Jerry @ Platform

Platform Animation Festival

In two weeks, the Platform International Animation Festival will commence in Portland Oregon. Amid and I will both be there, and I urge you to attend as well. We’ve both been asked to host several panels and screenings, and we are happy to do it. I’ll even be a juror for the television animation competition.

The festival will have four venues with separate tracks of programming – all of it worthwhile. We will be posting several times in the next ten days about some the incredible events planned (or you can explore the programming grids now). First up, here are the two panels I’ll be moderating:

basilpic.jpgOn Friday, June 29 from 2:30pm to 4 pm at Winningstad Theatre, I’ll be hosting a tribute to cartoonist extraordinaire Basil Wolverton. I’ll be discussing his influence on cartooning and animation with panelists Marv Newland, Kenny Scharf and Basil’s son, Monte Wolverton. Rare film and video will be screened.

huckhead.jpgOn Saturday, June 30 from 4 pm to 5: 30pm at the Northwest Film Center: Whitsell Auditorium / Portland Art Museum, I will moderating a panel in tribute to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. We will taking a good look at some of the earliest of their TV cartoons and talking about what made them so much fun. Animator Ward Jenkins (Laika), exec Michael Ouweleen (Cartoon Network) and again, artist Kenny Scharf will join me to discuss their life and work.

For more info, visit PlatformFestival.com.

Brew Radio on Wednesday

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Brewmaster Jerry Beck will be broadcasting again, live on Shokus Internet Radio this Wednesday June 13th from 4pm to 6pm Pacific time (that’s 7pm to 9pm for you in the Eastern Time Zone).

Stu Shostak and I will be discussing cartoon history, animated TV shows, and the upcoming DVD releases of classic animation. If you have a specific question you want answered, call in during the broadcast toll free (888) 746-5875. If you miss the show, it’ll be rerun for the next seven days at the same time. Tune in!

Meet Andreas Deja

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Andreas Deja is not only one of the best of the current generation of Disney animators, he’s one of the most passionate voices on the subject of drawn character animation and an enthusiastic spokesperson on the history of the art.

Andreas will be speaking at the Van Eaton Galleries Thursday June 21st, a benefit lecture for Asifa Hollywood’s Animation Archive. If you haven’t heard Andreas speak, you are in for a real treat. If you’ve ever been to the Van Eaton Gallery space in Sherman Oaks, you know seating is extremely limited. To purchase tickets and for more information, call 818-788-2357 or visit vegalleries.com

Update at the Ken Harris website

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John Dyson, the grandson of master animator Ken Harris (1898-1982) started a website last year to post artwork, photographs and ephemera Harris had saved. Dyson wrote in to report a new find:

When my grandmother died a few years back, I recieved a big box of “old stuff” of Ken’s. In this box was a bunch of old animation. He didn’t really keep much of the production cels or drawings, but there was almost 150 drawings in a big envelope labled “Schlesinger days – keep”. They all seem to be from the animators around that time that were just drawn for fun around the studio. Many of these drawings also seem to be around inside jokes, so we really don’t understand many of them.

The newly found Schlesinger era material is posted here. Clearly some of them are drawn by Chuck Jones. If anyone can help us identify artists (or the cartoonists being caricatured) you can contact Dyson directly through the website. It’s well worth browsing the whole site. I particularly like this 1941 Seein’ Stars clipping referencing Harris (without credit).

Interviews with Neal Gabler, Tom Sito and Me

A few weeks ago, Mark Lynch of New England public radio station WICN ran two hours of interviews with animation authors on his radio show Inquiry: one hour with Neal Gabler for his book Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, half an hour with Tom Sito and his Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions From Bosko to Bart Simpson and half an hour for my Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation. The interviews can be listened to online through the end of of June. I have to admit, I was a bit tentative about doing such a long chat about the book, but the host Mark Lynch quickly put me at ease with his excellent interview style and solid understanding of the book’s material. Thanks to Mark for devoting such a big chunk of airtime to discussing cartoons.

June Foray hears a… “Who?”

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I was speaking to June Foray today and was surprised to find out she isn’t in the cast of the currently-in-production CG Horton Hears A Who.

Foray, of course, was cast in the original 1970 Chuck Jones TV special playing Cindy Lou Who and Jane Kangaroo. IMDB lists Carol Burnett as voicing the role of Jane Kangaroo in the current production. Gosh, I know it’s way too late to change anyone’s mind at Blue Sky or Fox, but couldn’t Foray – a living legend and the only surviving member of the original cast – at least play a bit part in the new film?

Gene Deitch’s office

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Last month, my pal Rusty Frank told me she was going to Prague to perform (she’s a tap dancer and expert on the history of tap) and she was wondering if I had any friends there. I told her to contact Gene Deitch and his lovely wife, Zdenka. She did so and apparently they are all “new best friends”. Rusty took a 35 second video on her cel phone – click here to see a quick tour of Gene’s home office.

I wish I could’ve been there with them, but this is the next best thing. I’m delighted that I was able to hook up two friends in such a faraway place.

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Here’s Gene and Rusty last week.

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And here’s a nice piece of art, by Ken O’Connor, on Gene’s wall.

Miguel Covarrubias Book

Miguel Covarrubias Book

It’s turning out to be quite a year for aficionados of 20th century illustration. First there’s the upcoming Charley Harper volume (I saw the book in person last week and it is more amazing than I could ever describe). Now, there’s word of a new book being released in the US this month focusing entirely on Mexican illustrator Miguel Covarrubias, who was an influence on Al Hirschfeld and countless other caricaturists. The book—Miguel Covarrubias: 4 Visions—is a 224-page hardcover with over 300 color and b&w illustrations. According to the publisher, it is a “treasure trove of illustrative material covering every aspect of his work, from New York and Harlem through Bali and the South Seas to pre-Hispanic and twentieth-century Mexico.” The book is a steal on Amazon for under $30. Get a taste of Covarrubias’s work here.

Janet Klein and Cartoons

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You read about it in Flip, and now you can see it in person. Thursday night, Jerry Beck and his 16mm projector are the opening act for Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood.

Janet and her boys play authentic 20s jazz music live, and I start the proceedings by providing about 45 minutes of vintage musical shorts and cartoons in glorious monophonic, non-digital 16mm movie projection. It’s a lot of fun – and if you’re in the area, I highly recommend you join the crowd. Janet and her band are pretty amazing! Here’s that fun clip again, of Janet teaching you how to play Tonight You Belong To Me on the Ukulele.

Thursday, June 7th, 8:00 pm
The Steve Allen Theatre
4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
(West of Vermont, across from Barnsdale Park)
$15 323-666-4268 for reservations
More info at JanetKlein.com

Commentary: (The lack of) Cartoon Promotion

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Leonard Maltin, aware of my interest in old-time animation publicity materials, sent along this image (above) from Benjamin Hampton’s 1931 book A History of the Motion Picture.

This picture got me thinking about how, back then, each individual cartoon short was treated as special as a live action feature. Stills, publicity art, posters, sometimes lobby cards and newspaper ads were created for individual cartoon shorts. And all that old promotional material seems fun to me, like the image above.

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We’ve come a long way since then.

Today, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel may mount an occasional bus poster or billboard for one of their new series (mainly in New York or L.A. to attract advertisers), but publicity for individual episodes is pretty rare. There are some exceptions to the rule: The Simpsons has always done it; Frederator creates original postcards for each of its shorts. But those are special cases. I guess my point is, promotion of animated TV series, not to mention individual episodes, is practically non existant these days.

It’s just one of the differences between the business then and the business now. And it’s one of the reasons why I prefer the business then.

Hidden Message?

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Jake Friedman sent this one in. Above is a still from Chuck Jones Now Hear This (1963). Below is a Morse Code decoder. Jake says:

I spent a few minutes trying to decode one with the other, hoping it spelled “Eddie Selzer eats sh-t” or something like that. Maybe Brew readers will see something in it…?

Any ideas? A prize to the reader with the cleverest “translation”. (Winner will be at the sole discretion of the Brewmasters. No deadlines, we’ll pick a winner sometime next week).

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Coke Video

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Here is some nice eye candy. This music video by Faithless, which I believe premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last week, for a Coca Cola marketing operation (Coke’s M5 project), is dazzling. French designers Sara Prince, Pierre Marie, the animator Emmanuel Linderer conceived it. Paranoid NOW, a group of designers, animators, directors and graphic artists, led by Sophie Gateau and François Vogel, produced it.

Check out the video here and great behind-the-scenes info here.

Wanna Buy A Jay Ward Blanket?

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If you think the animation business is tough, try selling blankets.

Michael Marrer of Brackney Hills Knitting obtained a licensing agreement with Classic Media for Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends and Dudley Do-Right knitted products. He knew this would be a niche market, but he’s been surprised to see just how difficult it would be to sell them. He wrote me me for some advice:

We are very frustrated in finding ways to get the word out. To date we have not had any inquiries about them. So … how to reach the Rocky & Bullwinkle fans out there? We are working on some
sweaters to be released this fall, plus we have a Wossamotta U design coming for blankets too. More character designs will come out once we see some sort of action in the marketplace.

Not to be a shill, but these look pretty cool to me. I’ll probably pick up a Peabody and Sherman wrap for those cold winter nights. But I have no idea how one sells blankets.

However, I recommend to anyone with products like this to try advertising right here on Cartoon Brew. Everyone interested in obtaining blankets like these is probably reading this blog.

Casper’s Scare School

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I like Casper. But I hate those direct-to-video CG Casper movies.

However, I just became aware of this new Casper movie which played on the Cartoon Network last year. I checked the website, the stills, and the music video. It looks kinda cute. I’m liking the design of the supporting characters. I think maybe I’ll give this one a shot.

Hey, it’s for kids – and we’ve seen worse. And I’m not saying this because I have my own Casper book coming out.