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.
Here’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)
On 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.
Big 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
For 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.
Check out this article posted on THE TOQUE (Canada’s version to THE ONION), which asks “Whatever Happened to Wholesome Cartoon Violence”?
As 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).
“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)
Stop-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.
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.
There’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.
Tying-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.)