ADVERTISING & INDUSTRIALS

adverisedvd.jpgBrew reader Bob Foster found a trio of dvds that compile the best of the industrial and advertising films produced between the 1930s & 1960s. These collections contain mostly the work of the Jam Handy Corporation and John Sutherland’s studio, and – although you can download most of these for free at Archive.org – they seem like a good deal for a dvd hardcopy. Check out the contents of the 1930s-40s disc, the 1940-50s disc and the 1950s-60s disc.

Tonight…Hertzfeldt at the Nuart

Animation ShowJust a reminder…tonight, at the Nuart Theater (11272 Santa Monica Boulevard) is the premiere of THE ANIMATION SHOW. I’ll be moderating the Q-&-A with Don Hertzfeldt at the 7:30pm screening (definitely), and again at the 9:50pm screening (probably).

Also worth mentioning, at this Sunday’s 7:30pm screening of THE ANIMATION SHOW (same theater), there’ll be a Q-&-A with Bill Plympton, whose film in the program, GUARD DOG, is nominated for an Oscar this year. Bill’s visiting from New York for the Oscars, and will be stopping in only for this screening. I think I’ll be moderating the Plympton chat as well.

Animation Show Contest #3

We’re giving away our final limited edition ANIMATION SHOW poster today. Here’s a very easy Hertzfeldt-related question: “Which of Don Hertzfeldt’s short films was nominated for a Best Animated Short Oscar?” First person (North America only) to answer at amid (at) animationblast (dot) com will win today’s poster.

TODAY’S WINNER: Man, people are fast. Four people responded with the correct answer in the first three minutes. Daisy Church is the winner for today. The correct answer was REJECTED. That’s all the posters. Thanks to all who participated.

Animation Show Poster

CARTOON REMAKES

Unlike Amid (see commentary below), I’m not against the idea of reviving classic cartoon characters. For me, it’s all about how they are revived. There is a right way and a wrong way.We’ve seen disasters (The New Jonny Quest) and we’ve seen successes (Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures). As long as a character’s name has market value, the corporations that own them are going to try to pump life into these franchises – hence the live action/CG GARFIELD, CASPER, and ROCKY & BULLWINKLE films (not to mention the strictly live action feature fiasco’s MR. MAGOO, INSPECTOR GADGET, and DUDLEY DO-RIGHT). It’s a fact of life, and we better get used to it.It’s a good business decision for them – evergreen characters (i.e. Winnie The Pooh & Scooby-Doo) are worth billions to these companies. Attempting to continue a cartoon star with a proven track record is seen as low risk. If the original creators, artists, voice actors are gone – the less strings attached – the potential for profits are even higher. The company can now control every creative aspect of the revival initiative. No fussy creative types to kowtow to. In an era of creator-driven cartoons, a corporate-owned property is the safest bet they can place.But with or without their original creators, reviving popular characters is always risky. When classic characters are beloved, reinvention can be (and usually are) disastrous. Think back to the talking Pink Panther series or talking Tom & Jerry movie; anyone remember the “new” Speed Racer series or the American Godzilla flick? These changes were made to achieve certain short-term marketing goals, to capitalize on exploitational buzz, and to make a fast buck. There was no attempt to build on the already existing “pre-sold” audience. And the pre-sold crowd was totally burned by the “new” aspects being foist on their favorite characters. New viewers never had any interest in these ill-concieved ideas in the first place. The results: everyone loses – a failed project for all parties involved.Even if the character can be revived semi-successfully (one’s I’ve liked include Cartoon Network’s FLINTSTONES ON THE ROCKS, Kricfalusi’s BEANY & CECIL and YOGI BEAR, Hanna-Barbera’s SUPER SECRET SECRET SQUIRREL, Carbunkle’s BABY HUEY, Universal’s WOODY WOODPECKER) there is no guarantee it’ll catch on with the public in any meaningful way. It’s clearly a gamble – but no more so than originals like CATDOG, DAVE THE BARBARIAN and KENNY THE SHARK. I see nothing wrong with reviving a well known, but flawed, cartoon character (why not Heckle & Jeckle, Herman & Katnip, Chilly Willy, and heck… even The Ant & The Aardvark has possibilities). The right take, with the right people enthused about making funny cartoons – not just in getting a temporary paycheck – can possibly yield a terrific show. Corporate executives can’t will a success into being. It takes a passionate crew, who understand the characters, the proper context – and are dedicated to restoring the property’s original appeal.I agree with Amid – leave the classics alone. Mickey Mouse has seen better days (and you can see them on Disney’s Treasures dvds) and nobody can do Popeye better than the Fleischer studio. But I also feel that if Genndy Tartakovsky wants to revive Atom Ant or if John K. gets his mitts on Deputy Dawg, I’ll be the first in line to watch.

Animation Show Contest #2

We’re giving away another limited edition ANIMATION SHOW poster featuring the terrific painting by Tim Biskup. Tonight’s question is related to ANIMATION SHOW co-founder Mike Judge: “Which studio produced the animation for the first season of his MTV series BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD?” First person (North America only) to answer at amid (at) animationblast (dot) com will win today’s poster.

TODAY’S WINNER: Jacob Grove is the winner for today. The correct answer was J.J. Sedelmaier Productions. The final question will be posted Friday morning between 10-11am.

Animation Show Poster

First and Last Words on Loonatics

loonaticgroup.jpgA friend last night made this perceptive comment about the new Looney Tunes-inspired TV series LOONATICS: “Warners has already desecrated these characters so many times, why the hell would anybody care at this point?” That pretty succinctly sums up how I feel about the new series. When you’ve had BABY LOONEY TUNES, DUCK DODGERS, SPACE JAM, LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION, and the new Looney Tunes theatrical shorts that were so atrociously incompetent that Warner Bros. declined to publicly release them, why would audiences suddenly, now of all times, feel an urge to get up in arms over this particular misinterpretation of the Warner stock company. Let’s face it, Warner Bros. cartoons were done and over with forty years ago. Isn’t it about time we rid ourselves of this unhealthy fetish for geriatric cartoon characters? We can enjoy them and appreciate them anytime we want on the Looney Tunes Golden DVD collection and in any number of revival screenings. Shouldn’t that be enough? Chuck, Friz, Tex; they’re all dead and don’t give a rat’s ass about what’s going on. Why should we? It’s pointless to shed tears because Beloved Bugs is now named “Buzz Bunny” (apparently after a popular women’s sex toy) and drawn anime-style by some white boy who’s watched one too many episodes of FLCL.

That having been said, I’m still pissed about this project. But for a wholly different reason. Pissed, because for every misguided show like LOONATICS, we lose out (and Warner Bros. loses out) on discovering the next Chuck Jones, the next Bob Clampett, the next Tex Avery, the next individual who could be creating the Bugs Bunny’s and Daffy Duck’s of our generation. There are countless modern creators out there who have ideas…who have something to say…and it’s a slap in the face of every talented artist working in this business whenever a major animation studio chickens out like this. Shoving a tired rabbit down America’s throat for the umpteenth time will never reap WB the rewards of giving America a great new cartoon star, an honestly-created cartoon that speaks to our time and place. But why take risks, especially when you can be successful by playing it safe: successful like BABY LOONEY TUNES and its sweet ranking of 104th in children’s programming or LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION and that delectable $20.9 mil it accrued in North American box office receipts.

To display anger over LOONATICS means that Warner Bros. has won yet again. The executives love hearing affirmation that people still care about these characters; when somebody likes the cartoons enough to voice concern, they know their job is safe. It’s not like they’ve created any cartoon characters of their own that audiences actually give a fuck about. These classic characters are their lifeline to a weekly paycheck. So let me be the first to say to Warner Bros.: take Bugs and fuck him however many ways you want – make him anime, give him pants and a spongy complexion, pair him up with Snoop Dogg and produce a Broadway rap-musical…I just don’t care.

It’s about time that we set aside our misguided reverence for Bugs Bunny and redirected that into respect for today’s artists and the enormous potential that they hold. I think Clampett, Jones and Avery would be proud to know that their legacy has been to inspire the creation of more great cartoons. Unfortunately, those cartoons aren’t going to happen until audiences stop acknowledging every last-ditch effort by studios to milk their trademarked relics of the past.

New Animation Magazines

> ASIFA MAGAZINE is relaunching this summer as the CARTOON JOURNAL. Chris Robinson will remain the magazine’s editor, but instead of being published independently by the ASIFA organization, it will now be published and distributed by John Libbey Publishing. The magazine will be expanding in both size and scope, and color pages are also being added. Robinson says, “We’ll be doing a mix of academic, historical, technology and feature pieces on all facets of animation.” With Chris’s strong editorial vision and Libbey’s involvement, I think this magazine should be well worth picking up, which is something I haven’t been able to say about a print animation magazine in a long time. More details to come.

> STASH magazine is a new monthly collection of animation, vfx and motion graphics released on dvd. It’s not cheap ($228 for a one-year subscription or $35 for individual dvds), but there’s a lot of interesting short films and commercials included in each edition. Previews and content listings for the first five issues are posted on-line. I suspect a lot of creatively-deficient animation producers will be subscribing to this and using it as a cribsheet to studios and styles that are currently hot.

Animation Show Contest #1

In honor of the new 2005 ANIMATION SHOW program, Cartoon Brew is giving away three beautiful one-sheet (28″x39″) movie posters with Tim Biskup’s SHOW painting. These have been printed in a swanky limited edition of 400 and won’t be easy to find in the future. We’re giving away one today, one tomorrow and another on Friday. Today’s question is, “What classic piece of Disney animation was shown in last year’s edition of the ANIMATION SHOW and who was the director of that film?” First person (North America only) to answer at amid (at) animationblast (dot) com will win today’s poster.

TODAY’S WINNER: Raymond Delgadillo is the winner for today. The correct answer was MARS & BEYOND and the director was Ward Kimball. New question will be posted tomorrow evening between 7-8 pm.

Ward 13

WIMP ATTACK

wimpattack.jpgThis Thursday, Feb 17, four of the best alternative comics artists will have a joint… a joint art show in the gallery at FILM ROMAN, that is.Jordan Crane, Sam Henderson, Johnny Ryan and Steven Weissman present WIMP ATTACK 2: THE SEARCH FOR CURLY’S GOLD from 5:30pm-7pm. To see what they are all about, click on each of their names above to sample their work.FILM ROMAN
12020 Chandler Blvd. (2F)
N. Hollywood, CA

Amid Interviews Don Hertzfeldt

Ward 13The 2005 edition of the ANIMATION SHOW premieres this Friday, February 18, in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theatre (11272 Santa Monica Boulevard). There’s a diverse, inspiring line-up of films this year including gems like WARD 13, GUARD DOG, THE MAN WITH NO SHADOW and PAN WITH US. ANIMATION SHOW co-founder Don Hertzfeldt will be in attendance at the premiere this Friday to discuss his amazing new short THE MEANING OF LIFE. I’ve seen the film and let me say that this film alone is well worth the price of admission. I have the honor of interviewing Hertzfeldt on Friday so drop by- a jolly time will be had by all. The ANIMATION SHOW opens in Seattle and Vancouver next week, and both Hertzfeldt and Mike Judge will be present for those screenings. Details at TheAnimationShow.com.

CALVIN & THE COLONEL

calvin2.jpgCALVIN AND THE COLONEL ran on ABC in primetime from October 3, 1961 through September 22, 1962. It was on Tuesday nights at 8:30. Today it’s completely forgotten.CALVIN AND THE COLONEL featured the exploits of two backwoods animals from the south who had taken up residence in a large northern city. The series was created, and the lead characters voiced, by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, who patterned the cartoon after their long-running “Amos ‘n’ Andy” radio and television series. Gosden and Correll, two white men, had created and played the parts of the two black leads in the radio version of “Amos ‘n’ Andy”. They felt that, by using animals as their principal characters, they could avoid the touchy racial situation which “Amos ‘n’ Andy” had become in the early 1960′s.
They were wrong.Simply because of Gosden and Correll’s participation, the show has been banned from distribution for 40 years. There is nothing racist about the series. In fact, it’s one of the funniest TV cartoons ever produced. The series was produced for Kayro Productions by Bob Mosher and Joe Connelly, whose credits include “Leave it to Beaver”, and “The Munsters”.On Saturday afternoon February 26th at 3:00pm, Asifa-Hollywood will present a screening of several rare color episodes of the series, 16mm prints, some with original network commercials. Special guests from the cast & crew will attend and a Q & A after the screening will include voice actress June Foray and animators Phil Roman, John Sparey and Frank Andrina. The screening takes place on The American Film Institute campus, in the Ted Ashley-Warner Bros. Screening Room, 2021 N. Westen Ave. in Hollywood, CA. It’s a rare opportunity to see these episodes and meet the people behind the scenes.

CARTOONISTS NOW/THEN

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The Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art in New York has posted an online exhibit of 50 top cartoonists with examples of their artwork alongside a sample of how they drew at age 12. NOW-THEN, a MoCCA online exhibit launches today and is well worth a visit. Curated by webmaster Robert Zimmerman, with a nifty logo by Lou Brooks, Now-Then contains art by many Brew favorites including Dave Sheldon (above), Gary Baseman, Jack Davis, Everett Peck, Bob Stakke and Kristen Ulve.

DISNEYWAR

DISNEYWAR by Pulitzer-prize winning author James B. Stewart is a blistering new indictment of the Eisner regime. Stewart had all sorts of insider access, including the cooperation of both Eisner and Roy Disney, so it should make for some juicy reading. The book also reprints the text of the letter of support for Roy and Stanley so if you signed that last year, then your name should be in the book. Here’s links to DISNEYWAR articles in TIME magazine and THE NEW YORK TIMES.

MONDAY MORNING INSPIRATION

OVER TIME is a wonderfully inventive and atmospheric student film, a tribute of sorts to Muppet creator Jim Henson. It was directed by Oury Atlan, Thibaut Berland and Damien Ferrie as a graduation project at the French animation/media school Supinfocom, whose CG student films routinely kick the ass out of anything produced by North American animation schools. The directing trio are now billed as Oury & Thomas and represented by Partizan Lab, the animation division of the London/Paris-based commercial firm Partizan. Watch OVER TIME here. (Thanks, Phil)

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The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo

dandecarlo1.jpgThe late Dan DeCarlo, creator of Josie & the Pussycats and the key artist for the Archie Comics Group for over 30 years, could really draw the ladies. His Betty & Veronica artwork lured young male comics fans (like myself) to check out the Archie books in our preteenage years – and his style influenced many aspiring cartoon artists (including Bruce Timm and Jamie Hernandez).In the 1950s, before his well known Archie stint, DeCarlo drew many a naughty cartoon for a group of men’s humor magazines, mainly for Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman. Goodman’s Humorama line contained a series of sleazy digest cartoon magazines with titles like JOKER, LAUGH RIOT, ZIP and FUN HOUSE. DeCarlo’s cartoons aren’t very funny, but his females are hot – and Fantagraphics Books has just published a nice selection of them in a new book, THE PIN-UP ART OF DAN DECARLO, which I just found yesterday at my comics shop and am happy to highly recommend. It’s such a pleasure to look through this book – it’s the best tribute to DeCarlo I’ve seen. Fantagraphics designed the book Taschen-style, printing in black, white and shades of orange (just like actual issues of JOKER). Editors Alex Chun and Jacob Covey selected the best images from both gag cartoons and spot illutrations to show off DeCarlo’s best work.To get more of an idea of the art reprinted in this book, check out Alex Chun’s great website, Pin-Up Cartoon Gallery.com.

THE DOT & THE LINE

dotline1.jpgI get many many requests about Chuck Jones 1965 Academy Award Winning MGM cartoon THE DOT AND THE LINE. As previously noted, it’s scheduled to be released as bonus material on Frank Tashlin’s THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT in April. As a public service, I want point out its showing tonight (actually 2/13, technically tomorrow morning) on TCM – It’ll screen during TCM’s half hour Festival of Shorts #3, Sunday morning at 5:30am EST and 2:30am PST. This program repeats a few weeks later, Thursday morning March 3rd also at 5:30am EST and 2:30am PST.