Brew Holiday Gift Guide: Terr’ble Thompson

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The third in a series of holiday gift-giving suggestions from your pals at Cartoon Brew.

The self proclaimed “most obscure strip of the 1950s”, Gene Deitch’s daily and Sunday Real Great Adventures of TERR’BLE THOMPSON, Hero of Hist’ry has been collected in a wonderful trade paperback by Fantagraphics Books.I love Gene Deitch’s animated cartoons (especially his Terrytoons), and his print cartoons like The Cat are stylish, funny and – in the case of Terr’ble Thompson – Terrific! That’s because Thompson is the forerunner and template for Gene’s most popular cartoon creation, Tom Terrific. The obscure strip ran less than a year (from October 1955 through April 1956, while Dietch was running UPA New York, until he got the call to head Terrytoons) in no more than 14 papers. Gene himself didn’t save any of the original art. The book masterfully reprints all the original strips from digitally retouched newspaper clippings (you’d never know) and Gene recounts the entire experience in his introduction and footnotes (among the various tidbits, details of Jules Feffier’s failed attempt to become Gene’s assistant – with an example of Feffier’s try out strip; the villian, Mean Morgan, is a charicature of John Hubley; and information on the aborted Golden Record and animated pilot).Deitch’s modernist artwork and bold color design were way ahead of the curve for most comic strips of the era. The stories are great fun, and the art is eye-candy cool. Deitch’s son, Kim, and comics historian Dan Nadel contribute an informed foreword and afterword, respectively. Put it on your holiday list. For comics fans or animation fans, I think this is an absolute must.

A Ralph Hulett Christmas

Christmas card by Ralph Hulett

While Eyvind Earle is the best known of the Disney artists who illustrated Christmas cards, a number of other Disney artists had successful careers as card designers including BAMBI background stylist Tyrus Wong and longtime background painter Ralph Hulett. Hulett’s son, Steve, who is the business rep of the Animation Guild Local 839, is posting thirty-six of his father’s Christmas cards on the Animation Guild blog. There’ll be one a day between now and New Year’s Day. The first three cards are already posted:

Day 1 with Introduction
Day 2
Day 3

Disney in South America Documentary

Frank Thomas and Walt Disney

In the second part of Ward Jenkins’s terrific John Canemaker interview, Canemaker reveals a project he recently contributed to which should be of interest to Disney fans. It’s an upcoming documentary by Frank Thomas’s son, Ted Thomas, about the 1941 South America trip by Walt Disney and some of his top artists, including Frank Thomas, Mary Blair and Ken Anderson. Ted Thomas was also the director of the 1995 doc FRANK AND OLLIE.

New Blogs By Harding & Tsutsumi

Drawing by Chris Harding

A couple talented animation folk have redesigned their websites to incorporate journal/blogs:

Indie filmmaker Chris Harding (of LEARN SELF DEFENSE fame) has just unveiled the new ChrisHarding.net, which features a production log for his next animated short as well as a CafePress store.

Dice Tsutsumi, color stylist and visual development artist at Blue Sky, has added a journal which he plans to updated regularly, and has also posted many new beautiful paintings to his site. Check him out at SimpleStroke.com.

Dice Tsutsumi painting

The Greatest Animation Event Ever?

Ub Iwerks and Len Lye

Animation festivals are fine nowadays, but I can’t think of any event that could possibly compare to the Montreal Expo’s World Exhibition of Animation Cinema which took place in 1967. Michael Sporn has some info and photos from the event posted on his blog.

The guest list is a jaw-dropping who’s who of animation legends from around the world: Chuck Jones, Peter Foldes, John Halas, Ward Kimball, Ub Iwerks, Ion Popescu-Gopo, Carmen d’Avino, Len Lye, Bill Hurtz, Dave Hilberman, Robert Breer, Art Babbitt, Feodor Khitruk, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Paul Terry, J.R. Bray, Walter Lantz, Otto Messmer, Dave Fleischer, Norman McLaren, Bruno Bozzetto, Bill Tytla, Bob Clampett, Karel Zeman, Dusan Vukotic, Bretislav Pojar, Jean Image, Grim Natwick, and John Whitney, to name but a few. If I had a time travel machine, I know the first place I’d be headed.

LIVE-ACTION ANIME FROM 1960

Here’s an oddity I just had to share. If you thought a live-action Flintstones was a bad idea, check this out. A live action Japanese ASTRO BOY movie (or TV show?) from the early 1960s, followed by a few seconds of a live action GIGANTOR film from the same period. Anyone know what year these clips are from? There are other clips from the GIGANTOR movie scattered on YouTube (here’s one and here’s another). But this Astro Boy footage is unique and hilarious. Maybe Cartoon Network ought to dig this up for their live-action Adult Swim block.UPDATE: Reader Charles Brubaker writes:

Regarding the live-action “Astro Boy” clip you posted on Cartoon Brew. That was from the live-action TV show that came out BEFORE the anime version. It ran March 7, 1959 to May 28, 1960 on Fuji Television. 65 episodes were made.

MILES THOMPSON’S CALIFORNIA

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My good friend, Miles Thompson, a full-time painter and sometimes animation artist, is currently working on his next solo art show, which will debut at La Luz de Jesus in September 2007. The theme of the show is “California” and he’s set up a blog HERE to share his research for the paintings and to post finished work for the show. Unlike many tributes to the Golden State, Miles seems to be digging beyond the superficial aspects of California and exploring the rich heritage and character of the state. It’s shaping up to be an excellent art show.

TOON IN

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Our buddy Tee Bosustow has just started broadcasting a new radio show dedicated to classic animated cartoons. Toon In! … to the Masters of Animation airs weekly on Southern California’s KCLA 99.3 FM Sunday nights, 7:30pm -8pm. Tee writes in to tell us:

We are having a little technical trouble with the radio shows themselves, so there is no way to listen to them yet on the web, but we should start getting them up on the site in the next week or so, then one a week for who knows how long.There is plenty of material on the website to explain the show in much more detail than this email. But, the main idea is to interview a different guest each week, who has something to do with animation, not just animators, but all sorts of people in the business. Since animation is largely a visual art, the companion site is there to show the listeners some of the guests’ art work, find out more about them, and enable visitors to contact them, either through our email address, or in some cases, directly with the guest themselves. We have also started a campaign to bring some sponsors aboard, who are in the animation field, schools, producers, festivals, and the like, and we have a page just for them, because presumably they will be as interesting as some of the guests, to our listeners.

The first five shows are:Show #1: Tom Roth – Air Date: Nov 26.
Roth was a hand-drawn and computer animator for Ralph Bakshi, Richard Williams, Disney, and many others.Show #2: Mark Kausler – Air Date: Dec 03.
Artist, animator, collector, and historian, on Yellow Submarine, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and much more. Show #3: David Evans – Air Date: Dec 10.
Screenwriter and gag man, specializing in animation, for Jay Ward, Bill Hurtz, and many others.Show #4: Joe Siracusa – Air Date: Dec 17
Former gag man/musician for Spike Jones, animation sound effects career began at UPA Pictures.Show #5: Cathy Karol – Air Date: Dec 24
Fine artist, animator, independent animation filmmaker, and teacher, knows all facets of the animation industry.

BREW HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: THE SCOTT BRADLEY CD

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Here’s a new item that needs to be on every Brew readers’ X-mas wish list. Screen Archives Entertainment/Film Score Monthly has just released a limited edition Scott Bradley CD soundtrack Tom and Jerry, and Tex Avery Too! Vol. 1: the 1950s. This goes on the shelf next to the classic Carl Stalling Project CDs – as the same loving care went into this long overdue package. You get two CDs filled with some of Bradley’s greatest scores (just the music – no dialogue or sound effects) from MGM cartoons of the 1950s. These particular scores were recorded on magnetic film and have been restored with a clarity you’ve never heard before. Nine (of the twenty-five scores) were originally recorded in stereo and, to quote the liner notes, “the sound quality of these shorts is breathtaking”. Even if you know these films by heart, you’ll be particularly amazed by the scores for lesser cartoons like DOWNBEAT BEAR, BARBEQUE BRAWL and TOT WATCHERS. His Avery tracks (like CELLBOUND, BILLY BOY and DEPUTY DROOPY) are revelations. And the Tom & Jerrys are pure genius.Speaking of the liner notes, Daniel Goldmark (who produced the CD with Lukas Kendall) wrote the 24-page illustrated booklet giving a thorough history of MGM music, Scott Bradley and his relationship with Hanna, Barbera and Avery, notes on the guest musicians, singers and the musical choices – as well as specific production notes for all 25 tracks. This booklet – and Shug Fisher’s vocal track for Pecos Pest – are worth the price of the CD alone!This is a must-have. Bradley was one of the greats, but his work has been overshadowed in recent years by Carl Stalling’s memorable and pioneering scores for Disney, Iwerks and Warner Bros. This CD set will help put things in perspective.You have been warned: Only 3000 copies of this incredible CD have been pressed. I highly recommend you order it right now!

Animation Show 2007

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Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have announced the line-up for the third edition of the ANIMATION SHOW. Having seen all the films in the line-up with the exception of one, let me just say that this is a superb program. It’s a perfect sampling of the indie animation scene and includes a bit of everything: hand-drawn, CG, stop-motion, abstract, it’s all here. Films include Run Wrake’s RABBIT, Joanna Quinn’s DREAMS AND DESIRES, Don Hertzfeldt’s EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, Shane Acker’s NINE and Ga”lle Denis’s CITY PARADISE.

The touring schedule of the upcoming ANIMATION SHOW is different as well. They’re switching from conventional art house runs to a “music concert”-style schedule in which they’ll play limited one or two-night engagements throughout the US. LA folks will get the show for two nights: February 7, 2007 at Royce Hall in UCLA and February 15 at the Rialto in Pasadena. The complete tour schedule can be found HERE. If it hits your area, I highly recommend checking it out.

THE Conservative crusade against cartoons

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In the 1950s it was comic books and rock & roll, in the 1990s it was video games and the internet. Now Steven Benen on The Carpetbagger Report.com recounts the numerous warnings against Dreamworks’ Shrek 2 and Shark Tale, Nick’s Spongebob Squarepants and PBS’ Postcards From Buster. And now Happy Feet joins the legion of Hollywood films apparently brainwashing our youth. Not only that, the Parents Television Council, a watchdog group, is preparing to boycott Comedy Central’s Drawn Together (according to this article on adult animation in Multichannel News). We agree with Steve Benen’s conclusion: “They’re just cartoons. It’s probably time for a priority check.”

John Canemaker’s Oscar Experience

John Canemaker

What does it feel like to be nominated for an animated short Oscar? Atlanta animation director Ward Jenkins was curious to find out so he interviewed the distinguished John Canemaker, who was not only nominated but also won the Oscar this year for his short THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION. John describes in detail the whirlwind activities leading up to the ceremony and it’s a fun read. Part one is posted HERE and Ward promises that part two of the interview will be posted on his blog next week.

ART INSPIRED BY FAMILY GUY

Family Guy

Talk about scraping the bottom of the artistic barrel: the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills is currently hosting an exhibit of “pop surrealist” art inspired by FAMILY GUY. The show, “What The Deuce Are You Staring At!?!”, runs through January 21, 2007. After January, the art goes on a tour of animation galleries including Animation Connection in Toronto, The Linda Jones Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Animation Art Gallery in London, The Silver K Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, and Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks. To check out some of the pieces, go HERE.

FESTIVAL REPORT: 2D OR NOT 2D

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Animator Nancy Beiman (of the Rochester Intitute of Technology) sent in this first hand report from 2D OR NOT 2D FESTIVAL held in Everett Washington from November 17-19.

RIT’s character animators took all but one of the top prizes for student films at the 2D or Not 2D Animation Festival. Tony White originated the idea of giving awards to animation in a film as well as for the film itself, so that good animation could be judged independently of the story.The festival featured screenings of restored prints of ANIMAL FARM, retrospectives of Tony White’s work, a tribute to Halas and Batchelor, and many other surprises. Keynote speaker Roy Disney (pictured above with Steamboat Willie)stated that he wished to “refute that ridiculous statement of Michael Eisner’s that 2D was dead. It is not dead, and the statement is not true.” Mr. Disney presented a wonderful series of Disney short films inlcuding LORENZO and the Salvador Dali-Walt Disney coproduction DESTINO, and generously donated the use of the audiovisual equipment used for the rest of the festival entries. Eric Goldberg’s latest animation for a Buddhist theme park, featuring greedy monkeys, was another high point of the festival.Films in competition were sent from as far afield as Germany and Wales, with East and West Coast animation schools well represented (though Cal Arts and Ringling were surprisingly absent–we’ll get them to participate next year!)”Golden Pencils” were won by RIT seniors Brittney Lee, Joseph Daniels, and Jedidiah Mitchell, with Merit Awards given to graduate student Adam Fisher and sophomore Wesley Storhoff. Some of their prizewinning RIT films from the 2D or not 2D festival are available online.You can view Brittney Lee’s THE MUSICAL GENIUS OF MOZART MCFIDDLE (Winner, Best Animation in a Student Film with Special Merit for Art direction). Merit Award winner THE BALLAD OF THE PURPLE CLAM, is (partly) here: Adam Fisher’s advisor was Tom Gasek (of Aardman, now of RIT). Joe Daniels and Jed Mitchell won the Best Student Film award for THE WAY OF THE MANTIS, tied with A MANO (from VanArts) Even though MANTIS appears to be hand drawn, it is in fact a CGI film that is rendered to look like paintbrush work–the students designed the plug-in for Maya themselves. Merit Award winner Wes Storhoff’s THE INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM is not online, but it’s hilarious–the young man produced it in Nancy Beiman’s ‘one quarter project’ class, which lasted ten weeks. One of my students, Nathaniel Hubbell, sadly did not enter his film, Pygmalion Dreams, but it’s gorgeous. He also made a strange little film called DINNER (both made under my supervision).All of these students save Adam Fisher were my advisees and most have allowed me to use their preproduction artwork to illustrate sections of my book, which is now available for preorder on amazon.com. A special Golden Pencil Award was also awarded to their teacher. I was certainly not expecting that! The festival was well attended and we hope that it will be even ‘bigger’ next year.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Gittman)

Oswald To Get Lucky in 2007

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

One of the most interesting animation stories of ’06 took place last February when Disney acquired the rights to one of Walt’s earliest creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Unlike Universal, who owned the character for decades and did nothing with it, Disney has recognized the potential market for this classic character and is planning a major Oswald push in 2007.

A Disney insider writes to let me know that last week they held an internal launch party for Oswald at Disney Consumer Products in Burbank. The party, which included a live performance by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, who mixed classic Oswald cartoons with contemporary music, also featured a gallery exhibit displaying some of the upcoming merchandise. Products include vinyl toys, clothing and stationary. From the exhibit: “Oswald will benefit from a more refined retail launch, focusing on the ‘couture’ market…this equates to high-end merchandise from renowned designers, ranging from apparel to accessories.” Disney also just announced an ’07 dvd release of Oswald cartoons. From the looks of the merchandise, it’s nice to see that Disney is staying relatively faithful to the character’s roots and also keeping him black-and-white. And thankfully, no baggy pants or backwards baseball cap…yet.

Our source sent us some video of the RZA at the Oswald party as well as pics of the merchandise. I’ve posted it all below:

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise

Don Hertzfeldt: CGI is mostly nouns

Indie filmmaker/stick-figure master/ANIMATION SHOW co-founder Don Hertzfeldt talks extensively about his work in this new AWN interview. Good stuff throughout. I particularly agree with his thoughts on computer animation:

CG models and perfect life drawings leave me cold. All that a realistic, representational drawing of a bicycle tells me is, “bicycle.” There’s so much more mood and psychology to bring to the film if your artwork communicates more than just nouns. It’s why photorealism in animation is usually so boring and pointless. It’s all nouns. Ninety percent of CG animation is all nouns. I can’t feel anything going on behind the image.

The point of this medium is you can do literally anything, you can show us amazing things we’ve never seen before. I want to see animators change the language of cinema! Seriously, we have the means. Push animation deep into the wild new places where the surrealists took their reaction to photography. Rock the damn boat. If you’re going to strip animation of all its subjective power and just show me what things look like in real life you might as well be shooting live action.

New Animated Bits Around the Web

Way2Quit commercial

Joel Trussell of WAR PHOTOGRAPHER fame has finished a great looking spot for the anti-smoking campaign Way2Quit. Check it out HERE.

Air Condition video

Oliver Laric, the filmmaker responsible for the online hit 787 CLIPARTS, has finished a new video project, Aircondition. I’m not sure if it’s exactly animation in the strictest sense of the word but there’s definitely an animated sensibility at work here.

Etsy commercial

Our friends at Also Design create incredible print design and Flash websites, but they also make animation, like this cute spot for Etsy.com. We’re working with Also on the Cartoon Brew redesign, as well as on our new BrewFilms venture, and they’ve managed to come up with some terrific stuff. We can’t wait to share it with everybody.

PRIVATE SNAFU IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Today’s NEW YORK TIMES has an ARTICLE that discusses how animation was used during the 1940s and ’50s to teach valuable medical lessons. The piece barely scratches the surface of the topic but it’s still nice to see Private Snafu and Hugh Harman get mentioned in a contemporary newspaper article.

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(Thanks, Alex Rannie and Joel Schlosberg)

WORST. PEANUTS. EVER.

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Did you know Charlie Brown’s parents were organ donors? When Charles M. Schulz agreed to using Peanuts characters for MetLife’s brochures, there were unexpected consequences.It’s one of many strange moments in Peanuts history noted for posterity in a new post, 5 Lamest Charlie Brown Cartoons, on the 10 Zen Monkeys blog. There’s five YouTube clips documenting several oddball Peanuts moments from 40 years of Charlie Brown animation. (Snoopy as Flashbeagle; Charlie Brown shilling for Cheerios; et al). Needless to say, these clips (and the commentary by blogger “Destiny”) are a lot funnier than last night’s new Peanuts special, He’s A Bully, Charlie Brown.

TIME TRAVEL

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Dan Hollis has been working in radio for the past 10 years as both the sales manager for Hackettstown, New Jersey radio station WRNJ and co-hosting a radio program with his colleague, Jeff O’Boyle. The show is called Time Travel and it’s dedicated to pop culture and nostalgia. The show is primarily interviews with celebrities, with the focus on television, film, old time radio, comic books and of course, animated cartoons. Recent guests have included: Paul Winchell, Katie Leigh, Mel Stuart, Noel Blanc, Lee Mendelson, George Carlin, June Foray, Scott Shaw, Micky Dolenz, Marty Krofft, Robert Sherman (Allan’s son), Phil Vischer, Joe Kubert and others. The good news is that Dan has posted many of his previous interviews on a work-in-progress website entitled Time Travel Is Possible. Good stuff.