Sony to produce CG 3D Popeye feature

Once again we take note of a new Popeye project, again in CG, and for the second time in his career – in 3D. Variety is reporting on Sony’s plans to bring the Segar comic strip classic to theatres in a big screen adventure. Avi Arad (Spider-Man) is producing and writer Mike Jones is creating a screenplay. Popeye will be made by Sony Pictures Animation, with Sony Pictures ImageWorks handling the CG. We cannot predict when this film will come out, but hopefully it will push Warner Home Video into restoring the rest of their Popeye cartoon library for DVD, perhaps persuade Cartoon Network will revive The Popeye Show, and maybe inspire Warner Bros. to attach the 1954 Popeye The Ace Of Space 3D animated short to one of their upcoming 3D features.

Artists Want Alternative to San Diego Comic-Con

Creator Con
Artwork by Jeff Pidgeon

A group of artists frustrated by the San Diego Comic-Con’s lack of emphasis on artists and art are pushing for the creation of an artist-friendly event called “Creator-Con”. They’ve started an informal Facebook page with this mission statement:

This page was created as a forum for the artists, writers, designers, self-publishers, retailers and fans that have become disillusioned and frustrated with what the flagship of comic conventions has become (y’all know the one…in San Diego).

The Creator Con idea was hatched a few years ago by a few exhibitor friends as a reaction to the popular media takeover of a convention that used to celebrate artists and creators. We were tired of being pushed further and further aside each year to make room for the bigger, louder and flashier attractions that had nothing to do with the convention’s humble beginnings. This page hopefully will give us all a platform to get the ball rolling on something new or at the very least, voice our opinions. So let it ring! We want to hear what you have to say.

In only a couple days, membership in the group has swelled to nearly five hundred people, which indicates not only the grassroots support for the idea, but how much discontent there is with the San Diego Comic Con’s treatment of the artist community. Many notable names in animation and comics have joined the group including Kazu Kibuishi, David Silverman, Stephen DeStefano, Scott Shaw!, Richard Sala, Katie Rice and Steve Purcell. Discussions are happening on the page about possible locations for a Creator-Con. Some are suggesting that it should be hosted in San Diego, while LA, Portland, Vegas and the Bay Area are also being name-dropped.

I’m in full support of a Creator-Con. As a former Comic-Con exhibitor (I exhibited three times with artists like Shane Glines, Gabe Swarr and Jim Smith), I eventually came to the realization that the Con wasn’t the most receptive outlet for indie companies and artists. The last time I attended (not as an exhibitor) was in 2007, and I cut my trip short after a day (a Thursday no less!). The emphasis of San Diego had shifted so far away from comics and artists that it was pointless spending any further time there.

In many ways, the very idea of a “comic-con” is outdated. Today, most artists practice across a wide range of artistic disciplines (comics, graphic novels, illustration, fine art, publishing, film, animation, toys, merchandising and branding, etc.). A Creator-Con that is focused around artists and their varied creative endeavors reflects more accurately how the contemporary visual artist thinks and works. The Creator-Con is an idea whose time has arrived–now it remains to be seen who will make it a reality.

UPDATE (6pm ET): Over 1,000 people have now joined the Creator-Con group on Facebook.

Battle of the Sexes: Animated!

Battle of the Sexes

Bill Plympton and Signe Baumane will present the Battle of the Sexes on Monday, April 12, at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave. at West Third Street, NYC). According to the description:

Famed animators and Woodstock Film Festival Animation Programmers Bill Plympton and Signe Baumane will square off toe-to-toe by showing the funniest, sexiest animated cartoons in a 5-round match to discover which gender makes the hottest cartoons! And get this – the audience gets to decide the winner! Yes! The paying public will end this age – old controversy, once and for all declaring the winner! Screening will be followed by an exclusive Q&A with select animators and programmers.

Representing the women will be the following films:
Teat Beat of Sex by Signe Baumane
Vessel Wrestling by Lisa Yu
Time for Carla by Saray Dominguez
Carnival of Animals by Michaela Pavlatova
Girls Night Out by Joanna Quinn

And on the men’s side:
Chirpy by John Goras
Roof Sex by PES
The Making of Gladiator by Duncan Beedie
Cosmic Honeymoon by Ondrej Rudavsky
How to make Love to a Woman by Bill Plympton

A New Era of Animated Political Ads

Last weekend’s New York Times discussed a new trend in political ads in which politicians are depicted as grotesque animated caricatures. Two examples they cited are ads that attack Meg Whitman and Barbara Boxer, which I’ve posted below. These would be wonderful if they were made by citizens fed up with the shenanigans of the political elite, but unfortunately, they’re made by special interests groups who are as nasty and agenda-driven as the people they’re lampooning.

(Thanks, Celia Bullwinkel)

Cartoon Brew Site Problems

Many readers have noticed a malware warning when they’ve come to the site over the last couple days. We’ve traced the issue to our OpenX ad server. The issues affected many sites which run the OpenX server. There is more information about the issue at LegitReviews.com which also experienced the same hack:

A group registered in Russia and constantly moving around Scandavavia on a daily basis using the domain newtickepicker.com has hacked into many of the OpenX Ad servers including ours to insert a plug in. It then places itself into a one pixel unit on a graphic position for an advertisement. The plugin is called “mergedDeliveryFunctions.php.

Our tech guy informs us that no malware was ever added to the site, however, as a precaution, Google flagged all sites using these OpenX invocation codes. We are currently working with Google to get our site relisted as safe. Everything should be back to normal by the end of today. Thank you to everybody who has helped out and sent over screenshots and info about what they’re seeing on their computers.

TONIGHT: Cartoon Dump @ 8pm

If you’re bored and stuck in Los Angeles tonight, I’ve got some good news! Our monthly live comedy/cartoon revue, Cartoon Dump, goes on this evening at 8pm!

Tonight we celebrate with special guest comedian Karen Kilgariff (from Mr. Show)! Join me, Frank Conniff, Erica Doering, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Mighty Mr. Titan (putting the spotlight on his ass, above) tonight at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. • Free Parking! • Advanced Tickets here • Phone: (323) 666-9797 • Map & Directions

Sexy 1950s Camay Soap animated spots

Who needs Viagra??? Just get a bar of Camay Soap!

Check out this set of five smokin’ hot animated spots from the 1950s that our friends at Something Weird Video just unearthed (first one embed below; then watch #2, #3, #4 and #5). The animators were not shy about letting us see the leading lady’s charms in the bath tub, and each commercial is packed with unsubtle Tex Avery-inspired “erection” double takes. Check them all out.

Inquiring minds want to know: who did them? What year? New York, L.A. or elsewhere? And for what market (Latin America? Europe?)? The credit to Technicolor on the main title might suggest these spots were intended to play movie theatres. Do any of our reader have any answers?

(Thanks, Joe Bacon)

How To Train Your Dragon artists speak

Production artist Nicolas Marlet will be among those taking part in an artist panel at Alhambra’s Gallery Nucleus on Sunday March 28th, talking about and showing some of their work from Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon. Other artists in attendance will be: Alessandro Carloni (Head of Story), Pierre Olivier Vincent (Art Director) and Simon Otto (Head of Animation).

This event is free and its highly recommended you arrive early – seating is limited. The panel will begin at 3pm. For more information please check the Gallery Nucleus website.

Moomins and the Comet Chase Trailer

A trailer for the children’s film Moomins and the Comet Chase, the first stereoscopic 3-D feature out of the Nordic region. It’s being produced by Finnish studio Filmkompaniet Alpha, who previously made the feature Moomin and Midsummer Madness in 2008. The characters are based on Tove Jansson’s classic book and comic characters Moomins which have been the subject of numerous animated TV series and features throughout the years, including a hand-drawn Japanese version of this same Moomin story from 1992 titled Comet in Moominland.

Elk Hair Caddis

Elk Hair Caddis is another mini-masterpiece from those crazy kids at Denmark’s Animation Workshop: Peter Smith, Alice Holme, Anders Brogaarde and Magnus Moller.

Peter Smith told us:

One of the goals with this piece of animation was to explore some of the boundaries of the 3D media, and how close we could bring it to a 2D feel in terms of broadness and flexibility. One of the very important inspirations that made us think along these lines was the work of the Swedish company Meindbender. Particularly the short Football vs. Rabbit was a very helpful source of inspiration. For the animation we used Maya and Blender (Anisculpt) and for comp we used Fusion.

Cold War CGI

Computer animation from Russia in 1968 (yep, that’s forty-two years ago!):

A group of Russian physicists and mathematicians with N. Konstantinov in the head of it created mathematic model of the cat and its moving and realized this model in the program for the computer “BESM-4″. Computer printed hundreds of frames on the paper using alphabet symbols and then they were converted to the cinefilm.

(Thanks, Mark Newgarden)

Lipsett Diaries Trailer

An enticing trailer for Lipsett Diaries, a short directed by Theodore Ushev (Drux Flux, Tower Bawher). It’s rare to see animated imagery with such substance and beauty–so intensely powerful–and it’s only the trailer:

[Lipsett Diaries] depicts the maelstrom of anguish that tormented Arthur Lipsett, a famed Canadian experimental filmmaker who died at the age of 49. His descent into depression and madness is explored through a series of images as well as sounds taken from Lipsett’s own work.

The film is written by Chris Robinson, the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival; this marks his first major involvement in the production of an animated film. LipsettDiaries.net has more background about Lipsett and the film, including a fascinating tidbit about the influence of Lipsett’s work on George Lucas and Star Wars. The film is in competition at Annecy this year, and something tells me it might be selected for Ottawa too.

Megamind Teaser

Here’s the teaser for a godawful looking low-budget European co-production… waitasec…my bad…this is DreamWorks’s Megamind. By now, I’ve come to expect very little from DreamWorks product, but this one strikes me as being even blander and clumsier than their usual bland and clumsy style. It looks like a slapped together patchwork of CG cliches, so much so that in these clips the characters appear uncomfortably detached from their background environments. The strain of a three-films-a-year schedule is becoming painfully evident.

Annecy 2010 Film Selections

Let's PolluteLet’s Pollute by Geefwee Boedoe

Yesterday, the Annecy International Animation Festival announced the selections for its 34th edition, which takes place June 7 through 12. This is a milestone year for the world’s oldest continuously running animation festival as it marks its fiftieth year of existence. The Annecy site has the complete list of selections for shorts, TV series, music videos and commercials. Feature film selections will be announced next month. Their site states that 48 animated features were submitted. Wow!

Of note: one of only two American films in the short film category is Let’s Pollute by Geefwee Boedoe, who designed the titles to Monsters Inc.. There’s a brief but intriguing Cartoon Modern-esque trailer on IMDB.

Also, in the graduation film category, I’m delighted to see that Jake Armstrong’s The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! was accepted into competition. The film had its online debut on Cartoon Brew TV last year. It makes us feel good knowing that Brew TV shorts continue to excel at festivals after their online premieres. Similarly, another Brew TV premiere, David Sheahan’s Together! made it into Slamdance earlier this year. Great work guys!

Tim Burton’s 3D stop-mo Addams Family

Chris Meledandri and his Universal-based Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me) have acquired the rights to Charles Addams famous cartoon family for Tim Burton to direct as a stop-mo 3D feature film. Michael Fleming at Deadline Hollywood has the scoop.

The article also outlines Universal’s future animated feature release plans: the April 1, 2011 release of I Hop with Russell Brand voicing the Easter Bunny; the Ricky Gervais creation Flanimals coming later 2011. Planned for 2012 is Where’s Waldo and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

La Fete by Malcolm Sutherland

A sketchbook-style piece (with many funny moments) from Malcolm Sutherland whose consistently original works are positioning him as one of Canada’s top indie animators. Description from his Vimeo page:

[The film] takes a look at people at a “La Fete Nationale” celebration in Montreal. The film was an independent production, directed and animated by Malcolm Sutherland with music by Kevin Kardasz, and was produced with financial assistance from The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

TALKBACK: Devin Clark’s Ugly Americans

Ugly Americans

Tonight Comedy Central debuts a new animated series Ugly Americans. The show was created by New York animator Devin Clark. Here’s a short interview with him about how the show made the leap from a webseries into a TV show. The Flash-animated series was made at Augenblick Studios in Brooklyn and Cuppa Coffee in Toronto. If you’ve watched the show, please share your thoughts below.

Volgens de vogels by Linde Faas

I woke up this morning (this afternoon, to be honest) hating animation. Blame it on last night’s interminable ASIFA-East screening of uninspiring and insipid indie shorts. Only something truly beautiful could uplift my spirit and make me appreciate this art form again. Thankfully, I stumbled across Volgens de vogels (According to Birds), a 2008 graduation film by Linde Faas (b. 1985). Touches of Norstein throughout, and that’s not a bad thing.

Milt Gross meets Bob Clampett

One more plug for Craig Yoe’s Milt Gross book (it deserves it) now that you can order it on Amazon (for $29.19). Craig searched high and low for unseen Gross art to illustrate his 40-page introduction. I told him I had an unpublished Gross sketch given to me by Bob Clampett, but unfortunately I could not find it in time for inclusion in the book. I just found it yesterday.

So here it is – Gross caricatures Clampett (and himself?), with Clampett as a director yelling “Cut!”. Gross asks “With what?” What is Gross about to eat? A sausage covered with ketchup? A drippy eclair? It’s autographed to “Battling” Bob Clampett – what does that refer to? Lots to read into here. Enjoy!