Cartoon Network sent me a screener tape of their new Adult Swim series, ROBOT CHICKEN. Our buddies at Screen Novelties had a hand in it so I gave it a look – and I’m glad I did.ROBOT CHICKEN is very funny. It’s sort of an SCTV-MR. SHOW skitcom with stop-motion action figures. It gets points from me for being hand animated, – heck, it gets extra points for doing a take-off on the 1948 Superman serial, but I digress. The writing is very good, the animation (considering it’s funky stop-mo with store-bought dolls) is as it should be. I laughed several times during the 12 minute first episode, and that’s as it should be too. I intend to keep watching, and advise you to check it out when it premieres Sunday Feb. 20th at 11:30pm.Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Seineich will join Tom Goes To The Mayor’s Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim and Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro on March 4th (at 7:30pm) at the Director’s Guild Theatre in Hollywood, at an Adult Swim tribute, as part of The Museum of Television & Radio’s annual William Paley Festival. This program will be hosted by Adult Swim’s Keith Crofford. More information on this event is available on the MT&R website.
Everyone seems to be laughing at James Dobson’s attack against SPONGEBOB. Here’s an editorial in today’s L.A. Times.
Excerpts from a satire now posted on Salon.com:
Crazed right-wing moralists, take note: Before SpongeBob, there was Snagglepuss … and Huckleberry Hound … and even Popeye.By Liz Larocca
Recent events in the world of animated children’s shows have caused people to question whether the cartoon industry is promoting a homosexual agenda. Allegations have been directed at SpongeBob SquarePants for participating in a pro-gay video, and at Buster the Bunny for his fraternization with a lesbian couple and their children. While some have dismissed these allegations as the rantings of ultraconservative Christians, gay cartoon characters do in fact exist, and some of them are even politically active. I recently asked some of them to share their stories.Sitting in the living room of his well-appointed Cape Cod-style home, a cultural icon recalls his heyday with sadness and regret. “I was in constant fear of being found out,” says Popeye, sipping herbal tea. “I thought once I cast Olive Oyl, everyone would know. She was so tall and lanky, with that boyish figure …”Three days later, I’m in the parlor of a lovely San Francisco townhouse, being entertained by a self-described “proud queer, an old queen, ev-en!” “I can’t believe America didn’t know,” says Snagglepuss. “I mean, the cuff links, the flamboyance, the theater jargon — plus, I’m pink, for heaven’s sake!”"I think it’s terrific what SpongeBob is doing,” he declares as he accepts a white wine spritzer from longtime companion Huckleberry Hound. “I’ve heard rumors about Squidward, too.” Snagglepuss looks at his partner. “Two out and proud gays on one show, wouldn’t that be fabulous?!” “I had a much different Hollywood experience than Puss,” he continues. “The producers were looking for someone to host a show, to be a major player. They didn’t care that I was gay, but this was 1959, and they didn’t want any speculation about me.” He sits down on the end of the chaise longue and puts his hand on Snagglepuss’ leg. “They liked my look, but I sounded very effeminate.”"The ironic thing is, they were wrong about one of the first gay icons,” he adds. “There was always a lot of talk about Velma, but she’s strictly hetero.” “Even we believed it,” Snagglepuss admits. “But then Daphne, who’s actually bi, told me that she’d tried to get Velma to ‘experiment’ a couple times, but she wasn’t interested. Velma’s always been supportive of our cause.” Asked which characters are members of the LGBT Cartoon Alliance, Snagglepuss runs off some names: Jabberjaw, Auggie Doggie, Mr. Slate of “The Flintstones,” Elmer Fudd, Pepé Le Pew (“He’s what’s now called pan-sexual,” says Snagglepuss), everyone in “Josie and the Pussycats,” all three members of “The Hair Bear Bunch,” several Smurfs, and Gargamel, and Foghorn Leghorn.”That last one surprised even us,” Huckleberry says. “And Bugs Bunny hasn’t officially joined, but he has been to a few meetings.” He divulges, “He had to dress up as a woman a lot on the show, and then found himself doing it
Alexandre Alexeieff, the Russian-born French filmmaker who invented the pinscreen method of animation – with his wife/collaborator Claire Parker – is the subject of a comprehensive DVD being released this month in France.ALEXANDRE ALEXEÃEFF: Animation Works contains 30 short films, a booklet with liner notes, and numerous bonus materials including a Picture gallery (of photos, portraits, engraving, tools, etc.), Alexeieff’s commercials and several documentaries – including Noman McLaren’s 1972 film on the technique. Also included is Jacques Drouin’s Mindscapes, his 1976 film using pinboard techniques. The DVD is in English & French, and only available in PAL. For more information, visit www.cinedoc.org
It’s worth noting a couple interesting items recently posted on Ronnie del Carmen’s blog. The passing of Pixar’s Dan Lee was not only written about, but given a front page story in the OTTAWA CITIZEN. It’s a rarity for the death of any animation artist to receive this type of ink, so it’s very nice seeing Lee remembered in this manner. Also, Ronnie recounts his recent visit to Studio Ghibli in Japan.
Tee Bosustow, son of Stephen Bosustow, has launched a new website devoted to the animation studio his father owned and operated for 14 years – United Productions of America.Tee has been (and still is) filming interviews with veteran UPA personnel, historians, and current animators-under-the-UPA-influence for a documentary he is producing, “UPA: Mavericks, Magic and Magoo”. He is actively seeking investors to bring the project to completion. The companion website, UPApix.com, is still a work-in-progress – so if you have material to contribute to the site or to documentary, Tee would love to hear from you.UPA is beloved by animation historians and knowledgable animators. It’s influence and importance to animation history is undeniable. Tee is trying his best to make sure the studio is recognized by today’s younger generation, and not forgotten by the film community at large. We certainly wish him luck.
We here at Cartoon Brew have no interest in sports, and especially the Super Bowl. But we admit that the advertising created for the event is good for our animator friends. For one, our buddy Xeth Feinberg (Bulbo) recently created this fine Jib-Jab-like parody of the Eagles.During the Super Bowl itself, I am most anxious to see the new
MasterCard commercial featuring vintage advertising icons Mr. Peanut, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Count Chocula, Charlie Tuna, The Jolly Green Giant and Mr. Clean. Another great use of classic characters – score one for our team.
I AM 8-BIT is a huge group art show which opens in Los Angeles in a couple months. Curated by Jon Gibson and Katie Cromwell, the show features 100 artists who have created artwork inspired by “classic” videogames – classic in this instance meaning pre-1995, an era of “button-mashing when 3D was a fantasy on par with flying cars – when gaming weas about style, expression, and, most of all, unyielding fun.” The artists, many of them working in animation (surprise, surprise), are unapologetic about their fondness for low-res gaming, and their homages cover all the major and minor arcade and videogames of the Eighties and early-Nineties including PAC-MAN, Q*BERT, STREET FIGHTER II, CENTIPEDE, DONKEY KONG and SUPER MARIO BROS. I AM 8-BIT opens with an ’80s-themed party on April 19 at the Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight/Acme Game Store (7020 Melrose Ave, Hollywood, CA 90038) and winds down with a closing night party for E3 attendees on May 18. Some of the animation folk represented in the show are Anna Chambers, Doug TenNapel, Dave Wasson, Ricky Garduno, Bill Wray, and Lynne Naylor, along with artists from the illustration/comic scene like Steve Purcell, Miles Thompson, Chip Wass and Gary Taxali. Stay tuned to iam8bit.net for more details.
The piece above is by Sean Clarity (after EXCITEBIKE), and below are a couple pieces from the show by Chris Reccardi (inspired by CENTIPEDE) and Tony Mora (from MIKE TYSON’S PUNCH-OUT).
This ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE article is a solid summary of how Flash is affecting TV animation production nowadays. No shocking revelations, but a good primer on the main points of the burgeoning Flash industry. The most exciting project mentioned in the article is Michel Gagne’s INSANELY TWISTED SHADOW PUPPET SHOW. So far he hasn’t released anything beyond a couple trailers, which can be viewed HERE. Knowing Michel and his exacting eye for quality, I have no doubt that the finished product will live up to the same high standards set forth in the trailers and that means we’re in store for one incredible piece of animation.
U.S. controversies over such matters as gay Spongebob and Postcards From Buster seen silly compared to Britain’s latest scandal: An animated toad with his private parts exposed. Crazy Frog, an animated wallpaper for your cell phone, has gotten approval from Britain’s advertising regulators to flash his genitals in TV spots – despite over 60 complaints from home viewers.Great horny toads! What’s next? Someone better hide The Reluctant Dragon fast!
J.J. Sedelmaier recently developed and directed a tv/print ad campaign for the Chicago Tribune which is quite effective in its stark simplicity. The first animated spot is currently posted on the Tribune website. In the ad, there’s a great unexpected gag of the baby flying past the couch – a perfect illustration of how humor is achievable even with the most basic of character designs, if the timing and execution are right. Interview clips with Sedelmaier about the development of the campaign are also on the site.
Thursday night I’m once again showing several musical shorts (and cartoons) at the Steve Allen Theatre in Los Feliz. This is my monthly 16mm film program, as opening act, for the fantastic Janet Klein and her Parlour Boys who perform the first Thursday of each month at this location, at 8pm. Janet sings and plays authentic 1920s jazz, while I open the show with several 16mm shorts from the 1930s. This month I’m showing YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOIN’ (1931), MERRY MANNEQUINS (1937) and a wild Fleischer Screen Song, SONG SHOPPING (1933, with Ethel Merman). It’s musical madness! Join us!
GREASE producer Robert Stigwood should never, I repeat NEVER, be allowed within a hundred miles of an animation studio. He’s planning to remake the Who’s 1975 rock-opera feature TOMMY into an animated film, which is fine, but he wants to spend $400 million to do it. Is it even possible to spend $400 million on an animated film? What are they going to do: produce it five times in a row and then pick the best version? Stigwood’s insane reasoning: “It will feature the biggest names in the music industry. The original movie costs $3-4 million but this will cost $300-400 million. If you are going to do it, you’ve got to do it right.” This is a textbook example of what happens when people without the faintest clue of how animation works get the notion that they should produce an animated film. What’s even more frightening is that there’s probably some exec right now at a movie studio, with an equally abysmal understanding of animation, thinking to himself, “You know, that sounds like a damn fine idea.”
(link via Animated-News)