GO FOR THE GOLD

Go for the GoldI know Jerry has already mentioned this, but it’s worth doing so again. I received my copy of GO FOR THE GOLD: A MEATHAUS SKETCHBOOK when I got back from Ottawa and I’ve been completely inspired over the past couple days. Credit belongs to the talented Chris McDonnell, who is responsible for bringing together an incredible array of names from the illustration and animation worlds, and putting together an awesome sketchbook. There are 31 artists represented and each artist’s section ranges anywhere from two pages to over twenty pages.

It’s nice to see work by Spumco friends like Katie Rice, Wil Branca, Robert Cory and John Kricfalusi. Cory is working on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS now, and his work is shown alongside two other SPONGEBOB contributors: Chris Mitchell and Paul Tibbitt. All three of them have some solid, twisted work in here. Also good to see NY pals like Jim Campbell and Celia Bullwinkel with their own sections, as well as contributions by other well known names like Jim Mahfood, Tomer Hanuka, James Jean and Ralph Bakshi. The whole thing totals 218 black-&-white pages, and sells for a quite affordable $12.95. You will not find a better bargain around. It’s printed on-demand by Lulu.com, and the print quality rivals any printed book to be found at the bookstore. Note: I was offered a complimentary copy, but insisted on paying because I want to encourage quality artist-driven projects, and GO FOR THE GOLD is a project most worthy of support.

OTTAWA SNAPSHOT

jerrybookstore.jpg

Here’s a photo of me at the CHAPTERS bookstore in Ottawa last week, shortly before my book signing, with copies of both my new books on the shelves. I will try not to keep hyping these projects, but it’s rare to have two books debut at the same time. Both THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE and PINK PANTHER: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE should appear in local bookstores near you within the next few weeks – and can be ordered on Amazon.com now.

Back from Ottawa

Amid and ChrisFour words: OTTAWA WAS A BLAST! I’m still recovering (sleep, man, sleep) and will write more about the festival in a bit. If you post photo galleries or do a festival report on your blog, email Jerry and I, and we’ll let others know. In the meantime, here’s a photo of the Ottawa festival’s artistic guru Chris “Animation Pimp” Robinson and myself at the tail end of this year’s festivities. A week of animation will make anybody look deranged. Either that or I really suck at taking photographs.

castleBERDskillz

castleBERDskillz

Gabe Swarr and I first met Marc Deckter when we had a booth at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years back. When Marc whipped out his sketchbook, we were both immediately taken with the utter uniqueness of his work. Sheer genius or sheer insanity, we wondered? Often times it’s one and the same. Marc’s latest project, which also happens to be his USC Master’s thesis, is called castleBERDskillz.com.

Marc explains the concept: “CastleBERDskillz is a secret magical world inhabited by singing birds, cautious deer and playful bears. It’s an interactive environment, so you need to click around and see what you can find! There is no story – it’s just a place to visit and explore.” The layering of sounds and how those audio elements mesh with the visual environment is truly impressive. It may not be to everybody’s taste, but if you enjoy hilarious cartooning that would make any mental institution proud, then you’ll easily spend an hour or so exploring castleBERDskillz. A few navigation tips: Multiple clicks will yield different results. Press the space bar and left arrow keys for more variety. To return to the main menu, click on the ‘M’ on the right side of the screen.

STILL UNPACKING

PINK PANTHER BOOK: Ok, I think I have the answer. Apparently, according to my Pink Panther book designer at DK, the U.S. version WILL include a dvd of several DePatie Freleng cartoons.OTTAWA FEST: Bernard Joaquin went to an Ottawa Animation Festival workshop I was a panelist on – Creating Compelling Characters – and he sketched and posted a portrait of me and co-moderator Ellen Besen on his blog. If anyone else has photos of me (or Amid) in Ottawa – please send them in.

PINK PANTHER BOOK UPDATE

Brew reader Greg Chenoweth writes:

Brew people (and anyone else for that matter) can order the Pink Panther book with the DVD from Amazon’s Canadian website: www.amazon.ca. If you have an account set up with Amazon.com in the USA or like Amazon.co.uk in Britain, their account will work with Amazon.ca in Canada or any other Amazon.com website.

I’m checking with my editors at DK to confirm if the DVD version will be on sale in the U.S. – but for now, the version with the dvd is definitely available on stores in Canada and online from the Canadian Amazon.com.

OTTAWA UPDATE #2

rocket robin hoodI’m en route to Los Angeles today, from an exhausting week in Ottawa. Met many Brew readers – including our two festival pass contest winners – and had a ball running Pink Panther cartoons, signing copies of my new books, and displaying the WORST CARTOONS EVER program at the Saturday night animators party. Amid and I will be back to regular blogging by Tuesday. So forgive the delay in new information. We will be back with a full report on our adventures later in the week.By the way, they are selling the PINK PANTHER book in Canada with a dvd of early Pink Panther cartoons attached. I know you can know order the book on Amazon.com and they will ship the book to you immediately. Does anyone out there know if the Amazon.com version has a dvd attached? The publishers told me first, a long time ago, that a dvd would be attached to the book. Months later they said it would not. I will check with DK when I get back to the states. In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if any readers can let me know if the book has shown up in local bookstores – with or without dvds.Thanks.

OTTAWA UPDATE #1

Tonight we started screening films at the Ottawa Internation Animation Festival. I’m on the feature jury, so I won’t give my opinions yet on the full length films until I see them all – but tonight we saw FRANK & WENDY, a bizarre animated feature comedy from Estonia. All I can say is: strange.The shorts screened tonight were amazing. None of them were bad, even the experimental non-narrative ones were entertaining and visually dazzling. Two in particular, CURSE OF THE VOODOO CHILD (Steve Woloshen) and Chris Hinton’s “cNOTE” were beautiful, kinetic works of art. DELIRIUM FILMS OPENING TITLE by Nebojsa Rogic (pictured above right) was perhaps the most incredible thing shown tonight. A completely gonzo version of a movie opening logo as you’ll ever see.As for the narrative films, these three were winners in my book: MILCH by Igor Kovalyov (produced by Klasky Csupo) was a superb and surreal slice of life: FISH HEADS FUGUE by Lauren Indovia and Lindsey Mayer-Beug (produced at the Rhode Island School of Design) is a tour-de-force of all animation techniques; and John Canemaker’s moving story of his relationship with his father, THE MOON AND THE SON, was absolutely riveting.There were also commercials, promos and student films screened – with Luis Blanco and Michael Uman’s Comedy Central i.d. spots (pictured above left) real standouts.So far so good. I also met a few Brew readers – and that is always rewarding. Hope to meet more of you as the week goes on.

Ottawa Brewers

Ottawa Animation Festival

As Jerry mentioned yesterday, both of us will be hanging around Ottawa this week for you-know-what. I’m currently in Detroit, waiting for my connecting flight to Canada. Posting will more than likely be sporadic, unless I get the urge to update a lot, and odds are that won’t happen. If you see us up there, please say hello. We like meeting our readers (well, at least most of the time).

Captain Capitalism

Captain Capitalism

The latest Flash episode of CAPTAIN CAPITALISM, “To Bleep or not to Bleep”, deserves some kind of award for its final iris-out gag, which is an unexpected and very funny tribute to Tex Avery starring Dick Cheney. Fortunately, the rest of the cartoon has some nicely timed animation and is chuckle-worthy as well. The cartoon series is created by Brad Graeber of Powerhouse Animation out of Austin, Texas.
(via Fatkat Studios blog)

BREWING IN OTTAWA

pinkplunk.jpg

Amid and I will be lurking about in Ottawa for the next seven days. If posting here is light, that’s why. Here are some places you can find me:• Friday September 23rd 10am – PINK PANTHER RETROSPECTIVE at the Bytowne Cinema
• Saturday September 24th 1pm – PINK PANTHER RETROSPECTIVE at the NAC, Southam Hall
• Saturday September 24th 5pm – Book Signing at the CHAPTERS BOOKSTORE
• Saturday September 24th 7pm & 9pm – WORST CARTOONS EVER! screening at BARRYMORESSee you there!

HORNSWIGGLE

hornswiggle3.jpg

I’m very proud to announce that Frederator Studios’ OH YEAH! CARTOONS has given a greenlight to produce a character I created called HORNSWIGGLE.For the next few months I will be producing a pilot with the fine folks at G7 Animation. I won’t be talking about it much here – that’s because I’ve started a new blog over on the Frederator website where I will be discussing the entire creative and production process as we go along. The cartoon should wrap in March and air in the fall 2006. Wish me luck!

CHICKEN LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK

chickenlittlengb.jpg

For the last several years, the artists of Disney Publishing’s Global Design Group have been having a ball illustrating the Little Golden Books based on their latest feature films (including FINDING NEMO and HOME ON THE RANGE) in the style of classic Mary Blair, Mel Crawford, J.P. Miller illustrations. Case in point: Lori Tyminski’s art on the just released CHICKEN LITTLE. Totally worth buying.

Gruesomestein’s Monsters

monstersblog.jpg

Last year Mark Ackland and his partner in crime, Riccardo Durante, completed a series of short films produced by Nelvana for their anthology series “Fun Pak”. Those shorts were called “Gruesomestein’s Monsters”. The show premiered in Canada on a channel called YTV and one of the shorts made it into the Nicktoons Film Festival last year.Now, in an effort to get more exposure for their works, the boys have set up a blog (with permission of Nelvana) that they will update weekly where they will post everything from concept designs to rough poses to clean designs, to bgs, etc.

Same old, same old at Disney

“You’ve got to embrace [computer animation] or there isn’t going to be a place for you.” It was with that ultimatum, Walt Disney Feature Animation chief David Stainton proudly tells us, that he fixed the studio’s animation division. You see, the silly artists at Disney had been using the wrong tool for the past decade. But Stainton put his M.B.A. from Harvard to good use and figured out that if the artists simply changed their tool from pencil to computer, the Disney films would stop sucking so hard.

Superficial changes in technique aside, this must-read article in yesterday’s NEW YORK TIMES makes it apparent that there remains a clear absence of leadership and creative direction at Disney. The quintessential example of the studio’s continuing animation woes can be found in the story of CHICKEN LITTLE, or rather the “stories” of CHICKEN LITTLE. Somebody explain to me how you begin a film as the tale of “a young girl who went to summer camp to build confidence so she wouldn’t overreact” and end up with the story of “a boy trying to save his town from space aliens?”

At Disney, there is such an unbelievable disregard (downright contempt) for story that it would almost be comical, if the resulting films weren’t so thematically hollow and emotionally shallow. Of course, the type of drastic story overhaul we’re seeing on CHICKEN LITTLE is nothing out of the ordinary at Disney (eg. KINGDOM OF THE SUN to THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE; SWEATING BULLETS to HOME ON THE RANGE), and it is one of the root causes of the studio’s abominable output over the past decade. Read between the lines of this NY TIMES piece, heck, just read the piece, and it becomes obvious that there’s little new under the sun. The CG Disney characters may be a lot shinier and the camera will swirl and twirl until everybody’s dizzy, but their filmmaking process, CG or otherwise, is still diseased at its core, and sadly will remain so as long as imperious corporate hacks like Stainton run the show.

Another new piece worth reading is Richard Corliss’s “Can Mickey Find His Mojo?” in this week’s edition of TIME MAGAZINE. Corliss puts a more positive spin on Disney’s upcoming slate of CG films, and informs us that CHICKEN LITTLE comes replete with Barbra Streisand jokes. I’m sure Stainton couldn’t be more pleased.

For Sale: One Tacky Animation Studio

nickstudio.jpg

Here’s some interesting news that I hadn’t heard before. Nickelodeon Animation is giving up their Burbank studio at 231 W. Olive Avenue. Sale price: $19.5 million. This is the studio where they’ve produced most of their recent shows including SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT, THE X’S, and AVATAR. Nick will continue leasing the space until January 2008, but after that, they’re moving to an as-yet unannounced location and the company that owns the building (apparently not Viacom) has put it on the market.

The Burbank studio has been in operation only since spring 1998. The building was originally priced at $20.5 million, but it’s been reduced by $1 million, according to the website for Ramsey-Shilling Commercial Real Estate Services. The studio specs and sale offer can be found in this downloadable PDF. What isn’t clear yet is the exact reason for the move, though it’s reasonable to assume they’re leaving because they need a larger pad. As it is, Nick is currently leasing several other buildings in the Burbank area to house their entire staff. If anybody has more details, let us know. And remember, if you work in the studio, it’s never too early to begin dismantling the building fixtures and starting your own Nick studio memorabilia collection.

Update: I’ve received a couple emails that imply that Nick isn’t leaving the building, but that ownership of it is changing hands. For example, one reader writes:

In re-reading the Nick Building sale information, I conclude this offer doesn’t mean NICKELODEON is giving up the space. It seems the owner of the building (apparently NOT Nickelodeon or Viacom) is selling it and touting the fact that Nick has a long term lease. The property may change hands (ownership) and maybe Viacom will buy it. They can afford it. I’m surprised they didn’t own it to begin with. So the offer to sell the building, in theory, does not mean Nick is going anywhere.

Another person writes:

Here’s my best guess. I don’t believe that Nickelodeon or Viacom ever OWNED the building, they just had a 10 year lease (until 2007 or 08). Probably it’s the owner that’s selling it, ALONG WITH THE NICKTOONS LEASE. No change afoot.”

No Stopping the Animation Artist Blogs

Uwe Heidschoetter

To continue what we started in the “Animation Blog Season” post, here’s a handful more animation artist blogs that I’ve been enjoying recently. Also, a quick note: please bear in mind that, though I’d very much like to, it’s impossible for me to list every new animation blog out there.

Uwe Heidschoetter‘s somewhat unpronounceable name (at least for me) hasn’t prevented me from enjoying all the elegant drawings on his blog. From the bio on his site: “I have an education in Design and 2d Animation. Now I work as a 3d Animator in Hanover.”

Jeremy Bernstein is an animator at DreamWorks and does terrific caricatures, among other things. He even drew some eerily accurate impressions of me a few months back. Check them out HERE.

Robin Joseph is a designer/story artist at House of Cool. Jerry had plugged his work way back in June ’04 when Robin had a website, but he’s since shut the site down and started his own blog. His work shows a strong Ronald Searle-influence, and that’s never a bad thing.

Enrico Casarosa, founder of SketchCrawl and a storyboard artist at Pixar, has a revamped WordPress blog where he’s posting a lot of good stuff.

Robin Joseph

Proud to be a (groovy) American

Vincent Collins's 200

What’s better than independent American animation? How about independent American animation commissioned by a propaganda arm of the US government. Brew reader Joel Schlosberg directs us to this campy mid-70s short posted on Archive.org:

Vincent Collins’s 200 (aka BICENTENNIAL) is an odd mix of patriotic Americana and post-Sixties psychedelic imagery, produced by the American government to commemorate the bicentennial.

Celebrate America HERE.