Jaime Weinman has posted some thoughtful insights on the Bugs Bunny films of Bob McKimson, and specifically REBEL RABBIT (1949), which is included on the just-released LOONEY TUNES: GOLDEN COLLECTION, volume 3.
There was an article by TV critic Robert Lloyd in last Sunday’s LA TIMES about the upcoming BOONDOCKS animated series on Cartoon Network, and television animation in general. It’s a positive piece, but what was particularly jarring was Lloyd’s condescending (and unfortunately, all too typical) attitude that animation is primarily a children’s medium. The final point he makes in the piece:
Like the comics, cartoons are children’s things made by adults who are not finished with children’s things. The reason the best of them have cross-generational appeal is not that they contain jokes for adults and jokes for children but that everything in them represents that doubleness: The dumbest jokes are there for the adults too, just as the smarter ones are there for the kids who know enough to get them – and for the kids who don’t, they stand for the fact that there are things still to know, that (pace Homer Simpson) there is something to aspire to: Bugs Bunny cool. And in the meantime, like Huey and Riley, you try to think for yourself. That’s what the cartoons tell us.It’s exasperating that in 2005, after one hundred years of animated films, mainstream critics still can’t wrap it around their thick skulls that just because something is animated doesn’t automatically mean it’s a product intended for children. To this critic, the best cartoons have “cross-generational appeal” as if a piece of animation that didn’t appeal to both children and adults would somehow be deficient. Granted, most of the shows he writes about in the column are cartoons geared specifically towards children, but it’s a gross disservice to animated discourse to lump adult-oriented animation like THE SIMPSONS and “Adult Swim” shows into the same pot as DANNY PHANTOM and THE BUZZ ON MAGGIE, and judge them all on the basis of whether they appeal to both children and adults. If a critic ever said that comics by Crumb, Spiegelman, Ware and Seth are “children’s things made by adults” and something that merely provides “a release for adults,” that critic would be run out of town, but sadly, this misinformed mindset persists about the animated film.
SLANT MAGAZINE’s review of CHICKEN LITTLE begins:
A better name for Chicken Little might have been My First Spielberg Movie given how this mostly innocuous computer-animated contraption takes the childlike but mature feelings of E.T. and War of the Worlds and repackages them as childish sitcom tosh.
What better way to document a film festival than to make a film about it? That’s exactly what Rita Street’s friend, Gayle Ellett, did to document this year’s Ottawa Animation Festival. Gayle doesn’t work in animation, but his laugh-out loud “home-made” film accurately captures the Ottawa flavor, complete with goofy-looking artist types, lots of drinking, and inane animation show pitches. Watch THE BOY, THE BEER AND THE BUS HERE.
Ollie Johnston is 93 today. Congratulations.
Today Fred Seibert launches Channel Frederator, the world’s first cartoon video podcast, established to distribute commercial and eclectic cartoon content to portable video devices such as the new Apple iPod and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP).Released weekly, Channel Frederator will contain several short form original and classic cartoons submitted by producers from around the world, packaged into 10 to 15 minute episodes by Seibert’s programming team.
The first episode features four submitted cartoons beginning with “Barrista,” a 2D student film by Pendelton Ward, a director currently completing his first Nickelodeon animated short. Next up is Santa Monica-based Blur Studio’s computer generated short “In the Rough.” Independent filmmaker and musician Eileen Brennan adds the flash production “Go Spy Go.” The last cartoon in Episode #1 is Dave Thomas’ flash film “Mantelope” from Wild Brain, San Francisco’s largest animation studio.
Cartoon producers are invited to submit their short films for inclusion in weekly episodes. For a free subscription to the Channel Frederator podcast, go to the iTunes Podcast Directory and search for Channel Frederator, or go to the web site www.channelfrederator.com and click ‘Subscribe.’
John Canemaker will give lectures and screenings in both New York and Los Angeles to celebrate the revised edition of his book WINSOR McCAY. Both the book and Canemaker’s lectures are highly recommended by us at Cartoon Brew.In New York, you can catch Canemaker at MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art, 6:30pm, Titus 2 Theatre) on Thursday November 17, 2005 in a special talk about McCay, illustrated with images from Canemaker’s newly expanded biography, and a screening of four of McCay’s greatest films: Little Nemo (1911), How a Mosquito Operates (1912), Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), and The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918). Following the presentation, Canemaker will sign copies of his book.Canemaker will also present this lecture at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) on January 14th, 2006. More details on his Los Angeles visit as we get closer to the date. If you live on the east coast or west coast – mark your calenders now.
Trick or treat?Got $5 billion plus? Pixar may be for sale. It’s the perfect gift for the media conglomerate that has everything!
A negative review of CHICKEN LITTLE in today’s DAILY VARIETY.
Just a quick reminder that if you have any interest in the history of animation – and if you happen to be in Southern California today – you might want to drop by Asifa-Hollywood’s screening of 12 very rare Columbia KRAZY KAT cartoons from the 1929-1934 period. All the hard core classic cartoon fans in the area will be there. I’ll be hosting the event and selling a few classic cartoon odds and ends at the check-in table. Special thanks to Michael Schlesinger at Columbia Pictures for allowing us to screen these 35mm vault prints. For more info see ASIFA-Hollywood’s website.
Here’s a page of wonderful and inspiring caricatures by master Disney story artist Bill Peet (1915-2002). Peet re-imagined many of his co-workers as animals, including a particularly biting impression of Walt Disney as a rodent. The site, BillPeet.net, is run by his son, and there’s other rare Peet artwork scattered throughout the various pages, so take a look around.
Six animators at Pixar have banded together to start a (well titled) blog named Spline Doctors. Besides animating, all these guys teach animation in the evenings. The goal, they write, is to create “a forum to discuss animation education and whatever else.” Should be fun to see what they come up with. The animators involved are:Scott Clark
ICv2.com is reporting that Turner Classic Movies will be running nine Miyazaki films in January 2006. This is the package of Studio Ghibli features that Disney acquired, which includes Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso and Whisper of the Heart. No word if TCM is going to run them subtitled or dubbed. This is probably timed to remind Academy voters to consider Howl’s Moving Castle for Best Animated Feature. While I’m not crazy about TCM showing anything after 1970, I do admit Miyazaki’s works are true modern classics.And there’s no doubt in my mind that Disney does the best English dubs. Last night I had the the privilege of screening the new dub of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and doing a Q&A with the staff of Disney Character Voices responsible for the Ghibli adaptations. Having been principally involved with the original 1989 dubs of TOTORO and KIKI, I am delighted with these upgrades. And seeing Totoro again, after so many years, confirms my own subjective belief that this is Miyazaki’s best film – period. It also reassured me that traditional hand drawn feature animation is not dead, and will not die if animators are inspired to tell a great story.Check the TCM homepage in January for more information on the Miyazaki festival.
I don’t go off topic many times here on Cartoon Brew, but an obituary in today’s L.A. TIMES is worth noting.Jack Mathis passed away a week or so ago. I never met the man, but I have great respect for him and his life’s work chronicling the history of Republic Pictures. Mathis ran an advertising agency in Illinois as a day job, but on the side he spent decades self-publishing several books detailing the history of Hollywood’s greatest B-movie studio. And detail is the operative word. His books, particularly VALLEY OF THE CLIFFHANGERS, are as meticulous as they were beautifully produced. And they were very influential to me and the approach I try to aspire in researching and writing about animation history. He was finishing up his magnum opus, REPUBLIC CONFIDENTIAL (part 3), when he passed away. I certainly hope his estate will finish the project for him – as a tribute to his life.