Going on sale January 18th 2005 is Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars:
“Tom and Jerry mistakenly stow away on the first manned mission to Mars and discover we are NOT alone…Martians do exist! The furry duo must join forces with a young Martian girl to battle asteroid fields, the Martian invasion of Earth, and a gigantic alien robot bent on destroying anything and anyone in its path.”
Tom Minton produced it. Bill Kopp wrote and directed it. I hope Warner Bros. sends me a free copy.
The trailer for Pixar’s CARS is honestly one of the most perplexing pieces of animation I’ve seen in a long time. After the magnificent fleshy achievement of THE INCREDIBLES, a film that proved personality-filled character animation and CGI are not incompatible, why would the studio regress to producing a film about lumbering metallic forms. Let me be clear: I’m not opposed to the idea of animating cars. It’s actually an idea with terrific potential. But the boring animation of the cars in this particular trailer hardly takes advantage of the concept. Granted, the subtle movement of the race car shifting from side to side was a nice solution to compensate for the car’s lack of arms and legs, but the cars’ immobility had turned frustrating by trailer’s end. Do they expect anybody to sit through two hours of this? Where is the cartoon invention that Pixar is known for and has built their reputation upon? Did Pixar pull a Katzenberg and opt to create an animated film that doesn’t take advantage of the medium? Why do I have so many questions about a friggin’ trailer? My disappointment with this became more focused when I saw the comic strip below by Ward Kimball (click on it for full version).
The poses are pushed to the extreme, the expressions are full of life, the metal has beautiful twists and flexibility, and yet at no point does it lose believability as a car. That invention is the beauty of the cartoon medium and its primary strength over live-action; it’s also precisely what is lacking from the CARS trailer, particularly in the animation of the race cars. Perhaps the film is actually bursting at the seams with innovative solutions to car animation, and Pixar simply chose to reveal none of it in favor of creating the most boring trailer ever. At this point, that’s what I’m compelled to believe, because I have faith in the studio and in John Lasseter’s directorial skills (is the man even capable of producing something bad?). Here’s to hoping for the best.
One of the numerous interesting things about Brad Bird’s THE INCREDIBLES is that it’s a serious enough movie that it’s sparked thoughtful discussion of the things it has to say about child-rearing in America, competition, and how to treat kids who are naturally gifted. Here’s “When Every Child is Good Enough,” a story from today’s NEW YORK TIMES (registration probably required) that digs into these ideas.
Funny–I don’t remember SHREK 2 or SHARK TALE spurring thoughtful discussion of, well, anything at all…
Here’s how it works – Each day I have two prizes. I will ask one simple question. The first two people with correct answers (or what I think is the correct answer) to hit my email-box win.Today’s prize is: THE TOM & JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION. Today, both winners will get this dvd. Today’s question was provided by my Uncle Wayne:
Mel Blanc did voices for all the Hollywood cartoon studios, except one – or did he? How many Disney films did Mel Blanc work on?
The Contest is now OVER. The winners were Greg Laughland and Eric Wilson. The answer: One – In Pinocchio he recorded for Gideon the cat, but his part was cut down to a hiccup before its release.Brew reader “Herekittykitty” sent in an answer, which is technically correct, but not what I was thinking: Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I’m going to send this reader a special “no-prize” for her answer – a LOONEY TUNES Ultimate Sticker Book.
For months now, Scrappyland, my site for Scrappy appreciation, has been in preview mode. Folks sometimes ask me if I’ve forgotten or abandoned it.
Nope–I’ve been busy working on it, and it will eventually launch in all its full-blown glory. Soon, I hope. It’s my magnum opus, so it would be a shame if it stayed on my hard drive forever.
To prove I’m still toiling away, here’s a download (in PDF form) for Cartoon Brew readers: An eight-page 1936 publicity booklet for the Scrappy Puppet Theater, a Farina premium that Columbia promoted like it was the Second Coming. It includes promotion ideas such as organzing Scrappy window-decorating contests for local grocers, Scrappy poetry (“I’m a boy named Scrappy/Farina keeps me happy”), and a letter from our hero himself.
Enjoy. Or be mystified. Or maybe both–that’s par for the course when it comes to Scrappy-related matters. (Yes, that’s Scrappy waltzing with an anthropomorphic box of Farina on the cover…) And stay tuned for news on Scrappyland’s grand opening.
I’m back from NY. The last week of the trip was unbelievably nuts, including a final stretch of 36 hours without sleep. Upon arrival in LA, I was so jetlagged that I somehow managed to lock myself out of my apartment within minutes of getting home, and then had to call a locksmith to bust open my lock. The ultimate purpose of this trip, sleep-deprivation and all, was to gather research and artwork for my forthcoming book on Fifties animation design and in that respect the trip was a resounding success. There’s going to be some jaw-droppingly gorgeous animation art in this book and I can’t wait to share it with everybody. Mark your calenders folks – Spring 2006, Chronicle Books.
The NYC trip as a whole was an immensely enjoyable experience. The city has a vibe unlike anything I’ve experienced in LA and I was also quite impressed by the city’s thriving indie animation scene, which has enjoyed a major resurgence in the past few years. Here’s some of the highlights from my last few days in NYC: Breakfast with Mike Sporn and John Dilworth, two guys with an amazing knowledge of film that far surpasses mine. Coffee with Emily Hubley, daughter of John and Faith Hubley, not to mention a talented filmmaker in her own right (a retrospective of her work screens at Ocularis tomorrow evening). Breakfast with Ryan Sias, who did the boards and designs for the animated segment in BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and also boarded on the upcoming Blue Sky feature ROBOTS. Check out his comics at RyanSias.com. Also, got some cool CDs and vinyl from Ryan’s brother who runs the up-and-coming record label Music Related. Met Eric Costello, creator of the indispensable Warner Bros. Cartoon Companion and had another fine meal with current Brew guest blogger Harry McCracken, who just happened to be visiting NY on business.
Visited with Pat Smith and friends (Olivia Ward and Tony Curanaj). Pat showed me his just completed film HANDSHAKE, an impressively animated dialogue-less short which recently won at the Northampton Film Festival. Also saw a terrific screening of NY indie animation at The Tank, which featured the premiere of Signe Baumane’s latest film, the laugh-out loud funny THE DENTIST. Met Jeremiah Dickey, PES and Sarah Phelps, among others. Huge props to Mike Sporn, John Canemaker and Mark Newgarden, as well as Carol and Ray Favata, Vincent Cafarelli and Candy Kugel. The last week would have been impossible without all of your kind help. I’ll definitely be back in NYC sooner than later. And now back to regular updates…
One of my little hobbies beyond (but related to) animated cartoons is collecting buttons of cartoon characters. Specifically, I like promotional buttons relating to animated features, TV shows and classic cartoon shorts. One of these days when I have some free time I’ll post a gallery of some of my favorites.In the meantime Mark Lansdown has posted a nifty website of his collection of vintage comic strip and cartoon character buttons which is quite nice. In the mix are several great animated items, including pinbacks of Felix, Popeye, Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop. A great collection.
Here’s how it works – Each day I have two prizes. I will ask one simple question. The first two people with correct answers (or what I think is the correct answer) to hit my email-box win. The first place winner gets to choose his or her prize from the two.Today’s prizes are: THE LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION V.2 and THE TOM & JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION. Today’s question is:
Tom is called “Jasper” in his first cartoon (PUSS GETS THE BOOT), what is Sylvester named in his first appearence with Tweety (in TWEETIE PIE)?
The Contest is now OVER. Thad Komorowski (1st place) and Rob Buttery have won! Man, you guys were fast! The correct answer was: Thomas
Oh boy! I’ve got some give-away material… so it’s time again to hold a few contests!Starting tomorrow (Saturday) for the next several days, I’ll be posting a trivia question here at (roughly) 9am Pacific Time. The first two winning answers I recieve each day will win a prize. The prizes will include THE TOM & JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION, LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION Volume 2, WACKY RACES dvd set, HARVIE CRUMPET dvd (2003 Oscar Winner) and my new book, ANIMATION ART.So check in with the Brew each morning, and test your cartoon knowledge – and hopefully win a prize!
Richard P. Huemer, son of Scrappy animator Dick Huemer, has an urgent request:
A bit of Disney history is about to crumble under the wrecking-ball. Back in 1935, my father Dick Huemer built a house in North Hollywood and decorated the nursery walls with Disney characters. You may know Dick as the co-story director of Fantasia and the co-author of Dumbo, as well as the author of TV shows and Academy Award-winning shorts, but throughout most of the 1930s he worked at Disney’s as an animator.After my mother died in 1999, my brother and I sold the old house. It has recently been re-sold, and is to be demolished to make way for new construction.I thought that Disney’s might be interested in acquiring and preserving these murals. One wall shows Mickey with a fishing pole on a background of stars; he has caught a long-billed Donald Duck with his hook. The other wall (photo enclosed) shows 2 of the Three Orphan Kittens sliding down the face of the quarter moon. (I regret the color shift due to my computer printer.) The mural was painted by Dick and his assistant, and appears to be on some sort of thin fabric glued to the wall.The house is at 12012 Hesby Street, North Hollywood, CA 91607. I do not know who owns it now. I received this sad information from Helen Catledge, who can be contacted at 818-763-7890.I found out the name of the owner of the demolition company; he is David Harai, and his phone number is 818-612-6629. He has been very nice to the various people who’ve called, in that he doesn’t want any money for the murals, but he says that if they aren’t taken off the walls tomorrow (Nov.19), he will finish tearing down the house, which he commenced doing this morning. One of the neighbors made contact with an art restorer who is supposed go out to the Hesby Street house tomorrow and cut the canvas from the walls, but I have not spoken to the restorer yet and am awaiting his return call.
Can anybody help Mr. Huemer to save this rare piece of art?
There are two great events happening this Saturday in Los Angeles. Both are opposite each other at 3pm and I’m somewhat involved with each one.The first is the one I will be hosting for Asifa-Hollywood at the AFI. “A Quiet Afternoon With Mr. Lawrence” will showcase the work of local animator Doug Lawrence (aka Mr. Lawrence).Lawrence is a director, writer, creator, layout artist, puppeteer, live action independent filmmaker, comedian and actor. I first met Doug when he was a layout artist on the original Ren & Stimpy in 1991. He has since gone on to be one of the principal creatives on ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE (and voiced the nerdy Filbert character). He’s since directed THE TWISTED TALES OF FELIX THE CAT and wrote for numerous other cartoon shows – spending the last several years on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS as a director and writer (and the voice of evil Plankton).Lawrence has also created live action series, made award winning independent live action comedy shorts and performed in comedy clubs around Los Angeles. On Saturday at the AFI, we will screen Doug’s hilarious Film Roman pilot HAIR BALLS, and several other rareties from his animation career, as well as his latest live action short, VOICEOVER. Doug will also discuss his career in Hollywood and tell you how it really works.Meanwhile, over at GOLDEN APPLE, an IRON GIANT reunion and DVD signing event will be taking place. I assisted Bill Leibowitz in contacting artists to attend this event – and tried my best to get Bill to change the date & time – but he was insistent on doing it this Saturday and putting my name on the flyer, despite my telling him I had other plans that day. Unfortunetly Bill passed away a few weeks ago – and the show must go on. We expect a huge crowd of animators and fans. I will be showing up around 5:30pm or so.I report… you decide. But I hope you’ll join us at 3pm Saturday at one of these events.
I just read this piece in Hollywood Reporter. It is typical of Hollywood’s constant astonishment with Pixar and the success of THE INCREDIBLES.Let’s be clear about this: any Hollywood executive, trade reporter or Wall Street speculator who is still surprised by Pixar’s success, or THE INCREDIBLES box office performance, should not even be in this business. Those people are “idiots”.Pixar is IT. The perfect Hollywood studio, able to create commercially satisfying projects without sacrificing the art. And how do they do it? By supporting talent, taking chances, using common sense and respecting history.I no longer ask, “How long will Pixar’s winning streak last?”. The Pixar team is solid – and as long as they stick together (and they will) they will continue to push the envelope and make great films.The Pixar group is not unlike the teams behind the classic Warner Bros. cartoons (1940-1955) or Stan Lee’s silver age Marvel Comics, or even the Beatles. The right folks in the right place at the right time. People often ask, ‘why can’t anyone recreate the classic Warner Bros. cartoons?’. Those cartoons were Chuck Jones, Mel Blanc, Carl Stalling, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, Treg Brown, etc. There was a magic in those people’s combined efforts that is stronger than any of their independent or subsequent work. The same holds true with the 60′s Lee-Kirby-Ditko-Steranko-Colan-Bullpen Marvel comics and the John, Paul, George and Ringo music of that same era. You can imitate it, but you can’t duplicate it by following a simple formula.I don’t know what Pixar’s plans are after their Disney deal is finished. Disney is still the best studio for supporting, distributing, and publicizing animated films. Rumors are flying that they will end up with a sweet deal (ala George Lucas) at Fox or Sony or Warner Bros. I’m sure Pixar will do the right thing – but what I’d like them to do is to hire away the top distribution and marketing people at Disney and form their own distribution company (as Disney did in the 1950s).I’d like to see Pixar expand their filmmaking into other areas, including 2D traditional animation and even live action films. They have the potential to be a major studio… Wait-a-minute! What am I saying? They ARE a major studio.We’re in the golden age of Pixar. The animated film may be going through a transition period – with computers and all – but from this pundit’s perch the medium’s future is looking pretty… incredible.
One of our loyal readers (who wishes to remain anonymous) sent us this classic cartoon treat:
I just found this 78 after a decades-long search. Thought you’d enjoy hearing it.It’s on Peter Pan Records, and the credited narrator is Somer Alberg. The label carries an undated copyright to “Terry Toons, Inc.”. Brief segments of this record appear on many kiddie albums and 45s, most with the references to Mighty Mouse still there, very mysterious when taken out of context. Hence my decades-long search for the complete version.
Here then is Mighty Mouse In Toyland (download MP3 format)
Here’s an in-depth REPORT by Michael Fuchs about the 1st Pictoplasma Conference On Contemporary Character Design & Art which took place in Berlin a couple week ago. Also, there’s a bunch of photos from the conference HERE and Harald Siepermann’s review of the event was previously posted on the Brew.