No Experience Necessary

Here’s a TIME MAGAZINE story about Imagi, the Hong Kong studio that’s producing the animation for the upcoming DreamWorks TV series FATHER OF THE PRIDE. Until a couple years ago, the company’s primary business was manufacturing artificial Christmas trees but now they specialize in animation. PDI animator Raman Hui, who is overseeing the animation in Hong Kong, says the studio’s lack of experience is refreshing because “They say, ‘Tell us how to do it.’”

New Disney Books

Couple new books about Disney. HOW TO BE LIKE WALT: CAPTURING THE DISNEY MAGIC EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE by Pat Williams is a “character biography” which aims to draw out important lessons from the life of Walt. Might be good, might be bad. I have no idea. If it turns out you don’t have what it takes to be like Walt, you might have better luck with another book by the same author: HOW TO BE LIKE JESUS.

Next is FROM WALT TO WOODSTOCK: HOW DISNEY CREATED THE COUNTERCULTURE by Douglas Brode. Being from a university press, the book could potentially be just a bunch of overwrought pretentious nonsense, although the premise of this is fascinating enough that I’m tempted to give it a read. Here’s the book description from the Univeristy of Texas Press website:

Douglas Brode overturns the idea of Disney as a middlebrow filmmaker by detailing how Disney movies played a key role in transforming children of the Eisenhower era into the radical youth of the Age of Aquarius. Using close readings of Disney projects, Brode shows that Disney’s films were frequently ahead of their time thematically. Long before the cultural tumult of the sixties, Disney films preached pacifism, introduced a generation to the notion of feminism, offered the screen’s first drug-trip imagery, encouraged young people to become runaways, insisted on the need for integration, advanced the notion of a sexual revolution, created the concept of multiculturalism, called for a return to nature, nourished the cult of the righteous outlaw, justified violent radicalism in defense of individual rights, argued in favor of communal living, and encouraged antiauthoritarian attitudes. Brode argues that Disney, more than any other influence in popular culture, should be considered the primary creator of the sixties counterculture – a reality that couldn’t be further from his “conventional” reputation.

Something I Didn’t Need To See

A brief follow-up to that atrocious Disneyland Paris advertising campaign for their new LION KING stage show. Inkan over at Animation Nation has posted a link to the live-action TV spot that features classic Disney characters climbing up onto the park’s architecture to escape the lions. Read what you want into the commercial, but I think it’s difficult to avoid the subtext of Mickey hanging on for dear life to a pole on top of a building, in a bid to escape THE LION KING, a creation of Eisner’s regime.

BREW AT COMIC CON – Part 1

comic conHere’s an early heads up – Jerry Beck will be part of at least three panels/screenings at the San Diego Comic Con July 22-25.I don’t have all the details myself, but here’s what I know: I’ll be part of a panel/tribute to Bob Clampett with Mark Evanier and other special guests. I’m hoping to show a part of a Bob Clampett documentary that will be included as bonus material on Looney Tunes Golden Collection volume 2. So come by and get a sneak preview.
I will be moderating a spotlight on Sid Jacobson on Friday July 23rd at 1:00pm. Sid was the man behind Harvey Comics from 1954 till 1994 – 40 years of friendly ghosts, devil kids and muscle-bound ducks! Don’t miss this!
And I’ll be running an all new edition of THE WORST CARTOONS EVER on Saturday night. Will Super President, Mighty Mr. Titan and Johnny Cypher In Dimension Zero return in all new episodes? Find out on Saturday July 24th.I’ll update my activities at Comic Con with exact dates, times and room numbers as we get closer to the event.

UPA ON HELLBOY

boing boingColumbia TriStar’s upcoming 2-disc HELLBOY dvd will contain four great cartoons from Columbia’s UPA archives, including How Now Boing Boing, Gerald McBoing-Boing on Planet Moo and The Tell Tale Heart. Director Guillermo del Toro is a longtime animated cartoon fan who insisted these cartoons be added to the dvd release.That’s really the only way Columbia will release it’s cartoons. Similiarly, Ub Iwerks Color Rhapsody SKELETON FROLIC is included on dvd release of THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVERA – because a certain cartoon buff at TriStar insisted it be part of the package.It’s too bad the marketing geniuses at Columbia TriStar Home Video themselves don’t understand the bounty of animation classics in their vaults…

Peter Lion Pan King Mystery Solved

A few weeks ago, I wondered why Captain Hook from PETER PAN was advertising a new LION KING attraction at Disneyland Paris. As it turns out, it’s part of yet another incredibly misguided and stupid advertising campaign by Disney where all the classic characters in the theme park are running away from lions and climbing up onto the park’s buildings. You can read more about it at the Laughing Place message board. (Thanks to narkspud for the link)

Fine Weekend Reading

TWICE UPON A TIMETaylor Jessen points out THIS PIECE that he wrote for the 20th anniversary of the animated feature TWICE UPON A TIME. His much longer piece about the production of the film will appear in the upcoming ANIMATION BLAST #9. The best part of this on-line article is the series of insightful quotes from the production principals – among them Henry Selick, Harley Jessup, John Korty, David Fincher and Chuck Swenson – in which they discuss the lessons they learned from working on the film.

Animation Done Well

Welldone FilmesWhat did Dominique Monfery, the French director of the short film DESTINO, do after Disney shuttered its French animation studio (Disney de Montreuil) in fall 2003? Monfery and fellow ex-Disney artists opened up their own animation studio outside of Paris called Welldone. The goal of the studio is to produce feature-length animated features. There’s a couple tantalizing images of one of their in-development projects in this AnimeLand article. The artwork seems to be a fresh combination of hand drawn and CG techniques. For those that speak French, there’s also an interview with Monfery about his plans for the studio. Welldone however isn’t the only studio that formed in the aftermath of Disney’s French animation collapse. Néomis is another outfit now up and running which is composed of nearly two dozen ex-Disney de Montreuil staffers. There’s also an article (in French again) about this studio HERE. Both of these studios are brimming with talent and potential, and now that the artists don’t have to work on tripe like THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE and TARZAN, the sky is truly the limit. (Thanks to Gérald for the links).

CONTEST WINNERS

This morning we held a trivia contest in which the first five winners (Marc Crisafulli, Joe Queen, Chad Erekson and Jay Smith and Josh Cooley) got a copy of Shout Factory’s new dvd compilation SPIKE & MIKE’S CUTTING EDGE CLASSICS. The question:

What was the name of the first CGI short film from Pixar, directed by John Lasseter?

However, the answer I was looking for, THE ADVENTURES OF ANDRE AND WALLY B (1984), was wrong.Brew reader Patrick Toifl pointed out to me that ANDRE AND WALLY B. was actually directed by Alvy Ray Smith. John Lasseter did character design and animation. You’d think I’d know that. Patrick will get a special prize for correcting me…And I’ll make it up to you all with another contest real soon.

Set the TIVO

Turner Classic Movies is without contest my favorite cable channel so it’s a pity that I rarely have reason to plug them here on Cartoon Brew. During the next few days though they’re running a couple of films that may be of interest to readers of this site. First they’ll be screening Ernie Pintoff’s extremely rare live-action short THE SHOES (1960) starring Buddy Hackett. At the time Pintoff produced this film, he was still heavily involved in animation, running his own TV commercial studio in New York City and producing independent shorts like THE VIOLINIST and THE INTERVIEW. THE SHOES marks the beginning of Pintoff’s transition from animation to live-action. He once explained in an interview his reason for switching to live-action: “At that time I was losing interest in animation and was captivated by the prospects of communicating to a broader audience of people through live-action…Cartooning and animation was mostly humor and I had become more interested in drama and serious subjects dealing with adults.” These are curious comments considering how Pintoff was one of animation’s most distinctive and promising talents in the late-’50s and early-’60s (FLEBUS anybody?) and how his later live-action work never seemed to quite live up to the singular personal voice he brought to his animated films. The other film of interest that TCM is showing is an actual animated feature: THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED. The silent sihouette film, directed by Lotte Reiniger, was released in 1926. The Turner website has some interesting background details on PRINCE ACHMED, including the nugget that Reiniger was only 23 years old when she began working on the feature.