Producing Parker

It was bound to happen. Canadian TV execs greenlight a cartoon about… TV Execs!

Created by Kevin Gillis (Atomic Betty) and Laura Kosterski, Producing Parker looks rather attractive – art direction-wise. I hadn’t heard about this show until today; Wouldn’t mind seeing an episode if it ever makes it to the States. It’s currently airing in Canada on TVTropolis, and coming to GlobalTV later on this year.

Tuesday: Cartoon Dump / Friday: Fleischer Double Feature

Once again, a plug for my monthly comedy-and-cartoons craptacular: Cartoon Dump! MST3K’s Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank) and J. Elvis Weinstein (Dr. Erhardt & the original Tom Servo), Erica Doering and special guest star comedian/trickster Michael Rayner join me at the Steve Allen Theatre Tuesday September 22nd at 8pm. Comedy! Songs! Puppets! Magic! And God-awful cartoons from the wasteland of 50s and 60s Saturday morning television! Advanced tickets click here.

And on Friday September 25th, it’s Fleischer-palooza on Hollywood Boulevard! I’ll be introducing a double feature Max Fleischer’s two great animated features, Gulliver’s Travels (1939) and Mr. Bug Goes To Town (1941) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Both will be presented in 35mm, with uncut IB Technicolor prints projected on the large screen, just as they were meant to be seen. And psssst! Surprise short subjects will be shown! More info here.

Season 2 of The Mighty B! Premieres Today

Mighty B
Painting by Bill Wray

Today, Nick is premiering the second season of The Mighty B! at 5:30 p.m (ET/PT). A new episode will debut everyday of this week. I’ll readily admit that I don’t understand the network’s logic of burning off five new episodes in a week, but that’s besides the point. Bill Wray, who is both painting backgrounds and co-directing episodes, tells me that he’s very proud of the second season and thinks they’ve made big strides with this current crop. He’s posting a lot of fantastic Mighty B! artwork on his blog. Bill’s enthusiasm, combined with all the funny stuff in the second season promo posted below, has convinced me that I need to check out a few episodes and see what it’s all about.

“Chainsaw Maid” by Takena Nagao

Chainsaw Maid has gotten a fair share of play this year, but I thought it deserved a bigger shout out here on Cartoon Brew. The idea to match up colorful plasticine with the zombie genre was a revelation for me–a perfect match. Show me a better use, or at least one that’s more fun, for plasticine.

The film is very well edited and shows a lot of directorial promise. The director, Takena Nagao, takes the zombie genre and replicates its idiosyncrasies flawlessly. The music is delightfully creepy, and works like a charm.  The candy-colored world is almost edible and had me wondering what purple brain blood tastes like. From a storytelling perspective, Chainsaw Maid mixes reaction shots, wide angles and close-ups better than some of the feature films I’ve seen recently.

Perhaps most impressive of all is Takena’s use of the moving camera: the quick zooms, the subtle pans and tilts, the lens recalibrating during a shot to find the action (e.g. 2:53-3:02). It takes confidence to move a camera like this, and even more confidence when you’re doing it in-camera without the aid of rigs/motion control. Takena uses it to add tension, believability, and dynamism to the film at just the right points–in other words, not just for the sake of moving a camera, as so many directors (amateur and professional alike) tend to do.

All in all, I find it super-refreshing to see a talented young filmmaker having so much fun and I can’t wait to see his future work.

PS. This is a link to Takena Nagao’s YouTube channel. And if you like Chainsaw Maid, check out Takena’s latest film, Pussycat.

Own a piece of Pal

Auctioneers Profiles In History are currently having an incredible entertainment memorabilia sale which is including a Lot of 100 puppets and pieces-of-puppets from the George Pal’s Jasper Puppetoons. The bids start at $8000. Here’s the link. There are also separate lots for puppets from individual non-Jasper films such as The Gay Knighties, Rhythm In The Ranks, Two-Gun Rusty, John Henry, Tubby The Tuba and on and on! This lot was part of the estate of William Nassour who, with his brother, produced several Hollywood movies and experimented in stop motion animation. Apparently they took over the Puppetoon shop when Pal moved on into feature production – and held onto these puppets until now!

If those prices are too steep, you can own one of Pal’s most iconic movie models for a more modest $35. Pegasus Hobbies, under license from Paramount Pictures, is exclusively selling reproductions of the Martian War Machines from War Of The Worlds. They sell them as either plastic model kits or pre-built and plated. I actually have one of the pre-built ones and it’s quite beautiful.

Mark Evanier also points out that the Hollywood auction above is also selling an astonishing collection of Walker Edminston’s Time For Beany Beany & Cecil puppets and memorabilia. Lot’s of jaw-dropping Clampett puppets and ephemera here.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, June Foray!

Her birthday was yesterday, Friday September 18th. Mark Evanier sent us this great photo of June and Walter Lantz (click thumbnail at left to see it at full size) to mark the occasion. June’s new autobigraphy can be ordered at her website, www.juneforay.com – and I highly recommend it. She’s a living legend – and been much more than animation’s greatest voice actress: she’s been a tireless worker in bringing respect and recognition to the animation field. We love you, June! I know she’s reading this website, so feel free to send her a greeting in the comments below.

Paul Julian’s Piccoli

Piccoli

One of the rarest children’s books illustrated by an animation artist is Philippe Halsman’s Piccoli (1953), with illustrations by Paul Julian. It’s rare no longer as Michael Sporn has scanned in John Canemaker’s copy of the book, and has made available all of Julian’s stunning artwork from the book. The painting of the boy hiding under the sheets reminds me of a similar scene in UPA’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which shouldn’t be surprising because Julian was creating his exquisite paintings for that film right around the time he illustrated this book. For more Julian animation art, check out these Warner Bros. backgrounds; Pete Alvarado told me that Julian set the WB house style (and the standard) that all the other painters followed at WB in the 1940s.

Laika cuts computer animation

Portland’s Laika studio (Coraline) has scrapped all its plans for creating CG features and will instead focus on making stop-motion films exclusively. The studio laid off 63 computer graphics employees today, according the website SlashFilm. UPDATE: Studio publicist Maggie Begley wrote in to clarify: “It’s not accurate to say that the studio is abandoning CG altogether. They will continue to use CG opportunistically in stop motion films and will continue to develop CG projects in house for further down the road.”

I personally think the decision to specialize with stop-motion is great move – not only for the health of the studio, but for the art of stop-motion animation itself. And this is shaping up to be a helluva year for stop-motion. I just attended an advance screening of Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox today. It’s not from Laika, but it’s an outstanding film – which, compared with 2009′s other stop-mo releases (Coraline, Mary And Max), shows the wide range of this technique. I’m delighted to know this ancient hand made animation process has a somewhat healthy future.

TONIGHT IN BROOKLYN: Too Art for TV 4

Too Art for TV

Too Art for TV, the annual exhibit of fine art by animation artists, returns to Brooklyn tonight for its 4th edition. Masterminded by Liz Artinian, the color supervisor on The Venture Bros., the show offers a solid line-up of animation artists displaying their personal art–most of them from the New York area, but from other parts of the world as well. Opening reception is from 6-9:30pm at Erebuni (158 Roebling St. Williamsburg, NY). The show will remain up through October 17.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs talkback

Saw Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs last night – and it’s hilarious. It’s 3 for 3 (or 4 for 4 if you count Monster House) for Sony Pictures Animation. Phil Lord and Chris Miller made a real “cartoon”, loaded with laughs and filled eye candy (the 2D end credits are especially gorgeous). See it in a theatre this weekend! The 3D effects are outstanding, and the directors really fill the wide-screen with all sorts of Kurtzman/Elder “chicken fat”. I loved it.

How about you? If you’ve seen it (and only if you’ve seen it), post your opinion here in our comments section.

The Magical Toyland of Bernie Shine

Anyone who has been to the Shine Gallery at L.A.’s Farmer’s Market or has seen Shine’s collection showcased on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD know that Bernie Shine is one of the world’s biggest collectors of original Disney memorabilia.

Former LA County District Attorney Gil Garcetti has recruited Shine to host a party in his home for a very worthwhile charity, Wells Bring Hope. That’s Willie Ito’s art on the poster (above). Rarely does Shine allow anyone but his closest friends into his home see his entire collection. Please click this link for full details of a unique evening of cartoon fun for a good cause – a must for Disney fans who think they’ve seen it all. It’s happening on Friday October 16th at 7:00pm. If you are in L.A. that evening, it will be well-worth attending.

Insert Coin by Vurup

Vurup is a team of animation students working together in Buenos Aires, who have created their first short film called Insert Coin. The students, who hail from Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, are Gabriel Fermanelli, Leonardo Campasso, Bruno Olguin, German De Vivero, and Luz Lazzaro. Their short is a good example of how to tell a story in under one minute, and there are creative moments of drawn character animation throughout the piece. Hopefully we’ll see more from them in the future.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

We wanted to take a moment to thank some of our recent sponsors. We’re growing the site and planning lots of great things for the future on Cartoon Brew, and it is in large part due to the support of the companies and individuals who advertise on the site.

Our major sponsor for the past couple months has been Animation Mentor. They do a fine job of training students for CG animation work, and we’re glad to have them on board. If you’re curious to find out more about the school, they are hosting a live, behind-the-scenes look tomorrow evening, September 17, at 6pm(PST). You can register to virtually attend the free webinar at Animation Mentor’s website.

Other sponsors who have joined us recently include:

I Love My Scarf: A Picture Book by Kyle Boyd

Nomad Gallery

The book Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special

CTN Animation Expo

For info about advertising on Cartoon Brew, please visit Reachout Media.

Fruitless Efforts

We’ve highlighted the talented filmmakers at MAKE, the animation studio out of Minneapolis Minnesota, before. And as long as they keep making great little films, we will continue to point them out to you.

Here’s the latest short from the MAKE team: Fruitless Efforts: Fruit of the Womb. This cartoon highlights a day in the life of Apple, “an average fruit guy trying to hold a job, have friends and just live his life in peace like a normal apple.” It’s fast, funny and pretty cool lookin’. This short, which combines 3D and hand-drawn animation, was directed by Aaron Quist and Andrew Chesworth. See it here.

Capobianco’s Leonardo begins screening

Pixar animator Jim Capobianco’s long awaited hand-drawn short film Leonardo will screen this weekend for Academy Award qualification. You can catch the short on Sept. 18th, 19th and 20th at 11:45AM and 12:25PM at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in LA. Capobianco writes:

I may be there for the Sunday shows. The old fellow is showing with two other qualifying short films BIRTHDAY GIFT (animated) and AFTER TOMORROW (live action). I have no idea if they are any good or what they are about.

If you want to see LEO in glorious 35mm with a nice Dolby 5.1 sound then go check it out. And if you’re in the Academy tell your Academy pals to see it too and nominate it.

Check out the poster here or the trailer there.

David Levy’s Animation Development

I’ve just read David Levy’s new book Animation Development: From Pitch to Production and it’s a must-read for anyone who plans to create a show for television. I am a huge fan of David’s first book, Your Career In Animation: How To Survive and Thrive and I particularly love Levy’s down-to-Earth, easy-to-digest writing style, peppered with humor and loaded with truth. This time Levy focuses in on what you should expect, how you should proceed and lots of sound advice on the animation development process – using his own experiences and choice quotes from all those who have been there – development execs, creators, artists and writers. It’s illustrated with examples of actual pitch bibles and development art, and he takes you through every step in the process – from securing legal services, through pitch meetings to producing a pilot.

I’ve been there myself, on both sides of the table, as both a development exec and as a creator and producer – so I can assure you that David has nailed the process from soup to nuts (the “nuts” being certain network TV big-wigs). If you can’t make the panel at SVA in NYC (mentioned in the post below), order the book and learn about the process from the inside. Highly recommended.

TOMORROW IN NY: Pitching Panel

Pitcher

Tomorrow evening, ASIFA-East is presenting the panel Animation Development: From Pitch to Production. It’s moderated by David Levy, whose excellent new book of the same name was released last week. Panelists are Carl W. Adams (co-creator, Assy McGee), Janice Burgess (creator of The Backyardigans), Fran Krause (creator), Debra Solomon (creator) and yours truly. Frankly, I think the only reason I’m on the panel is because I think the pitching and development process nowadays is wasteful, misguided, and total BS. And now that I’ve made my position clear, I don’t think I even need to show up. The fun starts at 7pm in the 3rd floor theater of the School of Visual Arts (209 E. 23rd Street).

Hair of the Dog

There’s a “creative grooming” trend happening in the US right now. Some of the more spectacular results have been photographed by poodle paparazzo Ren Netherland, who travels around the country in a bus which functions as a mobile photography studio.

To see more “Poodle Doodles” including a Poodle Fairy, a Poodle Chicken, and a Poodle Jack Sparrow, go here.

Kenny Scharf’s Barberadise

Kenny Scharf, one of the first “lowbrow” artists to popularize cartoon culture in ‘fine art’, is back with a new exhibit of Flintstone and Jetsons mash-ups. His new show, Barberadise, opened tonight at the Honor Fraser Gallery on La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles.

The show features several “re-appropriations” of cartoon characters created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, including “the contrasting stone-age family, The Flinstones and the futuristic Jetsons amidst world annihilation”. The exhibition will run through on October 31st. Can’t make it? You can scan 20 pieces in the exhibit online if you click here.

CTN-X

Forget D23.

A genuine animation expo is shaping up for this November in Burbank – and even Cartoon Brew will have a presence at the event. Tina Price (former Disney character designer and an animator herself) is putting together the CTN Expo at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center – conveniently located across the street from the Burbank Airport and an Amtrak Station – on Friday November 20th through Sunday, November 22nd.
My advice: Be there.

This may be the only place where you’ll be able to meet so many international animation industry professionals under one roof. Among those already committed to speak at this event: illustrator Peter de Sève, director Don Bluth, comics artist Mike Mignola, art director Andy Gaskill, character designer Harald Siepermann, Dreamworks animtors Dave Burgess and Jason Ryan, production designers Alex McDowell and Kathy Altieri and on and on. Some of the artist exhibitors will include Damon Bard, Brittney Lee, Ben Balistreri, David Colman, Robin Joseph and Kathy Zielinski.

Disney, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Digital Domain, Exodus Filmgroup and other companies will have recruiters there to look at portfolios. Cartoon Brew will host an artists-only VIP lounge area. There is much, much more to this event and we’ll be posting updates in the upcoming weeks. Consider this an advance head’s up.

Early bird tickets are $25 for the exhibit floor only, $50 for a day pass and $125 for a 3-day pass. Early bird deadline is Sept. 30, 2009. Discounted rates are available to students, active military and professional industry organizations. Space is strictly limited at this groundbreaking event. Click here for more information or to register or call (800) 604-2238 and mention the special member discount code (BeckX09) to obtain an extra 10% off any 1-day or 3-day professional/general passport.