In the next several days I will point out a few gift suggestions for the cartoon freak in your family – or to buy yourself to counter those holiday depression blues… Thunderbean Animation has started releasing a series of DVDs of classic cartoons that are a must for your home animation library. I never thought I’d live to see the day someone would issue The Complete Adventures of CUBBY BEAR – and since no one else had the guts, Thunderbean has done it! This is a marvelous companion to the 99ïÂ¿Â½ Store Van Beuren Tom & Jerry dvds – Thunderbean has collected (from various private collector sources) all 20 Cubby Bear epics – including the three rare Harman-Ising productions (done in that period between leaving Leon Schlesinger and signing with MGM). Surreal gags, crazy animation and hot jazzy soundtracks!FELIX THE CAT And Other Rareties From The 1920s is great collection oddball silent animation well worth having. Despite Felix getting the top billing, there are only four of the Cat’s Otto Messmer classics here – the rest of the set contains early Laugh-O-Grams, Terry/VanBeuren, Lantz and Hurd curiosities. “Fresh Lobster”, a really weird live action/animation film, starring Billy Bletcher battling a giant crustation, is a true highlight. (This dvd is a little harder to find, and is being offered mainly through ebay)Finally, POPEYE Original Classics is an absolute must. It contains several 1930s Fleischer cartoons – all in excellent shape with “restored” original titles – and a wealth of bonus material. Interviews with Jack Mercer (by Michael Sporn!), Mae Questel, Jackson Beck, Shamus Culhane, and others, The 1939 Popular Science “Behind The Scenes at the Fleischer Studios” film, model sheets, a Soaky Bubble Bath commercial from the 60s, pencil tests, and much more. The VCI dvd (which I consulted on) has more cartoons – but the Thunderbean collection is excellent, and well worth it for the bonus materials alone.The packaging and menus are also wonderful. Steve Stanchfield and his Thunderbean crew have done a incredible job!
As a cartoon fan, I’m embarassed to admit this: I’ve had the ability–and even a good excuse–to watch Fox and Crow cartoons at work for months, and it took until tonight for me to use it.
We’ve been reviewing big HDTV sets for PC WORLD and DIGITAL WORLD, and our setup includes a satellite TV feed from Voom, the HD-centric service. One of the service’s many channels is Animania, an all-cartoon network–no relation to Dave Mruz’s gone-but-not-forgotten fanzine. Part of that channel’s lineup is a block called THE CLASSICS. I just got done watching about 45 minutes of it.
In this case, “classic” seems to consist of stuff that nobody else cares to run–including UPA Dick Tracy cartoons and Joe Oriolo Felix ones. In high-definition, they seem twice as long and twice as bad as in standard-def, though I confess I sat transfixed by their sheer awfulness and the fact that the HD broadcast let me see the dust on the cels. (It’s not just me: Two less animation-obsessed coworkers happened by me as I was watching, and stopped to to partake in low-rent 1960s animation for awhile themselves.)
What I was really interested in was Animania’s Mr. Magoo show (part of the CLASSICS block) since I’d heard it ran Magoo theatricals and Fox and Crows, possibly among other cartoons of interest. Which, tonight, it did–though the F&C was UPA’s ROBIN HOODWINKED rather than a Columbia. And the half-hour Magoo block consisted of just one Magoo and the F&C, filled out with two Oriolo Felixes, which segued into…a full half-hour show of Oriolo Felixes. (The Felix show is followed by a Pink Panther one, but I didn’t watch long enough to check if it was early theatrical Panthers or what.)
Sadly, THE CLASSICS are only shown in prime-time and late at night, which means I’ll need to stay at work until 8pm to have a hope of seeing the Fox and Crow or other obscure Columbias. (We don’t have a setup at the moment which would let us record and time-shift HD.)
But I often hang around work until lateish anyhow, and if I could reliably see a theatrical cartoon or two I wasn’t familiar with–and there are plenty of UPAs and Columbias I haven’t seen–it would be a nice way to wrap up the day.
Stay tuned for further notes.
No, not Pitt & Damon!Asifa Hollywood members can see THE INCREDIBLES again this week at the Writers Guild Screening Room, Thursday night at 7pm, this time with Brad Bird in person. Joining Brad, in fact moderating the Q&A session after the film, will be none other than Matt Groening.And after that… Mmmm, donuts! …Desserts will be served. Want more information? Go to www.Asifa-Hollywood.org. And if you live in SoCal and aren’t a member of Asifa… why aren’t you??
My friend Frank Calomino is selling his 16mm print of a Yogi Bear show on eBay. It’s got original commercials (obviously from a 1966 rerun) and is a bit faded, but 16mm prints are still the only way to see these things as they originally aired. I’m plugging it here because I want him to get a good price for it (and it gives me an excuse to post those nifty frame grabs above).
Brew regular Chris Sobieniak caught this swipe:
While having to go to the store earlier today, I came across what I spotted as a near identical pose lifted from one of Preston Blair’s famous animation books! The Ohio Lottery Commission has released a scratch ‘n win ticket called Lucky Dog Doubler that shows a dog with a wad of cash in his mouth while having his front left paw out.I decided to check for that same image in “Cartoon Animation” and it couldn’t help but think of how uncanny if was for some artist to swipe that shot from page 13 (though with some slight modifications and other liberties thrown in). I’ve attached the dogs in question just so you can compare, but I got a laugh seeing that on a scratch ‘n win ticket!
In Japan, an AOL-like service called Open Data Network promotes itself using a Disney Pooh theme. In the US, that would mean it was targeting kids, but (as best as I can tell) they’re not particularly doing that in cute-friendly Japan. In fact, I have a sign-up disc with a video that seems to show two successful businesswomen using a service called PoohMail2Plus. (I picked up the disc when I was in Tokyo last year, and just found it in my messy office–which is why I’m suddenly bringing all this up.)
ODN’s Pooh site is available for your entertainment here. It’s 99% in Japanese, and that’s one reason why I just spent about five minutes wandering around it, being pleasantly confused. If you like oddball uses of American cartoon characters in foreign lands, I suggest you do the same.
One other note: Both the disc and the site have prominent credits for A.A. Milne and Ernest Shepard. I’m not sure why–or if they’d be pleased or disgruntled to be associated with the Disneyfied versions of their characters. But it’s nice to see an example of Disney licensing that actually credits the guys who came up with the characters in the first place.
Katie Rice, currently a designer at Disney TV Animation, has updated her website with a bunch of nice girl drawings. Worth a Sunday browse. Go HERE.
Over at my very own Harry Go Round, Kip Williams is reporting on Michael Paulus’s Skeletal Systems, a series of drawings of…well, of the skeletons of cartoon characters we know and love, including everyone from Baby Huey to the Shmoo.
If you’re in Portland (Oregon, that is) you can see these in person at a coffee shop this month. If you’re anywhere else, stop by the online gallery and prepare to spend some time being startled and fascinated.
There are bears that have been licensed, such as Yogi, Pooh, Paddington, the Care Bears, and other lovable ursines who I’m forgetting right now. And then there’s Licensable Bear(tm).
Spotted this actual ad on Variety.com yesterday. A long shot, but hell… If I were an Academy member I’d vote for him!
I haven’t seen THE LIFE AQUATIC yet, but last I heard the film’s animated sequences were created with stop motion by Henry Selick and company. Apparently nobody bothered telling this to A.O. Scott at the NY TIMES since he refers to the “computer-animated fish” in his review of the film. Animation director Ben Zelkowicz, who pointed out the TIMES gaffe, notes: “But I like Scott’s idea of a double bill with SpongeBob – two underwater themed movies within a month featuring stop motion. Most stop motion has been relegated to the sad realm of Christmas nostalgia. Perhaps this is a sea change.”
Seward Street reports that Disney/DreamWorks animator James Baxter (Belle, Quasimodo, Moses) is starting up his own hand-drawn animation studio in Pasadena called James Baxter Animation. Exciting!
This article at MILLIMETER reveals how Brad Bird was able to inject a hand-drawn sensibility into THE INCREDIBLES. Pixar developed a new tool especially for Bird called “Review Sketch,” which allowed him to draw on top of a projected image using a digitizing pen. These drawings were then accessible on the studio’s intranet by other members of his team. DreamWorks animator Jim Hull discusses the tool further on his blog, Seward Street.