CINECON & JANET KLEIN

ironclaw.jpgThis’ll be slightly off-topic. I’m plugging my whereabouts the next five days. Tomorrow night I will be in two places at once. First I’ll be showing 16mm films, as I do each month, at the Steve Allen Theatre (at 4773 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz) at 8pm, preceeding a concert by Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Then I’ll scoot over to the Egyptian Theatre (on Hollywood Blvd. near Highland) to catch the start of CINECON 41. As you may know, CINECON is the polar opposite of the San Diego Comic Con. This movie convention actually seems to get less attendence each year! The convention is based in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel (located at 1755 North Highland Avenue) and runs through Monday September 5th. Cinecon is the oldest of the movie related fan festivals and Cinecon 41 offers an outstanding program of unusual classic movies, archive prints, recent film restorations and celebrity guests. Chapters from THE IRON CLAW (1941), Universal B-musicals with Shemp (this year, 1944′s “Moonlight and Cactus”), rare shorts and cartoons (Scrappy’s THE BEER PARADE will be screened Saturday morning at 10:15am) – and much, much more – are run all weekend from 9am to midnight, each day at the Egyptian. Here’s the complete schedule.For more information, please check their web site at www.cinecon.org

THE NEW GUMBY

gumby3.jpgThe current owners of National Lampoon have partnered with Art Clokey Productions to recraft the original Gumby TV series into an “edgy, irreverent” reinvention, called Gumby: The Lost Tapes. Lampoon will create and produce all-new dialog (and in some cases music) tracks. The “new” versions will appear on the National Lampoon Network, the largest college dorm television network reaching nearly 5 million college students on 600 campuses nationwide. National Lampoon will also be issuing the “new” episodes for sale on DVD. Full press release here.

OTTAWA CONTEST WINNERS!

Rex Hackelberg

It was a very tough decision – but the Brewmasters have spoken!The winning entries came from Rex Hackelberg (above – click on image to see his full comic strip entry) – and Lars Edwards, whose spot-on rendition of “The Animation Pimp” won us over. These two boys will be waltzing around the Ottawa festival like big shots because they will get in free. Congratulations, Winners!And a sincere Thank you to all our readers for entering our little contest. See you at the Ottawa International Animation Festival from September 21-25!

Harald Siepermann Blog

Drawings by Harald Siepermann

Our friend Harald Siepermann, a mighty talented character designer who lives in Germany, has started his own blog HERE. Just a few of the films that Siepermann has contributed character designs to: WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, BALTO, MULAN, TARZAN, THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE and BROTHER BEAR. Harald does a lot more than design feature animation though; he’s also one of the individuals responsible for creating Alfred J. Kwak, a popular European cartoon character who has appeared in comic books, an animated TV series and was named the UNICEF ambassador for children’s rights in 2003. Besides posting his own work, Harald also promises to show “sketches and things that inspire me and that I admire.”

Ruben Apodaca, RIP

Ruben Apodaca

I was saddened to hear that Ruben Apodaca passed away last month at age 73. I didn’t know him well, but met him a few times to work on a short article about his personal photos (published in ANIMATION BLAST #6). He always struck me as being a very friendly individual, with a lot of enthusiasm for animation. Ruben started in animation at Disney in 1956, and went on to work at all the major studios during the ’60s and ’70s including UPA, Format, Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. He also spent many years as an animation instructor at numerous Los Angeles area colleges. His full obituary can be read HERE.

ENTERTAINMENT ART ACADEMY

Mike Mattesi is opening a new art school in Pasadena, ENTERTAINMENT ART ACADEMY. Stephen Silver will be there doing a lecture on Charater Design (Sept. 25), Tony Bancroft will discuss Animated Performance (Nov. 20th), Glen Murakami will be Interpreting Superheroes, and my ol’ buddy Jim Wheelock will look at Architecture as Narrative (Oct. 9th). Rik Maki (of Digital or Not) will teaching a 13 week class on Character Design. For more information visit [site no longer active].

London Bloggers

Illustration by Matt Cruickshank

A couple days ago, I mentioned a couple new bloggers who work in the London animation scene: Gerben Steenks and Stephane Kardos. Now, two more cartoonists from London have started blogs: Matt Jones and Matt Cruickshank. All four of these guys produce excellent work and I’ll be checking them out regularly. Here’s the links:

Crookie’s Blog by Matt Cruickshank
MattJonezAnimation by Matt Jones
Gur-B by Gerben Steenks
Stef’s Sketches by Stephane Kardos

BEHIND “CORPSE BRIDE”

corpsehead.jpg

We will be having a contest the week of September 12th relating to Tim Burton’s CORPSE BRIDE. Warner Bros. will be giving us prizes and we will hand them out to the first readers who answer our simple trivia questions that week.In the meantime, Ron Barbagallo has, on his website, posted a great behind the scenes interview with Graham G. Maiden (Mars Attacks and Chicken Run), Head of the Puppet Department at the London studio set up exclusively to produce Corpse Bride. The interview includes art and images from the film’s production that illustrate the process behind the craft of puppet making. Click here to read it.

VALIANT

valiantpic.jpgMy expectations were so low for VALIANT, that I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the film at an Asifa-Hollywood screening last night. I also noted the audience laughed often throughout the film.I was expecting a disaster, but the story was solid (cliched, but solid), the animation was well done and the characters were funny. It played like a B-Film – a 1940s B-film, and that’s not a bad thing.It’s worth seeing.

CANEMAKER’S WINSOR MCCAY

mccaybook.jpgJohn Canemaker’s Winsor McCay – His Life and Art, his 1987 biography of the great newspaper cartoonist and pioneer animator, will be published again in October by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in a revised and expanded edition. The original tome, long out-of-print, is one of the most valuable – and entertaining – animation histories on my bookshelf. This new edition has me salivating.The revised edition is now 272 pages – 48 more pages than the old edition – and filled with never-before published photos, artwork and research. New material includes:

• Never-before published pages from McCay’s private animation production notebook revealing the filmmaker’s ideas for timing and visualizations in “Gertie the Dinosaur” (1914), “Lusitania,” and “Flip’s Circus” (c. 1921).•Rare concept art by McCay for a second film starring Gertie the Dinosaur.•New documentation of McCay’s early career, including the Wonderland and Eden Musee in Detroit, where he sold his first cartoons.• McCay’s professional relationship and longtime personal friendship with cartoonist Apthorp “Ap” Adams, one of his two assistants on the monumental animated epic “The Sinking of the Lusitania” (1918).• Full-page reproduction of a 1907 New York Herald showcasing eight top comic strip cartoonists and illustratorm including McCay, and their art.• A complete Winsor McCay Chronology, and extensive additions to the Notes and Bibliography sections.• Many rarely seen photos and drawings from private collections.• A new cover, book design and page layout.

The book retails for $40.00, but I recommend you pre-order it on Amazon.com for $29.70.

RENEGADE COCOA PUFFS

cocoapuffs.jpgWanna see what Renegade Animation does when it isn’t working on PUFFY AMI YUMI?This spot for Cocoa Puffs combines cel animation and flash. Darrell Van Citters directs, Mike Giamo and Frank Montagna designed it and Scott O’Brien, Bert Klein and Will Finn, animated. Beautifully done. Now if only General Mills would rehire Chuck McCann to voice Sonny and Gramps, I’d be really happy.

Stephen Silver’s Blog

Fat Man

“Since everyone else draws hot women, I want to be the guy that draws fat men.” – Stephen Silver, in the comments section of his blog

So, if you dig…umm…chunky males…then head on over to Stephen Silver’s new sketchblog HERE. Don’t worry, he draws other stuff too. Also, I wanted to extend a congrats to Stephen, who recently jumped over to Sony Feature Animation and has become the lead character designer on their third CG movie, currently due to be out in 2008.

Eurovision Art Contest

Illustration by Matt Jones

The Eurovision Art Contest is a monthly drawing contest where artists create an illustration based on a specific theme. The contest is open to anybody who registers on the site, but it seems that many of the participants are in-house staffers at the top-grade London commercial animation studio Uli Meyer (the contest is hosted on the studio’s servers, but not sponsored by them). The quality of the contest entries is generally stellar and I thoroughly enjoyed browsing through the contest archives. You probably will too.

Also worth noting, a couple of the animation artists participating in these contests have just started their own blogs and they’ve already begun filling them up with great artwork. Check them out:

Gerben Steenks
Stephane Kardos

OTTAWA ESSAY CONTEST

Ottawa '05We’re giving away two full passes to North America’s most prestigious animation event, the Ottawa International Animation Festival (September 21-25, 2005). We will select the two best entries from readers who submit an essay (50 words or less) based on the theme: “Why I want to go to Ottawa”. We’ll also accept drawings based on that idea.

You must provide your own transportation to the festival and your own lodging in Ottawa. Contest closes when we get too many entries or on Friday, whichever comes first. Send your essay to: [email protected]

DISNEY’S CINDERELLA

cinderellablair.jpg

CINDERELLA (1950) played an important role in setting the Disney feature animation style of the 1950s, it inspired key attractions at Disneyland – but most significantly, it restored financial stability to the studio after a difficult decade. To celebrate its 55th anniversary, the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood will be running a digitally restored presentation of CINDERELLA on the big screen for eleven days, September 15th through the 25th, with an opening night panel discussion (9/15 @ 7pm) with animators and filmmakers (names to be announced).Click on the Mary Blair concept painting (from Van Eaton Gallery) above for a larger image.

Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts 1920s-1960s

A Cowboy Needs A Horse

Disney has announced the contents for the fifth wave of their Treasures dvd sets. Of particular interest is the contents of DISNEY RARITIES: CELEBRATED SHORTS, 1920s-1960s, which includes the majority of the studio’s most highly stylized films. Among the shorts included are the offbeat Bill Justice/X. Atencio stop motion shorts NOAH’S ARK and A SYMPOSIUM ON POPULAR SONGS, Ward Kimball’s MELODY and TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOM, and other nicely designed one-shots like PIGS IS PIGS, PAUL BUNYAN, THE SAGA OF WINDWAGON SMITH, JACK AND OLD MAC, THE STORY OF ANYBURG, USA and THE LITTLE HOUSE. The biggest omission is Kimball’s 1969 short IT’S TOUGH TO BE A BIRD, which fits into the theme of the collection, but was excluded for some unfortunate reason. Also, the audio commentaries seem lacking. There’s one for composer Richard Sherman on A SYMPOSIUM ON POPULAR SONGS, but why not get a commentary from NOAH’S ARK song writer Mel Leven, or from artists like X. Atencio and Art Stevens who were both heavily involved in numerous shorts on this collection? There’s not a lot of these guys still around, and it would have been nice to document the contributions of these undervalued artists. Nevertheless it’s a pretty solid set with a lot of difficult to find cartoons. DISNEY RARITIES will be out on December 6. Pre-order at Amazon.

Happy 80th, Oscar Peterson

Tender GameI couldn’t let this pass by without making some mention of it: here’s a belated happy birthday to legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, who turned 80 last Monday. He celebrated his birthday in Toronto with the unveiling of a new Canadian postage stamp bearing his likeness. It marks the first time a Canadian stamp has paid tribute to a living Canadian. Peterson has a bit of a history with the animation world as well. In 1949, he collaborated with Norman McLaren on the quintessential scratch-and-paint-on-film short BEGONE DULL CARE. In the mid-1950s, he recorded songs for John Hubley’s animated feature FINIAN’S RAINBOW. Though the film was never produced, John and Faith Hubley used Peterson’s recording of “Tenderly,” with Ella Fitzgerald on vocals, as the backdrop for their exquisite short TENDER GAME (1958). Peterson’s animation resume is brief, but if you’re going to have only two cartoons to your credit, it’s hard to do any better than BEGONE DULL CARE and TENDER GAME. And if you’re looking for prime Peterson on disc, I highly recommend the 4-cd set EXCLUSIVELY FOR MY FRIENDS. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t play a cut from these recordings. It is four hours of pure genius… live trio and solo recordings from the mid-1960s that simply can’t be beat.

Frank Espinosa Talks Rocketo

ROCKETO

There’s a good article about Frank Espinosa, creator of the new comic book ROCKETO, at Comic Book Resources. The article includes some of his concept art for the book. I found out about ROCKETO down in San Diego last month, and thought it’s one of the most visually outstanding comics I’ve seen in a long time. In the article, Espinosa talks about how his animation background has influenced ROCKETO’s style: “Because I come from an animation background, I try to put down the movement and energy. For instance, I try to get the feeling of the hand rather than just drawing a hand. It’s really more about movement than it is actual drawing. I keep a lot out of my drawings. I try to keep it simple.”

I AM 8-BIT: THE BOOK

Mario by Gabe SwarrChronicle Books is going to be making a lot of people happy in April 2006. Not only is my 50s design book coming out then, but my friend Jon Gibson just let me know that Chronicle will also be releasing his book in the same month. Jon’s book, I AM 8-BIT, is based on the well received art show that he curated in LA earlier this year, wherein nearly a hundred modern illustrators, painters and animation artists offered their visual interpretations of classic lo-res videogame characters. To get a taste of the book, check out the I AM 8-BIT show website.