Beautifully drawn cartoony comics are now available on a daily basis at Dumm Comics. The site was started by some of the most talented folks currently working in the TV animation biz (I know because I’ve worked with a number of them in the past), and every weekday one of them presents a new comic: Big Pants Mouse by Gabe Swarr on Mondays, Through the Port-Hole by Sean Szeles on Tuesdays, Skadi by Katie Rice and Luke Cormican on Wednesdays, 1930 Nitemare Theatre by Ricky Garduno on Thurdays, and Earthward-Ho! by Fred Osmond on Fridays.
I recnetly conducted an online roundtable chat with all the Dumm artists involved, and will be posting that tomorrow. It’s a lively and fascinating discussion that you won’t want to miss.
Madhouse’s 2006 film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, is going to get a limited U.S. theatrical release next month through Bandai Entertainment. It’ll be screening June 13 through June 19 at the ImaginAsian Center in Los Angeles (251 South Main Street, Los Angeles, California 90012), at the ImaginAsian Theater in New York (239 East 59th Street, New York, NY, 10022), as well as from August 29 through September 4 at the Landmark Varsity Theatre in Seattle (4329 University Way N.E. Seattle, WA 98105). In Los Angeles and Seattle, the English-subtitled version will be screened, and in New York, the English-dubbed version. Show times will be posted on the theater websites closer to the actual screening dates.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was directed by Mamoru Hosoda. The film was recognized with the Special Distinction honor at the 2007 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. It also won numerous honors at festivals in Japan, including the Animation of the Year Japan Academy Prize (akin to the American Academy Awards). I’ve seen it and it’s a wonderful film–well worth seeing on the big screen.
“Alice” is an electronic piece of music by a young South African artist named Nick Bertke. He explains that “90% is composed using sounds recorded from the Disney film ‘Alice In Wonderland’.” Music video is below, MP3 download is for free here. (via Kottke)
GirlsDrawinGirls are having their Volume 2 premiere show at The Hive Gallery, 729 S. Spring Street, in Los Angeles on June 7th. I’ve been told some really cool bands will be playing that night – and lots of girl artists will be there. There’s also a preview of art for volume two, this time with a fairy tale theme. The Hive Gallery party starts at 8pm. The art show runs through June 28th. The new book comes out at the San Diego Comic-Con in July.
Joel Trussell has directed a second video for the English band Morcheeba, based on their single “Gained the World.” Animation leaves a lot to be desired and visual pacing is disconnected from the flow of the song, but design and color are typically pretty Trussell. It’d be great to see his visual sensibility applied to stronger animation and direction one of these days. Video credits on Trussell’s blog.
Critics are beginning to weigh in on Bill Plympton’s latest feature Idiots and Angels, which is now playing around the festival circuit. There’s not many indies who can claim to have made their own animated feature, but this is, quite amazingly, Bill’s fifth(!) full-length animated feature, all funded entirely with his own money. My favorite review so far is this one from Variety which uses an uncommon if not impressive grouping of words to describe the film–words like “Manichean,” “Bukowskian,” and “physiognomic transmutations.”
This review from the Auteur’s Notebook is more mixed; it applauds Plympton’s visual ingenuity and storytelling over the originality of the story and character development, an argument that would hold water for many of Plympton’s efforts. Eye For Film has a view similar to that of the previous reviewer, though it concludes that the film is worth checking out: “[I]f the storyline is treading over some old ground, Plympton’s animation gives it a fresh lease of life.”
For my part, I’m looking forward to checking out the film next month in Annecy. I thought Bill’s last feature Hair High was his strongest to date, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he can top that accomplishment. Below is a short interview with Plympton from last month’s Tribeca Film Festival:
The cartoons posted below are two semi-rare TV pilots. They are not particularly good and I direct you to them only for historical purposes. They will probably be appreciated exclusively by die-hard students of television animation and cartoon history.
These are the last Terrytoons. Produced in 1968, CBS ordered up several Saturday morning pilots from its in-house animation shop. But producer Bill Weiss had disbanded the New Rochelle studio and had to farm production out to west coast director Fred Calvert, who in turn hired several Hanna Barbera animators (including Jerry Hathcock and Iwao Takamoto!) to produce these.
Neither of these films went to series and it’s easy to see why. The Ruby Eye of The Monkey God is a half-hearted Arabian nights/Kipling inspired adventure cartoon. Hard to believe, but this was later released theatrically by 20th Century-Fox – and eventually circulated to television in the Terrytoons TV package syndicated in the late 1970s.
The more obscure Sally Sargent (below), is a Nancy Drew knock off updated to the swingin’ sixties. It isn’t even listed on IMDB or in any reference on Terrytoons I can find. This was the final new production that Bill Weiss produced. It’s better than the other film by virtue of it’s groovy sixties theme song and Gary Owens voice on the track. This one was eventually also thrown into the Mighty Mouse/Deputy Dawg syndication package. Be warned: it’s a full ten minutes long.
In case you missed your chance several months ago, voice actress Janet Waldo (Judy Jetson, Penelope Pitstop, etc.) and animation writer Earl Kress will return to the internet radio program Stu’s Show today for a live return appearance. Ms. Waldo will be on live at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific talking about her voiceover career post-Jetsons, and they’ll open the phone lines up around 4:30 for listener calls. Listen here!
And, of course, I’ll be back on the Stu’s Show Wednesday June 4th – but I’ll tell you more about that when we get closer to that date.
This Saturday, May 24, 2008, Women in Animation will present a salon featuring Virginia Davis, the original star of Walt Disney’s Alice In Cartoonland comedies. Animation historian Ray Pointer will screen several of the “Alice” comedies from his collection, and following the screening, Ray will interview Virginia about what it was like to work with Walt Disney at the start of his illustrious career.
The event starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Smokehouse Restaurant on 4420 Lakeside Drive in Burbank (off Pass Ave., opposite Warner Bros. studios). If you wish to attend, you need to RSVP as soon as possible by sending an email to LAchapterrsvps-at-aol.com. Lunch will be served. The event costs $25.
A quick update about last week’s story about the new Israeli animated feature Waltz with Bashir. The Hanuka brothers–Asaf and Tomer–created art for the film and have posted some examples on their blog. It just goes to show that a director who understands art and knows who to hire can get impressive artwork even into a low budget animated feature like Waltz which cost only $2 million.
Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal attempts to make sense of the spectacular box office failure of Speed Racer, which raced to becoming a bona fide flop both in the US and overseas. He writes:
“[C]haos isn’t a surefire selling tool, not even when the target audience is sensation-hungry kids…Kids need inoculation against media-generated chaos. That’s not to suggest seeking out entertainment that preaches, peddles homilies, hustles uplift or shies away from the darker areas of human experience that inform some of our most cherished fairy tales (or, for that matter, one of my most cherished films, Carol Reed’s “Oliver!”). It’s more than enough when movies enhance a sense of wonder (and, as a byproduct, a capacity for concentration); when they delight and surprise (as Pixar productions do so dependably); when they open up the world through the window of thrilling fiction.”
The Telus World of Science in Vancouver, which I believe is a children’s museum, is hosting an exhibit called Disney: The Music Behind the Magic, 1928-Today. It runs from June 8th to September 7th. Sounds interesting, though I’m not sure how scientific it is. If you live in the area and check it out, let us know what it is.