Who’d ever have thought that CHIP AND DALE (1947) would be a more obscure Disney short than DER FEUHRER’S FACE (1943)? Or that THE TRIAL OF DONALD DUCK (1948) would be harder to see than EDUCATION FOR DEATH (1943)? That’s the way it stands now if Disney Home Video has their way.Word is circulating around the Internet that Disney has put a halt to the series of Walt Disney Treasures, the annual set of archival dvds, packaged in a tin container, hosted and produced by Leonard Maltin. The series was close to releasing every short the company ever produced, but has now stopped short of completing the collection of its most important short subject star, Donald Duck. Wartime cartoons, silent rarities, lost Disneyland footage, the complete run of Silly Symphonies – all this and more have been part of the Walt Disney Treasures during the past six years (click here for a complete list).For more information on the situation, or if you want to support the effort to keep these DVDs alive, I refer you to this thread on HomeTheaterForum.com.
Leslie Cabarga and I are conspiring to get you to be friendly to Casper – his comics that is!I’ve made no secret of my love for the Paramount Harvey Comics of the 1950s and early 60s. These have been virtually ignored by the comics community, and unknown to animation fans. Now that we’ve completed our personal collections (through eBay and Comic-Con at bargain prices), Leslie and I are compiling a large volume of the 100 best stories, restored from printers proofs and original art, by permission of Classic Media and to be published by Dark Horse this summer. These comics were drawn mainly by the Famous Studios animators: Bill Hudson, Tom Johnson, Howard Post, Steve Muffatti and others. Warren Kremer’s classic early stories will be presented as well. I’m also contributing an introductory essay to this 480-page volume and we’ve got big plans for further editions. I’ll be plugging this again in the coming months, but you can place an advance order now, for Harvey Comics Classics Volume 1: Casper The Friendly Ghost at Dark Horse Comics.
Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” line-up has ordered a pilot for yet another live-action project. This one is based on a series of online shorts called GEMBERLING. There is nothing sadder than reading a news item about Cartoon Network that says, “The as-yet-untitled half-hour project, from John Gemberling and Curtis Gwinn, is tentatively set to be shot this month“ (bold emphasis mine).
Starting tonight, The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is running a sing-a-long revival of MARY POPPINS for the rest of the month. The El Capitan’s resident organist Rob Richards (a loyal Cartoon Brew reader) sent us this tip: Very early on Saturday January 13th, the El Cap will make a brief return to its historic roots as a live performance theater with a special musical program. On Saturday morning, Rob will be performing solo and in duet with Ralph Wolf, 88, a legendary Hollywood pianist (in addition to his Hollywood movie work, Wolf was the rehearsal pianist for the original Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s). As part of this early bird program, Rob Richards will accompany, on the theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ, a restored print of Alice’s Wonderland (1923), the first of the “Alice comedies.” The concert is scheduled to begin promptly at 8 am, concluding at 9:15. Tickets are available at the El Capitan box office. Doors open at approximately 7:30 a.m. The El Capitan Theatre is located at 6838 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood CA.
Stripper’s Guide, a blog dedicated to newspaper comic strips, yesterday posted samples of George Stallings‘ little-known comic-strip Soapy Waters, which ran for a short time in the 1950s. Stallings, a former Van Beuren animator and Disney director and story man spent his latter career writing comic strips, mainly for Disney.This blog is loaded with interesting material. Today’s post is about an obscure solo Lois Lane comic strip from the mid 40s. Who knew? This is good stuff!
If you couldn’t make it to the ASIFA-Hollywood screening of Frederator’s new Random Cartoons last night, here’s some good news. They’ve just posted one of the funniest shorts in the series onto Google Video and you can watch it now. Pen Ward is a great new talent and his Adventure Time has been justly nominated for an Annie Award. Awesome!Good luck, Pen!
We should note that producer Steve Krantz passed away last Thursday in Los Angeles from complications of pneumonia. He was 83.Krantz is best known in our world for his production of the first, ultra low budget, syndicated The Marvel Superheroes cartoons in 1966. He also produced Max the 2000-Year-Old Mouse and Rocket Robin Hood. Krantz met Ralph Bakshi while making the ABC Saturday morning SPIDER MAN animated series. His relationship with Bakshi led to his producing FRITZ THE CAT, HEAVY TRAFFIC, and later without Bakshi, THE NINE LIVES OF FRITZ THE CAT. Krantz was also the husband of author Judith Krantz (Scruples, Princess Daisy).
Another of the old guard of animation, Pete Kleinow, has passed away. He was both a stop motion animator (with Art Clokey), and a renown guitarist (with The Flying Burrito Brothers). He wrote the Gumby song and animated on the original Davey & Goliath. Kleinow did many commercials in the sixties and seventies (including Poppin Fresh, The Pillsbury Doughboy), and animated the robot terminator in James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR (1984). He also animated sequences for the Krofft’s LAND OF THE LOST and Arnold Leibovit’s THE PUPPETOON MOVIE. He passed away last Saturday night at age 72.(Thanks Joel Fletcher)
In addition to THE ART OF RATATOUILLE, there’s a couple other books based on Pixar’s upcoming RATATOUILLE that are worth mentioning here. TOO MANY COOKS is a counting book for preschoolers which is notable because it was illustrated by one of Pixar’s in-house artists, Nate Wragg. Here’s the cover:
WHAT’S COOKING: A COOKBOOK FOR KIDS is technically a cookbook but it looks to have some airy light-hearted illustrations like the ones below. No idea who the illustrator is here, but I think it’s commendable that they’re allowing artists to give their personal takes on these characters instead of following bland licensing guide models.
In 2005 Warner Bros. released, as bonus material on Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 3, a rarely seen 1963 TV pilot called PHILBERT, one of the last things produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons before they closed shop. The live action/animation show starred William Schallert as Griff, a bachelor newspaper cartoonist who lives with his creation, a mischievous hipster cartoon character named Philbert. I was honored to do some audio track commentary on the DVD with animator Art Leonardi and voice actor Trustin Howard. When the show failed to sell (it was intended for ABC), Warner Bros. stripped the show of its laugh track, did some re-editing and released it as a 26 minute theatrical short subject. The version released on the Looney Tunes set is the theatrical version.However, Friz Freleng (who directed the animation) once gave me a damaged copy of the original TV show version and I’ve posted a clip of the opening below for the sake of comparison. Note the lively theme song with lyrics missing on the DVD release. Other deletions include the illustrated titles and the laugh track. It’s worth noting that the pilot was directed by Richard Donner and the opening sequence of Philbert dancing was animated by Art Babbitt.
With Iwao Takamoto’s passing, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share this interview I conducted with him in January 1999. It was originally published in ANIMATION BLAST #3. In our chat, Iwao discusses being interned in the US during World War II because of his Japanese ancestry, working with Milt Kahl at Disney, and his illustrious career at Hanna-Barbera. He was a top-notch draftsman, and in my limited dealings with him, always a friendly and affable fellow. As a sidenote, you’ll notice that Iwao mentions Tom Oreb briefly during the interview, and if I recall correctly, Iwao was the first person to truly make me aware of Tom’s work.
(click on the images for large versions)
UPDATE: More remembrances of Iwao appearing online:
Eric Homan remembers working with Iwao at Hanna-Barbera and shares one of his drawings.
Patrick Owsley shares an Iwao Takamoto pencil drawing and the inked version that he did of it at WB Consumer Products.
We’ve just heard that Iwao Takamoto passed away today. Takamoto is best known for his design work at Hanna-Barbera during the 1960s. He designed Scooby Doo, the Jetsons’ dog Astro, and Penelope Pitstop. He entered the business after World War II, where he was hired as an assistant animator by Walt Disney Studios. He eventually became the head of clean-up for Milt Kahl. He worked on films such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and Lady and the Tramp.Takamoto left Disney in 1961 and joined Hanna-Barbera Productions where he worked in many capacities including direction of several feature-length animated films, including Charlotte’s Web (1973) and Jetsons: The Movie (1990). Along with the late Ed Benedict and Joe Barbera, Takamoto was responsible for some of the greatest television characters of our generation. He will be missed.
Ryan Larkin, Canadian animation legend-turned-panhandler, who was the subject of Chris Landreth’s Oscar-winning short RYAN, is creating animation for the first time in over thirty years. We first mentioned Larkin’s comeback attempt in September 2005 and last month saw the debut of his first new animated pieces – 3 five-second bumpers for MTV Canada. (They can be seen on MTV.ca by clicking on the “news” tab and then scrolling down. It would be unfair to compare the MTV bumpers to Larkin’s earlier triumphs like WALKING or STREET MUSIQUE, but it’s certainly nice see him creating once again and hopefully it’s a sign of better things to come.
In fact, Larkin is currently attempting, with the help of singer-songwriter Laurie Gordon and her husband Krassy Halatchev, to create a new animated short, SPARE CHANGE. More details about the film and how you can contribute funds to help complete it, can be found at RyanBango.com. And here is a recent article on Canada.com that offers a bit more about Larkin’s new projects.
Comic book and animation artist Kyle Baker was recently interviewed in Mike Manley’s excellent DRAW! magazine, and Mark Mayerson posted an excerpt from that interview on his blog. I couldn’t resist sharing the excerpt as well because it’s an excellent example of how some artists are wisening up to the games of the animation studios and refusing to sell themselves out for a few pennies. Kyle Baker says:
[Warner Bros. was] developing Why I Hate Saturn [one of Baker's graphic novels] as a TV show and when that fell apart, I stayed out there for seven years, doing screenplays and all that junk. And in the old days of Hollywood, they used to give you a whole lot of money up front. Like, when I was at Warner Brothers, they’d give me a big pile of money, a nice contract, and they totally ruined the work, made the script suck. The show never went on, I don’t get the script back, etc., etc. But at least I got a big pile of money, and I bought a house. It was worth it. But with the kind of deals that at least I’m getting offered now in animation – I don’t know if this is the general deal, but the people are coming to me with is, like, “Okay, here’s what we need. We need you. We don’t really have much of a development budget anymore, so we want you to practically develop the whole thing before you bring it in. Then we’ll pay you about ten grand, and we’ll make this thing, and if it succeeds, we get everything, and you get nothing. And if it fails, you get nothing.” That’s all you end up with now, is, like, ten grand. And it’s easy enough to find ten grand somewhere, so that you don’t have to give everything up and watch them ruin your script. You know what I mean? I mean, the last thing I did like that, I did a Fox pilot, and that’s how much I made, ten grand. It wasn’t worth it to me.
My book CARTOON MODERN: STYLE AND DESIGN IN FIFTIES ANIMATION is starting the new year with a bang. Today’s NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW has a plug for the book along with a great UPA image reprinted from the book. The link above takes you to the online blurb, but below is how it appeared in the actual paper.
And then, the new January/February issue of PRINT MAGAZINE, which is just hitting newstands, has a review of the book by none other than animation historian extraordinaire John Canemaker. I’m not convinced that my book or my writing deserve so many kind words but who am I to argue with John Canemaker? You can click on the image below to read his review.
To celebrate the occasion of these two CARTOON MODERN plugs, I just uploaded a bunch of storyboards and concept paintings from Ward Kimball’s classic short TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOM (1953) to the CARTOON MODERN blog. Trust me, you’ll want to download the hi-res versions of this stuff for your personal collection.