PODCASTS

palsI had a nice chat with the gang at TOONZONE about animated features, the Pink Panther and anime – and you can listen to part 1 of it in a Podcast now posted at Toonzone.net.Meanwhile Channel Frederator has now posted episode 6 of their series of video podcasts, this one including the first classic cartoon in the bunch – “Breakfast Pals”, a campy theatrical Rice Krispies commercial from 1939. I’ve been informed that further old-time cartoons are planned for this series. This week’s episode contains four other highly entertaining independent animated shorts of recent vintage. If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: this series of video podcasts is well worth subscribing to.

The Return of Hand-Drawn Animation

2D Animation Returns

Here’s the TRAILER for what promises to be the next great hand-drawn anima…oh…wait a second.

Great job by Yowza Animation on this.

UPDATE: Bill Turner has some enlightening comments on the above:

Besides the actual animation by Yowza, the Best Buy “Soar” spot was produced by John Smith and directed by Elliot M. Bour & Saul Andrew Blinkoff. They were the team behind the Annie nominated “Springtime With Roo” and the upcoming “Kronk’s New Groove” from Disney. “Soar” was a freelance job, not Disney. Check out some of their other work HERE. Their sense of comedy and love of classic Disney really comes through, especially in “Kronk’s New Groove.”

The Ultimate Tytla Book

Bill Tytla

Our pal, Didier Ghez, writes to us about a new limited edition book about Vladimir “Bill” Tytla. I hadn’t heard of this, but boy, does it sound awesome:

Adrienne Tytla has recently released her long awaited book DISNEY’S GIANT. Part biography of Bill Tytla by his wife, part scrapbook, this huge volume (about 1000 pages) is extremely difficult to classify or to explain. Let’s just say that Disney historians had been awaiting this document for years and that it will not disappoint them. Let’s add that, because of its high price ($165) and its very specific focus (Bill Tytla), it is advised that only the most serious Disney historians buy it. To do so, send an email to Howard Green at howard (dot) green (at) disney (dot) com.

The Making of KaBoom! and Roof Sex

<Pes

PES, one of the most singular talents working in animation today, has posted a couple great new films on his site — THE MAKING OF KABOOM! and THE MAKING OF ROOF SEX — which explain the thinking behind two of his best known films. I’d recommend watching the shorts first, and then the ‘making of’ films. And don’t worry, despite its title, ROOF SEX is sfw — unless you’re offended by furniture going at it.
(via as far as the eye can see)

RE-PLUGS

jerrytoon1.jpgI’ve mentioned these before, but am compelled to mention them again as the dates get close.This Thursday, December 1st, I will be showing several cartoons in 16mm for my regular monthly gig as resident film historian for Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Be there!Next Tuesday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will explore how animation and live action have blended together to create “a new cinematic language”.

ROGER RABBIT, KING KONG, I-ROBOT, POLAR EXPRESS- where does the animated film end and the live action film begin? What is the future?THE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL of the MOTION PICTURE ACADEMY PRESENTS: ANIMATION INVADES LIVE ACTION Tuesday December 6th, 7:30pm at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. Scheduled guests include John Dykstra, Bill Kroyer, Ken Ralston, Rob Minkoff, Alfred Molina, Bob Kurtz, Anthony LaMolinara, Steven Poster and Tom Sito. Plus lots of rare footage. Tickets on Sale NOW, $5.00 for the general public. Doors open at 6:30PM. For more info and how to order click here.

KEITH ANDES (1920-2005)

birdman.jpgActor Keith Andes passed away November 11th. His obituaries play up the fact he was Marilyn Monroe’s leading man in one film – but neglect to mention his most immortal role: that as the original voice of Hanna-Barbera’s BIRDMAN.Andes also had signifigant guest parts on STAR TREK and THE RIFLEMAN – and was the co-star of GLYNIS (a short lived 1963 Glynis Johns TV show I watched when I was a kid), but I digress. My point is, Andes earned his wings. “BIIIirdRrdMaAnnnnnn!”

Brew Bits

FAIRFIELD

Industry artists Kelsey Mann, Tim Szabo and Steve Meyer are working on an independent film noir short and they’re documenting its production HERE.Taylor Jessen writes an appreciation of the under-the-radar Hong Kong-produced animated feature MY LIFE AS MCDULL (2001). I’d heard good things about this film, but never really made an effort to check it out. After reading Taylor’s piece though, I want to see it.Jeremy Bernstein has posted some nice thumbnails from his scenes on MADAGASCAR.Shannon Tindle, supervising character designer on FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS, now has a blog. (via Ovi Nedelcu)Tee Bosustow’s UPA website has a two-minute teaser for his forthcoming UPA documentary. Comments on the video are from Geefwee Boedoe, Leonard Maltin, Bill Melendez, Mike Kazaleh and Oscar Grillo, among others.

MICKEY AND THE GANG

goodhousekeeping.jpg

Way back in August I plugged this book, but now that I’ve got it in my hot little hands and have spent hours perusing its pages – I gotta demand you go out and buy it as soon as you can.gersteinbook2.jpgDon’t judge this book by it’s cover – that’s its weakest point. This is one of the most throughly researched histories of Disney’s classic cartoons ever published. Most of the artwork in this book has never appeared in print (or been reprinted anywhere). Each page has new facts, new art, new details on Disney that appear no where else. If it sounds like I’m raving, I am!MICKEY AND THE GANG started as a simple collection of the famed Good Housekeeping monthly pages produced by the Disney studio for ten years (1934-1944) – pages which usually highlighted the latest Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony or Disney feature-length release. If it were only that, the book would be well worth having as is. But author/editor David Gerstein supplements each GH page with a plethora of bonus materials: the film’s complete story, commentary, movie materials (posters, press ads, etc.), model sheets, other print adaptations, merchandising – and much more.This 360 page full color glossy book is a real treat. In a year of some great books (including Canemaker’s WINSOR McCAY, Goldmark’s TUNES FOR TOONS and something called THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE) this one may top them all. My highest recommendation – at $29.95 ($19.79 on Amazon) it’s a steal – and a must for any fan of Disney’s classic characters, animation art and those interested in the history of the studio.

Bill Plympton and Kanye West

Heard Em say

The new Kanye West music video “Heard ‘Em Say,” animated by Bill Plympton, that I mentioned earlier can now be viewed HERE. In the BET interview before the video, West says he used Plympton’s hand-drawn animation style because he wanted “something new, refreshing” and also that he wanted visuals that expressed “how natural the song feels, how organic the song is.” Now, Kanye West is certainly not a bellwether for animation trends, but I found those statements really interesting. Suddenly, it’s no longer computer animation that is considered hip and exciting, but rather hand-drawn animation, an art form over a hundred years old. Indeed, the raw messy esthetic of Plympton’s drawing style is a welcome change of pace from today’s endless parade of mathematically perfect CG models and animation, and the video is a great example showing that hand-drawn animation is still a vital and powerful art form, especially when used by artists like West who are savvy enough to know the technique’s strengths and the appropriate places to use it.
(via fps magazine)

LOU MYERS (1915-2005)

loumeyers.jpgNot an animator, but an influential print cartoonist – Lou Myers passed away yesterday in New York at age 90.I’ve always enjoyed his sketchy, raw style in advertisements, New Yorker covers and illustrations (including his famous movie poster image for La Cage Aux Folles (1978) at right). He was one of the most popular cartoonists in advertising art during the 1960s. I hadn’t seen much of his later work in the last 20 years, I didn’t even know he was still alive – but I highly recommend seeking out his work.

Plympton and Gondry Videos For Kanye West

AWN reports that Bill Plympton recently completed a new animated music video for Kanye West. The video, for the song “Heard ‘Em Say,” is scheduled to premiere today on MTV during TRL. Now what’s interesting is that the Plympton video is the second one produced for this song. Michel Gondry had already directed a video for “Heard ‘Em Say,” and for reasons unknown, this second video was commissioned from Plympton. According to this entry at Wikipedia:

A Christmas-themed video was originally set to be the official video for “Heard ‘Em Say”, set in Macy’s flagship NYC department store, it was directed by Michel Gondry. It featured Adam Levine as the store’s security guard. Shortly before the original video was to be premiered, MTV pulled it from the schedule. On November 12th 2005, the new video for “Heard ‘Em Say” premiered on Channel 4 in the UK. The video is a black and white animation by Bill Plympton, although the video occasionally cuts to scenes of Kanye and Adam Levine… MTV will premiere the original [Gondry] version as a Christmas special in December 2005.

Monday Morning Inspiration: Charles Harper

Charles Harper

This Flickr collection of 1950s bird illustrations by Charles Harper, courtesy of Eric Sturdevant, is incredible…so many interesting graphic variations on a single theme. I’ve heard that Harper is still alive — somebody should really do an in-depth interview with him while he’s still around. Though I don’t think he ever worked in animation, he’s influenced many animation artists. Background designer Scott Wills acknowledged Harper’s influence on SAMURAI JACK in the book MAKIN’ TOONS:

What I love about Harper’s work is the ultra-stylization…Even the character design here has been influenced by him–how we draw birds, for example. We’ve a lot of influences, I have to say, but when I feel like I’ve done a painting that’s very SAMURAI JACK, the way I want it, it’s mostly Harper’s kind of feeling.
(via fwak blog)

WENDY JACKSON HALL (1973-2005)

wendyhall.jpgSadly we must note the passing of our friend Wendy Jackson Hall. She passed away this past Monday in Seattle, from complications relating to cancer.Wendy was a true friend to animation and all involved with it. She was President of Asifa Pacific NW, a writer for various animation journals & industry trade publications, and a respected teacher. I knew her when she was involved with AWN from 1996 to 1999. She had a real passion for contemporary and classic animation – and her enthusiastic spirit will be missed.Her husband, Porter Hall, is updating her website in tribute to her life. There will be a memorial service on the West Coast on Saturday at 3pm at the Seabold United Methodist Church, 6894 NE Seabold Road off of the 305 on Bainbridge Island WA. On the east coast, a memorial service for Wendy will be held at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Medfield, MA on Saturday, December 3 at 3pm. Directions to the church can be found here.

Masters of American Comics

Will Eisner“Masters of American Comics,” a major exhibit co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art and UCLA Hammer Museum, opens in Los Angeles this weekend. Between the two museums, over 900 pieces of art will be on display. The exhibitions focus primarily on fifteen different artists: Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, George Herriman, E.C. Segar, Frank King, Chester Gould, Milton Caniff, and Charles M. Schulz at the Hammer Museum, and Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Gary Panter, and Chris Ware at MOCA. Articles about the show are at the LA WEEKLY and LA TIMES, and the exhibition catalog/book is available at Amazon.

Another Blog Roundup

The combined credits of the three new bloggers below include DEXTER’S LAB, POWERPUFF GIRLS, FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS and SAMURAI JACK. So you know to expect good stuff from these guys:Don Shank (who also has a couple terrific paintings in the upcoming BLAST #9)Chris BattleRob Lilly

And here’s a nice directory of animation artist blogs, courtesy of Smook. It’s not by any means comprehensive, but it’s the largest collection of animation blog links I’ve seen so far.

3 Trees Make A Forest

3 Trees Make A Forest

LA folks are in for a major treat this weekend.Saturday, November 19, is the opening of “3 Trees Make a Forest,” a three-man art show featuring new works by Enrico Casarosa, Ronnie del Carmen and Tadahiro Uesugi. I’m constantly amazed at how much quality work Enrico and Ronnie are able to produce and how dedicated they are to their various artistic endeavors — FRAGMENTS, Sketchcrawl, MIA, PAPER BISCUIT, fine art shows — and all this while holding down dayjobs at Pixar as story artists…truly commendable.

The show is at Gallery Nucleus (30 West Main St., Alhambra) and the opening night reception is from 7-11pm. All three artists will be in attendance — Casarosa and del Carmen will be coming down from the Bay Area and the amazing Tadahiro Uesugi is flying in from Tokyo. The show received a major write-up in today’s LA TIMES and it’s a good read.

Jim Flora’s Unseen Fine Art

Painting by Jim Flora

VOICE: AIGA JOURNAL OF DESIGN has an interview with MISCHIEVOUS ART OF JIM FLORA author Irwin Chusid about all of the personal artwork that Jim Flora produced over the years, which includes hundreds of paintings, watercolors, drawings and woodcuts. Chusid says there is the possibility of more books dedicated to Flora’s art. The article also includes ten never-before-seen examples of Flora’s personal art, including the above piece.

Hurricane Katrina Auction

pigeonauction.jpgSHEEP IN THE BIG CITY creator, book illustrator and native New Orleanian Mo Willems has organized an online auction to benefit the children affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Pigeon Auction starts today and runs through November 25. Lots of great items are available to bid on including original artwork by children’s book illustrators, signed books and posters by Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Craig McCracken, a huge GRIM & EVIL puppet, and more. More importantly, 100% of the proceeds will go to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

Blog Roundup

Yoshi Tamura drawing

OK, haven’t done this in a while…

Yoshi Tamura worked at Disney Paris and was the supervising animator of the Helga Sinclair character in Disney’s ATLANTIS. He has some beautiful drawings on his blog.

Steve Lambe is a Chicago-based artist who is currently designing on HI HI PUFFY AMI YUMI. He kindly sent me a copy of his new color sketchbook, SAMICHES 2, which is available for sale on his blog.

Dean Roberts is a London-based artist who has done boards on THE CORPSE BRIDE and animated on SPACE JAM, among many other things.

Ovi Nedelcu has been listed on our sidebar for a while now, but I’ve never given him a proper mention. He’s currently working in Portland on the Laika feature CORALINE and writes and draws his own comic series PIGTALE.

Saxton Moore does it all: designs, animates, directs. He’s done a lot of work out of Atlanta for studios like Primal Screen and Turner Studios. And just because I know I’ll never have a better reason to post this, below is a caricature of Saxton (right) and myself (center) drawn by the supertalented John Mahoney. It’s from about four years ago, when all three of us happened to be working on an indie animation project.

Sacks and Amid

MORE AT M MODERN GALLERY

girls2.jpg

girls1.jpgThe m modern gallery in Palm Springs, California is the place to be next Saturday. In addition to the Naylor-Reccardi GALAXIE exhibit previously noted, a companion show BLAST FROM THE PAST also opens there the same day.BLAST features over 40 works by the likes of Tim Biskup, Joe Chiodo and Amanda Visell (her work above and at right). The BLAST FROM THE PAST show is themed around the mid-20th Century views of futurism and space travel. The two art shows run from November 19th through January 2nd.