NORM PRESCOTT R.I.P.

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Norm Prescott, co-founder of FILMATION (pictured above at left with Hal Sutherland in the middle and Lou Scheimer at right), passed away on July 2nd according to close friend and business associate Fred Ladd.Prescott was a popular Boston radio personality in the 1950s. He got involved in animation as a writer/producer (with Ladd) on two feature length projects, PINOCCHIO IN OUTER SPACE and JOURNEY BACK TO OZ. When Fred Silverman (at CBS) was looking for a low budget studio to produce SUPERMAN for Saturday morning in 1966, Prescott teamed with Lou Scheimer to form Filmation – and convinced Silverman to give their studio a shot. The rest is history.Prescott appeared (as himself) in the movie DISC JOCKEY (Allied Artists, 1951) and later did occasional voices on his various cartoon series – such as the animated STAR TREK and SHAZAM!

JANET KLEIN

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If you are in Hollywood tonight and are looking for things to do – I highly recommend you spend an evening with Janet Klein And Her Parlor Boys. I’ll be there again with my “opening act”: several 1930s musical shorts and cartoons projected in glorious 16mm, preceeding a wonderful evening of live 1920s/early 1930s jazz, rag-time, blues and novelty songs. The fun starts at 8pm tonight, Thursday night July 7th, at the Steve Allen Theatre, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., (two blocks west of Vermont, across from Barnsdall Park, in the Los Feliz area). We do this the first Thursday of every month. Please check Janet’s website (under “Showtime”) for more details.

Fiep Westendorp

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Fiep WestendorpSHEEP IN THE BIG CITY creator Mo Willems, who recently picked up his second Caldecott Honor for KNUFFLE BUNNY,writes in to let me know about another foreign “Mary Blair”. Mo writes:

You mention the “French Mary Blair”… Do you know the “Dutch Mary Blair”, Fiep Westendorp? Perhaps Holland’s greatest illustrator, her quirky, vibrant drawings spent half a century in the center of mainstream Dutch cultural life. She started out as a newspaper illustrator, but made her name drawing and painting a series of homespun books for young people (somewhere between picture books and chapter books) by Annie M.G. Schmidt. Schmidt’s writing is sweet and folksy, but Fiep’s illustrations make the stories come alive.

Jip and Janneke, two of her silhouetted characters who live in a full color world are national treasures and as ubiquitous in Holland as Tintin is in Belgium. Check out one of many sites devoted to her stuff HERE.

I grew up with Fiep’s work. I had stacks of her books written in indecipherable Dutch but filled with immediately recognizable, emotive drawings that made me want to draw, and to draw as I do. Fiep died a few years back just as Amsterdam mounted a series of retrospective exhibits. Americans will be able to see some cool originals this winter when the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art mounts a show on Dutch Picture Book Illustrators this winter (the show, I’m told, is going to travel to NYC in December as well). Her stuff is well worth checking out, and if you ever go to Holland you should be sure to check out her retrospective book collection “Getekend: Fiep Westendorp (Drawn: Fiep Westendorp)”.

HAND PUPPETS

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Andrew Young’s PuppetVision Blog has pointed out this website listing dozens of vintage cartoon character hand puppets. Making three dimensional figures out of flat cartoon characters was not as refined an art back then as it is today – thus we mainly ended up with deformed versions of our favorite animated pals as puppets and dolls. This website provides a good overview. The two pictured above (TV’s Koko the Clown and Katnip) are better than average – go to the website to see a very depressing Droopy, Little Roquefort and Mr. Jinks.

ROWLAND B. WILSON R.I.P.

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On Tuesday June 28th, cartoonist Rowland B. Wilson passed away.luckyseven.jpgLucky SevenWilson is best known for hundreds of cartoons he wrote and drew for national magazines such as TV Guide, Playboy and The New Yorker, among others. He worked in animation for a number of years at Walt Disney Feature Animation (on The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan and Hercules), Don Bluth (Thumbelina), and for the Richard Williams studio. He was awarded a daytime Emmy for Educational Animation on ABC television (Schoolhouse Rock), as well as Playboy Magazine’s Cartoonist of the Year Award.A service will be held at Mission San Luis Rey, 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, California, on Wednesday July 6th at 11:30 am.

SAN DIEGO COMIC CON

super friendsIn a little less than two weeks, the San Diego Comic Con will commence with an expected attendance of over 100,000 fans and industry professionals. I will be down there among the masses, trying my best to attend all the Asifa-Hollywood events and Mark Evanier’s panels – and maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get a chance to explore the dealers room. This year I am scheduled to host three events – all on Friday July 15th – so if you are looking for me, here’s a handy guide to the three places I’ll be for sure.comic con3:00-4:30pm – Disney Coming Attractions: Chicken Little, Sky High, and Pixar’s Toy Story 10th Anniversary and Cars
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios celebrate the 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking release of Toy Story with a special panel featuring Pixar veterans Pete Docter, Joe Ranft, and Academy Award winner Gary Rydstrom. We’ll be discussing the film along with a preview of clips from the upcoming special-edition DVD release – and an exclusive peek at Pixar’s next film, Cars. Disney Feature Animation will also present an exclusive look at Chicken Little, with director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer. Also, from Disney’s live-action adventure comedy Sky High, I’ll introduce actor Bruce Campell, director Mike Mitchell, and screenwriter Paul Hernandez. So join me as I host this must-see event in Hall H.8:30-10:00pm – An Evening with J. J. Sedelmaier
I will be hosting a panel and screening with Comic-Con special guest J. J. Sedelmaier showcasing some of his best cartoons and commercials. Room 6A.10:00-11:00pm – The Worst Cartoons Ever
If Ed Wood were an animator, these are the cartoons he would have made. I’ll be presenting an all-new selection of some of the worst animated films ever made, including our regular favorites Super President (that one-man weapon of mass destruction), Mighty Mr. Titan (the limited animation physical fitness propaganda cartoon), Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero (the lamest space cadet ever created), and Clutch Cargo (he with the live-action lips) along with (new this year) Rocket Robin Hood (and his band of “Merry Men”), Rankin-Bass’s King Kong (move over Peter Jackson!), Spunky & Tadpole (a clueless kid and his retarded bear pal), and Bucky & Pepito (hands down, the worst cartoon series ever made), among many many other hilarious stinkers. Room 6A

MEXICAN STAMPS – Part II

Thanks to the U.S. Government’s official denouncement of the Mexican postage stamps featuring Memin Pinguin, the stamps themselves have become a local sensation with the Mexican public, and instant collectibles on ebay! According to news reports:

The stamps have become a symbol of resentment that the United States — where Mexicans have long faced discrimination — would dare to accuse Mexico of racism.

Several Brew readers have sent me photoshop examples (below) of other neglected characters they feel worthy of stamp recognition…

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THE ANIMATED PERFORMANCE

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Mark your calendar. Animators Brad Bird, Eric Goldberg, Jan Pinkava (Geri’s Game), Steve Hornby and Richie Baneham (Lord of the Rings) will discuss The Animated Performance: Art Meets Technology at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, on Friday July 29th at 7:30pm.Bill Kroyer will also speak, and Tom Sito will moderate a panel to discuss the changes in animation technique and the challenges of present day character animation. Numerous clips will provide examples – and the Academy’s must-see classic cartoon poster exhibit will be open before and after the program. Sounds like another great evening at the Academy.