Neal Gabler on Disney at LAT Book Fest

I took a break from my deadlines on Saturday to see Mike Barrier discuss his Walt Disney biography at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Milt Gray, Eddie Fitzgerald, Miles Kruger, and award-winning author Amid Amidi were also there to cheer Mike on. The auditorium was packed (the entire LAT Book event itself has evolved over the years to become an annual must-do) and the panel of biographers (the others tackling Frank Lloyd Wright, Einstein, and Hitler) were fascinating. I just picked up my copy of Barrier’s new book at the Festival and will begin reading it this week. I know that once I open it I’ll never put it down till I finish, so I’m reserving some time to it during the next few days.

I couldn’t attend the panel with Neal Gabler on Saturday afternoon, but CSPAN telecast the session in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I haven’t read Gabler’s tome yet either – I’ll do so after I devour Barrier’s – but you can’t deny his enthusiasm for the subject. I took the liberty of posting just Gabler’s comments on Disney in two parts on You Tube. Here is the first part (5 mins.), the second part (9 mins.) is embedded below.

McLaren Remixed


FPS Magazine informs us about Norman, a new mixed-media stage production that combines the works of an animation legend with live performance. Created by 4D Art‘s Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, the show is based around the life and work of National Film Board of Canada director Norman McLaren. Performer/choreographer Peter Trosztmer leads the one-man show which combines interviews, visual and sound explorations, and live movement interacting with film.

The performance debuted last weekend in Ottawa and will be performed in the coming months in Canadian cities like Toronto and Montreal, as well as France. A video preview and performance schedule can be found at the 4D Art website.

This review from the Ottawa Citizen offers some interesting details about how the show is designed:

In most multi-media presentations, the video is projected on a screen behind the performers. In Norman, however, these images appear to be mid-stage, allowing Trosztmer to dance between them, coil his supple body around them or sometimes be knocked flat by a hurtling geometric shape. In other scenes, holographic visitors, most of them former colleagues, drop in to chat about the Scottish-born animator’s influence. These snippets are in English or French, with translation provided by surtitles.

In one of the most enchanting moments, Trosztmer opens the NFB vault that holds McLaren’s work and out tumbles a line of miniature men, followed by several cats, who prowl past the dancer’s feet.

The Curious Absence of Humor in Primetime Animation

Are The Simpsons and Family Guy creatively bankrupt? Is the Pope Catholic? The New York Sun‘s David Blum wrote a sharp commentary about this topic earlier this month:

Is it genuinely funny to see an animated, overweight, middle-aged dude on a living room couch, waiting for the chorus of the “Maude” theme song to kick in? To me it’s mildly amusing, but I don’t think I’m supposed to be the target audience for Fox’s “The Family Guy,” where that reference turned up on a recent episode. Very few 12-year-olds have a working knowledge of theme songs from 1970s sitcoms, and those who do need to get into something more useful, like stamp collecting. But this is what happens when you entrust the writing of prime-time cartoons to adults. They write what they know. And if you’ve ever met a Hollywood television comedy writer, you know that most of them grew up with baby sitters named Sony and Panavision.

I don’t think there’s all that much entertainment value in a television version of Trivial Pursuit, and that’s what television cartoons have largely become — a catalog of lines from old movies, theme songs from 1960s sitcoms, and mentions of actors like David Hasselhoff. I’m probably the only person in my ZIP code to catch the “Simpsons” reference to Fox’s 1991 sitcom trainwreck “Herman’s Head,” and that’s not a proud moment.

(again, via Michael Sporn’s Splog)

Too Art For TV, Too


The first one was a big success, so here comes Too Art for TV, Too, the second annual exhibition of personal art by New York’s animation industry. Curators Liz Artinian, Amanda Baehr Fuller, Jessica Milazzo have set up the Stay Gold Gallery for 35 artists, for their exhibit of toys, comics, prints, and paintings, “liberating the skills otherwise “owned” by their television networks bosses.” The show runs May 4th through May 25th.

Too Art for TV, Too is the biggest showing of this movement to date; featuring the artists who create, write, direct, storyboard, design, color, and animate “Venture Bros.” (Adult Swim), “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Fox Network), “Ice Age” (Blue Sky Studios), “A Scanner Darkly” (Richard Linklater), “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Nickelodeon), “Code Name: Kids Next Door” (Cartoon Network), “Stanley” (Disney TV), “Daria” (MTV Animation), “Blue’s Clues” (Nick JR), and more.

Contributing artists include Liz Artinian, Amanda Baehr Fuller, Jennifer Batinich Blue Bliss, Jeff Buckland, Jared Deal, Kelly Denato Jason DiOrio, Marina Dominis, Nash Dunnigan, Jonathan Ehrenberg, Chris George, Marta Jonsdottir Danny Kimanyen, Rick Lacy, Dave Levy, Douglas Lovelace, Todd K Lown, Jim Manocchio, Miguel Martinez-Joffre, Richard Mather, Jessica Milazzo Dagan Moriarty, Liam Murray, Jackson Publick Reject, Kim Rygiel , Pammy Salmon, Tim Shankweiler, PeeDee Shindell, Justin Simonich, Alex Smith, Kate Tyler, Martin Wittig and Irene Wu.

Opening Reception: Friday, May 4th, 7pm-10pm at Stay Gold Gallery, 451 Grand St. (between Keap & Union) in Brooklyn. For more info click here.

Doop Doop

Disney animator Rob Corley (Mulan, Lilio and Stitch) has posted this fun little (80 second) pencil test he made around ’94 or ’95, produced during down time at Disney Animation in Orlando, FL.

Corley explains on his blog:

I wanted to play around with squash and stretch so I decided to start animating straight ahead and see how many ways I could change the character….after many moons, and after my hand almost fell off, I went back and just created a set up and ending to the piece to finish it off. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun to do.

Rob is now co-owner of FunnyPages Productions with Tom Bancroft.

Men in Black


Working on a tight budget? The piece below is a beautiful example of how great artwork combined with creative compositing can be just as effective as a piece of full animation. True, the movement may be limited, but the graphic thinking behind the piece is fully developed and intelligently executed. It is called “Men in Black,” and it’s a sequence based on a story by U.S. Army Specialist Colby Buzzell. It premiered on April 16 as part of the PBS film Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.

The illustrations were done by Christopher Koelle of South Carolina-based Portland Studios. Animation and compositing was created by a group called The Law of Few.

(Thanks, Chuck Gammage for letting me know about this, and to Brad Constantine for finding the whole film on YouTube)

Betty Boop Slept Here


Fleischer Studios made arguably the funniest cartoons of the 1920s and ’30s — and they made them, from 1923 through 1938, in studio space leased at 1600 Broadway, the heart of Times Square, in Manhattan.

The original building was demolished several years ago. Its replacement is ready for tenants. It’s now a modern high rise condo. Wanna live where Betty Boop was created? Where Popeye met Sindbad? Wanna sleep where Wiffle Piffle was born? It’s all yours at the new 1600 Broadway.

(Thanks, Anne D. Bernstein)

Cartoon Modern is Voted Best Film Book of 2006

Cartoon Modern cover

I’m not one who likes to brag but that’s because I usually don’t have a whole lot to brag about. Things are a little different today though. I’ve just learned that my book Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation has won the Theatre Library Association Award for the best book about film, television and radio in 2006. Previous winners of the award, which has been given out since 1973, comprise a veritable who’s who of film and music historians including Gary Giddins, Neal Gabler, John Canemaker, David Bordwell and Kevin Brownlow. I’m humbled (and somewhat dazed) to be included among such elite company.

I’m especially thrilled because this is only the second time an animation book has won the top prize in the award’s 30-plus year history. The first time was in 1987 when John Canemaker was recognized for Winsor McCay: His Life and Art. (Also worth noting, last year, Daniel Goldmark received a Special Jury Prize for his book Tunes for ‘Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon.)

Cartoon Modern is essentially page after page about some of the most unrecognized and undervalued geniuses of 20th century film art, and it makes me really happy that these artists are being afforded the long overdue recognition they deserve, both from the fine folks who have purchased the book and organizations like the Theatre Library Association who are honoring the book. I’ll be headed to NYC in June for the TLA awards ceremony. I half expect Ashton Kutcher to meet me there and tell me I’ve been punk’d.

Here are the press release details if anybody’s curious:

“Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation” (Chronicle Books), written by Amid Amidi, has been chosen as the winner of the 2006 Theatre Library Association Award. Established in 1973, the Theatre Library Association Award is given each year to the best English-language book about recorded performance, including motion pictures, television, and radio. Books nominated for the coveted award are judged on the basis of scholarship, readability, and general contribution to the broadening of knowledge.

The Theatre Library Association is a non-profit, educational organization established in 1937 to promote the collection, preservation, and use of theatrical and performing arts materials. Membership includes librarians, scholars, curators, archivists, performers, writers, designers, historians, collectors, and students.

The Saga of Todd Goldman

toddgoldman1.jpgTodd Goldman is a talented artist whose t-shirt/apparel company David and Goliath, Inc. made $90 million in 2004. That’s hardly a surprise considering that his work is popular with everybody from prostitutes to grandmothers to Saudi Arabian women. In fact, the only person who doesn’t like Goldman is Fox News commentator Bernard Goldberg who listed Goldman in his book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Life, in general, couldn’t be going better for Goldman except for one slight problem: the Internet.

You see, over the past month, a lot of mean people online have been pointing out how some of Goldman’s work coincidentally looks like existing cartoons, comics and illustrations drawn by other artists. The differences between Goldman’s work and other artists are night and day but that hasn’t stopped self-appointed Web police from harassing poor Goldman. It’s a sad day when websites like BoingBoing, Slashdot,, Digg,, and The Comics Journal disparage the fine artistry of Goldman. Those awful folks at SomethingAwful have even posted a 110-page thread documenting these supposed similarities.

Seriously, can Goldman help if he made—”totally by coincidence”—a drawing that looks like a famous Disney character down to the pose, and then he put the Disney character’s name on it, and then he mass-produced the t-shirt and made lots of money selling it at retail stores and on his website. Fortunately, I know the lawyers at Disney are big-hearted and understanding; I mean which one of us hasn’t occasionally drawn a cartoon that looks like a famous Disney character and then mass-produced those drawings as merchandise.

Todd Goldman and Disney artwork

And then, some other lame people online have been claiming that one of Goldman’s t-shirts looks like a character that illustrator Chip Wass designed for an animated commercial for Intel. These people, however, completely ignored the fact that Goldman’s character has stitches on its face and says “Bad Ass” beneath it. Apparently, 20/20 vision is not a prerequisite for critiquing artwork online.

Todd Goldman and Chip Wass artwork

Of course, what really bothers me is when well-known comic artists like Roman Dirge start claiming that the honorable Mr. Goldman is plagiarizing their work based on tenuous evidence. Compare Dirge’s design to Goldman’s design and just look at the eyes.

Todd Goldman and Roman Dirge artwork

In fact, I spent most of last night designing my own new cartoon character. I call him Rugs Rabbit. Let’s just hope the Internet hounds don’t jump on my back like they have on Mr. Goldman’s and try to claim this completely original character is based on something else.

Rugs Rabbit

Fortunately, Todd Goldman isn’t taking this lying down. His lawyers have been defending his integrity by sending take-down notices to everybody, including Wired Magazine and Juxtapoz Magazine, who has dared point out these coincidences (or not-even-being-close-to-coincidences, as I prefer to call them). And a few weeks ago, Goldman himself set the record straight when he told the Las Vegas Sun what was really going on: “This is just a bunch of hater artists trying to take me down. I’m not an online Web guy. I’m not trying to rip people off. I work with a team of artists at David & Goliath. We create thousands of designs.”

Hee’s my advice to the online community: stop being a “bunch of hater artists.” Let Mr. Goldman make his $90 million a year. He needs it to defend himself from all your virulent attacks.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books


The LA Times Festival of Books (4/28-29) is such a huge event – the Comic Con International of book fairs, if you will – that it cannot be held in any convention center or contained space. It takes over the campus of of UCLA and overwhelms it. If you love books of any type, on any subject, there is something here for you. Even for us animation fans and historians.

Mike Barrier (The Animated Man) will be a panelist on Biography: Icons on the Page which will take place at 10:30am on Saturday at Rolfe Hall (room 1200). Barrier will be around to sign books and chat afterward. Leonard Maltin will be signing books on Saturday at 12 noon at Dutton’s Brentwood Books booth #336. Neal Gabler, the author of the other recent Disney biography, will be a member of another panel of biographers, Biography: 20th Century Lives, at 3:30pm Saturday afternoon in Haines Hall (room 39). Charles Solomon will be on the panel Biography: Remarkable Lives on Sunday morning at 10:30am at Young Hall (room CS 24).

Most major book companies as well as small press and independent publishers, and book stores & major chains, have large booths selling back stock at discount prices (be sure to stop by the Chronicle Books booths #367, 804 and 901 for some great deals on their animation titles). Many big name real world celebrities—from Kirk Douglas and Elizabeth Taylor to Ray Bradbury appear on panels or do book signings. And it’s all free. For more information click here.

Brew Radio: TODAY!


Here’s the reminder: yours truly, Jerry Beck, will appear on a live Internet radio chat today at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific. I will be joined by animation historian-voice actor Keith Scott and pop-culture addict/host Stuart Shostack on Stu’s Show, which can be heard on Shokus Internet Radio. Together Stu, Keith and I will discuss classic cartoons, animation dvds, cartoon voice acting, Jay Ward, Popeye, and anything you want (call in toll-free!). Stu’s Show is only available to hear via live streaming audio during broadcast; it’s not archived for downloading later. So if you want to hear the two hour show, you’ll have to tune in today at 4pm Pacific Time (7pm Eastern). Click here and enjoy!

Update: The show I recorded live today will be rebroadcast at 7pm EST/4pm PST, each day for the next seven days. Tune in!

This Saturday in Boston: Visual Music Marathon

Begone Dull Care

If I were in Boston this weekend, there’s no question what I’d be attending: the Visual Music Marathon at Northeastern University. This FREE event on Saturday, April 28, is a 12-hour(!) marathon screening of musically-themed abstract and experimental animation. The screening, which is happening as part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival, will include 64 contemporary films, chosen from over 300 submissions. Additionally, one of the hours will be devoted to live video performances, a couple other hours are curated programs by Larry Cuba of the Iota Center and Bruce Wands of the School of Visual Arts, and yet another hour is for historic “visual music” films by the likes of Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, Hans Richter and Norman McLaren (his Begone Dull Care is the image above). It all takes place at the Egan Research Center (120 Forsyth Street, Boston, MA) at Northeastern University. A complete schedule can be found at the Visual Music Marathon website.

This Thursday in Montreal: “Music of Hickee Mountain”

Art by Joe White

Tomorrow, April 26th, at 8pm is the opening of the art show “Music of Hickee Mountain” at Red Bird Studios (135 Avenue Van Horne, Montreal, QC). Many of the cartoonists and comic artists who comprise the Hickee collective also work in the animation industry at studios like LucasArts and Laika. The exhibiting nartists are Graham Annable, Scott Campbell, Razmig Marlian, Nathan Stapley, Joe White, Vamberto Maduro and Paul Brown. More artwork and details at the Hickee blog.

Alone, Stinking & Unafraid: Ballad of a Thin Man

In this new installment of Alone, Stinking and Unafraid, Chris Robinson assesses the life of troubled Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, who passed away on February 14.

Illustration by Theodore Ushev
illustration by Theodore Ushev

It’s been a hard year for Canadian animators. In less than two months, the community has lost Helen Hill, Gilbert Taggart (a veteran B.C. animator) and, most recently, Ryan Larkin. I knew all three people but it was Larkin’s life that touched mine the deepest — in a both good and bad ways.

In June 2000, one of our staff at the Ottawa International Animation festival had heard through a friend about this old animator who was now panhandling on the streets of Montreal. I wondered if we could somehow help the guy. We drove to Montreal to meet him. We found him panhandling on St. Laurent, approached him, introduced ourselves, and invited him for a drink.

From there we headed to a nearby bar where Ryan told us his story. Ryan is an easy guy to like and we were all mesmerized with this unique person who was at once comical and heartbreaking, pathetic and inspiring. We returned home convinced we could save him.

The following week one of our jury members dropped out, so we convinced Ryan to come to Ottawa as a replacement. I was worried about how Ryan might behave, but he was fine.

What I remember most about that week was the night we screened the jury’s films. Until that moment, I don’t think that the other jury members (including Chris Landreth) really knew who this guy was. But when Ryan’s Oscar-nominated Walking played, their mouths dropped open. “You did that film!?â€? someone said. In a span of about 20 minutes, Ryan went from little brother to mythological hero. Everyone wanted to know what happened, what he was doing. Everyone gathered around Ryan as he recounted — often through tears — his downfall from golden boy at the NFB to living on the streets. That was the night that Landreth’s eventual Oscar winning film, Ryan, was born.

After the festival, an animation co-op in Calgary was all set to invite him to get back into animation. But Ryan refused. He said he was worried about losing his welfare cheque. In truth, Ryan was scared that he didn’t have anything to say anymore and frankly, the more I got to know him, the more I realized that he didn’t want to be saved. He’d lived this flaneur existence for so long, he couldn’t turn back. Initially I respected this, but I quickly soured towards him because I could see that he had a routine. He convinced many people before and after me into thinking they could save him when all he really wanted was some smokes, beer and chicken wings.

Ryan returned to Ottawa in 2004 to accompany the screening of Ryan. It would be a homecoming of sorts. I even arranged to have Ryan’s film Walking, shown in the cinema (Ryan hadn’t seen the film in 35mm in thirty years). My excitement faded fast though. Ryan had changed. His drinking had reached the point of no return. Ryan needed constant supervision. We kept feeding him with beers and smokes to keep him happy, anything to stop him from flipping out. Of course, by late afternoon, he’d be a mess anyway. As much as I enjoyed watching Ryan piss on the streets in broad daylight, I wanted to grab him and slap some sense into him, tell him to stop being a child and take some responsibility for his life.

It was too late though. The winds of success blew Ryan into mythological status. Young animators made pilgrimages to Montreal to pay tribute to their hero, the flawed genius.

The strange thing about it all is that the same year we showed Ryan, we showed films by two recovering alcoholics, one of whom had just beaten cancer. No one noticed them. And no one noticed the panhandlers under the overpass near the Confederation Building. I passed by there regularly but never gave them change. I didn’t even look at them. Why was Ryan’s life worth more than theirs?

Obviously I have very mixed feelings about Ryan’s passing. Already I’m seeing the hyperbole (“genius” ‘tragedy”) being tossed around freely by those who didn’t know him. Ryan was not an artistic genius. He made 4 films, all of which showed great promise, but with the exception of Walking, you’d be hard pressed to call any a masterpiece. His films were rambling and incomplete, a bit like his life.

Ryan’s story certainly is tragic, but consider the life of Helen Hill, the 36-year-old animator who was murdered in New Orleans on January 4th. If there ever existed a saint, it was Helen. I was in Halifax (Helen lived there for five years) recently and saw first hand the incredible impact she had on the arts community. Helen’s generosity, energy, and explosive optimism literally changed people’s lives. Helen pushed people to be better. She didn’t make excuses. Helen firmly believed that you had to take responsibility for your life and community. In a short time, Helen squeezed every breath out of life. She died young, but left nothing wasted.

In this context, Ryan’s story is especially tragic. Ryan was given a relatively long life and wasted innumerable opportunities to turn his life around. There were always fears and excuses. When he did finally appear to be turning a corner (thanks to Montreal musician Laurie Gordon, Ryan was off the streets and working on a new film), life finally said, sorry bud, it’s too late.

As different as their lives were, though, Ryan’s life, like Helen’s, has had an impact on many people. There is much to be learned from the choices that Ryan made and didn’t make.

In the end, though, it’s important that we keep perspective. Ryan Larkin was no more a hero or genius then he was a drunk or a loser. Like Helen, Ryan was just a human and as Bob Dylan once sang, “as great as you are, man, you’ll never be greater than yourself.â€?

(originally published in the March 5, 2007 edition of The Ottawa Citizen)

Chris Robinson is the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and a noted author/critic/historian whose books include Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation, Ottawa Senators: Great Stories from the NHL’s First Dynasty, Unsung Heroes of Animation, and Great Left Wingers and Stole This From a Hockey Card: A Philosophy of Hockey, Doug Harvey, Identity & Booze. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, Kelly, and sons Jarvis and Harrison.

Why execs should refrain from being “creative”

Bill Scott

This is an amusing anecdote from Rocky & Bullwinkle writer Bill Scott which took place back in the early-1950s while he was working at UPA. The story provides a good example of how throwing a lot of talent at a project doesn’t necessarily guarantee success; creative people need a solid foundation to work from and should be assigned projects that are suited to their particular skills. Fortunately, Bosustow was smart enough to recognize that he was more of a businessman than a creative (which is more than can be said for the majority of execs working in animation today). For this reason, he had placed director John Hubley in charge of the studio’s day-to-day creative decisions to avoid situations like the one described by Scott:

Another time, you know Steve Bosustow was close friends with Ted Geisel—Dr. Seuss—since they’d worked together during the war. They were having lunch together, and Geisel says, “I have a great idea for a film about eyebrows. You start with some guy’s face, and see how his eyebrows move up and down, and furrow and knit and all the things eyebrows usually do, and then suddenly the eyebrows manage to move away from the face and just keep on dancing on their own.”

Steve thought it was great, and bought it. I mean, he pulled out his checkbook right there at the table, and bought it on the spot. Then he passed it on to Phil [Eastman] and me, and said, “Here’s a new film we’re going to do.”

We looked it over, and said right away, “Wait a minute. Where’s the story? What happens?”

Steve said, “Well, can’t you figure something out?”

So we worked on it for a while, but basically it isn’t the idea for a film; it’s a gag that has to fit into some other context. When Steve finally realized that, he went back to Geisel and asked for his money back. And he got it.

Brew Radio on Wednesday


Yours truly, Brewmaster Jerry Beck, will appear on a live Internet radio chat Wednesday afternoon (4/25) at 4pm. I will be joined by animation historian-voice actor Keith Scott (pictured above) and pop-culture addict/host Stuart Shostack on Stu’s Show, which is broadcast on Shokus Internet Radio. Together Stu, Keith and I will discuss classic cartoons, animation dvds, cartoon voice acting, Jay Ward, Popeye, and anything you want (toll-free phone participation is encouraged).

Australian Keith Scott is, of course, the author of The Moose That Roared, the definitive history of the Jay Ward studio—and he’s a popular cartoon voice actor (Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle, etc.). Stu’s Show is only available via streaming audio during broadcast (and several subsequent reruns); it’s not archived for downloading later. So if you want to hear the two hour show live, you’ll have to tune in on Wednesday at 4pm Pacific Time (7pm Eastern). So mark you calendar now (but in case you forget, I’ll remind you again on Wednesday).

Jim Thurman (1935-2007)


We must sadly note the passing of Jim Thurman, an Emmy-award winning children’s television writer, who died April 14 at age 72.

I had the pleasure to meet Jim several times in New York about 12 years ago. He was a great big funny guy with a deep “radio announcer” voice. He was working for Children’s Television Workshop at the time, but I was more interested in asking him about his work as co-writer of every episode of Roger Ramjet. With Gene Moss he also wrote and provided voices for Ramjet and Shrimpenstein, a fondly remembered local children’s show in Los Angeles during the late 1960s.

Thurman and Moss originally teamed to form a boutique ad agency, Creative Advertising Stuff and they eventually wrote material for Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart. After Ramjet, Thurman wrote for Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 321 Contact. He also performed voices such as Sesame Street‘s “Teeny Little Super Guy.”

Lots of Lou

Lou Romano painting

Lou Romano (The Incredibles, Powerpuff Girls) recently had his own personal drawing jam where he made dozens of sketches and then painted them digitally. He writes on his blog, “These drawings were done one right after another without any plan in mind. Then they were scanned and painted digitally in the order in which they were drawn. The goal for me was to get ideas out of my head, on to paper and into color as fluidly and as quickly as possible.”

The results are all posted here.

Will Friedwald


Jerry Beck, Alan Greenfield, Will Friedwald, Mark Mayerson
probably inspecting the soundtrack of Bosko’s Picture Show
(circa 1978)

While I’ve dedicated my life to continued research and writing about animated cartoons, my erstwhile colleague Will Friedwald (co-author of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and Warner Bros. Animation Art) has made quite a name for himself as a noted jazz historian, critic and producer. Author of several outstanding books on the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, Will made news this week by proclaiming he has the world’s largest iTunes collection.

I have no idea if his claim is true, but back in the day no one was as fiercely determined to collect information and data on classic cartoons as Will (Note the images of Baby Huey and The Ghostly Trio on his t-shirt). Animation’s loss is jazz music’s gain. Check out his regular writings in The New York Sun.