The Pixar Story Hollywood Screening

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We’ve plugged Leslie Iwerks’ new Pixar documentary on the Brew many times before. It’s a must see. I want to alert the Los Angeles area animation community to a special screening coming up on Tuesday December 11th at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

The Pixar Story will screen at 7:30pm, with a Q&A following with Director/Producer Leslie Iwerks and special guest, Roy E. Disney. For ticket and addtional information visit The Egyptian Theatre website. For more info on The Pixar Story and national playdates, Click here.

Reminder: Hanna Barbera Book Signing

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Join me this Saturday, December 1st at 1pm, at the Van Eaton Gallery where I’ll be signing my new book The Hanna Barbera Treasury. The book turned out rather well – but don’t take my word for it, read Sherm Cohen’s rave review and Leonard Maltin’s endorsement.

Please don’t be shy. We’ll be serving Cocoa Pebbles! I’ll be hanging out eager to talk Yogi, Huck, Quick Draw and Boo-Boo. I’ll even sign my other books (if you bring them). For more information: Van Eaton Gallery website.

New Line’s First Animated Film?

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UPI is reporting that for “the first time in its 40-year history, New Line will release an animated feature”.

That’s not quite true. New Line Cinema has previously released the animated features Hooray For Betty Boop (aka Betty Boop For President) in 1976, Nelvana’s Babar The Movie in 1989, and Richard Rich’s The Swan Princess in 1994. That’s one per decade. Perhaps they meant to say it’s the first animated film New Line will release in the 21st Century. Or maybe they mean it’s the first CG film the studio’s ever distributed.

However they meant it, it’s a slap in the face to the previous hand drawn cartoon films (admittedly a forgettable lot) that the studio had a hand in. The new film is Planet 51, written by Joe Stillman (Shrek), produced by Ilion Animation Studios in Spain and directed by Jorge Blanco and the team behind the video game Commando. It’ll be released in 2009.

“Lollipop” by Bonzom

Lollipop by Bonzom

The music video “Lollipop” for musician Mika is a joyful if somewhat overproduced Seventies graphic pastiche. It is the promising debut work of the young French director’s collective Bonzom. Bonzom is comprised of five animators—Jack, Kalkair, Pozla, Waterlili and Moke—who are grads of various French animation schools like Les Gobelins, La Poudriere and L’ESAAT. They are repped by Passion Pictures Paris.

(via Feed)

New York Anime Festival

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Isn’t it ironic that the big New York Anime Festival, occurring next weekend at the Javitz Center, begins on Pearl Harbor Day (12/7)?

It’s a huge show, but the highlight for old fogeys like me is the appearence of the original U.S. dub voices for Speed Racer, Trixie, Spritle and Chim Chim – Peter Fernandez and Corrine Orr. This is the inaugural festival and it’s shaping up to be the biggest anime event in North America. For more information, go to the festival website.

(Thanks, Derek Tague)

Your Charm article about Disney

Below is an early-1940s article from a magazine called Your Charm, a young woman’s magazine alone the lines of Mademoiselle. Forgive the quality of the quick-and-dirty digital photo and the fact that the piece is incomplete. But I couldn’t resist documenting this sentence in the article: “By this same token you probably find more crabbing there than in any other business in town. It runs the gamut of from why is Fred the gardener planting all that alfalfa to what does Walt want to make that story for!” I guess some things in animation never change. This caption on the second page is also a classic: “Frequent sketching trips to the nearby zoos and the surrounding countryside are conducive to romance for young Disney artists.”

Your Charm articleclick for large view

Enchanted weekend

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Disney’s Enchanted is a blockbuster hit. The critics are raving and there is Oscar buzz swirling for its star, Amy Adams.

In addition to the film’s obvious tributes to Disney past, the film is loaded with hidden references that only the truly geeky – and readers of Cartoon Brew – would get. A whole list of the them (four pages) was post by Kansas City.com.

The film sends up Disney cliches, but does so with respect and class. What’s more, it’s reminding audiences of what Disney-style hand drawn animation looks like in movie theatre. I can only wonder, might the film’s accomplishments – along with success of The Simpsons Movie and the upcoming Persepolis – lead to an actual theatrical resurgence of traditional cartoon animation?

Matinee At The Bijou blog

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My old pal Ron Hall has started writing a blog in conjunction with a revival of Matinee at the Bijou.

Apparently new episodes of this classic movie showcase, which was one of the most popular programs on PBS in the 1980s, are back in production – with a new celebrity host, Debbie Reynolds. Ron Hall, who runs Festival Films and was the publisher of the pioneering animation fanzine Mindrot, is actively involved with providing classic movie material for the show. On his new blog, he’s posting about the classic shorts and cartoons – his latest post promotes an upcoming Bijou program which features a bunch of vintage Paramount Screen Songs. I’m not sure what the status of the show is, but they’ve been feeding their content to You Tube, and set up a fun informative website worth checking out.

Looney Tunes exhibit in Redding, CA

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Our friend Steve Schneider has brought his traveling exhibit of original Warner Bros. cartoon production art to Redding California. What’s Up Doc? The Art Of Warner Bros. Cartoons is currently on display through January 6th at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, in the Turtle Bay Museum. Those of you spending the holidays in northern California should certainly check it out. It’s open everyday except Tuesday.

Mickey Mouse bedroom mural

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You remember our June 2006 post about animator Joe Busam’s painting his child’s nursery in the style of a 1930s cartoon.

Now Brew reader Joey Ellis, inspired by Busam’s mural, has decided to do one of his own. He chose Mickey’s Mechanical Man (1933) as his inspiration. Click here to see photos of the room work in progress (or a flickr slide show). Perhaps this will inspire others… Porky in Wackyland, anyone?

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LA: Takashi Murakami at MOCA

Takashi Murakami

For decades, the animation art form has been shunned by the mainstream art establishment, but it seems as if we are slowly witnessing a shift in sentiment towards the treatment of animation as art. The evidence can be found in the increasing number of animation-related exhibits at major galleries and institutions. Just in the past few weeks, I’ve linked to the online exhibit “Animated” put on by the Australian National Portrait Gallery and the “Animated Painting” show at the San Diego Museum of Art.

Now folks in Los Angeles also have the opportunity to see a cartoon-related show that opened a few weeks ago at the MOCA Geffen in downtown LA. Titled “© MURAKAMI”, it is a retrospective of the work of Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami, whose paintings, sculptures and installations all use a strong cartoon idiom. The exhibition also includes a preview of Murakami’s first major animated work, a highly stylized CG film called kaikai and kiki. If you can’t make it to the show, there’s a 330-page exhibition catalogue which can be purchased on Amazon. The MOCA website also has an artist-guided video tour of the show, as well as other video clips including a trailer for his animated film.

(Thanks, Chansoo Kim)

Cartoon Dump Returns!

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Lest you think we’ve forgotten about Cartoon Dump, our monthly live comedy/cartoon show at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood, we haven’t.

In fact, we’ve got an amazing show lined up this month – it’s our “Thanksgiving Holiday Spectacular” and the cartoons won’t be the only turkey’s on the program. Frank Conniff, Erica Doering, Joel Hodgson and I will be joined by guest comedian Patton Oswalt (voice of Remy in Ratatouille). And Pow Wow The Indian Boy will make an appearance. 8pm, Tuesday November 27th. For reservations click here.

Inside UPA Now Shipping!

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Satisfied customer Daniel Stone was awesome enough to post this photo of himself and the book on his blog

Good news just in time for your animation-related holiday shopping needs! I have received word from Tee Bosustow that the last of the pre-orders for Inside UPA are currently being mailed out and the the book is now available for immediate shipping.

If you see me unabashedly promoting this book over the coming weeks, that is because I’m quite pleased with how it turned out and more than delighted to be able to call it the first Cartoon Brew book. Not only is it a one-of-a-kind piece of animation history, but all the proceeds go towards documenting more animation history: namely the completion of Tee Bosustow’s film documentary about the legendary UPA animation outfit.

To read more about the book, I direct you to this review on Drawn! by Ward Jenkins. Quotes from animation luminaries like John Canemaker and Lou Romano are also being posted on UPApix.com.

The book is available in a limited edition of 1000 hand-numbered copies, and of those, 50 come with a bookplate signed by the following UPA veterans: Millard Kaufman, Fred Crippen, Willis Pyle, Bob Dranko, Bob McIntosh, Erv Kaplan, Gene Deitch, Sam Clayberger, Dolores Cannata, Howard Beckerman, Joe Siracusa, David Weidman, Joe Messerli, Edna Jacobs, and Alan Zaslove. Only 17 signed copies remain! If you’re curious about what the signed card looks like, check out the pic posted on Daniel Stone’s blog. And if you’re wondering about whether the signed copy is worth it, just listen to what Mr. Stone has to say: “Even though my stomach is empty and I’m all out of coal for the furnace, it was worth it. Worse comes to worst… I can eat the book!”

I did a post a few weeks ago with photos of some of the artists signing the bookplate. Below is a new set of photos. The artists are, top to bottom: Gene Deitch, Dolores Cannata, David and Dorothy Weidman, Howard Beckerman, Edna Jacobs, Joe Siracusa, Fred Crippen, Joe Messerli.

Order your copy today at UPApix.com!

UPA Artists

UPA Artists

Films by Fred Mogubgub

It’s debatable whether the films below qualify as “animation” but the filmmaker behind them, Fred Mogubgub, was an important part of New York’s indie animation scene in the 1960s and 1970s, and a founder of the commercial studio Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz. Whatever you want to call them, they are excellent examples of pop art filmmaking. The videos were posted onto YouTube courtesy of the NY studio Asterisk Animation.

The Pop Show: A Pop Art extravaganza by Fred Mogubgub from the late-1960s, innovative in the use of the quick cut, this film is a parade of pop icons of its time. Features a pre-Playboy, pre-N. O. W. Gloria Steinem.

Enter Hamlet: A film set to Maurice Evans’ recording of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

The Great Society: A parade of popular consumer items cut to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

“Beowulf” Blitzer

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Two animated films led the U.S. Box office this weekend: Beowulf came in first place, and Bee Movie is holding strong in second postition.

I reluctantly concede that Beowulf is to be forever classified as an animated feature. In my book and my online listing I’ve counted prior rotoscoped films like Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, American Pop and Fire & Ice, or Linklaters’ Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly as the animated films they rightfully are; I even include partials like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle, so I guess I have to yield a place for Robert Zemeckis’ latest foray into what he calls “performance capture”.

I bit the bullet and paid to see Beowulf (in 3D) over the weekend so I could join the discussion and speak from authority. I won’t formally review the film, but if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t bother. It’s just as ugly as the trailers make it out to be. Mark Mayerson nails all the problems with the movie on his blog. But what disturbs me, even more than Zemeckis’ misguided embrace of the motion capture technology, is the press and Hollywood pundits who are eating up the b.s. publicity surrounding the “performance capture” technique, making this picture out to be the next revolution in movie making.

The kool-aid drinking Steve Mason at industry watchdog Fantasy Moguls.com proclaims “Beowulf is likely the future of the film business…”. He and several others who have been fawning over this film don’t even know what they are looking at. Far from being the future, Beowulf is a leap backwards into Gulliver’s Travels (1939) terrain (if only it were half as entertaining as the Fleischer film).

To cleanse my palate, I went to ASIFA-Hollywood’s Raggedy Ann and Andy reunion at the AFI on Saturday, and had a great time re-watching a 35mm CinemaScope print of the 2-D hand drawn film (I hadn’t seen it in over decade). The best part was listening to the panel of animators (most of whom were only assistants at the time – 30 years ago) who held a grand on-stage reunion to discuss the craziness of making the film. The movie itself is a mad mess of Broadway showtunes and Williams artistic excess, but watching it again on the big screen (especially following Beowulf) was rather pleasurable – especially for the moments animated by Grim Natwick, Emery Hawkins, Art Babbit, Gerry Chiniquy and Tissa David.

For all it’s flaws (and it had plenty), Raggedy Ann and Andy contained more imagination, creativity and heart than Beowulf could ever hope to.

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Above: Raggedy Ann animators at the reunion included, from top left, Lou Scarborough, Carol Millican, John Kimball, Alyssa Meyerson, Russell Callabrese, Sue Kroyer, Tom Sito, Dave Block and Kevin Petrilak. Front and center, Eric Goldberg. (Photo by Art Binninger)

My World And Welcome To It

Here’s the opening credits to a long gone (but not forgotten) TV series, My World And Welcome To It (1969):

What an odd show this was. It combined the writings and drawings of James Thurber with the conventions of a late 1960s sitcom. It also featured regular doses of animation (usually adapting Thurbers black & white ink line drawings) by DePatie-Freleng. I recall there was a controversy over using a laugh track on this show. The series was a bit laid back in some respects, and Thurber’s witty parables were possibly over the heads of much of its viewing audience. Despite winning two Emmys (Best Comedy Show and Leading Actor, William Windom) it was cancelled after one season. A DVD release of the complete series would be quite enlightening. I’d love to see it again.

In the meantime, here’s one of the show’s animation segments on You Tube.