Eddie Friedman (1912-2005)

Bronwen Barry writes on Animation Nation:

I have to post this sad note on the passing of my dear,dear friend (and, at one time, bowling league teammate) Eddie Friedman. He had a lovely long life, wonderful career, adoring family. Your many friends miss you so much already,Ed.
Much love, Bronnie

Animator, director and long-time Guild supporter ED FRIEDMAN passed away on April 29 at the age of ninety-two. He had suffered a stroke about a year ago, and he had again been hospitalized earlier this month. From 1933 until 1989 he worked for Iwerks, Mintz/Screen Gems, John Sutherland, Disney, UPA, Format, Bagle Productions, Ed Graham and Filmation. He was active in the Screen Cartoonists Guild and he had served on Local 839′s Executive Board for almost thirty years. He received the Golden Award in 1984.

Services will be this Monday, May 2, at 2 pm, at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles (east of Barham, next to Forest Lawn Cemetery); phone (800) 600-0076 or (323) 469-6000. Information and directions HERE.

Here’s a photo of Friedman (kneeling, far right) at the bowling alley on the night Kennedy was elected president. Fred Crippen is kneeling far left and Paul Shively is in the middle. Not sure who the people standing are.

Eddie Friedman

A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS

frankenbulb.jpgAs Amid is mired in deadline hell (see below) and I’m in the midst of a move (for the next three weeks), updating Cartoon Brew may be a bit spotty for the time being. Luckily with friends like Mark Mayerson and readers like Craig Harris, we will always have things to post.Mark sent me this link which is a very long, detailed account by Phil Vischer of the various problems that eventually killed Big Idea (The Veggie Tales company). Very interesting from a business and production standpoint.And Craig Harris has started a production blog for his promising 2-D short FRANKENBULB.

50s animation design book update

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If you have called or emailed me in the past couple months and have not received a response, please accept my apologies. I have been living a hermit’s lifestyle as I work on finishing up my book on 1950s animation design. My editor at Chronicle informs me that the projected release date for the book is now April 2006. Before that day arrives though, a huge amount of work remains: writing will wrap up in May, image selection in June and book design in July. I fully expect these next few months to be as crazy and hectic as the last couple have been. Fortunately, the book is shaping up quite nicely and I’m anxious to see how it all turns out. Chronicle has been extremely accomodating throughout the whole process and they’re even giving me more pages than originally planned so the book is now 188 pages.

When you’re doing a book on the subject of design, it definitely helps to have a well-designed book. I have no worries about that aspect because Chronicle recently brought aboard an excellent designer: Peter Buchanan-Smith. Peter’s recent work includes THE WILCO BOOK and CHEAP LAFFS. He’s also the art director of PAPER MAGAZINE as well as co-founder of the incredibly cool art journal THE GANZFELD. The pieces are definitely falling into place; now hopefully, I won’t fall to pieces.

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OPEN THE DOOR, RICHARD!

bugssam.jpgIn the classic Looney Tune HIGH DIVING HARE (1949), Yosemite Sam — knocking loudly upon a door which has just been erected by Bugs Bunny — bellows, “Open the door!” Sam then takes a beat, and turns to us and says in a normal tone, “You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘Richard’.”For further background information about this gag’s dated reference, see David Hinckley’s article in today’s New York Daily News.(Thanks to B. Baker)

MASON ADAMS 1919-2005

supermanatom.jpgSaddened to hear of the passing of actor Mason Adams.He voiced Grandpa in Richard Williams’ RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY animated feature and was best known for his role as the editor Charlie Hume on the series LOU GRANT. Adams had a great voice (heard in many, many commercials) and was prolific in the golden age of radio drama. My favorite role of his was as “Atom Man” on the SUPERMAN radio show (I highly recommend the Radio Spirits CDs). It’s too bad he didn’t do more animation voice work.

Brad Bird @ The San Francisco Film Festival

Brew correspondant Steve Segal sends us a link to a San Francisco Chronicle article about Brad Bird, recently speaking at the San Francisco Film Festival. Steve was there and took some notes of his own:bradbirdpic.jpg

He spoke rhapsodically about the communal movie going experience of days gone by, like waiting in line for the original Star Wars. He enjoys waiting in line, he understands the mindset of the people who are right now waiting in line for the final episode of Star Wars. He also related a story about seeing Spiderman 2 with his three sons opening day at midnight at one of the few single screen theatres left in the bay area. Days later his wife (a film person, “would I have anybody else”) was screaming at the projectionist of her hometown Vermont theatre because the film had a scratch through the entire film.He talked about the projection equipment called platters which allows an entire movie to be put on one reel. Wear is avoided by opening up the gate a little, which results in a slightly out of focus picture. Whereupon he went into his yokel impression, “Mr. Johnson sayed it wuz shot thet way”. He also dislikes commercials and congratulated audiences in LA who regularly boo at the commercials (not trailers, that’s part of the movie going experience, as long as they don’t give away too much of the plot). Googolplexes, as he calls them, has led to smaller screens, partly because of the well intentioned Americans with disabilities act, which stipulates that theatres with more than 300 seats must provide access for handicapped to every seat. The result being not better access, but smaller theatres. Bird reasoned you only need some of the seats to have that access not EVERY seat.He sees 3D (stereoscopic movies, not computer graphics) as a possible thwart to bootleggers, since the image is fuzzy if you don’t wear the glasses. So taking a video camera into the theatre wouldn’t work very well (I’m not sure if he’s given any thought to putting a lens from the glasses over the camera). He declared the new digital 3D projection the best 3D he’s ever seen, and even a clip from the original Star Wars, which had been converted from 2D to 3D, was “much better than you’d think”.In the Q & A he compared working on Iron Giant with being on the Titanic since Warners had already decided to close the studio, but it was as if they left the booze cabinet on the Titanic unlocked, “we could do anything we wanted, there was nobody around”. Warners was unprepared for the success and had no marketing in place. He was extremely complimentary of the three visionary geniuses at Pixar Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, and Steve Jobs. And mentioned when he decided to make Incredibles in wide screen Steve Jobs explained, very analytically, that there are many theatres where that will result in a smaller, not larger picture. He then complimented Jobs when he calmly accepted Bird’s decision to use wide screen. He pointed out that Lasseter’s Cars is also in wide screen When asked to do Edna he hesitated for a moment then said “You poosh to hard, dahling” and then mentioned interviewers who can’t believe he did the voice, or at least assume it’s somehow processed, so he must do the voice to convince them.

SCRAPPY!

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Saturday is Scrappy-Day in Hollywood, as Asifa-Hollywood presents a screening of brand new 35mm restoration prints of neglected 1930s cartoon icon Scrappy.The fun begins at 1pm when a an exhibit of rare Scrappy merchandise is put on display. This will be followed by a distinguished panel of Scrappy experts (including Jerry Beck, Harry McCracken (of Scrappyland.com), and Dr. Richard Huemer Jr.) who will ruminate on the merits of the greatest 1930s cartoon character that almost everybody has forgotten–the Mintz Studio’s Scrappy. A special performance by the Scrappy Puppet Theatre Players will then enact, live, a classic scene from a Scrappy cartoon!At 3pm: a rare screening of newly restored 35mm prints of classic Scrappy cartoons from the 1930s. Prints include the rarely seen promotional film for Scrappy’s Puppet Theatre as well as two cartoons unseen in over 70 years: The Beer Parade and Fare-Play (these two were banned from the syndicated Samba TV package – and contain unique original titles!). Prints courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime (we guarantee that!) event!Saturday April 30th • 1:00pm till 5:30pm • Cartoons start at 3pm
The American Film Institute

TED ASHLEY/WARNER BROS. SCREENING ROOM
2021 N. Western Ave.
Hollywood, CAAsifa members FREE ADMISSION ($10. General public)

Loonatics: A lesson in mediocrity

How pathetic are the execs at Warner Bros. Animation? They’ve junked the original LOONATICS designs and made new ones because an 11-year-old started a petition saying he didn’t like the characters. A thought comes to mind:

a.) If you truly believe in the quality and value of your product, you don’t change it every time somebody in the public raises an objection (the creative process in animation should not be a collaborative effort between studios and the entire American population), and,b.) if your product is so bad that an 11-year-old’s advice makes it better, then you should get out of the fucking animation business.

This story will not go away simply because the dopes who run Warner Bros. are insistent in publicly exposing their utter ignorance about the animation process every step of the way. Thank you Warners for this very valuable lesson in all that is wrong with the animation industry today.

One More François Fan

SHEEP IN THE BIG CITY creator and super-successful children’s book author/illustrator Mo Willems writes to express his admiration for François:

Just have to chime in that André François, with his droll satire, sketchy line, and wordless gags, is my hero as well. Tattooed Sailor and Half-Naked Knight are the most dog eared cartoon books in my collection. Add Anatol Kovarsky and Ronald Searle to the mix and you’ve got the perfect gag illustrators.

André François, RIP

Andre FrancoisAnother major cartoonist of the 20th century has passed away. Romanian-born André François, whose drawing style was imitated almost as frequently as Ronald Searle and Saul Steinberg during the 1950s and 60s, died a couple weeks ago at the age of 89. NY TIMES obit HERE. Ever since François arrived on the scene, he had a long line of admirers in the animation industry. Animation director/designer Len Glasser (who designed Ernie Pintoff’s THE INTERVIEW and THE OLD MAN AND THE FLOWER) told me that his two biggest influences in art school were François and Steinberg. Designer Dolores Cannata worked with François on some television spots at Elektra Films (NY) in the early-’60s, and Chris Jenkyns created some spots with him in Los Angeles, though I don’t remember for which studio (perhaps at Jenkyns, Shean & Elliot). His work was also adapted to animation by a number of French commercial studios. Fans in the modern animation world include Oscar Grillo and Yuri Norstein.

Koji Morimoto Short

I have no idea what this film is about, but I sure enjoyed all the inventive cartoon movement in it. It’s a music video of sorts (sounds very Edith Piaf-esque) by Japanese director Koji Morimoto. I’ve enjoyed the few bits and pieces that I’ve seen of Morimoto’s work, including the “Magnetic Rose” sequence of MEMORIES and his trippy short film NOISEMAN SOUND INSECT– I should try to see more of his work. (link via BoltCity.com)

UPDATE: Joshua Smith writes, “The Koji Morimoto film you linked was not actually done by Morimoto; it is an example of Masaaki Yuasa’s animation from the 1992 Chibi Maruko-chan film My Favorite Song. As you know, Yuasa is the director of Mind Game and did layout, character design, and was animation director of Morimoto’s Noiseman Sound Insect. The link is from a short bio of Yuasa at kojimorimoto.net, which contains another clip from the same film.”

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MORE EBAY

looneytoy2.jpgWell, I survived the income tax season – but now the missus and I are preparing to move during the month of May (less than a mile away). Thus more of my stuff is headed to ebay. Need the room and the extra cash for the move.So keep checking my ebay listings for cartoon rareties and bargains – like this so-ugly it’s-cool Looney Tunes frame tray “Super Brain Teaser” sliding puzzle (at right). Remember when cartoon merchandising art was this off-model?Ahh, those were the days!

Bob Gardiner 1951-2005

gardiner.jpgFrom the San Francico Chronicle:James Robbins “Bob” Gardiner – Passed away April 21, 2005, in Grass Valley, California, where he resided from 1991 to 2005. He won an Oscar and other national and international awards in 1974, for the ground-breaking clay animated short film “Closed Mondays,” which he wrote, sculpted, directed and co-produced with Will Vinton.Bob’s career included art and music shows at venues around the northwest, numerous clay animated commercials and public service announcements, and other art projects in his adopted state of Oregon, where he lived for about 10 years.He worked as a comedy writer with his friend Mason Williams on two Smothers Brothers television specials and also on other writing and clay animation television projects. There will be a memorial on Saturday April 30, at 12 noon, at the Chapel of the Angels, 250 Race Street, Grass Valley, CA. There will also be a celebration of Bob’s art and life in Portland, Oregon, at a date yet to be announced.(Thanks to Karl Cohen for the link)

MYRON & SID

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Brew correspondents Juan Alfonso and Jed Martinez went to the American Royal Arts Gallery in Fort Lauderdale FL, yesterday to celebrate Fleisher/Famous animator Myron Waldman (left) on his 97th birthday. Much to their surprise, voice actor Sid Raymond (Baby Huey, Katnip, et al. at right) was there too! Here are the exclusive photos courtesy of Juan & Jed. A short local interview with Myron appears here.

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ANIMATION MOVIE POSTERS

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An incredible exhibit of vintage animation movie posters will go on display at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences starting Friday May 13th. Spanning more than 90 years, the exhibit will be featured in the Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor Galleries at the Academy on Wilshire Blvd. “Toon In: Animated Movie Posters from the Cudequest Family Collection” will be free and open to the public, Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. Rare posters, including one-sheets featuring Toby The Pup, Cubby Bear, Willie Whopper, Fox & Crow, Puppetoons, Mighty Mouse and Donald Duck, will be included. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The posters will displayed through August 21st. For more information check the oscars.org website.

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE

howlscastle.jpgI’ve always had a hard time deciding which of Hayao Miyazaki’s films I like best. Between Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, Naussicaa, Kiki and his more recent works, it’s always been a tough decision. But now, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner.HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is a masterpiece – and maybe his best work. It’s certainly my favorite. I was invited to special screening several weeks ago and was planning to hold my comments till closer to the film’s release. However, I just saw the trailer and got excited all over again – and feel compelled to spread the word.This film is totally in a class by itself. It’s an incredible, romantic adventure – with a storyline even more bizzarre (and yet more accessible) to western audiences than Spirited Away. It concerns a young girl being placed under a magic spell causing her to literally become an old woman. The spell also prevents her from telling anyone about her predicament – so she packs up her things and goes off to seek help, moving in with a handsome wizard and his unusual companions, who live in an enchanted castle that travels between several war-torn dimensions. As you might already suspect, this is not your average Disney fairy tale.Miyazaki has a way of pulling you into his world within the first few seconds of a story; taking you on a wild ride and dropping you off at the end, leaving anxious to experience it all over again. This trip is no exception.Though filled with echos of past Miyazaki pet themes, Howl’s storyline feels fresh and exciting. There’s a new compelling idea or breathtaking visual in practically every minute of the film. The images, a combination of traditional anime, full character animation and dazzling CGI are lush and magical. I screened the Japanese language version, however I look forward to the U.S. release English dub being supervised by Pixar (Pete Docter is directing the voices – which includes Lauren Bacall (!) as the Witch).Clearly an early contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Howl’s Moving Castle is not to be missed. It opens June 10th.

Australian Blair Rip

Giuseppe Pantaleo, an eagle-eyed Brew reader from Melbourne, Australia spotted the following Preston Blair rip-off from down under. He writes:

I came across this shoddy looking flyer for a pasta & ribs restaurant near where I live. This time the image being ripped off is a drawing of Goose Gander. However, on the flyer the image has been flipped and traced
horribly, and quite frankly it looks worse than the public domain video covers for WB cartoons.

Preston Blair's Pasta Ad

Previous Blair rip-offs HERE and HERE.

LOONEY TUNES EXHIBIT

kingbugs.jpgIf you happen to be in Bucks County Pennsylvania sometime in the next two months, It would be well worth the effort to get over to James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown to catch Steve Schneider’s exhibition of original art – That’s All Folks! The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons.Steve has amassed perhaps the largest and finest collection of original Looney Tunes animation art, including model sheets, cels, backgrounds, layouts, exposure sheets… heck, everything! The exhibit includes incredible pieces from WHAT’S OPERA DOC, PORKY IN WACKYLAND and COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS. In addition, there will be several panels, lectures and workshops and of course, screenings of classic Looney Tunes. I’ve seen Steve’s exhibit in New York and in Los Angeles – it’s a must-see. It’s on display from this Saturday April 23rd until July 3rd.

Tips from Ward Kimball

Ward KimballI was re-reading the Ward Kimball section in John Canemaker’s masterful WALT DISNEY’S NINE OLD MEN AND THE ART OF ANIMATION and ran across these tips from Ward. They were taken from his notes for an Action Analysis class that he taught at Art Center during the 1960s. Man, it would have been something to live in LA back when master animators like Kimball and Benny Washam were teaching around town. Nothing revelatory in these notes, but I’d wager it’s still more insightful than anything they’re teaching in animation schools nowadays.

> Elimination makes your drawing better.

> A cartoon character who is funny to look at before he is animated is going to be made funnier by the movement.

> The young filmmaker should draw what he or she pleases, not what any adult tells him or her to do.