CONTEST: Fleet Street Scandal

Fleet Street Scandal

For today’s contest, we’re giving away TWO signed copies of the book Fleet Street Scandal, a 48-page hardcover book collecting the digital artwork of Kevin Dart and Chris Turnham. It’s rare to find an artistic duo wherein both are equally talented, but Kevin and Chris each bring the goods to the table. In a blog post last year, I wondered why they weren’t working more regularly on animation entertainment projects. Well since then, Chris has done freelance work for Laika, and Kevin is currently doing an art internship at Pixar. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more animation contributions from them in the future, but until then, be sure to check out the dazzling collection of illustration work they’ve compiled in Fleet Street Scandal.

For this contest, provide the answer to the following question in the COMMENTS section of this post. Instead of our usual procedure of choosing the first two correct answers, we will instead randomly choose two winners from all your correct answers posted between now and 3:15pm. If you have won anything from the Brew recently, please do not enter again. Here’s the the question:

Kevin and Chris came up with the name Fleet Street Scandal while looking through the London edition of a Czech artist’s series of worldly childrens’ books. What is the artist’s name?

CONTEST IS OVER! WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON. THE CORRECT ANSWER WAS MIROSLAV SASEK. THANKS FOR PLAYING

R.I.P. Alexander Tatarski

I just got word that Alexander Tatarski, an internationally known and praised animator, has passed away. He died yesterday at age 57.

Tatarski (spelled various ways, aka Aleksandr Tatarskii) was an animation producer, director and screenwriter and was managing director of Pilot Animation Studios, the first privately owned animation studio in Russia (which he co-founded with Igor Kovalyov). The studio is the country’s biggest producer of animation as well as home to a world-renowned school for animators.

His claymation opening for the Russian show “Good Night, Kids” has been airing for more than twenty-five years. He also directed several episodes of Cartoon Network’s Mike Lu and Og.

Here’s one of his early colaborations with Kovalyov, The Investigation is Held by the Koloboks:

(Thanks, Alexey Morozov)

Simpsons Movie: 1st Review

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Okay, I admit it. I’m excited about seeing The Simpsons Movie. But why are they opening it on the same weekend as the San Diego Comic Con? Over 100,000 first day ticket sales will be busy at the Con buying comics or attending Mark Evanier’s panels. I predict The Simpsons Movie will have a helluva Monday night box office gross, when all the fans get home from San Diego.

In the meantime, I think this is the first official review of the film. It was posted today by the London Times – and it’s very positive.

The Ultimate Preston Blair Swipe

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We’ve posted other swipes from Preston Blair before (here, here, here and here) but this one is the mother of them all!

Steve Stanchfield and Mary Dixon spotted this arcade attraction at the Fowlerville Family Fair (in Fowlerville, Michigan) and it blew their minds:

We were greeted first by a great array of sideshow freaks, including a little guy named ‘Poobaa’ who the barker proclaimed as being the last living Muchkin from the Wizard of oz alive (he was 9 at the time). Poor Poobaa was made to swallow fire over and over to a bored looking crowd of locals.

Then, turning the corner, I see THIS. I’ve seen a lot of things before, but this is far, far beyond the normal Blair ripoff; it’s almost an outsider art homage! I took a bunch of pictures (forgive my not quite perfect alignment of the whole thing…). I have more if you want, but I think these tell the story pretty well. This is a walk though carnival attraction. I didn’t go inside, but I bet I would have seen Red in progression, the policeman and maybe even the hippos from Fantasia…

(Click on pictures above and below to see full sized images)
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Rare Color Film of 1941 Disney Strike

Disney Strike of 1941

I was organizing some dvds tonight and stumbled upon this rare color footage from the 1941 Disney strike. If I recall correctly, it’s from the collection of Tee Bosustow, who I’m currently collaborating with on a very cool project. His father, UPA co-founder Steve Bosustow, can be seen clapping his hands in the video at about 1:22. The footage also includes strike leaders like the recently departed David Hilberman (above photo, right) and Art Babbitt (above, left). The Fats Domino song isn’t part of the original footage obviously, just something I added to break the silence.

At Meltdown

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Went to Meltdown Comics tonight and found out that two weeks from now they will be having a three day exhibit and opening reception for Project Bart. This exhibition features customized versions of Bart Simpson by 20 contemporary pop artists (the exhibit will come to New York’s Toy Tokyo Showroom Gallery in September). The Meltdown reception is on Wednesday August 1st from 7pm to 11pm.

While I was there I noticed the new Casper comics reprint book, assembled by Leslie Cabarga and myself, is now on sale. Not only on sale, but it was displayed as the “Manager’s Pick”. It was supposed to make its world premiere debut at the San Diego Comic Con next week, but it doesn’t quite have an embargo… like Harry Potter. So pick it up now, and enjoy!

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Alan Light’s photos on Flickr

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The co-creator of Superman, Jerry Siegel (left), and Warner Bros. cartoon legend, Bob Clampett (at right), at the 1976 San Diego Comic Con. Photo by Alan Light.

Alan Light has posted a bunch of his comics fandom photos on Flickr. These include snapshots of Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Stan Lee, Chuck Jones and others. My, how times have changed. Here’s Light at his dealers table at the ’76 con… where are the crowds?

Light was a comics fan who created and published (out of his basement) two important fanzines in the 1970s, The Buyers Guide For Comics Fandom and Film Collectors World (both are still published today, as Comics Buyers Guide and Movie Collectors World, by other publishers). Light’s photos are quite nostalgic to anyone (like me) who remembers going to the conventions, or getting his publications, back in the day.

BG Inspiration

Disney backgrounds

Art director Hans Bacher (Mulan) has started up an incredible new blog called Animation Treasures. He’s painstakingly recreating pan backgrounds from classic animated films currently on dvd (mostly Disney ones) to offer a sense of what the original backgrounds looked like before the characters were composited on top. There’s lots of insightful notes to go along with each image. Truly a terrific educational resource that everybody should take advantage of. Thanks Hans!

The Knights of Laika

Knights of Laika

This article by Chuck Salter in the new issue of Fast Company is a fascinating indepth read about the transformation of Will Vinton Studios into Laika. The story includes the first joint-interview with Laika owner Phil Knight (who also founded Nike) and his son Travis “Chilly Tee” Knight, who is an animator, director and board member at Laika. The article is slanted very much towards their side of the story, but it doesn’t pull any punches and addresses the studio’s historical baggage in the form of ousted founder Will Vinton.

When I wrote briefly about Laika a couple months ago, I described my feelings about the studio as “cautiously optimistic” and that opinion still hasn’t changed. They’re clearly an outfit with a vision (albeit not quite fully developed) and they’re run by a creative entrepreneur with a proven track record (which is more than can be said for most execs working in feature animation). And most commendable, they’re attempting to stake their claim as being an original producer of animated features instead of positioning themselves as yet another Pixar/DreamWorks clone. Now it just remains to be seen if the Knights’ big gamble will pay off; it’s definitely a story worth following.

(Thanks, Joel Brinkerhoff, for letting me know about the article)

Jellyfist

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At the San Diego Comic Con, Slave Labor Graphics is premiering a new comic book called Jellyfist, wriiten by Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) and illustrated by J.R. Goldberg (Eric Goldberg’s daughter Jenny). I have no idea what it’s about, but the press release is hilarious. Both of them will be at the Con signing the book, all four days (Thursday through Sunday).

Who’s Attending Comic-Con?

San Diego Comic-ConIt’s so difficult to find folks down at the Comic-Con so here’s a thread where we can do a roll call of animation folk who’ll be attending this year. If you’re on a particular panel or just want to mention that you’ll be in attendance, let us know in this thread. Both Brewmasters Jerry and Amid will be down in San Diego. Say hello if you see us there. This comment thread is ONLY if you want to mention that you’ll be down there next week.

What’re You Selling At Comic-Con?

San Diego Comic-ConWe’re starting to receive a lot of announcements from animation folk about what they’re selling next week at San Diego Comic-Con International. In fact, the amount of emails is becoming a bit overwhelming so we’re creating this open thread where any animation artist can announce what they’re selling. Be sure to include your booth number, website, and any other relevant details. It’s a huge convention center and we want to find you. This thread is ONLY about what cool things are being sold on the convention floor by animation folk; to keep things organized, all other comments will be deleted from this thread.

Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend

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“Holy Sh-t!” I gotta have this book.

That was my reaction when I first saw it – and now I have it. I’d heard about the book, but had no idea about how all-encompassing this project was. To say that Ulrich Merkl’s The Complete Dream Of The Rarebit Fiend is exhaustive is an understatement.

I don’t know if you are familiar with Valley of the Cliffhangers, an insanely large, limited edition oversized book on Republic movie serials, but this Winsor McCay collection is its comic strip equivilent.

First off, it’s huge (12″ x 17″), heavy (it weighs almost ten pounds) and 464 pages. It costs $114.00 (U.S.$) and it’s worth every penny. It reprints, on fine glossy stock, all 369 Rarebit Fiend strips (annotated) from 1904-1913. But there is much, much more here. Combined with John Canemaker’s McCay bio (which the author highly recommends) one is left with a thoroughly complete picture of McCay’s life’s work.

This book contains numerous examples of McCay’s other work – sheet music, newspaper clippings (including a long review of his vaudeville act, and his obituary from the New York Times), and extensive illustrated section on recurring themes in McCay’s artwork, and examples of how McCay’s work influenced motion pictures like King Kong, Dumbo and Mary Poppins. An eye-opening section of comics precursors and imitators (comics and animated films) and several large quotes and articles written by McCay explaining his inspirations. There is so much more, including a DVD/CD-ROM version to enjoy on your computer.

It’s lavish, and has to be seen to be believed. This book is a must have for anyone interested in McCay, or comic strip and animation history. An important book, and a valuable companion to Canemaker’s essential McCay biography. I’ll sum up with three words of wisdom: Buy it now.

TONIGHT: Aural Disneyland Delights

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Got a few hours tonight? Tune into the online broadcast of Luxuria Music from 7-10pm PST where the guest on the “Kitsch Niche with Strike” will be animation artist and director Jordan Reichek (Ren & Stimpy, Invader Zim). Jordan also happens to be a primo collector of Disneylandia (trust me, I’ve seen the collection) and he’s sharing some of the aural parts of the collection on air tonight including rare recording session outtakes, Disneyland commercials, weird “sing-along” records made at the park and theme park cover songs. Rare photos of the park will also be displayed on the Luxuria webcam. It’s all for free at LuxuriaMusic.com.

(via Don Brockway’s Isn’t Life Terrible)

Frenopatic Parade by Santiago Agustí

Santiago Agustí

Here’s a very short but eye-catchingly ambitious piece of Flash animation: Frenopatic Parade by Santiago Agustí. Agustí tells me that until recently he was working at the Spanish animation studio Keytoon, but he’s taking time off to raise his new child and managed to complete this piece in his spare time. Check out more of his work at Saponia.com or his blog.

Jack Zander Interview

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Animation World Magazine has an interview with 99-year-old animation veteran Jack Zander whose career includes stints at studios like Romer Grey, Van Beuren, MGM and Terrytoons, as well as running his own commercial studios Pelican Films and Zander’s Animation Parlour. I saw Zander speak in LA about five years ago and his memory was impressively sharp. In fact, he seems quite sharp in this interview as well, though it would have been a more interesting chat if the interviewer had been more familiar with Zander’s history. As it is, it’s still worth a read.

Last year on the Cartoon Modern blog, I highlighted a couple advertising productions by Zander which have been lost to time. I thought I’d share a few more Zander artifacts. At the top of this post is a late-’50s magazine advertisement for his studio Pelican. Below is a 1962 Pelican-produced ad for Jax Beer designed by Chris Ishii and animated by Emery Hawkins. Click on the image to see a set of stills from the spot. And below that is another one of the Jax commercials. The comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May provided the tracks for the Jax spots.

Jax Beer commercial

Animation Around the World in NYC

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The Brooklyn Academy of Music is hosting a series of three screenings starting tonight and continuing through the end of July. “Animation Around the World” highlights shorts from the Ottawa and Clermont-Ferrand festivals as well as NY’s own Animation Block Party. More details can be found at the BAMcinématek website. Here are the screenings:

Best of Ottawa
Mon, July 16 at 6:50, 9:15pm
Due to popular demand, the Ottawa International Animation Festival has once again produced The Best of Ottawa, a special program highlighting some of the outstanding animated works screened each year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. This year’s program features an exciting array of award-winning animated work.

The World According to Shorts presents: Best of Clermont-Ferrand
Mon, July 23 at 6:50, 9:15pm
The World According to Shorts presents highlights from one of the world’s premier short film festivals, Clermont-Ferrand’s Festival du Court Métrage. Highlights include a Seussian anthropology of the “piranha bird” (Tale of How); a poetic rendering of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan; the utterly original Message for the Neighbors, in which a TV repairman is taken by an evangelical fervor; and a Brazilian take on Japanese anime (Yansan).

Animation Block Party
Mon, July 30 at 6:50, 9:15pm
From July 27-30 Animation Block Party will bounce around Brooklyn, exhibiting the world’s best animated shorts of all genres. The July 30th closing evening of ABP at BAM focuses on narrative independent, professional, and international works. Award winning filmmakers will be present for a pre-screening introduction. Last summer, over 1000 fans attended the Brooklyn-based film festival, which screened just under 60 animated films.

(Image at top is from The Runt by Andreas Hykade. The film is screening in both the Ottawa and Clermont-Ferrand programs.)

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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One of the many people I met at the Platform Festival in Portland two weeks ago (I’m just now getting around to unpacking my bags) was Suzanne Buchan of Britain’s Animation Research Centre, and editor of a new academic journal, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Hers is the second such publication to be regularly published. We already have a great one in Maureen Furniss’s Animation Journal which mainly draws from papers delivered at the Society of Animation Studies. For decades serious discussion of animation, its theories and critical writing have been generally ignored by academia. It’s wonderful that we finally have two such publications studying the subject.

As much as I love reading about animation, scholarly journals can be a tough haul for me and many others outside the academic world. However, it’s another point of view, beyond online forums and blogs, with which to analyze and explore the art form. Suzanne’s publication is currently offering the contents of a sample issue free online, with subjects ranging from the origins of anime, to examining Polar Express and the work of Yuri Norstein.

Animated Cartooning by Mail, 1939

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711435665_c33aa9a863_o.jpgBrew reader Billie Towser found this old magazine ad on Flickr. (Click on thumbnail at left for an enlarged version).

Long before Cal Arts, there was “The First School in America exclusively devoted to Animated Cartoon Instruction.” No, not in New York or Hollywood… but in Washington DC – the Washington Studios of Animation. I wonder which Disney artist is the instructor. And remember their motto, “If you can draw a circle, we can teach you animated cartooning!”