Sounds like John Canemaker, Bill Plympton and hundreds of South American animation fans had a great time at the Anima Mundi festival last month in Brazil. Celbi Pegoraro of the Portuguese language Animation Animagic website posted a report in English (with pictures) here. Looks like everyone had a blast.
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.
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.
Warner 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 Â½ 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
Sahara Hare Storyboard Reel
Porky’s Poor Fish Storyboard Reel
Whoever thought Salome’s “Dance of the Seven Veils” done in 8-bit graphics would be laugh-out-loud funny? Christian Zagler’s SALOME IN LOW LAND (Austria, 2005) is an amusing and well-executed mashup of opera and old school video game graphics. For a primer on the opera SALOME, you may want to check out this entry at Wikipedia.
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.
Congrats to Uli Meyer, owner of the London animation studio Uli Meyer Animation, who announced on his blog a few days ago that he’s starting production on his first independent animated feature MONSTERMANIA. Sounds like it has the potential of being a very fun film. Uli plans to complete it by 2008.
Here’s a few excerpts from the press release describing the project in greater detail. The full release is on Uli’s blog:
Uli Meyer Animation has started production on MonsterMania!, a fully computer-animated feature film comedy featuring the classic movie monsters. Scripted by award-winning British horror writers Michael Marshall Smith and Stephen Jones, based on an idea by Uli Meyer, Stephen Jones and Michael Marshall Smith, MonsterMania! has been in active development for the past three years at the company’s London-based animation studios.
MonsterMania! tells the story of young scientist Max van Helsing, who is plunged into an exciting and dangerous adventure by his late grandfather’s will. He embarks on a life-changing quest that takes him to the heart of the Eastern European country of Wallachia. There Max encounters the classic monsters, including Frankenstein’s creation, a werewolf, a lagoon creature and many other bizarre and creepy characters, as he sets out to save the girl of his dreams from the greatest evil the world has ever known . . . Vlad, Count Dracula!
Budgeted at $30 million, MonsterMania! is currently being storyboarded at Uli Meyer Animation as a co-production with India’s Ittina Animation Studios and Cinecarat, Switzerland.
The boxes of the new issue of ANIMATION BLAST #9 are currently en route to Los Angeles, apparently on a very slow truck from Canada. According to my printer, I should expect them to arrive in LA by Thursday, August 17 at the latest. Today, I’ll be mailing about 40 issues of the BLAST. These are the issues that were left over from the first batch shipped over for the San Diego Comic-Con. With nearly 1000 folks who have pre-ordered or who had subscribed earlier, most people will have to wait a bit longer, but at least a few folks will be getting issues this week. Also, on my way back from San Diego, I dropped off issues to a few LA stores that I owed copies to – Meltdown, Golden Apple and House of Secrets. For those who haven’t pre-ordered yet, they each have a limited number of copies, if they haven’t already sold out. They’ll be getting more too once I receive the full shipment of issues next week.
TMZ ran a breaking story yesterday that says Disney is courting Robert Zemeckis and his “uncanny valley” brand of animated filmmaking. I don’t know if this is true, and considering the story is from TMZ there’s reason to be skeptical, but it’s definitely troubling if the report turns out to be accurate. As somebody pointed out to me this morning, the only possible reason Disney should want to bring Zemeckis on board is to stop him from producing more animated films like POLAR EXPRESS. If anybody knows more about this rumor, we’d be curious to hear at the Brew. Here’s how the TMZ story begins:
In a move with broad implications for the future of the animation business, TMZ has learned that The Walt Disney Company has poached Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis from DreamWorks Pictures, and is a cat’s breath away from signing his ImageMovers production company to a multi-year deal at The Walt Disney Company’s Disney Pixar Animation.
(Thanks, Al Lutz)
Jeff Lenburg’s new book WHO’S WHO IN ANIMATED CARTOONS apparently continues to perpetuate one of the big lies of animation history: that master animator Fred Moore died while driving drunk. It’s bad enough that Lenburg apparently has published this information in his book, but he’s also been receiving publicity for this “discovery.” Contact Music recently published an article as if this was news, and other media outlets have been picking up the story as well.
Lenburg is quoted in the article as saying, “Beset by drinking and personal issues, [Moore] died a few months later, unemployed and with no health insurance, after striking his head in his car while driving drunk. I thought it was pretty tragic, but he’s part of the Disney story.” Of course, newspaper accounts of the time tell us that Moore wasn’t even driving the car; his wife was driving. Perhaps Lenburg can share the new evidence he’s uncovered that says Moore was driving drunk at the time. The biggest irony here is that, according to Jeff Lenburg’s website, he recently wrote a book that teaches good research skills for writers.
Animator David Nethery, who pointed out this article to me, wrote a nice summation of why misinformation like this is unacceptable:
My understanding is that, yes, Fred had a definite problem with drinking too much alcohol, and was certainly “disciplined” by the Disney Studio on one or more occasions by being let go, but it seems that the stories about “Freddy the poor, washed-up drunk” have been greatly exaggerated over the years by a.) those who had a vested interest in downplaying Fred Moore’s giant contribution to the development of Disney character animation and b.) parroting of studio gossip from those within the animation industry and animation fandom who only had, at best, second or third hand knowledge of the events surrounding Fred Moore’s last years and his death. For this story to be spun again, in 2006, as something new, a “revelation” or an “expose” by Jeff Lenburg or anyone else seems to me to be an unnecessary tarnishing of a great talent’s legacy.
UPDATE #1: Jenny Lerew has more information about Moore’s death on her always excellent blog Blackwing Diaries.
UPDATE #2: Jim Korkis, one of the preeminent Disney historians of our time, sent in the following information about Moore’s death. I’d love to see Lenburg’s response to this. Korkis writes:
I am a big Fred Moore fan and it bothers me that the old canard of him dying as a result of being drunk is still being bandied about…especially in print. Here is the Truth About Freddy Moore’s Death:
Joe Campana ferreted out the actual truth through public records and according to those records Fred Moore actually died on Sunday, November 23, 1952 at 4:15 pm, at St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank (the same hospital where Walt would pass away in 1966), as a result of a head injury from a vehicle-on-vehicle collision the previous evening at Big Tujunga Canyon near the Angeles National Forest. Moore, 41 at the time of his death, was not at the wheel at the time of the accident; his wife Virginia who was 35 was driving and sustained minor injuries that were treated at St. Joseph’s. The couple had two daughters, Linda and Melissa.
The Moores were returning from a visit to Disney animation director Jack Kinney’s house to watch a college football game. (Jack Kinney had directed the “All The Cats Join In” sequence in “Make Mine Music” on which Moore had animated.) In fact, Joe confirmed that the USC-UCLA game had been played that day. The time of the accident and the location of the accident also seem to support this story. It is apparent that the Moores got disoriented while driving home and when they attempted to turn around to head in the opposite direction, the collision occurred.
The driver of the other car, Roy Sowles, died many years ago, and attempts to locate the other passenger, Jesse Sowles (probably Sowles’ son), who sustained minor injuries have not been successful. The original accident report does not appear to have survived, either, but Joe located a contemporary newspaper account of the accident as well as Moore’s death certificate listing the cause as “cerebral hemorrhage” and that an autopsy was performed and you linked to those documents in your comments.
UPDATE #3: Jenny Lerew has a slight correction to the information above. She writes:
Moore’s wife Virginia (driving the car in the accident) was his second wife (also named, as was his first, Virginia–strange but true). This Virginia #2 was NOT the mother of Fred’s two daughters, whose names were Melinda and Suzanne, not “Linda and Melissa”.
The FINAL DESTINATION 3 dvd which was released a couple weeks ago is notable for animation fans because it has an original animated short included as a special feature. The Flash animated cartoon – IT’S ALL AROUND YOU – was directed by Canadians Nick Cross and Helder Mendonca and thanks to some kind animation fan, it’s now been posted on YouTube. Animation, design, color and storytelling are all top-notch. And how often does that happen nowadays? Check out the film below.
In case you haven’t noticed, CG animated penquins are apparently hot (at least among the Hollywood movers and shakers). Just take a look at MADAGASCAR, HAPPY FEET and SURF’S UP. Now Berkely Breathed has chimed in on the CG debate in the current storyline of his comic strip, OPUS.(Thanks, Mark Bunker)
No, this isn’t a picture of the latest Disney Treasures DVD. It’s a new trade paperback from Gemstone Publishing, and another labor-of-love compiled by Gemstone’s Archival Editor David Gerstein (whose previous Mickey and the Gang: Classic Stories In Verse is a must-have). I did not grow up reading Disney comics myself (I was immersed in everything else, from Spider-Man to Baby Huey), but even back in those days I admired the stories and artistic skill of those books from afar.This new collection is truly special. In the tradition of the Maltin DVD collections, it compiles the best and most interesting examples of Disney comic art during the last 75 years and puts the stories in historical context. Gerstein begins the book with a detailed, yet concise, two page overview of the entire history of Disney comic strips and comic books. He then presents rare, restored Mickey newspaper strips from 1930 (by Floyd Gottfredson), prime examples of Sunday pages (including a rare Uncle Remus strip), and un-P.C. Carl Barks material that has never been reprinted. Great comics from Disney legends Paul Murry and Al Hubbard through the modern works of Don Rosa, William Van Horn as well as great European cartoonists like Cesar Ferioli and Vicar fill the 160 pages. I think anyone who loves Disney animation will enjoy this journey through their rich comics history. But if the names Walt Kelly, Gil Turner or Al Taliaferro mean anything to you, or if Bucky Bug, Gyro Gearloose or Super Goof rock your world, Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Comics 75 Years of Innovation is definitely for you.
In last Friday’s SLATE, Jill Hunter Pellettieri examined the ceaseless glut of talking animal movies being released by Hollywood animation producers. It’s not quite as incisive or hard-hitting as I would have liked such a piece to be, but it’s still worth a read. The article begins:
I’ll come clean: I’m a sucker for talking-animal movies. In fact, even a nonhuman talking object will do. But while I used to think anthropomorphization of any sort would give me my fix – whether a chubby sheep who hides sheepishly each time he’s shorn, or a penny who feels undervalued – Hollywood’s two latest attempts at the talking-creature genre, The Ant Bully and Barnyard, have made me doubt my faith forever. If the first half of the 20th century was the golden age of animation, I fear we’re now entering the Dark Ages.