SDCC: AISLE 700

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Clearly the presence of animation and animators at the San Diego Comic Con will be great. On Saturday at 12 noon a whole jam of events is happening in aisle 700.

Booth 720 = Thinking Animation book signing.
Booth 720 = Mike Polvani and Wayne Carlisi from the 1 on 1 Animation school will be looking at portfolios and demo reels, and talking to students about their school in North Hollywood.
Booth 721 = Rik Maki will be sketching and signing his book Scribblin on Scrap
Booth 722 = Brandon Ragnar Johnson of littlecartoons.com will be doing a signing.

LITTLE MAN = BABY BUGGY BUNNY

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I noticed the similarities to the current feature film LITTLE MAN to a particular Bugs Bunny cartoon when I first saw the trailer back on May 3rd – and many critics have mentioned it in their reviews. I have no interest in seeing the flick. But thankfully our pal Art Bininger scored a free ticket and reports back that the film is even closer to the cartoon than we thought:

LITTLE MAN, from the Wayans Brothers, is an unmistakeable rip-off of BABY BUGGY BUNNY, which you mentioned in Cartoon Brew a while back. As comedy misfires go, this one does have a few chuckles sprinkled throughout. There are at least three lifts from the Bugs Bunny
cartoon:1. The couple discovering a military tattoo on the tyke.
2. John Witherspoon (“Pops”) giving the “baby” the old “upsy daisy” against the ceiling.
3. The lights-out gag, where little Calvin clubs a henchman (in cartoonish silhouette) every time the lights are turned off. The henchman then leans over the sleeping baby, says “Click” and gets whomped again.I stayed through the closing credits, hoping that maybe there would be a reference to Chuck Jones or Michael Maltese but no such luck.

Based on the opening weekend grosses, and the success of Disney’s Pirates of the Carribbean, perhaps the Wayans brothers should have studied BUCCANEER BUNNY instead!

PIXAR STORYTELLING

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The annual Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles (October 19-22) is turning its focus to Pixar this year. The conference will have a whole day devoted to Pixar, with Andrew Stanton delivering a keynote address titled “Understanding Story” or “My Journey of Pain.” Pixar principals Lee Unkrich, Brenda Chapman, Gary Rydstrom, along with story artists Jim Capoblanco, Ronnie Del Carmen, and Jason Katz will appear on panels – and at 6pm Brad Bird and Mark Andrews will discuss Creating The Incredibles. Should be very interesting!(Thanks, Micah)

Shady Characters in New York City

Painting by Clio Chiang

“Shady Characters” is an art show that opens Friday, July 28th, at the ‘Live with Animals’ Gallery (210 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211; entrance to the gallery on Metropolitan). Opening reception is from 6-9pm. The show, curated by Jared Deal, is “simply a tribute to all of the creepers and tweakers, outcasts and outlaws, and freaks and geeks, we encounter daily.” Participating artists include Deanna Marsigliese, Clio Chiang, Steve Lambe, Gabe Swarr, Rex Hackelberg, Anna Chambers, Mark Ackland, Todd Kauffman, Joel Trussell, Bobby Chiu, Martin Wittig, Aaron Augenblick, Phil Rynda, Peter Browngardt, Danny Kimanyen, Randy Ramos, Garnet Syberg-Olsen, Jamie Mason, Chris George, Eric Nocella, Dino Alberto, Jason Levesque, Tim Shankweiler, Eric Brown, Mark Pecoraro, Pat Pakula, Kevin Schmid, Kaori Hamura, Richard Mather, Rod Filbrandt, and Deal himself. Stay tuned to Jared’s blog for additional details.

(Top: A painting from the show by Clio Chiang)

More on Cartoons and Copyright

A bit of a followup to last week’s post “Cartoons, Copyright and YouTube”. Emru Townsend at fps magazine linked to this excellent article in the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER that discusses the various copyright issues surrounding material being posted on YouTube. The article, penned by Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Fred von Lohmann, has this fascinating bit in it:

(Note to content owners: If you use takedown notices to remove noninfringing content, you can be sued by YouTube or its users for abusing the system!)

Of course, nobody knows how Warner Bros. phrased their takedown notices and whether they asked for the removal of specific films, but the fact remains that dozens of public domain titles have been removed from YouTube in recent weeks, including the WB shorts EATIN’ ON THE CUFF, PORKY’S MIDNIGHT MATINEE and A DAY AT THE ZOO, as well as the Fleischer SUPERMAN shorts. Now it turns out there is some legal recourse for the removal of these films.

Free NFB Shorts Online

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Here’s an amazing site. In honor of their 65th anniversary, the National Film Board of Canada has posted on-line fifty of their most well known animated shorts. Quality versions of the films can be seen for free HERE. The films serve as a great primer to the NFB’s output and reflect the wide range of techniques and storytelling styles used by NFB artists over the years. Included are Norman McLaren classics like A CHAIRY TALE, BLINKITY BLANK and NEIGHBORS, Peter Foldes’ HUNGER, Caroline Leaf’s THE STREET, Richard Condie’s THE BIG SNIT, Cordell Barker’s THE CAT CAME BACK and Michèle Cournoyer’s THE HAT. Surprisingly, many of the NFB’s most well known artists are excluded from the line-up, including George Dunning, Kaj Pindal and Gerald Potterton, so it’s not a comprehensive overview, but still, if you’re looking for a good intro to the NFB’s work, I can’t think of a better place to start.

(Thanks, Warren Leonhardt)

Jim Flora’s The Day The Cow Sneezed

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I’m a happy camper today. That’s because animation director Ward Jenkins just posted an amazing piece on his blog about Jim Flora’s 1957 children’s book THE DAY THE COW SNEEZED. Not only does the post include lots of images from the book and Ward’s thoughtful writing about the artwork, but it also has Flora’s mock-ups for the book, which have never before been published. For more about Flora’s art and life, look no further than Irwin Chusid’s excellent biography THE MISCHIEVOUS ART OF JIM FLORA.

Stephen Silver at Comic-Con

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Stephen Silver’s new sketchbook, cleverly titled Stephen Silver’s Sketchbook, is hot off the press and will be debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con. (It is also available online at www.silvertoons.com). Silver will be at the Con with a booth (#H6) where he’ll be signing books, answering questions and examining portfolios. On Friday from 12-1:30pm, in Room 3, Silver will be on a panel Designing Appealing Characters alongside animator (and Playboy cartoonist) Dean Yeagle and ILM animation director Glen McIntosh.

GUMBY EXHIBIT

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There’s going to be a Gumby exhibit opening Aug. 4th at the Center for Puppetry Arts museum in Atlanta. Several original props and models from the series history will be on exhibit. On opening night, Friday, Aug. 4 from 8-9:30 pm, there will be a showing of rare Gumby films along with a Q&A session with members of Art Clokey’s family. You can find more official info by going to www.puppet.org or calling (404) 873-3391.

Two Classic Commercials

A very random post. Here’s a couple interesting commercials I recently saw on YouTube. The first is a beautifully animated spot for the orange drink Kia-Ora. It reminds me a lot of Oscar Grillo’s SEASIDE WOMAN and I’m guessing it’s by Mr. Grillo himself, but he’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong.

This next one is really goofy and stupidly simple. It was pointed out to me by Marc Crisafulli. It’s hard to tell who it’s by but I think the responsible individual is Len Glasser. If not, then it’s probably by Ernie Pintoff. I’ll try to find out.

HEY KIDS! FREE BUTTONS!

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Amid and I will be plugging Comic-Con International: San Diego several times during the next week as we slowly figure out what panels are worth attending.I’m interested in meeting as many Brew readers as I can. I’ll be running around the con handing out buttons to promote my Frederator cartoon short Hornswiggle. One way to get these rare collectibles is to attend the two events I’m moderating:

RANDOM CARTOONS SNEAK PREVIEW – Clips, interviews and production art from the new Nickelodeon Frederator series called Random Cartoons. Meet the creators, and get cool stuff! Sneak preview clips from various cartoons including MIND THE KITTY, ADVENTURE TIME, MOOBEARD, THE COW PIRATE and HORNSWIGGLE. Thursday July 20, 2:30pm in Room 2WORST CARTOONS EVER 2006 – My all-new annual screening of the rock bottom cartoon crap-ola, includes different episodes of SUPER PRESIDENT, MIGHTY MR. TITAN, JOHNNY CYPHER IN DIMENSION ZERO, as well as new discoveries like Sam Singer’s PADDY THE PELICAN and Harman-Ising’s SIR GEE WHIZ. Friday July 21, 9pm in Room CDEF

I’ll also be appearing at the ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD booth (#5434) on Saturday July 22 at 11am to hand out buttons there. So come up and say hello!

FOUR HOURS WITH JOE BARBERA

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Check this out: Oliver on the Golden Age Cartoons Forum discoved the posting of an extensive interview (over four hours) with Joe Barbera (interviewed mainly by Leonard Maltin). This is part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s Archive of American Television interview series and it’s presented in seven parts via Google Video. Recorded in 1997, it’s quite enjoyable and highly informative.

MOUSE TRACKS BOOK EVENT

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Greg Ehrbar, co-author of the new book Mouse Tracks, is hosting an ASIFA-Hollywood event this Thursday in Glendale. This is part of a whirlwind tour of southern California for Greg, with several book signing events lined-up (click here for his whole schedule). But Thursday at the Glendale Library Greg will be concentraing on the animation related aspects of the Walt Disney Records output, with many special guests including Jymn Magon and Phil “Phillio” Baron. Join him Thursday July 13th at 7pm in The Glendale Central Library, 222 E. Harvard Street in Glendale, CA.

Random Disney Photo of the Day

Jenny Lerew recently posted a photo on her blog of Disney legend Ken Anderson posing for a publicity snap with an unidentified Japanese woman during the production of Disney’s 101 DALMATIANS. I thought I’d continue the theme and share the one photo I have that falls under the category of “Disney artists posing for publicity photos with weird foreigners during the production of 101 DALMATIANS.” This one features a newspaper reporter all the way from India. The artists in the photo are from the layout and background department. Identified left to right: Homer Jonas, Walt Peregoy, unidentified Indian man, Tony Rizzo, Ralph Hulett and Ray Aragon.

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(click on image for larger version)

Floyd Norman on Working in the Disney Bullpen

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Veteran animation artist Floyd Norman has written a great piece for Jim Hill Media about what it was like to work in the Disney “bullpen” during the 1950s. The bullpen is described by Floyd as:

…the animation equivalent of the secretarial pool in the modern office environment. It was a training ground for the young artists as well as a resource for the animators needing their scenes in-betweened. Every young artist dreamed of moving out of the “Bullpen” and occupying a seat next to a real Disney animator.

For another vintage look at the Disney bullpen, see this post at the Animation Guild Blog with a 1954 caricature by John Sparey of Disney bullpenners.

Tintin Documentary on PBS

TINTIN AND I

Jason Vanderhill points out on the fps blog that the 2004 documentary, TINTIN AND I, about Tintin creator Hergé, will premiere this week on PBS stations in the US. In conjunction with the doc, the PBS website has audio and video interviews with the film’s director Anders Østergaard, as well as a series of online interviews with contemporary comic artists (Jessica Abel, Daniel Clowes, Phoebe Gloeckner, Jason Lutes, Seth, Chris Ware). LA folks can see the documentary on KCET this Saturday, July 15, at 9pm. For other cities, check your local listings.

Animation in San Diego

The amount of animation related programming at this year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego borders on the obscene. Nearly every current animated TV series and feature being produced in LA has been granted its own panel. If you have a burning desire to interact with the creator of SQUIRREL BOY or want to find out how they transferred Savion Glover’s tapdancing onto a penguin in HAPPY FEET or just want to meet Nickelodeon’s “funky-fresh creators,” then be sure to check out the daily event listings here: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The rest of us who don’t care about tapdancing penguins or TAK AND THE POWER OF JUJU will be emptying our wallets at Stuart Ng’s.

Responses to “Is My Animated Short Worth a Penny”

Wow, lots of responses to last week’s post, “Is My Animated Short Worth a Penny”. The general consensus seems to be that while these new video hosting/sharing sites offer filmmakers an audience and exposure for their work, they don’t provide a viable means of income. Various thoughts from Brew readers are posted below.

First, an email from an artist who prefers to remain anonymous:

In regards to your Cartoon Brew posting about YouTube, I’ve got a few shorts on Atomfilms, and the money is laughable. But for me, it’s just an outlet. Someplace where lots of people can see my work. It’s great to have a place to show a short idea, something that couldn’t necessarily work as a series or feature. I think your point about the artists getting screwed in the deal is valid, though at least I retain ownership of my work. Try that at a studio. At a feature studio I worked for, I never spoke of any ideas because they claimed your thoughts as “intellectual property.” The artists will spend years on a feature, but see no residuals. A musician spends a week performing on a score, and gets residuals not only on the film, but on the soundtrack album as well. I should have kept taking drum lessons, right? My point is, the game is rigged against the artist across the board, not just on the web.

Shawn McInerney of Moose Mouse Media noted that the “Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment,” which I used as an example, was likely a special case. In other words, even if your film is lucky enough to receive millions of views, you probably won’t be making twenty grand from a site like Revver:

I am an independent animator and I have been doing a lot of research into these places. I actually think Revver’s payment to the creators of “The Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment” is unusually high. According the the AWN article, the filmmakers got $20k for 3 million views at 50/50 revenue share. That comes out to around $13 CPM. But the Business 2.0 article said YouTube could get about $1 CPM. $1 CPM sounds more typical for this type of traffic. I think the $13 CPM was due to the fact that Mentos advertised on the video. And Mentos probably realized that tons of kids would run out and buy Mentos to try this. So advertising on this one video is particularly valuable, and probably pretty unusual.

Animator Keith Lango posted this thoughtful response on his blog regarding the issue. He offers a solution that would bypass these video hosting/sharing sites:

“…skip the suits and advertisers and distributors altogether and go straight to John Q. Public with the content and let them pay for the content. After all, if they come to watch the content that must mean they value the content. So let’s go right to the end user audience- the people who value the content.”

Dave Redl thinks that the best way for independent animators to generate a buck on-line is by going off-line and establishing dvd sales, which is something that he is currently attempting with his Family Pants project. He also offered the following thoughts:

Years before downloading MP4s and iPod videos, Flash animation allowed for the creation of “online cartoon networks” of sorts. The producers of these sites boasted “give me your cartoon for free, get seen by a global audience, become famous and maybe cash a check at the end of the month!” It sounded great then, but the cashing the check part was always dodgy.

Sometimes fame begets fortune. If the right guy sees your work, you could land yourself a nice contract or at least work for hire. But the money always comes from “traditional” sources: TV, print, film. The Internet still is just a glorified business card. You really don’t make money from it, but rather use it as a means to extend your brand. Cartoon Network makes money from their TV network. Their website extends their brand. Their website might break even, profit-wise if they’re lucky, but mostly the website exists because the network does.

An opinion from an artist who prefers to remain anonymous:

No filmmaker is going to get rich (or even make a living) contributing to YouTube just as no designer or illustrator is going to get rich off Threadless or CafePress. As you said, what sites like Revver, YouTube, CafePress and Threadless offer is exposure. A chance for artists to fine tune their act.

If filmmakers want to see high returns for their labor, they are going to have to start thinking like businessmen, paying attention to details like business models. Successful Internet business models for filmmakers to follow include Homestar Runner, Penny Arcade, and, more recently, JibJab.

The Internet is a tool. A great tool. But the talent for making money is one artists must learn by studying other businesses and success stories. Simply relying on the Internet is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, good artists have the most important skill on their side: creativity.

Filmmaker Robert Hemby believes the potential for making money on-line is there, but it still hasn’t been figured out:

I recently read the AWN article you cited (“Animation Portals Advancing Indie Opportunities”) and the other AWN article (“Brave New Media: Opportunities for Independent Animators”) speaking to the same issue – new opportunities for the Independent Animator (of which I am one). Both of these articles excited me in that new distribution models and revenue streams are opening up for the independent animator to exploit. Your article, however, provides the opposite slant that the distributors themselves are the ones “exploiting” the content creators. These Distributors … these Aggregators … do seem to have the better end of the new distribution model. Hasn’t this always been the case though? Don’t the TV and Ad Agency execs make the lion’s share of the profits from content distributed as opposed to the content creators themselves?

Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly agree with you that my animation is worth much more than 1 cent per view. What is it worth (over the Internet or mobile device) per view? … 5 cents? … 25 cents? … a buck fifty? … more / less? Does this mean that these “new distribution models” are flawed in that they should focus more on their returns to the content creators? Are they flawed at a more fundamental level in that they should generate greater returns for what they provide? How can they be improved upon in their current iteration? What can they evolve into that would sufficiently compensate the content creator?

The “Audience” is definitely going to drive this bus though. They are the ones who will determine what the final outcome will be. I believe that there are different distribution models and revenue streams that exist for the Internet and mobile devices that have not as of yet been explored. The enabling factor is the Internet. I agree with you that content creators should “…stop giving away their films for free (or almost-free) and to actually start generating income from their work on-line”. There are those that say they have the answer to how this can be done, but it would seem as if they have their best interests in mind. They do have an answer though, and depending on how you measure success, their solutions do succeed at some level. I am hopeful though that a more viable solution for better revenue returns via Internet and mobile device distribution will be developed soon. In the interim, all I can do is keep animating and exploiting any and all avenues to distribution and compensation.

Freedom River (1971)

As relevant as FREEDOM RIVER was in Vietnam-era United States, I’d wager its message is even more relevant in our day and age. The film’s heavy tone is tempered by spare and appealing production design by Bernie Gruver. Other credits include narration by Orson Welles, direction by Sam Weiss (THE ALVIN SHOW, ROGER RAMJET) and animation by Vincente Bassols. The film was produced at Stephen Bosustow Productions.

(Thanks to Steve Moore for the link)

TV CARTOON PALS

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Dan Goodsell’s Sampler of Things blog is a daily must-see for everyone who loves classic cartoons and great retro package design. Today’s post is a particular nostalgic blast for me: a 1962 Kellogg’s promotion for it’s Hanna Barbera sponsored TV shows. I vividly remember cutting out these “trading cards” and package-back “pin-me-ups”. Around this time I also joined Hanna-Barbera’s Huckleberry Hound Fan Club – and getting the package, sent to home with my name on the label, was the first mail I ever received. I can never forget that thrill. In fact I think I still have the envelope. Thanks Dan, for reviving that cherished memory.

THE WORST TOM AND JERRY I’VE EVER SEEN

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No, the image above isn’t from the Filmation Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (1980), nor any U.S. produced latter day monstrosity. It’s a page out of one of the ugliest foreign childrens books I’ve ever seen. I just had to share.Someone left an anonymous donation at ASIFA-Hollywood last week – a set of Korean produced anime childrens books. When I took a closer look at the cover of first one I noticed, to my horror, something resembling an undersized Tom & Jerry cavorting with an oversized anime girl. The inside art redefines the word hideous. Whether this is a licensed product or not, I have no idea (I see no Time Warner or Turner Entertainment copyright mark anywhere on the book). It’s right up there with those ugly public domain video boxes you see in the bargain bins. Here’s the cover:

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UPDATE! Brew reader Andre writes in to report that the anime girl on the cover is Minky Momo, “from Ashi Productions anime series (released in english as Magical Princess GiGi by Harmony Gold in the 80′s). So it’s not just one knockoff, it’s a two in one crossover.”For even more really bad animation art, don’t miss my 2006 edition of the Worst Cartoons Ever screening at the San Diego Comic Con. More info about my activities at the Comic Con will be posted in the next few days. In the meantime, enjoy!

Join the Cartoon Brew Mailing List

We’re starting a Cartoon Brew mailing list. The Brew will be undergoing some major changes in the second half of 2006 and we want to keep our valued readers in the loop about all these exciting developments. Besides special messages from Jerry and Amid, list members will also be able to score free swag as we’ll be running exclusive contests for Brew list subscribers. If you want to get on the list, drop us an email, with only your email address in the subject header, to cartoonbrewlist [at] yahoo.com. The list will be low-volume (between 1-2 messages per month), and we also promise to NEVER share your email address with any outside party; we hate spam as much as you do.

BLAST 9 Update

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I hope this will be the last update on ANIMATION BLAST 9 before the issue is finally released. My printer tells me that the issue will be out right in time for the San Diego Comic-Con. Unfortunately, the printing process has taken far longer than I’d anticipated, but somehow that seems fitting for an issue that took four years to put together. Initially, the printer discovered problems with my files during pre-press, and when everything had been straightened out, they made the proofs. The proofs looked great except all the italics in the text had disappeared. Not surprisingly, it’s been a tremendous challenge getting the italics back in because of incompatibilities between our software. Anyway, the second set of proofs should be done any day now, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be receiving the issues in a couple weeks.

Cartoons, Copyright and YouTube

So, what’s new in the world of animation this week? Well, YouTube has bowed to pressure from the movie studios and removed hundreds of animated films from their site, deleted hundreds of user accounts, and in the process, alienated thousands of users who’ll now be taking their business to other sites like DailyMotion. What is most disturbing about this indiscriminate purge of cartoons is that they’ve also removed dozens of public domain cartoons which were legally posted on their site. Warner shorts like EATIN’ ON THE CUFF, PORKY’S MIDNIGHT MATINEE and A DAY AT THE ZOO, as well as the Fleischer SUPERMAN shorts, are all films that have entered the public domain, and can be freely reedited, redistributed and resold without permission from anybody. Unfortunately, YouTube has shown a woeful ignorance of copyright law and removed these films citing a baseless “terms of use violation” clause.

It’s important to look at the root cause of why so many classic shorts are appearing online in the first place. It’s because they aren’t available anywhere else for legal purchase. If these cartoons were available for purchase on dvd or available for download online, there’s no way that anybody in their right mind could justify these lo-res versions that are appearing on YouTube. Disney, for example, has been doing a commendable job of releasing their animation library onto dvd, in their Treasures collections, and relatively few of those cartoons show up on video hosting/sharing sites. Disney has also taken another positive step forward by releasing individual shorts onto iTunes. Other media conglomerates, however, neither care about nor respect the classic animation in their vaults, and corrupt “copyright protection” laws have allowed these companies to withhold the cartoons from the public for far too long.

There’s plenty more to be said about this topic, and nobody is saying it more eloquently than animation director Mark Mayerson. He wrote an excellent article on his blog yesterday that I highly recommend checking out. He even offers a novel solution for how YouTube can address the issue of copyright, and please both the studios and fans. The bottom line though is that until studios start listening to consumers and make these classic cartoons widely available, they can expect the shorts to appear over and over on the multitude of video hosting sites now available to the public.

PS: Even though all the Tex Avery cartoons have been removed from YouTube, the opening of the DiC series, THE WACKY WORLD OF TEX AVERY, is still available on YouTube. If this is any indication of YouTube’s future, you may as well stick a fork in ‘em because they’re done.

UPDATE: Some really intelligent posts are turning up about this Youtube issue. Tony Mines of Spite Your Face Productions, has a post about the terrific manner in which his company has dealt with their cartoons turning up on YouTube. And here’s another great post from ‘J.C. Loophole’ that describes the situation from a collector’s perspective. Studios would be wise to read his thoughts – especially the last paragraph – and discover how consumers feel about these classic cartoons.