Unpublished Bill Peet Drawings

Bill Peet drawing

If you’ve ever wondered why Disney story artist Bill Peet is often referred to as a master draftsman, look no further than these never-before-published drawings by Peet for a planned storybook about Susie the Blue Coupe. They’re posted in two parts on Michael Sporn’s blog: Part I and Part II.

The story was turned into a Disney theatrical short in 1952. It can be viewed on YouTube. An interesting note about the film: Hans Perk, a reliable Disney authority, says in the comments of Sporn’s post that Susie the Blue Coupe is one of a handful of Disney shorts that has lapsed into the public domain. So remix away folks!

Liquor Store or Disney Animation Building?

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Does this look familiar?

Steve Stanchfield (Thunderbean Animation) — forever on the outlook for Preston Blair swipes as he travels across the nation — spotted this architectural curiosity (above).

Mary and I were travelling recently through Lexington, KY and saw this.disneyanimbuilding2.jpg Doesn’t this building scream “Drinking is FUN!”??? It seems as if they either really liked a certain newer animation building in Burbank (at left), or were making fun of the fact that so many animators loved the sauce. Maybe if Disney ever decides to scrap animation all together they can sell the building to these folks!

I’d like to make a reference to “Pink Elephants On Parade”… but I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

3D Animation Movies: Fad or Future?

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The new blog Market Saw keeps readers updated about the latest 3D craze sweeping the feature animation biz (and movie industry as a whole). The site also has a list of upcoming 3D features including major studio films like Bolt, Coraline, Monsters vs. Aliens, Frankenweenie and Ice Age 3, as well as some animated features I hadn’t heard of such as Gaumont’s Boat and New Line’s Planet 51. This Wall Street Journal piece gives more background on the growth of 3D movies, and this page offers the perspective of Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is one of the technology’s biggest proponents and has announced that all of DreamWorks’s animated features from 2009 onward will be produced in 3D.

More on the Bullwinkle restoration

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Ric Scozzari, the sculptor who supervised the resoration of the beloved Rocky and Bullwinkle statue on Sunset Blvd. sent in these photos (below) and recollections:

I worked exclusively for Tiffany Ward (his daughter) and Ramona Ward (Jay’s wife). I was the carpenter, sculptor, coordinator, engineer, plasterer, painter, draftsman/artist for both the statue and the final restoration of the store (before it closed, and was renovated, yet again, by a new tenant). I have a before (above) and after (below) of Jay Ward’s, “Animation Dream Machine” mural that I totally redid myself (after 50 years of oxidation,..that might be interesting for your readers to see also).

I was the “total package” for Tiffany regarding the construction and consultation and she loved having a “one stop shop” guy look out for her and her families precious 2-dimensional jewels.

The Bullwinkle and Rocky statue was originally done in steel and fiberglass (back in the late 1950′s),..then years later, someone thought to cover it in “paper mache” (wrong!… on so many levels) I stripped that off, wrapped Bullwinkle and Rocky in surgical plaster bandages and then put a slurry of outdoor industrial plaster for a final coat,..just like the old days in Coney Island figures on the boardwalk. Then I primed and painted with industrial paint with a high UV content (’cause of all that California weather, non fading). Now they are ready for their close-up after getting really, really plastered! Hoky Smoke!

Anyone know who designed the original Animation Dream Machine mural (above)? Bill Hurtz? Click on images below for a closer look.
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Gisele Kerozene

Our recent posts about Stop, Look and Listen reminded Brew reader Kermyt Anderson of another pixilation film he saw a few years ago about witches, using the same technique. He wrote to me asking about it, but I’d never heard of it myself. Coincidentally Kermyt just found it on You Tube (below) and I found it on No Fat Clips. It’s titled Gisele Kerozene, by Jan Kounen. It won the Grand Prix du Court-Métrage at the Avoriaz (France) Fantastic Film Festival in 1989.

Looks like Kounen and crew had just as much fun as Menville and Janson did while making their film.

Spongebob Musical Rectal Thermometer

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Are you ready to put this in your “Bikini Bottom”?

spongebobrectal2.jpg I was shopping at the supermarket yesterday when I came upon a unique piece of Nickelodeon merchandising – a Spongebob Squarepants Musical Rectal Thermometer! Yes, it’s musical. And yes, it’s clearly marked for rectal use. It actually plays the Spongebob theme in your ass when your temperature is taken!

Spongebob is a huge success, and merchandise like this literally sticks it to the competition. But this product ranks with the infamous Mickey Mouse vibrator as one of the most miscast in cartoon licensing history! What were they thinking? Spongebob has enough trouble regarding his sexual identity. Ren & Stimpy may have been a better choice here… but Spongebob? Nah!

Cartoon Dump: Tonight in New York

“It’s like a children’s show, but in Bosnia!” -Patton Oswalt

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“Highly Recommended!” and “Best pick of the week!” – Time Out NY

One more quick little plug for our Cartoon Dump live comedy show tonight in New York City. Join Frank Conniff and Erica Doering at 8pm at Comix at 353 West 14th Street. Ordering advance tickets (before 2pm) is a few bucks cheaper than buying them at the door.

Pedro and Frankensheep

The Brothers McLeod have recently completed a series of shorts called Pedro and Frankensheep for Children’s BBC (CBBC) in the United Kingdom. It starts airing on UK TV everyday begining next week (for the next two weeks at 4:30pm). Ten 5-minute episodes were produced, co-written by the brothers with Phil Cooper. Characters were designed by Greg McLeod in his distinctive style and voices were supplied by Simon Greenall and Myles McLeod (the latter as the voice of Frank and Hugo). Here’s the first one, given an “online pre-release” to generate buzz:

Start buzzing.

Sondheim with an Animated Twist

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The new Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George”, which has been brought over from London, is notable in that it’s directed by former animator Sam Buntrock, who has incorporated video-projected digital animation into the play. Brew friend C. Edwards, who saw the play recently, says, “The original production in 1983 is good, but the video effects improve on the whole show, especially the second act. It’s the first time I’ve seen video projection used in a Broadway stage production that didn’t look cheap (like in the Johnny Cash musical, “Ring of Fire”). And it was nice to see someone integrate animation in with live performers in a stage musical.” A piece in last weekend’s New York Times offers comments from Buntrock and Sondheim about the production.

Suffering From ‘Importantitis’

Cultural critic Terry Teachout wrote a thought-provoking piece in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal about how artists with extraordinary promise like Leonard Bernstein, Orson Welles and Ralph Ellison failed to live up to their potential because of the dreaded “importantitis.” Who in the animation world has suffered from the same ailment? The most notable example who comes to mind would be Richard Williams. Teachout contrasts these artists with choreographer George Balanchine:

Contrast Ellison’s creative paralysis with the lifelong fecundity of the great choreographer George Balanchine, who went about his business efficiently and unpretentiously, turning out a ballet or two every season. Most were brilliant, a few were duds, but no matter what the one he’d just finished was like, and no matter what the critics thought of it, he moved on to the next one with the utmost dispatch, never looking back. “In making ballets, you cannot sit and wait for the Muse,” he said. “Union time hardly allows it, anyhow. You must be able to be inventive at any time.” That was the way Balanchine saw himself: as an artistic craftsman whose job was to make ballets. Yet the 20th century never saw a more important artist, or one less prone to importantitis.

In the animation world, the likely parallel to Balanchine would be directors like Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones, who produced animated shorts year in and year out, practicing their craft consistently and rarely ever looking back, and ultimately ending up with some of the most beloved classics in the history of the art form.

Cartoon Dump: New York and L.A.

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New York: The worst cartoons ever made, live music, and subversive comedy return. Cartoon Dump once again visits the Big Apple this Tuesday, Feb. 19th at 8pm, at Comix 353 W. 14th St. (Just east of 9th Ave.). Special comedy guest: Rena Zager. Order Advance Tickets HERE or call the box office (212) 524-2500.

Next week, back in Los Angeles Cartoon Dump continues its monthly performances at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Our February show is on Tuesday, February 26th at 8pm, with special comedy guest star Morgan Murphy.

It’s a great big load of fun. Don’t take my word for it… read Peter Sanderson’s review at Quick Stop Entertainment. Join us this month!

Rare Adventures of The Road Runner trailer

Indulge me – this post is only for true Looney Tunes trivia nerds. The kind, like me, who find the tiniest piece of cartoon minutiae fascinating.

Last April I posted a TV trailer for Lad: A Dog which contained several seconds of new Bugs Bunny footage from Chuck Jones unit. Recently, film collector Bill Colleton unearthed a companion 20-second TV spot which promotes the initial pairing of Lad: A Dog with the featurette The Adventures of the Road Runner. It’s just a small piece of lost Looney Tunes history, but I think it’s cool – and I just had to share:

The Adventures of the Road Runner featurette has since been released on DVD, included with the bonus materials in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2. (Lad: A Dog, alas, has never been released on DVD).

Weekend Reading: Bodrero and Hawkins Interviews

Emery Hawkins in Rhapsody of Steel

Two fascinating interviews have turned up online which are a must-read for any fan of classic animation: Michael Barrier has posted a 1977 interview with Disney concept artist Jim Bodrero (conducted by Milton Gray) and Thad Komorowski has posted a late-1970s interview with animator Emery Hawkins (conducted by John Canemaker). While the Bodrero interview is more informational, the Hawkins interview really delves into his working style and offers a sense of why he was one of the most distinctive animators of Golden Age animation. The interview is accompanied by a clip reel of Hawkins’s work, put together by Komorowski. The image at the top of this post is a scene of Hawkins animation from the John Sutherland film Rhapsody of Steel.

Call For Article Submissions

Chris Robinson tells me that he’s currently looking for writers and articles to be published in ASIFA Magazine (previously called Cartoons). The magazine has published numerous fine pieces over the past few years, including John Canemaker’s excellent two-parter about the life and art of JP Miller. The downside is that the magazine isn’t available for sale to the public, and is received only by ASIFA members.

Robinson says he’s looking for articles about all aspects of animation (business, indies, cartoons, anime, academic, interviews, etc.). The magazine comes out twice a year (summer and winter) and writers are paid for their contributions. Anybody interested can send a pitch to Chris Robinson at chris [at] animationfestival [dot] ca.

WB Academy Award Animation Collection

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I’ve neglected to acknowledge the release this week of Warner Bros. Academy Award Animation Collection. It came out last Tuesday and it’s a teriffic compilation containing all the Oscar winning animated cartoons, and most of the nominees, that Warner Bros. owns the rights to. This includes several great Looney Tunes, MGM Tom & Jerry, Tex Avery, Fleischer Popeye and Superman cartoons.

awardvd.jpg The prints are gorgeous, and there is expert commentary on several tracks provided by Mark Kausler, Eric Goldberg, Greg Ford, Paul Dini and Brewmasters Amid Amidi and Jerry Beck. Also worthy of mention is the special round table audio commentary on Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor by Bob Jaques, Leslie Cabarga and Ray Pointer, moderated by myself. There is also a wonderful one hour documentary on Oscar winning cartoons (with additional clips from Disney, Zagreb and Hubley films) and comments from Michael Sporn, Mark Kausler, Howard Beckerman, Charles Solomon, Bill Plympton, Jimmy Picker, Tom Sito, Eric Goldberg, and archival quotes from Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.

Many of these cartoons already appeared in several scattered video collections, though several of them were previously issued in edited form. Here, all the cartoons are complete and uncut – and it’s great to have them all collected in one place. A great package, highly recommended.

To Hell With Hitler!

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Next Tuesday, 2/19, at 7:30 p.m., ASIFA Atlanta is putting on To Hell with Hitler, a program of WW2-era cartoons at the Plaza Theatre ($4 members admission; $7 non-members).

Clay Croker (of ArgleBargle blog fame) curated the show, created the cool poster, and is providing the 16mm prints that will be shown. The only caution is that the screening willl take place in a part of the theatre that holds around 100 folks, so expect it to be standing-room-only!

(Thanks, Robert Pope)

In by Philipp Hirsch and Heiko Tippelt

In

In is a 23-minute CG/live-action short created by Philipp Hirsch and Heiko Tippelt in 2004. I have a bit of a history with this film; here is what I wrote about it after watching a portion of it at Annecy in 2004.

“The program was also home to the oddest film in the competition, the enigmatic IN by Philipp Hirsch. A significant portion of the audience, myself included, walked out in the middle of this 24-minute film. The Dada-ish looking short generated quite a bit of discussion during the last couple days of the festival and after speaking to folks who managed to sit through it, I regret not having had the patience to make it through the entire film.”

Animation director Peter Chung saw my comment recently and emailed to let me know that the film is online in its entirety. Watch In here. Chung was part of the 2004 jury for the Holland Animation Film Festival that awarded In the top prize for non-narrative short film. In his note to me, Chung offers valuable advice to anybody who plans to watch this film: “Forget everything you’ve known about animation before this—and just watch with an open mind. This is filmmaking by someone inventing a new way to see, a film that breaks the boundaries between inner and outer experience.”

Adventure Time T-Shirts

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UPDATE: More details about new Adventure Time merchandise here.

I was a fan of Pen Ward’s warped cartoon genius before I saw his two incredible Random Cartoons: Adventure Time and The Bravest Warriors. I have no idea when this series of cartoons will air on Nickelodeon (I’d assume they’ll show up sometime this year, considering they got a four page spread in the Nicktoons book), but while we wait, Ward has started marketing Adventure Time with a series of tee shirts based on the short.

Ward had a bunch of good ideas for the tees (12 in all) and is making a different one available each week on Cafe Press. Collect them all! The whole set will be posted on Channel Frederator Raw as they are produced.