“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.
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:
We’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@example.com
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 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.
Our Ottawa Animation Festival CONTEST, in which we’ll be giving away two complete passes to the festival, will take place tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.
I 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.
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.”
Chronicle 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.
Here is a terrific interactive gallery of Saul Bass title sequences. It’s by no means every film title he did, but the majority of his most important title design work is included here. As an aside, it’d be cool to see somebody create galleries like this for classic animated shorts, with commentary on who animated which scenes and other geeky details.
And a couple more Bass-related bits. When I interviewed Saul Bass’s close associate Art Goodman a few months ago, he told me that he had been interviewed for a major forthcoming book on Bass. I can’t wait for this book. Bass is one of the most important mid-century graphic designers (with movie titles being just one facet of his work) and it’s damn near criminal that there isn’t an authoritative document concerning his life and work. It looks like the book that Art was telling me about is now listed on Amazon, though unfortunately it won’t be released until November 2006. It’s being written by Pat Kirkham with an intro by Martin Scorsese. Also, this short film compilation DVD on Amazon has a rare half-hour interview with Bass. A reviewer on Amazon writes: “30 minutes of Saul Bass talking straight into the camera, explaining how he came up with his famous title sequences for IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM. He talks about 10 different title sequences.” I haven’t seen this, but I’m definitely planning on picking up a copy. (Thanks to Will Kane for the dvd tip)
I hadn’t heard of the new animated series, HOPELESS PICTURES, which premiered last Friday on IFC. After watching (or more appropriately, enduring) the clip on the show’s website, I’m quite glad I hadn’t heard of the show. It’s simply another example of a radio show masquerading as animated cartoon, and there’s nothing more infuriating than a cartoon where the animation is an afterthought to everything else. At least the show has an appropriate title: pictures that are subservient to dialogue are truly hopeless. There’s a review of the show at SLATE.
Here in the U.S., the fine folks over at The Right Stuff are looking for several lost episodes (in 16mm) of the original 1963 ASTRO BOY series – to complete their restoration of the series for DVD. A full list of missing titles is posted on FPS.Meanwhile in Japan, researchers have found an ancient piece of anime:
The 35-millimeter, celluloid animation film consists of 50 frames stuck together with paste. It depicts a boy in a sailor suit who writes Chinese characters, “katsudo shashin” (moving picture), takes off his hat and gives a salute.
The Japanese historians believe this film strip to be over 100 years old! Read the full news report here.(Thanks to Charles Brubaker for the link)
If you’ve emailed me anytime in the past few weeks, chances are you haven’t received a response. Crazy book deadlines will do that. I’m trying to catch up this weekend, but there’s well north of a hundred emails that need replies so please be patient. Also, if you email me, make your subject headers clear; otherwise I’ll assume it’s spam and junk it. Don’t write vague headers like “Question” or “Hello” or the worst of all, no subject header at all. Please put Cartoon Brew, Animation Blast, or something animation-specific in the subject line. Thanks.