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.”
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.
Stockholm’s freshest animation studio Filmtecknarna has created one of the most excellent music videos I’ve seen in a long while – “Take Me Out” – for the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand. It’s directed by Jonas Odell. The video, in addition to being highly entertaining, is jammed with all manner of references to early modernist art movements such as Dada, Surrealism and Constructivism; in one shot there’ll be a De Chirico-esque background, in the next a pulsating El Lissitzky-inspired construction. Says Odell from a studio press release, “The band referenced a lot of artists and groups of the DADA movement, and all this is stuff that I always loved, but never found a chance to incorporate in a project, so naturally this was a dream project to work on. I dived headlong into the sea of art history and emerged at the other side soaked in references, trying to figure out ways of turning this into a contemporary piece, but the wonderful thing about this period in art is that it does feel completely modern. It is all about the moment, and it still feels very ‘now.’” After you’re done seeing the video, check out more of the studio’s work at Filmtecknarna.com.
The wildly talented Ed Bell now has his own website at EdBell.net. Ed’s been working in animation since the days of Bakshi’s MIGHTY MOUSE: THE NEW ADVENTURES, and in the past few years he’s been up north directing some fine commercials for Wild Brain (Wrigley’s “Urban Hip Hopper,” Sprite’s “Voltron,” and Nike’s “Playa’s Delight”) as well as directing the Emmy-nominated live-action documentary UNCHAINED MEMORIES (HBO). If you want to experience more of his artistry, Ed’s going to debut a sketchbook in San Diego – a 64-page collection of sketches called GIRL BOOGIE which will be available exclusively at the Maverix Studios booth (D1/D2 inbetween rows 600 and 700). Maverix is a Bay Area collective of animation/comic book artists so show them some love while down in SD.
The fun starts in two days…Howard Green at Disney sent us this update on THE INCREDIBLES panel:
Pixar Animation Studios offers a sneak peek at its much-anticipated new computer-animated feature, “The Incredibles” (coming from Walt Disney Pictures on November 5th), as it spotlights the career and creative genius of Brad Bird.Join Brad (“The Iron Giant”), producer John Walker, and moderator Mark Cotta Vaz (author of The Art of Finding Nemo, etc.) as they discuss the filmmaking process and present the World Premiere of a scene from the film, along with other surprises. Those attending this presentation will receive an exclusive Comic-Con poster for “The Incredibles” designed by the legendary Mike Mignola. Mike and Brad will be on hand for a special limited signing immediately following the program. Other giveaway items too for those in attendance.
JimSmithCartoons.com!!! Need I say more. As California governor Schwarzenegger might say, this is most definitely not a website for “girlie men.” The site is just getting started and so far there’s a preview of Jim’s amazing new personal project called CHESTACLESE and info on how to order his sketchbook. You can also pick up his sketchbook in San Diego at the Asylum Press booth (#2103 in the IP Pavilion) where Jim will be signing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He’ll also be showing animated clips of CHESTACLESE. While there be sure to check out the comics of the talented Frank Forte who runs Asylum Press and is responsible for bringing Jim Smith on-line.