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.
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.
“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):
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢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).
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢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)!
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢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.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 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.
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:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When I finish a film we do live shows with bands and sell DVD-RÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬“Califone, Sin Ropas, Garland of Hours and Brendan Canty from Fugazi.Ã¢â‚¬?
The New York Times called his films Ã¢â‚¬Å“some of the most original animations we have seen in yearsÃ¢â‚¬?. 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.
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.
Whatever your feelings are towards the controversial Creation Museum in Petersberg Kentucky, I think we can agree this is a pretty nice TV spot:
Click here to see close-ups of (and get ordering information for) these cool vinyl figures of Underdog, Polly, Riff Raff, and Simon Bar Sinister. Like a breath of fresh air – these characters look great in three dimensions!
The dvd single of Don Hertzfeldt’s latest (and in my opinion, strongest and most intensely cinematic) short Everything Will Be OK goes on pre-order sale today at noon (Pacific time). According to his Bitter Films website, “all pre-orders will receive a free ‘everything will be ok’ FILM STRIP, clipped from a 35mm print from Don Hertzfeldt’s collection.” Additionally, a limited number of signed art prints are also available this morning for people who pre-order the dvd.
I’ll admit that when I first discovered Don’s films (around ’98 or so), I wasn’t exactly his biggest fan. His early films like Ah L’Amour and Billy’s Balloon, though amusing, were too trivial to capture my interest. It wasn’t until Rejected that I really began to warm up to his work and get past the stick figure hurdle.
Early on the difficulty I was having with his work is that it seemed like the stick-people might be the entire gimmick, that it wasn’t really about his stories, but the fact that stick figures were telling these stories. The exquisitely crafted Lily and Jim should have convinced me otherwise, but I’m slow sometimes. (Sidenote: Lily and Jim is all the more impressive when one realizes Don was only 20 years old when he made it). His new films, however, have completely erased any doubts about his capabilities as a filmmaker. While Don uses simple figures in his animation, he manages to evoke more with these frugal pencil marks than most animators do with their fully-articulated anatomy-laden characters. The real meat in Hertzfeldt’s work is his ability to use the film medium to tell engaging, funny and interesting stories, and while his drawing style is one of the more striking and obvious aspects of his work, it is only a minor component in the overall picture of his films.
Don recently told an interviewer, “I’m not the kind of guy who’s gonna struggle for weeks getting someone’s ankle to look just right, you know? Actually I don’t even draw ankles. I animate to tell these stories…” While true, the comment belies the careful attention that Hertzfeldt invests into the visual side of his shorts. His characters are often crudely drawn, but the cinematic and visual potential of the animation medium is never ignored. The humor in Rejected is equally divided between the visual and verbal, The Meaning of Life is a largely visual narrative, with the dialogue in the film used more to add mood than anything else, and the in-camera optical effects and live photography in Everything Will Be OK create an unexpectedly rich and textured visual experience.
With the graphic evolution and non-linear narrative experimentations of his previous three films Ã¢â‚¬” Rejected, The Meaning of Life and Everything Will Be OK Ã¢â‚¬” Don has clearly established himself as an animation original. If you’re familiar with Hertzfeldt’s work, you’re sure to enjoy his latest Everything Will Be OK, and if you’re not, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the exhaustively complete Bitter Films Volume 1 dvd which contains all of his earlier shorts through The Meaning of Life. It’s a fine introduction to the work of a still-evolving filmmaker who easily ranks among the most exciting indie animators currently on the American scene.
For all things Hertzfeldt, visit BitterFilms.com
With SIGGRAPH 2007 now wrapped up, I thought it might be appropriate to link to the video below about a CG animated short that debuted nearly twenty years ago at SIGGRAPH 88. The film, Pencil Test (watch it here), was created in-house at Apple Computer to display the capabilities of the Apple Macintosh II. The film below is the ‘making of’ that explains how they did it. Interestingly enough, Andrew Stanton (director of Finding Nemo and the upcoming Wall-E) receives a credit on the finished film as illustrator and storyteller, and John Lasseter has a credit as “coach.” And one more cool note: the applications engineer who appears in the short, Nancy Tague, is now Mrs. Nancy Lasseter.
UPDATE: A Brew reader who prefers to remain anonymous writes, “The woman building the character is Galyn Susman, producer of Ratatouille. She’s really awesome, and has been at Pixar since before Toy Story.”
(Thanks, John Karel)
Emshwiller Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz is a new joint-biography of artists Ed and Carol Emshwiller. Carol was a fiction writer, but of interest to animation folk is the life of Ed Emshwiller, a multi-faceted artist who established himself as one of the most well-known sci-fi magazine cover illustrators during the 1950s and early-60s. From there, he turned his attention towards experimental filmmaking, and eventually began to experiment with CGI. One of his pioneering CG experiments, Sunstone (1979), can be viewed online here. In 1979, he became the dean of CalArts’s School of Film/Video and served in that post through his death in 1990. In 1983, he founded the school’s Computer Animation Lab. For more details, see this book review by Fred Patten.
(Thanks, Billy Bond)
First, let me again apologize for foisting my face on the blog, but it’s an image from my latest starring role. The big news is that starting today, anyone – even you – can be in a JibJab video!
Starring You allows you to upload your own heads, cut them out, and star in a JibJab! They’ve made five template movies to begin with and this sample (starring me and Walt) gives you an idea of the possibilities. If you want to try out the tools and see the other movies just go to JibJab.com
Anyone can make a movie, but you have to register with JibJab to publish. You can then email your film or the links, post them on your blogs, MySpace pages, Facebook accounts… anywhere! And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s completely free. Check it out.