Steve Hulett, over on the daily must-read The Animation Guild blog, lists all the known union projects currently in production in L.A. — including a few Disney items I’d never heard of (Joe Jump? King of the Elves?).
Most intriguing project: Batman Anime (Gotham Knight?) at Warner Bros. Scariest titles mentioned: Tinkerbell 2 and 3(!) from Disneytoon Studios.
Are you ready to put this in your “Bikini Bottom”?
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!
“It’s like a children’s show, but in Bosnia!” -Patton Oswalt
Ã¢â‚¬Å“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.
The Brothers McLeod have recently completed a series of shorts called Pedro and Frankensheep for ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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:
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.