Just a reminder that your chance to win a free full-access pass to the Ottawa International Animation Festival (Sept. 20-24) ends this Sunday. We’ve got two passes to hand out and we want to give them to folks who really really want to attend the festival. For entry details, read our contest rules here.
J. J. Sedelmaier sent us a link to his latest set of animated public service spots, based on the subject of donating blood, for the Euro RSCG agency and the Ad Council. The campaign is comic book based and Sedelmaier uses his retro TV cartoon style to make the point: “Saving the world isn’t easy. Saving a life is.” You can view the spots on the well designed Bloodsaves website. Clever stuff and, of course, it’s all for a great cause.For Euro RSCG, credits go to Jason Holzman, copywriter; Rocky Pina, art director; Jeff Stock and Lyndsay Myerscough, producers. For J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, J. J. Sedelmaier was director/producer/designer. Dave Lovelace was production manager, and Lovelace, Dan Madia, Andrew Friz and Steve Jackett were animators.
Smoking may be banned in classic MGM cartoons, but apparently reckless driving and sexist behavior is still condoned – as witnessed by this 1998 Tex Avery-inspired Peugeot automobile commercial by Uli Meyer:
If you spend time online, chances are you’ve already run across PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP by Nicholas Gurewitch. The comic is hard to describe, but in my opinion it’s the best “absurd” newspaper comic since Gary Larson’s FAR SIDE and that’s not a comment I make lightly. Unlike the countless Larson imitators who have appeared over the years, Gurewitch has a voice and sensibility distinctly his own. He takes risks with his work and the results are frequently laugh-out-loud funny. I’d actually seen quite a few of his comics before I realized recently that they were all done by the same person. That’s because he works in many different styles ranging from rendered “children’s book”-style art to parodies of other artists (like Bil Keane and Edward Gorey) to his standard ‘white blob’ characters. Gurewitch is currently putting together a compilation of PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP for Dark Horse Comics. Needless to say, I can’t wait for that book. He’s also done a bit of animation before like this stop motion short.
I saw this book at Hennessey+Ingalls the other day and it looks like it’s worth adding to the collection. ON AIR: THE VISUAL MESSAGES AND GLOBAL LANGUAGE OF MTV has a pretentious name for what it actually is, which is a collection of recent motion graphics and animation work done for the various MTVs in Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America. This isn’t easy-to-find material so thankfully it also comes with a 70-minute dvd of the idents and promos featured in the book (the sticker on the cover says the dvd plays both NTSC and PAL but don’t hold me to that). Some of the book’s pages can be previewed HERE.
Considering this is a vanity book done for MTV, I was surprised by the honesty of the filmmaker’s quotes in the book. One filmmaker says that MTV pays peanuts for all this material, but everybody still does it because it’s a prestigious platform to have their work seen. Then there was a quote from another filmmaker who was saying how he hadn’t received any work offers as a result of having his work on MTV. Well, at least he got his work published in this book.
Cartoon Network’s pilot for a new PLASTIC MAN series has found its way to MySpace Videos and YouTube. The show wasn’t picked up so this is likely your only chance to see the cartoon. It’s actually a very handsomely produced short with lots of funny gags and drawings, though perhaps a bit bland in the storytelling department. Certainly it had potential to be developed further, and with the talent involved it would have been fun to see this happen. It’s directed by Andy Suriano, and developed by Suriano and Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob). Boards were by Suriano and Stephen DeStefano, and designs were by Suriano, DeStefano and Phil Rynda. Watch it below.
Welcome to the Boyle-Age of cartoons!Last week I was invited to breakfast on the Disney lot and had a look behind the scenes of Toon Disney’s latest original series, Yin Yang Yo! Though it’s produced by Disney Television Animation, it’s actually not a Disney-labeled show. It’s the first original series for the Jetix programming brand (According to the Jetix presskit: “Jetix is boy-driven, but it is not boy-exclusive and never strays from the Disney core values of trust, quality, optimism, self-expression, creativity, storytelling, imagination, and entertainment”)Yin Yang Yo! follows the antics of two hyper-kinetic tween rabbits who temporarily put aside their sibling rivalry to learn mystical martial arts. It’s done in flash and, along with Puffy Ami Yumi and Foster’s Home, it the best use of the technique on a broadcast series I’ve personally seen. By “best”, I mean I can’t tell it wasn’t animated traditionally – and the art direction is teriffic. An 18-hour programming stunt will launch the series on Labor Day, Monday Sept. 4th (6:00 a.m.-12:00 am midnight).Yin Yang Yo! was created by art director and producer Bob Boyle (Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom) who, amazingly, has another show he created debuting a week earlier on rival kids network, Nick Jr. Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! (pictured at right), is a problem solving cartoon for pre-schoolers. The Wubbzy crew has been producing one of the best production blogs I’ve ever seen for the past ten months. In addition to that, a nifty behind-the scenes promo film is posted here. Wubbzy starts regular telecasts on Monday, August 28.
BATMAN writer Paul Dini shares his thoughts about the Tom & Jerry smoking ban we mentioned yesterday. His ideas on Disney’s PECOS BILL are particularly eloquent. Below is Dini’s comment on the Warner short ROCKET SQUAD:
A few people have asked me what I thought about this and as you can guess, I think it’s pretty stupid. I said as much last year when I did VO commentary on the cartoon “Rocket Squad” on the third Looney Tunes Golden Collection. What’s the point of making a cartoon at all if the characters can’t have vices and indulge in “bad” behavior? I don’t smoke but I don’t mind if Daffy and Porky do it in a cartoon that parodies TV police shows of the early 1950s. Besides, any kid who starts smoking because he thinks Porky Pig looks cool when he lights up seriously has the wrong role model.
It seems that ex-SPONGEBOB’ers are turning out to be good content providers for Cartoon Network. First, it was Aaron Springer’s KORGOTH OF BARBARIA which was one of the most enjoyable things to appear on CN in a long while. And just yesterday, former SPONGEBOB writer/storyboarder C.H. Greenblatt, who is also the voice of Fred Fredburger in THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY AND MANDY, announced on his blog that Cartoon Network has picked up 13 episodes of his creation CHOWDER. From what I’ve heard, the show is goofy fun in the SPONGEBOB vein.
Greenblatt just started a CHOWDER blog where he’ll keep a series production diary. (Apparently he wasn’t supposed to start a blog yet.)
Remember A KITTY BOBO SHOW? It was a pilot that Cartoon Network produced back in 2001, and as far as CN pilots go, it looked like it had some potential. The appealing design and color styling is what I remember most about the short, though as I recall, the cartoon had decent storytelling too. The show’s co-creator, Kevin Kaliher, recently created a 50-page show bible in Flash where he explores the world of KITTY BOBO in greater depth. You can check out the Flash “electrobooklet” on Kevin’s blog and let him know what you think of the ideas.
At least a half dozen people have emailed me about Turner Broadcasting’s decision in Britain to start censoring over 1500 Hanna-Barbera cartoons and removing all instances of smoking when it appears to be “condoned, acceptable or glamorised.” So far, the affected cartoons include Tom & Jerry shorts like TENNIS CHUMPS and TEXAS TOM, but H-B’s TV cartoons like THE FLINTSTONES are also being put on the chopping block. The news about these edits is being reported all over the mainstream media including BBC, MSNBC and the INDEPENDENT among others. Mark Evanier also has some nice thoughts on his blog. Censoring classic cartoons is, of course, nothing new so this can hardly be considered “news” to animation fans. A few random thoughts did cross my mind about cartoons and censorship:
* Personally, I’d rather not see these cartoons on the air at all than to see these corrupted versions receive broadcast.
* This type of censhorship underlines the important role that animation fans play in the preservation of classic animation. It’s important that anybody who has uncensored versions of these cartoons to post hi-res copies on the Internet, and for fans to develop a network of making these cartoons available online. If studios insist on systematically ruining the work of animation legends like Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, then it’s up to the fans to make sure that everybody has access to the original vision of these filmmakers.
* If somebody tried to censor parts of a Picasso painting or a James Joyce story, there would be an uproar beyond belief. Animation, however, still doesn’t merit similar consideration as Art, which is why the works of animation masters can be freely tinkered with and destroyed. When, if ever, will that change?
UPDATE: Mark Evanier has penned an excellent must-read answer to my question above of why Hollywood animation isn’t treated as seriously as other arts. I think I even knew that Bill and Joe had at some point endorsed the editing of their own cartoons, but it certainly didn’t come to mind when I wrote this. Hopefully the missteps of directors like Avery, Hanna and Barbera can serve as a lesson to contemporary artists in how they regard their own work and the effect that has on other people’s perception of their work.
The full shipment of ANIMATION BLAST #9 arrived this past weekend and everything looks great. I’m currently shipping pre-orders and I’d estimate that 1/4 of all the orders have already been shipped. I’m hoping to have every order shipped by this weekend. If you’ve had a change of address or have any questions about your order, now would be the time to email me at amid (at) animationblast (dot) com. Only 2500 copies of this issue were printed and at the rate they’re going, I expect this issue to sell out faster than any of the previous editions. I’d suggest ORDERING your copies soon. Also, by the end of next week, I’ll post a list of stores that are carrying this issue. Let me know what you think of BLAST 9 when you receive it; I’d love to hear your thoughts.
We mentioned this last month and completely forgot about it. Today is director Friz Freleng’s 100th birthday (or his 101st or 102nd, depending on which source you look at), and in honor of that occasion, Hell on Frisco Bay is hosting a Friz Freleng Blog-A-Thon. They have a great post about Freleng’s cartoons and links to twenty other blogs which have written something or another about Freleng.
A couple weeks ago Coke unveiled the second CG ad in their new “Coke Side of Life” campaign, which is essentially a parody of the videogame GRAND THEFT AUTO. The first spot in the series was problematic in my opinion, but I have no such reservations with this second commercial. It’s directed by British duo Smith & Foulkes of Nexus Productions. These guys have one of the best track records in recent years and possess an uncanny ability to take simple, even mundane, agency concepts and execute them to perfection. Take for example their Abba to Zappa spot for the Observer Music Monthly, the ‘black ink’ obstacle course for the VW Touareg, or Motorola’s “Grand Classics” spot – conceptually, none of these ideas is particularly special yet Smith & Foulkes somehow make each one work. The same can be said of their current Coke spot which manages to turn video game parody into great art.