Worst. Disney Poster. Ever.

I guess this is slightly O.T. as the film referenced here is a live action short.

I was at a horror movie convention in Burbank yesterday (Monsterpalooza ’09) and found this piece (above) in a box of cheap lobby cards. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, nor could I couldn’t stop laughing at it. This has to be the worst Disney poster/ad art/promotional painting I’ve ever seen! It looks like a Bruce McCall-National Lampoon spoof – but it’s the real thing. It’s so stupid looking, so God-awful, even the logo/typeface is so boring; I can’t believe they thought this would be an effective come-on to a film, even a short. I bought it for $2.

Is this the worst poster Walt Disney’s name was associated with? I don’t mean worst film… I mean, of all the films Walt produced in his lifetime, was this the lamest movie poster to bear (no pun intended) his name? If not, do you have a better candidate?

UPDATE: Kevin Kidney posted a follow up on his blog, with a full image of the original painting used in this poster.

Vintage Cartoon Ice Cream Packages

Remember that rare Leon Schlesinger merchandising manual we posted about a year ago? Here’s how one Looney Tunes licensee used it. Dan Goodsell recently posted these rare ice cream packages (click thumbnails below to view enlarged image of each) on flickr. Dig the blue hairy Daffy Duck, the early still-evolving Elmer and note the fact they chose to use the obscure Fluffnums (from Tashlin’s Porky’s Romance) and “Patrick” Parrot (from Avery’s I Wanna Be a Sailor) as representative Looney Tunes.

Frankly, I learn almost as much about old cartoons from their merchandising as I do from watching the cartoons themselves. Thanks to Dan Goodsell for continuing his archeology in this area of research. Check Dan’s blog regularly for new finds – and updates on Mr. Toast.

(Thanks, Billie Towser)

TOMORROW IN LA: UP Lecture at Gallery Nucleus

Up Art by Ronnie del Carmen
I swear, Pixar isn’t paying us to post all these news items about their film products, but frankly, it’d be kind of nice if they did. Tomorrow afternoon between 2-5pm, Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra will be hosting a lecture with Ronnie del Carmen, who was story supervisor and lead story artist on UP. In addition to discussing his work on the film, del Carmen will be signing copies of The Art of UP as well as the tie-in storybook that he illustrated called My Name is Dug, and a new personal book, There You Are. Admission is FREE. More details on the Gallery Nucleus website.

Craigslist Animation Ad of the Week

In this economy, any work is better than none, but as I pointed out last week, there are some offers you may want to think twice about. Here’s a good one that popped up on Craigslist:

Animator needed for tv pilot episode!

Seeking Animator to create 15 second animation to illustrate a point for a personal development TV pilot episode. Pay is low, however if show is picked up there is chance for future work, and credits off course…

I am an awesome person to work with, young/ hip /entrepreneur!

Pay: $250
Send email with links or samples of work.
Thanks! Email [email protected]
Exposure and joy guaranteed.

I did a little research on the email address, and it turns out the person commissioning this is a masseuse, which gives potentially new meaning to her guarantee of exposure and joy.

(Thanks, Patrick Tuorto)

I’m Just a Jitterbug (1939)

I always love an excuse to post an obscure Walter Lantz cartoon from the 1930s featuring swing music, rotoscoped dancers and un-P.C. stereotypes, set against the backdrop of an animation studio. The excuse this time is a Lantz in-house memo (below left – click thumbnail to enlarge) that collector Eric Calande just sent me. Lantz asks the staff (“Dear Gang”) to contribute gags to this cartoon, with prizes ranging from $2 to $10 for the best ideas. Note that the memo is dated September 26th 1938 and the cartoon was released January 23rd 1939. From board to screen in four months!? Perhaps the rush to cash in on “a fad” necessitated a production crunch. Also note the set up to this premise pre-dates Friz Freleng’s Looney Tune You Ought To Be In Pictures by a year.

Though the Jitterbug character never reappeared, the concept of this cartoon was the basis for several other swing music cartoons, and the forerunner of the Swing Symphonies series Lantz initiated in 1941. Despite the title card, this was not an Oswald Rabbit cartoon – it was actually one of Lantz’s miscellaneous Cartune series (it was released to TV in the 1950s in the Oswald television package). Frame grabs from the original titles are posted below (click thumbnails to enlarge)

Dreamworks Animation: 2010 through 2012

Dreamworks Animation announced its release slate today. Here’s what’s coming up:

How to Train Your Dragon will be released on March 26, 2010. Written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois about a teenager who fights dragons as a way of life.

Shrek Forever After will be released on May 21, 2010. Directed by Mike Mitchell.

Oobermind (formerly titled Master Mind) will open on Nov. 5, 2010. Directed by Tom McGrath and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey; It’s about a super villain (Oobermind) who falls into despair after defeating his foe, the super hero Metro Man.

Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom will be come out June 3, 2011. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Panda will feature the return of the original voice cast including Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman.

The Guardians, based on forthcoming books by William Joyce, will be released on Nov. 4, 2011. The world’s five unlikeliest heroes – Jack Frost, North (aka Santa), Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), and Sandy (the Sandman) band together to stop an ancient spirit called Pitch (the Boogeyman) from plunging the world into eternal darkness. Sounds intriguing.

Puss In Boots will be released on March 30, 2012. Antonio Banderas is back as Puss, who tackles an evil Humpty Dumpty and a street-savvy Kitty who have stolen the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

• Another Madagascar sequel will be released on May 25, 2012.

• On Nov. 2, 2012, the company plans to release one of three projects currently in pre-production: The Croods directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, about a caveman; Truckers about a society of tiny beings living in a department store; or an untitled Super Secret Ghost Project, about … ghosts.

More details on these releases is posted at the San Francisco Business Times.

Tony Peters R.I.P.

Animation writer Antony (Tony) Peters passed away this past Sunday in New York. He was a longtime Asifa-East board member and veteran animation story artist on several Rankin-Bass classics, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Willie McBean & His Magic Machine and Tales of the Wizard of Oz. He also wrote episodes of Rocket Robin Hood and Grantray-Lawrence’s Marvel Super Heroes cartoons of the 1960s. Since then, he produced dozens of industrial and commercial films out of his studio, Instant Miracles in New York. David Levy has posted a proper obit on the Asifa-East website.

I met Tony once about fifteen years ago in New York and told him I was a big fan one his work on the 1960s Paramount cartoons. We both agreed his best film was The Itch (1965) – he was quite proud of it, in fact. So was Howard Post, its director, who told me how he decided to tell the story with Ronald Searle-inspired art style – and how he convinced actress Hermione Gingold, appearing on Broadway at the time, to come in to record, uncredited, the part of the wife. It hasn’t been shown much at all, and is one of the best cartoons the studio ever made — so here in tribute to Tony Peters, is The Itch:

(Thanks, David Burd)

An invitation from Disney

Animator Hans Perk (whose wonderful Disney-centric blog is an essential read) has just posted a very rare find: a 1932 Disney party invitation to celebrate the switch in studio distribution from Columbia Pictures to United Artists. Hans points out that the invite is written by “Mickey” himself and suggests to current writers for the Mouse that “This is how Mickey should talk.” I agree.

Check it out on A. Film L.A..

Ottawa on a Budget

Among the many benefits of living on the East Coast is that it’s a fairly close haul up to the Ottawa International Animation Festival, at least relative to when I lived on the West Coast. It can be a cheap trip too if planned right. NY filmmaker Fran Krause (recently interviewed on the Brew) encourages his students to attend every year, and he thinks it’s such a professionally valuable event that he puts together a guide for his students on how to experience the festival on a budget. This year he’s decided to share his Ottawa guide with the entire world, and he has good advice for anybody who needs to travel up there frugally. (A word of caution though: I heard some folks got bedbugs at the “jail” hostel last year. Personally I’d go with the hotel-split option. Just make sure to reserve early.)

Aliens in the Attic

Talk about your butt-ugly martians.

I went to the movies last night (Terminator Salvation). Saw posters for what looked like a new animated film, Aliens In The Attic. But alas, as the trailer below shows, the film is actually a hybrid. The posters played up the CG aliens, not the live action cast (which includes teen queen Ashley Tisdale, comedians Kevin Nealon and Andy Richter). It looks stupid – and probably is. I thought you should be warned.

The CG characters were created at Rhythm and Hues.

A Little Love: The Art of Bill Melendez

Check out this self-produced mini-doc by writer Matt Zoller Seitz about Peanuts director Bill Melendez – covering his artistic roots, his directorial style, and his influence on the films of Wes Anderson. The juxtaposition of Melendez’s art between Hitchcock’s and Kubrick’s presents a fresh and exciting way of looking at animation in a filmic context. Bonus points to Matt who writes in the YouTube comments that he used my book Cartoon Modern as a resource when preparing this film.

WSJ says Donald Duck is the “Jerry Lewis” of Germany!

It’s rare when Disney comics get a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, so today’s piece on the popularity of The Donald (Duck, that is) is long overdue. Disney’s comics are indeed more popular in Europe, and the standard characters (aka Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto) are more well known today to children internationally than they are here in the USA. Susan Bernofsky does a good job explaining why Deutschland digs the Duck.

Awesomely Bad Misuse of Classic Animation

Hip Hop Nursery Rhymes

Brew reader Roy Miles writes, “I saw a commercial for this while watching Spider-Man cartoons with my daughter. I thought you would get equally creeped out as I did. The commercial was on Disney XD.”

The company takes Golden Age animation that has entered the public domain and adds “hip-hop” nursery rhymes over them. There are samples on the company’s website. The product’s highlights, according to them, are:

* 100% Profanity Free
* Perfect for those long road trips
* No derogatory themes or message
* Can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and around anyone
* Introduce your kids to hip-hop the right way
* Will make you regret ever having kids
(OK, I made the last one up.)

Fox-Aniboom Holiday Animation Challenge

Fox Aniboom Holiday Challenge

Hey everybody, it’s “an animator’s shot of a lifetime,” according to the Fox network and Aniboom.com, who have teamed up to sponsor an outlandishly demanding contest that requires artists to make them a 2-4 minute holiday-themed short for no pay. Fox Broadcasting Company prez Kevin Reilly says, “Fox has long been the sole primetime animation powerhouse, and we’re searching for a fresh new animated holiday special that could potentially become an instant classic and maybe even a weekly series.” The rules are: “Make it funny. Make it edgy. Make it uniquely Fox.” The reward is a few bucks and some kind of a development deal at Fox.

Bottom line: Name me one well-known animation creator who has launched his or her career due to an online contest? Zip, zero, nada! These type of gimmicks are designed to bring attention to the corporations sponsoring them, not to help artists gain a foothold in the industry. Nevertheless, gullible, young and stupid artists who don’t know any better enter these contests by the legions inspired by years of conditioning from reality TV competitions that promise fame and fortune with minimal effort. The only winners in this contest are those who are intelligent enough to not waste their time entering this sham, and instead choose to pursue the path of success that every other great artist has followed in the past, and that quite simply involves hard work, determination and persistence.

UPDATE: Veteran animation writer Mark Evanier addresses the issues of contests, like the Fox/Aniboom one, on his blog. He says, “The terms might as well say, ‘We get everything, you get nothing except what we decide to give you.’ That’s not good for an artist’s wallet, career or soul.”

UPCOMING EXHIBIT: “Drawings That Move: The Art of Joanna Quinn”

Joanna Quinn

The National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire will be presenting a comprehensive exhibit of the work of independent animator Joanna Quinn this fall. The show, which will be held from October 16, 2009 through the end of February 2010, will display works by artists that have influenced Quinn (such as Gillray, Daumier, and Goya), early artwork by Quinn, and plenty of production artwork from her short films (Famous Fred, Dreams and Desires: Family Ties, Britannia, Girls Night Out) and advertising work (most famously, her series of bears-wiping-their-asses commercials for Charmin). Over at Michael Sporn’s blog, there are scanned pages from the exhibit’s catalog with more artwork and details about what will be on display.

Nick Pitera sings Part of Your World

The Little Mermaid reunion in Burbank last night was a blast. Co-Directors John Musker and Ron Clements (and panelists including Andreas Deja, Reuben Aquino, Mark Henn, Duncan Marjoribanks, moderator Tom Sito, among others) told great stories on how the film got made and the highs and lows of casting, production, test screenings and the ultimate public reaction to the final product. (Asifa-Hollywood recorded the panel on video).

During the Q & A portion, John Musker mentioned seeing a remarkable (and a bit scary) You Tube video of Nick Pitera and his cover of Part Of Your World. Check it out below:

Even more interesting is Pitera’s “duet” of A Whole New World from Musker and Clement’s Aladdin.