Recent Animation Books

Chris F. writes to ask if I ever heard of the book/DVD set, FLIPS 7, which presents the work of some dozen-and-half modern animation studios from around the globe. I haven’t heard of the book, but it looks like something worth picking up. Here is the description of FLIPS from the publisher’s website:

FLIPS Book Seven focus on independent animators and production houses. It caters animators and those who are interested in animations. In this latest publication, some 17 individuals and studios from around the world have presented their latest works, including encompassing animated short films, TV commercials and music videos. The stirring line-up includes Shynola from London, Duck Soup Studios from Los Angeles, Devilrobots and Furi Furi Company from Japan, and many other up and coming design companies.

FLIPS sounds like part of a recent trend of book/DVD combos with a focus on non-mainstream animation which are being released by design publishers like IdN, Taschen and Harper Design International. Another recent title along these lines is ANIMATION NOW! which based from the preview posted on the Taschen site is something I’d really like to get my hands on when the book is released in September. There’s also ANIMATION UNLIMITED: INNOVATIVE SHORT FILMS SINCE 1940 by Liz Faber and Helen Walters which is a book I actually have. This one doesn’t focus on studios but rather fifty individual directors, offering a one-page bio of each filmmaker and then 1-5 pages of stills from one of that director’s films. There’s an impressive range of artists covered from experimental legends like Len Lye, Stan Brakhage and Oskar Fischinger, indie mainstays including Caroline Leaf, Frédéric Back and Paul Dreissen, and digital motion graphics by the likes of the Pleix collective and Dylan Kendle. As is the nature of independent animation, it can hardly be expected that anybody will enjoy the works of all the artists featured in the book, but it’s a nice introduction to many well known and obscure independent animators and serves as a starting point for further exploration of the independent scene.

Fur Sure

Animator turned self-publishing magnate, Michel Gagn&eacute files a REPORT from Anthrocon 2004, a major “furry” convention in Philadelphia. I’m not planning on attending one of these conventions anytime soon so it’s interesting to hear Michel’s outsider take on the proceedings. They apparently treat their guests of honor none too shabbily, picking them up in limos, housing them in top-floor hotel suites and feeding them nice dinners. The flip side is…well…just look at the pictures on his site. For folks who want to purchase Michel’s fine books and merchandise in a slightly less adventurous environment, they can see him at next week’s San Diego Comic-Con where Gagn&eacute International will be located at booth #1907.

Twisted Pride

Jonathan Groff, exec producer of the forthcoming NBC series FATHER OF THE PRIDE, explains why they’re producing the show in CG animation: “It lets us tell human stories and go further, I think, and do more with them than we could if we were just doing it with live actors.” According to this Zap2it article, the episode that NBC recently screened for critics went further than live-action by depicting the following: “…panda-on-panda loving, several graphic (if euphemistic) discussions of lion intercourse, a healthy dose of man-chimp passion and several jokes about the shame that comes from being an elephant in love with a turkey. Throw in a banjo-playing monkey who calls his wife a bitch and an assortment of language and images that would make an inanimate cartoon cel blush.” Between this and his SHREK franchise, it looks like Jeffrey Katzenberg is vying to become the John Kricfalusi of unappealing computer animation. (article link via Animated-News)

LESLIE CABARGA BUTTON

leslie pinLeslie Cabarga wrote THE FLESICHER STORY. Leslie Carbarga designs great fonts. (In fact he designed the Cartoon Brew logo above)grim pinAnd now you can buy a button to celebrate Leslie Cabarga – Dennis Kitchen has unearthed his 1975 series of “Famous Cartoonists” pinback buttons and put them back for sale online. Others in the series includes Grim Natwick, R. Crumb, Sergio Aragones, Harvey Kurtzman, Carl Barks, and Hugh Hefner. There is a total of 54 different buttons! Collect them all!

HELLO KITTY CATBOT

Be afraid. Be very afraid.A Hello Kitty robot is going on sale in November. Equipped with an ultra-sound sensor and camera, the mechanical Kitty can tell if anybody is approaching. It can call a person’s name and start chatting by sorting 20,000 patterns of pre-registered conversations and picking phrases it feels are best suited to the occasion. They hope to sell 2,000 robot cats this year, priced at around 400,000 yen (3,710 dollars), by mainly targeting women in their 30s who are among the cat’s biggest fans. (link via Boing Boing)

Ways Not To Earn Frequent Flyer Miles

In this NY TIMES article about FAMILY GUY’s Seth MacFarlane, he reveals that on September 11, 2001, he was booked on one of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center, but thanks to a dumb travel agent and a hangover, he missed the flight. And here’s a brief bit about SOUTH PARK creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who told Paramount that they’d attend this year’s San Diego Comic Con only if they’re flown to the convention center in a private helicopter, a request to which Paramount has agreed.

Presidential Material

Following up on Fred Crippen’s commercial for the Kennedy campaign which I mentioned a couple days ago, here’s a cool photo of Fred and friends at the bowling alley, presumably from election night 1960. Clockwise from top left: Pantomime sales rep Dick Reed, secretary (Fred can’t remember her name), animator/Pantomime co-owner John Marshall (he’s a relative of WB animator Rod Scribner), animator Ed Friedman, Pantomime producer/voice actor Paul Shively and Fred Crippen. Click on the image for a larger version.

SAMMY McKIM (1924-2004)

If I could be one person in Hollywood history, I think I’d like to be Sammy McKim.sammy mckimhaunted mansionWho? Sam McKim! He spent his childhood on the backlots of Republic and Columbia Pictures appearing in two dozen B-Westerns (with Charles Starret, Gene Autry and Ray “Crash” Corrigan) and four serials (including The Lone Ranger and Dick Tracy’s G-Men). After the war he pursued his love of art and became a artist for the Disney studio – mainly as one of the Imagineers, for 32 years (his conceptual paintings are among the most influential, and beautiful, for the Disney theme parks).What a career! Sadly, as Jim Hill notes today, McKim has passed away. I had my one and only chance to meet him earlier this year at Bill Justice’s birthday party. I asked him a lot of questions about making the serials… and what he thought about his boss, Walt Disney. He was in great spirits and I noted that looked like a double for Donald Rumsfeld (photo here)! But what a great guy.

Melbourne Animation Fest Thoughts

Russell Degnan has a nice REPORT from the Melbourne International Animation Festival with mini-reviews of the films and retrospective programs that he saw at the fest. He’s very thoughtfully divided up his film reviews into categories like “The Entertainers” and “The Bizarre But Brilliant”. Definitely worth a read, especially if you see a lot of short films. And his festival report reminds me, I should probably get around to posting some comments about the Zagreb Animation Festival.

Just another day at the office

A couple of electronic bugging devices were found in Michael Eisner’s Disney office last week, according to the anonymous LA blogger A Fly On The Wall. Upholstered furniture was also removed from Mikey’s office as a precautionary measure. More from the Fly:

Eisner routinely pays for a security sweep by electronics experts every few months out of his own pocket. This is the first time evesdropping bugs are believed to have been found.

The devices were analyzed by electronics experts and determined not to be the sort used by law enforcement authorities.

After some apparent internal disagreement, Disney officials decided not to alert the Burbank Police Department about the secrity breach…


Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy

Nearly every single US presidential television ad from 1952 to the present can be seen HERE. Noticeably there aren’t many animated commercials, except in 1952 when both Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson had cartoon spots. Poor Stevenson was getting bargain-basement animation, as evidenced by the hands of one of the characters which is screwed on backwards in the “Double Talk” spot. Also in 1960 there’s the John F. Kennedy spot which was produced by none other than UPA director/ROGER RAMJET creator Fred Crippen, who is the subject of a retrospective that I’m putting together for this year’s Ottawa Animation Festival. The story behind the ad is that Fred and some co-workers had decided to create a spot for Adlai Stevenson’s 1960 run against Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and others at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. They put the ad on a loop and took it down to the Memorial Sports Arena where at night they projected it against the side of the building. They hadn’t been commissioned by Adlai’s campaign to do this, but were merely ardent Stevenson fans who wanted to show their support for him. The ad was something of a hit, and while Stevenson lost the Democratic nomination, some of Kennedy’s people who had seen it projected at the convention liked it enough to hire Fred’s studio Pantomime Pictures to produce the catchy Kennedy jingle spot. (link via BoingBoing.net)

MINTZ-COLUMBIA STAFF PICTURES

scrappy krazyOur buddy Mike Van Eaton at the wonderful Van Eaton Gallery on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks, California recently came up with this wonderful piece of animation history: a 1933 Charles Mintz studio Christmas Card featuring photos of the entire staff!Check it out by clicking here! If you look close you’ll see the likes of Ed Benedict, Art Davis, Joe DeNat, Emery Hawkins and many other famous names – as well as the inkers, painters, producers and support staff. What a treasure this is! Thanks for sharing this with us, Mike.

Life After Disney

Timothy Albee moved to Alaska after working on Disney’s DINOSAUR and created his own 22-minute CG short called KAZE, GHOST WARRIOR. He made the film not just to tell a story, but also to make a statement, namely that animators can create feature quality animation on their own personal computers for a fraction of the cost of studio features. Albee says that he spent only $5000 on the film. His production credits for KAZE are another strong indictment of the Hollywood system, highlighting the bureaucratic and archaic production system which plagues modern animated features. There’s more about Albee’s film in this article from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Tim also recently wrote a book about the film’s independent production process – CGI FILMMAKING: THE CREATION OF GHOST WARRIOR.

Next is a very different type of project. Sergio Pablos, an animator who worked at Disney Feature in both Paris and Burbank, has moved to Spain where he has become creative director of the Madrid-based studio Animagic. Here he’s produced a beautiful trailer for a hand-drawn animated film called GIACOMO’S SECRET (click on the “What we are doing” link). The film also has an intriguing story to support the artwork, however it’ll be a few more years before anybody can see the completed film. Sergio recently wrote a bit about the trailer on Animation Nation:

To answer some of your questions, it’s still too early to know whether or not the film will be released in the States. First we need to find out whether the film will get enough financing, although all signs are pointing to yes so far. In any case, the film wouldn’t go into production for another year or so. Unfortunatelly, that’s the way things work in Europe. You have to get companies from different countries involved in the project, then each of these companies requests funds from their own governments, and that can take a while. No private investor in Europe will ever produce an animated film on his own. And it doesn’t look like this is about to change either.

As for the trailer, it’s the work of one lay out artist, one BG painter, two animators (myself included), and a few people who chipped in by doing just about everything. It was a very low budget, and a very short schedule, but we were somehow able to finish it in time.

As for any other ex-Disney guys beside myself, the other animator was Borja Montoro, another Spaniard with whom I worked with at Disney Paris. Most of the character design work is also his. Very talented guy.

2D Expo Photos

Jorge Gutierrez’s wife, Sandra Equihua, was kind enough to forward some photos she took during the Flash & TV Production panel, which I moderated at ASIFA-Hollywood’s 2D Expo a couple weeks ago. They serve little purpose but I figured as long as I had them, it wouldn’t hurt to post them. There’s also a photo from the TV Development panel which featured Eric Homan (Frederator) and Peter Gal (Nickelodeon). If you’re trying to get a show on Nickelodeon, you should consider being nice to at least one of these fine gents.

Photos (identified left to right):

1. Gabe Swarr, Bob Harper

2. Eddie Mort, Lili Chin, Jorge Gutierrez

3. Me, Eddie, Lili, Jorge, Gabe, Bob

4. Development panel with moderator Rita Street (Animation Magazine), Eric Homan (Frederator) and Peter Gal (Nickelodeon).







UCLA FESTIVAL OF PRESERVATION

alfalfaEvery two years the UCLA Film and Television Archives opens it’s vaults and presents it’s latest restorations to the public in a gala program called “The Festival Of Preservation”. The 12th edition of this incredible film series runs from July 22nd through August 21st, mainly at the James Bridges theatre in Melnitz Hall on the UCLA Campus.Relevant to us, however, is the bounty of restored animation showcased during the festival. Opening night (7/22) “Paths Of Glory”will preceeded by a restored version of George Pal’s anti-war Puppetoon TULIPS SHALL GROW (1942). On the following Sunday night (7/25) a restoration of the Max Fleischer Color Classic A CARTUNE PORTRAIT (1937) will screen preceeeding “Penny Serenade”.A previously lost Toonerville Trolley cartoon, TOONERVILLE’S BOOZEM FRIENDS (1921), will preceed a double bill “The Roaring Road” and Harold Lloyd’s A Sailor-Made Man.But the big day for us animation historians is 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:koko

• 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.Do not miss this event! The live action films ain’t bad either. Check out the entire schedule HERE.

Foster’s and Teenage Robot Links

Here’s the official website for Craig McCracken’s new Flash animated series FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS which debuts on Cartoon Network next month. Seems CN is trying to woo me back with a show that I actually want to watch. While we’re on the subject of entertaining cartoons that actually care about the visuals, here’s a link to a new blog about Nick’s MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT. The blog is run by a writer working on the show so hopefully he’ll continue posting some of the sumptuous artwork being produced for that series. Hey, there’s an idea – wouldn’t it be cool if all animated TV series (well, the good ones at least) had their own official blogs? So far MUCHA LUCHA and TEENAGE ROBOT are on board. Who’s next?

FRANK MOSER

Reason #432 Why we love ebay…farmer grayfrank moserWho knew that Frank Moser – partner of Paul Terry from the early 1920s to the mid 1930s – was an artist known for his Hudson River landscape paintings? And who knew a guy that drew Farmer Alfalfa like this (at left) could paint like that (at right)? Somebody is selling an original oil painting on canvas of Frank Moser, painted by Moser himself – and signed on back – on ebay. What a find! What a mouse! What an absolute must for a Terrytoon completist! You have until Saturday to bid on this animation oddity here on ebay.If a lucky Brew reader gets it, let us know.
(Thanks to Mark Mayerson for the link)

BREW AT COMIC CON – Part 2

More details have emerged, so mark your calenders:clampett, casper and super prezBob Clampett, Casper and Super PresidentThe SID JACOBSON spotlight is Friday, July 23 from 1-2pm in room 3.The BOB CLAMPETT panel is from 4-5pm on Friday, July 23 in room 8.WORST CARTOONS EVER screening is on Saturday night, July 24 from 8:30-10:00pm in room 6AB (followed by Bill Plympton and Spike and Mike).Be there! San Diego Comic Con

NEW WAVE ANIME

aka wonderful daysSky BlueAs 2-D sits dormant here in the U.S., anime continues to evolve in Asia.Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre, home of the American Cinematheque, runs a continuous schedule of the most eclectic film programming in southern California. The new July-August program is out and there are two animated features making their L.A. debut – and possibly their only big screen appearence – that are worth noting:dead leavesDead LeavesOn Friday August 6th at 7pm is premiere of the english dub of the intriguing Korean feature Wonderful Days, under its new title SKY BLUE. The writer/director of the English dub will appear to answer questions and no doubt explain the plot.On Saturday August 7th at 3pm, Japan’s Production I.G. (Blood: The Last Vampire, Ghost In The Shell) previews their latest film, DEAD LEAVES. This one looks very loopy, fast paced and fun.