TWINKLE

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Gary Leib’s New York based flash animation studio TWINKLE is best known for bringing Harvey Pekar’s cartoons to life in the AMERICAN SPLENDOR feature film — but the studio has done much more than that. Check out the studio’s TWINKLELAND website and view their music video for They Might Be Giants (with artwork by Mark Newgarden), their Altoids commercial (designed by Charles Burns), and especially watch The Ship That Never Came In, an animated promo piece for Kim Dietch’s brilliant BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS.(Thanks to Mark Mayerson for the link)

CARTOON MUSICALS AT LINCOLN CENTER

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Okay New Yorkers, here’s your chance to see classic cartoons on the big screen. Greg Ford is programming a two week event for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, I LOVE TO SINGA: CARTOON MUSICALS, August 19-31 at the Walter Reade Theatre.The festival includes: • IWERKS BY DESIGN, an Ub Iwerks tribute, with The Skeleton Dance, Fiddlesticks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack Frost, Balloonland, Merry Mannequins, Skeleton Frolic and more.
Fri Aug 19: 1pm; Sun Aug 21: 8:30; Sun Aug 28: 8:30; Wed Aug 31: 6pm.“SILLIES” AND OTHER SYMPHONIES includes Cookie Carnival, Woodland Cafe, Who Killed Cock Robin?, Musicland, Cock O’ the Walk, Bumble Boogie, All the Cats Join In, and Eric Goldberg’s “Rhapsody In Blue” amongst much else.
Fri Aug 19: 3:30; Sat Aug 20: 5:30; Sun Aug 21: 3:30; Wed Aug 31: 3:30pm.MUSICAL MICE will showcase such Mickey’s as The Whoopee Party, Blue Rhythm, Puppy Love, Mickey’s Amateurs, Mickey’s Grand Opera, Thru the Mirror, The Band Concert and others.
Fri Aug 19: 6pm; Sat Aug 20: 3pm & 8pm; Wed Aug 31: 1pm.FANTASIA James Algar, U.S., 1940; 120m
Thurs July 21: 2:30 & 6:15 (introduced by Martin McQuade)ALLEGRO NON TROPPO Bruno Bozzetto, Italy, 1977; 75mSat Aug 20: 1pm; Wed Aug 24: 3pm; Thurs Aug 25: 4:30 & 8:30; Tue Aug 30: 1pm.• THE MGM (Cartoon) MUSICAL will screen Hey! Hey! Fever (1934), The Blue Danube (1939), Saturday Evening Puss (1950), Solid Serenade (1946), Zoot Cat (1944), Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), Swingshift Cinderella (1945), The Shooting of Dan Magoo (1945) Flea Circus (1954) and Magical Maestro (1952).
Mon Aug 22: 1pm; Tue Aug 23: 1pm; Wed Aug 24: 7pm; Wed Aug 31: 8:30pm.THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE Sylvain Chomet, France, 2003; 78m
Mon Aug 22: 3:30; Wed Aug 24: 1; Thurs Aug 25: 6:30; Tue Aug 30: 3pm.AMERICAN POP Ralph Bakshi, U.S., 1981; 96m
Wed Aug 24: 5 & 9:30; Thurs Aug 25: 1pm; Mon Aug 29: 4pmTHE TUNE Bill Plympton, U.S., 1992; 69m
Thurs Aug 25: 3pm; Mon Aug 29: 2 & 8:30pmWARNERS CARTOONS GO POP
A program that might be redubbed “Mel Blanc’s Hit Parade,” includes the following: Back Alley Oproar, Yankee Doodle Daffy, I Love To Singa, One Froggy Evening, Penguin Parade, Eatin’ on the Cuff, Book Revue, Three Little Bops, Show Biz Bugs, and What’s Up, Doc?.
Fri Aug 26: 1pm & 6pm; Sat Aug 27: 3:30pm.• WARNERS CARTOONS GO CLASSICAL includes Rhapsody in Rivets, Corny Concerto, Pigs in a Polka, Long-Haired Hare, Rabbit of Seville, What’s Opera, Doc? and others!
Fri Aug 26: 8pm; Sat Aug 27: 1 & 6pm; Sun Aug 28: 3:30pm.COLUMBIA CARTOONS’ MUSICAL MISCELLANY 35mm restored prints of Prosperity Blues, Scrappy’s Party, Swing Monkey Swing, Bon Bon Parade, Little Match Girl, Concerto in B-Flat Minor, Magic Fluke (pictured above), Rooty Toot Toot, Oompahs, Little Boy With a Big Horn, Gerald McBoing Boing’s Symphony. Don’t miss this one.
Fri Aug 26: 3:30pm; Sat Aug 27: 8:30pm; Sun Aug 28: 1pm; Mon Aug 29: 6pm.Check the Walter Reade Theatre website for a more detailed write-up.

Scribblin’ Away at Mike’s Cafe

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Tina Price and Rik Maki are co-owners of Digital or Not. Tina’s Digital, Rik’s Not. Both are 20 year veterans of Walt Disney Feature Animation. They have self published their first book entitled Scribblin’ Away at Mike’s Cafe”, a collection of Maki’s doodles on placemats of a favorite haunt in Burbank. Maki was a character designer for such films as Finding Nemo, Treasure Planet, A Bug’s Life and Dinosaur. He has also created thousands of designs for Marvel Studios, Filmation Studios, Hanna Barbera Productions, Pixar Animation and 18 years with Walt Disney Feature Animation.

COLOSSUS

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We don’t usually review graphic novels here on the Brew, but this one is worthy of note. COLOSSUS by Mark Andrews is an incredible tale of swords, sorcery, action and adventure – told by a master storyteller. Andrews, story supervisor on The Incredibles, has storyboarded, among other things, The Iron Giant, Spider-Man, and Star Wars: Clone Wars. This is his epic work, a 200 page novel in black and white and greytones (often reminding me of my youthful days reading Warren’s horror comics magazines CREEPY and EERIE). It’s an adult work and would make a helluva film (live or animated).Ronnie del Carmen has a page about Mark and Colossus on his blog. Mark himself has a blog. Colossus is part of the E-Ville Press collective of Pixar based artists who have recently launched their own comics line.

PARAMOUNT CARTOONS

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Asifa-Hollywood’s screening this month is for the real die-hards. I’ll be showing about a dozen 1940s-50s Paramount cartoons in 35mm Technicolor on Saturday afternoon at the AFI Campus on Western Avenue.Paramount’s cartoons – produced by the staff of Fleischer Studio veterans, under the generic name of Famous Studios – get an undeservedly bad rap. While it’s true that none of their cartoons were ever nominated for an Oscar, and that they didn’t produce a Chuck Jones or Tex Avery-like talent, nor developed a unique house style of their own (even Terrytoons did that), the Paramount shorts are slick, well produced entertainments, drawn, painted and voiced by some of the best East coast talent (including Bill Tytla, Steve Muffatti, Dave Tendlar, and Jim Tyer). It hasn’t helped their reputation that their films, if seen at all, are presented in faded worn 16mm prints.So be warned. These aren’t cartoon classics – though there is a lot of good stuff in here to be sure. If you want to just kick back and watch some good old fashioned animated mayhem – check your brain at the door and join us Saturday at 3pm at the AFI.

Bill Plympton Loves Mind Game

Masaaki Yuasa’s MIND GAME (mentioned on the Brew yesterday) has received a thumbs-up from none other than Bill Plympton. He concurs with nearly ever other person who has seen this film and thinks it’s mind-blowing. Should I even mention that this film was largely made using hand-drawn animation? That seems almost besides the point, but now would be as good a time as any to make that clear. Anyway, here’s what Bill wrote about MIND GAME on his website:

It’s totally different from any other animated film I’ve ever seen. The art is very simple, almost Western in style, and the humor and storytelling is exactly as the title implies – crazy ideas are tossed around, then played back and fast-forwarded. I know “trippy” is an overused expression, but MIND GAME is the trippiest film I’ve ever seen.

Szeles and Mora Blogs

Drawing by Sean Szeles

First it was Fred Osmond and Katie Rice who started blogs. Now, two more talented folks who recently worked on DISNEY’S THE BUZZ ON MAGGIE have put up their own blogs: Flash artists Sean Szeles and Tony Mora. Sean’s blog, called “Face It!,” promises to have great artwork. Already posted are some entertaining studies from SONG OF THE SOUTH and random napkin doodles. He has a fun cartoony style mixed in with an illustrative bent, and I’m looking forward to checking out more of his work.

Tony’s blog, titled “So Bad It’s Good,” has nothing to do with animation, but instead focuses on carniceria (butcher shop) art painted on buildings around Los Angeles. Says Tony, “I’ve always had a fascination with them ever since I was a little kid. Seeing these somewhat surreal and fanciful paintings depicting the foods that I would be eating later that day. Taco stands, bars and restaurants will make there way on this site as well. This is my tribute to those paintings and the artists that made them.” The carniceria art actually doesn’t look all that different from the artwork one finds when flipping through JUXTAPOZ magazine — the only difference being that this art strikes me as coming from a more honest place and more deserving of the title “lowbrow art.” These artists paint what they know and create murals that serve a functional purpose; these aren’t ‘hip’ paintings intended to make the artists rich by selling for thousands of dollars at some trendy Silverlake gallery. It’s JUXTAPOZ without the pose and it’s commendable that Tony is bringing some of this work to light.

MIND GAME SWEEPS FANTASIA AWARDS

MIND GAME

Masaaki Yuasa and his animated feature MIND GAME swept the Fantasia International Genre Film Festival in Montreal, which wrapped up this past Monday. The film beat out dozens of live-action films and took awards for Best Director, Best Film, Best Script and Special Award – Visual Accomplishment. Complete list of winners HERE. (via In-Betweens)

Previous Brew items about MIND GAME: film review and interview with director Masaaki Yuasa.

Wednesday Morning Inspiration: Bill Hurtz/Bob Dranko

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I love these images from the UPA industrial film LOOK WHO’S DRIVING (1954). The design is spare, yet artful. More importantly, it’s a lot of fun to look at. There’s an easy-going quality to the design which one rarely finds in designed animation nowadays. The shapes and colors are inviting and none of the visual elements feel forced or contrived. The film doesn’t employ this white-background technique for its entire length, but there is terrific design and layout throughout, and the added bonus is that it moves beautifully too. The film’s design credit went to Bob Dranko, with color styling by Dranko and Michi Kataoka, and direction by Bill Hurtz. (Judging from the way Hurtz worked on other films, he likely collaborated with Dranko on the layout and overall visual direction of this film.) Hurtz was also one of the designers on GERALD MCBOING BOING (1950), the quintessential example of a UPA film that reduced its backgrounds to the bare essentials. LOOK WHO’S DRIVING perhaps doesn’t reach the classic status of GERALD — it is, after all, a driving safety film commissioned by Aetna Casualty and Surety Company — but it is no less entertaining and has much to recommend. Unfortunately, it’s also quite impossible to see nowadays, unless you happen to own a print of the film. Documenting obscure animated projects from the 1950s, like LOOK WHO’S DRIVING, was one of the goals for my upcoming book on 1950s animation design. So many stellar cartoons from that period are all but forgotten today, and I’m hopeful this book will play a small role in reintroducing some of the great “lost” cartoons of that era.

Look Who's Driving

Look Who's Driving

FLEISCHER TRIBUTE

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The Center For Jewish History in New York City is presenting A Tribute to the Fleischer Brothers, a screening and lecture by animation historian Mark Langer, on Monday August 29th at 7pm (Admission: $10/$5 for students and seniors). The Center is at 15 West 16th Street. Langer, a Professor of Film History at Carleton University in Ottawa, has been writing the definitive Fleischer history for years. His insight into Fleischer’s work and several surreal Fleischer films should add up to quite a rewarding evening.

OSCAR WINNING ANIMATION

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has just scheduled another classic animation event. On Friday August 19th at 7:30pm, in conjunction with their current exhibition of animation movie posters, they will screen 18 Academy Award winning cartoon shorts. The program, OSCAR WINNING ANIMATION: “Make ‘Em Laugh”, will contain 35mm prints of:

The Three Little Pigs (1932/33), Ferdinand the Bull (1938), Lend a Paw (1941), Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943), Tweetie Pie (1947), For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953, pictured above), Knighty Knight Bugs (1958), Ersatz (1961), The Critic (1963), The Pink Phink (1964), The Crunch Bird (1971), Closed Mondays (1974), The Fly (1980), Sundae in New York (1983), Creature Comforts (1990), Bunny (1998) and For the Birds (2001)

General admission is $5.00, the location is the best screening room in L.A. – the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. See www.oscars.org for more information.

MOVIE CRAZY

Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy is not only a great website, but also a wonderful quarterly 16 page hard copy newsletter. The latest issue (#12, Spring 2005) features a nice interview with both Betty Kimball (Ward’s wife) and Marie Johnston (Ollie’s spouse). Both ladies were ink & paint gals at Disney in the 1930s (Marie left Disney to paint cels at Warner Bros. in the 1940s). This issue, and the previous eleven, feature interviews, rare movie material and original research not available on the web (or anywhere else), and are highly recommended.

R.I.P. TV GUIDE

tvguideflinstones.jpgThis saddens me. TV GUIDE announced yesterday that it will cease to be a digest sized publication as of the Oct. 17 issue and be a regular sized slick color magazine with 25 percent listings and 75 percent stories (versus the 75 percent listings and 25 percent stories it has now).I think I learned to read by studying issues of TV GUIDE (as well as Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, but I digress). I’ve come to use TV Guide as a valuable resource in researching classic TV cartoons. Like Loonatics and New Coke, this decision seems like a mistake to me. TV GUIDE has dropped the ball and I somehow believe someone else will start a new magazine to take its place. I hope so.

Masaaki Yuasa Interview

Speaking of fps magazine, they just did an interview with the director of MIND GAME, Masaaki Yuasa, who was in Montreal last week for the Canadian premiere of the film. I’m dying to see MIND GAME, and hopefully on the big screen, though I have no idea when or where that’ll happen. It’s surprising that none of the major animation festivals, including Annecy and Ottawa, have taken any interest in screening this film. (See Joshua Smith’s review of MIND GAME posted earlier on the Brew)

THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN?

Just recieved this sad news from down under:

I am a regular reader of your “Cartoon Brew” website, and an animator at DisneyToon Studio’s Australia. I have some breaking news for you: At 3pm today (Monday 25 July) the entire studio was summoned for a staff meeting in which we told by the General Manager Phil Oakes that upon completion of our next production “Cinderella 3″, DisneyToon Studio’s Australia will be closing down after 17 years. They have cited current business needs and production schedules as the cause. So Disney hand drawn animation now ceases to exist.

Frank Espinosa’s Rocketo

ROCKETOI don’t get much excited over comics, but then again, comics like Frank Espinosa’s ROCKETO don’t come along every day. This is without doubt one of the most awesome books I’ve seen in a long while, and it’s one of my favorite discoveries from last weekend in San Diego. I was prepared for a letdown as soon as I saw ROCKETO’s cover because there’s no way the interior art could live up to such a masterful drawing, right? Well, what an incredible surprise to open it up and find an entire comic that looks like this. Every page of ROCKETO is a jaw-drop gorgeous work of cartoon art, with tight drawing, color and design throughout. The expressive use of color and rhythmical black inks give the book a distinctive feel that defies comparison to any other current American comic; you have to look at European comics to find anything that remotely resembles ROCKETO’s stylish cartoon sensibility.

I was equally surprised to find out Espinosa’s background: until recently, he’d been drawing Bugs, Daffy, Tweety, et al, at WB Consumer Products. Among other things he was responsible for the Looney Tunes USPS stamps and (get ready for this) the original designs for Baby Looney Tunes. Now, fortunately for us, he’s out of there and working on his own projects. In San Diego, Frank debuted ROCKETO #0, a short 16-page introduction to the series. ROCKETO #1 is out in August from Speakeasy Comics. Looks like I have a reason to start dropping by Meltdown again.

Rocketo

Oh Yeah! Blogs

OH YEAH 4Anybody can start one blog. Been there, done that. But it takes some fortitude to launch thirty-nine blogs. That’s right, thirty-nine blogs. That’s exactly what animation producer Fred Seibert is doing for the fourth season of OH YEAH! CARTOONS, the series that he’s exec producing for Nickelodeon. Seibert is encouraging every creator to start their own blog and document the production of their animated short. The first couple blogs are already up and running, and can be accessed from the main Frederator blog HERE. Seibert has been experimenting with blogs for the past year, first with the Teenage Roblog, a blog by the crew of MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT, and more recently with The Wubblog, a journal by Bob Boyle documenting the production of his forthcoming Nick Jr. series WUBBY WIDGET AND WALDEN.

It’s great to have an enlightened animation producer who understands the grassroots value of connecting with audiences through blogs, and is now allowing the creators of all these shorts to share their creative experiences with the online community. Not only are blogs a common-sense way of creating and building a fanbase for tv shows, and distinguishing the series from the rest of the competition, but blogs can also help to demystify the animation process, allowing the average viewer an insight into how animated films are produced. That may not sound like a huge thing, but it seems like every other day that I meet a regular joe who is unable to distinguish between cg and hand-drawn animation and who doesn’t have the vaguest clue about how cartoons are produced. Educating audiences about the production process, and all the hard work and thought that goes into the making of an animated film, is perhaps the first step towards achieving the respect and recognition that this art form so very rarely receives.

WANTED: JOHN SIBLEY!

Wanted: Any information — personal or professional — about Disney Animator John Sibley. Also seeking Sibley artwork. Sibley worked at Disney as an animator from March 1937 to August 1965, most famously with Woolie Reitherman on the Goofy short films. Also animated the Siamese Cats in “Lady and theTramp.” Please contact Pete Docter at [email protected] or 510 752-3410.Thank you!