A reminder that tomorrow at UCLA is a screening of silent era cartoon rareties.On Sunday August 1st at 2pm: A TREASURY OF SILENT ANIMATION. This program will include rare animation by Hugh Harman and Ub Iwerks, Earl Hurd and Lyman Howe, and “lost” subjects by pioneers Emile Cohl and Max Fleischer as well as surviving fragments by Paul Terry and J. Stuart Blackton. A partial list of the program includes:
THEATRE DE HULA HULA (1917)
LES METAMORPHOSES COMIQUES (1912) Directed by Emile Cohl
INDOOR SPORTS (1921) Animation: William C. Nolan.
JOYS AND GLOOMS (1921) Animation: John C. Terry.
FELIX THE CAT WEATHERS THE WEATHER (1926)
SICK CYLINDERS (1926) An “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” cartoon.
THE WANDERING TOY (1928) “Lyman H. Howe’s Hodge-Podge.”
JIMMY GETS THE PENNANT (1917)
KOKO PACKS UP (1925) Directed by Dave Fleischer
DEEP SEA DIVING (1925) Red Seal Pictures.
ANIMATED HAIR CARTOON, NO. 21 (1927) Directed by Sid Marcus.
A MODERN MOTHER GOOSE (1924) Issue No. 1 of the Fleischer “Funshop” series.
KOKO’S QUEST(1927) Directed by Dave Fleischer. And surviving segments from films known and unknown, including early Vitagraph subjects, “Bobby Bumps,” “Aesop’s Film Fables,” “Mutt and Jeff” and other cartoon series.
This program is presented by Hugh M. Hefner and introduced by UCLA Archivist Jere Guldin. Also check out the entire schedule HERE.
Nobody should have this much free time to play with Legos.
After Fox passed on the BOONDOCKS pilot, it became unclear which channel would pick up the show. The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER confirms that the new home of the animated series will be Cartoon Network. It’s likely being slated for the “Adult Swim” block.
Radio talk show host Alex Bennett interviewed cartoon voice actor Billy West back in April on Sirius satellite radio – and now it’s on the web here.(Thanks to Ben Varkentine for the link)
Brew reader Dean Kendrick directed me to his website and his animation – and I feel it’s worth bringing to the attention to the rest of our readers.Kendrick has been creating award winning independent animation for over a decade now – short gag films, music videos, as well as experimental, avant garde, and non-narrative pieces that are fun to watch. Most are 2-D, but some employ live action pixilation with super 8 film or are made on “toys” like Fisher Price Pixelvision and Mattel’s Optigan. Dean is also behind the alternative musical group The Irritants. It’s good stuff.
Just a reminder that this Saturday afternoon I’ll be hosting a retrospective of Leonard Glasser’s animated films at the American Film Institute (2021 N. Western Ave, Hollywood, CA). All of the films we’ll be screening are extremely difficult to see nowadays so don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience Len’s distinctive and hilarious style of filmmaking. Len started in animation at Terrytoons working on TOM TERRIFIC, and shortly thereafter he designed Ernie Pintoff’s award-winning shorts THE OLD MAN AND THE FLOWER and THE INTERVIEW, both of which we’ll be showing on Saturday. In the early-’60s, he started his own studio, Stars & Stripes Productions Forever, where he produced some of the funniest and most imaginative animated commercials of the Sixties and Seventies. In addition to the Pintoff shorts, the screening will include a lot of TV commercials, Glasser’s own animated short HOWARD, the industrial film SAFETY SHOES which surely ranks as one of the goofiest industrials ever made, and the X-rated animation sequence from the 1971 cult classic THE TELEPHONE BOOK (“the unrecognized predecessor of the X-rated animations like HEAVY TRAFFIC and SINE” says SLEAZOID EXPRESS magazine). Len will be present at the screening for a Q-&-A following the films where he’ll talk about his cartoons and also discuss projects he’s working on nowadays. For more info, see the ASIFA-Hollywood website.
Jackson Beck (no relation to ye Brewmaster), the Voice of Bluto, Brutus, the narrator of radio’s (and Filmation’s) Superman, Buzzy the Crow, King Leonardo,and numerous voice overs in everything from TV commercials to Woody Allen’s Take The Money And Run has passed away at age 92.My favorite Jackson Beck performance is that of the suburbanite who brings home a man-eating cannibal from a jungle expedition in Famous Studio’s 1958 cartoon CHEW CHEW BABY. He narrates the entire cartoon as good ‘ol boy who shows “Chew Chew” all around Cincinnatti, blissfully unaware that the cannibal is eating all his friends around him. I also enjoyed Beck’s many roles on the Superman radio show – from narrator, to gangsters to office boy “Beanie”, Beck was the true star of that show.I met him once, in his apartment, where he threw a party for Sid Raymond (this was in 1995). Because we shared last names we discussed the possibility of being related, but I was happy just to meet the man and tell him how much I enjoyed his work. He was a gentleman and a wonderful guy.His Newsday obit
The BEANY AND CECIL SPECIAL EDITION DVD from a few years back is selling for the ridiculously low price of $3.99 on Amazon. No Clampett fan should be without this excellent volume, and at this price there’s no excuse for any animation fan not to have their own copy. [Updated 5:13 pm: Amazon has raised the price of the DVD back to $9.99. Still a good deal but it's no $3.99.]
Less than a month ago I saw the two-reel Fleischer cartoon POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINDBAD THE SAILOR (1936) for the first time. I didn’t think much of it upon this initial viewing, but now realize that may have had more to do with the faded, muddy public domain video copy I saw rather than the quality of the cartoon itself. That’s because a few nights ago I saw a restored 35mm print on the big screen of said cartoon and it was a radically different experience. The animation, the humor, the artwork, everything was pitch-perfect on this second viewing. The “3-D” sets, hardly distinguishable from the painted BGs on the videotape, were jaw-droppingly cool when seen on a grand scale, especially Sindbad’s cave, which radiated wicked fluorescent colors. This was the first public screening of the restored edition and hopefully it’ll receive many more screenings so audiences can enjoy this classic cartoon as it was meant to be seen. While on the subject of everybody’s preferred cartoon sailor, the prodigiously talented animation director Oscar Grillo has been emailing over some wild Popeye drawings during the past week and he’s agreed to let me share a few of them with Cartoon Brew readers. Click on each of the thumbnails for the larger version and enjoy!
Here’s a couple fanboy-ish projects which are commendable for their attention to detail and thoroughness. The Guide to Springfield USA is an exceedingly detailed map of the Simpsons’ hometown, and places different buildings according to where they appear in relationship to each other in specific episodes of THE SIMPSONS. Not to be outdone is The Don Martin Dictionary which compiles every sound effect used by Martin in his MAD MAGAZINE strips. (Martin link via Boing Boing)
At the San Diego Comic-Con last week, Matt Groening revealed that in an upcoming SIMPSONS episode, one of the characters will come out of the closet and take part in a gay marriage. In the episode, Homer becomes an ordained minister over the ‘Net and begins performing gay marriages. Timely cartoon indeed,
but I doubt it’ll out-gay the new batch of REN & STIMPY episodes premiering August 20th on Spike TV. [Updated 7/29: John K. wrote to inform me that there is no gay humor in the new batch of REN & STIMPY episodes and seeing as how he's the director, he probably knows best about these type of things.]
I’ve only bought one DVD so far. REN & STIMPY: THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS will be my second purchase.
I had a great time at the San Diego Comic Con this year.The convention is so big, so massive, so overwhelming – it’s like an annual World’s Fair of pop culture that has to be experienced in person for full effect. No written con report or video tapes, nor still photos or blogs can really capture the excitement of being part of this subculture that has slowly-but-surely taken over a specific city, Hollywood and perhaps the entire world.I attended my first comic book convention at age 13, in 1968: the Phil Seuling New York Comic Con. And I’ve been to at least one (sometimes several) major comic book convention every year ever since. My first San Diego Comic Con was at the El Cortez Hotel in 1977 – the year Star Wars came out.I’ve proudly watched San Diego grow into a monster. Last year it finally felt “too big” for me. So this year, I planned to make the con my own. My version of the convention was completely different than my friends.Sid & meThe convention is like a 20 screen multiplex with different programming on each for every hour of the day. You have to program the con yourself. This year I did that and had a great time. Sure I missed half of Mark Evanier’s terrific panels, I didn’t attend the Cartoon Network party, and I couldn’t see the Lucasfilm presentations – but I had my own convention and it was great.Con highlights: my interview Harvey Comics editor Sid Jacobson, finding out stories behind the Harvey brothers, Paramount & Famous Studios and who all the Casper/Richie writers and artists were. This was taped for posterity by the comic con (I don’t have a copy – don’t ask), so hopefully historians will be able to view this in the future.I also really enjoyed the movie preview panels – more than I thought I would. Robert Rodriquez’ film of Frank Miller’s SIN CITY looks amazing. It’s almost an experimental film, in stark black & white (with flashes of red), it’s literally Miller’s graphic novel in live action… similiarly SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is a film I know I will love – but, based on the clips I saw, I fear the mainstream audience will not “get it”. It’s like the greatest 1937 Republic serial ever made – sort of a Captain Midnight meets Tailspin Tommy meets Spy Smasher – using state of the art technology to achieve the same effects Universal had 65 years ago with simple “rear-screen” projection and miniatures. I can’t wait to see the whole film. It looks great to me.A scene from
Team AmericaTwo films really blew me away: First, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE looks like it will be the funniest film of the year. It is a spoof of Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet “Super-Marionation” TV puppet shows, but with great acting (puppeteering?) and a South Park mindset – about a team of American super agents who chase terrorists around the globe. The villian is North Korea’s Kim Jong-il (think “Dr. Daka”, from the 1943 Batman serial, with Cartman’s voice) who, in a hilarious clip screened, does away with weapon’s inspector Hans Blix by sending him into a shark tank. This had me screaming with laughter. Matt & Trey said they had the begining of the film and the end of the film written and shot – but they are making up the middle as they go along (not unlike the way they create South Park on a weekly basis).A scene from
The IncrediblesThe other film that blew everyone away was the footage from Pixar’s THE INCREDIBLES. It was incredible. Brad Bird came down and showed two clips – both were hilarious. The first was an action sequence (Mr. Incredible versus a robot) which was both funny, thrilling and eye-popping. The character designs and action push the boundries once again – and it’s easy to predict that this film will continue Pixar’s winning streak at the box office.I also had fun at the WGA Animation Writers party, the Apatoons breakfast, Mark Evanier’s Chuck McCann spotlight, my Worst Cartoons screening, a panel on the history of the San Diego Comic Con and numerous other panels, dinners and seeing friends I usually only run into once a year on the dealers room floor.And I met many Brew readers who said hello – and encouraged us to continue. Thank you all. And if I didn’t see you there this year – let’s get together next year.
Mike Barrier has announced that he’s starting a regularly updated blog on his website MichaelBarrier.com. I’m looking forward to reading his insightful, often provocative, comments about animation and comics on a more frequent basis. New to Mike’s site is an update of his Europe trip journal, with an entry about Zermatt, Switzerland and the city’s connection to Walt Disney. Also added is a none too complimentary review of SHREK 2. I have to give Mike credit though: he was brave enough to actually sit through the entire film. Even the chance to see it for free hasn’t been enough to lure me into the multiplex for this Katzenberg gem.
Spumco has posted numerous clips (RealPlayer required) from the upcoming three all-new episodes of REN & STIMPY (returning to Spike TV on Friday August 20 at 12:00pm). Be warned: some of these clips are not suitable for children! Check ‘em out here .
While cartoonist-types don’t often appear on late-night talkshows, this evening’s THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO will feature an appearance by JibJab.com co-founders Gregg and Evan Spiridellis. Their Web animation site has been around for quite a few years, but they’ve shot to a new level of fame in the past few weeks with their biting political short THIS LAND.
This is a great INTERVIEW with Bill Plympton where he talks about his latest films – HAIR HIGH and GUARD DOG, as well as numerous other topics. On the subject of why more animators don’t go independent, Bill has this to say: “And what surprises me is that more people don’t do it, because it’s really not that difficult; as long as you keep your films short, keep the film funny and keep it cheap, you can do it.”
It’s a shame they don’t make movie posters like THESE or THESE for animated shorts nowadays. Oh, I forgot, they also don’t make shorts anymore.
(Thanks to Oscar Grillo for the link)
While USA TODAY is often criticized for being written at a fifth-grade reading level, the intelligence of its reporters is apparently at an even lower level. In this ARTICLE about DreamWorks Animation’s decision to spin off into a separate publicly traded company, there’s this gem of a line: “The SEC filing gives the public a first thorough look at the finances of the biggest part of the privately held company famous for computer-animated hits including SHREK, ANTZ and CHICKEN RUN.” Tomorrow USA TODAY is publishing a piece on the third quarter financial results of McDonald’s, or as they like to call it, “That fried chicken restaurant.” But that’s nothing compared to their story next week about Apple Computer and how the company revolutionized the world with its Windows software.
(Thanks to Fred Patten for the tip)
As expected, the attendence and enormity of this Comic-Con is overwhelming.Yesterday I enjoyed Mark Evanier’s panel featuring Golden Age and Silver Age artists, writers and editors, then sat in on an intriguing panel about the origins of the San Diego Comic-Con itself, caught a few minutes of the FREAKS & GEEKS panel, and attended a panel on the origins of anime in the U.S. – but I blew everything else off my schedule later that day to explore the twelve-acre dealers’ room. Stuart Ng’s book booth is a jaw-dropper. If you are at the Con and reading this, find booth #1030 for an incredible collection of rare books of interest to cartoon and comic art fans.Sensory overload has already set in. Today I interview Sid Jacobson (Harvey Comics) and sit in on a panel tribute to Bob Clampett. More when I get back on Monday.
I have no powerbook and no digital camera… but I’m on my way to the San Diego Comic Con this morning and have no idea when or if I can blog from there. Hopefully they have an internet cafe nearby or a “business center” in my hotel. That is, if I can get away from all the panels, dealers room, parties and dinners I have planned. If you are coming to the con, hopefully we’ll run into you somewhere. Here are Jerry’s plans and Amid’s plans – feel free to tell us how much you like Cartoon Brew (we need the encouragement) and have a great weekend!
More details to come, but here’s an early heads up: On September 7th and 8th at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, John K. will appear in person and program two days of animated cartoons.On Tuesday Septemer 7th, John will present a retrospective of classic Spumco – including “director’s cuts” of some of his most infamous Ren & Stimpy and Mighty Mouse cartoons. John will explain the painful process of working with network executives, explain in-jokes and answer audience questions.On Wednesday night September 8th, John will introduce and discuss the classic Hollywood cartoons that have influenced him and his work. This will include many surprising choices, including animated films from Lantz, Terry, Avery, Jones, Fleischer and of course a heaping dose of Clampett.I will have more information about these two evenings of animated bliss as we get closer. I just wanted you to mark the dates on your calender now. It’s going to be fun!
After the Comic-con, on Monday night (7/26) at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, there will be the first public screening of the restored Max Fleischer’s two reel Technicolor cartoon, POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINDBAD THE SAILOR (1936), an incredible 35mm print with the original titles.The admission is $5., they will also be running a 35mm print of the Our Gang short BORED OF EDUCATION (1936) and the feature film, ANTHONY ADVERSE (1936).
They say the showtime is 7:30pm, but they usually run the feature at that time. They run the shorts prior to that, so if you are coming, I urge you to be there by 6:45pm. For more info on this program, go here. And I’ll see you there Monday night.
I’m off to San Diego this morning. I’ll have my Apple Powerbook in tow so I may end up doing a photo-blog from the convention. Then again, there’s a good chance I won’t be updating until early next week. In either case, I’m looking forward to meeting Cartoon Brew readers in SD. Also remember to check out the AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER panel that I’ll be moderating on Saturday from 1-2 pm (room 8) with show creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Should be a fine week. As long as you don’t buy cheese from illegal street vendors. (Thanks to Mark Evanier for that last bit of wisdom)
Genius or stupidity? That’s what was going through my mind when I saw Pes’ film ROOF SEX last month, which you can see online HERE. Now I’ve found Pes’ website – EatPes.com – where there are plenty more examples of his work and against my better instincts, I’m leaning towards genius. There’s just something incredibly appropriate about a 20-second film called DROWNING NUT which simply shows a peanut drowning in peanut butter. The concept is pure and efficient and the execution is perfect. Nike can hand over millions to ad agencies, but they still won’t get anything as inspired as Pes’ “Wild Horses Redux” spot, which actually appropriated the soundtrack from a pre-existing Nike commercial. The intricate object animation of the longer works like PEE-NUT and KABOOM! is also quite impressive and wholly unique.With so much debate nowadays over pencils vs. CGI, it’s easy to forget that animation is an incredibly rich medium full of possibilities, and in the area of peanut animation, nobody tops Pes.
I mentioned Saul Bass here yesterday and if there’s another film title designer who can hold his own against Bass it’s Pablo Ferro. He is perhaps best known for his quirky hand-lettering style and quick-cut techniques as exemplified in DR. STRANGELOVE and the split-screen techniques that he developed for THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. At Design Observer, Michael Bierut pens an appreciation of Ferro’s latest title work for the indie film NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Bierut’s closing thought about Ferro’s work on the DYNAMITE titles should ring as true for animation artists as it does for those in the design world:
In an age where computer-generated this and special effects that are within the reach of anyone who can afford a copy of Final Cut Pro, it takes real restraint, not to mention confidence, to stick with a simple idea, simply executed.
It's also interesting to note that Ferro comes from an animation background. He started working at New York animation studios in the early-Fifties at shops like Elektra, Academy, and Gifford Kim, as well as starting his own outfit Ferro, Mogubgub & Schwartz. Ferro credits his animation training for teaching him the value of each individual frame, a concept which became crucial when he began developing his quick-cut techniques. Here’s an ARTICLE by Steven Heller examining Ferro’s career and here is Ferro’s own WEBSITE which is packed with film clips and articles.