TRON RETURNS

tron“Tron” broke new ground for the art of computer generated-imagery when it was first released in 1982. Now Disney’s landmark film returns for special 10-Day, 70 MM engagement at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, May 6th through the 16th.An opening night panel discussion will be moderated by Academy Award nominated visual effects artist/filmmaker Harrison Ellenshaw, and will include such luminaries from the film as director Steven Lisberger, visual effects supervisor Richard Taylor (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), and production designer/futurist Syd Mead. Complete press release here.

Art Deco Cartoon Screening

Sounds like a fun event taking place in San Francisco this Friday evening, April 30. Here’s the press release:

Enjoy an evening of Art Deco film and animation at the Legion of Honor Museum with Nik Phelps and the Sprocket Ensemble. Join Nik and the Ensemble as they treat you to a tour de force of the Deco Age from a vintage 1928 Felix the Cat to two seldom seen Busby Berkeley masterpieces as part of Art Deco Fridays in honor of the “ART DECO: 1910-1939″ exhibition. Other cartoons include Tex Avery’s MISS GLORY and Chuck Jones’ THE ARISTO CAT.

Each piece will be introduced by eminent animation and film scholar Karl Cohen and the audience will be treated to vocals and voice overs by Scrumbly Koldewyn and Cindy Goldfield. The show is free with museum admission: $8/adult, $6/seniors, $5/teens, free/children under 12 years of age, free for museum members. For info call 415/682.2481. Event starts at 6 PM and the Legion Museum is at 100 34th Avenue in Lincoln Park (San Francisco).

A COLUMBIA CARTOON ON DVD

lost skeleton of cadaveraThose of you longing for Columbia Pictures to release their library of UPA and Screen Gems cartoons on dvd – you’ll have to keep waiting.But, Columbia-Tristar Home Video will commit one Color Rhapsody cartoon to digital home video this summer when it releases a “special edition” of the B-movie spoof THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVERA on dvd June 22nd. The Ub Iwerks 1937 cartoon “Skeleton Frolic”, a color remake of Disney’s “The Skeleton Dance” (1929), was re-released theatrically with LOST SKELETON in its limited theatrical release this past winter. It will be included as bonus material on the dvd. The LOST SKELETON feature itself is hilarious, and highly recommended regardless – the addition of this bonus cartoon makes it a must-buy.

Classic Comic Site

Oscar Anderson An inspiring WEBSITE offering a visual history of comics, from more than a thousand years ago through 1930. Lots of great scans of comics that can’t be found anywhere else on-line. Plus photos of cartoonists, a history of speech balloons and much more. A lot of my favorites are here – Lyonel Feininger, Milt Gross, Cliff Sterrett – as well as a lot of names that I’d like to see more of, such as Olaf Gulbransson, Herbert Crowley and Oscar Anderson. Enjoy the site and try not to think too much about how in less than a century we’ve passed from the sheer beauty and creativity of these comics to the visual insipidity of DRABBLE.

(Thanks to Jared Chapman’s blog for the link)

ON THE FRONT LINES

victoryAsifa-Hollywood will be celebrating the release of the landmark Disney Treasures DVD On The Front Lines: The War Years with a special screening of rare 35mm prints at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.In addition to the films, arrangements are being made for a special panel of industry professionals to speak, to discuss the work and culture at Walt Disney that went into creating these animted films.The DVD collection, on sale May 18th, contains 32 short subjects (including Education For Death and Der Fuerher’s Face) and exclusive declassified material. In addition to these films, this DVD also includes the full-length feature “Victory Through Air Power” (1943).The special screening will take place Tuesday, May 11, 2004 at 8:00 P.M.
Alex Theatre
216 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CAGeneral Admission Tickets: $10
Members of ASIFA-Hollywood – $7.00
Members of the Alex Film Society – $7.00
Purchase tickets online or call the Alex Theatre box office at 818-243-ALEX (2539).
More Info: www.alextheatre.org or www.asifa-hollywood.org

THE COMPLETE WINSOR McCAY

mccayJune 1st is the release date for Winsor McCay: The Master Edition (Milestone Films) a dvd collection featuring brand-new digital transfers of every surviving film, a new piano score by composer Gabriel Thibaudeau, and John Canemaker’s wonderful documentary Remembering Winsor McCay (1976).This is obviously a must-have: the collection includes the stunning hand-colored Little Nemo (1911) mastered from the only known 35mm print in existence, and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) which was recently restored by the National Archives of Canada using four 35mm nitrate prints from the Cinémathèque’s collection.It also includes How A Mosquito Operates (1912), The Sinking Of The Lusitania (1918), the existing fragments of the lyrical The Centaurs (1918-21), Gertie On Tour (1918-21) and Flip’s Circus (1918-21). McCay’s final three works, all from his surreal “Dreams from a Rarebit Fiend” series are featured: Bug Vaudeville (1921), The Pet (1921) and The Flying House (1921). There is also an audio track commentary by John Canemaker and a still gallery from his amazing collection of McCay memorabilia. Order it from Amazon.com for $20.99

Guest Brewer

We’re excited to announce our first guest blogger, Mark Mayerson, who will be joining us on Cartoon Brew next Monday, May 3. Here’s a little bit about him:

In 28 years in the business, Mark Mayerson has worked on commercials, TV specials and TV series in both drawn and computer animation. In addition to animating, he’s also written, directed and produced for MONSTER BY MISTAKE, a computer animated series he created. Mark lives in Toronto, Canada.

Both Jerry and I greatly enjoy Mark’s thoughts on modern and classic animation, and we’re looking forward to his contributions in the coming weeks. Here’s a few of Mark’s longer pieces on cartoons:

Ranking the Classic Animation Directors

Animators and Their Scenes

Personality vs. Character

Books You Can’t Have Yet

Here’s three books that I’ll definitely be buying (or perhaps stealing) when they’re released later this year.

ANIMATION NOW!ANIMATION NOW!: A visual survey of contemporary world animation

by Julius Wiedemann

Taschen, 576 pages, paperback, $40

June 2004

Art of IncrediblesTHE ART OF THE INCREDIBLES: The ‘art of’ book for the animated film I’m most looking forward to this year
by Mark Cotta Vaz

Chronicle Books, 160 pages, hardcover $40

August 2004

Mischievous Art of Jim FloraTHE MISCHIEVOUS ART OF JIM FLORA: The first book devoted to the art of the influential Fifties record cover designer
by Irwin Chusid

Fantagraphics, 150 pages, paperback, $25

September 2004

(Thanks to Thorsten Hasenkamm, who keeps very good tabs on upcoming animation art books. Check out his fine website HERE.)

THE WHOLE SEUSS

whole seussWhile discussing cartoon trivia at a brunch yesterday (with friends Keith Scott, Will Ryan, Harry McCracken, Amid Amidi, Milt Gray, Tom Knott, Mark Kausler and Mark Evanier) I was surprised to learn that many of my friends hadn’t seen, nor heard of, a great new book on Dr. Seuss I bought a few weeks ago. So I made a note to mention it here.The Seuss, The Whole Seuss and Nothing But The Seuss A Visual Biography of Dr. Seuss by Charles D. Cohen ($35.00 Random House) is a must-have for Suess fans and animation buffs. The book discusses Seuss minutiae and traces Ted Geisel’s inspirations and influences. This includes much about his work on Private Snafu, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, and Gerald McBoing Boing.The book is very well written and researched – he even draws a line between Krazy Kat, Felix and Dick Whittington’s Cat (illustrated by showing the Iwerks film’s one sheet poster with Wittington’s cat, in a hat, a pose almost identical to Seuss’ CAT IN THE HAT). The book is loaded with lavishly illustrated with rare and oddball Suess cartoons and ads. There is much information on Geisel’s Hollywood writing – including the lost 1931 Flit films Put On The Spout and ‘Neath The Bababa Tree(both released by Warner Bros.). If you have any interest in this subject – I urge you to buy this volume. It’s great!

UPA TRIBUTE

mcboing boingSaturday’s Asifa-Hollywood screening & tribute to UPA was an incredible success – thanks to the number of UPA veteran’s who showed up and participated. We showed eight films (35mm prints) including ROOTY TOOT TOOT, UNICORN IN THE GARDEN, WILLIE THE KID, TELL-TALE HEART, HOW NOW McBOING BOING, CHRISTOPHER CRUMPET, HAM & HATTIE: SAILING AND VILLAGE BAND, and in CinemaScope, MAGOO’S PUDDLE JUMPER.Tee Bosustow showed us a brief clip of his work-in-progress documenmary “UPA: Mavericks, Mayhem and Magoo” which included rare 1952 footage of Bill Melendez animating Christopher Crumpet. But the highlight of the day was our guest panel: Alan Zaslove, Bob McIntosh, Fred Crippen, Mel Levin, Ed Friedman and Joe Siracusa. Also in attendance, Bob Kurtz, Henrietta Jordan (UPA manager), Martha Sigall and Mrs. Art Babbit. The program was taped for Bosustow’s documentary. We all felt transported to the 1950s – all the panelists were candid, and no one had a bad word about the studio or its directors, designers and producers. It sounded like they were all having a ball – and they produced animation changed the world.
My thanks to the panelists and the audience who shared this experience. If you were there yesterday, I’d love to hear your comments and recollections on our Animation History Forum

Rex Steele, Nazi Smasher

Brew reader (and artist extrodinaire) Stephen deStefano wants to call your attention to a rather exceptional film that’s come out of New York, directed by a super talented young animator.art by kremer

“His name is Alex Woo, and you can check out a trailer for his film, REX STEELE, NAZI
SMASHER
at Monkeysuit.com. Watch it, I think you’ll enjoy it, then wrap your mind around the fact that it’s actually a student film, which Alex produced this past year at NYU. Of course, he had a bit of help from co-producers Bill Presing and Matt Peters, two NY animation veterans.
Still, Alex’s talent is undeniable. Also, if you’re not familiar with the work of the uber-talented Mr. Presing, you may soon be. I worked with him here in NY at a studio called Noodle Soup, where he was Storyboard Supervisor. Around the beginning of this year, however, the west coast called, and Bill is now at Pixar. Bill’s not quite thirty yet, but has unbelieveable gobs of talent.”

NY TIMES ON PIXAR

In today’s New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell ponders Pixar’s success and the possible demise of hand drawn features.

“Every few decades an entire field of filmmaking ends because of a single technical innovation. “The Jazz Singer” finished off silents by popularizing synchronized-sound movies. The introduction of Technicolor has been slowly choking off black-and-white pictures, with the exception of the odd music video or art-house film. And now, because of the successive digitally animated box-office winners from Pixar, hand-drawn animation seems to be on the way to theatrical obsolescence.”

Look, No Hands: Pixar’s Killer App By ELVIS MITCHELL

CARTOONS AT THE ACADEMY Part II

harvie krumpetOn Friday May 7th at 7:30pm, The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a screening of all the animated & live action short film nominees & winners from the most recent (76th) Academy Awards. The Academy screening will be hosted by John Lasseter (Pixar).The screening will include Harvie Krumpet (winner) and Destino (Dali & Disney), Gone Nutty (Blue Sky), Boundin’ (Pixar) and Nibbles (Chris Hinton). The AMPAS screening appears to be the only place these films will be screened all together. Apollo Cinema is bringing an 2004 Oscar program (sans John Lasseter) to a theatre near you: Here’s their release schedule

CARTOONS AT THE ACADEMY – PART 1

do not miss thisDuring 2002 and 2003, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ran a weekly series, every Monday night for 75 weeks, each week one of the Best Picture winners accompanied by the Best Cartoon Short winner and other assorted goodies. Begining Monday May 17th , the Academy will present a ten-week sequel: “Great To Be Nominated”.Each week a restored 35mm print of a nominated feature will be shown with a nominated short (in 35mm) – as well as newsreel footage, Trailers, Out-takes, and other rare material.
NOTE: July 12 a 35mm restored print with original titles of HOLIDAY LAND, the first Columbia Color Rhapsody cartoon, starring Scrappy, will be screened.
July 26th The first public screening of the 35mm restored Popeye special, POPEYE MEETS SINDBAD – You’ve been warned: DO NOT MISS THIS SCREENING!
Here’s the full schedule: May 17 – SEVENTH HEAVEN (27-28) w/ Plane Crazy
May 24 – IN OLD ARIZONA – (28-29)
June 7 – THE LOVE PARADE (29-30)
June 14 – SKIPPY (30-31) w/ScreenSong “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”
June 21 – THE CHAMP (31-32) w/Mickey’s Orphans
June 28 – LADY FOR A DAY (32-33) w/Building a Building
July 12 – ONE NIGHT OF LOVE (34) w/Holiday Land
July 19 – LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER (35) w/Who Killed Cock Robin?
July 26 – ANTHONY ADVERSE (36) w/Popeye Meets Sindbad
Aug. 2 – A STAR IS BORN (37) w/Little Match Girl
Aug. 9 – ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND (38) w/Mother Goose Goes Hollywood
Aug. 16 – MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (39) w/The Pointer.The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California.

Friday Linkage

A few interesting animation artist websites I’ve run across recently…

Ben Balistreri, who has done design work for Disney and Nickelodeon, has a lot of his work samples up at SaltySugar.com along with a preview of a forthcoming personal comic project. Ghostbot.com is the website for three different animation artists, including Roque Ballesteros, creator of the stylish Wild Brain webcartoon series JOE PARADISE. Tim Biskup, whose work is always a treat, has a redesigned site at TimBiskup.com. Greg Araya, whose short film CRIMENALS (a hard-boiled concoction of Chester Gould comics and Anthony Mann film noir dialogue) is currently making the festival rounds, has a nice step-by-step description of how he put the film together HERE.

WOODY WOODPECKER VOICE DIES

woodyHarry Babbitt, who did the distinctive laugh of Woody Woodpecker in the 1948 Kay Kyser hit record “The Woody Woodpecker Song”, has died at age 90 in California. Babbitt was a member of the Kyser’s band from 1938 to about 1949 and appeared in seven movies alongside the bandleader. This BBC News article exaggerates Babbit’s role in relation to Woody, but Babbit’s laugh is indeed heard in the Lantz cartoon WET BLANKET POLICY (1948).

NEW BOOKS

al brodaxanimatedI went to the Samuel French Bookshop today – still the best book store in L.A. for the latest books on Cinema, TV and animation – and found three new books on animation. I bought only one of them, and I haven’t read that one yet – but here’s what I found:
Goodness Gracious- Al Broadax wrote a book! UP PERISCOPE YELLOW: THE MAKING OF YELLOW SUBMARINE (Limelight Editions) might be interesting – but it didn’t look so good when I flipped through it. In fact, it looked mighty disappointing compared with Robert Hieronimus’ INSIDE THE YELLOW SUBMARINE (2002, Krause Publications). And not one mention of Snuffy Smith or Beetle Bailey! I welcome readers reviews to set me straight.nickelodeonAnother loser, was ANIMATED FILMS (Virgin Books) by James Clarke. This was a random collection of essays on various “significant” animated features – with an emphasis on anime. Ho-hum!The one I purchased was NICKELODEON NATION (New York University Press) edited by Heather Hendershot, a collection of interesting essays by the likes of Linda Simensky, Mark Langer and Kevin Sandler on various aspects of the pioneering kids channel. Looks substantial and I look forward to actually reading it.

THIS WEEKEND

rayA reminder – if you are in Southern California this weekend:Friday April 23rd at 7:30pm – Ray Harryhausen will be at the Academy presenting five newly restored 35mm prints of his fairy tales – which he produced, directed and animated in the forties and fifties – with additional footage of abandoned projects and a panel discussion hosted by Leonard Maltin. Admission is only $5.00 for the general public. Check the Academy’s website for further details and ticket information.You can also catch Ray (and a SHREK 2 preview) on Sunday in Pasadena at Bruce Schwartz’s monthly Comic Book and Science Fiction Show.rayOn Saturday April 24th at 3pm at the AFI Campus in Hollywood is Asifa-Hollywood’s monthly screening – hosted by yours truly – A Tribute To UPA with 35mm prints (thank you Mike at Sony Pictures Repertory), Tee Bosustow and a panel discussion with UPA veterans – and rare video footage. Get the address here.

SONY-MGM?

It may fall through, by the AP is reporting that Sony is in talks to buy MGM.magoo and friendsWhat does that mean to us? Well it would combine the theatrical UPA libray with the DePatie-Freleng cartoons – as well as the Screen Gems (Scrappy, Fox & Crow), and a bunch of TV series from Dilbert and Real Ghostbusters to Mighty Orbots and Super President!Perhaps the basis of a (another) new animation channel? It would also return MGM to its historic Culver City backlot (which Sony now owns), but I digress…