Cartoon Brew TV #2: The Pumpkin of Nyefar by Tod Polson and Mark Oftedal

The Pumpkin of Nyefar (2004) is a short directed by Tod Polson (El Tigre, Another Froggy Evening, Poochini) and Mark Oftedal. The story was co-written by Maurice Noble (1911-2001), who began his animation career at Disney in the 1930s, and eventually designed many of Chuck Jones’s classic Warner Bros. cartoons including Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century and What’s Opera, Doc?. The film is narrated by June Foray (the voice of Rocky in Rocky and Bullwinkle).

Go here for a Flash website with plenty of details and artwork from the film. Below is a some background information about the film from its director Tod Polson. Tod will also participating in the comments section and looks forward to your comments and questions.

In 1994, Maurice Noble began training a group of young designers at Chuck Jones Film Productions. A lot of us were working on our own personal short projects, several of them based on ethnic folktales. Maurice thought it would be a great idea if the group of us could develop a series of shorts inspired by stories from around the world. We called this series “Noble Tales,” and we, his trainees, became known as the “Noble Boys” (which also included a few girls). Many of us traveled around the world and developed and together designed several dozen idea.

“The Pumpkin Of Nyefar” was one short idea Maurice and I wrote while visiting Turkey. Our first morning in Istanbul we came downstairs to the dining room and around the table were twenty belly dancers and a lot of pumpkin dishes. All the girls of course were smitten by Mr. Nobles charm. Ha ha… I can still see him grinning from ear to ear.

Afterwords we talked things over, and decided to write a story about a prince who could marry any beauty in his kingdom, but instead chooses to wait for true love. As fate would have it, the prince finds true love in the form of a pumpkin. While I was supervising a TV show in Thailand, James Wang (Wang Flm) invited Maurice and I to use his Thai studio to make our short. Maurice underwent surgery so that he could make the flight to Bangkok. Unfortunately he died a few weeks later. I came to Thailand a few months later to work on the short myself. But my friends didn’t leave me to do the film alone.

Soon after, my pal Mark Oftedal, came to town for a visit. His short vacation, turned into a several year working holiday. He became so involved with the project, re-working designs, storyboards, editing, setting the animation style, that he became the co-director. It was very much a partnership and it was fantastic working with such a talented fellah. Other friends from America helped out too. June Foray donated her voice to the film. Ben Jones, and Lawrence Marvit both did short stints in Bangkok to help get things going. Sue Kroyer did a lot of inspirational character design as did Roman Laney. Jules Engel looked over a lot of the early design and color. Aaron Sorenson, Dave Marshall, Dave Thomas, and Mike Polvani all donated time to the project. It was really a great collaboration of friends, just the way Maurice had dreamed about: doing a short film together, everything donated, just because they wanted to do it.


  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    Best thing I’ve seen in years. Just beautiful. Thanks

  • EatRune

    If June Foray, is in it, I’ll definitely watch it.

  • Marcus

    Cute. Too much verbal description of what’s being shown. Characters often get lost in the backgrounds, rendering it not much more than an over zealous design project.

  • http://www.restlessanimation.com Doug Anderson

    I loved this short. The style was amazing, and the story was funny. I was cracking up when they showed the dog holding the chicken and referred to the peasant couple. Ha!! The expression and acting on the dog were great.

  • Mike

    very enjoyable. one of the best shorts i’ve seen in a while

  • Mark H.

    BRAVO! Many of today’s animators could learn a thing or three from this short.

  • George

    Stunning! Really makes me wish we had more of this type of stuff available to us on DVD.

  • Mr. Semaj

    Very good film. If only the United States had a stronger environment for independent animation.

  • Brad Constantine

    Looks like you guys(and gals) learned a thing or two. Bravo and congrats on a very well made film….Makes me miss Mr. Noble even more now. Thanx fer sharing.

  • http://brokenghost.blogspot.com Robert Iza

    Awesome and Superbly entertaining! I’m curious, was the animation done on paper then cleaned up on the computer? or how was that gone about?

  • Jason N

    now this is a cartoon. A really great short done very well by very talented people. I really enjoyed it.

    Thanks

  • http://www.super-macho.com/ Jorge Gutierrez

    Bravo! A small gem and a heartfelt love letter to the beauty of design in animation. And it feels so timeless. You sure made Maurice proud Tod. You are my hero.

  • http://www.gobrando.com brandon scott

    that was amazing

  • http://www.funnypagesprod.com Tom Bancroft

    VERY good short! Great design and- boy- do I miss seeing fun cartoon animation that isn’t limited Flash style. (He says while producing the same.) It gets me going, thanks for putting up this labor of love!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/chipCHIPLEY Mike Hollingsworth

    This was so fun. The animation was amazing. I’m very glad I was able to see it after reading about the cartoon in the Maurice Noble biography that came out a year or so back. It’s a great book and I suggest you all read it!

  • Steve Lambe

    Amazing short, Tod!! Not only beautifully designed, but top notch animation as well.

  • http://tonydistefanoblogspot.com Tony DiStefano

    That was really good.And to hear June Forays narration was wonderful.
    The designs had a look and feel of the50s(John Sutherland studios)
    and the animation was very appealing.I wish we could see more of this kind of storytelling.The story you told of how the project came to be is bittersweet.Hope you do more!

  • http://[email protected] Ryan McCulloch

    Wow, how beautiful, what a project of passion! It was a really quirky story too which I like. Is that “Dog Cartoon” Dave Thomas who contributed to the film? Great job.

  • http://gavinball.blogspot.com Gavin Ball

    This was a great film. Great designs and timing. I only recently learned about Maurice Noble from a coworker of mine, and after watching that film and reading the post, I find myself wanting to know more about him, maybe I’ll go check out that biography that Mike Hollingsworth mentioned.

    Thanks to everyone involved in the film.

    Good job!

    -Gavin

  • http://lee.hasaportfolio.com Lee

    what a fantastic film. nice pick Cartoon brew.

  • WTF

    OMG that was great!
    THIS is what animation is all about!
    MOCAP FEATURES SUCK!!!
    Please keep the CBTV shorts animated, no ‘live action’.

  • babybummer

    awwww I thought “Rocky” had the same voice actor that Kimba and Astro Boy had…

  • http://ghostbot.blogspot.com roque

    Tod is a BEAST.

  • Nic Kramer

    Tod came a long way from “Another Froggy Evening” (that short was okay, but they should’ve used the planned ironic ending). Good job. It sorta reminds me of Jay Ward’s Fratured Frairy Tales.

  • http://www.wilsonswain.com Wilson Swain

    Really beautifully done. Thanks for bringing it forward!

  • http://www.Tilt-Movie.com Greg Maletic

    Not wild about the character design (though they are well-animated), but the backgrounds are spectacular. Absolutely love the nighttime shots of the palace.

  • http://www.segaltoons.com Steve Segal

    Wonderful fun. Brings to mind the best of the Fractured Fairy Tales, only with really good animation; June Foray makes a worthy successor to Edward Everett Horton. And I loved the trick ending.

    I was fortunate to work with Mark Oftedal when we were animators on Toy Story and A Bugs Life. His work there and here is brilliant. He did many key scenes that we used as models of the proper way to handle a character. Like Woody chastising Buzz, “You are a child’s plaything”.

    Bravo to all concerned.

  • http://tetecarree.blogspot.com Tete Carree

    Wow! That was fantastic. Beautifully designed and animated with some genuinely funny gags (fave was the telescope one).

  • http://www.swordandsarcasm.com/ Chuck Fiala

    That’s really a nice short. I always loved Maurice Noble’s design work, now I’ve enjoyed a cartoon that he co-wrote. June Foray’s narration is also a treat. Thanks for putting together such a wonderful film. It is a treasure.

  • julian

    wow! that was a great treat .more tod!!!

  • http://theadventuresinfirstdays.blogspot.com/ Ira Owens

    BEAUTIFUL DESIGNS!

  • Tod Polson

    Thanks for the great comments everyone (and the honest tomatoes)! And thanks to CB for featuring the short. Robert, the animation was all hand animated on paper (mostly by Mr. Oftedal) cleaned up, scanned, and colored up in Toon Boom. There was a comment that the film felt “Too Wordy”. Before Mark arrived in Thailand, I thought I would have to do most of the animation myself. So, before recording June, I added much more description in the narration than I would have usually. Going for a more “storybook” feel, trying to save on animation drawings. And since this was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with June… why not make it a bit wordy? This was basically her first take. Without her voice, the film wouldn’t be nearly as fun or rich.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Well you’ve done a couple of remarkable things here.
    You’ve made a “cartoony” film without the need to reference a million other moments in animation.
    You have a soundtrack that enhances your film without distracting the viewer.
    You have character designs that are familiar enough that they’re comfortable to look at yet are different enough that they’re interesting and eye catching.
    You’ve been influenced by others without the need to scream that from the rooftops.
    There’s no screaming or intrusive music or endless noise.
    This is terrific.
    Well done all.

  • http://www.ka-chingcartoons.com joost

    woohoo tod you are the best!
    hope your’re well
    greetings from holland

  • http://www.anikey.nl Albert

    BRAVO!! Very nice idd!

  • http://eggheadcheesybird.co.uk Alex

    That was so cool. Seriously.

  • Saturnome

    Splendid. The kind of thing I’d like to see more often.

  • Charles

    This was amazing! I enjoyed the style, animation, everything!

  • http://www.mukpuddy.blogspot.com Mukpuddy

    HOLY WOW!! I love everything about the short… cool story, great design, the palette, it’s all awesome!!!

  • Dominic Foong

    I think this was great! I really enjoyed the style of the film and the neautiful storytelling too. Simply lovely!

  • Gary Conrad

    Magnificent.

  • Makinita

    very funny and I love the style and the pace of the story

  • J

    I really enjoyed that! Thanks for sharing it with us :)

  • Tod

    A lot of the comments are directed at me… and Thanks again to everyone for the kind words! Nice to hear from so many old friends. But I really wouldn’t have been able to pull this film together without Mark Oftedal. As many of you already know… he is one of the most talented animators, and artists around. I remember at one point in the production Brad Bird called Mark up personally… asking him to come work on a little film called “The Incredibles”. Mark kindly refused Mr. Bird… and explained that he was working on a short film of his own in Thailand. I don’t want to embarrass Mark. but I think he’s a bit nuts, But I appreciate his incredible artistry and his friendship. I’m a fan … and feel lucky to have worked with him.

  • Jeremy Rowland

    Wow…it’s literally been years since I’ve seen anything that inspired me as an animator like this short. Thank you!!

  • k. Borcz

    pretty and cute

  • rhinotonight

    that was great. i can’t stop grinning, and i’ve thought thats what cartoon were supposed to do.

    (wonderful gags too)

  • http://www.warnerart.com Eric

    Whats the story behind the quote at the end? Was it…”Don’t forget the salute”? This story seems to pull from a real life story Maurice once told me about his own life. The story of the Thunderbolt I call it. I’ll have to share it with all of you some time.

  • http://www.captain-chants.net CaptainChants

    That was absolutely wonderful, and very funny.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/cartooncreep/index.htm Nick R.

    This reminds me of the thief and the cobbler from the 1968 verison

  • tod

    One thing that Maurice talked about was being a rebel… experiment… try things out… if someone doesn’t like your ideas… “Give them the one finger salute.” Maurice wanted his tomb stone to be in the shape of a hand flipping the bird… He thought it would be funny to shock people that walked up to his grave… leaving it as his final statement. But it was toned back to font… “Remember the Salute.” … and became sort of a motto for Maurice’s trainees. I have never heard the story of “the Thunderbolt” that I am aware of. But I would love to hear it sometime. Many of the story elements in Pumpkin were drawn from Maurices’ life.

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    Fantastic!

  • http://www.virgiliovasconcelos.com Virgilio Vasconcelos

    Man… this is brilliant. really. Best short I’ve seen in a long while.

    Thank you. :)

  • spencer

    this is gorgeous! wouldn’t it be nice if newer shorts of this caliber weren’t so rare?

  • http://carolwyatt.blogspot.com Carol Wyatt

    GORGEOUS!!!!!!!
    I can’t speak….