This week’s Underworld comic strip from Kaz (Kazimieras G. Prapuolenis), the alternative cartoonist also known for his writing on Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo.
This week’s Underworld comic strip from Kaz (Kazimieras G. Prapuolenis), the alternative cartoonist also known for his writing on Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo.
It’s amazing the things one can find in old magazines. Below is an article I recently stumbled across in issue 16 of Lithopinion: The graphic arts and public affairs journal of Local One, Amalgamated Lithographers of America published in winter 1969. The article was written by husband-and-wife artists Eugene Fleury and Bernyce Polifka, both of whom had worked in animation. By the late-1960s when the article was published, they were teaching at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles as well as exhibiting their fine art.
Earlier in their careers, Fleury had been an in-house instructor at Disney and background painter at Warner Bros. on shorts like The Dover Boys and The Aristo-Cat. He had also worked in the Army Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit and Lantz. Polifka also designed backgrounds at Warner Bros. (most notably on Wackiki Wabbit,), worked on UPA shorts like Hell-Bent For Election and Giddyap, and art directed Frank Tashlin’s short The Lady Says No, which we’re currently offering on CartoonBrewFilms. Both Fleury and Polifka also contributed to Lou Bunin’s puppet-animated feature Alice in Wonderland.
Their article, “In Celebration of Color,” is about how we perceive and appreciate color in art. It’s a fairly abstract examination of color, but then again, color has always struck me as being a fairly abstract concept. Beyond the application of basic color theories like hues, values, complements, and the like, there’s a second more expressive and pyschological component to good color. Most artists are content as long as their colors are tasteful and harmonious and never consider that second part of color. But there are tremendous possibilities to exploit color for deeper meaning and effect, and this article does a nice job of encouraging one to think about those other possibilities.
(Notes: The article pages are presented in their original order. The last page is a large fold-out. I was too lazy to scan in the oversized pages so these are digital camera pics, which is why some of the pages may appear somewhat warped.)
Finally making its way to the States, The Museum of Modern Art will be screening a 35mm print of Studio 4C’s new anime feature for a one-week run from April 25Ã¢â‚¬“30, 2007. Director Michael Arias will appear at the April 25th screening.
While we are still struggling to revive 2-D, the Japanese are already re-inventing it. Check out the trailer and see why we’re so excited. If you are in New York in April, you have six chances to support the cause.
MoMA’s SCREENING SCHEDULE
Wednesday, April 25, 8:30. North American premiere. (Introduced by Michael Arias)
Thursday, April 26, 8:30
Friday, April 27, 8:30
Saturday, April 28, 2:00
Sunday, April 29, 2:00
Monday, April 30, 8:30
What We Call The News, the latest JibJab effort, premiered last night at the Radio and TV Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, D.C. and then later on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The short, which lampoons the inanities of contemporary TV journalism, can be viewed online at JibJab.com.
Now here’s what we call the news: normally JibJab charges $1.99 for a high-quality downloadable version of their films. However, this time around, JibJab studio founders Evan and Gregg Spiridellis have graciously given CartoonBrewFilms a 1-month exclusive on the high-quality download (640×480) of What We Call The News. And even better, they’re making it available for one cent to BrewFilms users. It’s a great way for everyone to sample how easy CartoonBrewFilms is to useÃ¢â‚¬”and to obtain the latest JibJab masterpiece for your iPod or to look at frame-by-frame on your PC/Mac.
Remember, this deal is only good through April. After that, you’ll have to fork over your hard-earned money at JibJab’s own website to get the downloadable version.
The Internet is home to a wealth of classic animation goodness nowadays. It’s hard to keep up with all the wonderful material that people are posting everyday but here’s a few things that have caught my attention recently:
Kevin Langley has posted animation scenes from two of my favorite animators: Pat Matthews animation from the Shamus Culhane short The Greatest Man in Siam (1944) and Bobe Cannon animation from the Tex Avery short Wags to Riches (1949).
The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive is featuring a Yogi Bear storyboard drawn by animation great Warren Foster.
Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle (creators of Disney’s Kim Possible) will be signing their new book Liar of Kudzu at Storyopolis in Studio City, CA at 3:00 on Saturday March 31st. They’ll also be appearing at Square Books Jr. in Oxford, Mississippi next Tuesday the 3rd at 4:00. The book is a “Southern-gothic-science fiction-teen-comedy, with a romance” and it was just optioned by the Disney Channel for a Disney Channel Original Movie. They told us that they’d be happy to sign any Kim Possible books for any fans of the show who come out and say “howdy”!
The cover of the book (above) was illustrated by the amazing Chris Turnham.
I’ve known about this for a while and am excited that I can finally let everybody know about it. Pals Jon Gibson (of I Am 8-Bit fame) and Chris McDonnell (of Meathaus fame) have begun working on a bio/art coffeetable book about animation legend Ralph Bakshi. The book is slated for July 2008 release by Rizzoli NYC. Most importantly, Ralph Bakshi himself, currently 68 years old, is 100% on board with the project. Bakshi is allowing full access to his archives and granting these guys the opportunity to write an unbiased tome about his life and career. Here’s more about the project from Jon and Chris:
Since Ralph has worked with such an absurd amount of people in his 40+ years in the industry, we thought the best way to go about doing our research is to open the floodgates. To start things off, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve opened a production blog that will chronicle the making-of our book called RalphÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spot named after the legendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own studio from back in the day. Rizzoli NYC, a great publisher that has printed many masterful art books in the past, has given us hundreds of pages and extra-large dimensions to truly exploit all the amazing art and stories that a book about Bakshi should not be without.
WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d absolutely LOVE to here from any Brew readers that have worked with Bakshi, have some Bakshi-relevant artwork to share, or just have some tales (because, as weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve learned over the last year of getting this book going, pretty much everyone knows a least one Bakshi yarn, whether theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve met him or not). Seriously, no matter how insignificant someone may think the story isÃ¢â‚¬”or if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only one drawingÃ¢â‚¬”we want it!
Knowing Jon and Chris, I have no doubt they’ll deliver one of the must-have animation books of 2008. So spread the word that they’re looking for Bakshi stories and art, and if you can deliver the goods, get in touch with them at jon [at] jonmgibson.com and chris [at] meathaus.com.
After animation director Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch) was unceremoniously booted off of Disney’s American Dog, it was obvious that some major studio would scoop him up. Quite unsurprisingly that studio has turned out to be DreamWorks Animation. Ben Fritz reports in a Variety Web exclusive that Chris Sanders has signed on with DreamWorks and “will direct Crood Awakening, a project that DreamWorks had been developing with Aardman but took inhouse after its partnership with the British claymation house recently ended…Crood Awakenings, which is about a culture clash between cavemen, has a script by Brit comedy icon John Cleese and Krik De Micco (Racing Stripes). Sanders is rethinking the project, however, and will likely end up doing a significant rewrite.” More details can be found in the Variety article.
I didn’t really know the late Tim Onosko personally, but I always admired his writings. We’d corresponded a few times throughout the years and thus I was saddend to hear today of his passing.
I first became aware of Onosko with his transcription of a Bob Clampett Q&A in The Velvet Light Trap (Bob Clampett: Cartoonist, No. 15, Fall 1975), a piece that desparately needs to be reprinted or posted on the web. He went on to write articles about the future, the past, about film and amusement parks, so it was no wonder he’d end up working at Disney in various capacities, including in the development of Epcot, and designing Disney Adventures magazine.
Onosko later worked for Universal Studios and most recently produced a documentary, Lost Vegas: The Lounge Era.
He was one of us–and he’ll be missed.
The Ottawa 2007 International Animation Festival, planned for September 19-23, has announced its slate of special screenings and retrospectives. Among the highlights: a 4-part tribute to UPA, the mid-century design geniuses responsible for Gerald McBoingBoing, The Tell-Tale Heart, Rooty Toot Toot, and the Mr. Magoo shorts; retrospectives devoted to Joanna Quinn and Janet Perlman; a program called “Poetry in Motion,” featuring animation inspired by classic poetry; “Saul Steinberg and Animation,” a showcase of films influenced by the famed New Yorker cartoonist; and a memorial tribute to animator Helen Hill, who was tragically killed earlier this year in New Orleans.
The festival has also put out a call for entries. There’s no entry fee and deadline to enter films is June 1, 2007. Entry forms and submission details are available here. Festival artistic director Chris Robinson notes that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This year we’re putting some emphasis on reaching out to the gaming, mobile, wireless and interactive world. With more and more animation being made for non-traditional distribution platforms, it’s important that the OIAF celebrate the work being done in these new forms, so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve expanded our New Media Competition to include mobile content and interactive educational and gaming animation as well as shorts made for the Internet.Ã¢â‚¬?
2007 festival poster by Oscar Grillo
Joe Campana, a film editor who works in animation, recently started a blog called Animation Ã¢â‚¬” Who and Where, and it has already become an indispensable daily read for me. Joe has done an incredible amount of detective work when it comes to biographical research on artists and their families, and now he’s sharing that info with everybody. Right now, he’s writing about the lives of artists who would have been celebrating their 100th birthdays this month if they were still alive. They include Johnny Cannon, Tom McKimson, Tom Johnson and Disney composer Leigh Harline. He also promises to identify the Disney animation artists playing softball in the footage recenly included on the Ã¢â‚¬Å“More Silly SymphoniesÃ¢â‚¬? dvd. I can’t wait!
On a sidenote, wouldn’t it be amazing to have this biographical info available someday on a wiki, and to have it cross-referenced with a list of scenes and cartoons that the artists worked on, similar to what Alberto Becattini has started here. There are dozens of people out there, myself included, who have compiled plenty of original research, and if we pooled it together, it would amount to an unprecedented animation reference.
(website found via Hans Perk’s A. Film LA)
While it looks like animation fans in the United States definitely won’t be getting the “Once Upon a Time Walt Disney” exhibition that was in Paris last year and is currently displaying in Montreal, there is some exciting news to report. Colin Stewart, a columnist for the OC Register, did some research about the potential of a US exhibit and shares his findings at his Arts of Innovation blog.
Speaking to Lella Smith, director of the Walt Disney Co.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s Animation Research Library, Stewart found out that fifteen other museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), attempted to the get the exhibition, and because of that enthusiasm, there’s a “good possibility” of a similar show. In fact, the curator of the current exhibit, Bruno Girveau, is headed to LA in April to discuss the possibility of a show with LACMA. (Apparently, the reason that they can’t just bring this exhibit to the US is that the fine art pieces by Albrecht Durer, William Blake and Gustave Moreau were lent by the Louvre on condition that they only be displayed in two locations, a precautionary measure designed to limit possible damage to the pieces.)
Mark is not only one of the best animators in the business (Beauty & The Beast, Roger Rabbit, The Lion King, etc.), but one of its greatest historians. With this film he combined two great passions to create one remarkably entertaining film. We asked Mark himself to introduce the film. Here’s what he has to say:
You are invited to see and hear a miracle! A little film that took 15 years to complete, which was given up for dead quite a few times, but eventually decided to exist: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s The Cat!
I love listening to dance band records of the 1920s, and when I heard the Harry ReserÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Syncopators’ 1927 recording, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Cat,Ã¢â‚¬? it triggered a vision. A vision of a cat, not just any cat, but a feline spirit, wild, raucous, mischievous, yet sweet. The music literally wrote the story, not a note or a beat of the original recording was altered. Scenes sometimes had to be started, then torn up and re-done because they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite Ã¢â‚¬Å“syncÃ¢â‚¬? right. Sometimes I would re-do a scene because the concept wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t funny enough, or the layout was wrong. I wound up doing all the drawings because there was no money to pay anyone else, and I was the only animator who really understood this cartoon. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doubly hard to do all the drawings in a scene yourself, then when the test is shot, step OUTSIDE yourself and become a tough director.
Greg Ford was the Ã¢â‚¬Å“CatÃ¢â‚¬?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s angel, taking on the difficult task of inking and painting the cartoon. Greg worked hard to be invisible along with Kim Miskoe, color director, Rose Eng and Ã¢â‚¬Å“IgorÃ¢â‚¬?, two of the last cel inkers in the USA, artists both, and so many others. So step into my little world, the world of 1920s pop, and the free interpretation of it as seen by my Ã¢â‚¬Å“third eye.Ã¢â‚¬? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a dance band Ã¢â‚¬Å“fantasia,Ã¢â‚¬? made with nothing but love!
Mark and his producer Greg Ford have provided an extra incentive for viewers: anybody who purchases It’s the Cat through April 30 will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an original production cel from the film. We’ll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, take a look at It’s The Cat, a work of pure cartoon joy.
An independent director (who asked to remain nameless, but often works for Disney), did these sequences a few years ago for an overseas theme park project. The show was an homage to classic movies, tied together by a running gag of a stray balloon that gets loose. The director added the balloon using After Effects and did an amazing job matching each film’s cinematic style. The balloon subplot was eliminated from the project, but the director has now posted a bunch of his test clips on YouTube.
Balloon Part 1 (Safety Last)
Balloon Part 2 (Casablanca 1)
Balloon Part 3 (Butch Cassidy)
Balloon Part 4 (North By Northwest)
Balloon Part 5 (Star Wars)
Balloon Part 6 (Casablanca 2)
Balloon Part 7 (La Femme Nikita)
Balloon Part 8 (Singin’ In The Rain)
Balloon Part 9 (Wizard of Oz)
Balloon Part 10 (French Connection)
Balloon Part 11 (Mary Poppins)
Balloon Part 19 (Lord of the Rings)
About the film project they were from, the director himself says:
“The main through line was a romance between a guy in the audience and a woman in the movie. The “every man” goes into the movie (right through the screen) and meets a beautiful woman there. There is a spark of romance. He is then chased by villains out of her movie and stumbles through many other classic films, lost and alone. The woman leaves her movie to go on a quest to find him.
“So — now you’re probably wondering where the balloon shots come in. Well they don’t. Not in the final show. However, just before we committed to film the project, we decided to go through a kind of wild card period. Float some totally different ideas. I thought it might be fun to do a nod to “The Red Balloon”. I did a few of these balloon shots at home and took them into the studio. Everybody enjoyed them. So we explored a possible version centered on that idea. I did more and more shots, took them in, hunkered down with the editor and stitched together a draft. We all got a kick out of it, but utimately decided that we missed the romantic comedy of Plan A. So after the diversion, we returned to our original course.
“So I had all these shots at home that I’d done on spec. I figured that since I did them and they contain no material from the studio, and I don’t reference the context we used when toying with them, they’re safe to post.”
UPDATE: For all you Balloonaholics, here is an 18-part, six and a half minute compilation of the Balloon Movies: