoo-boy! I predict disaster. I doubt it will be even half as good as Edna, the 2005 short film by two students from SupInfoCom (Arles, France), or even an Otto Messmer Chaplin cartoon from the teens:
Animator Ward Kimball’s famed Chloe locomotive was on the move recently to Yorba Linda, CA for the annual Holiday Festival of Trains at the Nixon Library. The steam engine, along with a model representation of Kimball’s whimsical Grizzly Flats Railroad, is on display through this Sunday, January 10, 2010. Featured are two huge layouts of operating model trains. Also showing on two giant flat-screen monitors are rare home movies of Walt Disney’s 1948 trip to the Chicago Railroad Fair and the work that went into creating the Chloe locomotive during the 1950s. The home movies of Walt Disney at the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair are from the Kimball family and have never been shown in their entirety to the public. For more information on admission, hours & directions, check (and I never thought I’d say this) The Richard Nixon website.
Monkey Bone. Dudley Do-Right. Looney Tunes: Back In Action. Brendan Fraser: “Why?”
Yeah, I know this is mostly OT, and it’s mainly live action with some hybrid CG elements, and it doesn’t look funny — but this trailer has an important message:
“You can’t escape the furries!”
I’m a sucker for retro-styled animated music videos. So despite the fact this video has been featured on several other websites, I felt it was worth a spot on Cartoon Brew. The song is You Look Familiar by Team William, and the video was directed and designed by Belgium duo Michélé De Feudis & Joris Bergmans:
Between 2007 and 2009, Leslie Cabarga and I had the privilege of assembling five volumes of classic Harvey Comics reprints for Dark Horse Books. These comics were an offshoot of Paramount’s Famous Studios cartoon creations and were initially written and drawn by their finest animators.
Now, Dark Horse has announced plans to continue reprinting classic Harvey Comics material on a regular basis beginning May 2010. The new format (which Leslie is art directing the covers, but neither he nor I are selecting the reprints) presents each Harvey character in 200-page trade paperback editions with every page in color, for $14.99. The first one devoted to Casper is available for pre-order here. If you like this stuff, it’s a bargain.
Going on sale today: the Ralph Bakshi Mighty Mouse The New Adventures complete series on DVD. Everyone reading this blog should own a copy. This is the 1987 show that began the creator-driven movement in television animation – and launched the careers of John K., Bruce Timm, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and many many talented others.
I’ve got two copies of this DVD set to give away. It’ll go to the first two people in the comments section below who can correctly answer these three questions:
On this series what is the name of Mighty Mouse’s girl friend?? What is the name of Mighty Mouse’s secret identity? And what is the name of Mighty’s orphaned kid sidekick?CONTEST NOW CLOSED!
I urge everyone who didn’t win the prize today to order it on Amazon or buy it at Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart or where ever DVDs are sold. You know you want it. You know you need it! If you ever wanted to be Mighty Mouse: Click Here!
And if you do pick it up, send us your comments!
On February 14th at 7:30pm, HBO-2 will premiere the debut of a remarkable animated special, directed, co-produced and animated by New York indie filmmaker Debra J. Solomon (Disney’s Lizzie McGuire). Getting Over Him In Eight Songs or Less is a funny, touching, adult story about losing love and finding yourself. Solomon, whose animation drawings evoke Blechman, Driessen and Tyer by way of New Yorker cartoons, also wrote the eight songs, sings them and narrates the show.
Tuesday night (1/5/10), I will have the pleasure of introducing the film at an L.A. sneak preview screening at The CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax (near Melrose) in Hollywood. Solomon will appear in person for a Q&A discussion and we will screen several of her previous award winning short films. The program begins at 8pm, tickets are available (with discounts for Asifa-Hollywood members) here.
After a successful 1st term last year, New York based indie animator Bill Plympton has decided to bring his School of Animation back for the spring. With limited enrollment, the 10-week school begins on January 18th and goes until March 22nd, every Monday night. The fee is $1,200.00 per student. Registration is on a first come basis. According to his press release:
“…you can now learn the secrets of animation from the Master. Learn how you can make amazing films that can earn money. Learn the tricks of drawing, design, layouts, storyboards, writing, humor, directing, backgrounds and editing. Learn the business of animation, budgets, funding, selling, distribution, festivals and cost-cutting tricks.”
No one knows the ins, the outs, the techniques and how to play the game like Bill. Call (212) 741-0322 or email at Plymptoons-at-aol.com for more information.