Mo-Cap Yellow Sub?

Following up on the report of Robert Zemeckis’ plans for a mo-cap remake of Yellow Submarine, Brew reader Chris Smigliano points out that the Yellow Sub characters have ALREADY been done in CGI for a thrill ride that opened in Berlin and Tokyo in the year 2000. There was a pre-ride intro, as well as four diffrent ride variations, each with the same beginning and ending but with a different middle (Sea of Holes, Sea of Time, Sea of Science). You can watch all of them on You Tube.

Is this what we’re in for?

Zemeckis to ruin “Yellow Submarine”

We interrupt our bashing of Cartoon Network to get upset about something else:

Variety is reporting that Robert Zemeckis is about to remake Yellow Submarine for Disney, in motion capture.

Read all about it here. Someone tell me this isn’t true.

(Thanks, Kent Butterworth)

UPDATE: That was quick! A Facebook group called “Don’t let Robert Zemeckis remake and ruin The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine”.

Blog Round-up: Cleuzo, de Sève, Smith

Sandro Cleuzo

Haven’t done this in a while, so here are a few artist blogs worth your time:

Animator Sandro Cleuzo’s blog is just over a week old, and it’s already filled with rare material, including work from unproduced Disney projects like Sweating Bullets and My Peoples. His credits also include Fantasia 2000, The Emperor’s New Groove, Tarzan, Home on the Range, Enchanted, Anastasia, Curious George, Asterix and the Vikings and the upcoming The Princess and the Frog. Check Sandro out at his cleverly titled Inspector Cleuzo blog.

Illustrator and Ice Age character designer Peter de Sève is also new to the blogging scene. I found it interesting to read a personal perspective on his forthcoming monograph, which I announced here last week. Visit him at PeterdeSeve.blogspot.com.

Dexter Smith has been working in animation since the groundbreaking Batman, the Animated Series. Since then, he’s worked on Superman, Samurai Jack, Johnny Bravo, My Gym Partner’s a Monkey, Clone High, Freakazoid, and a bunch of other stuff. I liked seeing the artwork and hearing the development story about his personal project True Romance. More at Dexter-Smith.blogspot.com.

DVD Review: Beany & Cecil Vol. 2

Bob Clampett was a genius.

And if you need further proof, the long-awaited Beany and Cecil: The Special Edition Vol. 2 dispenses it in spades. I just received my copy of this DVD and I cannot praise it highly enough. If you are a Clampett junkie like me, you’ve been Jonesing for this (no pun intended) for at least ten years (when the equally incredible Vol. 1 was first released).

First off, let me state that the Beany and Cecil cartoons are personal favorites of mine. They are among the funniest, and best, TV cartoons ever made – and still hold up great today. There are eleven beautifully restored B&C cartoons here, all from 35mm master elements, looking better than I ever recall them. A 12th cartoon included is a rarely seen alternate version of Beanyland (which was featured on Vol. 1). I’d normally pick a few to highlight, but they are all terrific cartoons–Cecil Meets Cecilia, Davey Cricket, Strange Objects, Ben Hare, etc. These alone would be worth the retail price. But they only represent about 1/5 of the disc’s programming.

The rest of the content is Bonus Material – so much so, I can’t even list it all. The biggest thrills for me: Storyboards (and a cut scene) from Bob’s 1947 Republic cartoon It’s a Grand Old Nag, two more Time For Beany kinescopes, more audio recordings of Bob discussing his influences and even reading a Milt Gross story! There’s also a reel of home movie footage, of Bob walking around New York City in 1945, filming Times Square billboards – including an Otto Messmer/Douglas Leigh animated billboard! A complete list of the disc’s contents is posted here.

Beany and Cecil the Special Edition Volume 2 officially goes on sale September 8th. However, you can buy Volume 2 right now, along with the long out-of-print Volume 1, from the Beany and Cecil web site. A limited supply of Volume 1 was found unopened in the family’s warehouse and they are being offered, one per customer, to anyone who buys a copy of Volume 2. Volumes 1 & 2 (purchased together) sell for $54.95 + Shipping. Do this today – you won’t be sorry.

Walt and El Grupo events

There are bi-coastal events tied in to Ted Thomas’s must-see documentary Walt and El Grupo that Brew readers may want to attend.

In New York, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art will present a special advance screening of the film, along with a Q&A with writer/director Ted Thomas and producer Kuniko Okubo, moderated by John Canemaker. The screening will be Thursday, August 27th, 7:30 PM at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, BAM Cinema 4, (30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY). Admission is free for Members of MoCCA. To rsvp, call (212) 254-3511, Tuesday through Sunday between 12-5 PM. Seating is limited.

In L.A., The Egyptian Theatre will be hosting a panel, moderated by Geoff Boucher of the LA Times, with panelists including writer/director Ted Thomas, producer Kuniko Okubo, composer James Stemple and director of photography Shana Hagan, who will discuss Disney’s South American tour. The evening will include a rare theatrical showing of Saludos Amigos in 35mm. This event will take place on Tuesday September 8th, 7:30pm at the Egyptian on Hollywood Blvd. It is FREE for Asifa Hollywood members and members of the American Cinematheque. Check the Egyptian’s website for more details later this month.

UPDATE: We just found out these are fairly private events, with only seats available for members. Cartoon Brew is giving away 5 pairs of seats at the NY event to the first 5 people who request them at fumi-at-theprkitchen.com.

We will give away 20 seats for the L.A. American Cinematheque/Asifa event at the Egyptian, sometime next week. Stay tuned to Cartoon Brew for further details.

Learn from John Kricfalusi and Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton and John Kricfalusi

Today, two of the biggest names in animation–John Kricfalusi and Bill Plympton–each announced that they were starting up classes to teach animation. Their models are very different.

John K. is calling his “Cartoon College.” It is a free, invitation-only private blog in which he’ll spend time giving individual notes to the promising artists that apply. He admits in this introductory post about the program that part of the motivation for giving away free training is selfishness:

The kind of cartoons I make require these skills, and I can’t afford to teach them during a production. Cartoon budgets go down every year and so I need people who already understand what I’m looking for and are functional. I always want to do layouts in my cartoons – it’s what separates my cartoons visually from so many others, but layout is mostly not done anywhere anymore. Nowadays, they just design the characters from a couple different angles, take them into Flash and then move the still pieces around like paper doll puppets. I can’t make my kind of custom stories and acting using that system. I need talented and SKILLED people to help. It’s worth it to me to help out before a production begins, but it will be up to you to practice and apply and critique yourselves according to what you learn. I will give some critiques and everyone here can learn from each other’s studies.

Bill Plympton is starting up his class in the real-world. Beginning September 16, for 14 consecutive weeks, he will teach a two-hour class every Wednesday evening from 6-8pm. It will take place at his studio in Chelsea, Manhattan. The cost is $1000 per person and is limited to 15 students. According to the description which he posted on Facebook, students will:

Learn how you can make amazing films that can earn money. Learn the tricks of drawing, design, layouts, storyboards, writing, humor, directing, backgrounds and editing. Learn the business of animation, budgets, funding, selling, distribution, festivals and cost-cutting tricks. Call (212) 741-0322 or email at Plymptoons (at) aol (dot) com for more information.

Cartoon Network loses gamble

The LA Times has a huge front page story in it’s Business section today, reporting on Cartoon Network’s recent programming gamble on live action. From the article:

The new shows haven’t reversed the slide. In July, the network had the fewest viewers in that target age range since May 2000 and its least-watched month overall since June 1998.

There is internal tension as well, with many veteran animators either quitting or being handed their walking papers. There are even whispers inside the channel’s Burbank animation studios that the network might drop “Cartoon” from its name.

If the ratings on CN were bad before, they are worse now. As an example of some of the actual numbers, courtesy of Nielsen Media Research Data, here are final K6-11 Ratings for Saturday, August, 8, 2009, Cable Networks only (Live + Same Day Data):

NICKELODEON4.1/25 Avg. (7a-1p)
Jimmy Neutron 1.4/20; Jimmy Neutron 1.9/21; Fairly OddParents 2.8/24; Fairly OddParents 3.5/24; SpongeBob SquarePants 5.0/29; SpongeBob SquarePants 5.6/29; Penguins of Madagascar 4.3/21; Back at the Barnyard 4.5/21; Mighty B! 4.1/20; SpongeBob SquarePants 5.2/25; SpongeBob SquarePants 5.3/28; SpongeBob SquarePants 5.6/30

DISNEY CHANNEL2.1/13 Avg. (7a-1p)
My Friends Tigger & Pooh 1.3/19; Little Einsteins 1.3/15; Special Agent Oso 1.6/14; Handy Manny 1.8/13; Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 1.9/12; Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 1.7/9; Imagination Movers 1.8/9; Handy Manny 2.0/9; Phineas and Ferb 3.1/15; Phineas and Ferb 3.5/17; Cow Belles (100 minutes) 2.5/13

CARTOON NETWORK1.4/8 Avg. (7a-1p)
George of the Jungle 0.9/10; Chaotic 1.0/8; Secret Saturdays 1.3/9; Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl Galactic Battle 1.3/8; Star Wars: Clone Wars 1.3/7; Ben 10: Alien Force 1.7/8; Batman: Brave & The Bold 2.0/9; Bakugan 1.9/9; Thumb Wrestling Federation 1.2/6; Teen Titans 1.4/7; Teen Titans 1.6/9

To our friends at Cartoon Network, we want you to succeed. We know we’re not in your demographic, but I and hundreds of thousands of others like me actually care about what you’re doing. We love cartoons and we want them back.

To paraphrase 14-year-old Ashley Rosario, quoted in the LA Times article, we’re open to new things as long as they’re not crummy. Stop looking at market research and viewer surveys – you clearly don’t understand them. Or us.

What might work at AMC or SYFY or USA and TBS won’t work here. Cartoon Network is a niche channel and you must give the viewers what you promise. I don’t want mustard coming from my ketchup bottle. As long as you are content to follow your competitors, and to recycle worn out ideas, you won’t succeed. You must lead with new ideas, new concepts, new animation.

You are programming Cartoon Network as a run-of-the-mill cable kids channel, instead of using the incredible opportunity you have to lead and bond with the animation community – where there is a wealth of talented creators and an abundance of original ideas just waiting to happen.

I strongly believe in the potential of Cartoon Network – otherwise I wouldn’t post so much about it. I am heartened by the recent announcement of the two new animated shows and the ongoing production of Pen Ward’s Adventure Time. So until the day you drop the “Cartoon” from your channel’s name and dive completely into obscurity, I’ll be keeping tabs on you. And our readers will let you know what they think.

If you’ve ordered Darrell’s Magoo book…

If you’ve ordered Darrell Van Citters wonderful Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol book and never received your copy – please read the following. Paypal recently experienced a pretty severe glitch in payments and for those who got caught in the snafu, Darrell has a message for you:

Apparently, Paypal dropped a number of orders after the posting on Cartoon Brew. If you have been expecting a copy of the book but none has shown up, you most likely received a Paypal transaction ID of “0″. That indicates that I never received the order and you were never charged for it. The site still takes Paypal as its primary payment service but we have also added Google Checkout as a backup, should you have trouble. I have no way of knowing who did or didn’t order the book so I am offering free domestic shipping for a limited time to anyone who might have had a problem ordering the author signed book or to those who couldn’t make it to Comic Con. To take advantage of this, click on this link.

Virginia Davis 1918-2009

Virginia Davis of Walt Disney’s Alice Comedies passed away this morning. She was 90 years old and had been in failing health this past year.

In 1923, Davis was picked by Walt Disney in Kansas City to star in his proposed series of live action and animation shorts. Davis followed the Disney Studio to Hollywood to star in over a dozen Alice Comedies. She was Disney’s first movie star.

Later in her career, Davis appeared in Three On a Match (1932), with Joan Blondell, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, as well as The Harvey Girls (1946). Virginia was in the scene with Judy Garland and Ray Bolger where they introduced the Academy-Award winning song “On the Achison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”

Above, in tribute, is a particularly fun Alice from 1924, Alice and the Dog Catcher (pardon the foreign titles, and some politically incorrect humor).

(Thanks, Steve Waller)

“Charmaine Champagne” music video

Great-looking experimental music video for The Fiery Furnaces’ song “Charmaine Champagne.” It was directed by Phillip Niemeyer of Brooklyn-based Double Triple. Niemeyer writes:

It’s stop motion, and it builds on a lot of things we were just discovering when we did the Spoon video. Mike Reddy, illustrator for all of the Furnaces’ records is responsible for most of the art. We shot most everything on an art store light table. We photocopied many of these assets onto office transparencies. All the color comes from either paint, markers or silkscreen. The band was photographed and these were assembled into stop motion loops — no video. No digital motion — we wanted that janky look, even on the pans. We took some process photos and posted them here.

CREDITS
Director: Phillip Niemeyer of Double Triple
Artwork: Mike Reddy
Additional artwork (action painting): Hannah Cole
Animation: Phillip Niemeyer, Alex Marie Egan, Mike Reddy, Jeremiah Dickey, Christine Nguyen
Photography: Phillip Niemeyer and Ethan Finkelstein

Mark Marek’s WB logo

Alternative cartoonist and animator Mark Marek has been quite successful drawing comics, doing illustrations, animating and directing animation for some time now. His terrific new website shows off his past and present animated works, including an attempt (not in his usual primitive style, above) designing a moody, atmospheric Warner Bros. Animation logo for the company’s superhero shows.

Myron Waldman’s Eve

Eve by Myron Waldman

Here’s a rare treat for Fleischer Studio fans – or anyone interested in clever, cartoon story-telling: the latest issue of The Comics Journal #299 (August 2009) features a complete reprint of Myron Waldman’s 1943 “graphic novel”, Eve.

Click on thumbnails below to see a few larger images of the cover, title page and an interior gag (the title graphic and interior page here are from my own battered copy of the original publication). This long-out-of-print classic tells the story of a big city working girl who seeks her true love while on vacation in Miami, Florida. It’s cute, funny and surprisingly heartfelt. The drawings are great and the book makes you wish Waldman had continued doing more stories like these, as opposed to the simplistic Casper animated cartoons he’d become synonymous with.

The Comic Journal has posted the entire novel online for subscriber’s only. The hard-copy magazine, which features an introduction by cartoonist Mark Newgarden, is on sale now. This is highly recommended!

Yasuji Mori and Hayao Miyazaki

Joshua Smith, who has introduced me to lots of great anime over the years, wrote to let me know about some recent discoveries he made on YouTube: Kitty’s Studio (1959) and Kitty’s Graffiti (1957), two shorts animated by Yasuji Mori. I’ve embedded them below.

Joshua writes:

These were produced during a time in which Toei was just gearing up it’s attempt to become the “Disney” of Japan, a feat that probably would not have succeeded without the talent of Yasuji Mori. He was probably the greatest Japanese character animator of his generation, stressing the concepts of appeal, solid construction, and moveability in his character design and animation. As the most influential mentor at Toei, he passed his skills on to subsequent generations of Toei animators such as Yasuo Otsuka, Gisaburo Sugii, and Hayao Miyazaki.

Kitty’s Studio

He continues:

Most prewar and postwar Japanese animation up to this point was rather crude, so it’s striking to see Japanese animation at a level of quality that equals or surpasses much American short animation from the same time period. These shorts clearly contain a great deal of Western influence, but have a distinct approach that makes them feel exotic. Without further context, it seems like this style of animation appeared from a vacuum. On the weekend that sees the American release of Miyazaki’s latest film, it’s interesting to ponder what the state of Japanese animation might be like today without Mori’s influence.

Josh is spot-on when he writes about the distinct approach.The filmmaking choices in these cartoons are very odd and un-Western. In the cartoon below, the face of the main character is not shown from a three-quarter or front view until well over two minutes in the cartoon, even though he’s onscreen for much of that time. I can’t think of a single example of when that’s happened in a Hollywood theatrical short.

Kitty’s Graffiti

A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève

A Sketchy Past

That’s the cover for a new project that I’ve been involved with: A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève. It’s the first-ever monograph about Peter de Sève‘s professional work and it should be on everybody’s Christmas wishlist.

A Sketchy Past is 240 pages in a 10″ by 12″ hardcover format. It’s being released in October by French publishing house Akileos. They’re putting out two versions–one in English and the other in French. It’s not available to order yet, but Akileos has posted a preview page with details about the book and a preview PDF. It will debut officially at Galerie Arludik in Paris, which is holding a retrospective of Peter’s work in October. Events with Peter in the United States will follow shortly thereafter. As always, stay tuned to Cartoon Brew.

Having been a fan of Peter’s work for years, I was honored to be a part of this project. I’m particularly proud of the essay I contributed, and hope it’ll shed new insights into Peter’s approach and style. Make no mistake though. The main attraction here is page after incredible page of artwork. The book includes a generous number of roughs, as well as comments throughout from Peter. The artwork ranges from his New Yorker illustrations to animation work (the Ice Age series, Finding Nemo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) to book covers and everything else in-between. The book is exquisitely designed by Lori Barra, who also designed Peter’s sketchbook that was published a few years ago. Everybody labored long and hard to get the book right, most of all Peter, who has spent the last thirty years creating these illustrations. If you’re a fan of Peter’s work, you won’t be disappointed, and if you’re unfamiliar with his work, prepare to become a fan.

Here are a few spreads from the book. Click to enlarge.

A Sketchy Past

A Sketchy Past

A Sketchy Past

A Sketchy Past

A Sketchy Past

Popeye sings Looney Tunes theme

Speaking of Popeye (as we were here)… his voice croons one of the greatest cartoon theme songs of all time. No, not “I’m Popeye The Sailor Man” by Sammy Lerner – I’m talking about his cover of the Looney Tunes theme, The Merry Go Round Broke Down.

CLICK HERE for a download of the track, sung by the original voice of Popeye, Billy Costello.

(via Don Brockway, art above by Chogrin – and thanks to Alex Rannie)

Girls Drawing Girls at Meltdown

Okay guys, the animation-geek social event of the summer is here. On Saturday night, Meltdown Comics in Hollywood is hosting a really cool art show to celebrate the just-published 2010 pin-up calendar created by Girls Drawin’ Girls.

The Girls are a collective of over 30 female animation artists, who include animator Anne Walker, Simpsons director Nancy Kruse and designer Anand Duncan – among many others.

The opening night party is this Saturday, August 15th, 7pm-11pm at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd. The gals promise an awesome show “with tons of fantastic artists, fantastic ladies, and fantastic good times”. For more information, visit the Girlsdrawingirls.com website.

“El Empleo” by Santiago Bou Grasso

El Empleo, created by Santiago Bou Grasso from Argentina, is a five-minute film that I feel should be about three minutes long. Usually, I find this an inexcusable crime on the part of the filmmaker, one of the cardinal sins of making a short film (to me it shows a lack of respect to the viewer and a lack of self-awareness on the part of the filmmaker). But, in the case of El Empleo, I still like the core idea a lot and find the film recommendable despite my issues with its pacing. It’s got a clever hook, and the filmmaker explores his idea thoroughly and structures it well.