After seeing our previous post on the ABC SUPER SATURDAY CLUB, J.J. Sedelmaier comes clean with his past transgressions by sending in the the above image – with a note:
“It’s SO sad that I still have this. . .”
(Click on image to see much larger picture)
I can count all the great books about modern independent animation on one hand…hell, probably on one finger, because there simply aren’t that many. There’s a book coming out this month though that is guaranteed to fill that void. UNSUNG HEROS OF ANIMATION by Chris Robinson promises to be an insightful, much-needed examination of many of today’s leading voices in indie animation. The book (click on cover above for larger version) features profiles on numerous filmmakers including Signe Baumane, Brothers Quay, Paul Bush, Michele Cournoyer, Andreas Hykade, Igor Kovalyov, Ryan Larkin, Priit Parn, Pjotr Sapegin, and JJ Villard, among many others. Being familiar with Robinson’s previous writings, I know these aren’t going to be your run-of-the-mill artist profiles. I’m expecting hard-hitting insights into what makes each of these artists so special and I’m sure Chris is going to deliver.
From John Canemaker’s blurb on the back of the book:
Robinson writes with keen perception and a critical eye; he is sincere, compassionate and always passionate about his subjects, many of whom push the borders of film content and technique wide open. His unfailingly evocative descriptions of the works make one hungry to see them. ‘Let’s end the obscurity here and now,’ demands Robinson, whose new book goes a long way towards doing just that.
The book isn’t listed on Amazon yet, but is being distributed by Indiana University Press in North America. It officially debuts at the Ottawa International Animation Festival later this month.
I sat with June Foray at the CINECON banquet last night in Hollywood. I’m not trying to name drop, but I wanted to pass along this bit of news: June is scheduled for an appearence on CNN, with Larry King on September 22nd.
ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon line-up in 1969 must represent the pinnacle of low budget, cheapjack, crap-tacular TV cartoon production. But if you grew up with this kind of stuff, you might still have a warm spot in your heart for it. Who can forget (or remember) Hanna-Barbera’s THE ADVENTURES OF GULLIVER and THE CHATANOOGA CATS, Ken Snyder’s HOT WHEELS and SKY HAWKS (pictured above) – both designed by comic book great Alex Toth – Rankin-Bass’ SMOKEY BEAR SHOW, Filmation’s FANTASTIC VOYAGE and their Archies knock-off, THE HARDY BOYS? Not to mention those reruns of made for TV CASPER cartoons…. Ahhh, what a morning!If you crave the nostalgia of those times, check out Steven Thompson’s new blog where he has posted the complete contents of the ABC SUPER SATURDAY CLUB (direct link here), a failed attempt by the network to create brand loyalty to their kidvid programming.
When is a theatrical release not a theatrical release?As someone who is monitoring U.S. theatrical animated releases – for both my website and new book – I’ve established a criteria for what is and isn’t a legitimate movie theatre release. However, with ever-changing technologies and new marketing strategies continually evolvng, I find I’m wrestling with a new dilemma. What happens when a theatre is showing a direct-to-video movie on Saturday matinees, several weeks in advance of their dvd debut? Do I consider that an official theatrical release?An outfit called KIDTOON FILMS has started a weekly theatrical series of kiddie matinees, mixing old G-rated films with new direct-to-video movies. SPOOKLEY THE SQUARE PUMPKIN, THE GOLDEN BLAZE and CANDYLAND have received Saturday and Sunday morning showings in theatres accross the country. Small newspaper ads are taken. The films are digitally projected – no 35mm print is made. This weekend, the new direct-to-video Tom & Jerry movie, The Fast And The Furry (coming out on Oct. 11th) is playing these KIDTOON matinees.These films were never intended for theatrical showing, but for marketing purposes they are made available to KIDTOONS for a short period of time. Shall I consider these “releases” as legitimate? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences wouldn’t, as they dictate a weeklong booking as a requirement. Will I list them on my website? For now, I guess I will. Their lack of a film print might be an excuse not to list them, but within ten years I doubt any film prints will be struck for theatre showings.Such are the concerns of a diligent film historian.
My garage sale continues with some obscure pencil original art from Van Beuren and Lantz studios.
A couple days ago on GOOD MORNING, AMERICA, President Bush said, “I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees.” Not true. Even animated cartoon characters knew the levees were vulnerable. The disaster currently unfolding in New Orleans was the subject of a 2004 public service announcement starring the perennially imperiled clay-character Mr. Bill (of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE fame). The transcript of the PSA can be read HERE and the eerily prophetic spot can be viewed HERE. (via The Rude Pundit, which also has an interesting piece titled “Totally Black” in New Orleans).
Donate to hurricane relief at Mercy Corps or Operation USA.
Animation director-designer Gabe Swarr has launched the first designs in his new T-shirt line called Value Meal. “I like food,” says Gabe when asked about his inspiration for the series of shirts. And I really like these new shirts: simple yet bold and a delightfully “cheesy” sense of humor. I proudly wear Gabe’s earlier Big Pants Mouse shirts, but next time you see me around town, I just may be sporting a Beefy shirt. Additional details and ordering info at Value-Meal.com.
The summer of 2005 will go down as the animation artist’s blog renaissance. Artist blogs have been cropping up at an unbelievable rate this summer, and frankly, it’s exciting as hell. The animation industry may be incapable of recognizing and properly utilizing all the amazing talent at its disposal, but now the world can see for themselves just how incredibly talented today’s animation artists are. These blogs shouldn’t be confused as simply a second-generation incarnation of the traditional artist portfolio website. Portfolio sites have a tendency to be stagnant, an all-too prim and proper selection of artwork pieces that offer limited insight into both the artist and their work. Blogs, on the other hand, are a far more flexible and expressive form of communication, not to mention a more casual and inviting affair.
The effectiveness of blogs is evident in the wide variety of ways that animation artists have been using them so far: as a place for sharing quick sketches and gag drawings; production journals for their personal films (such as Tennessee Reid Norton’s blog); to offer personal reminisces about their animation experiences (see this great story by Uli Meyer about his time on WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT); discuss techniques and approaches to the art form (look no further than Seward Street); show artwork by other artists who have influenced them; and perhaps most importantly, create a dialogue with other artists and fans through the comments sections of their blogs. As the animation blogging community expands exponentially, what new ways will artists find to use blogs? I can’t wait to find out.
There’s a lot of new blogs that I’d like to mention, but I’m going to list only a handful so as to not overwhelm readers. I don’t know how often I’ll do this, but I’ll try to do a roundup of interesting animation blogs every once in a while. Here we go:
Uli Meyer – feature animator/owner of London-based Uli Meyer Animation
Hans Bacher – art director of MULAN
Stephanie Choi – character designer on FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS
Marco Allard – animator on Disney’s TARZAN and LORENZO
John Nevarez – TV storyboard artist at Disney and elsewhere
Ryan Larkin, the celebrated wunderkind of 1960s Canadian animation whose downfall was the subject of Chris Landreth’s Oscar-winnning short RYAN (2004), is attempting to make a comeback. He is currently working on a new film, SPARE CHANGE, which will be his first animated film in many decades. To help raise funds for the film, Larkin recently created a silk-screen poster (pictured at right) celebrating the 100th anniversary of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, a famous street in Montreal; Larkin has long been the street’s most celebrated panhandler. For details on the film and info on how to support its production, visit RyanBango.com. (Thanks, Heather Harkins)