Mister Trash Can

Every year, US households and businesses throw out 251 million tons of trash and our second biggest export to China is trash! Good Magazine packages these disturbing facts into a cute animated short called Mister Trash Can that’s guaranteed to make you feel bad about yourself. It’s directed by Garrett Morin, animated by Chad Colby and written by MacKenzie Fegan. The video is below but if you want a higher-res version, head to Good‘s website.

Review Copies of The Art of Pixar Short Films

The Art of Pixar Short Films

Just a quick note: if you’re part of the media (print or online–US/Canada) and would like a review copy of my new book The Art of Pixar Short Films (now with a striking cover of Luxo Jr.), then drop me a line with your details. Review copies will be going out soon. There’s a limited number I can send from my side, but I’ll try to get you on the list. I received an advance of the book this week and I think it’s a really nice addition to Pixar’s ‘art of’ series. I’ll also be doing book give-aways for Brew readers sometime in the next month or two.

Tomorrow: A Celebration of the Life of Bob Winquist

Bob Winquist

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 31st at 4pm, there will a celebration of Bob Winquist’s life in the Palace at Calarts. Winquist, who passed away last September, is not a household name but he is an influential figure in animation history through his role as an instructor and director of the character animation program at CalArts. Disney story artist Jenny Lerew, who told me about this event and has done a number of posts about Winquist since his passing, said in an email to me:

Bob was a breath of fresh air, had no limits in what he wanted people to be able to do–no “censorship” as he put it, no preconceived notions of what our films should be. He wanted to discourage people from only thinking of animation as a trade, and in that sense he ran the dept. as a kind of atelier, as did Jules Engel downstairs, whom he respected. He was in every way what a teacher and mentor should be.

Bob had such a wide influence and was loved by so many people: it ranges from Bob Kurtz and the seminal members of the LA “Cool School” of painters like John Altoon and Robert Irwin, both former students when Bob taught at Chouinard during the ’50s and ’60 to Pulitzer-winner Ann Telnaes, Ralph Eggleston and Pete Docter–just a whole slew of people.

If you’re interested in attending, Jenny has more details about the event on her blog. And here’s an odd curio featuring a cartoon version of Bob Winquist–it’s an opening for the yearly CalArts Producers’ Show circa 1988 created by first-year students Chris Ure, Pete Docter, Mark Kennedy, Ashley Brannon, Van Cook, Tim Myers and Paul Rudish.

PictureBox Book and Comic Sale

Paper Rad

PictureBox, a fine Brooklyn-based book publisher who I’m currently working with, is holding a sale on nearly every item on their website. The sale lasts through February 8 and there’s some real bargains to be had. For example, their huge two-volume 688-page retrospective of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse production designer Gary Panter, which was published last year at $95, is currently only $30 through their website. Overspray: Riding High with the Kings of California Airbrush Art is a beautifully-produced look at West Coast airbrush culture in the 1970s and shows how it entered the mainstream advertising and film through artists like Peter Lloyd who created airbrush art for Tron. That book which retails at $50 is available for only $20. Also, pick up Paper Rad and Michel Gondry books for $7, Mark Newgarden’s Cheap Laffs for $6, and lots of quality art/indie comics at fire sale prices. Every order also ships with a FREE copy of Paper Rad’s DVD Problem Solvers.

TV Guide on Clutch Cargo

I found this intriguing two page article on Clutch Cargo in that 1960 issue of TV Guide I mentioned yesterday.

I’m a big fan of the Syncho-Vox process. I regularly feature these cartoons at Cartoon Dump (speaking of which, there are still a few tickets left for our Saturday night show in San Francisco. End of Plug). I love how the article admits:

Clutch Cargo’s success is one of those things that defies all ordinary rational standards. Artistically speaking, it is hardly in a class with UPA’s Mr. Magoo, or Hanna Barbera’s Huckleberry Hound or with any of the creations of the master, Walt Disney…

The show’s creator claims they are creating “motorized movement” — to which the writer points out “is really no movement at all”.

Gotta love it. Read a Clark Haas’ Clutch Cargo comic strip here, and see a Clutch Cargo cartoon here.

“Without You” by Paul Greer

Paul Greer created this viral for part of a Nizlopi song called “Without You.”

Though it’s not a recent piece, I thought it looked interesting visually so I asked Paul if he could describe the process he used to achieve this look. Here’s his explanation:

The budget for the viral was very slight and I had about three official working days to get it done, coming up with a method that would be effective and efficient was therefore key. Back in the days before computers, myself and fellow students experimented with ways of producing un-registrated animation, drawing on rolls of paper and cards and the like. To integrate this thought process into CGI has been something that has always fascinated me, and I have used it before on projects like “The Boy with the Incredible Brain”.

The whole sequence was drawn as curves in Maya, with a Wacom and then “inbetweened” using deformers. I didn’t have time to do any kind of shoot, so I photographed work colleagues, friends and family memebers, then rotoscoped the stills. These were worked in with improvised drawing and rotoscoped CGI (I had a second hand beating heart knocking about). The final result was very simple illustration of the lyrical content of the song, I would’ve like to have taken it further. I did storyboard the whole song, with a psychdelic bit for the upbeat section in the middle, but they only wanted the last third of the song done.

Ruff And Reddy Pitch Picture Tubes

Yesterday I appeared on Stu Shostack’s internet radio show. While waiting for our broadcast to begin, I was rummaging through several copies of Stu’s collection of vintage TV Guide back issues. In one 1960 edition, I found two cartoon items of interest. The first was this full page ad for Sylvania television picture tubes featuring radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey interacting with Hanna Barbera TV stars Ruff and Reddy.

I love it when cartoon stars were used to sell products to adults. This was the same year The Flintstones were sponsored by Winston cigarettes and Mr. Magoo was hawking Stag Beer. And what a great sketch of the characters! An very appealing pose of Ruff — and check out the attitude on Reddy.

As for the second animation item I found in that TV Guide — check back tomorrow.

CONTEST: Toe Tactic Tickets @ MoMA

The Toe Tactic

We’re giving away three pairs of tickets to this Friday’s screening of Emily Hubley’s feature film debut The Toe Tactic at MoMA. The screening is at 4pm. Please enter the contest ONLY if you plan on attending. The first three people to answer the following question correctly win tickets.

The music in The Toe Tactic is provided by a band that Emily Hubley’s sister Georgia is a member of. What is the name of this band?

If you can’t make it to Friday’s screening, The Toe Tactic is screening daily at MoMA through February 2. Be sure to read our interview with Emily Hubley.

Saturday Morning Cartoon collections

Once upon a time, long before home video, the internet, and 24 hour cartoon channels – Saturday mornings were an oasis of animation. Most of it wasn’t very good, but like junk food, it was addicting. For those jonesing for another fix, Warner Home Video will be releasing two double-disc DVD sets on May 19th that collects many of classic Saturday Morning Cartoons we grew up with.

These sets feature the first DVD appearence of many well known characters – including Hanna Barbera’s Quick Draw McGraw, 60s anime Marine Boy and Filmation’s Tarzan.

The 1960s disc features:
Disc #1
TOP CAT – The Tycoon
THE PETER POTAMUS SHOW (with Breezly & Sneezly, Yippee, Yappee and Yahooney)
THE FLINTSTONES – The Happy Household
THE PORKY PIG SHOW – Often An Orphan/Mice Follies/The Super Snooper)
THE QUICK DRAW McGRAW SHOW (with SNOOPER AND BLABBER and AUGIE DOGIE) – Dynamite Fright/Outer Space Case/Growing Growing Gone

Disc #2
THE JETSONS – Rosey The Robot
MARINE BOY – Battle To Save The World
HERCLULOIDS – The Beaked People / The Raider Apes
FRANKENSTEIN JR. AND THE IMPOSSIBLES – The Shocking Electric Monster / The Bibbler / The Spinner

Bonus Materials:
THE QUCK DRAW McGRAW SHOW (with SNOOPER AND BLABBER and AUGIE DOGIE) – Dough Nutty / El Kabong Was Wrong / Gem Jam

The 1970s disc contains:

Disc #1
THE JETSONS – The Space Car

Disc #2


$26.99 is the official retail price per set. Amazon has it on pre-order for $18.99.

Bart Simpson Promotes Scientology

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, has taken Bart out of Springfield and plopped him into the real-world by using the iconic character to promote her personal religious causes. Below is a robo-call in which she uses Bart’s voice imploring people to attend a Scientology event. All I can say is it’s extremely uncomfortable hearing Bart in this context.

Five Questions for Emily Hubley

The Toe Tactic

Director and animator Emily Hubley is embarking on a nationwide screening tour of her live-action/animation feature film debut The Toe Tactic. The film starts a six-day run at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this evening. After that, she’ll travel with the film to Rochester, NY, Los Angeles, San Diego, Cambridge, MA, Williamstown, MA, St. Louis, Portland, Seattle, Houston, Ann Arbor, MI, and Austin. A complete schedule can be found at TheToeTactic.com. For ticket info on the MoMA screenings, visit the MoMA website, and be sure to check back tonight at 8pm (EST) for a ticket giveaway to this Friday’s screening at MoMA. We’ll be handing out multiple pairs of tickets.

I did a short e-mail interview with Emily to find out a bit about what she’s been up to lately:

For people who haven’t heard of the film, tell us a little about what The Toe Tactic is about?
Well, there are all kinds of reasons for those times in life when you lose your footing, but in this case it’s a young woman’s revisited grief for her dead father when she learns her childhood home has been sold. Her temporary withdrawal from the action of her life triggers the connection to an animated reality in which four dogs play a game of cards, the object of which is to get her back in step with the world.

As a short filmmaker, how easy or difficult was it transitioning to feature filmmaking? Was there any aspect of the production that took you by surprise or was it fairly similar to the short film process?
Everything was more complicated, took longer, and cost more money. But the business of bringing so many talented people into the process was invigorating and providing cast and crew with what they needed to do their best work without diluting the film’s distinct personality, was a really fun challenge – one I’d never had in the making of my short films.

You’ve mentioned in prior interviews that your parents, John and Faith, were influential in your decision to enter filmmaking. What sort of lessons, filmmaking and beyond, did you learn from your mom Faith, whom you worked with closely for a number of years?
The word is a cliché, but Faith was so contagiously passionate about her work, being disciplined, and the role of the artist … it was hard for anyone to be around her without catching that I some way and I was around her a lot!. (though I wish I was more disciplined.) I think I have an inability to do work I don’t love — and over the years, I’ve been able to find ways to be proud of what I do well without wasting time feeling too ashamed of what I stink at.

Beginning this week, you’re going on a nationwide theatrical tour with Toe Tactic and offering audiences an opportunity to see it on the big screen. Why did you go through the effort of self-organizing a tour like this in a day and age where most indie filmmakers are content to simply release their features onto DVD?
There is something about watching a film with a group that you don’t get at home. It’s my instinct that the movie is learning how to ride a bike and I’m not ready to let go of the back of the seat. Come May, when the tour (at this point anyway) will be about done, I’m sure I’ll be more than ready. We expect to release a DVD in the Fall — keep posted.

What are some other projects that you’re currently working on?
Collaboratively, Jeremiah Dickey and I just completed inserts for two great documentaries – William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, which just showed at Sundance, and What’s On Your Plate? directed by Catherine Gund, which will show at the Berlinale next month. We also made a really fun title sequence for a TV pilot called “Living in Captivity” and may create some inserts for their next cut.

Personally, I’m starting to write new material which I’ll continue to develop while I’m on the tour. It might turn into a movie, but it also might be some kind of written or performed piece with illustrations, It’s very mysterious at this point and secret. I hope to start noodling with these ideas by making a short or two as well. We’ll see!

The Toe Tactic @ MoMA
January 28—February 2, 2009
Tickets $10 (Adult), $8 (Seniors), $6 (Students)

The Toe Tactic

Jerry on Stu’s Show today

I will be the featured guest today on Shokus Internet Radio’s Stu’s Show. This will be my ninth visit to discuss all things animation with Stu and his listeners, live beginning at 4:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. EDT). Topics this time will include the upcoming Saturday Morning DVD box set from Warner Home Video, the 100 Greatest Looney Tunes book and as always, whatever the listeners want to talk about. You are encouraged to call in with your questions and comments on the station’s toll-free telephone number.

Stu’s Show airs live each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST, with rebroadcasts at the same time daily. Access to the station’s feed is free, with no registration required, and is available either by clicking on the Enter Site button on the home page (www.shokusradio.com), by choosing one of the audio player links on the site’s main page, via iTunes by selecting Radio/Eclectic and then locating the station’s name alphabetically in the list, and now via iPhone by installing the WunderRadio program available from the iTunes online store. Cell phones with Windows Mobile and Internet access can also listen to the station via the new Live 365 Mobile software available at the station’s broadcast facility, www.live365.com .

Cartoon Brew TV: Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues

Today on Cartoon Brew TV we’re offering an exclusive excerpt from an animated feature that we’ve praised frequently over the past year: Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. The film, which won the best feature prize at Annecy as well as a special mention at the Berlin Film Festival, is an exquisitely assembled mix of Indian mythology, contemporary heartbreak and 1920s American jazz. Watch the Sita Sings the Blues excerpt only on Cartoon Brew TV.

Cartoon Brew TV #17: Sita Sings the Blues Preview

We’ve got a special treat today on Cartoon Brew TV. Instead of our usual short film presentation, we’re offering an 11-minute excerpt from Nina Paley’s animated feature Sita Sings the Blues. Regular readers of Cartoon Brew already know that both Brewmasters are huge fans of this animated film which is a startlingly original mashup of Indian mythology, contemporary heartbreak and 1920s American jazz.

We’ve praised it a number of times on the website, including here and here. Another big fan of the film is Roger Ebert who will be showing Sita at his Illinois film festival in April.

The film, however, cannot be distributed because of copyright issues related to its use of songs recorded by Annette Hanshaw eighty years ago. Paley, who made the film entirely by herself and is currently in debt, cannot afford to legally license the music. She is exploring alternative distribution models but for the moment the film is only playing in select festival venues.

This excerpt is from the start of the film and offers a glimpse of the different animation styles used throughout the film.The director, Nina Paley, will be participating in the Brew comments if you have any questions for her. For more information, visit the film’s website at SitaSingstheBlues.com or NinaPaley.com.

Falling Short of God’s Glory Through Sin by Bob McKnight

Appealing religion-oriented animation is hard to come by–Jot excepted–so I had to share this brief but well-done piece for the religious cartoon series TheoCartoons.com called “Falling Short of God’s Glory Through Sin.” It was created by Bob McKnight. When I used to live in LA, Bob was one of my favorite people to run into because he always had a million great stories to share. He’s had quite a career that includes everything from animating Sesame Street segments to the film titles for Who’s That Girl?, as well as working on revivals of classic animation characters like Blooper Bunny and House of Mouse.

(Thanks to Chogrin who pointed out this bit of animation to me.)

Imagi Halts Production on Astro Boy

Astro Boy

Rumors start making their way around the Internet last night, on websites like FirstShowing.net and the Animation Guild blog, that the LA animation studio Imagi was temporarily shutting down operations. As mentioned on the Brew last month, the studio has been experiencing a multitude of financial problems.

The Anime News Network has now confirmed with the president of Imagi, Erin Corbett, that only the animators of Astro Boy have been asked to stop coming to work, while the rest of the staff continues to develop other projects such as Gatchaman and Tusker. Additionally, nobody is working at Imagi’s Hong Kong facilities this week though they say that was already planned because of Chinese New Year’s holidays. Most of the studio’s animation staff is in Hong Kong so it is unclear how many artists were asked to stop coming to work at its LA branch. The studio expects more funding to come through this week so that everybody can return to work soon. The uncertainty about the studio’s future isn’t helped by the fact that their website has been taken down completely at the time of this writing.

UPDATE: Kevin Koch, president of the Animation Guild, posted in our comments with new information that says ALL of the artists at LA’s Imagi’s office have been told not to come to work this week. The studio’s president Corbett had previously told Anime News Network that only the “animation team” had been asked not to report to work. Here is the full text of Koch’s comment:

The Animation Guild office has received confirmation that everyone at Imagi in Los Angeles was told not to come in to work this week. The office also got a call from Imagi US president Erin Corbett, who told us that Imagi is in a “holding pattern” until Feb. 3, when they will find out about the next round of funding.

This looks like it could be a temporary hiccup, or a very bad thing. We’re holding our breath and hoping it is sorted out quickly.

How NOT To Make An ‘Art Of’ Book

Coraline A Visual Companion

I’d been forewarned that the art of book for Coraline was not very good, but that didn’t prepare me for the publishing disaster that is Coraline: A Visual Companion. After looking at it in the bookstore recently, I can say with some confidence that this is the single worst ‘art of’ book I’ve ever seen published in conjunction with a major animated release.

For beginners, all of the film stills in the book are pixelated and muddy. I’m not talking just about the full-page frame blowups, even regular-sized images that take up only a third or half of the page look like hell. Beyond the poor image reproduction, they also made an inexcusable editorial decision to print the visual development artwork of only two illustrators: Dave McKean and Tadahiro Uesugi. The book, in fact, neglects to showcase the work of any of the animation artists who worked on the film, including the people who actually designed the look and feel of the movie.

One of the film’s primary character designers Shane Prigmore recently did a post on his blog about working on the film. In that post, he mentions some of the artists whose work shaped the film visually, including visual development artists Dan Krall, Shannon Tindle, Chris Appelhans, Jon Klassen, Andy Schuhler, and Stef Choi, sculptors Kent Melton, Damon Bard, Leo Rijn, Tony Merrithew and Scott Foster, and story artist Chris Butler, Andy Schuhler, Vera Brosgol, Graham Annable and Mike Cachuella. Unbelievably not a single piece of artwork from any of these artists can be found in the book. Instead it is page after page of Tadahiro Uesugi’s work. A lot of it is repetitive because they are costume suggestions that he drew using characters that had already been designed by the artists listed above. The irony is that even fans of Uesugi’s work will be disappointed because of the small print size of his artwork.

For all I know, the writing in the book (and there is a lot of it) may be wonderful. The book, however, is called “A Visual Companion” and on that mark it is a complete and utter failure. I’ve never seen an ‘art of’ book that eliminates the work of every single artist who worked on the film save for one whose work wasn’t even a primary factor in the film’s final look.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Coraline for a long time and I still am. Unfortunately, with tie-in books like this and the film’s lackluster marketing campaign (the subway and bus stop ads around NYC are a subject for another time), I may be watching the film in an empty movie theater.

(To see a representative sampling of artwork from this film, check out a discussion panel with the film’s key designers on Saturday February 7 at Gallery Nucleus.)

Animated TV Show Titles

I’ve always been fascinated by TV shows with animated titles. I was planning to compile some of these off You Tube, but my ol’ pal Michael Pinto got there ahead of me. He’s posted on his Fanboy blog a mini-history of the genre, collecting several well known ones from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.

I’m not an expert on which studio did what – oh, it’s well known Hanna-Barbera did Bewitched, UPA The Twilight Zone, DePatie Freleng animated I Dream Of Jeannie, Ken Mundie The Wild Wild West, et al. – but if any experts out there want to chime in with their knowledge on the subject (such as who drew this terrific animatic-style Mr. Terrific open above), I welcome it.

(Thanks, Chris Pepin)

More Anger about Avatar


The image above is of Charlee, a fan of the Avatar series, who protested the live-action film’s racially questionable casting choices at an Avatar casting call in Philadelphia today. He writes about his experience in this blog comment.

Apparently part of Paramount’s marketing plan for Avatar is to alienate every Asian-American before the film is released. For example, listen to the film’s dimwitted casting director Deedee Rickets, who recently explained to a Pennsylvania newspaper how they wanted to cast ethnic extras: “We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire. If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.”

Apparently, nobody informed her that the kimono is not the national dress of Korea, but of Japan. The Angry Asian Man blog is rightfully angry. He writes:

“Right. Koreans, kimonos, funny Asian outfits… they’re all the same. It’s apparent that the people making this movie really don’t care about the kind of movie they’re making, as long as they get to use Asians (and their basket-weaving skills) as props.”

More links to disappointment:

A blog that explains how to protest Paramount and documents the growing chorus of discontent.

Avant Garde Retard reimagines Avatar director M. Night Shyamalan turned white.

Passionate outrage from Maykazine

A blog post by angered Chinese-American who laments “a great opportunity for aspiring young Asian actors that has been taken away.”

Well, Fuck You Too, Hollywood: Not eloquent but an honest sentiment from a fan.

And it’s not just Asians, even the Angry Black Woman is angry: “I’m holding out one hope – that this is some kind of messed-up viral marketing effort, maybe using reverse psychology to get people all riled up about the film so they’ll blog about it, etc. But if this is really the cast they’re planning to go with, I will definitely be boycotting this movie, and urging everyone I know to do the same.”

The Whitewashing of Avatar: The Last Airbender


A lot of people online are talking about the forthcoming live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender and nobody has a single nice thing to say. The source of controversy: the four lead actors cast in the live-action version are all white.

Comic book artist Derek Kirk Kim wrote an impassioned blog entry about the casting choices and explains succinctly why this is such a poor decision on Paramount’s part:

“[Avatar is] wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!–it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks–traditional Korean clothing–the design of which wasn’t even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show’s intentions and origins to think this wouldn’t extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don’t see any blonde people running around in Avatar. (I’m not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I’m just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.)”

To rub salt in the wound, this is what actor Jackson Rathbone told an interviewer about how he needs to prepare to play a role in Avatar: “I definitely need a tan.” Unbelievable.

Recently Madeline Ashby penned an excellent thought-provoking piece for FPS Magazine about the growing trend of live-action anime adaptations and the systematic exclusion of Asians from these films (the upcoming live versions of Akira and Cowboy Bebop also handed lead roles to white actors). She also ponders why movie studios don’t actually support the studios making the original works instead of trying to cash in with watered-down adaptations:

The anime industry is barely getting by, at a point in time when its global appeal is most highly recognized. As Roland Kelts points out in Japanamerica, people who believe that anime is a lucrative business for the animators or even directors are sadly deluded…But big names like DiCaprio and Reeves could give the industry a much-needed boost by following the Tarantino and Wachowski method: fund your own anime, rather than commissioning adaptations. For the cost of a Hollywood film, couldn’t you pay the people at Gonzo or Production IG or Bones to animate your own script? What if, instead of meatsack re-hashings of classic anime titles, we got fresh product done by professionals who know the medium inside and out?

Back to Avatar, an online letter-writing campaign has been launched encouraging people to write in about the film’s casting. Concerned fans are being asked to address their letters to Paramount’s head of production, Mark Bakshi, who, in an ironic twist, is the son of Ralph Bakshi, a filmmaker who always dealt frankly and openly with racial issues in his work. UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that though everybody is addressing their complaint letters to Bakshi, he was laid off from Paramount quite a few months ago.

(Thanks to Anson Jew who brought this story to my attention on Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page)

They Might Be YouTube Watchers

Animator Elliot Cowan recently posted the following animation on YouTube featuring his characters Boxhead and Roundhead. The short uses an unlicensed piece of music by They Might Be Giants:

So how did the band respond to this? They called up Elliot, while he was taking a dump no less, to tell him they liked the animation and that he should change the credit at the end of the video from “Used Without Permission” to “Used With Permission.”

There are so many video sharing website contests and the like which encourage you to submit your work because you’ll get some “exposure.” If Elliot’s story proves anything, exposure is available to everybody, it’s free, and it doesn’t require silly contests. The key is to simply get your work out there. If it’s good, people will discover it and who knows what can come out of that.