Swedish Eye Candy

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.

Ed Bell Boogie

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 INCREDIBLES AT COMIC CON

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.

Cartoons for Men

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.

Saul Bass in London

This past weekend, the Design Museum in London opened an exhibition about designer Saul Bass (running through October 10). The retrospective presents a look at his entire career, but focuses on how Bass “transformed the film title into an art form.” Bass was responsible for many classic film titles including ANATOMY OF A MURDER, VERTIGO and WEST SIDE STORY, as well as the animated closing credits to AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. The museum’s website is DesignMuseum.org.

NICKTOONS FILM FESTIVAL

nick film festThis just in: Frederator Studios and Animation Magazine are joining forces to present The Nicktoons Film Festival, a showcase of independent cartoon filmmaking by animators from around the globe. Fred Seibert, President of Frederator Studios will serve as Executive Producer of the Festival; Rita Street, Publisher of Animation Magazine and Eric Homan, VP of Creative Affairs for Frederator Studios will be the Festival Producers.Animators can download entry forms on nicktoons.com starting today and entries will be accepted through Sept. 10. Submissions should be “animated shorts no longer than 7 minutes that combine a unique look, great character designs and a funny plot.”A selection of shorts chosen by a pre-selection jury will broadcast on
Nicktoons as part of a 13-episode compilation series launching this fall. One winner will be chosen by a grand jury and awarded a $10,000. prize.

Biskup & Baseman in San Diego

What, you say you’re still not sick of SD Con news and want more? On Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1-2 pm and on Sunday from 3:30-4:30 pm, Gary Baseman will be signing copies of his new book DUMB LUCK at the Chronicle Books booth (#1360). Sunday, at the Dark Horse booth (#2715), Tim Biskup will be signing copies of his new book 100 PAINTINGS from 3-3:30 pm. And on Saturday you can kill two birds with one stone and get both Baseman and Biskup at the Super 7 booth (#4623) from 2-3 pm. Super 7′s Neo-Kaiju Project signing will also include Seonna Hong and Todd & Kathy Schorr.

Dice Tsutsumi

Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi is a talented designer/color stylist who has been working for the past few years on Blue Sky’s upcoming animated feature ROBOTS. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dice for the book THE ART OF ROBOTS, but didn’t realize he had a site until last night. His website, SimpleStroke.com, has many fine examples of his paintings and sketches and is well worth a visit. He can also do some pretty amazing things with Photoshop. You’ll be able to see much more of his work in the ROBOTS book which will be out in January.

TV CRITICS SEE PRIDE

The Television Critics Association meets twice a year in LA to screen new TV shows in advance and meet the stars involved. Aaron Barnhart at TV BARN writes about the presentation on NBC’s FATHER OF THE PRIDE:

The late Gene Siskel used to follow a rule of thumb when judging a bad movie: Would he rather watch a documentary with the filmmakers talking about their movie?I thought of that last weekend when NBC had us watch a screening of “Father of the Pride.” This is the network’s other new sitcom, the one not spun off from “Friends.” It features computer-generated likenesses of the Las Vegas animal tamers Siegfried and Roy interacting with the family of animated lions who live behind their hotel. I sat in the second row, directly behind Carl Reiner, the legendary comedian who voices one of the lions. Reiner roared on the screen and in his seat. His enthusiasm, and that of his co-stars, made up for the critics, most of whom sat through the screening stone-faced.Afterward, the cast assembled on stage and was about to take questions when Reiner, who had a wedding to get to, stood up and yelled into his clip mike, “I’m going to take that as an opportunity to say everything I want to say!” So he interviewed himself. “The question was asked many times before: ‘Why are you doing this?’ You know, I’m 83 years old. Why do I have to bother? … I have a feeling this is historic for television. If anybody disagrees with me here, you’re wrong!”As Reiner stepped off stage, John Goodman, who voices another lion, stood up and declared, “I have a bris that I’m late for.” But Goodman stayed. Squeezed into his chair, he mugged and shrugged and got big laughs from the critics. I know I wasn’t the only one wishing someone would televise him instead of “Father of the Pride.” (As it turns out, he’s also starring in a non-animated CBS comedy called, confusingly enough, “Center of the Universe.”)Later that day Keith Marder, an affable publicist at the WB network who also moonlights as a joke writer, joked “Who’s going to watch Siegfried & Roy? The tigers don’t even like them anymore.”

Alvin Lustig

I’m a big fan of the work of mid-century designer Alvin Lustig, but it’s difficult to come across examples of his work. That’s why I was pleased to discover this ARTICLE by Lustig’s widow Elaine Lustig Cohen on “Alvin Lustig’s Top Ten Designs” with, you guessed it, ten examples of his work. Looking at his work, like the FORTUNE cover in the above article, it’s difficult not to conclude that animation designers were influenced by his work in the Fifties. Lustig also has a small, albeit significant, connection to the animation world. In the mid-Forties he designed two logos for United Productions of America including the studio’s famous primary-colored ovals with the studio letters – U.P.A. – inside of each.

2004 POLITICAL ANIMATION

retroIn addition to the hilarious Jibjab.com This Land Is Your Land webtoon making the rounds, is this clever 7 minute 30s-style black & white cartoon, “Brother Can You Spare a Job?” by Tom Neely and Greg Saunders. The short version (30 seconds) of this film was a “Best Animation” finalist in MoveOn.org’s “Bush in 30 Seconds” contest. This new full-length version is packed with the same Max Fleisher, Chuck Jones and Charlie Chaplin inspiration and style.Neely and Saunders will be at the comic con this week, selling the cartoon on dvd ($6 to cover the production costs) and giving away posters at booth #1620.

Enrico & Ronnie in San Diego

One booth where I’ll be plunking down some cold, hard cash is that which belongs to Ronnie del Carmen and Enrico Casarosa (booth #1422). Their boundless energy for pursuing their own projects while holding down full-time gigs at Pixar is inspiring, not to mention that the personal work they publish is consistently top notch. Among their new offerings at the San Diego Comic con, Ronnie will debut PAPER BISCUIT #2, a 40-page comic featuring his charming character Nina, while Enrico will bring his new art book FRAGMENTS: INTERMEZZO and the second issue of THE ADVENTURES OF MIA. Enrico was kind enough to send over a copy of the new MIA and dare I say it’s even more impressive than the first issue. The elements that remain from the earlier MIA are his beautiful panel composition and cinematic sensibility, as well as his sensitive ink-and-wash style, but this second issue also adds to the mix an exciting WWII-era story with a cliffhanger ending that left me eager to find out what happens next. And while there is plenty of action in the issue, Enrico never misses an opportunity for character development. A superb example is in the middle of a chase sequence where as the spy is being pursued by the military, he stops to discard a cigarette that he’s smoking. This thoughtful attention to detail and character is a big reason why MIA #2 is such an enjoyable read and why I can’t wait for future issues.

STEPHEN SILVER AT THE CON

kim possibleThis blog is turing into a giant plug for various events and booths at the San Diego Comic Con. Someday we are going to have to start accepting paid advertising (hint, hint).Here’s one more: Stephen Silver will be selling his book The Art of Silver at his booth #2202 – and will be doing a slideshow lecture THE ART OF SILVER: ANIMATION CHARACTER DESIGN on Thursday, July 22 from 1-2:30pm in Room 7B. He’s one of the best, so this should be a great lecture.

COOL CATS

red tangoI had a wonderful time on Friday at the grand opening party of Toby Bluth and Dave Kuhn’s new character animation studio, CAAT Studios in North Hollywood. I wish them a lot of luck – they have incredible talent, fantastic ideas, an amazing studio and a great team of people on board.While there I ran into another cool “cat”, Cynthia Petrovic, the creator of RED TANGO, a product line based on her designs, and the webmaster of Tangoland.com. I’ve written about Petrovic before, she’s an ex-Disney, ex-Klasky (and ex-other studios) animator, artist & hyphenate who decided to create her own business, based on her own ideas and art. And she’s succeeding at it. Her website is a lot of fun and her products are neat. In an era when character animators are scrambling to find a position, Petrovic has used her head and found a nice niche for her ample talents.

STILL MORE COMIC CON PLUGS

BREW Co-editor Jerry Beck has two more comic con highlights to plug:teen titans#1 Wonderful World of Animation Art gallery (booth #215) along with Clampett Studio Collections will welcome the top voice talents from the popular Batman, Justice League of America, and Teen Titan cartoon series on Saturday July 24th, from 1:30-3:30pm for an exclusive two-hour authorized signing event. Scheduled to attend are ADRIENNE BARBEAU (Catwoman), KEVIN CONROY (Batman), SUSAN EISENBERG, (Wonder Woman), PHIL LAMARR (Green Lantern), SCOTT MENVILLE (Robin), GEORGE NEWBERN (Superman), TARA STRONG (Batgirl) and NICHOLLE TOM (Supergirl).plankton#2 SpongeBob SquarePants writer and voice of Plankton and Larry Lobster, Mr. Lawrence, will sign cels on Sun. July 25th from 11:00 -12:30 PM at a special Nickelodeon booth (check with booth #215 for details).Needless to say, there are literally too many things of interest for fans of animation, comic books and motion pictures at this mega-event. My head is already spinning…

HOW TO ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND

The more things change, the more they remain the same.Back in the 1970s, animation fans waited impatiently, for many long tortuous months, for a new edition of Mike Barriers FUNNYWORLD. Today with the internet, we have the advantage of being able to read Barrier’s articles and opinions online at anytime. But now we have to wait several months for Mike to update his website.Well Mike updated it today. He’s just back from a trip to Europe with observations on Disneyland Paris, additional corrections to his Carl Barks research, and a nice letter from Steve Worth about Art Babbit.Good to have you back Mike!

How To ruin Your Weekend

Here’s a link to the SHARK TALE trailer where Jeffrey Katzenberg enthralls audiences with a fish who does an impression of MC Hammer and a story that parodies THE GODFATHER. Will Smith replaces Eddie Murphy as the obligatory fast-talking street smart black character. Katzenberg is slipping though. Where’s the slo-mo MATRIX fight scene parody? That, and any semblance of entertainment, are the only two thing lacking from the trailer.

Amid’s Con Plans

comic conBrew co-editor Jerry Beck has certainly plugged the San Diego Comic Con enough times already, but it won’t hurt to mention once more that the complete Con programming schedule has been posted HERE. Below is my own personal list of programs that I’d like to check out. You can also find out what MUCHA LUCHA creators Lili Chin and Eddie Mort are planning to see HERE and Jerry’s plans HERE.

THURSDAY
5:30-7:00 Spotlight on Bill Plympton Room 8 (also Bill’s new film HAIR HIGH is well worth checking out on Saturday evening)

FRIDAY

1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Sid Jacobson Room 3
1:00-2:30 Spotlight on Chuck McCann Room 5AB
2:30-3:30 Disney/Pixar: The Incredibles Room 20
3:00-4:00 TOKYOPOP with Lupin III creator Monkey Punch Room 2
3:00-4:00 Why We Love Peanuts Room 3 (hosted by Gary Groth, with Gilbert Hernandez, Chip Kidd and Jean Schulz)
4:00-5:00 Remembering Bob Clampett Room 8 (hosted by Mark Evanier, with Jerry Beck, Milt Gray, Ruth Clampett, and Leo Sullivan)
5:00-6:00 Pervasive Art: Gary Baseman Room 7B
6:00-7:00 Tom Sito: The Animation Strikes Room 7B (this is a topic that fascinates me and I believe Tom’s currently working on a book about the same subject)

SATURDAY
4:30-6:00 Birth of A Nation: Hollywood, Comics and Black Culture Room 9 (with Aaron McGruder, Reginald Hudlin, Kyle Baker, Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan)
6:00-7:00 Developing an Animated Property Room 2 (moderated by Jon Gibson, with a line-up including Gabe Swarr, Dave Wasson, Jorge Gutierrez, Doug TenNapel, Heather Kenyon and Eric Coleman)

Also here’s something of a late development. Nickelodeon recently asked me if I’d moderate the panel previewing their new action-packed animated series AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (Saturday, 1-2 pm). I saw the pilot a few months ago and enjoyed it quite a bit so I’m pleased to come on board for the panel. I’m looking forward to chatting with the creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, as well as other folks involved with the show. Join us in Room 8 on Saturday for a screening of the pilot and a discussion about this very different type of Nick cartoon.

MORE COMIC CON NOTES

Two more events of interest have been brought to our attention:DreamWorks Animation will have a booth (#4321) which will screen first-look footage from “Shark Tale,” “Father of the Pride,” “Madagascar,” “The Wallace and Gromit Movie,” and “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.” Representatives from DreamWorks will also be doing mini portfolio reviews and taking reels from 10:00AM to 12:00PM and from 2:00PM to 4:00PM on both Friday, July 23rd and Saturday, July 24th in Comic-Con’s Portfolio Review Area.On Thursday (7/22) at 4:30-5:30 in Room 6AB, a panel and preview of Comedy Central’s Drawn Together an animated “reality” series tells the “true story of eight diverse cartoon characters from all over the animated universe who live together under the same roof and have their lives taped”. Matt Silverstein, Dave Jeser, and Pete Avanzino will be on the panel. It sounds like a fun series, with characters such as “Captain Hero,” a Saturday morning super hero of the 70′s; “Clara,” a naive fairy-tale princess; “Toot,” a black & white heart throb from the 20′s; and “Spanky Ham,” a foul-mouthed Internet download pig.San Diego Comic Con

FLEISCHER POPEYE PENCIL TEST

FOX has just scheduled the all-new half-hour CGI special “Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy” for telecast on Sunday, Dec. 19. King Features has placed all it’s bets on this 3-D TV-DVD special to renew the public’s interest in its Popeye franchise.popeye pencilsIf they only understood that if they allowed the re-release of the original Paramount classic cartoons, the public would re-discover the original charm of the animated characters – a charm that made Popeye a sensation in the 1930s and again in the late 1950s.For those of you want to see how Popeye should be animated, here’s some eye candy for ya: A group of original pencil animation drawings from the Max Fleischer Popeye cartoon SOCK-A-BYE BABY (1934) have been collected and are flashed sequentially at this website.

BRANDO-PALOOZA

brandoNot since Orson Welles performed the voice of a planet (in the 1986 animated feature Transformers: The Movie) has an actors final performance been so embarrassing.Shortly before his recent passing, Marlon Brando voiced Mrs. Sour (see image at right) in BIG BUG MAN – an absolutely awful-looking hand drawn animated film about a candy factory worker (Brendan Fraser) who gets superpowers after insects bite him, set for release in 2006. Apparently Brando did it wearing a blond wig and a dress, with full makeup and white gloves, according to writer/co-director Bob Bendetson. “I guess it was part of his Method training or something,” Bendetson said.See a CNN report on this film here (Quicktime required) or read more about it here.

MY COMIC CON PLANS

comic conThe San Diego Comic Con is so huge (80,000+ people expected this year), so overwhelming, so impossible to meet up with friends that I’m posting the list a panels I will try to attend so you can find me if you want…I will be hanging my hat on the convention floor at the Asifa-Hollywood table which is booth 5374 (across from the TokyoPop display). I cannot guarantee that I’ll stick to this schedule, but based on the advance programming scheduled posted on the comic con website – here’s what I hope to see:THURSDAY
2:30 GOLDEN & SILVER AGE PANEL – Room 8
3:00 COMIC CON’S 35th YEAR – Room 1B or…
3:00 – FREAKS & GEEKS REUNION – Room 6ab
4:40 – CFQ SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW Room 6CDEF
6:00 – HISTORY OF U.S. ANIME – Room 7FRIDAY
11:00 – JACK ADLER – Room 8
1:00 – I’m interviewing SID JACOBSON – Room 3
1:00 – CHUCK McCANN – Room 5ab (I’m pissed I will miss the first hour of this…)
2:30 – THE INCREDIBLES & BRAD BIRD – Room 20
3:00 – CARTOON NETWORK PREVIEW – Room 6ab
4:00 – BOB CLAMPETT TRIBUTE (I’m on the panel) – Room 8
6:00 – TOM SITO on ANIMATION STRIKES – Room 7b
6:00 – THE INKWELL (new fanboy TV show) Room 9
9:00 – LADY DEATH screening (I predict I will skip this)super friendsSATURDAY
12:30 – Fred Ladd & GIGANTOR – Room 2
3:00 – SKY CAPTAIN & TEAM AMERICA preview (two movies I’m dying to see) – Hall H
5:30 – CARTOON NETWORK ADULT SWIM PANEL – Room 6ab
6:00 – ANIMATION DEVELOPMENT PANEL Room 2
8:30 – WORST CARTOON EVER (My screening!) – Room 6ab
10:00 – HAIR HIGH (Bill Plympton’s latest film) – Room 6abSUNDAY
Before I leave, I’ll check out the dealers room in the morning and juggle these:
1:00 – JOHNNY DC (DC’s kids comics panel) – Room 3
1:00 – JOSS WHEDON (Buffy creator) – Room 20
1:30 – TEACHER’S PET PANEL (Gary Baseman and co.) – Room 5ab
These panels are just the tip of the iceberg, and I reserve the right to change my mind and just sit in room 8 or 6AB the entire con. I’m already exhausted! Hope to see you there!