Courtesy of Classic Media and Sony Wonder, this morning we had two advance copies of Harveytoons: The Complete Collection to give away! The first two people that responded with the correct answer to the question below won the prize:
In the climax of the 1948 Noveltoon cartoon, There’s Good Boo’s Tonight, Casper’s new “friend”, a fox, is killed by a hunter. But that’s the happy ending – as the fox quickly emerges from his grave as a ghost and runs off to play with Casper at the iris out.Question: What is the name of the fox?
The Contest is now closed! The correct answer is FERDIE FOX. The winners were Ted Watts of Groose Pointe, Michigan and Jon Cooke of Leeds, Maine. Thanks to all who entered.
I think it’s safe to announce that the Internet is officially complete now that director, storyboard artist and all-around creative type Vincent Waller (REN & STIMPY, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS) has started his own BLOG. If his blog proves to be anywhere near as entertaining as hanging around his office, then we should all visit often…and not allow him to get any real work done.
Okay, I admit it. I love Famous Studios cartoons. Perhaps at some point I’ll go on at length about why I like them so much (partially it’s nostalgia, partially it’s because they aren’t as bad as many people think, and partially because I love to champion the underdog), but as I’m under a tight deadline on a book project I’ll hold off discussing this particular guilty pleasure for now.Sony Wonder has just released a boxed set called Harveytoons: The Complete Collection. “Harveytoons” was the generic name affixed to the 1950s Paramount/Famous Studio cartoons (featuring Casper, Baby Huey, Herman and Katnip, Little Audrey, Buzzy, etc.) when they were originally syndicated to television back in the 1960s, after Harvey Comics acquired the TV and non-theatrical rights to the library. Classic Media owns the collection today and authorized this new set. I haven’t had time to review the whole set, but what we have here are 52 episodes of THE HARVEYTOONS SHOW, a program I formatted for Harvey Entertainment and Fox Kids back in 1998. Unfortunately, this set does NOT constitute “the complete collection” under any condition. For a variety of reasons we did not incorporate the entire Harveytoon library into the original series. Certain cartoons (particularly the Screen Songs) are edited. The fact that their were 78 episodes should tip you off right there. Here’s the list of the original Fox Kids series. Sadly the contents of the DVD set doesn’t even match up to this list (for example, episode 52 on the DVD is actually #53 of the series).Oh, how I wish someone from Classic Media had consulted with me. For one, I would have made sure to include certain cartoons (like the politically incorrect Chew Chew Baby) and it would have been fun to create some bonus materials. The good news is that the cartoons look nice and clean, the cult classic La Petite Parade is included (episode #40 on the DVD) and they’ve restored the original Jackson Beck vocal tracks to Buzzy The Crow.And hey, they sent me two sets to give away on Cartoon Brew! Tomorrow (Friday) morning at 9am Pacific (that’s 12 noon in the East coast) I’ll post a trivia question and the first two correct answers will win one of these babies. (I will only accept entries from the U.S. and Canada) “Dat sounds logical!”
John Kricfalusi has an insightful POST on his blog where he discusses color theory in backgrounds. He uses early Hanna-Barbera TV backgrounds as examples which is notable because these cartoons were made on dirt-cheap budgets – it just goes to show that appealing color doesn’t require a lot of money, only good taste. Admittedly, I’m not as big a fan of the H-B backgrounds as John, but he’s certainly found some solid examples here. The BGs in his analysis were all painted by Arminio “Art” Lozzi, who we recently discovered is living in Greece where he had a second successful career as an architectural interior designer for Hilton International hotels and various cruise ship lines. I’m sure John will have a lot more to write about Art’s career and work, but for now, here’s a photo of Lozzi back when he was painting the H-B backgrounds.
There’s plenty of scary Halloween events coming up over the next few days but I can’t think of any more frightening than this: next Monday, October 30, DreamWorks animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg will be speaking about the future of computer animation at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The event will be at the Statler Hall Auditorium at 2 p.m. According to the ITHACA JOURNAL, “the event is open to the wider Cornell community and affiliated educational partners. Seating may be limited, so early arrival is recommended.”
Here’s a topic that never gets old: amateur illustrators who pilfer artwork from Preston Blair’s classic animation textbook and use it for their own commercial projects. Brew reader Trevour Meyer recently found a blatant (and blatantly incompetent) batch of Blair rip-offs at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota and he’s posted them all on his BLOG along with some amusing commentary.
Mike Matei has posted onto YouTube an incredible late-1930s newsreel that shows how cartoons were produced at the Fleischer Studio in Miami. The information contained in the film is nothing new but it’s a real trip seeing 1930s Fleischer artists in vivid full color. Can anybody identify the artists in the film?
UPDATE: A number of people have emailed to let me know that the hi-res version of this film is available on this recent Popeye dvd by Steve Stanchfield.
Check this out: a brief but thought-provoking INTERVIEW with Dan Haskett, a name that should need no introduction to anybody working in animation today. It’d be great to see somebody do a more in-depth talk with Haskett at some point, but for now, this’ll have to suffice. Here’s a comment that stood out in particular, in which Haskett addresses the lack of black characters in feature animation:
Q: What are the challenges to getting more Black characters in animated movies?
Haskett: We have to make our own movies. I don’t want Disney to do the Black characters. I’ve already seen what they do with the Asian characters and the Mexican characters and the Hawaiian characters and I don’t like it. There’s your image up there but what are you doing with it? What are you saying with this image? I remember during the making of “The Little Mermaid” there was an idea, wouldn’t it be funny to make Sebastian the crab be a Jamaican? And basically what that meant is give him a big, fat lower lip and popping eyes – and that’s what they had in the film. A lot of our folks think that because it’s a cartoon that it’s harmless, that you can put a coon image in a cartoon and it will be harmless. But it’s very importantâ€¦people remember those images.
We have to make out own stuff we can’t depend on Hollywood to make better pictures. Hollywood is not interested in you. They’ve made allowances but it’s nowhere near where it ought to be. There is still a lot to be done in American animation in multicultural representation.
And here’s Dan speaking about the animation world’s changing landscape:
Haskett: On the horizon is the Internet and how it could change the movie business altogether. It could change the distribution. The Internet has helped a lot of people get into animation who would have otherwise not have tried it. A computer allows them to work solo and not form a studio. Combined with the Internet, the computer allowed a lot of kids to come in and make films without selling their ideas to studios. Right now it’s still in the baby step stage. It could be that they can change everything.
Here’s a couple short must-see CG demos by animator Bernhard Haux. In the first video, Haux incorporates a dynamic wave principle into his CG rig. In the second video, Haux creates a tool to help make his CG poses cartoonier and more appealing. Animator Keith Lango calls this “a very cool screen space mesh deformer that lets you sculpt the geometry based on the image plane, not just with deformer nodes in the rig.”
It’s always exciting to see artists pushing CG beyond its default mode, not because I want to see CG mimic hand-drawn animation, but because adding the flexibility of drawn animation to CG will only help push the technique forward and allow it to go places we can’t even imagine yet. I’m not sure whether the second tool already exists in the major studios like Pixar and DreamWorks though I assume it’s available to animators in one form or another. What I do know is that the average piece of non-big budget commercial CG could greatly benefit from an easy-to-use tool like this which allows animators to sculpt their poses.
The Ottawa International Animation Festival has released an AUDIO PODCAST of a talk given at the festival last month by JibJab co-founder Evan Spiridellis. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but I was there in attendance and it was a terrific and inspiring talk. Evan walks the audience through the trials and tribulations of starting an indie animation studio and his experience is well worth hearing for anyone who’s thinking of becoming an independent. (Note: Only the first half of his talk is posted though I assume the second part will also be posted soon.)
Next year’s animated feature slate continues to look better and better. With The Simpsons Movie, Brad Bird’s latest from Pixar, and Shrek The Third leading the pack, I’ve got high hopes for 2007. Even the independent and foreign releases look promising.Sony Pictures Classics (who did a great job distributing The Triplettes of Belleville a few years ago) has picked up another interesting foreign animated film. PERSEPOLIS is a hand drawn, black and white animated feature described as “a coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution”. It is based on Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling and award-winning comic book autobiography. The film started production in October 2005, at Bibo Films, Bibo Bergeron’s (The Road to El Dorado) studio in Paris. Author Satrapi and cartoonist Vincent Paronnaud (aka Winshluss) wrote and are co-directing the film, which is being executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, An American Tail, etc.). Satrapi has started a production blog to document her experience with the animation process. Still pictures from the film are posted here. Sony Pictures Classics plans to release the film in the US in the fall of 2007.
Fred Seibert, the only major animation producer who has his own blog, weighs in with his thoughts on the recent discussion about pitching in TV animation. You can read this thoughts HERE. He writes:
Too many people are interested in getting their own series rather than making great, commercial, films. Or just great films period. Me, I love commercial TV, always have, so setting that goal works for me. But, you know, I made lots and lots (and lots, I should add) not commercial stuff too, just trying to figure out how to make stuff that I loved. Without that training I wouldn’t have been able to work in cartoons. It just wouldn’t have worked.
All that being said, looking at everyone’s comments, I actually agree with everyone. They’re all right. A rare thing I must say. Go for it folks. Let’s have a few more good arguments in animation. Maybe we’ll even get a hit series somewhere on television again someday.
Nobody, but nobody, draws old Jewish comedians better than Drew Friedman. Drew will be making a one-time-only Los Angeles appearance, to celebrate his new collection of portraits featuring many of Hollywood’s most famous personalities, next Thursday night in Hollywood.WHAT: DREW FRIEDMAN talk and signing WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 2 at 7:30PM WHERE: Skylight Books 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Feliz WHY: Old Jewish Comedians!
With all the recent discussion here about pitching in TV animation, this is an event that is timely and also somewhat ironic. On Monday, December 4, Rita Street will be hosting a seminar on how to sell an animated TV series. The event takes place in West Hollywood and costs $65 per person. Here’s the description of the talk:
Think you’ve got the next SpongeBob SquarePants? Whether you’re moving over from live action to cartoons, or planning to start a career in animation, you need to know how this highly specialized area of the industry actually works. Pitching the animated series and landing a sale is an art form all on its own and demands a unique tool kit. In this course, you’ll learn how to fill up your own animated toolbox with strong character profiles, producer know-how, and a sales bible that helps a buyer visualize your unique concept.
In addition to tips and tricks for pitches and samples from real-world bibles, this seminar will take some of the mystery out of the global animation business. You’ll learn how co-production deals work, why it’s sometimes better to sell your show to an independent production house rather than a network, and how best to move forward if your show is actually based on a game, toy or, heaven forbid, a t-shirt!