Lost Tom & Jerry title cards

Fellow animation historian David Gerstein is on a roll.

He’s followed up his discovery of the lost ending to the Bugs Bunny Hare-um Scare-um with an equally intriguing find. He’s just posted on his blog of the existence of several rare Tom & Jerry prints from the 1940s, featuring previously unseen main title art (click thumbnails above for a few samples). You’ll recall that I’ve posted before, on my MGM Cartoon Research page, that the original negatives to MGM cartoons prior to 1952 were destroyed in a studio fire. While duplicate film elements survive, these are from reissue prints. Unfortunately MGM refilmed the opening titles and sometimes removed or changed gags and animation for re-release. In other words, the original visuals for 1940s MGM cartoons only exist in rare nitrate prints. David has posted some choice shots from several of these on his blog. These are images never seen on DVD or Cartoon Network. Click here and enjoy.

Format Films in TV Guide (1961)

Internet broadcaster Stu Shostak has an almost complete collection of TV Guide magazine. While waiting for his radio show to start (which I was a guest on yesterday; rebroadcasts of the program run everyday at 7pm EST/4pm PST) I browsed through several back issues and found a few items of interest for Cartoon Brew readers.

For example, this three page spread from the December 30th, 1961 issue, on the fine art of Format Films animators Jules Engel, Bob McIntosh, Joe Mugnaini and Herb Klynn. Engel, McIntosh and Klynn are well known animation veterans, Mugnaini is best known for his illustrations for Ray Bradbury novels. It’s great they received this sort of exposure in a national magazine at a time when the perception of animation as an adult artform was waning. (Click thumbnails below to enlarge)

“The Parachute Ending” by Will Sweeney and Steve Scott

Your favorite animated music video for the next five minutes: Birdy Nam Nam’s “The Parachute Ending” directed by Steve Scott and illustrated by Will Sweeney. There’s a healthy dose of René Laloux and Moebius mixed in there, but the overall results are fresh and fun. According to Scott, it was influenced by Laloux’s Planet Sauvage, bad 80s kids cartoons, Metal Hurlant, Nausicaa and Prog Rock album covers. It was created over four weeks in Flash and AfterEffects.

Crew credits are:
James Littlemore – Editor / Compositor
Geoff McDowall – Animator
Ed Willmore – Animator
Roland Edwards – Animator
Dele Nuga – Digital Painter

(Thanks, Christy Karacas and Chris McD)

New Poster for “9″

I’m not trying to be a shill for Shane Acker’s forthcoming feature “9″, but the imagery is so striking and the film itself so anticipated (by me), I can’t seem to help it. This Friday, this new poster will be up at local theatres (click on image to enlarge) which will formally begin the public marketing campaign. Virally, on Facebook, a page has been established where the back-story of “9″ has begun to unfold through the voice of the film’s Scientist. According to a press release: “Here, readers can see the Machine that will help rebuild the Nation and be the first to see his designs that will change the world.” – Focus Features will release “9″ in theatres on 9/9/09.

Jack Bradbury website

Animator and comic book artist Jack Bradbury passed away in 2004. Now his son Joel has launched a tribute website loaded with comic art and animation history. It’s a treasure trove of over 1300 pages of classic comics, odds and ends and a wealth biographical information, shedding new light on working as a freelance comic artist in the 1940s and 50s. I especially love the correspondence between Jack and various comic book editors, discussing the virtues of Hucky Duck, Pansy the Chimp and Angus McSnoot.

Disney Art at NOMA

Here’s an early heads up, The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) will host a special installation of Disney animation art on November 15th to tie-in with the release of The Princess And The Frog.

Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio will present over 600 pieces of original production art, displayed in separate rooms dedicated exclusively to Silly Symphonies, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog.

This special exhibit will only be in New Orleans from Nov 15 to March 15, 2010 (there will be a fundraising gala on Saturday evening, November 14th). For more information check the NOMA website.

Jerry on Stu’s Show tomorrow.

Once again, tomorrow Wednesday June 10th, I will be the featured guest on Stu’s Show on Shokus Internet Radio. This will be my tenth or eleventh (I’ve lost count) 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 Mighty Mouse DVD box set from CBS, forthcoming (if any) classic cartoon DVDs from Warner Bros. and your phone calls. As always, listeners will be encouraged to call in with their questions and comments on the station’s toll-free telephone number. Click here for more details. Tune In, Turn On and… Call Us!

7200 Frames

It was bound to happen. A reality show based on animators making an animated film.

7200 Frames is seeking independent animators from around the US with ideas for a short (five minute=7200 frames) animated film. The chosen films will be fully funded and the process will be documented on video from start to finish. According to their website:

The documentary series will be about the artists and the behind the scenes process of the creation of the animated films, so the submitting artist must be comfortable appearing on camera. The artists must be able to draw, animate and direct — as well as commit to a 4-6 week exclusive production schedule. Interviews will be held in Los Angeles and San Diego in Summer 2009. Applicants must be 18 or older.

Animators must submit portfolio or reel AND live footage of the artist describing his/her film idea. This live interview should be no longer than five minutes. All submissions are due by June 26, 2009.

Animators will be considered for this project during judging sessions that will take place during 2 days in LA and 2 days at the San Diego Comic Con (the producers have reserved a boat behind the Marriot for the judging).

For more information and a trailer, check the 7200 Frames website.

Preston Blair estate sale

Sorry for the late notice. There is a sale today at Clars Auction Gallery that is offering several lots from the estate of Preston Blair. Among the material being offered is (click thumbnails below to see enlarged image): original art to pages of his essential Walter Foster Animation book, several autographed copies of the same, the storyboards for Journey Back To Oz, rare magazine articles on Red Hot Riding Hood, cels and production art from his commercial films, as well as this transparancy negative (pictured above, flipped to positive) for the rare original titles of Columbia’s 1930s Krazy Kat cartoons. If you act fast you may still be able to place a bid on some of these items. If not you can, like me, simply enjoy some of these images online.

(Thanks, Robert Forman)

Cupid Gets Some New Dope Powers

“Yo! You down wit’ dis? Listen up, I hear Cupid got some new dope powers…” Man, I love classic cartoon posters, but this one from 1917 is not only ugly, unappealing and racist (click image at left to enlarge), but it seemingly anticipates hip-hop slang from 90 years into the future. The word “dope” on this one-sheet poster is indeed a drug reference: for a new love potion – which Cupid in the cartoon uses to create mischief. The word “Powers” is not part of the film’s title, its the name of the series (A Pat “Powers Cartoon Comedy”). The text is so poorly laid out it, it can be read the wrong way (at least, by me). I found this poster while browsing at Moviegoods.com, they are selling this repro for $19.99 – the original would be worth thousands. For the record, Pat Sullivan’s Cupid Gets Some New Dope (1917) features his character Sammy Jonsin as “Cupid”. Two years later, Sullivan would find lasting success with the creation of Felix the Cat.

“Dear Pixar, How About a Chick Flick…?”

NPR.org posted these thoughtful two-cents from a female Pixar viewer. Linda Holmes writes:

“Of the ten movies you’ve released so far, ten of them have central characters who are boys or men, or who are anthropomorphized animals or robots or bugs who are voiced by and imagined as boys or men. These movies feature women and girls to varying degrees — The Incredibles, in particular — but the story is never “a girl and the things that happen to her,” the way it’s “a boy and what happens to him.”

While you’re checking in at NPR, don’t miss the interview with Pete Docter recently broadcast on Fresh Air. Docter talks about UP and animation in general. Good stuff. Here’s the link.

(Thanks, John Paul Cassidy and PJ)

Teenage Little Lulu manga from Brazil

If you think the U.S. has a monopoly on ruining its classic cartoon stars… have you seen Little Lulu´s Brazilian-made comics revival as a teenager?

Here is more info (in Portuguese) and pictures. Check out the slim Tubby – according to this info, Tubby left his violin to lead a rock band, Annie is the gang’s geek and a videogame freak, Gloria is a fashion expert and Alvin has become a skater and surfer.

(Thanks, Alfons Moline)

Cartoon Brew TV: The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9!

Terrible Thing of Alpha-9

When I saw this short last month at the student film screening for the School of Visual Arts, I instantly knew it was something that we had to put on Cartoon Brew TV. To be perfectly honest, part of the reason was pure selfishness. It’s because I wanted to watch the film again…and again…and again. Jake Armstrong’s The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! is not only one of the best student shorts I’ve seen in a long time, it’s one of the finest animated shorts, period.

From the opening scene with its striking blood-red color styling, you know you’re watching a short of uncommon quality. The personality animation in this film is superb, and the physical movement of the alien is Mars and Beyond worthy. The use of cutting and camera shows a confident filmmaker at work. The visual style is refreshingly different and a treat for the eyes. Where the film really shines though is in its storytelling; the humor isn’t gag driven, but rather evolves organically from the interactions between the two main characters. This is a cartoon that is sophisticated in all respects, yet done so expertly that the end results appear effortless.

I could praise this film till the cows come home, but the best thing I can do is to invite you to watch The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! exclusively on Cartoon Brew TV.

Cartoon Brew TV #20: The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9!

Today on Cartoon Brew TV we proudly present The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! directed by Jake Armstrong. It was created as his thesis film at the School of Visual Arts. If you have a question for Jake, he’ll be participating in the comments section below, and if you’d like to find out more about his work, visit his blog at JakeHatesYou.blogspot.com. He’s also provided us with some notes about the making of the film:

Making this short was really fun, mostly for the research it involved. I got to reconnect with shows like “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone”, watch weird old soft sci-fi movies like “Forbidden Planet,” and the occasional big-monster-themed Looney Tunes episode. I felt these shows are so over-brimming with crazy style that it felt relatively easy to find things to put in visually. The comic book feel was strongly based on a lot of people, but the big ones that come to mind are Dan James (Ghostshrimp), Rui Tenreiro, Brecht Evens, Thomas Herpich , and Kazimir Strzepek. There are plenty more, but these all heavily influenced my style.

For the look I wanted to start out with an almost nour-ish, very serious soft-science-fiction feel. I chose red as the main color in the opening mainly because I love that stark red color choice in Raoul Servais’ “Sirene.” I was kind of hammering in the idea that this man is a serious bounty hunter, and that this was a very serious story. I think I intended to, for the most part, stay with that feel until the monster gets playful. Then it just turns into my take of the Looney Tunes short, “The Abominable Snow Rabbit,” where the big dumb yeti chases Bugs Bunny around calling him “George.” I wanted to play up the light mood and make the monster as cute as possible, really just to emphasize the large change that happens later when the characters are suddenly hit with reality (at the “splat!”).

To me, the spaceman is kind of boring. He’s basically me in most respects: he kind of looks like me, he’s kind of a grumpy old man. I feel there’s also the side that feels some remorse for what he does. He feels guilt, but pretty much stays the straight and narrow. The monster, I think, is really interesting. He starts off as a big, dumb beast, and then shows more cognition as the story gets more tragic for him. He understands what’s happening, but he just tries to ignore it. I like that the monster is a pretty absurdist character overall.

This short took about 6-8 months to write and figure out most of the design and stylistic choices, and another 8-9 months of drawing and coloring. It was a totally digital process, past the initial boards. I drew it completely using Flash, which was a trying thing since I needed a Cintiq to do anything on it. I was so busy with drawing, that my grandiose plans of writing music for it were kind of put on the shelf. The only bit that’s still there is the sad organ during the credits. Though I feel it would be better with music filling the space, I’m still pretty proud of the way it turned out. The project feels over now, and maybe on the next project (when I don’t’ have a deadline) it can be more complete with music.

What’s Up: Balloon to the Rescue!

Whats Up

I haven’t seen UP yet, mostly owing to the fact that there aren’t any local theaters showing it in a regular non-eye pain inducing theatrical version. The good news is that if I wait until August, I can check out the GoodTimes Home Video version called What’s Up: Balloon to the Rescue. As long as it’s got a flying house, an old man and a kid, I’ll be happy.

(via I Watch Stuff)

Monster Safari Heads to the Bigscreen

Monster Safari

Awesome news from The Hollywood Reporter: Monster Safari, a project created by the boys at LA-based Screen Novelties–Mark Caballero, Chris Finnegan and Seamus Walsh–is being turned into a stop-motion feature by the Jim Henson Co. Craig Zobel and Matt Chapman, creators of Homestarrunner.com, are scripting the feature. According to THR, the story “revolves around what happens when the Earth’s monsters come out of hiding and a pair of bumbling crypto-zoologists spring into action to save them from a ruthless big-game hunter.”

I’m really excited about this! It’s rare to see stop-motion animation that is as cartoony, energetic, and fun as what they do at Screen Noveltiess, and their cartoons are never anything less than super appealing and entertaining. I can’t wait to see them show off their stuff in a full-length film.

Check out some images posted on their blog from the original Monster Safari short. Below is one of the studio’s earliest shorts, Mysterious Mose, made in 1999:

Tim Burton at MoMA

Tim Burton

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NY is putting on a major retrospective about Tim Burton’s career this fall. It will run from November 22, 2009 through April 26, 2010. There is a page about the show on MoMA’s website, which includes the following information:

Following the current of his visual imagination from his earliest childhood drawing through his mature work, the exhibition presents artwork generated during the conception and production of his films, and highlights a number of unrealized projects and never-before-seen pieces, as well as student art, his earliest non-professional films, and examples of his work as a storyteller and graphic artist for non-film projects. The opposing themes of adolescence and adulthood, and the elements of sentiment, cynicism, and humor inform his work in a variety of mediums–drawings, paintings, storyboards, digital and moving-image formats, puppets and maquettes, props, costumes, ephemera, sketchbooks, and cartoons.

In conjunction with the show, MoMA is publishing a 64-page catalog that can be pre-ordered from Amazon. The images in this post are taken from a promotional item from the book. Tim Burton’s official website advertises that a new book called The Art of Tim Burton will soon be released that is 400 pages and has over 1000 illustrations. This appears to be a different book from the MoMA catalog.

More Burton images from the MoMA book after the jump.

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Sponsor Shout-Out: Warner Bros.

Thank you to Warner Bros. who has sponsored our site for the past couple weeks. They are promoting The Jetsons Season 2 Volume 1 dvd. The company continues to be ambitious in making available the library of cartoons it owns. Recent releases include the Fleischer’s Superman shorts, Chuck Jones’s Tom & Jerry shorts, and a couple sets of Saturday morning cartoons from the Sixties and Seventies. For info about all of their video releases, visit the Warner Home Video website.

MGMT Video with Animation by Christy Karacas

MGMT Video

MGMT released a new music video tonight for their song “Kids” (directed by Ray Tintori). There’s only about a minute of animation in the video, but it’s one damn solid and creative minute. The animation was directed by Superjail co-creator Christy Karacas, and the animators on the piece were Karacas, Lizzi Akana and Henry Thurlow. The animation on the last shot is nuts! I want to frame-by-frame all that trippy goodness.

The 80s Pop Show in Philly

The Autumn Society is a group of artists who started in Philadelphia and are now expanding worldwide. Their 80s POP art exhibit premieres this Friday, June 5th in Philadelphia:

The 80s POP Show! is a collection of artwork inspired by movies, cartoons, and video games from the amazing and imaginary era of the 1980s. The opening party starts Friday at 6pm, at Brave New Worlds Comics. The show features the works of Alex Leighton from Mukpuddy Animation, as well as the talented character designers Brianne Drouhard and Tara Billinger.

Below (click thumbnails to enlarge) is some of the work on exhibit from Craig Parrillo (left), Brianne Drouhard, Guayapizco and Jessika von Innerebner.

Miyazaki in San Francisco July 25th

Hayao Miyazaki will appear in person, accept a prize and participate in a Q & A on July 25th in Berkeley California. Miyazaki so rarely travels to the US, and even less so to make public appearances, we urge you to reserve your tickets NOW!

The Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley will award Miyazaki with the 2009 Berkeley Japan Prize, for a lifetime of influencing the world’s understanding of Japan. On July 12th, 14th, 19th, and 21st, the Pacific film Archive will host a A Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki. All films will be shown in the original Japanese 35mm prints with English subtitles.

Sunday, July 12, 4:00 PM – My Neighbor Totoro

Tuesday July 14, 7:00 PM – Porco Rosso

Sunday July 19, 2:30 PM – Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Tuesday July 21, 7:00 PM – Princess Mononoke

The Center for Japanese Studies, in conjunction with the Pacific Film Archive, is pleased to present the Northern California premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film, Ponyo, to be screened at Wheeler Hall on Friday, July 24, 2009 at 6pm and 8pm. For tickets to this limited-seating engagement, please visit the UC Berkeley website

On Saturday, July 25, 2009, leading scholars of Japanese popular culture, literature, and film will discuss Hayao Miyazaki’s work and his international influence in a roundtable panel discussion, The Hayao Miyazaki Symposium. This will take place at 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor conference room from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM. It’s Free and open to the public.

Later that day, from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM in Zellerbach Auditorium, Hayao Miyazaki in Conversation. Miyazaki will be interviewed on stage, followed by a question and answer period with the audience. For tickets to this limited-seating engagement ($25.), please visit Zellerbach Hall website.

Trailer for The Last Guardian

Why is it that the trailers for videogames excite me more than the trailers for any animated feature? Case in point is this trailer for The Last Guardian, a new PS3 title that was previewed at E3. The game is created by Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus). Brew reader B. Bolander, who sent me the link, writes: “Everything you see in that trailer–the griffin, the boy–has been animated. Fumito Ueda, the creator of the game and an ex-animator himself, doesn’t do motion capture. Every flick of an ear had to be done by hand, or at least by mouse.” There is more info about the game, including quotes from Ueda, in this article on 1UP.com