THE LAST WARNER BROS. CARTOON

lastwb.jpgPeter Paltridge has posted a bunch of funny/strange pages on his website, such as this one devoted to the worst TV cartoons he’s seen, and another one devoted to weird Archie comics.However, his most obsessive rant is devoted to the last Looney Tunes cartoon INJUN TROUBLE (1969). This Cool Cat cartoon isn’t the worst cartoon Warner Bros. released, and it certainly wasn’t the last Looney Tunes (the series was revived several times in the 1980s, 90s and as recently as 2003). But the studio ended its regular theatrical distribution of cartoon shorts (dating back to 1930) with this film – and the cartoon has a surprising number of politically incorrect gags (which has kept it off television for years).

Curse of the Were-Rabbit Becomes Reality

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It looks like Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit feature has spawned a real-life were-rabbit in England. The oversized rabbit is eating prize-winning leeks and turnips in the town of Felton. A BBC article has this quote from farmer Jeff Smith:

“This is no ordinary rabbit. We are dealing with a monster. It is absolutely massive. I have seen its prints and they are huge, bigger than a deer. It is a brute of a thing.”

Oskar Fischinger: DVD

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Here’s a DVD I’ve been waiting for, Oskar Fischinger: Ten Films. This is the first DVD release by the Center for Visual Music, and contains ten of Fischinger’s pioneering visual music films plus many special features – including 1931 home movies from Fischinger’s Berlin Studio, never-released early animation tests and fragments, a selection of paintings by Fischinger, photos and a complete biography. The DVD features high def digital transfers and digitally remastered audio, and includes his famed Allegretto, Radio Dynamics and Motion Painting No. 1. Pre-orders are accepted now. The release date is May 15, 2006 and the price is right, $30. For more info, visit the website.

SUNSHINE MAKERS

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Pop culture historian Michael J. Hayde has a great website Better Living Through Television where he waxes nostalgically about the good old days of network and syndicated programming. His most recent post, about the Ted Eshbaugh/Van Beuren cartoon THE SUNSHINE MAKERS, deserves a look. This bizarre cartoon, originally a thinly veiled commercial for Borden’s milk, was widely shown on TV in the 1950s and early 60s, then became a fixture of 60s head shows and rock concerts. I still get many e-mails asking the where-abouts of this cartoon. For the record, it’s available on DVD collection entitled, Cartoons That Time Forgot: Van Beuren.

Ottawa 06

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The Ottawa International Animation Festival website has been updated with details on its 2006 edition, which will take place September 20-24. This year’s festival poster (above) was designed by Gary Baseman. The entry deadline for films is June 1, and for the first time, films can be entered via an online entry form. Also, the festival has unveiled its programming schedule for 2006. Fans of the funny will be rewarded with retrospectives of three comedy masters: American Bob Clampett, Italian Bruno Bozzetto and Russian Konstantin Bronzit.

MIGHTY MOUSE MOVIE?

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Mighty Mouse fan Neil Beck (no relation) has posted some pre-production images from the long-in-development MIGHTY MOUSE movie on his Mighty Mouse Home Page. I have no idea what’s going on with this movie, nor if these images are still related to the film in development at Nickelodeon Movies. But if it were up to me, I’d hire John K to make the film with traditional hand drawn animation.

STUPID COMICS

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I love print cartoons, comic strips and comic books. Maybe that’s why three of my favorite websites affectionately skewer classic and current comics – and I get more laughs out of them than I do from the daily comics section in the newspaper. First stop is Scott Shaw’s newly redesigned and relaunched Oddball Comics site. Scott’s been doing this for years and has quite an online archive and a great discussion board. Next I check out Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon a hilarious daily commentary on some of the lamest comic strips currently in print. Rex Morgan, Mary Worth and Mark Trail are regularly, and hilariously, analyzed. And lastly, every Thursday morning Shain Minuk and David Merrill post a new page of Stupid Comics, an in-depth look at some of the dumbest comic book stories of all time. This site has awful navigation, but it’s worth searching through to find goofy things like this page on Battle of The Planets and this one on Harvey Comics.

EARL KRESS BLOGS

gazoo2.jpgMy buddy Earl Kress has just started a blog, and I’m sure he will add a lot to this so-called blogosphere. Earl’s the man behind the incredible Hanna-Barbera soundtrack and sound effects discs put out a few years ago by Rhino Records. He’s the guy behind the bonus materials on most of the current Hanna-Barbera DVDs (as well as the infamous John K. FLINTSTONES laser disc set ten years ago). He’s written Looney Tunes and Simpsons comics, numerous TV cartoons including THE X’s, PINKY & THE BRAIN, TINY TOONS, as well as my cartoon for Frederator, HORNSWIGGLE. In one of his first posts he talks about his role on the upcoming FLINTSTONES 6th Season DVD. I’m looking forward to reading his subsequent posts – I know he has a lot to share.

Channel Frederator’s Wild Spring Break

I was fascinated to find the following video posted on YouTube. Or rather, the video has been removed due to “terms of use violation,” but its description still remains (see image below). According to the description, it’s a video of a Channel Frederator representative handing out T-shirts in Acapulco, Mexico during spring break. While it’s understandable that Channel Frederator wants to attract a hip group of viewers to its animation podcast, I question whether a gathering of wasted-out-of-their-mind teenagers is the wisest place to promote independent animation? Clubs, concerts and art show openings all seem like better venues for reaching the young podcast-savvy crowd. Then again, maybe Channel Frederator knows something about animation promotion that the rest of the industry doesn’t. Next thing you know, Warner Bros. will be down in Mexico trying to get everybody to wear HAPPY FEET t-shirts. And that’s a video I’d pay to see.

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Cartoon Brew Film of the Week: THE BIG WIN

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Studio aka has just completed a 1-minute spot for the UK’s National Lottery – titled “The Big Win” – and it’s one of the most charming pieces of CG animation I’ve seen in a while. It was directed by Marc Craste, of JOJO IN THE STARS fame. The brief from the commissioning ad agency, AMV, was simple: “A man is given a bag of smiles and he hands them out to everyone he meets.” Craste and crew delivered big on that idea with a commercial that is filled with lovely art direction, character animation with personality, and elegant visual storytelling. Man, what I’d give to see the makers of full-length CG films create animation with as much vitality and invention as this commercial. View “The Big Win” HERE.

Also Design

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I get excited about websites designed with Flash as often as I get excited about CGI wooly mammoths voiced by Queen Latifah, which is to say, not very often. That’s why I feel it’s worth pointing out the work of Also, a young design studio comprised of three RISD graduates: graphic designer Jenny Volvovski, animator Matt Lamothe and illustrator Julia Rothman. Their studio website is not only easy-to-navigate and functional, but the Flash animation and design is witty and fun. Equally impressive is the Flash site they created for the band Less, which features a daring blend of stop motion origami and illustration. I’m looking forward to seeing more of their site designs in the future.

Quote of the Week: IDT’s Janet Healy

It’s only Monday and we’ve already got a quote of the week. It’s from Janet Healy, president of animation at IDT Entertainment, describing the current state of animated features: “This is a very exciting time. I feel like we’re at a moment where we’re reinventing the medium again.” She’s personally reinventing the medium with a film that looks like this. Well, at least she has a good sense of humor.

A Sequence from the unproduced Betty Boop feature

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Animation director Steve Moore, who previously posted Duane Crowther’s long-lost student film BLUM BLUM, has posted another amazing rarity on his website. It is an animatic from a 1993 attempt to produce a Betty Boop animated feature. The project was spearheaded by Max Fleischer’s son, Richard Fleischer (who passed away last month), and was to have been directed by Moore.

The animatic is for a musical sequence with Betty and her estranged father Benny. It was boarded by Steve Wahl and features a piano performance by the legendary Jimmy Rowles. The concept piece above was drawn by Fred Cline. Moore recalls that the difficult-to-please Richard Fleischer teared up after watching the reel.

NOT SO WILD ABOUT THE WILD

East coast film reporter Eric Lurio sent us this note concerning The Wild:

“For the first time in its history, Disney will NOT, I repeat, will NOT be screening an animated feature for critics. As you know they’ve screened even live action shit like Meet the Deedles. I’ve been going to all-medias for Disney animated films for over ten years This has never happened before.”

On the heels of the Pixar acquistion, The Wild must really be an embarassment. The ad campaign, currently in progress, is probably a contractual obligation. I predict this film will make a very speedy trip to DVD.