NORM?

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“To Sally, from one of her men – Norm”Norm who? Any ideas? Norm McCabe? Collector Gordon Reid found this still (click on it for larger image) and sent it to Leonard Maltin for identification. I took the liberty of posting it here, mainly because I love the cartoon he’s drawing (and his Mohair sweater – but I digress). If anyone knows who this is, we’d appreciate hearing from you.

Deitch’s Terrible Comic Strip Back in Print

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This September, Fantagraphics is reprinting animation director Gene Deitch’s rarely seen mid-Fifties syndicated comic strip TERR’BLE THOMPSON. Here’s a bit more about the book from its press release:

In 1955, Gene Deitch embarked on a daily comic strip for King Features Syndicate that he hoped would become his life’s work. One of the most unusual strips of the decade, Terr’ble Thompson was about a very odd little boy who had his “Werld Hedd Quarters” in a tree house and was regarded far and wide as “the bravest, fiercest, most-best hero of all-time.” Less than a year into the strip, Deitch received an offer he couldn’t refuse: to become head supervisor for Paul Terry’s Terrytoons Studios, and Terr’ble Thompson was abandoned. Terr’ble Thompson collects the entirety of Deitch’s short-lived inspiration for Tom Terrific, and a new generation will discover what could have been one of the great comic strips of all-time had it continued. The strip is drawn in a simple, modernist style that served as an antidote to the ubiquitous Disney look that had spread into all facets of popular culture. Terr’ble Thompson was a visual and verbal feast of fun that blended time and space, with Terr’ble going on adventures with great historic figures like Columbus, George Washington, and Davy Crockett. This collection features annotations for the entire run of the strip by Deitch himself, as well as introductory essays by Deitch, his son Kim, and historian Dan Nadel (The Ganzfeld). The book collects both the dailies and Sundays, with many of the latter newly recolored by Deitch (who was always unhappy with the inferior color processing of 1950s newspaper technology) for this book.

(via The Beat)

CANEMAKER GETS AROUND

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Our favorite Oscar winning animation historian John Canemaker has quite a busy schedule this summer. John will appear at the Zagreb Animafest in Croatia on June 13 to accept the “Award for Special Achievement in the Theory of Animation.” He is the third animation historian to be chosen for the distinguished award, after Giannalberto Bendazzi and Donald Crafton.Next, his Academy Award-winning film THE MOON AND THE SON airs on Cinemax on Sun. June 18 at 8 P.M.Then Canemaker travels to Brazil in July for the Anima Mundi Festival in Rio and Sao Paulo to screen his films and lecture on Winsor McCay and Mary Blair.On August 26, he lectures on Winsor McCay at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA.;
and then is a guest of the 33rd Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, for which he designed this year’s poster.We highly recommend you catch John at one of his public appearences, whenever, where ever you can!

JANET KLEIN PLUG

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Regular Brew readers already know that once a month (the first Thursday of each month) Jerry Beck shows vintage 16mm musical shorts and cartoons at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood, as the opening act of for the live performance of Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Tomorrow night, Thursday June 1st, is our next show and if you are interested in attending, you might order your tickets in advance – the shows are now selling out on a regular basis. The show starts at 8pm, at 4773 Hollywood Blvd.

SGT. DAVE MONAHAN

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In honor of Memorial Day, we are happy to once again highlight this link to Sue Larkin’s tribute blog to her dad, Warner Bros. storyman Dave Monahan. Monahan, a valued member of the Leon Schlesinger story department, recieved story credit on such classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies as KATNIP KOLLEGE, THUGS WITH DIRTY MUGS, WABBIT TWOUBLE and ALL THIS AND RABBITS STEW.Sue’s blog is a personal memorial to her dad, updated on occasion with personal photographs and cherished memories. Did you know Dave began his show business career in the original OUR GANG comedies? After his years writing cartoons, he went on to become a top commercial and industrial film director (Chuck Jones later hired him to direct the live action scenes in THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH). Sue has just posted a brief audio clip of Dave discussing how he got hired at Termite Terrace (Bugs Hardaway asked him, “What’s funny about a chicken”? That was his entire interview!) – and a hilarious anecdote about his first meeting with Cal Howard.

ALEX TOTH (1928-2006)

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Comic book artist and legend Alex Toth passed away on Saturday, May 27th, at age 78. Toth contributed significantly to animation – particularly to the look and feel of TV adventure cartoons at Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s and 70s, with his character designs for Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, The Herculoids, and Superfriends. His work for other studios, especially on Space Angel and Hot Wheels was particularly good – too good for the budgets those shows were produced under. He was outspoken and dedicated. He died at his drawing table. The San Diego Comic Con has plans to host a memorial for him.

TEN TURNING POINTS

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I was asked to write an article for today’s Variety on the top ten “turning points” in animation history. The idea was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of animation by putting a spotlight on the ten films that got us to where we are today. Whittling down a list to ten pivotal films was certainly a challenge, and I admit it’s debatable – but I stand by my choices. Check out the article, and let me know if you think I made the right picks – or post your opinions – on this forum.

LASSETER “DEFINITELY DOING HAND-DRAWN”

The last thing you need to read right now is another interview with John Lasseter. However this one, published today in Australia’s The Age, has a couple of great closing quotes:

“I don’t believe that an animation studio should be an executive-driven studio,” he says. “Our goal is really to help bring that studio around to be a director-driven studio like Pixar and help it become about the quality. Quality is about the most important thing to us.”Considering the dominance of computer- generated animation, including the Shrek movies from DreamWorks and the Ice Age movies from 20th Century Fox, it’s surprising to learn there’s still a place for conventional 2-D movies. “We’ll still definitely be doing some hand-drawn animated films at Disney, without question,” Lasseter says.

(Thanks, John Potter)

Animation Blast #9 Update

There’s now an accurate contents listing for BLAST #9 posted on the newly redesigned AnimationBlast.com.

Below is the wraparound cover of the issue, which I’m pleased to report is currently being printed in Canada. The drawing is a personal sketch by story artist John Dunn. Dunn’s life and career is discussed in-depth in the upcoming issue. Click on the image for a larger view.

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BLAST regulars may also notice that the ANIMATION BLAST logo has been redesigned. With all the other format changes in the issue, I thought it only appropriate to spice things up with an updated version of the BLAST logo. The new logo was designed by the mighty Brian Romero, who is also responsible for all the excellent lettering in the recent Chronicle book WEIRDO DELUXE. You can see more of his work at BrianRomero.com or check out his blog HERE.

Animation Blast logo

THIS SUNDAY: JOHN K. AT THE AERO THEATRE

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If you are stuck in Southern California over the Memorial Day weekend, hop on over to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on Sunday to see John K. introduce his funniest animated cartoons. The program will feature uncut versions of his rudest Ren & Stimpy adventures, Boo Boo Runs Wild, the Bjork video, Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse episodes and (my personal favorite), the He-Hog pilot – among many other things. I (Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew) will moderate the Q&A following the films.P.S. Earlier, at 4pm, John K. will appear in person, across the street, at Every Picture Tells A Story (1311 Montana Ave in Santa Monica) to sign original art.

SPRITE ANIMATION

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gon.jpgSprite Animation Studios has set up shop over at the Howard Hughes Center in West Los Angeles. The image above is from their first absolutely cool short, MONSTER SAMURAI, which will premiere in competition a couple weeks from now at the Annecy Animation Festival. The short was directed by Moto Sakakibara, whose biggest credit to date has been as co-director of FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN (2000). Sakakibara is Sprite’s creative director and has no intention of making a photo-realistic film ever again. Based on this short and other tests I’ve seen, I believe him.spritelogo2.jpg In fact, the big news from Sprite is that they are looking to staff up in Los Angeles. They’ve got the greenlight to produce a feature based on the Masashi Tanaka’s manga classic, GON (pictured at right). Positions are open now for storyboard artists, 2D layout, 3D modelers and riggers, as well as systems administrator. Bill Perkins (art director of Disney’s ALADDIN) has been hired as the film’s art director, and Leslie Hough is producing. The feature is targeted for a 2008 release. To apply for a position, click here for more information.This studio is offering a refreshing change from the copy-cat CG styles that Hollywood thinks an animated feature should be. The future of feature animation will lie with independent studios, like Sprite, with their own storytelling voice and original vision. We wish them well – and from what I’ve seen, they’re off to a great start!

CITY PARADISE

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I have to admit that I didn’t quite “get” Ga”lle Denis’s film CITY PARADISE when I first saw it, but maybe that’s just me. The film, which was a co-production between Passion Pictures and Channel 4, has an undeniably fresh look and is worth checking out. It’s been well received at festivals (it won “Best First Professional Work” at last year’s Ottawa animation festival) and it was also nominated for a BAFTA in 2005. CITY PARADISE can be seen HERE, and there’s a video lecture by Ga”lle Denis HERE where she discusses how the film’s distinctive look was achieved.
(via Hydrocephalic Bunny)

BUGS BUNNY WW2 INSIGNIA

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Way back in March 2005, I first posted about Brew reader Michael Brown’s contining efforts to identify the specific US Air Force squadron for this Bugs Bunny insignia (above left). Mr. Brown sent us a larger image and a slight update on his research:

I’ve found this other Bugs Bunny piece (pictured above right), which is from the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. But I have not been able to find any source to validate the identity of the other insignia in question. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

If anyone has any info about this Leon Schlesinger insignia, please contact Michael Brown at mdgrbrown(at)comcast(dot)net.

The Animation Information Revolution

David Low

There is a quiet revolution happening in the animation community, and it’s all thanks to the Internet. With the explosion of blogs in the past year, a wide range of difficult-to-find historical material is becoming publicly available for the first time. The availability of this material, which includes artwork, documents, films, and analysis, doesn’t only benefit historians; it also benefits artists in all parts of the world, who now have open access to examples of quality animation. In other words, there’s no longer any excuse for cartoons that look like this. It can be a full-time job keeping track of all the amazing knowledge being posted on blogs nowadays, but here is a brief look at just a few of the gems which have been posted on-line recently:

Kevin Langley posted some gorgeous BG paintings from the MGM shorts RED HOT RIDING HOOD and MOUSE IN MANHATTAN.

Hans Perk has posted the complete animator’s draft to the 1940 Disney short MR. DUCK STEPS OUT.

Jenny Lerew offers a who-animated-what analysis of the “All the Cats Join In” sequence from Disney’s MAKE MINE MUSIC (1946). Thanks belong to historian Michael Barrier who provided the drafts. Also, for easy reference, “All the Cats Join In” can be viewed on-line HERE.

Brandon Vietti, a director on BATMAN at Warner Bros., has written an amazing analysis of the Anthony Mann live-action Western WINCHESTER 73. Brandon does a superb job of breaking down the composition in the film and explaining why he likes particular shot choices. He also does original sketches of the scene compositions to visually describe his points.

Mark Mayerson shares a letter he received in 1976 from Golden Age animator/director Dick Lundy (Disney, Lantz, MGM) wherein Lundy discusses the specifics of his career.

Jaime Weinman writes an appreciation of the minor Chuck Jones character Frisky Puppy and offers two cartoons in their entirety: TWO’S A CROWD and TERRIER-STRICKEN.

Matt Jones has started a Ronald Searle tribute blog.

Oscar Grillo’s “inspiration” blog is at the top of my favorite blogs list right now. He’s posting the mouth-watering works of one incredible artist after another: David Low (whose illustration leads off this post), Florencio Molina Campos, Cal�, Carel Wright, Rudolph Schlichter, Vlado Kristl, the list goes on and on. It’s kind of like the Animation Archive except with the exquisite visual taste of a master animator like Grillo.

EDDIE!

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This is Eddie Fitzgerald, animation artist and director, in a photo taken by me circa 1988 at the Bakshi studio during the production of Tattertown (aka Nickelodeon’s Christmas In Tattertrown). Eddie is one of the nicest, and funniest, guys I know – and one of the best cartoonists in the business. Eddie, who has worked for just about every studio in Hollywood (most notably on Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse, Spumco’s Ren & Stimpy and Warner’s Tiny Toon Adventures), has a well-known laugh – and lots of theories about classic animation, drawing, and life itself. It’s always worth spending time with Uncle Eddie – and now you can grab some of his demented genius everyday! He has started a blog, Uncle Eddie’s Theory Corner, where he will display his funny drawings, make lofty predictions, and even post his witty poetry. A daily visit is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

CalArts at MoMA

“TOMORROWLAND: CalArts in Moving Pictures” is an ambitious film program (curated by Josh Siegel) that aims to document the work of CalArts animation and live-action student filmmakers. It opens tomorrow at MoMA in New York and runs through August 13. A complete schedule of film programs and screening times can be found HERE. The rare student works of many of today’s most well known animation artists will be shown including Henry Selick, Paul Demeyer, Stephen Hillenburg, Craig McCracken, Kathy Rose, Joanna Priestley, Nancy Beiman, Jorgen Klubien, Gary Conrad, Chris Sanders, David Daniels, Eric Darnell and JJ Villard. There’s also a “School of Pixar” screening showcasing the CalArts films of individuals now working at Pixar including John Lasseter, Pete Docter (his film WINTER is at the top of this post), Joe Ranft, Andrew Stanton, Brenda Chapman, Ralph Eggleston, Doug Sweetland and Mark Andrews. An article about the show appeared last week in the NY TIMES (use BugMeNot to bypass registration).

And speaking of CalArts student films, below you can watch one that’s not on the MoMA program – BABY’S NEW FORMULA by cartoon genius Aaron Springer. It’s a bit crude in terms of content, so watch at your own risk.

NEW BOOKS

ourgangkelly1.jpgI caught up with Leonard Maltin last week and he told me about two new books he contributed to – and I think you ought to to know about them too.Leonard wrote an introduction (actually “an appreciation”) for Fantagraphics’ new collection of Walt Kelly’s OUR GANG comics. This first volume reprints, in color, Kelly’s comic book work from 1942 and 1943 and is printed on a nice smooth/thick paper stock. Leonard’s appreciation, and an intro by Kelly historian Steve Thompson, really put this early work in perspective – both Kelly’s work for Western Publishing, and Our Gang’s literary history. Kelly wrote and drew these comics shortly after leaving Disney and moving back east, and it’s fun to see his take on Spanky, Buckwheat, Mickey (Robert Blake) and Froggy – especially during the war years, the last days of the MGM shorts series. Oh, and Jeff Smith (of “Bone”) also contributed a great cover.The other book Leonard showed me isn’t available on Amazon.com, Disneyland, nor at your local bookstore. And yet it’s published by Disney Editions and anyone can purchase it – if you know how. Disney Insider Yearbook 2005 is an interesting publication aimed at hard-core Disney buffs. disneyinsider.jpgApparently, the folks who published the now defunct Disney Magazine have rounded up their writers to create a special annual limited-edition book, packed with unique articles on different aspects of Disney history – yesterday, today and tomorrow. Twenty six heavily illustrated articles are featured, including Leslie Iwerks on Pixar, Charles Solomon on the artists behind BAMBI, Paula Sigmond Lowery on the new Walt Disney Family Library currently under construction on San Francisco, Brenda Chapman and Mike Gabriel offer tributes to Joe Grant and Joe Ranft, and Leonard Maltin discussing the Disney Treasures “Rarities” DVD. Other notable contributors to this volume include David R. Smith, Jim Fanning, Brian Sibley, Jeff Kurtti and Tim O’Day.It’s over 170 color glossy pages of material that really adds to your Disney I.Q. There is a softcover version available for $24.95 or a hardcover edition (which comes with a limited edition lithograph and a bonus DVD of stuff) for $49.95. More information, and ordering instructions are located here.

LITTLE GO BEEP

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Cartoon writer Earl Kress discusses “The best Looney Tune you’ve never seen”, on his blog. The film, a Warner Bros. cartoon he wrote several years ago called LITTLE GO BEEP, is indeed an excellent one. I saw it at an animation festival several years ago and reviewed it on my Cartoon Research website here. Warner’s has several cartoon shorts, fully produced, sitting on the shelf. Let’s hope they make it to DVD in the near future.

DUMBO’S 65th ANNIVERSARY

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On Thursday night, May 25th, the Walt Disney Company will celebrate the 65th anniversay of MY favorite Disney feature, DUMBO, with a two week booking at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. It will be paired with WINNIE THE POOH AND THE HONEY TREE (itself celebrating its 40th anniversay). Animator Eric Goldberg, songwriter Richard Sherman and music historian Miles Kruger will discuss Dumbo on a special panel preceeding the Thursday night screening.

MISS KRAZY KAT, 2006

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At yesterday’s ASIFA-Hollywood screening we crowned “Miss Krazy Kat” of 2006. The surprise winner, selected by our panel of blue ribbon judges, was Barbara Babbitt (pictured above at center). Mrs. Babbitt (widow of animator Art Babbitt) recieved a jewel encrusted tiara and sash, as well as a lifetime supply of 9 Lives Cat Food. Pictured above is M.C. Jerry Beck (left) and last year’s winner, Marea Boylan (at right). In attendance at the ceremony were such animation luminaries as Milton Knight, Joe Dante, Milt Gray, Bob Jaques, Greg Ford, Mark Kausler, Joe Adamson, Mike Kazaleh and Will Ryan. Michael Schlesinger of Sony Pictures sanctified the event.(Thanks to Art Binninger for the photo)