Candyman

Jelly Belly

Here is the trailer to Candyman, a documentary by Costa Botes about David Klein, the inventor of the gourmet jelly bean Jelly Belly, and how he has been banished from the candy empire that he created. The film debuts at the Slamdance Film Festival later this month.

So why is this appearing on Cartoon Brew? Klein is the father of Disney animator Bert Klein, who is a producer on the documentary. Bert is also responsible for the current Annie Award nominee Pups of Liberty, which he co-directed with his wife Jennifer Cardon-Klein. Visit CandymanFilm.com for more details on the documentary.

Tim Minchin’s Storm directed by DC Turner

I got a kick out of this trailer for Storm, a nine-minute animated short based on a ‘beat poem’ by Australian comedian and writer Tim Minchin. The film is directed by DC Turner, and animated by Turner and Fraser Davidson. The filmmakers have a blog where they’re sharing artwork from the short while Minchin’s original poem can be heard here.

(Thanks, Dan Pinto)

Youth In Revolt animation

The Weinstein Company’s new film, Youth In Revolt, opened in ninth place at the box office this weekend. I haven’t seen it myself, but have recieved reports that the film uses quite a bit of animation — from stop-motion opening credits, to pixilation and pornographic hand drawn animation in the middle of the film, and traditional 2D animation during the end credits.

Peter Sluszka of New York-based Hornet Inc created the animation, shot both in New York at Hornet’s Brooklyn stage and on location in Michigan (for the pixilation sequence). Here’s a link to the stop-mo opening credits.

(Thanks, Ryan McCulloch)

Die Konferenz der Tiere

The trailer for an upcoming German CG feature, Die Konferenz der Tiere, co-directed by Reinhard Klooss and Holger Tappe at Constantin Film:

It’s based on a 1949 children’s book by Erich Kästner that took an Animal Farm-esque approach to Germany’s East-West conflict. The book was previously adapted into an animated feature in 1969. A clip from that earlier film can be viewed on YouTube. Which version would you rather watch?

The Stormy Petrel (2004) by Alexei Turkus

Here’s a film I hadn’t seen before, and I want thank Brew reader Michael Lanigan for bringing it to my attention. It’s a great example of current Russian animation, much of which is still unseen by the Western world. The Stormy Petrel (2004) is by Alexei Turkus (full credits here), and was produced at Russia’s leading animation studio Argus International. It satirizes the poem Song of the Stormy Petrel by Maxim Gorky and serves as a commentary on the Russian educational system. It’s nine minutes and definitely worth watching – it gets crazier and crazier as it goes on.

Stop-Mo Explosion: Jackboots on Whitehall and Project Chopin

Hot of the heels of the recent spate stop-motion features – Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, Mary and Max, $9.99 and A Town Called Panic – comes word of production of even more! A new UK feature called Jackboots on Whitehall is an epic World War Two satire, animated with what look like “Ken” dolls. Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson and Alan Cumming are among the voice cast. Written and directed by newcomers Edward and Rory McHenry, the film is scheduled for a release later this year. Twitch Film has posted a dozen stills which display the scope of the production. For more information, join the film’s Facebook page here.


Then there is a Polish film about Chopin on a flying piano! The Flying Machine (aka Project Chopin) seems to be a combo of CG and stop motion, and of course it’s in 3D! Animators Martin Clapp, Marek Skrobecki and Adam Wyrwas (of Susie Templeton’s Peter and The Wolf, 2006) are teaming with famed Chinese composer/pianist Lang Lang to create this feature. Here’s a behind-the-scenes promo:

Art Clokey 1921-2010

Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, died this morning according to San Luis Obispo.com. Clokey, who lived in Los Osos, California was 89.

Clokey popularized clay animation with his Gumby cartoons in the 1950s and 60s. His studio thrived for decades doing various Gumby adventures and Davey and Goliath films for television. An excellent illustrated Clokey timeline is at the Premavision website. Gumbasia (1955) is the film that started it all – it’s success led directly to creating the Gumby universe and the Clokey style:

Here are Clokey’s opening titles for Dr. Goldfoot and His Bikini Machine (1965) – with vocals by The Supremes:

Clokey also did a more inventive 3-minute opening title sequence for How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). No one posted that on You Tube, but the whole film is available free (and high quality) on Hulu.

Charlie Chaplin to be CG animated in India

You know this can’t be good. A press release from Mumbai brings news of a new television series to be based on legendary screen comedian Charlie Chaplin:

Charlie Chaplin is to be brought to life as a cartoon character via an Indian-French collaboration that will see the legendary British comedian featured in an animated television series. DQ Entertainment, an animation and special effects firm based in the southern city of Hyderabad, says it is to reproduce the entertainer’s slapstick in 3D and computer-generated images for television.

The eight-million-euro (11.5-million-dollar) project is a joint venture with French media groups Method Animation and MK2, according to the companies. Further details were set to be announced by DQ Entertainment at a press conference in Mumbai on Friday. DQ and Method Animation will make a total of 104 six-minute episodes in India and France, Method’s chairman Aton Soumache told AFP in Paris last November. The animated shorts — aimed at children aged six and above — will not have any dialogue and are set to hit screens from early next year.

“We’ve been working for more than a year on the graphics concept to find an original way of adapting Chaplin’s world,” said Soumache. “It won’t be a realistic portrayal but more like a puppet in an offbeat universe. We’ll put him in modern situations but at the same keeping his poetic, child-like view of the world with a retro feel.” The episodes have been inspired by sketches and gags culled from some 70 short films made by Chaplin involving his trademark bowler-hatted vagabond character sporting a toothbrush moustache, ill-fitting suit and twirling cane. But there will also be original content, Soumache added.

Hoo-boy! I predict disaster. I doubt it will be even half as good as Edna, the 2005 short film by two students from SupInfoCom (Arles, France), or even an Otto Messmer Chaplin cartoon from the teens:

Grizzly Flats Rides Again!

Animator Ward Kimball’s famed Chloe locomotive was on the move recently to Yorba Linda, CA for the annual Holiday Festival of Trains at the Nixon Library. The steam engine, along with a model representation of Kimball’s whimsical Grizzly Flats Railroad, is on display through this Sunday, January 10, 2010. Featured are two huge layouts of operating model trains. Also showing on two giant flat-screen monitors are rare home movies of Walt Disney’s 1948 trip to the Chicago Railroad Fair and the work that went into creating the Chloe locomotive during the 1950s. The home movies of Walt Disney at the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair are from the Kimball family and have never been shown in their entirety to the public. For more information on admission, hours & directions, check (and I never thought I’d say this) The Richard Nixon website.

Harvey Comics Treasury

Between 2007 and 2009, Leslie Cabarga and I had the privilege of assembling five volumes of classic Harvey Comics reprints for Dark Horse Books. These comics were an offshoot of Paramount’s Famous Studios cartoon creations and were initially written and drawn by their finest animators.

Now, Dark Horse has announced plans to continue reprinting classic Harvey Comics material on a regular basis beginning May 2010. The new format (which Leslie is art directing the covers, but neither he nor I are selecting the reprints) presents each Harvey character in 200-page trade paperback editions with every page in color, for $14.99. The first one devoted to Casper is available for pre-order here. If you like this stuff, it’s a bargain.

It’s Mighty Mouse Day!

Going on sale today: the Ralph Bakshi Mighty Mouse The New Adventures complete series on DVD. Everyone reading this blog should own a copy. This is the 1987 show that began the creator-driven movement in television animation – and launched the careers of John K., Bruce Timm, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and many many talented others.

I’ve got two copies of this DVD set to give away. It’ll go to the first two people in the comments section below who can correctly answer these three questions:

On this series what is the name of Mighty Mouse’s girl friend?? What is the name of Mighty Mouse’s secret identity? And what is the name of Mighty’s orphaned kid sidekick? CONTEST NOW CLOSED!

I urge everyone who didn’t win the prize today to order it on Amazon or buy it at Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart or where ever DVDs are sold. You know you want it. You know you need it! If you ever wanted to be Mighty Mouse: Click Here!

And if you do pick it up, send us your comments!

Indie Game Do’s and Don’ts

This list of do’s and don’ts for indie game designers is also incredibly relevant to anybody making an indie animated short. For example:

3. Design from the heart.
Write / design around things you’re passionate about. Put yourself into your work and show the world who you are. What do you love? What do you hate? Why? All notable film makers have a stamp, something that appears in their work and speaks to who they are. These themes will always come through to your audience, giving your work a sense of your self.

4. Take big risks.
Try to innovate the hell out of anything you make. From how your game plays to how it looks, be unique and you’ll stand out. Push your personal limits, try new genres, mechanics and aesthetics. Experimentation and risk are the keys to growing as an artist. Don’t be scared of failure; you don’t have much to lose and you’ll only learn from your mistakes.

(Thanks, Mitch Kennedy)

How Conservative is Pixar?

Tom Elrod makes the case in this well thought out blog post for a special brand of conservatism that appears in Pixar’s output. I don’t quite agree with it, but it’s a viewpoint worth sharing:

There is something conservative about much of Pixar’s output, but when I say conservative, I mean a small “c” conservative that sees the world along the same lines as Edmund Burke: “A disposition to preserve.” I’m going to call this “social conservatism,” by which I don’t mean the religious or moral conservatism of modern political discourse, but a conservatism that is interested in preserving traditional social features – in particular, the idea of “family” – but which sees such preservation as ultimately futile. The family will dissolve, eventually, and so we must do what we can to keep it going as long as possible. It is a worldview based not on progression but on loss.

It could be argued that a lot of that conservatism is simply a byproduct of the excessively nostalgic and sentimental viewpoint in Pixar’s films (think the Toy Story series, Cars and Up).

(via Kottke)

Getting Over Him In Eight Songs or Less

On February 14th at 7:30pm, HBO-2 will premiere the debut of a remarkable animated special, directed, co-produced and animated by New York indie filmmaker Debra J. Solomon (Disney’s Lizzie McGuire). Getting Over Him In Eight Songs or Less is a funny, touching, adult story about losing love and finding yourself. Solomon, whose animation drawings evoke Blechman, Driessen and Tyer by way of New Yorker cartoons, also wrote the eight songs, sings them and narrates the show.

Tuesday night (1/5/10), I will have the pleasure of introducing the film at an L.A. sneak preview screening at The CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax (near Melrose) in Hollywood. Solomon will appear in person for a Q&A discussion and we will screen several of her previous award winning short films. The program begins at 8pm, tickets are available (with discounts for Asifa-Hollywood members) here.

Bill Plympton’s School of Animation

After a successful 1st term last year, New York based indie animator Bill Plympton has decided to bring his School of Animation back for the spring. With limited enrollment, the 10-week school begins on January 18th and goes until March 22nd, every Monday night. The fee is $1,200.00 per student. Registration is on a first come basis. According to his press release:

“…you can now learn the secrets of animation from the Master. 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.”

No one knows the ins, the outs, the techniques and how to play the game like Bill. Call (212) 741-0322 or email at Plymptoons-at-aol.com for more information.

Fox should just switch to Animation

Why is it a no-brainer (literally) for major studios to green-light live action CGI remakes of classic cartoon properties as feature films (Scooby Doo, Marmaduke, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Underdog, Garfield, Speed Racer, etc.), but the idea of reviving such characters as TV series is considered a no-no?

One major reason movie execs chase these characters is that these properties appeal to adults who grew up with them and can easily attract their kids (if handled correctly). Case in point: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel in two weeks of release has a North American box office gross of $157.3 million!

20th Century Fox should just stop making live action films. The studio has been doing poorly in recent years, it’s only saving grace being The Ice Age movies, Alvin and the Chipmunks and the mo-cap Avatar (not to mention their TV fare led by The Simpsons and Family Guy).

The Sunday Funnies (1/3/10)

Our weekly survey of recent comic strips and editorial cartoons that reference animation characters. Though we usually feature print cartoons, the two below — Medium Large by Francesco Marciuliano (12/30/09) and Eek! by Scott Nickel (12/30/09) — are professional web comics.


(Thanks to our regular eagle eyed comic strip watchers Edwin Austin, Jim Lahue, Charles Brubaker and Uncle Wayne)

Nutella goes Looney Tunes

Heads up, Jarheads! Here’s the scoop from our roving reporter Dave Filipi, direct from a supermarket in Philadelphia. Nutella, the bread spread made from a “combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa” is currently offering its product in glass jars adorned with images of four Looney Tunes stars. I love that Clampett-esque Daffy, I want ‘em all!

Dave snapped these pix with his iPhone (the first two from the left, below, click to enlarge) off a supermarket shelf in Philadelphia. A closer look at his photos shows these particular jars to be imported. Let’s hope these imports are making their way across the USA. I have no idea what Nutella tastes like, but I’m sold.