Brew Radio Today!

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Brewmaster Jerry Beck will be broadcasting again, live on Shokus Internet Radio today, Wednesday August 22nd 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 the Popeye DVD, Terrytoons, Harveytoons and 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!

Olive Oyl sells sauce

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A live action-animation TV commercial starring Olive Oyl has caught my eye. It’s currently airing as part of an advertising campaign for Prego Italian sauces. Renegade Animation provided the animation and our friend Darrell Van Citters directed the spot. Says Darrell:

Renegade has had a lot of experience in recreating classic cartoon characters for commercials (Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, SpongeBob SquarePants, and many others) and it’s a job we take very seriously. Our animators are cartoon fanatics and treat these characters with reverential care. For the Prego spot, we modeled our Olive Oyl after the character in the Fleischer cartoons.”

Olive’s ad is one in a series of five different ads for Prego in which a “flavorful” character wonders aloud about what spice to add to their simmering pot of sauce (other spots feature “Baby Spice” and Olympic Silver Medalist Lea Ann Parsley). Scott O’Brien animated Olive Oyl and actress Diane Michelle provided her voice. Keep your pop-eye open for it.

CARTOON DUMP – LIVE!

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Starting next Tuesday, Frank Conniff and I will presenting our live comedy show, Cartoon Dump, once a month at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Every month we will showcase different selection of “Worst Cartoons Ever,” present new characters and welcome guest performers. In our August 28th show we’ll debut a new cast member—a dumpster diving puppet created (and performed) by Joel Hodgson (creator, MST3K), and present a special appearence by comedian Dana Gould (writer/exec producer of The Simpsons).

Also joining our cast this month is Eddie Pepitone as Morty, the New Age Agent, who’ll join regulars Erica Doering (Compost Brite) and Frank Conniff (as Moodsy Owl) and… err… me. If this all sounds crazy — it is!

We sold out last month, so we recommend reserving your seat early. If you can’t make it this month, we’ll be back September 25th, October 23rd and Nov. 27th (the fourth Thursday of every month, except December). You can also catch our podcasts on CartoonBrewFilms.com (new weekly episodes will resume next week). Join us at 8pm next week!

More Alice

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There is something fascinating about watching the early silent films from Walt Disney’s studio. Knowing where Walt was headed and what he would later accomplish certainly adds to the experience – especially in the Alice Comedies where he was able to work a little of the “magic” in the combined live action and animation sequences. I was fortunate to be a consultant on the forthcoming Disney Treasures Oswald The Rabbit DVD (more about that when we get closer to the December release date) and I just spent the weekend dipping into Ray Pointer’s revised Alice In Cartoonland compilation.

I’ve previously mentioned that Inkwell Images had a reworked edition of their Alice DVD back in May. Now that I’ve reviewed it, I’m compelled to give it one last plug. This is a superior compilation of ten vintage cartoons. There’s excellent documentary material between each film, and all the cartoons are mastered from the best sources available. One of the new additions to this revised package, Alice Gets Stage Struck (1925), was taken directly from a Library of Congress 35mm transfer (the other newly discovered film Alice Wins The Derby looks great too) and it should be noted, all of the films contained in this revised edition are uncut and do not have DVNR. There are extra features that include a theatrical poster gallery with a printout feature, and bonus cartoons. Order direct from Inkwell Images.

More about the Death of Paul Boyd

Paul BoydThe CBC has a followup article about the tragic police shooting of Vancouver animator Paul Boyd, mentioned here yesterday. The article includes a statement from Boyd’s family which explains his mental illness. The statement from Boyd’s family can be read in its entirety in this downloadable PDF file.

Some nice memories of Paul Boyd can be found in the earlier Brew post about his passing.

LP writes:

So very sad…I had the pleasure to work with Paul for about 3 years. He was a big sweetheart and always kind to me. One of those great guys that you always remember fondly regardless of your interactions. Illness or not, it breaks my heart to know how awful his last moments were and I grieve for the loss and hope his family can heal in time. The animation industry and the world in general lost a good guy.

Dany says:

paul did do the opening of ed and ed and eddy. the trio pass a video camera back and forth between them in the bit. this was done the old fashioned way – he had to plan all the camera moves himself, measure them out, dope it … his capacity for presice, almost mathematical animation was mind boggling.

i was his assistant a few times. his command of cycles and levels and how everything worked together – amazing. he did some funny bits of animation ill never forget too – like a part in werner 2 where a gas cylinder turns into a missle and wangs around the screen …he was very talented and very friendly. i know he had a capacity for rage – eight bullets to put him down, what does that tell you ? but i never saw it.

ill remember him fondly and not as a guy swinging a chain, getting shot by a cop with less than five years experience on the job. his last moments must have been pure anguish but he would have gone to jail and that would have been painful for him, also.

ill miss my friend paul boyd.

Karnival by Jun seo Hahm

Karnival by Jun seo Hahm

Karnival is a series of super-short animated pieces created by Jun seo Hahm at Portland commercial studio Bent Image Lab. The first two episodes are up at Karnival.tv with additional episodes debuting every two weeks. The films defy easy categorization though I thought the first couple pieces were amusing and original bits of animation. The characters have a strong 3D aesthetic but the films are actually “hand-drawn digital vectorized 2D animation,” according to the filmmaker.

Michael Bierut on Charley Harper

Charley Harper

Todd Oldham’s new monograph on Charley Harper (1922-2007), mentioned here last February, is a winner in every sense of the word. From the lavish packaging, beautiful print quality and exquisite collection of artwork, the book is everything a Charley Harper fan could want. Michael Bierut at Design Observer has some incisive thoughts about Harper in this piece entitled “Flat, Simple and Funny: The World of Charley Harper. About the new book, Bierut makes this observation: “…it’s beautifully produced, a clear labor of love for designer-author Oldham. But as a tribute, it struck me as somewhat ill-fitting, just too over-the-top and lavish for a humble, softspoken designer who claimed to be unable to draw a straight line without a ruler or a circle without a compass.”

Bierut’s piece also links to this MP3 audio interview between Todd Oldham and the self-effacing Harper which makes for good listening. Folks in Ohio should note that an exhibiton of Harper’s work opened this past weekend at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The museum currently has an exhibit of Saul Steinberg’s work as well. How often is it that two mid-century illustration greats are given retrospectives at the same museum? Definitely a treat worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood.

Monday Morning Maurice

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Not sure why I’ve never linked to this before but here is an illuminating 1991 interview with legendary animation background designer Maurice Noble (What’s Opera, Doc?,Duck Amuck, The Dot and the Line). The interview was conducted by Harry McCracken and originally appeared in a print issue of Animato.

For some visual examples of Noble’s work, check out this blog post by illustrator Glen Mullaly in which he shares some composite screengrabs from the 1954 John Sutherland industrial It’s Everybody’s Business. The image at the top of this post is from that film, which can be downloaded for free at Archive.org.

And one final interesting Maurice note: in February 2008, the University Press of Mississippi will publish the first in-depth study of Noble’s work. The book, Stepping into the Picture: Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble, by Robert McKinnon, is currently available for pre-order on Amazon in hardcover or softcover. I don’t know much about the book though I believe that McKinnon was working on this with Noble while he was still alive so hopefully the book will have plenty of fresh details about Noble’s life and work.

Dick Huemer, Disney Legend

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This just in from Richard P. Huemer:

Letter from Bob Iger at Walt Disney Co., rec’d today: “…I am pleased to inform you that Dick Huemer has been chosen as a recipient of The Disney Legend Award. …On Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 4 pm, we invite you and your family to participate in the Awards Ceremony here at the Studio. A special dinner will be held… Dick will be honored as part of a distinguished group comprised of Roone Arledge (ABC TV Sports pioneer), Art Babbitt, Carl Bongirno (Imagineer), Marge Champion, Michael Eisner, [etc.]”

WAHOO!

UPDATE: Mark Evanier writes: “I believe the “etc.” includes Floyd Norman.”

And our sincere congratulations to the Huemer family, Marge Champion, Floyd Norman and… Art Babbitt! Cool.

Disney Animation Backgrounds

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Last month we posted about Hans Bacher’s excellent blog Animation Treasures, in which Bacher does an amazing job re-creating classic cartoon pan backgrounds based on frame grabs.

Now comes Rob Richards with animationbackgrounds.blogspot where, likewise, Rob constructs long lost BG’s, mainly Disney’s, putting a spotlight on the artists who “set the stage” for our favorite cartoon performers. Above, a Thelma Witmer painting from Lucky Number (1951). Below, a frame from Mary Poppins.

And if you are in the L.A. area, don’t miss Rob on the Mighty Wurlitzer, in his day job at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Rob says The Jungle Book will be back on the big screen there, Sept. 7th through 23rd.

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Thursday Morning Inspiration: Bretislav Pojar

Bretislav Pojar

This cartoon series is a surprising and joyful discovery for me. From what I’ve read online though, it seems to be a well known classic among Czech viewers. Between 1965 and 1967, Czechoslovakian animator Bretislav Pojar made a series of six shorts called Hey Mister, Let’s Play. The mostly stop-motion cartoons star two bears—one smart, the other not so much. Pojar made five more episodes featuring the same bears in the early-1970s, this time calling it Who Threw That, Gentlemen?.

Below is the first short, Potkali se u Kolina (How They Met At Kolin), that introduces the characters. The cartoon is over forty years old yet it looks as fresh and vital as any cartoon being produced today. How did they ever manage to create something with so much charm and appeal? It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, and director Pojar and designer Miroslav Stepanek make it all look so effortless. The animation of the characters is particularly fun to watch with stylized movement and graphic inventiveness abound.

For those who want to see more and can understand the following website, two dvds of these shorts can be purchased here.

Floyd Norman on Disney Mavericks

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Be sure and check out this terrific article by animation veteran Floyd Norman about how Walt Disney offered creative latitude in his studio to artists with non-Disney styles like Ward Kimball, Tom Oreb and Walt Peregoy. Norman writes, “As much as he wanted things his way, Walt Disney recognized he needed people on his staff that would challenge, disagree and go against him in his own animation department. This is the stuff that breeds and nourishes creativity and keeps the medium alive and vital.” His closing thought is aimed at today’s Disney studio but is advice that all studios would do well to heed:

Today, I see the Disney Company making some of the same mistakes that were made in the 1970s. Back then, there were artists with strange drawing styles. Some had odd and quirky ideas. There were those who wanted to break new ground with technology. However, these guys just weren’t Disney. They simply didn’t fit. The talented individuals who failed to conform to the company line were allowed to walk out the door – - only to be brought back years later at considerable cost.

Walt Disney Feature Animation has had a name change, and along with that I think they could use a new attitude. This studio could use a roomful of mavericks and “crazy men” to challenge the status quo. All too often the people the studio gets rid of are the very people they should embrace. The artists who refuse to “play by the rules” and make the movies that are acceptable to the establishment.

Comic Cover Browser

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Philipp Lenssen’s ambitious comics website Cover Browser attempts to compile the covers to every popular comic book ever published. He has a long way to go, but I’m happy to report he’s just expanded his entries to include several of my favorite comedy and animation titles including Dell’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, DC’s Sugar and Spike, Funny Stuff and Real Screen Comics and Creston’s Giggle and Ha-Ha Comics. Lots of good inspiration here and well worth a browse.

1955 Terrytoons article for kids

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Animator Mark Kausler (who has a great new blog, by the way) recently unearthed this 1955 article on Terrytoons, written for children, from Junior Scholastic magazine. This was written shortly before the studio was sold to CBS and Paul Terry himself retired. The piece explains the basics of how animated cartoons were produced in ’55, with a great photo we hadn’t seen before of director Connie Rasinski and storyman/voice of Mighty Mouse Tom Morrison. Mr. Terry also has a great quote at the end:

“My advice to a young artist is this: Always carry a pencil and pad with you. Draw anything and everything you see that may give someone a laugh. That’s what a good animator does. He makes people laugh,”

Click on thumbnails below to see full size scans.

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Jerry Beck in Person!

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“Here we come, walking down the street, get the funniest looks from, everyone we meet…”

Hey, Hey.. I may be comin’ to your town in the next few weeks. Here’s a list of public appearances I’ll be making soon, just so you can mark your calenders (and spread the word):

•Wednesday August 22nd Radio appearance: on Internet radio, Stu’s Show – two hours of classic cartoon talk and your phone calls. 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific (And don’t miss Stu’s broadcast all this week in the same time slot, with animation writer Earl Kress and Yakky Doodle voice actor Jimmy Weldon).

•Tuesday August 28th Cartoon Dump – I’ll be hosting another live performance of our popular podcast at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Surprise guests are planned (to be announced as we get closer)!

•Monday September 17th Worst Cartoons Ever! – a special screening for ASIFA-East at NYU (room to be announced). I hope all my New York friends will drop by. I’ll be en route to the Ottawa Animation Festival later that week.

• Thursday November 8th Worst Cartoons Ever! – a special screening at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio. Meet me at this rare visit to Columbus.

I’ll post more information about these events as we get closer to each date. I always love meeting our readers and I hope to see you there.

This Wed In LA: The Animated Films of Brent Green

Almost didn’t hear about this event it’s so under the radar. Indie animator Brent Green is doing a screening in LA of his works which combine filmed animation with live music performance. The event is at 9pm, this Wednesday, August 15, at the Silent Movie Theatre (611 N. Fairfax, LA, CA 90036). Tickets are $10 and available at the door or can be purchased online. Find out more about Brent at NervousFilms.com. Here’s a description of the program:

Brent Green is a self-taught, completely original animator from rural Pennyslvania, who plays music along with his short films, while narrating them live in freeform, semi-improvised sounding streams of words. He has a homegrown, handmade aesthetic, and an exhibition style deeply influenced by music performance:

“When I finish a film we do live shows with bands and sell DVD-R’s with hand-painted artwork,” Green says. “The bands improv the soundtracks and I yell the narration like a preacher. I get to work with artists I love –Califone, Sin Ropas, Garland of Hours and Brendan Canty from Fugazi.â€?

The New York Times called his films “some of the most original animations we have seen in years�. His work has played at Sundance, The Getty Museum, The Hammer, The Warhol Museum, and this is a rare chance to see him in an intimate, small theatre.

Below is Green’s intense and lovely stop-motion short Carlin shot with life-sized wooden characters and stuffed chickens in the farmhouse where he grew up.

The Vinyl Side of Hanna Barbera

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Today’s must read: From Wall of Sound to Huckleberry Hound: The Vinyl Side of Hanna-Barbera by Kliph Nesteroff on the always informative and entertaining (i.e. info-taining?) WFMU’S Beware of the Blog.

In addition to a bounty of obscure audio downloads by the likes of Cindy Bear, Hokey Wolf and Snuffles, rare cover records and unusual tracks by Paul Frees and Daws Butler, Nesteroff’s post tells of (and links to) other offbeat product released by Hanna Barbera Records – obscure garage bands, psychedelic rock groups, folk singers and B-movie soundtracks – during the company’s short-lived existence (1965-1967). It casts the later work of The Banana Splits and Catanooga Cats in a whole new light.