The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills has set Friday August 18th for A Salute To Norman McLaren. Hosted by animation critic Charles Solomon, the evening will include the screening of thirteen newly restored and remasterd 35mm prints of McLaren’s pioneering work for the National Film Board of Canada. Films include NEIGHBORS (1952), A CHAIRY TALE (1957), BEGONE DULL CARE (1949), STARS AND STRIPES (1940), BLINKITY BLANK (1955) and eight others. A panel discussion will precede the screening; panelists to be announced. Tickets are $5. and the event will be presented at 8pm in the Academy’s Goldwyn Theatre at 8949 Wilshire Blvd. More information will be posted on the Academy’s website.
It’s hardly an everday occurrence that an unknown twenty-something walks into a major studio and is assigned to direct a big-budget animated feature. Today’s LA TIMES has an ARTICLE about that exact scenario: it’s the story of 29-year-old MONSTER HOUSE director Gil Kenan, an artist with no prior track record in feature animation. Unfortunately, it’s a frustrating article because the writer makes a big deal that Kenan is an untested director, yet the piece doesn’t offer any clues as to what’s so impressive about Kenan’s work or what inspired Sony to entrust him with a $75 million film.
(Use BugMeNot if registration is required)
Pixar story artist Scott Morse wins the award for the widest variety of wares being sold by one artist. This year he’s offering custom-painted bowling pins, ukuleles, skate decks (above), hand-bound sketchbooks, t-shirts, the book NOBLE BOY, and various comics he’s done including SOULWIND and VOLCANIC REVOLVER. Morse will be at the Red Window/E-Ville Press booth (#4802). Check out Morse’s blog for a preview of all his products.
Garrett Gilchrist, the chap responsible for the recent THIEF AND THE COBBLER re-edit, has YouTube’d nearly half an hour of classic commercials produced by the Richard Williams Studio. Check them out below:
My book CARTOON MODERN: STYLE AND DESIGN IN FIFTIES ANIMATION will be making its official debut in San Diego this week. These are the first copies that are being sold to the public. My publisher Chronicle only managed to get forty books from the printer so they may not last through the weekend, but they’ll definitely be there when the doors open Thursday morning. I’ll be doing a signing on Friday, July 21st, from 3-4pm at the Chronicle Books booth (#1019). If I find the time, I’ll try to make a special dvd with a few of my favorite difficult-to-find 50s cartoons. Anybody who purchases the book at the signing will receive this lovely dvd as a thank-you gift.
Artist Chris Appelhans has posted some superb concept art that he created for the upcoming MONSTER HOUSE. If the finished “performance capture” animation looked half as cool as Appelhan’s work, I’d be the first in line to see this film when it opens on Friday.
Based on the reaction the film received last month at the sneak preview at the Annecy animation festival, I’d have to predict that MONSTER HOUSE is going to be a hit. Nearly everybody I spoke to who attended the Annecy screening enjoyed the film a lot. The film is apparently entertaining and a refreshing change of pace from the childish animal-oriented comedies that every other animation studio is producing nowadays. A lot of people at Annecy were comparing it to early Spielberg films as well as THE GOONIES. It didn’t win everybody over however. One animator I spoke to walked out of the film after half an hour, saying that there was no reason for the film to be animated in the first place.
Back here in the States, Sony held sneak previews of MONSTER HOUSE last Saturday at 700 theaters. According to Box Office Mojo, attendance was strong at two-thirds capacity, eighty percent of which were families. Sony’s distribution chief Rory Bruer, however, is being extremely cautious with MONSTER HOUSE estimates, saying, “I think we’ll open in the mid-$20 million range, hopefully.” Bottomline: it may not be a very good animated film, but signs are pointing that MONSTER HOUSE will be a very successful animated film.
PS – San Diego Comic-Con attendees can get a sneak preview of the film – in 3D – while at the convention. Here’s the info from the Comic-Con website: Screenings are Wednesday night at 10:00 PM, and Thursday 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00, 10:00 PM and 12:00 AM at the United Artists Horton Plaza theater. Tickets are available at the Sony booth (#3945) on a first-come, first-served basis.
(MONSTER HOUSE concept art via Flight Comics)
My first exposure to the talented artists at Blue Sky Studios was a couple years back when I wrote the ART OF ROBOTS book. The general feeling I got while working on the book was that the development artists at Blue Sky took more of an illustrative/fine art approach to animation design as opposed to the cartoon-oriented production design sensibilities of Pixar and its imitators. This sensibility is front and center in the new graphic anthology, OUT OF PICTURE: ART FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, a dazzling collection of work by eleven artists who currently work (or have previously worked) at Blue Sky Studios.
It would be a disservice to label this simply a collection of comics or a graphic novel. On every page, there are gallery-quality paintings and illustrations. Freed from the need to conform to the stale narrative routines of modern animated filmmaking, the Blue Sky artists explore looser, more personal storytelling styles which are a perfect complement to their stunning visuals. The artwork is uniformly excellent throughout, but a few of the pieces that stood out for me were David Gordon’s disturbing post-9/11 cautionary tale “The Wedding Present,” Dice Tsutsumi’s atmospheric and beautifully painted “Noche y Dia,” and Daniel L–pez MuÃ±oz’s intensely drawn “Silent Echoes.”
OUT OF PICTURE was originally intended to be self-published, but it was picked up by French publisher Paquet, and is now available in both French and English editions. The English edition, which has just come out, will be available at the San Diego Comic-Con exclusively at Stuart Ng Books. Four of the book’s artists will be signing at Stuart’s booth: Dice Tsutsumi, Robert MacKenzie, Michael Knapp and Nash Dunnigan. The book’s official website is HERE.
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.
Storyboard artist ‘Skribbl’ has a hilarious illustrated guide to the various types of oddballs that attend San Diego Comic-Con. Scroll down the Story Boredom blog to familiarize yourself with everybody, or if you’re a first-timer to San Diego, print out his drawings and use as a field guide.
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!
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” 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)
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.
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 MichÃ¨le 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)
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.