If you haven’t picked up my book THE ART OF ROBOTS yet, now might be a good time to grab a copy on Amazon. There is currently a “bargain price” deal where the book has been marked down to $14.99. Even better, Chronicle Books has also marked down THE ART OF INCREDIBLES to $14.99, and the earlier Pixar books — THE ART OF MONSTERS, INC. and THE ART OF FINDING NEMO — have been knocked down to $17.99.
This is a painting by John Dunn (1920-1983), the supertalented story artist and designer who will be profiled in ANIMATION BLAST #9. Speaking of BLAST 9, I’m planning to finish up the issue as soon as I wrap on my 1950s animation design book. The issue has continued to evolve over the past year and there are a number of new articles planned for BLAST 9, including a wonderful little piece on WWII gag drawings by the likes of Tom McKimson, Rod Scribner, Preston Blair and Bill Justice. I am trying my best to make this the strongest issue of the BLAST yet, and around October 05, it’ll hopefully be printed and ready to send out to everybody.
An interview with me has just been posted on TOONZONE.
Super PresidentThe 2005 San Diego Comic Con was overwhelming. Huge crowds, movie stars, people in costumes… and, oh yeah, a couple of booths selling old comics.The best time I had (and I had several, including moderating the Disney movie preview and interviewing J.J. Sedelmaier) was presenting my screening of THE WORST CARTOONS EVER. The crowd laughed long and hard. I was pretty proud of the selection this year and I was surprised how many people wanted to buy a copy. In fact I’m getting a lot of email today from people wanting to purchase a copy to show their friends (If you are interested in buying a dub of the show, write to me for details).
Filmmaker and former animator Dan Bessie sent in this reminiscence of his friend Bernard Gruver, after seeing Gruver’s name referenced here on the Brew:
Bernie was a good friend of mine from the time we worked together at Ray Patin Productions in Hollywood, until about five years later (this would be around the time he left Playhouse, to work for Melendez on the Peanuts shows). I was an assistant animator at Patin at the time, having begun as an apprentice at MGM, and leaving there when the studio closed its cartoon department in 1956 or 57. (Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera found all of us inbetweeners jobs at other studios.)Soft spoken, gentle, kind and helpful, Bernie was also a very funny guy and a great draftsman. Though we lost contact in later years, I was shocked to learn that he died at only 62 (never did learn the details, if you know, please tell me). He and his wife and children lived in the San Fernando Valley, where my family also lived, and we spent many enjoyable times together. Never spent too much time in the mainstream Hollywood cartoon industry myself after about 1970, as I went on to start my own company, producing mainly educational films, in both live and animation.
Dan Bessie began his career at MGM Animation Deptatment (at $36.45 a week), then went on to animate episodes of Saturday morning TV shows like The Marvel Superheroes, Linus the Lionhearted and Mr. Magoo. Bessie also co-wrote, directed and animated the award-winning Hey Culligan Man! soft water commercials for 15 years. Later, he parlayed that experience into writing and directing more than 120 of his own films, both live and animated; including educational films, features, and TV specials that have appeared on CBS, HBO, SHOWTIME, and the Disney Channel. His new book, REELING THROUGH HOLLYWOOD:How I Spent 40 Fabulous Years in Film and Never Made a Nickel will be published in the fall.
Ian Failes talks to animator Dave Spafford on vfxblog.
Not to be outdone by Fred Osmond’s BLOG, Katie Rice (aka Katie Nice), another alum of the REN & STIMPY: ADULT PARTY CARTOON Los Angeles crew, has just started her own blog. She calls it FUNNY CUTE because, she explains, “that’s my favorite thing about drawing girls – combining cuteness with sexiness or funniness or even stupidity.” And, as if you’re not already jealous of her intimidating drawing ability, just remember she’s only 23 years old.
Show’s over folks. Time to head home. Disney is officially saved, according to THIS LETTER that Roy Disney Jr. posted on SaveDisney.com. Disney is, in fact, so saved that SaveDisney.com will be shutting down on August 7. The results of the campaign, you ask? The studio will once again begin valuing creativity over the bottom-line, executives will stop interfering in the creative process, Eisner-lite Bob Iger will be replaced by creative visionary Steve Jobs, California Adventure is shutting down, and the animation department will stop producing cheapquels that dilute the Disney name. Wait…um…actually, none of that is happening. But at least one of the company’s largest stockholders is happy and after all, isn’t that all that really matters.
I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of this deal or what happened behind the scenes, but somehow my cynical side can’t shake the feeling that the end of this campaign had less to do with “saving Disney” and more to do with making Roy happy. (If you know the facts to be otherwise, I’d be happy to be corrected on this, but from an outside vantage point, it’s hard to assess the situation any other way.) Roy’s unwillingness to divulge details about the specific steps they are taking to turn the studio around doesn’t inspire any faith in the matter. Disney fans and supporters threw an incredible amount of support behind the SaveDisney campaign; don’t they at the very least deserve an explanation of what their efforts have achieved? Instead they get the lame corporate-speak “everything’s ok now…go back to your business” letter from Roy. Here’s to hoping that there are some truly significant changes happening, and that the studio will once again strive to become an organization driven by creativity and originality.
Fred Osmond (the charming fellow on the left) was the LA layout supervisor on REN & STIMPY: ADULT PARTY CARTOON, a difficult position because he not only had to take care of John K’s numerous layout changes, but he also had to put up with me and my many production requests on a daily basis. Now he’s storyboarding at Disney TV, and more importantly, he just started his own blog called CARTOONS & CARICATURES. If the first couple drawings posted are any indication, there’s going to be a ton of terrific drawing on his blog. I know I’ll be visiting frequently.
Stop motion fans take note. This Friday, July 15, in San Diego, there’ll be a panel about DISASTER! THE MOVIE, the first R-rated stop motion feature. It’s from 6-7pm in Room 3. Panelists include director Roy T. Wood, writers Paul Benson and Matt Sullivan, character fabricator Morgan Hay, and animators Matt Manning and Tennessee Reid Norton.
HOGAN’S ALLEY #11 had a terrific interview with commercial director J.J. Sedelmaier, who’ll be a special guest in San Diego this week (see Jerry’s post below). The interview has just been posted online HERE and it’s a great read. J.J. makes many thoughtful points throughout the chat, such as the following:
But at any time, there were dreadful things going on with literature, design, everything. If you’re talking about craftsmanship, there are blanket statements you can make about things like this. If you buy a better house, it’s going to be better made. But there are plenty of houses that weren’t so great, too. I will say that today people have a low interest in taking the time to do a good job. We live in a fast-paced society that is obsessed with making money, and there is a level of quality that is sacrificed as a result. The way that decisions are made and corporations are structured doesn’t set a tone for being able to do good work or to have one person who is executing a vision, and this goes into filmmaking, advertising and so forth. Decisions are often made by committee, there’s a lot of testing, and this slowly but surely whittles away at any sort of strong, single vision.
The annual insanity known as San Diego Comic Con starts tonight. I will be down there all weekend where I am scheduled to host three events – all on Friday July 15th:3:00-4:30pm – Disney Coming Attractions: Chicken Little, Sky High, and Pixar’s Toy Story 10th Anniversary and Cars
I’m proud to be the M.C for this preview of CHICKEN LITTLE, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN II, SKY HIGH and Disney/Pixar’s CARS with Pete Docter, Joe Ranft, Gary Rydstrom, Bruce Campbell, Mark Dindal, Randy Fullmer, Mike Mitchell and Paul Hernandez, who will speak about their respective films and show clips in Hall H.8:30-10:00pm – An Evening with J. J. Sedelmaier
I will be doing a Q & A with J. J. Sedelmaier and screen some of his best cartoons and commercials. Room 6A.10:00-11:00pm – The Worst Cartoons Ever
Super President, Mighty Mr. Titan, Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero, Captain Fathom, Rocket Robin Hood, Spunky & Tadpole and Bucky & Pepito – need I say more?. Room 6AOutside of that I’ll be roaming the dealers room, or checking out as many panels as I can. I most likely won’t be blogging again until next week (I should be back Monday morning) – so if it’s quiet around here the next few days, you now know why.
Several readers including Galen Fott pointed out the Cookie Bowers listing on IMDB. Mark Mayerson found a February 9th, 1940 listing for the Lyric Theatre in Time Square that had our Cookie featured in a live revue with Dick Powell. Cartoon voice expert Keith Scott wrote in to comment: “I knew about voice artist Cookie Bowers – I believe he was a mimic who did animal effects. Hadn’t seen a photo before this!” Ray Pointer concurs and sent us this: “Tom Kneitel informs me that “Cookie” Bowers was a nightclub performer in Manhattan who did funny animal sounds and dialects. He was a personal friend of Max Fleischer, and they were around the same age.”
Leonard Maltin found this publicity photo of a voice actor we’ve never heard of. Studio employee? Related to Charles Bowers? Any clues?
Animation legend Floyd Norman’s new book HOW THE GRINCH STOLE DISNEY debuts in San Diego this week. In this third volume of gag drawings, Floyd aims his sharp, witty pencil directly at Michael Eisner and the irredeemable corporate culture that he has created at Disney. The new book will be available at Scott Shaw!’s table (#I-8) where Floyd will be signing, and also at Stuart Ng Books (booth #5013). Below is one of my favorite Norman drawings in the book: in it, Eisner is trying to wheedle the secret “Pixar formula” for creating successful animated films, while the answer lies so very obviously in the name of the company he’s running. Even with Eisner on his way out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this scenario continue to play out at the Mouse for many years yet to come.