Animation Blast 9 Has Arrived!!!

Animation Blast 9

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.

Friz Freleng Blog-A-Thon

Chuck Jones caricature of Freleng

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.

New Coke Ad by Smith & Foulkes

Smith & Foulkes Coke ad

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.

(via Feed)

Ottawa 2006 Contest

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For the second year in a row, Cartoon Brew is giving away two full festival passes to the Ottawa International Animation Festival (September 20-24) courtesy of the fine folks up at the Ottawa fest. This is North America’s biggest, and quite frankly, only major animation festival. It’s THE place to get connected with animation artists and other people who love the animation medium. This year promises to be extra special since it’s the festival’s 30th anniversary. And, of course, both Brewmasters – Jerry and Amid – will be hanging around the festival as well.

Each pass we’re giving away is valued at $200 (Canadian) and includes:

* Access to all OIAF screenings and workshops
* Access to the OIAF picnic
* Access to all parties
* OIAF Program Book
* Personal hug from the festival’s artistic director Chris Robinson

Ok, we made up that last perk, but you get everything else. To enter just send us a drawing that tells us why you deserve to go to the festival. Creativity, originality and draftsmanship count. The deadline to enter is by the end of this Sunday, August 27. Email your drawings to amid (at) animationblast (dot) com and jbeck6540 (at) aol (dot) com. Here are last year’s winners.

Flickr: Disney in the Fifties

Ray Aragon photos

My latest Flickr set is comprised of photos from the collection of animation legend Ray Aragon. The photos were taken in June and July 1958 at Disney. Most of the artists in these pics worked in the layout and background departments at Disney; at the time they were completing work on SLEEPING BEAUTY and beginning production on 101 DALMATIANS. These photos also appear in ANIMATION BLAST #9. Speaking of which, the issues have just arrived! I’ll have an update posted soon about that.

THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO

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I’m way overdue in mentioning this traditional hand drawn adult feature now in production at IDT Film Roman in Burbank.I was visiting some friends on The Simpsons yesterday and wound up checking out some of the pre-production art for the Rob Zombie animated feature The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto. There’s no doubt in my mind that this, at worst, will become a cult classic — and at best, it just might inspire other traditional animators to produce something equally innovative, commercially atractive and as artistically satisfying as this.Based on a Zombie-authored comic book from a few years back, the film is an R-rated action-comedy cartoon about a retired Luchador and his sexy secret agent sister and their battle against an evil super villian, his zombies and… oh yes… Hitler’s head in a jar. It’s loaded with female nudity and lots of gratuitous bloodshed… and it looks hilarious. Laugh out loud funny. It’s got funny drawings and an all-star voice cast (Paul Giamatti is Dr. Satan, pictured above) — it looks a lot better than it has any right to be.Mr. Lawrence (Spongebob Squarepants) is the director on the project and Rob Zombie himself has a hands-on creative role as co-writer and executive producer. Bob Jaques (Ren & Stimpy) is involved with the timing. The film was originally a direct-to-video project but it’s turning out so well that a theatrical release is being planned. I’ll try have more info on this film as the production continues on – it’ll certainly be one to keep your eye on for next year.

Mickey Mouse is Dead

If you’re in Edinburgh, Scotland anytime in the next week, you may want to check out a play called MICKEY MOUSE IS DEAD writen by Jessi D. Hill. Here’s the description:

A searing look into friendship, national identity and the politics of paranoia, the Happiest Place on Earth will never be the same.

Hollywood, 1952. Are the Communists coming? Senator McCarthy hunts Reds, the Rosenbergs are doomed to die, and Walt Disney spies for the FBI. Harris and Finch, scriptwriters at the Disney Studio, are plotting to unionize. Walt’s just been called to name names. How much does he know about them? Can Grace, Finch’s trust-fund girlfriend, penetrate Walt’s private playground? How far will Walt go to save Mickey Mouse from becoming a Commie Yid?

After reading reviews of the play, the first thing I noticed is that it’s about two Disney scriptwriters who write animated shorts. Notice a problem with that? Scriptwriters didn’t write shorts at Disney, story artists did. Also, in this play, the writers are trying to unionize in the early-1950s, which makes no sense because at the time Disney artists had already been unionized for over a decade. I understand that it’s a piece of fiction, but if the playwright hasn’t even made the effort to create a semi-believable set-up, it makes one seriously question the rest of the production. For my money, a play about the actual Disney strike of ’41, and the tensions between artists on the picketline and those who remained inside, would make a far more riveting and interesting production. Then again, a play like that would require a writer who actually knows his history. Reviews of this play can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.
(Thanks, Andrew Osmond)

UPDATE: Corey Klemow writes about a Disney-themed play currently being staged in Los Angeles:

There must be something in the air… there’s also a play in L.A. right now set at the Disney studios. “Lobster Alice” (which I haven’t seen yet; reviews range from raves to decidedly mixed) takes place during the time Salvador Dali was working at Disney in 1946 on “Destino,” while production is also getting started on “Alice in Wonderland.” Judging from the reviews, it’s not really about animation at all (Dali helps a repressed young animator who is working on “Alice” to pursue the woman he loves), but at least the person Dali befriends at Disney is an animator and not a scriptwriter.” Details HERE.

NORMAN McLAREN

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Tomorrow night, August 18th, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills will present 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 include animator and former McLaren colleague Chris Hinton, USC animation professor Christine Panushka, McLaren colleague and Oscar nominated animator
Ishu Patel, and Simpson’s director David Silverman. Tickets are $5. and the event will be presented at 8pm in the Academy’s Goldwyn Theatre at 8949 Wilshire Blvd. More information is posted on the Academy’s website.

Recommended Blogs…

Nate Wragg

There’s so many animation artist blogs out there nowadays. We can’t possibly link to all of them, but we’ll try to link to the best of the them. Here’s a few good ones I’ve run across recently.

Nate Wragg works at Pixar. Consistently good design and color in his artwork.

Jamie Mason is the director of the NFB short THE MAGIC OF ANANSI, which can be seen HERE. He’s got an eclectic mix of personal illustrations and animation clips posted on his blog.

Here’s an artist who needs no introduction: Stephen DeStefano. Actually, he probably could use an introduction, but I’m too lazy to write one. Just check out his new blog; you won’t be disappointed.

JibJab co-founder Evan Spiridellis does lots of figure drawing after-hours. He keeps track of his amazing work on this blog.

Chris George is a designer on VENTURE BROS. He takes a more illustrative approach. There’s solid work throughout his blog.

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Flickr: Cartoon Modern Yearbook

Cartoon Modern Yearbook

I’ve been tinkering around with Flickr the past couple days (so maybe that should be spelled ‘tinkring’) and the results are the following Flickr set: Cartoon Modern Yearbook. It is a photo collection of Modernist animation artists who were working during the 1950s. The photo set includes directors, animators, story artists, character designers, layout artists, background painters and even a few important studio owners.

There’s a similar ‘yearbook’ section in my new book CARTOON MODERN. Not to take anything away from the book, but I think this particular section works even better online. For one, the images can be shown at a much larger size. Also, as I uncover new photos, I can add them to the set and continue expanding the yearbook until it’s complete. At some point, I’ll go back and add biographical details for each of the artists and link their photos to relevant sites online. Flickr as a historical tool…who woulda thunk?

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

A bunch of fine articles were sent our way…First, The New York Times ran a small piece in yesterday’s Sunday edition, about our friends in the New York animation scene, calling them The Real Cartoon Network.Next, Keith Lango, a character animator on The Ant Bully, discusses what it was like working on a project that he describes as “a big stinking pile of average corporate mush”. Keith Lango on The Ant Bully.And finally… think film piracy is bad in U.S.? BBC News is reporting that CARS 2 is on sale in Peru!(Thanks Gary Meyer, Bryan Ballinger and Signe Baumane)

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS??

Sealed With a Kiss

The Sunday L.A. Times mentioned that a new film called ROMEO AND JULIET: SEALED WITH A KISS was being released in southern California this Friday. That was news to me, so I did a quick Google search and found its website. Sheesh! Traditional 2-D animation has enough problems without theatrical releases like this! I support the efforts traditional animation artists (and in this case, the co-director of WE’RE BACK and FIEVEL GOES WEST) who choose to ignore current market trends and find funding for personal projects or commercial independent productions – but this clearly low-budget effort may set the cause back another five years. Don’t believe me? Check the trailer.This feature is being distributed by Indican Pictures, a small L.A. based outfit, and it may be fine kiddie fodder for home video – but theatrical audiences, even those who might attend Saturday matinees, have moved on from this sort of thing. At least the film gave work to several talented local animators – Indican’s next release, the Norwegian import Capatin Sabertooth, looks even more aesthetically horrendous.

THE SHELL SHOW WITH MAE QUESTEL

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This is a lot of fun…An MP3 of The Shell Show (January 16th, 1937) starring Joe Cook, with special guest Mae Questel (as the voice of Betty Boop). Betty (Questel) shows up about half way through and she joins Cook in a musical fairy tale skit. Betty sings the Gordon and Revel “Shirley Temple” hit, Oh My Goodness and it could easily be the track of a lost Fleischer cartoon. Hmmm… Perhaps someone will be inspired to make it.(Thanks, Mark Mayerson)

NICK MAG’S LIVE JOURNAL

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One of the coolest things about Nickelodeon during the past 12 years has been its print magazine, particularly “The Comic Book” section which regularly features story and art by underground and alternative cartoonists such as Sam Henderson, Justin Green, Kaz, David Mazzuchelli, Wayno, Johnny Ryan and Kim Deitch. Now Nick editors Dave Roman and Chris Duffy haved started a Nick Mag Comics Live Journal, a new blog, which will give us the lowdown on the artists who contribute to The Comic Book. This little sub-section of the magazine is one of the best kept secrets in the cartooning world and it deserves some long overdue recognition. Take a look.

The CG Glut Continues…

There’s an interesting article in VARIETY about the lukewarm box office performance of recent CG animated feature and the countless other talking-and-farting animal movies that are still awaiting release. The article is generally accurate, except for a few instances, such as when the writer says, “Before this year, the only CGI failure ever was last summer’s “Valiant…”. The other huge CG bomb was, of course, FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN. For those who want to keep score of CG box office grosses, bookmark this great chart at Box Office Mojo.

LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION #4

ltcg4.jpgWarner Bros. has announced the November 14th release date for the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4. See the trailer here. The contents have been leaked to TVshowsondvd.com and I recommend going there to read the full list of the cartoons that will be included on this volume.As usual, the 60 uncut digitally remastered cartoons are only half the story. The other part is the bonus materials that enhance our appreciation of the Looney Tunes legacy. Here’s what they are:BUGS BUNNY – Disc 1Commentaries
• Rabbit Hood by Director Eric Goldberg
• Operation: Rabbit by Writer Paul Dini
• Mississippi Hare by Director Eric Goldberg
• Hurdy-Gurdy Hare by Writer Paul Dini
• 8 Ball Bunny by Historian Jerry Beck
• Rabbit Romeo by Actor June Foray and Historian Jerry BeckAlternate Audio Programs
• Operation: Rabbit Music and Effects Track
• Knight-Mare Hare Music Only Track
• Southern Fried Rabbit Music and Effects Track
• Sahara Hare Music Only Track
• Barbary-Coast Bunny Music Only Track
• To Hare is Human Music Only Track
• Rabbit Romeo Music Only TrackBehind the Tunes
• Twilight in Tunes: The Music of Raymond Scott
• Powerhouse in PicturesBugs Bunny Superstar Pt. 1 (1976 documentary)Fifty Years of Bugs Bunny in 3 ½ Minutes (1989 short)The Bugs Bunny Show
• Ballpoint Puns Bridging Sequences
• Foreign Legion Leghorn Audio Recording SessionsTrailer Gallery
• Bugs Bunny’s Cartoon Carnival
• Bugs Bunny’s All-Star RevueFRANK TASHLIN – Disc 2Commentaries
• The Case of the Stuttering Pig by Animator Mark Kausler
• Now That Summer is Gone by Historian Michael Barrier with Director Frank Tashlin
• Porky in the North Woods by Animator Mark Kausler
• You’re an Education by Historian Daniel Goldmark
• Plane Daffy by Filmmaker Greg Ford
• Cracked Ice by Historian Michael Barrier with Director Frank Tashlin
• Puss N Booty by Historian Jerry Beck
• I Got Plenty of Mutton by Filmmaker Greg Ford
• Porky’s Poultry Plant by Historian Michael Barrier with Director Frank Tashlin
• The Stupid Cupid by Director Eddie FitzgeraldBugs Bunny Superstar Pt. 2 (1976 documentary)Porky and Daffy in “The William Tell Overture”Frank Tashlin’s Storybooks
• Little Chic’s Wonderful Mother
• Tony and ClarenceFrom the Vault
• The Goldbrick (1943 Snafu short)
• The Home Front (1943 Snafu short)
• Censored (1944 Snafu short)SPEEDY – Disc 3Commentaries
• Cat-Tails for Two by Actor Stan Freberg and Historian Jerry Beck
• Mexican Boarders by Filmmaker Greg Ford with Director Friz Freleng
• Nuts and Volts by Animator Art Leonardi and Historian Jerry Beck
• The Wild Chase by Writer Paul DiniAlternate Audio Programs
• Cat-Tails for Two Music and Effects Track
• Tabasco Road Music Only Track
• Mexicali Schmoes Music Only Track
• West of the Pesos Music Only Track”Friz on Film” (A new one hour documentary)From the Vault
• 90 Day Wondering (1956 Army reinlistment film by Chuck Jones)
• Drafty, Isn’t It? (1957 Army recruitment film by Chuck Jones)CATS – DISC 4Commentaries
• Conrad the Sailor by Filmmaker Greg Ford with Director Chuck Jones
• The Aristo-Cat by Director Eddie Fitzgerald
• The Aristo-Cat by Filmmaker Greg Ford with Director Chuck Jones
• Dough Ray Me-ow by Historian Jerry Beck
• Pizzicato Pussycat by Daniel Goldmark
• The Unexpected Pest by Actor June Foray and Historian Jerry BeckAlternate Audio Programs
• Cat Feud Music Only Track
• The Unexpected Pest Music Only Track
• Go Fly a Kit Music Only Track
• A Peck of Trouble Music and Effects TrackBehind the Tunes
• One Hit Wonders
• Sing-a-Song of Looney Tunes
• The Art of the Gag
• Wild Lines: The Art of Voice Acting
• Looney Tunes: A Cast of ThousandsFrom the Vault
• Porky’s Breakdowns
• Sahara Hare Storyboard Reel
• Porky’s Poor Fish Storyboard Reel

AFRO SAMURAI

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Forget those mo-fo snakes on the plane. Samuel L. Jackson is voicing the lead character in an original Spike TV anime series AFRO SAMURAI. This 5-part series is being produced in English by Japan’s Gonzo Digimation. Jackson as also apparently developing a live action version. The anime series will debut this fall, and a trailer for it can be seen here.