As I mentioned back in March, ForeWord Magazine, the only literary trade journal devoted exclusively to covering independent publishers, had nominated my book, The Hanna Barbera Treasury, for Book of the Year.
The winners were announced yesterday at the Book Expo in Los Angeles, and apparently the Hanna Barbera book was the first place (Gold) winner in the Popular Culture category. Congratulations to me! I’ll be heading down to the Book Expo today to find out what exactly winning this award means (and I’ll be autographing copies of the book there at 4pm).
The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco will be presenting a major exhibit of Harvey Comics artwork, “From Richie Rich to Wendy the Witch: The Art of Harvey Comics” from June 28 through November 30. Casper, Wendy, Richie Rich, Hot Stuff, Sad Sack, Joe Palooka, Little Dot, Little Audrey and many more will be showcased with original art from various Harvey comic books and merchandise by stalwarts such as Warren Kremer (1921-2003), who along with animator Steve Muffatti (1880-1968), defined the Harvey look.
The exhibition features artwork by Warren Kremer, Ernie ColÃ³n, Sid Couchey, Howard Post, Fred Rhoads, Ham Fisher, Dom Sileo, Marty Taras, and many more. Image above, a Bill Tytla Little Audrey gag drawing, will not be in the show (but you can click here to see a larger image). Details regarding the opening reception and other upcoming Harvey events will be announced shortly on the Museum’s website.
It’s getting crowded in outer space. In addition to Wallâ€¢E and Space Chimps, nWave Pictures is releasing Fly Me To The Moon, a 3-D animated family film this August in Imax Theatres (hence the overt science angle). Trailer below, production blog here.
Parents of children beware: it seems that Cartoon Network, in its middle age, has developed a fascination with young boys. A recent article in Variety, describing the new direction of network, sounds off the alarms with the headline “Cartoon Network Eyes Young Males.” In it, various Cartoon Net execs try to justify their new perversion by explaining that the network “has a strength with boys” and that they want to rebuild themselves as “the home for boys.”
Most disturbingly, the writer of the article warns that Cartoon Network has “set their sights on male teens and tweens” and plans to have boys’ action shows “up the wazoo.” After years of masquerading around as a network that offered cartoons to viewers of all ages and genders, they’ve finally succumbed to their true feelings and revealed plans to seduce young boys exclusively into watching their channel with enticing boy candy like Ben 10,Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Remember, the next time you see Cartoon Network lurking around a school playground, it may not be as innocent as it looks. They like young boys now.
Disney’s upcoming direct-to-video Tinkerbell series has just released its first trailer – and it’s feeling less like classic Disney and more like Sex And The City for fairies (the pixie kind, of course). Here’s John Lasseter introducing a clip and Tink’s voice (Mae Whitman):
In addition to his role as Gazoo on The Flintstones, Korman voiced characters on several other animated shows and movies, including Hey Arnold, The Wild Thornberrys and Buzz Lightyear. (The less said about his involvement with this, the better.) He’ll best be remembered by his appearances with Carol Burnett and Tim Conway. And as Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles, he certainly won’t be forgotten. As a tribute, here’s a sample clip of Korman as Gazoo:
This video from 1980 is not what you think. It’s a game of volleyball played between the Disney execs and animation artists of the time, including Chris Buck, Tim Burton, Mike Gabriel and Darrell van Citters. Video was shot by animator Randy Cartwright and the play-by-play is by John Musker, whose contempt for Disney management of the time is barely restrained. This line by Musker had me chuckling: “Ron Miller tries to save it and the ball bounces off his head. The rest is self explanatory.” It’s a delightful piece of cartoon history.
The screening has two of my favorite shorts directed by John Hubley and made in collaboration with his wife Faith: The Adventures of * (1957) and Tender Game (1958). Even better, these are both newly restored prints. Every print of Tender Game I’ve ever seen has been faded and muddy. The opportunity to see restored versions of these classic films on the bigscreen is truly something to be excited about and I can’t wait to check them out. The program is 100 minutes long so expect plenty of other shorts on the program as well. It’ll be introduced by the daughter of the Hubleys, filmmaker Emily Hubley, along with jazz scholar and author Ed Berger.
As a bonus, in the theater lobby at MoMA there’s currently a mini-exhibit of John Hubley’s artwork from Adventures of *. (Michael Sporn offers extensive photos from the exhibit posted on his blog). I’ve already had a peek at the exhibit which includes some of the most exquisite and visually striking pieces of art I’ve ever seen created for an animated film. What makes John Hubley among my favorite animation artists of all time is not simply that he created such amazing artwork, but that he figured out how to make it work in the context of movement. There is no shortage of pretty artwork in animation nowadays, but too often the artwork betrays the fundamental purpose of the art form–movement–and is created with slight consideration to its role within the continuity of a film. Hubley, on the other hand, created pieces of art that, while beautiful when viewed individually, are even more thrilling to view as a collective whole working in the service of his films. There’ll be no better opportunity to experience what I’m talking about than at MoMA this coming Monday.
This Friday, May 30, ASIFA-San Francisco is holding a tribute to animator and director Richard Williams, in honor of his 75th birthday this year. The screening begins at 7:30pm at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (in the McBean Theater). Membership and parking are free, though you may have to be an ASIFA-SF member, which is a bargain at $25/year.
Films that will be screened include:
* His Oscar-winning short A Christmas Carol (1971)
* I Drew Roger Rabbit (1988), a rare British documentary about Williams
* Commercials made for TV in Great Britain, Europe, Canada and the US
* Two clips from the feature Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977)
* Title sequences for Pink Panther features
* Surprise footage
Williams will not be present in person at the event, however, he is a member of the short film jury at Annecy next month, and is also the subject of a tribute/retrospective at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in September. These appearances probably have a lot to do with the forthcoming release of his highly anticipated Animation Masterclass Lecture Series on dvd (shot in front of a live audience at Blue Sky Studios).
That’s what I love about Cartoon Brew, I learn something new everyday!
I never knew anything about string holders. The Bosko and Honey pieces I posted yesterday turned out to be string holders from the collection of Eric from Warnerart. Says Eric:
I actually have two sets of these and I’m looking to sell one. I understand they are the only sets in existence. String holders themselves are not unusual collectibles. There’s quite a large market for them. Hakes has several vintage character based string holders currently on auction. As we know, Bokso collectibles are extremely rare (Honey maybe even more so) so seeing Bosko and Honey depicted in 3D plaster relief was a stunner! They apparently date to the 30′s and were acquired from an elderly couple who collected string holders.
Some animation-related deaths to report from the past few months:
Dick Sutcliffe, the creator of Davey and Goliath, passed away on May 11 in Dallas at the age of 90. Here is the New York Times obituary.
Jack Hanrahan died last April 28 at the age of 75. He wrote for many animated TV series in the 1960s, and then later in the 1980s, including Birdman, Banana Splits, Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, Heathcliff, Snorks, Inspector Gadget, and The Care Bears. This obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer talks about the difficult final years of his life. I was quite saddened to hear about his passing. I’d wanted to interview Hanrahan for a book project I’m currently working on, because he had worked closely with Ward Kimball in the early-1970s. I discovered the name of the Cleveland nursing home he was staying in on Monday, April 28, literally the day he passed away. I had been planning to call him the following day, but that afternoon I read the notice of his passing on Mark Evanier’s blog. Some times things just aren’t meant to be.
Mel Leven (far right) in Babes in Toyland (click for bigger image)
Lastly, singer-songwriter Mel Leven, passed away last December 17, 2007 at the age of 93. He most famously wrote the classic Disney song “Cruella de Vil” for 101 Dalmatians. He wrote songs for numerous other Disney productions including Noah’s Ark, Donald and the Wheel, It’s Tough To Be A Bird and also appeared in the studio’s live-action feature Babes in Toyland. Also notable, Leven wrote and performed some entertaining songs for UPA shorts such as Miserable Pack of Wolves, Three-Horned Flink and all four of the “Ham & Hattie” shorts including the Oscar-nominated Trees and Jamaica Daddy. Leven was also the voice of numerous animated advertising characters including Crackle for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and the Folgers coffee bean. To read more about him, see this biography or read an interview with Mel’s son, Bill Leven.
Following the lead of Gobelins and other French animation schools, Lycée technique des Arts et Métiers in Luxembourg has began to make their student produce animated shorts in groups instead of individually. They switched over to the group productions in the 2006-07 school year and have posted their first batch of group-produced student films online.
The short below, Le Chat Noir, caught my eye while leaving me more than a little confused. It’s made by Xavier Gorgol, Rony Hotin, Sébastien Genre and Yoann Robert. Please feel free to offer your explanation of the film in the comments.
A client has found this pair of 9” x 6.5” plaster or chalk string holders in the shape of Bosko and Honey. On one edge of Bosko’s face, the words “Vitaphone Copr.” is embossed; on the other edge, it says Bosko. I’ve never seen anything like them, but I figured if anyone knew about these, it had to be you. Any thoughts on value?
Sorry, Dave. I’ve never seen anything like these before. I almost wonder if they weren’t merchandising, but perhaps theatre publicity to promote the early Looney Tunes? Perhaps one of our readers know something? If so, let us know – or call David directly at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1232.
“Untooning” cartoon characters seems to be turning into a bit of a trend, as evidenced by Jerry’s last post about live Simpsons and the work of Pixeloo. Worth1000 recently held a Photoshop contest that asked readers to create realistic versions of their favorite cartoon characters. Entries can be viewed here and here.