Just discovered that art director/background designer Dan Krall (SAMURAI JACK, FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS) has a site up at DanKrall.com. Krall’s drawings are funny and appealing (in a somewhat Ronald Searle-ish manner), and his paintings have a fine sense of design and color. The only thing the site needs is more of his artwork.
Following a battle with cancer, animation artist Dan Lee passed away last weekend at age 35. He had most recently been doing story and character design at Pixar where his credits included FINDING NEMO, TOY STORY 2 and A BUG’S LIFE. Jamie Baker and Ronnie del Carmen remember Dan’s life and work on their blogs. Recent photos of Dan taken by Amber MacLean can be found HERE.
UPDATE: Enrico Casarosa remembers Dan on his BLOG.
Ever since Amid posted the note about the Irv Spence diary, I’ve been thinking and thinking about himâ€¦Irv, I mean. I could swear I had some info about that diary from a Women In Animation oral history interview conducted by Sari Gennis, Libby Simon and me. I’ve got a call into Libby about that, however, in my search for info on Irv I came across these two sweet drawings Tom Ray did for me ten years ago that I forgot I had. After an apprenticeship at Schlesinger’s, Ray worked for almost every studio including John Sutherland Productions, WB (where he worked on more than 40 productions), MGM, H-B, Marvel and later at WBTV on TINY TOONS, Walt Disney on the 101 DALMATIONS TV show and at Sony on the MEN IN BLACK TV show. Cool to think he was able to bridge the gap between the Golden Age and modern cartooning. Plus, I just like these little drawings; they have so much life.
One universal truth is that you meet the coolest people at animation film festivals. I met Richard O’Connor at Ottawa on a panel and was completely taken with his single-minded nature, intense opinions and super-human ability to make Asterisk, his indie studio in New York, a success. Richard just sent me four shorts that I really like. Here’s what the press release says, but let’s just say I highly recommend FLYING V. Check it out HERE.
They Might Be Giants and Disney called on Asterisk to create four pieces based on original TMBG songs for the dvd HERE COME THE ABCs. Asterisk created each video with a different look and approach. D&W uses puppets composited into watercolor environments; FLYING V uses the comical illustration style of underground cartoonist Sam Henderson; T SHIRT is animated in a classic WB style; and CAN YOU FIND IT? is a low-fi homage to WHERE’S WALDO? The films will also air on the Playhouse Disney preschool block on The Disney Channel. Good on ya, Richard!
> Ben Ettinger takes an in-depth look at the work of independent Japanese animator Tadanari Okamoto. Okamoto worked in an impressive variety of animation techniques include clay, puppet, cel, low relief and yam animation. Let that be a lesson to all the people who said that yams belonged only in stews and not up on the bigscreen. I’ve seen only one of his films before, MONKEY AND CRAB (courtesy of Seamus and Mark), and it’s a wild stop motion trip. After reading Ben’s appreciation, I want to search out more of Okamoto’s work.
> Shane Glines has jumped on the blog bandwagon (blogwagon?), and started his own Cartoon Retro blog HERE. If you’re not subscribing to Cartoon Retro (a mere $5 a month), you’re missing out on one of the best cartoon/illustration/animation resources that’s ever hit the ‘net. No hyperbole there; it continues to become more impressive and inspiring everyday.
> Jim Hull is posting audio files of a lecture delivered by master animator Milt Kahl at Disney in the late-’70s. The first three tracks are currently posted on his site, SewardStreet.com, and he’ll be posting more clips of Milt’s talk weekly. I can only imagine how many great lectures are floating around out there or stashed away in people’s personal collections, and deserving to be preserved on-line where they can be heard by a global audience. Just the other night, I found in my own files a tape of 101 DALMATIANS color stylist Walt Peregoy speaking at DreamWorks around 1997 or so. It’s lively, thought-provoking and full of interesting exchanges between Walt and his attentive audience. This is exactly the type of thing that should be available for all to hear. Reading in a book about Eyvind Earle’s bg styling for SLEEPING BEAUTY is one thing, but hearing one of the main background painters on the film tell you why the work doesn’t gel is a completely unique experience, regardless of whether one agrees with the assessment or not. This exchange between Walt and one of the artists in the audience is particularly priceless:
DreamWorks artist: When I look at SLEEPING BEAUTY, compared to what I see today, it’s amazing.
Walt Peregoy: No.
DreamWorks artist: I think so.
Walt Peregoy: Well, you’re suffering from a delusion. I’m sorry.
Unfortunately, the Walt talk isn’t online (yet), but Milt Kahl is and he’s definitely worth hearing.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I would like to guide you to a lovely cartoon produced by Clifford Cohen’s non-profit, Animaction, here in Hollywood, California. Animaction’s Awareness Through Animation program has helped thousands of “children of all ages develop effective communication skills and address critical social issues through the creation and production of short animated films.” Basically Animaction goes to a school, spends one to two days and helps the students work together to create a public service announcement on a topic of importance to that community. One of my favorite works that has come out of this powerful institution is THE DREAM, a look at the ideals of MLK. You can view it on the PBS website.
Ray Harryhausen is making several live appearences in L.A. during the next few weeks to promote his book (which I got for Christmas) and a new DVD (which I watched last night). The new DVD is called RAY HARRYHAUSEN: THE EARLY YEARS, and it’s a must-have for fans of Harryhausen, stop motion animation, students of Hollywood history and everyone who grew up with Jason and the Argonauts and Famous Monsters of Filmland.This dvd collects Harryhusen’s rare Mother Goose Stories and Fairy Tales, newly restored and more vivid and vibrant than they’ve ever looked. This dvd also collects all of Ray’s early stop motion experiments, tests, commercials and wartime training films. There is a nice featurette on the making of The Tortoise & The Hare that shows the modelmaking and painstaking process required to make these films. And that’s only disc one.On disc two are various interviews with Ray (sometimes with old pals Forry Ackerman and Ray Bradbury) including his recieving a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and an extensive interview with Leonard Maltin at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. There are still photo galleries, tributes by famous filmmakers and a wonderful mini-documentary on the restoration of these fairy tale films and test fragments. There is more material than I can list – suffice to say, check the website and buy this dvd. It goes on sale February 1st and I highly recommended it.
Media Alert: Brewmaster Jerry Beck is scheduled to appear as a guest on Comcast’s video game channel G4techTV (aka G4TTV) next Friday, January 21st. I’ll appear on Screen Savers, a daily live broadcast that features the latest internet/video game/consumer electronics news. What I’ll be doing on this show, I have no idea. But I’ll plug the Brew and my new book ANIMATION ART. The show airs live at 4pm Pacific, 7pm Eastern – and will rerun over the weekend.
I’d never heard of cartoonist Robert Osborn before today.Cartoonist Paul Giambarba has started a new weblog devoted to cartoonists past and present, and his first lengthy entry is devoted to Osborn, and his drawings of Lt. Dilbert, USN – a character who appeared in thousands of posters and service manuals describing all sorts of hazards to U.S. Navy pilots during World War II. Milton Caniff’s Male Call is the subject of his next posting.Also check out Giambarba’s other blog 100 Years Of Illustration & Design where he examines the likes of Howard Pyle, Haddon Sunblom and Norman Rockwell, among others. Beautiful stuff.
Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt’s THE ANIMATION SHOW is back for a second edition, and it’s another fine film line-up. They recently announced the program and opening theatrical dates at TheAnimationShow.com. Included in this year’s festival: the terrific WARD 13 which Rita wrote about yesterday, the debut of Don Hertzfeldt’s epic short THE MEANING OF LIFE, the impressive-looking CG short FALLEN ART, and films by the likes of Bill Plympton, Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby and Georges Schwizgebel. Fireworks will be provided by Pes.
All that, plus this excellent poster by Tim Biskup…
The United Nations has announced the release this week of The Three Amigos, a series of 20 short, professionally produced animated Public Service Announcements designed to encourage the use of condoms to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the world. The three animated condom characters are named – get this – Shaft, Stretch and Dick.
“The launch today at the United Nations by Firdaus Kharas, Producer and Director of the series, signifies the start of the world’s largest integrated behaviour modification programme. The Three Amigos is a groundbreaking HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, strongly supported by Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has called the PSA’s “a powerful communicating tool”, has written an open letter to broadcasters around the world which he calls “an impassioned plea” to “use these PSA’s. They cannot be played enough”. The Three Amigos is currently playing continuously in South Africa, the Netherlands and Canada. As of today, an international roll-out will offer the PSA’s free to broadcasters, NGO’s and community groups in any country.”
I’m a huge stop-motion fan, so was interested to score a DVD copy of Australian filmmaker Peter Cornwell’s WARD 13 last week. In addition to some impressive awards in 2004 for this 14:35 minute-long mental trip, Cornwell’s short boasts some pretty spectacular fight scenes. The website for the film is also pretty tricked-out (www.ward13.com.au) and includes a few tidbits of backstage info like:
“The seemingly endless corridors of the Art Deco hospital in WARD 13 are in fact just three 75cm-long modules which clamped together on a metal L-profile slide rail. In many shots, the camera appears to track smoothly with the characters as they run or motor down the corridors. In fact, both camera and figures were stationary, and it was the corridor modules that were moved along with each frame. The size of the movement varied with the apparent speed of the characters. As each module moved out of frame, it was carefully detached from the others and reclamped at the front, perhaps with different model furniture and props or a fake door flat.”
Definitely worth seeing for the animation in the action scenes.
Yesterday while Steve Jobs revealed the new iPod in San Francisco, the electronic wizards in Japan revealed their own cutting edge technology. For the cutting edge of your butter knife, that is!This new “super toaster” introduced by Sanyo imprints Winnie The Pooh on your white bread. Now you can have your Pooh and eat it too!
Daily visual inspiration for the rest of ’05. Sweet! Here’s an awesome BLOG where somebody (“Filboid Sudge”) is uploading the 1944 day-by-day illustrated diary of animation great Irv Spence. Irv was an animator in Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s Tom & Jerry unit at the time, and he kept the diary throughout the entire year of ’44, documenting daily events at MGM and in his personal life. This was during the height of WWII so there’s plenty of references to victory gardens, gas shortages and the like. I’ve seen the entire diary and there’s beautiful energetic drawings throughout, somewhat reminiscent of George Lichty’s newspaper comic GRIN & BEAR IT.