Take A Long Lunch Tomorrow

Tomorrow’s April 1 and that could only mean one thing: the annual Animation Nation meeting in Los Angeles. This year is the sixth edition and it’ll take place at 1:30 pm at the Pickwick Center (1001 Riverside Drive, Burbank, California). Food and beverages will be served and everybody will have a chance to speak and vent about the crappy state of the animation biz. No charge but contributions are welcome. For more details, check out this thread at AnimationNation.com.

POLLY AND HER PALS

POLLY AND HER PALSHere’s a terrific on-line collection of Cliff Sterrett’s classic comic strip POLLY AND HER PALS. Sterrett’s work is what cartooning is all about – personality, humor and appeal. Not to mention Sterrett has an exquisite sense of storytelling, composition, design and color. It’s an all-in-one cartooning master class well worth studying. The French website that features these comics also has sections on other fine cartoonists like T.S. Sullivant and Lyonel Feininger.

(Thanks to Marc Deckter for the link)

JOHN CANEMAKER & MARY BLAIR in San Francisco

mary blairOn Friday, June 25, John Canemaker brings “The Art and Flair of Mary Blair” to the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.The widely respected independent animator and animation historian John Canemaker will sign his latest book, THE ART AND FLAIR OF MARY BLAIR, and present a profusely illustrated lecture on designer Blair’s life and influential career. The multimedia presentation won acclaim last year at both New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Following an intermission, there will be a rare 35mm screening of the Disney feature ALICE IN WONDERLAND, with color and styling by Blair.Mary Blair (1911-1978) was one of Walt Disney’s most brilliant conceptual designers, helping define the look of such classics as CINDERELLA (1950), ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1951), and PETER PAN (1953). Although much of her art veers away from naturalism toward abstraction and Surrealism, she was one of Walt Disney’s favorite artists.The Pacific Film Archive theatre is located at 2575 Bancroft Way near Bowditch Street, Berkeley, California.
For more info, call: 510/642-1412 or check www.bampfa.berkeley.edu Tickets, $4-$8.

Italians offended by SHARK TALE

shark taleBig news story of the day:
John Mancini has a beef with some cartoon fish. Mancini is the founder of the Italic Institute of America, which decries what it calls Hollywood’s stereotyping of Italians as dumb thugs or murderous gangsters. Now the organization has targeted the upcoming DreamWorks movie “Shark Tale,” because some of its villainous sea creatures are played by Italians and have Italian names.
Read the full story HERE.

GLENN BARR & MILES THOMPSON

milesThe BREW mailbox has been flooded with colorful postcards for Artists gallery openings. Here’s two of note:Glenn Barr (Ren & Stimpy, et al) will present new paintings and prints under the title “Haunted World”, at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Feliz, CA. The Artists reception is Friday April 2nd at 8pm.A Sick & Twisted favorite, Miles Thompson (Brian’s Brain) has a new exhibit “Idol Time” at the Copro Nason Gallery in Culver City. The Artists reception is Saturday April 10th at 8pm.

From Winsor McCay To This…

As long as we’re posting examples of inappropriate uses of CG (like the image from the new GARFIELD movie below), here’s a look at the DreamWorks primetime animated series FATHER OF THE PRIDE, which will debut in the fall on NBC.

Father of the Pride

You can see the full image HERE, which also includes the equally grotesque CG versions of Siegfried and Roy. One thing you have to give Jeffrey Katzenberg credit for is that he always manages to defy everybody’s expectations. Just when you thought a DreamWorks animated project couldn’t become any more unappealing, Katzenberg proves that his lack of visual taste knows no bounds and he produces something like FATHER OF THE PRIDE. I’ll be watching at least one episode of the show, if only to see how DreamWorks could blow a reported $2 million per episode and still end up with a cartoon that looks this sad.

THE GARFIELD MOVIE

garfieldFor those of you who haven’t choked on your Scooby snacks yet – here’s the trailer for the forthcoming live action/CG GARFIELD THE MOVIE, with Bill Murray as the voice.
I’m just wondering how much mileage is left in this new hybrid genre (CASPER, SCOOBY-DOO, ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, STUART LITTLE, KANGAROO JACK, CATS & DOGS and others). I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it already. And this GARFIELD flick looks horrible.

SUPERMAN-SEINFELD WEBISODE

supermanAs a fan of both SEINFELD and SUPERMAN, I’m delighted with the new combination live action/animation “webisode”, premiering today, entitled “A Uniform Used to Mean Something”.
Sponsored by American Express, the four-minute film was co-written by Seinfeld and directed by Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man). Patrick Warburton does Superman’s voice. There’s also a nice Behind The Scenes piece, but it doesn’t say who animated Superman (the original AmEx Seinfeld/Superman commercial in 1998 was animated by the Warner Bros. Classic Animation division – these webisodes were animated by UNPLUGGED STUDIOS in Toronto using Flash).

Deep Thoughts For A Monday Morning

“I’ve always felt that characters should be uncomplicated, then put the complicated things into the animation.” – Grim Natwick

“The mechanics of moving the human figure cannot be isolated from the motivational drives and dramatic meaning of any action, without rendering it empty and useless. It is primarily the emotional content of an action that is of interest to an audience, and the goal of animators must be to express this in graphic motion; not merely to move arms, legs and bodies around in space. At this point it will become possible to deal with ‘realistic subjects’ and make them exciting and believable.” – John Hubley

“A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, THE LITTLE PRINCE

“I believe licensing usually cheapens the original creation. When cartoon characters appear on countless products, the public inevitably grows bored and irritated with them, and the appeal and value of the original work are diminished. Nothing dulls the edge of a new and clever cartoon like saturating the market with it…I don’t want some animation studio giving Hobbes an actor’s voice, and I don’t want some greeting card company using Calvin to wish people a happy anniversary, and I don’t want the issue of Hobbes’s reality settled by a doll manufacturer. When everything fun and magical is turned into something for sale, the strip’s world is diminished. CALVIN AND HOBBES was designed to be a comic strip and that’s all I want it to be. It’s the one place where everything works the way I intend it to.” – Bill Watterson, CALVIN & HOBBES

(Thanks to Nick Cross, Harry McCracken and Jim Korkis for the quotes)

RAY HARRYHAUSEN

rayStop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen will discuss and present five newly restored prints of his classic fairy tales which he produced, directed and animated in the forties and fifties at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on Friday April 23rd at 7:30pm.Mother Goose Stories (1946), The Story of Little Red Riding Hood (1949), Hansel and Gretel (1951), The Story of Rapunzel (1951) and The Story of King Midas (1953) will be presented in new 35mm prints, blown up from the best surviving materials of the 16mm originals by the Academy Film Archive. Additional footage of abandoned projects also will be screened.A panel discussion with Mr. Harryhausen and those who helped him preserve the films will be hosted by Leonard Maltin. This program is part of the Academy’s annual George Pal Lecture on Fantasy In Film. Admission is only $5.00 for the general public. Check the Academy’s website for further details and ticket information.

Man Beaten Up At Belleville Screening

A Michigan man who had gone to see THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE was severely beaten after he shushed a man who wouldn’t stop talking in the row behind him. According to this ARTICLE, “the 51-year-old victim was hospitalized with multiple fractured ribs, a collapsed lung and several facial lacerations that required stitches.” Let this be a lesson to potential shushers: if you’re going to tell an obnoxious moviegoer to shut up, make sure it’s an old granny or little child that you could take on in a fight.

Rediscovering The Lost Art of Appeal

Freddie MooreThere’s a great discussion going on at the CartoonRetro.com forum about classic Disney animator Fred Moore. The thread includes plenty of drawings by Moore and numerous insights into why his work was so appealing. It’s sad to think that while solid appealing draftsmanship was once the foundation of the animation industry, today it is an anomaly that has to fight its way through the vast sea of ugliness and incompetence that is FAMILY GUY, FAIRLY ODDPARENTS, HOME MOVIES and RUGRATS.

SLATE.COM ON SCOOBY DOO

scoobydoo.jpgTying-in with today’s debut of SCOOBY-DOO 2, Slate.com posted a piece trying to figure out the worldwide appeal of Shaggy, Velma and the rest of the Scooby gang.
They talk to group of reporters and TV producers, but are unable to come up with any concrete conclusions. The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever summed it up best: “Kids should meddle, dogs are sweet, life is groovy, and if something scares you, you should confront it.” What needs to be explained about that?
(Thanks to Mark Mayerson for the link.)

CLASSIC CARTOON CHANNEL?

he manNot to dwell on the FILMATION library, but this follow-up story of its sale to ENTERTAINMENT RIGHTS notes that the company plans to use the library to start another “kids channel”. Seeing as Ted Turner began CARTOON NETWORK on the bulk of the Hanna-Barbera library, this is an intriguing idea.But do we need another “kids channel”? The obvious answer is: No. We’ve already got CARTOON NETWORK, NICKTOONS, TOON DISNEY, BOOMERANG… not to mention NICKELODEON, DISNEY CHANNEL, ABC FAMILY, HBO FAMILY, WAM!, DISCOVERY KIDS to name but a few.What we need is a “Classic Cartoon channel” aimed at grown-ups. A TV LAND or TCM for vintage animated films. A home for the UPA cartoons, the Terrytoons, the Harveytoons, Walter Lantz, Screen Gems, Ub Iwerks, Fleischer and Famous Studios libraries; classic independent and international animated shorts and feature films; as well as episodes of Crusader Rabbit, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Roger Ramjet, Beany & Cecil and Q.T. Hush.ENTERTAINMENT RIGHTS and VOOM’S ANIMANIA HD are poised to enter a crowded marketplace – hoping to build a business using classic (and not-so-classic) animation as cornerstone programming. I wish them luck. To paraphrase HE-MAN: “They have the Power!”. The power to create a new kind of animation station – one that doesn’t exist, but can and should.

Baseman’s Dumb Luck

DUMB LUCKHere’s a nclass=”image”ew book that I’m planning on getting when it comes out next month: DUMB LUCK, a retrospective of the work of illustrator (and TEACHER’S PET creator) Gary Baseman. The book, described as “both an art manifesto and a raw celebration of idiocy”, totals over 300 pages and is the first major compilation of Baseman’s work. The book is being published by Chronicle Books, one of the finest art/pop culture book publishers around. On a side note, while Chronicle hasn’t published many animation books in the past (with the exception of the two terrific ‘art of’ books for MONSTERS INC. and FINDING NEMO), they’re starting to do more of them now. I know because I’m currently writing two animated-related books for them, one of which will be out in early 2005, the other in early 2006. More details to come.

MIRAMAX ANIMATION

I’ve always been suspicious of Miramax’s relationship with animated features. Before they were bought by Disney, the company had picked up and released a handful of oddball animated films (LIGHT YEARS, TOM & JERRY THE MOVIE, FREDDY AS F.R.0.7). But since its Disney relationship, beginning with their release of ARABIAN NIGHT (1995), I’ve suspected that Harvey Weinstein’s company has been releasing animated films that Disney had secretly purchased, but were afraid to release themselves under the Disney or Touchstone labels.pokemonWe all know Disney bought the Miyazaki films, so it’s clear they handed PRINCESS MONONOKE (1999) off to Miramax.
But why in the world would classy art film producer-distributor Miramax pick up the Pokemon franchise? POKEMON 4-EVER (2002) and POKEMON HEROES (2003) have been box office duds, but it’s transparent to me that Disney wanted to pull this anime fad out of theatrical competition – thus grabbed the opportunity to get the final films in the series to quietly dispose of them – through Miramax.Miramax has never done well with any of its animated features – so why do they continue to try? The answer since 1995 is that they are doing Disney’s bidding – following the corporate mentality to dominate the now-competitive U.S. animation market. Miramax is on track to release Miyazaki’s next film (HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE) and today announced a deal to acquire Sylvain Chomet’s new animated feature (through Miramax’s Dimension Films label).Despite the layoff of its greatest animation asset (its traditional animation staff), Disney is still competing in the animation arena… outsourcing 2D to India, doing CG in London and picking up French & Japanese cartoons for Miramax release.

ARCHIES DVD

archie dvdNo, I don’t care about Filmation’s ARCHIE. But because I do a film program at the San Diego Comic Con called THE WORST CARTOONS EVER, I get mucho e-mail from readers wondering where Filmation’s library is and why most of it isn’t on video.
You’re about to find out why.
Next week you can buy episodes of THE ARCHIE SHOW, SABRINA and ARCHIES TV FUNNIES on DVD (or VHS) directly from Archie Comics.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Here’s the LINK.

SCREENINGS: KAUSLER & McCARTNEY

its the catmccartneryA reminder that this Saturday March 27th at 3pm, at the AFI in Hollywood, animator Mark Kausler will host a screening that will premiere his new 3 minute cartoon IT’S “THE CAT” as well as other classic Hollywood cartoons that influenced his work.
For details click here.

Meanwhile, on Saturday April 17th at 2:00pm, at the Egyptian Theatre a special program of three animated short films written, produced, voiced and scored by Paul McCartney will be screened on the big screen: “Tropic Island Hum,” “Tuesday” and “Rupert And The Frog Song”
The program also includes two mini-documentaries showing Paul McCartney and his team creating the traditional hand-drawn animation and an interview in which Paul speaks of his passion for animation and the early Disney films that inspire him.
This program is tied into a new dvd release, Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection

Kimball’s Trains

ward kimballI had a delightful time at Walt’s Barn on Sunday. It’s in Griffith Park, open one Sunday (the third Sunday) of each month – and I recommend you visit this piece of authentic Disney history. It gave me some new insight into Walt’s railroading addiction.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering what has happened to Ward’s personal train collection, here’s the scoop:
Noel Barrett Antiques and Auctions Ltd. has been awarded the contract to sell the collection of toys, trains and accessories from the estate of Ward Kimball, who died July 8, 2002 at age 88.
Kimball spent four decades amassing a premier collection of European and American trains and toys.

Two or three auctions will be held to disperse the collection estimated to bring more than $4 million. The approximately 2000 piece collection whose contents and quality are widely known could bring intense competition from bidders all over the world via the internet and drive prices even higher.

The first auction is slated for the weekend of Nov. 21, 2004 at the
Philadelphia Airport Ramada Inn. The second sale is scheduled for the
weekend of May 28, 2005.

Thanks to Steve Waller for locating these links

FLEISCHER MUSIC

boopI love the music in Fleischer cartoons. From Betty Boop, through the Color Classics, the Popeye cartoons and the original theme for Superman – It’s all great stuff. Lou Fleischer and his assistants Llyod Von Heyden, Arthur Turkisher, and Winston Sharples set the tempo. Composer/song writer Sammy Timberg also wrote numerous melodies found in the Fleischer cartoons and was one of the few to recieve screen credit. While Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, even Philip Scheib, have gotten kudos for the animation they scored, Timberg & crew have yet to be properly recognized.

Timberg’s daughter Pat has been doing her part for the past decade. She’s staged concerts of Sammy Timberg music and started a website, Timberg Alley. Now Pat has produced a CD of new recordings of classic Sammy Timberg cartoon music: Boop-Oop-A-Dooin’ – The Songs of Sammy Timberg from Betty Boop, Popeye, Superman and Other Musical Classics. I’ve got it, and it’s wonderful!

Here are the details from the liner notes: After 14 years in vaudeville and composing for Broadway musicals in the late 20′s, Sammy produced a steady supply of spirited songs written for the classic Fleischer cartoons of the 1930′s and 1940′s. Although Sammy conducted a live, swinging band to accompany these timeless cartoons, much of the jazzy scores were lost behind the screen action, dialogue and sound effects. Boop-Oop-A-Doop compiles and recreates that music, with the help of some of today’s most talented musicians and singers, so it can be heard on its own, for the first time and for its own sake!

sammy timberg music

Songs performed by Shannon Cullem (the grand-daughter of Sammy
Timberg), Richard Halpern and Mora’s Modern Rhythmists.

Featuring 2 archival recordings, one of which has Sammy Timberg
singing and playing piano!

18 Tracks total:
1. Don’t Take My Boop-Oop-A-Doop Away
2. It’s A Hap-Hap-Happy Day
3. Got A Language Of My Own
4. Sweet Betty
5. I Wanna Be A Life Guard
6. Be Human
7. Brotherly Love
8. Keep A Little Song Handy
9. Hamburger Mine
10. I Want A Clean Shaven Man
11. Anytime At All
12. You Gotta Have Pep
13. Dizzy Debs
14. An Elephant Nevers Forgets
15. Little Lambkin
16. The Boopin’ Stride
Archival Tracks:
17. The Superman March
18. I’m Glad We’re Through (sung by Sammy Timberg!)

The CD can be purchased by contacting pat-at-timbergalley.com.