I consider myself fairly open minded about different animation styles and techniques, but I simply fail to see any redeeming value in Beck’s latest music video, “Hell Yes.” [Watch the video in Real Player or Windows Media Player] It’s not that I’m against the video’s choppy, unabashedly lo-fi digital aesthetic, but the execution of that technique is just plain weak. It’s representative of everything that I loathe about modern design and graphics; I’ve never understood how showing a complete disdain for craftsmanship somehow equates to ‘hip’ but perhaps I’m missing something.
I’m still recovering from yesterday’s Annie Awards ceremony – and post-show party last night. As a member of the Board of Directors of Asifa-Hollywood, I’m very proud of this event. It really is a great moment for our industry to celebrate the artform and Asifa is the only organized group who champions the craft – and has done so for over 40 years.The Incredibles swept the awards. Brad Bird, Don Bluth and the woman accepting the award for historian Bill Moritz gave great, inspiring speeches. Stan Lee was a guest presenter for Best Animated Feature. Tom Kenny was hilarious as the M.C. and Virginia Davis (Disney’s Alice Comedies) was charming. The whole presentation was superb. You can read the details of the winners here and see some candid photos at Asifa’s Blog.
Chris Harding’s MAKE MINE SHOEBOX, a quite funny corporate film produced for Hallmark Cards, can now be seen online in its entirety HERE. I was ecstatic when I discovered Chris’s work a few months back – he’s a major new talent on the scene whose films deliver a solid combination of design, animation and content. Hopefully we’ll be seeing many more of his cartoons in the future.
The first volume of WALT’S PEOPLE: TALKING DISNEY WITH THE ARTISTS WHO KNEW HIM is now available at XLibris.com. Edited by Didier Ghez, this 270-page collection includes interviews with Rudy Ising, Dave Hand, Bill Tytla, Ken Anderson, Jack Hannah, John Hench, Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Harper Goff and Joyce Carlson. A second volume is planned that’ll include interviews with Grim Natwick, Frank Tashlin, Ward Kimball, Floyd Gottfredson, Herb Ryman, Frank Thomas and Eric Larson among others.
Frank Tashlin was great.His live action films were hilarious – but, as we know, his print cartoons and animated films were even funnier. If you haven’t yet, please read Mike Barrier’s 1971 interview with Tash and Ethan de Seife’s biographical profile. One of Tashlin’s last live action films, THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (1966), will be released on DVD in April with several behind-the-sceenes bonus pieces – including the oft-requested Chuck Jones MGM Oscar winning cartoon THE DOT AND THE LINE (1965).Another DVD of note (unrelated to Tashlin or Jones): Barnes & Noble is selling an exclusive DVD, Academy Award-Winning Classic Cartoons, a new collection boasting 7 Oscar winners for Best Short Subject Cartoon. Included are: Rudolf Ising’s “The Milky Way” (1941); Joseph Barbera and William Hanna’s “Quiet Please!” (’46); Barbera and Hanna’s “The Cat Concerto” (’47); Friz Freleng’s “Tweety Pie” (’48); Barbera and Hanna’s “Johann Mouse” (’53); Freleng’s “Birds Anonymous”(’58); and Freleng’s “Knighty Knight Bugs” (’59). This collection will only be sold through Barnes and Noble bookstores, or available for free with the purchase of two Warner Home Video Academy award winning features.
According to this FOX NEWS story, Disney is having a hard time getting its post-Pixar Toy Story sequel together.
That’s the word in Hollywood’s animation world, where the third installment of the incredibly successful Pixar series has no director, writer or, possibly, stars. “Every single animator of note has turned down the director’s job. They don’t want to cross Pixar. They’ve become the only deal in town.”
While I doubt Disney will halt it’s plans or have trouble finding a production crew, the fate of our favorite Pixar characters solely in Disney hands gives us reason to pause. Just seeing Buzz, Woody and Jessie on ice is scary enough, especially when we consider the possible fate of Mr. Incredible and Frozone.
I got an email from Brew reader Linda Drury today asking if I had a photo of Dave Barry – the comedian and cartoon voice actor who passed away on August 16th, 2001. Barry briefly voiced Bluto (for Famous Studios), Elmer Fudd (for Warner Bros. in Pre-Hysterical Hare), was a regular in Columbia Screen Gems cartoons and the Speaking Of Animals series. He’s best remembered for his Bogart vocal imitation in the Bugs Bunny cartoons Slick Hare(1947) and 8-Ball Bunny (1950). I had never seen a good photo of Barry myself, so I did a little research and found these two images (above) from the 1962 Academy Players Directory (an annual performer reference put out by the Academy of Motion Pictue Arts and Sciences). I thought it was worth posting here for future reference.For more information about this Dave Barry, go to Mark Evanier’s POVonline.com
I’m helping a certain animation legend (and I don’t use that term loosely) set up his own website. If you’re wondering who, here’s a big hint: there was a retrospective of his work at last year’s Ottawa Animation Festival. He’s currently looking for somebody to design the website. There will be monetary compensation. Preferably, it’ll be a designer in the LA area who can collaborate with him in person. If you’re interested, please submit samples to me at amid [at] animationblast [dot] com and I’ll forward the materials to him.
Tracy Mark Lee at Electric Tiki is doing it right – once again!He’s gotten me excited about these classic cartoon maquettes – Get a look at the rough sculpt of this sexy Betty Boop maquette. As Bert Lahr (and various cartoon wolves) used to say: “Gnong, Gnong!”And here’s a sneak peek at the Famous Studios Popeye maquette. Note the base, designed to look like the Paramount star opening.Both these statues will be ready to purchase later this year. They’ve got at least one sale from me.
Here’s the raw list:Best animated feature film of the yearThe Incredibles
Shrek 2Best animated short filmBirthday Boy (An Australian Film, TV and Radio School Production) Sejong Park and Andrew Gregory
Gopher Broke (A Blur Studio Production) Jeff Fowler and Tim Miller
Guard Dog Bill Plympton
Lorenzo (Walt Disney Pictures) Mike Gabriel and Baker Bloodworth
Ryan (A Copper Heart Entertainment & National Film Board of Canada Production) Chris LandrethAlso in these catagories: Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song): “Accidentally In Love” from Shrek 2 and “Believe” from The Polar ExpressAchievement in sound editing: The Incredibles Michael Silvers and Randy Thom; The Polar Express Randy Thom and Dennis Leonard.Achievement in sound mixing: The Incredibles Randy Thom, Gary A. Rizzo and Doc Kane; The Polar Express Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis Sands and William B. KaplanOriginal screenplay: The Incredibles Written by Brad Bird.Congratulations to the nominees!
Animation director/designer dynamo Jorge Gutierrez has released a new line of T-shirts which are guaranteed to make you the envy of all your Chicano friends. There are three designs, all most festive – Calavera Serenata, Muertito Skull and DJ Muerto. I just received my own shirt in the mail (a black Calavera Serenata) and am looking forward to wearing it around town. They’re $20 a pop and include free shipping at Muertito.com.
In response to the conservative charges about Spongebob Squarepants promoting homosexuality, John Martz at Robot Johnny.com presents a gallery of beautiful frame grabs (off the Looney Tunes Golden Collection dvds) that illustrate the questionable status of Bugs Bunny’s sexual preferences.(via Boing Boing)
A few Brew readers wrote in today to tell me of Ralph Bakshi’s announced plans to start a graphic novel sequel to WIZARDS. Interesting… but the bigger news is the fact that Ralph has added a blog to his established website.It’s always worth a visit to www.ralphbakshi.com Recent updates include video of a cut scene from his LORD OF THE RINGS, and it’s a place to view rare personal photographs, and buy Bakshi animation cels — and it’s the only place I know selling an official COONSKIN T-Shirt!
These little plastic Japanese statues are GRRR-REAT! Megahouse is making a whole series of these collectible Kellogg’s cereal character statues – including long-forgotten favorites like Sugar Pops Pete (in center, above) – in their original, most appealing designs. First Oswald the Rabbit, now this. I’m glad someone, somewhere is preserving – and celebrating – our classic cartoon hertitage!(via Scrubbles.net)
Highly recommended is the latest issue of SIMPSONS COMICS (#102, now on sale) featuring a tribute/spoof of Western Publishing Carl Barks classic Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge adventures. Mr. Burns, in a the Scrooge-like role, enlists Homer (as a pants-less Donald-like companion) for his annual summer treasure hunt. Bart, Lisa and Maggie (in the nephew roles) join in as they sail to the Island of Donrosa where they scale Mount Van Horn, seeking the floating key of “Strobl” (“where the ancient tribes of Taliaferro placed it years ago!”), through Gottfredson trench, to ultimately find the “Barks Billions”. All of those italicized names are, of course, references to popular Disney comic book artists. The Bongo Comics line is consistantly good (the Radioactive Man issues are my particular favorites). This story, from Ian Boothby and editor Bill Morrison, deserves our special notice.
As you may recall, in last month’s NY TIMES, film reviewer A.O. Scott erroneously wrote that Henry Selick’s stop motion animation in THE LIFE AQUATIC was computer-animated. Apparently, the writers at the NY TIMES not only can’t tell the difference between stop motion and CGI, they also don’t know what animation is. Joel Schlosberg wrote us this morning about their latest error (reg. req’d):
In today’s New York Times, in the “Week in Review” section, there’s an article commenting on the “SpongeBob is gay” nonsense, pointing out (and rightly so) that there’s a long history of controversy over cartoon characters’ antics, and that the medium of animation is subversive and boundary-pushing. So far, so good. But the list of cartoon characters that have been objected to in the past includes, along with the likes of Bugs Bunny and Betty Boop, Bert and Ernie and the Teletubbies’ Tinky-Winky. So now filming a person in a suit is considered “animation”? It’s just indicative of the unbelievable degree of carelessness affecting much reporting on animation.
Okay, this isn’t animation – but it was an intergral part of early television (and my personal childhood): KUKLA, FRAN & OLLIE.Fran Allison, puppeteer Burr Tillstrom and their puppet pals are fondly remembered on a wonderful website: The Unofficial KUKLAPOLITAN Web Page. It’s loaded with info about the creators and stars of this pioneering TV puppet program – with vintage photos, magazine articles, interviews with the cameraman and director, merchandising, celebrity endorsements, audio (from vinatge records), and video downloads. Even if you have no interest in puppets, this website is a whole lot of fun. It’s my reccommendation of the day!
(Thanks To Anne D. Bernstein for the link)
Speaking of Mickey Mouse (as we were below), Diamond Galleries Scoop.com have posted parts of a 1932 Mickey Mouse Silly Symphonies pressbook – “Not Shorts, but single reel Features!” – highlighting information on the original in-theatre Mickey Mouse Clubs. I really like the Mickey Mouse Fez (right) they were offering to club members back then, long before they came up with the Mouseke-Ears used in the 1950s TV show.
Brew New York galpal Anne D. Bernstein went to see the new Kenneth Anger film tribute to Disney. Here’s her report from MoMA:
The event was sold out. Kenneth Anger wore a bright red sweater and was absolutely loving the applause and recognition. He was upbeat and psyched–even raising his hands over his head like a little kid who just got a basketball in the basket. They showed some early works: EAUX D’ARTIFICE, where a midget dressed in an elaborate robe walks and runs around the Tivoli Gardens in Italy as dramatic classical music blares; INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER, chock full of occult ritual, drugs, shots of a creepy-looking albino guy, and various young, buff, naked men relaxing on a couch (set to a repetitive jarring soundtrack by Mick Jagger); THE MAN WE WANT TO HANG, which consisted of shots of an art exhibit about satanic superstar Aleister Crowley. And then… MOUSE HEAVEN, which is the CUTEST film Kenneth Anger ever made or ever will.I was expecting Mickey to start whipping MINNIE at some point, but the film was peppy and fun. I mean, occasionally the unrelenting parade of hundreds of cartoon mouse toys and other objects (including a Mickey carpet sweeper sweeping a Mickey rug–which got the loudest laugh) is a bit uncanny. Yet it felt like a positive tribute to a powerful icon. Imagine my surprise! The
film was basically a series of montage vignettes set to an eclectic score of tunes from such artists as The Boswell Sisters and The Proclaimers. The Disneyana would often rotate or move in whatever way it was designed to (blinking eyes, dancing, etc.) There was a lot of layering and simple video tricks. It ended with some shiny metallic Mickeys which seemed to evoke Jeff Koons.Anger did speak a bit and had a few animation-related comments: he considers his first films to be little flipbooks that he made when he was a kid; he also noted that the original Mickey design was made up of circles and is therefore “a magical design”.I’m still wondering if his intentions with this project were really as straightforward as they seemed to be — considering his approach to film as a form of occult magick and his notorious fascination with evil–but anyone could enjoy MOUSE HEAVEN with or without exploring some complex and disturbing underlying take on Mickey. But I suppose the idea of Mickey as fetish is hard to escape! PS: He edited it on an Avid at his cameraman’s home. Sir Paul Getty and the Rockefeller Foundation provided the funds.
The winners of the Nicktoons Film Festival (produced by Frederator and ANIMATION MAGAZINE) were recently announced and the $10,000 Grand Prize went to Mark Simon and Travis Blaise’s TIMMY’S LESSONS IN NATURE. The Producers’ Choice award was given to Elizabeth Ito’s CalArts film WELCOME TO MY LIFE. Eight other finalists were also chosen:
Charlie and Chunk by Eric Fogel, Rockville Centre, NY
April by Jiwook Kim, Valencia, Calif.
Bert by Moonsung Lee, White Plains, NY
Skippy by Amanda Spalinski, Valencia, Calif.
Robot Family: The Slick Salesman by Chris Harding, Prairie Village, Kan.
Medusa: The First Date by Pierce Davison, Leederville, Australia
Kenya by Jonti Picking, London, England
Polygon Family 2 by Hiroshi Chida, Tokyo, Japan
For more info on the winners, go HERE.
I’ve been excited about the next film from Chris Sanders (LILO & STITCH) ever since I saw the first examples of concept art, but after reading this plot summary on IMDB.com (what would we ever do without the IMDB), I’m more convinced than ever that Sanders and Disney have got a major hit on their hands:
“A dog is banished from his Taliban home in Afghanistan, and the only one who will take him in is a poor soldier from Texas. The two share adventures that threaten to tear them apart and a true love that brings them closer together. In the end, they both find the true meaning of Christmas, along with a cantankerous old Tajik named Goudarz.”
And if you believe that, I have a really nice original production cel from TOY STORY to sell you.
(Thanks to the Drawing Board for the tip)
Couple good articles to recommend. First, at SaveDisney.com, “In Defense of Disney’s Uncle Remus” is an in-depth piece that argues for the release of Disney’s THE SONG OF THE SOUTH (1946), but also presents the case for why people have, through the years, felt the film is insensitive and racist.
Next is this fascinating and thought-provoking piece by Paul Graham that is as solid a primer as I’ve ever read on the aesthetics of good design. Graham presents a compelling case for why concepts like “taste” and “design” are not as subjective as they are generally made out to be in contemporary society, but rather rooted in certain universal values. All of the principles he discusses can be easily applied to animation: sadly, they most often are not.
(link via Cartoon Retro forum)
The Internets will never be the same. Harry McCracken has launched the long-awaited Scrappyland.com, a site dedicated to celebrating the Depression-era monochromatic goodness of the 1930s Mintz Studio cartoon star Scrappy. The folks at Sony/Columbia prefer to horde the classic Scrappy cartoons in their vaults rather than allowing the public to view and appreciate them, but fortunately Harry has single-handedly lifted Scrappy out of obscurity and brought 21st century awareness to one of the pinnacles of 1930s American culture.
The new TIM BURTON stop-motion feature is coming and it looks good: see the trailer HERE.