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 The Facebook page includes artwork from Jonas’s work at Disney (101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty), as well as unpublished artwork, gag drawings, and vintage photos.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.
Too Art for TV, the annual art show exhibiting the fine art work of New York’s animation community, is gearing up for its fourth edition. The application deadline for this year’s show is April 30. The show is open to anybody who has worked in the animation industry, and while the focus remains on artists in New York City, they are also open to entries from animation artists outside of the city. Full entry details are available on the Too Art for TV website.
Scott Kirsner, Variety writer and editor of the invaluable CinemaTech blog, breaks it down in his new book by offering case studies of thirty visual artists, comedians, animators, documentary filmmakers, musicians and writers. I haven’t seen the book yet, but I’m sure that it’s not going to offer many easy-to-follow formulas. Even the traditional media gatekeepers, with their hundreds of millions of dollars, have yet to figure out a formula for taming the Internet. What the book will likely show though is that there are countless different models that indie media makers, including animators, can use to connect with an audience online. Unlimited opportunities await artists on the Internet, and this book should serve as an invaluable handbook for any creative soul who is brave enough to venture into this uncharted frontier.
The author, Scott Kirsner, has kindly provided Cartoon Brew an exclusive excerpt from an interview in the book with JibJab founders Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, and how they’ve found unconventional ways of generating revenue from their animation work:
When one thinks of David Stainton, the former president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, what are the first two descriptive terms that come to mind? According to his website DavidStainton.com, it should be “creative leadership” and “strategy.”
To his credit, Stainton IS very creative when it comes to rewriting history and making his reign during one of Disney’s lowest creative moments seem like an accomplishment. The bio on his website includes these fancy bit of revisionism:
At Feature Animation, David transformed the division financially, creatively, and technologically. During his tenure, he cut overhead, production costs, and operating losses in half. At the same time, he revived the culture of creative excellence at the studio with a new line-up of films. Finally, his leadership drove the historic transition from hand-drawn to computer-generated animation at Feature Animation and his other divisions, bringing animation at Disney fully into the digital era.
So how much of Disney’s creative inadequacy was directly Stainton’s fault and how much of it could be attributed to the dysfunctional corporate infrastructure that had been in place since the early-1990s? That’s a question that will have to be answered by those who are much more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the studio. It was a new one on me though to read in Stainton’s filmography that Hunchback of Notre Dame was based on his pitch and adaptation. That fact alone should have been an adequate warning that he didn’t have the first clue about what types of material are best suited to animation.
“Congobeat” has posted on YouTube several really cool, vintage animated advertisments from Australia. Each one put a smile on my face. The first one, dated 1941, is for Bushell’s Tea and features what life will be like in a retro-future down under:
The next one is for Aeroplane Fruit Jellies and features their mascot “Bertie” the airplane:
Another for Aeroplane Jellies, this one a TV spot from 1959 that introduces the I like Aeroplane Jellies theme song.
Big day in the U.S. and Canada for prime time animation. The folks behind the hilarious Arested Development have concocted Sit Down, Shut Up for Fox. The first episode airs tonight at 8:30pm. Meanwhile, in the Great White North, the McKenzie brothers return to Canadian television in the new half-hour animated series Bob & Doug, premiering tonight at 7:30pm on Global. Any thoughts?
I know what Bill Plympton wants for his birthday. He wants you to attend his Idiots and Angels VIP Screening and Birthday Party.
On Thursday, April 30 at 6pm, Bill will screen his latest feature Idiots and Angels at the Helen Mills Theatre (136 West 26st St. between 6th + 7th, in Manhattan) — and everyone who attends will recieve a FREE Plympton original drawing. At 8pm, there will be a VIP After Party with wine, desserts “and surprises”.
Proceeds from this evening will contribute to the production the upcoming documentary project, Adventures in Plymptoons! For more information on this event go to brownpapertickets.com/
You know those Magic Eye pictures? The ones that, if you stare at it long enough, you can see 3-D (without glasses). Here’s an attempt to do that with a moving image –the Pink Panther, animated. It’s a looped sequence of 19 frames converted from Flash animation. I’m not sure if it’s working for me, but I like the idea.
It’s the sign of a healthy festival when others begin creating unofficial events around the main proceedings. That’s what’s happening regularly now with the Annecy animation festival. In 2005, filmmakers Pat Smith and Bill Plympton started the still-continuing Annecy Plus, which is a screening for films rejected from the festival.
Yesterday, I got an email from Annecy local Raphael Cahuzac, who runs a record label in town, and he’s starting up another screening during the week of the festival. Here are the details from Raphael:
We’re having a party on the 8th of June in a local bar Le Comptoir de la Folie Ordinaire where we want to screen short films during the Animation Film Festival. Our event isn’t part of the official festival or the Annecy Plus program. I’m interested in anything (2D, Flash, clay animation, etc.), either in English, French or with French and/or English subtitles. We will only accept DVDs.
The event will be free and open to all. I would also like to encourage people who will be in Annecy during the animation festival to come and party with us.
If you’re interested in having your film screened at this event, you can reach Raphael at r.cahuzac at wanadoo dot fr. I’m definitely going to be checking this show out.
Here’s a picture of me with a very rare pig (Uhh… I’m the one on the left).
Aside from production cels, how many physical props are still in existence from classic Looney Tunes? Mike Van Eaton of Van Eaton Galleries just acquired this piece (it’s not for sale – yet) from the estate of a Termite Terrace animator: It’s the Porky statue seen in the opening titles of Porky’s Hero Agency (1937). Apparently Bob Clampett made several of these and gave them to his top staff. The one in the film is painted, this one is not. This one is also inscribed with Porky’s name on the base, and a “(c) LS” (copyright Leon Schlesinger) on the back of the piece. Click on thumbnails below to get a better look.
Today I’m in New York City and, if I may plug it one more time, tonight I’ll be signing books — in particular Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 5: The Harvey Girls — at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. I’ll be telling the secret origin of how the Paramount Pictures cartoon characters (Casper, Baby Huey, Little Audrey, et al) ended up becoming the foundation of the entire Harvey Comics line. This is also the last weekend to view rare original Harvey Comics art on display at the Museum. The fun starts at 6:30pm. MoCCA is located at 594 Broadway, in Suite 401. More info online at the museum website.
Director Michel Gondry, who occasionally employs animation in his music videos, has launched a new website at MichelGondry.com. The most interesting feature on the site is that he’s offering to draw a portrait of anybody for $19.95. The samples on the site are pretty crude, but that’s besides the point. I’m impressed by the savviness of Gondry in choosing to interact with his fans in this manner, and considering his popularity, it’ll probably bring in a nice chunk of change too. The idea seems like such a no-brainer that I’m surprised well-known animation artists (people who actually draw for a living) haven’t tried doing this before. The Internet has broken down the barriers between creators and their fans, and the most successful artists in this day and age will ultimately be those who understand how to build an audience and connect with them in a meaningful way.
Alan Coats, the son of legendary Disney background painter Claude Coats, has started a website about his father’s work at ClaudeCoats.com Right now, the site is mainly a storefront that sells giclée prints of Coats’ personal paintings, some of which are quite attractive. I hope Alan eventually fleshes it out with more family photos, personal ephemera, and career details as well.
One of the unexpected delights of the Internet age has been seeing the children of Golden Age animators launch websites devoted to their parents. After toiling in anonymity for their entire careers, it’s fitting that these artists would finally receive marquee recognition with entire destinations devoted to their individual accomplishments. The gold standards for family-operated artist sites are AbeLevitow.com, BillPeet.net and this incredible blog by Irv Spector’s son.
Classic cartoon chase meets David Hockney in A Wolf Loves Pork by Japanese artist Takeuchi Taijin. Technique and technical showmanship are front and center as the actions within the photo frame interact with the real-world space in clever and unexpected ways. I’ve got just one word for this short: Brilliant!
The comic strip pages have been having their way with Disney characters lately. Here are two from today’s paper: Speed Bump by Dave Coverly and Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn. Click on thumbnails above for larger images.
And also don’t forget the Brooklyn-based Animation Block Party (July 24-26). Perhaps not quite in the same league as these other festivals in terms of breadth of programming or international prestige, but it has its own charms. The cut-off for Animation Block entries is May 29, 2009.
We heard last week that the MyToons site had shut down for good. MyToons, for those who don’t know, was a “social networking” site for animators. A quick search reveals that the company had already laid off most of its staff last January and was floundering.
The TechCrunch article linked above includes some damning allegations against the company’s founders–Dan Kraus, Paul Ford, and Stacey Ford–and alleges that they blew over $6 million of venture capital in just a couple years without ever coming up with anything that remotely resembled a business plan. Citing anonymous staffers, TechCrunch claimed:
Among the allegations put forward by former employees who wish to remain anonymous: grave mismanagement, a complete disinterest from the company’s co-founders to turn MyToons into a revenue-generating business along with more serious accusations that the executives have been misrepresenting the company’s financial and operational status to their investors and moreover wasting VC money on personal purchases like trips to Hawaii, fancy dinners with relatives, home electronics for personal use and so on.
Jossie Malis, an animator and illustrator living in Barcelona, has been developing an animated series online for the last 3 years called Bendito Machine. Each film pits primitive people against alien creatures and intergalactic robots, done in an Aztec designed cut-out silouette style. I like them a lot – I especially dig the soundtrack on the latest one (above).
One way Malis is producing these shorts is by selling art prints. Says Malis:
I’m working on this project without any funds or financial aid, only in my spare time. It takes a lot to compete each episode because I’m always working on other commissioned projects during most of the year. In this last installment, I have a new collaboration with Sxip Shirey, a great and fantastic musician and composer from NY.
At the same time, we just started another site called Printastic.org. It’s a platform for illustrators around the world, where you can buy great quality giclée prints of his works; half of the income goes to each artist, and the rest of the money goes into Bendito Machine. We do this because we love prints and have many many friends around the world doing amazing stuff like the ones at the gallery, but also, because we want to find a way to keep doing more episodes of Bendito Machine at the same time.
Layout artist and background painter Joseph Holt has started a new blog featuring loads of his production artwork from from the late-’90s through today. There is work from Mission Hill, The Oblongs, Time Squad, and My Life as a Teenage Robot, among other productions. I particularly like the work he did on Meddlen Meadows (posted above), which was a short made within the Cartoonstitute Shorts Program at Cartoon Network. Holt says on the blog that he’s also been creating visual development for Symbiotic Titan, a series being produced by The Orphanage Animation Studios for Cartoon Network.