Film composer Alex Rannie emailed over this great book jacket with a caricature of MUSIC MAN writer/composer Meredith Willson drawn by animation storyman and character designer Thornton (T.) Hee. Some more of T. Hee’s non-animation artwork can be found in this Cartoon Retro thread.
Calling all filmmakers: The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival is accepting animated shorts (up to 10 minutes in length), between now and May 31, 2006 for its 3rd annual competition. This year Frederator Studios is partnering with both Nicktoons and Kidscreen Magazine to select the shorts for the fest.The festival will kick off with a two-day live event at the Nicktoons Studios in Burbank, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006. Selected entries will air on the Nicktoons channel during August and one will be selected to win a $10,000 Grand Prize. Rita Sreet and Eric Homan are co-producing and judges (to be announced) will include Seth (Family Guy) MacFarlane. Any animation technique is acceptable: Flash, traditional cel, stop motion or CG. For more info go the Nicktoons Fest website or check out their blog.
Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, April 29th, ASIFA-Hollywood is holding a special film program focusing on the music in classic Hollywood cartoons. Animation historian Daniel Goldmark will be there to discuss the music and musicians behind our favorite cartoons. Bring along your copy of Daniel’s great new book, TUNES FOR ‘TOONS and get it autographed. Meet us at 3:00pm, over at the American Film Institute, in the Steven Ross Screening Room (Warner Bros. Building). The address is 2021 N. Western Ave. in Hollywood, CA (a block north of Franklin Ave.). Directions to AFI campus HERE. ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD members admitted FREE, non-members gotta pay $10 bucks.
If the goodie-goodie Harvey Comics aren’t punishment enough for you, then this news ought to brighten your day. Apparently the mischevious antics of Little Audrey, Little Dot, Wendy the Witch and even Richie Rich contained the requisite comeuppance spanking scene enough times for someone to start a website devoted to them. These and other kinky discipline sequences in comics are part of spankingtoons.com.(Thanks to our pal Milton Knight for bringing this perversity to our attention)
The debate over Disney’s SONG OF THE SOUTH rages on. Though it’s not much of a debate… everyone wants it released on home video. Song-of-the-south.net has a great FAQ to get you up to speed. Golden Age Cartoons has a continuous thread on the subject. And of course there is the petition. Brett Wickham just wrote a passionate plea, on LaughingPlace.com, for a common sense release of the film:
Come on! Everybody knows the film was conceived in a less socially evolved time. If you truly don’t think people will “consider it in the context that it was made” then frame it for them. “Song of the South” deserves a proper seat at the celebration of a more evolved Disney – a U.S release on every available format for everyone to see.
Speaking of common sense, what kind of image is that (above) to place in the original lobby cards for the film? Three little boys, facing away from the camera, staring at poor little Ginny who has been pushed in the mud. Doesn’t this film have enough controversy?
Thad Komorowski has posted three classic Columbia cartoons on his blog Identifying Animators and Their Scenes: THE FOX AND GRAPES (1941, dir: Frank Tashlin), CHOLLY POLLY (1942, dir: Alec Geiss) and THE SCHOONER THE BETTER (1946, dir: Howard Swift). Interesting sidenote: Chuck Jones acknowledged that he based his Roadrunner/Coyote series on the Tashlin short FOX AND GRAPES. These cartoons are next to impossible to see nowadays in the US so enjoy them on Thad’s blog.
The largest literary festival in the US, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, takes place this weekend (April 29-30) at the UCLA campus. On Sunday, at 10am, I’ll be speaking at the festival’s only animation-related panel, called “Animation: New Frontiers in the Art & Medium.” Honestly, I have no idea what that topic means, but at 10am on a Sunday, I can hardly be expected to know what anything means so it shouldn’t be much of a problem. The panel is hosted by esteemed cartoon historian and NY TIMES animation writer Charles Solomon. Other panelists include authors Daniel Goldmark (TUNES FOR ‘TOONS: MUSIC AND THE HOLLYWOOD CARTOON), Mark Cotta Vaz (THE INVISIBLE ART and THE ART OF THE INCREDIBLES) and Norman Klein (SEVEN MINUTES: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE AMERICAN ANIMATED CARTOON).
Admission to the festival and the panel are both FREE. Other events that may interest BREW readers are the following: “Ray Harryhausen in Conversation with Richard Schickel” (Saturday, 10am), “Chip Kidd in Conversation with Charles Solomon” (Saturday, 11:30am), and “Mike Mignola in Conversation with Nick Owchar” (Sunday, 2:30 pm).
Any day now ANIMATION BLAST 9 should be wrapped up and sent to the printer. I’ve passed my biggest personal hurdle on the issue – the article on animation storyman John Dunn-and it’s well on its way to being completed, with only a few more interviews to follow through on. This week I expanded the magazine from 100 to 108 pages to accomodate a larger piece on Dunn (it’s 32 pages now). Even with that expansion, the longest piece in the issue is still Taylor Jessen’s incredible 33-page history of the animated feature TWICE UPON A TIME. It’s going to be a good issue.
Here are a few random gag drawings and sketches by John Dunn that I had to cut out of the issue recently.
I have no idea if this new CD by animation historian Rick Goldschmidt is any good – but any excuse to post some new artwork by animation designer/artist Dave Sheldon (Spumco’s LOG commercials, Nick’s Tales from the Goose Lady, etc.) is always worth doing. Goldschmidt is the author of several excellent books on Rankin/Bass and frequently updates RankinBass.com. The CD features 10 songs written and performed by Goldschmidt along with members of the GIN BLOSSOMS, THE BLACK MOODS, THE NEVERLY BROTHERS and his own band THE STARVING ARTISTS. Rick is sending me a copy. I’ll let you know what I think after I hear it.
Oh boy! I’ve been waiting for this one. Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar is coming out next month. Here’s the book’s cover – drawn by George Peed, brother of Bill Peet, best known for designing the characters for The Mighty Hercules, doing Peter Pan Record sleeves and Disney board game art.
Hollis and Ehrbar explain why Walt and Roy O. Disney resisted going into the record business for over three decades, until the success of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” convinced Roy to take the plunge. Under the guidance of its first president, Jimmy Johnson, the record company experienced both feast and famine in the retail marketplace. Detailed in the book are the teen-pop success of Annette Funicello, the Mary Poppins phenomenon, a Disney-style “British invasion,” and even a low period when sagging sales forced Walt to suggest closing the division down. “There aren’t many areas of Disney left to be chronicled, and this is a subject that means a lot to us,” says Hollis.
A new website, mousetracksonline.com has gone live, and it will be expanded in May with updates and special information corresponding to the release of the book.
QUEER DUCK was one of the funniest internet cartoons in those golden years before the dot.com boom went bust. Now Queer Duck: The Movie is coming out in July. The voice cast includes Jim J. Bullock, Billy West, Maurice La Marche, Tim Curry, Conan O’Brien, David Duchovny and Kevin Michael Richardson. According to the Paramount press release:
Queer Duck, his boyfriend Openly Gator, and their friends Bi-Polar Bear and Oscar Wildcat come busting out of the closet on July 18, 2006 when they make their outrageous feature length animated debut on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment and Icebox Productions.Filled with irreverent, no-holds-barred comedy and 15 brand new songs/musical numbers, this brazen extravaganza is created and written by Mike Reiss, four-time Emmy winner for his work on “The Simpsons” and creator of “The Critic,” with animation directed and designed by Xeth Feinberg.
My good buddy Xeth Feinberg is also the mastermind behind BULBO (my favorite Internet cartoon character), and we understand he animated the entire 75 minute QUEER DUCK feature in his New York City apartment. I look forward to seeing this.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. UTSU-MUSUME SAYURI (THE STRIKING DAUGHTER SAYURI) is a delightfully bizarre CG short from Japan. I first saw the film at a couple festivals back in 2004 and both times the audience reaction could be described as something between shock and utter admiration for how imaginative and surreal this film is. Everything in the film, including direction, animation, design and music was done by one person – Takashi Kimura. It can be viewed online at iFilm.com.
This weekend, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE is airing an episode comprised entirely of Robert Smigel’s animated SATURDAY TV FUNHOUSE shorts. But there’s one short that’s guaranteed not to be on the line-up: CONSPIRACY THEORY ROCK. The 1998 SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK parody, animated by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, criticizes corporate ownership of the media and takes some sharp jabs at NBC owner General Electric. Needless to say, the cartoon aired only once on NBC before being locked away in their vaults, and it has even been cut out of reruns of that episode. Smigel recently discussed the short with the NY TIMES: “It just struck me as really funny to do it on our own network. I was somewhat delighted that they were O.K. to do that, and then they reconsidered. It’s hard to get angry about it.” Thanks to the Internet, everybody can watch the short HERE.