The Tom & Jerry set (with gorgeous Milton Knight cover art) is particularly amazing. These hilarious cartoons are obscure to begin with, so a real treat is the fabulous film prints Stanchfield digs up and lovingly restores. Many of the cartoons look really great, especially A Swiss Trick (1931) from a 35mm nitrate sepia-tinted, spliceless print, with its original titles intact. This is as close as we’ll ever get to experiencing one of these cartoons the way audiences saw them in the early 30s. It really makes a difference.
Also on the T&J set, galleries of original trade ads, posters, home movie boxes, picture books, and four additional cartoons starring Tom & Jerry precursors, Waffles and Don. Stanchfield goes an extra five miles here, with the inclusion of a comparison reel of Tom & Jerry animation against a rare Egyptian knock-off by the Frenkel Brothers. Priceless stuff.
For more information on Thunderbean’s complete line of animation rarities, click here.
A little creative treat for Halloween: Ivan Guerrero has been taking crappy Marvel TV cartoons from the Sixties and re-editing them into Marvel Zombies, based on the limited-run comic series from a few years back. He told me that Arthur Suydam’s covers for that series inspired his approach to the animated tribute. See also his zombiefication of Thor and The Fantastic Four.
Phillppe sent me some details on the Future Fantasias folder:
During the making of the film, he asked Robert Spencer Carr to keep track of all ideas and projects discussed at the studio for quick reference and further discussion. Carr (March 26, 1909 — April 28, 1994) was Director of Educational Research for Walt Disney Studios. After he left the studio, he became Special Advisor to NICAP. He also served with the Army Orientation Service, produced educational films for the State Department and teached communication at the University of south Florida. He was also an American writer of science fiction and fantasy (selling his first story to Weird Tales at age 15) .
As stated in the opening memo to Walt, this was given to him on October 23, 1940 as a “field manual” for his trip east. This trip was Walt’s trip to New York for the world Premiere of Fantasia, 23 days later (Nov. 13, 1940). Of course, in view of the film’s disappointing box-office returns, the cost of the revolutionary Fantasound system in the theatres, and a closing foreign market due to World War 2, Walt put all these projects aside, but many ideas would eventually turn out as sequences in the package features: Peter and the Wolf in Make Mine Music (1946), Flight of the Bumble Bee (renamed Bumble Boogie) in Melody Time (1948), Rhapsody in Blue and The Firebird in the long-awaited sequel Fantasia 2000. Debussy’s Clair de Lune was even animated, ending up as the Blue Bayou sequence in Make Mine Music. Finally, two suggestions (Valse Triste and Afternoon of a Faun) were eventually used by Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto in his Fantasia spoof Allegro non Troppo (1977).
The folder lists all musical studio properties (and titles advised for copyright), story numbers assigned to pieces, detailed story research, development and production notes, as well as the Deems Taylor dialog written for many pieces (and often recorded, with recording dates). It also includes complete proposed programs for eventual sequels, and a nine page transcript of a story meeting held at the studio on may 14, 1940, with the participation of Walt, Leopold Stokowski, Joe Grant, Ben Sharpsteen and Ed Plumb.
The photograph (above, right) of Walt Disney in his office shows the Future Fantasias folder right behind him, on a shelf.
The auction will take place on November 24th in London. For more information click here.
The book cover illustration above by Rachell Sumpter is responsible for one of the more intriguing animated feature announcements I’ve heard in a while. Director/producer Jonathan Demme has optioned the rights to the Dave Eggers novel Zeitoun, and inspired by its cover, he’s decided to make it as an animated film. Demme told The New York Times:
“I was staring at the book and there’s this wonderful line drawing on the cover, the character of Zeitoun in his canoe, paddling through a submerged neighborhood. And I suddenly imagined, What if we could do an animated film and visualize the experiences of the Zeitoun family and all of New Orleans?”
Eggers’s story is in the thoughtful vein of recent features like $9.99, Perspepolis and Waltz with Bashir, and has little to do with the conventional animated fare being churned out by the major studios. It is a true-life account of an Arab-American man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, and his harrowing experiences in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Demme says that he is currently “deep, deep, deep into researching” how he’s going to produce the animation for the film, and that he wants to stick with a hand-drawn style.
And now a personal note to Jonathan Demme: Mr. Demme, if you’re reading this, I beg you not to use cheap Flash/AfterEffects-style animation. Don’t Waltz with Bashir this film, and compromise the personal impact of the story with mechanical movement. Maintain the integrity and vitality of the graphic illustration that initially drew you to the project, and bring it to life with the nuance and lushness that only traditional hand-drawn animation can provide. Look at the works of Koji Yamamura, Frédéric Back, and Sylvain Chomet to understand the unique storytelling possibilities of the animation medium. Prove to the world that not every live-action director has a clumsy, heavy-footed, Bob Zemeckis-like approach to the art form.
Dr. Sketchy’s is an alternative life drawing salon and traveling artists social club – and it’s coming to California.
It started as a one-time Brooklyn art event and is now a nationwide movement. Founded in 2005 by artist Molly Crabapple, Dr. Sketchy’s Roadshow inaugural tour will take place throughout California between November 2nd and 14th, with stops in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Long Beach, Sherman Oaks, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Fresno, Monterey, San Jose, Sacramento and Alhambra. To quote their blog:
Artist and art voyeurs need only bring a $10 donation and their favorite drawing supplies. Dr. Sketchy’s and the Roadshow’s art-centric host venues will provide everything else (top notch models, refreshments, casual networking opportunities, and an all around good time).
No RSVP necessary, but space at each venue is limited. The L.A. date is Thursday November 5th at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks. Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra will host the show on November 14th. Check the full list of locations and dates here.
More John Canemaker news! John will present his do-not-miss lecture/screening on the art and life of animation pioneer Winsor McCay (1867—1934) at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, next Tuesday November 3rd.
As part of the lecture, Canemaker presents Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) the way it was meant to be shown — as a vaudeville act with live musical accompaniment (photo above is from Canemaker’s recent screening in Annecy). The program starts at 7:00 pm at the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater, 1871 North High Street in Columbus, Ohio. The event is part of the current Winsor McCay: Legendary Cartoonist exhibit at the OSU Cartoon Library and Museum. For tickets and information, please visit the Cartoon Museum website.
Yowp: Stuff about Early Hanna-Barbera Cartoons is a blog that’ll tell you more about Hanna-Barbera cartoons than you probably cared to know. The blog creator, who is anonymous, knows his stuff, and gives us insidery opinions of this sort: “Here’s where you wish someone like Foster or Maltese was guiding the dialogue because Shows’ lines come off as trite and obvious.” His obsessiveness (I can only assume a guy does this blog because no girl would ever obsess over early H-B like this) is not entirely without merit. He also highlights pieces of animation that serve as fine lessons for anybody creating limited animation, such as this lovely two-drawing cycle of Doggie Daddy driving a car.
John Canemaker‘s next book is available for pre-order on Amazon. Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft will be released in August 2010. John gave me a preview of the book a couple months back. It is an intimate look at the accomplishments and struggles (both personal and professional) of two animation giants. If you think you already know these guys, you’re going to be in for a surprise. Needless to say, it’s guaranteed to be one of the must-haves of next year.
“I’d like to tell you there’s a perfectly rational, clear and easy answer as to why not, but there isn’t. There was enough of a consensus from our distribution and marketing folks in certain parts of the world that we would be pushing a boulder up a hill.”
Who said that a concerted effort by the international community wasn’t a good way of stopping Katzenberg from making bad films? If one good thing came out of the film though, it’s this poster by Nate Wragg created for the MvA TV special, Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, that debuts on NBC tonight:
I’ve praised this blog before, but the Chuck Jones blog, run by Chuck’s grandson Craig, continues to be a treasure trove of artwork and new information about the director.
My favorite recent post is this letter that Chuck wrote to his daughter Linda following his brief stint working at the Disney studio in 1953. In it, Jones gives his perspective of working at the studio, and it sounds not so different from a lot of contemporary feature animation studios:
At Disney’s it was always necessary to be certain places at certain times. God knows why, nothing ever happened, so it was nearly impossible to work there without a timepiece. You could get along without talent, but not a watch…. Ah..I think this was a good mood–I mean move to return here [to Warner Bros.], I had not realized how much I missed the sweetness of my own solitude. At Disney’s aloneness or desire to be alone generates suspicion, you are always surrounded by people, drifting in and out, exchanging hackneyed pleasantries or just sitting, staring with baleful intensity at one’s own navel. What a waste! What a waste of wonderful talent!
Jones also offered an unflattering opinion of Disney director Ham Luske:
I went to Disney’s with respect for Hâ€¦ Lâ€¦., I could not fathom him but I felt that there must be some pretty strong talent there, not evident on the surface perhaps but still waters run deep etc. etc. If I still think this then I am the only one who has recently worked there who does. Walt adjudges him a work horse, stolid, unimaginative, but able to get things done if someone else has injected the life and the spark into the material. Many others think of him as simply and purely a dolt and a dull dolt at that. I saw too little of him to make any judgment, but I can no longer assume that he has talent. Isn’t that a pity?
It’s particularly interesting to read this letter in context of Chuck’s later opinions of working at Disney, which can be found in this terrific article by Wade Sampson.
Brazilian artist Helder Santos drew, animated and directed this video for the local band Eddie and singer Karina Buhr. Santos writes:
The video is a protest against the violence and social problems in Brazil. Everybody thinks of Brazil as the fun, carnaval country. We tried to put what really happens here though the vision of a masked ball carnaval of horror. Hope you like it.
Santos produced it along with his wife Camilla and friends at production house CherryPlus.
The Paley Center for Media on 52nd Street will be hosting a screening and panel discussion celebrating The First Christmas Special: Revisiting Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm. Following a screening of the show, a panel including animator/author Darrell Van Citters; Judy Levitow, daughter of Magoo’s director Abe Levitow; and Marie Matthews, Voice of “Young Scrooge”, will examine the making of the program and its place in television history. Reserve tickets here.
Shokus Internet Radio is beginning a three-week arc saluting the animation industry starting today with two of the best voiceover artists in the business: Gregg Berger (Garfield, The Angry Beavers, Batman Beyond, Duckman, Transformers, etc.) and Michael Bell (Rugrats, Voltron, Superfriends, Jonny Quest, et al). Stu’s Show airs live on Wednesday and repeated each subsequent day at the same time 7-9pm Eastern / 4-6pm Pacific.
On November 4th, Bob Bergen (Porky Pig, Tweety, Lupin III) will be the guest, and on November 11th, yours truly (Jerry Beck) will be there to answer questions on the burning issues of the day. Turn on, Toon In, Click Here.