Winnipeg animator Cordell Barker (The Cat Came Back, Strange Invaders) is back with a new film. Runaway will have its World Premiere at the 48th International Critics’ Week (May 14-22) in Cannes.
I’m a big fan of Barker’s cartoons. The NFB just post this promotional video (below) where he explains his latest film, and his creative process. More information and clips on Runaway, and downloads of his previous films are on posted here.
I’m continuing the great animation book purge of 2009. Everything I posted earlier today is already sold, but I’ve just posted more cool stuff by Jack Kinney, Eyvind Earle, Ernie Pintoff, Bob Dranko, Chris Jenkyns, Ken Anderson, Charles Schulz, Harvey Kurtzman, Friz Freleng, etc. Help me empty my life by going to the book sale page. Even more stuff coming soon!
Did you know songwriter E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (lyricist of The Wizard of Oz, Gay Purr-ee and much else) wrote material for the Max Fleischer studio?
Neither did I.
Harburg historian Nick Markovich of The Yip Harburg Foundation has recently discovered evidence that Harburg lyrics were written for at least three Fleischer cartoons from the 1929-30 period — when Harburg was writing for Paramount-Astoria Studios on Long Island. Markovich wrote us, looking for early Fleischer films for research. He says:
“Harburg was employed by Paramount’s Astoria, Long Island studio for a few years starting in 1929 — hence the Fleischer connection. For Paramount he wrote lyrics with such composers as Vernon Duke (with whom he later wrote April in Paris for a Broadway revue) and Jay Gorney (with whom he wrote Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? for another Broadway revue). It’s possible that other lyrics or verses he wrote ended up uncredited in other Fleischer cartoons. The only way to tell definitively would be to watch every single one of them, listen carefully and compare to the dozens of obscure lyric sheets in Harburg’s collection. In the last two years alone I have discovered that several Gorney-Harburg songs were performed in two features, one featurette, and one cartoon from that era, all uncredited. So who knows what’s out there — either in animated shorts or live action features and featurettes?
In The Shade Of the Old Apple Tree — A blurb in the January 19, 1930 Film Daily states: “E.Y. Harburgâ€¦composes those captivating lines which make you want to join in with the crowd on Paramount’s Fleischer cartoon singing reels. His ‘Old Apple Tree’ number is a darb.”
Harburg also apparently provided material to the Screen Song short, The Prisoner’s Song. Also, there is a typewritten lyric sheet by Harburg entitled “Bedtime Story” — a satire of Grimm-type fairy stories that frighten children. A handwritten note at the top of this sheet says “Verse for Fleischer picture.”
The “Bedtime Story” piece, reprinted below, is obviously a first draft for the Bedtime Story broadcast at the end of Radio Riot (1930), one of Fleischer’s earliest Talkartoons. Compare the draft below with the finished film (below it). It wouldn’t surprise me if Harburg wrote all the dialogue in the film — it’s quite clever.
BED TIME STORY
Announcer: Good evening, children. This is station GORe. Tonight you shall have the extreme pleasure of listening to Uncle Grim, the author of Grim=E 2s Fairy Tales, who has a very interesting Bed Time story for you. Children, meet uncle Grim.
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of a child named Goldy-Locks Schnitzelbeer;
Who always wore
For conduct, and virtues that folks all adore.
As she strolled thru the woods in her little red cape,
The clink of her medals attracted an APE!
The Apiest Ape
With unbearable hands,
With horrible ears,
And terrible glands!
His breath was fire.
His eyes were green
His claws were wire
And his GROWL WAS M-E-A-N !X!X!
And Goldylocks Schnitzelbeer said with a laugh,
Vas loffly fillings your back teeth haff!”
Then the Ape he tore her from limb to limb…
‘Cause there was no monkeying ‘round with him.
He cracked her ribs
With a thunderous thud,
And crunched her skull
In a pool of blood,
And there he wallowed
In spleen and gall
Until he swallowed
Her, medals and all.
Till all that remained of Goldylocks
Was a wish bone wrapped in one of her socks.
Now dear children, go to bed. Sleep tight.
Be kind. Be sweet. Happy dreams. Good night!
Announcer: You have just listened to a bed time story by Uncle Grim, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
He comes to you every Doomsday evening thru the courtesy of the Sheepshead Bay Fur Co., manufacturers of Mice Skin Rugs, Bear Skin Coats and Cat Guts for Tennis Rackets.
Tonight is the second annual Toronto Animation Industry Night presented by Toronto Animation Live. I’m not familiar with the organization hosting the event; their stated purpose is to serve as a networking organization “dedicated to the growth and development of the Toronto animation industry.” This evening’s event, which combines networking, music and screenings, begins at 7pm at the Century Room (580 King St. W). Tickets are $5 at the door if you rsvp by email to info at torontoanimationlive.com. Otherwise, it’s $10 at the door for walk-ins. Their ad promises complimentary food and beverages. If you have attended the previous one, or if you attend tonight, let us know what you think of it in the comments.
Cassidy Curtis, an animator at PDI/DreamWorks, and his wife, Raquel Coelho, created this charming pixilated short that also serves as a document of a pregnancy. The extensive notes on how they made it are worth reading:
Animating over such a long period of time, using an increasingly pregnant woman as one of your puppets, means basically throwing out everything you might normally do in an animated film. For example, early on, we had this idea that we should wear the same clothes every time, for continuity’s sake. But as Raquel’s pregnancy developed, we soon discovered that the extra effort required to change in and out of our uniforms was going to interfere with the goal of shooting as many frames as possible, and might even prevent us from finishing the project at all. We dialed down the perfectionism, and in the process ended up having a lot more fun with it.
We first wrote about Jun seo Hahm‘s series of super-short shorts Karnival back in 2007 when it was starting up. Since then, Jun has completed the series with ten episodes, all created in his distinctive hand-drawn vectorized style. Some of the later ones, like Flashlight Dog and Toaster, really make me smile with their perfect combination of the whimsical, cute and disturbing. The ten shorts can be seen at Karnival.tv.
I love this. Using both praxinoscopes and a technique of matching up the frame rate of the spinning record to that of the camera, animator David Wilson used no computers to create this music video. Watch him explain it all, below:
Yoni Goodman, the director of animation for Waltz with Bashir, created this public service announcement for the human rights organization Gisha–Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. It’s a good example of how to use animation to communicate an important political issue with clarity and precision. There’s also a short making-of video in which Goodman talks about the piece, as well as a website for the film at ClosedZone.com.
In case you haven’t been following news developments in the “real world”: Gawker is reporting that the “suspected Israeli operative” whose phone was being tapped by the NSA in conversations with representative Jane Harman (D-Calif.) — was none other than our ol’ friend Haim Saban (the animation schlockmeister who became a zillionaire after dubbing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). That’s him, pictured above, on the far left (in more ways than one). The Gawker piece has a nice profile of Saban’s illustrious career.
I got a peek at the latest Disney Book Group catalog, prepared for this week’s London Book Fair. There are plenty of things coming up this fall of interest to our readers, for example:
THE PIXAR TREASURES by Tim Hauser (similar to The Disney Treasures with all sorts of removable “keepsakes”) – publication date September 2009.
THE MAKING OF DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Diane Landau (based on the Zemeckis motion capture film) – publication date September 2009
SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM DISNEY by Jeff Kurtti (a collection of vintage studio Christmas cards) – publication date September 2009
SOUTH OF THE BORDER WITH DISNEY by J.B. Kaufman (major history of Disney’s South American films) – publication date October 2009
WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS ARCHIVE SERIES: ANIMATION, Intro by John Lasseter – publication date October 2009
WALT DISNEY IMAGINEERING – a sequel to a previous Imagineering book, with a Forward by Bob Iger Intro by John Lasseter – publication date November 2009
WALT DISNEY’S PETER PAN by Dave Barry (yes that Dave Barry) and Ridley Pearson, Illustrated by Mary Blair – publication date September 2009
I was also intrigued by the catalog’s listing of two children’s books based on upcoming shorts: Pixar’s Partly Cloudy and Disney’s Prep & Landing. Click thumbnails below to see the catalog pages about these two unusual projects.
Videokrauting, created by Italians Nicola Ferrarese, Corrado Agnese, Valentina Mantello and Marzia Pellegatta, is a tribute to videogames animated entirely with sauerkraut. References are made to Tetris, Pac-Man and Prince of Persia.
They’ve also made Super Mario with beans and Asteroids with tomatoes. My favorite work by these filmmakers is an original creation however–D’Altra Parte Ã¨ CosÃ¬ by Nicola Ferrarese. This two-minute film (posted below) uses simple stop-motion tricks to transform the ordinary and mundane–a spoon and other everyday objects–into a nail-biting action-packed episode.
Speaking of Chuck Jones, an anonymous Argentinian Youtube user called “Lafacukur” recently uploaded a video of an edited version of the debut Coyote & Road Runner cartoon, Fast and Furry-ous, with an obviously tacked-on ending where the Coyote actually catches the Road Runner. The video has become viral and the Latin American press and TV media have made a big deal of it. Most of the press reports say that this is cartoon made by an animator by request of a Japanese millionaire that was sick of never seeing the Coyote succeed. I rather doubt it–but it’s a nice try.
Did you know Chuck Jones made an adaptation of The Jungle Book? Sadly, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t. It’s even available on DVD.
This clip below offers a taste. Like most of Jones’s work from the 1970s, it’s dripping with cloying preciousness. And yet, it’s difficult to dislike it. Even Jones at his Jonesiest is a cut above the rest of the animation that came out of Hollywood during that decade.
George Pal came to America in 1940 with a contract to make animated shorts for Paramount. His Madcap Models (later Puppetoons) were a instant success, and Paramount played up, for publicity purposes, the unique methods Pal used: stop motion and replacement animation.
Mike Van Eaton recently shared this rare publicity photo with me (click picture above to see larger, fuller image). That’s actreses Martha O’Driscoll with Pal in the Paramount commisary, with “Sarong-Sarong” the star of the third puppetoon, Hoola Boola (1941). The caption on the back says “More than 7000 miniature, stringless manikins were used for the eight minute film”.
Here’s a short scene from Hoola Boola, featuring Jim Dandy and Sarong-Sarong:
Golden Age animation artist Homer Jonas (1928-1979) now has a Facebook fan page courtesy of his son, artist Jeff Jonas. The Facebook page includes artwork from Jonas’s work at Disney (101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty), as well as unpublished artwork, gag drawings, and vintage photos. Jeff says he’s planning to add more items in the future.