Ted Petok (1917-2010)

Cartoonist, illustrator and Oscar winning animator Ted Petok has passed away at age 93. His Oscar winning short was The Crunch Bird (1971), written and voiced by Len Maxwell. A native of Detroit, Petok’s animation also appeared on Sesame Street and The Electric Company. A complete obitutary appears in today’s Detroit Free Press. His Academy award winning film appears below:

Nico Marlet’s Sketchbook

Nico Marlet Sketchbook

Ace character designer Nico Marlet (Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon) has published a collection of his sketches. As of now, the only place I’m aware of that stocks the book is the Gallery Nucleus website. I got to meet Marlet briefly last month, but sadly, I was a couple days too early to get a finished copy of the book. He made up for it by allowing me to flip through some of his designs, which I have to say are something else entirely in their original unreproduced form. Unlike many artist sketchbooks, Marlet didn’t curate a selection of his best work; rather, he took one of his sketchbooks and reprinted it whole from cover to cover. If the preview images on the Gallery Nucleus site don’t make it evident, there’s likely not a weak drawing in the entire book.

UPDATE: The item appears to be back in stock on the Gallery Nucleus website.

What Does Marvin the Martian Think of Cartoon Brew Readers

Eric Bauza, the voice of Marvin the Martian in the new Looney Tunes Show, read your comments on yesterday’s Brew post and he’s got it all figured out. Apparently, the artwork is fine; the problem, he wrote on Facebook, lies with Cartoon Brew readers who are “35-40 year olds that don’t have girlfriends, jobs or lives.”

Bauza then goes on to complain about how everybody is judging the show based on one frame. Generalizing is wrong, he believes, except of course when he’s making generalizations about Cartoon Brew’s readership.

Here’s his entire comment:

Eric Bauza

Stitch-Head Mickey To Invade Southern California

Baseball Mickey

To promote Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Anaheim this summer, the MLB has teamed up with Disney to display 36 seven-and-a-half foot Mickey statues around Southern California. Combining two all-American ideas like baseball and Mickey Mouse probably seemed like a smart idea during the boardroom meeting, but turning Mickey’s face into a baseball pushes the idea to a disturbing and unnecessary extreme.

Call me a purist but I don’t find characters with stitches in their face appealing unless their name happens to be Chucky. The various Mickeys will feature him sporting the uniforms of all thirty teams in the league because, you guessed it, mini-statuettes will be available for purchase online at the MLB.com shop, DisneyStore.com and stores like Walgreens and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Russia’s first animated feature: The Lost Letter (1945)

This is why the Internet was invented. Here’s something I’d never seen or heard of before. “Niffiwan” in Toronto has post on You Tube a subtitled version of a formerly unknown (to me and all my reference books) 1945 Russian animated feature (43 minutes long). It could actually be considered the first traditionally-animated Russian feature, because there was actually a feature made with stop-motion animation in 1935. (The more well known, full-length, Magic Pony (The Humpbacked Horse) was released in 1947).

It’s called The Lost Letter, and it’s definitely worth watching. It was directed by the pioneering Brumberg Sisters (Valentina and Zinaida) with Lamis Bredis, and was based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol. Made during the darkest days of World War II, this film was practically unknown and unseen outside of the former USSR until now. Ben Ettinger from AniPages Daily wrote a nice mini-review of it back in 2005, though it was unsubtitled back then.

Below is part one (of four). Read more about the film, how it was subtitled and see the other three parts at Niffiwan’s Journal.

Michael Pataki (1938-2010)

Michael Pataki

Veteran actor Michael Pataki passed away on April 15. The cause of death was cancer. Variety has his obituary. In addition to hundreds of roles in live-action films and TV series, he occasionally provided voices for animated characters. His longest running role was as George Liquor, which he first portrayed on The Ren and Stimpy Show and later in various web projects for Spumco. He also provided the voice of the Cow in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and performed voices in Dexter’s Lab and Batman: The Animated Series.

UPDATE: Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi has posted a tribute to Michael Pataki on his blog.

Embarrassing Promo Art for CN’s Looney Tunes Show

Looney Tunes
(Click to enlarge this image if you hate your eyes.)

If you can list three things wrong with the image above, then you aren’t trying hard enough. Frankly, it looks worse than your average fan art, and not the caliber of work one expects from “professional” artists who draw for a living.

PS – The Looney Tunes characters now live in houses next to each other in a suburban neighborhood (and they eat Chinese take-out).

UPDATE: Marvin the Martian responds to your opinions of the artwork.

Cartoon Network finally announces the new Looney Tunes

Cartoon Network unveiled their new line-up of content today at its annual Advertising Upfront presentation at New York’s Time Warner Center. The network announced that coming later in the year would be an “all-new re-imagined version of the Warner Bros animated classic shorts, Looney Tunes.” From the press release:

The Looney Tunes Show: A new half-hour animated comedy series starring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. No longer confined to 7-minute shorts, Bugs and Daffy are out of the woods and living in the suburbs among such colorful neighbors as Yosemite Sam, Granny, Tweety and Sylvester. In addition to each episode’s main story, The Looney Tunes Show also features “cartoons within a cartoon.” The Tasmanian Devil, Speedy Gonzales, Marvin the Martian and other classic characters sing original songs in two-minute music videos called Merrie Melodies and the Road Runner and Coyote are featured in 2-1/2 minute CG shorts. This all new series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is the executive producer. Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone (both Duck Dodgers, Back at the Barnyard, Space Jam) are the supervising producers.

In addition to the new Looney Tunes and the MAD show we posted about yesterday, the other good stuff revealed today includes:

Robotomy: The animated Robotomy tells the story of Thrasher and Blastus, two outsider teenage droids who are only slightly less horrific than the ultra-powerful robots that populate their planet, Killglobe. Now they face their greatest challenge yet: high school. Armed with a desire to fit in (and little else), Thrasher and Blastus navigate their lives with varying degrees of success. Created by Michael Buckley (The Sisters Grimm) and Joe Deasy and co-executive produced by Christy Karacas (Superjail), Robotomy, a quarter-hour series, will be produced in New York.

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome: When a portal to the world opened and unleashes underground monsters, so goes the premise for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. The human world had everything these creatures could ever want. The only problem is, humans hate monsters, and they treat them like second class citizens. How unfair! This is their world too. Created by Chowder writer and artist Pete Browngardt, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome follows this clan in their dim-witted efforts to break free of human oppression. The animated series is being produced at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank.

Young Justice: In Young Justice, being a teenager means proving yourself over and over–to peers, parents, teachers, mentors and, ultimately, to yourself. But what if you’re not just a normal teenager? What if you’re a teenage super hero? Are you ready to join the ranks of the great heroes and prove you’re worthy of the Justice League? That’s exactly what the members of Young Justice–Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis–will found out, whether they have what it takes to be a proven hero. This all-new series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation and based upon characters from DC Comics. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is the executive producer. Brandon Vietti (Batman: Under the Red Hood, Superman Doomsday, The Batman) and Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-Man, W.I.T.C.H.) are the producers.

The network is also going full blast into live action and sports programming. Cartoon Network’s Hall of Game will premiere in early 2011. Partnering with Sports Illustrated, “this high-energy, multi-platform experience will let viewers decide who’s got game from the world of sports. This first-of-its-kind sports award event for kids is created and produced by global sports and will introduce the SI KIDS’ Sports Kid of the Year Award.

“Last spring we talked about how ‘our voice was changing’ and announced an ambitious slate of diverse and compelling content,” said Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer of Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media division. “This year we’re delivering and adding great brands and beloved franchises that represent the breadth and scope of Cartoon Network’s ongoing evolution.”

“We’re expanding beyond the boundaries of traditional kid’s content,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer for Cartoon Network. “This new programming lineup brings event-quality entertainment to our prime time.”

You be the judge. Other highlights from today’s presentation:

Run It Back Sunday: Cartoon Network takes The NBA on TNT’s game of the week and remixes it for basketball fans of all ages. Run It Back Sunday is a full NBA game in one power hour, complete with fun facts, amazing highlights and explosive special effects. From jams, passes and steals to fun facts and unique analysis, Run It Back Sunday presents an all new way to catch the game of the week.

KROG: KROG is a half-hour scripted live-action comedy pilot from Cartoon Network Studios. To their fans, KROG is an awesome monster costume band sent from Middle Earth to conquer and enslave the human “surface dwellers.” Their fans love them! In reality, however, the members of KROG are indeed monsters sent to conquer mankind. KROG is created by Mark Rivers (Metalocolypse, TV Funhouse).

Unnatural History: Cartoon Network’s first live-action mystery series delivers a new case of cinematic, action-packed comedic adventure each week.

Tower Prep: A one-hour, live-action scripted series premiering this fall, Tower Prep tells the story of a rebellious teen, Ian (Drew Van Acker), who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped at a mysterious prep school that offers no escape. This series is executive-produced and created by Paul Dini (Lost, Batman Beyond).

Sym-Bionic Titan: From creator Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) comes an exciting hybrid of giant robot battles and high school comedy. Sym-Bionic Titan follows the lives of three alien teenagers who crash-land on Earth and must protect their new home from alien invaders while navigating the perils of high school life. Sym-Bionic Titan is being produced at Cartoon Network Studios and will premiere on Cartoon Network this summer.

Regular Show: Created by J. G. Quintel, Regular Show was developed as an animated short for Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute. A 15-minute animated series, is produced at Cartoon Network Studios.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. From Warner Bros. Animation, Sam Register is the executive producer. Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone are the supervising producers.

Firebreather: Cartoon Network’s first original all-CG animation movie, directed by Peter Chung, created and co-executive-produced by Phil Hester, and executive-produced by Julia Pistor (Lemony Snicket).

Katzenberg on Colbert Report

Jeffrey Katzenberg appeared on The Colbert Report yesterday in a valiant attempt to show that he has a sense of humor. Make note how Katzenberg backtracks on his recent comment about Clash of the Titans after he told Variety, “You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on Clash of the Titans. It literally is ‘OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience.’”

Had Katzenberg been more open and less concerned about saying “the right thing” he would have made a much stronger impression. This deliciously awkward and revealing exchange sums up his appearance best:

Colbert: What’s better: a great 2D movie or the worst 3D movie?
Katzenberg: [no answer]
Colbert: Because I go for the technology. Because I go for production values. Can you give them terrible stuff but make it 3D?
Katzenberg: Yes.
Colbert: But you would never do that.
Katzenberg: No.
Colbert: Because you’re the maker of Monsters vs. Aliens.
Katzenberg: Yes.

(Thanks, Zach Smith)

Annie Awards webcast now online

Asifa-Hollywood has post the entire Annie Awards presentation from this past February 6th, from UCLA’s Royce Hall, on You Tube in 15 parts. This is the first time the organization has made the entire presentation available online. William Shatner was the host, and presenters included June Foray, actors Seth Green, John Leguizamo, Sean Astin and industry notables such as Pete Docter, Ed Catmull and Henry Selick.

Below is part 11, a special tribute to the late Roy Disney. To view the all fifteen parts visit annieawards.org.

Pixar Canada is Open For Business

CBTV

Pixar’s new studio in Vancouver, Canada officially opened its doors earlier today. According to this article, the studio will begin production on its first film–featuring Mater from Cars–in August. The studio plans to create additional short films and specials for TV and web using existing characters from the Pixar library. Pixar Canada already has twenty employees and plans to add 55 more people within the next one-and-a-half years. To promote their new studio, Pixar produced a three-minute film, viewable on CTV-BC’s website that shows Pixar characters running around Vancouver and John Lasseter asking, “Is there a place more beautiful than Vancouver?”

Joe Murray Wants to Create Crowd-Funded Shorts

Joe Murray, creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo, has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $16,800 to complete 2 three-minute episodes of his new online cartoon series Frog in a Suit. The pilot episode is already complete. This is part of a larger project called KaBoingTV that Murray wants to turn into a “home for quality, cutting edge cartoons and animation on the web, and a ‘free range’ and ethical environment for the artists who make them.”

When I wrote about crowd-funding a few months ago, I said that this funding arrangement would initially work best for filmmakers with a proven track record. Murray certainly has a track record, and more significantly, he is the first creator of a TV series to pursue this route. His reasons for doing so, as stated on his Kickstarter page, are admirable: “I’m trying produce the first episodes without outside funding that comes with strings attached. Its also my wish to have you the audience, plus fellow animators be my producers rather than funding sources that don’t love cartoons as much as you do.”

He also writes that the money raised will be used to hire outside animation talent and won’t be used for his personal labor expenses. The campaign runs 45 days. If his fundraising goal isn’t reached by then, the project will not be funded. In the first day of his campaign, he has already raised over $1600 or nearly 10% of his goal. We’ll keep an eye on this to see what happens.

(Thanks, David Essman)

REMINDER: CBTV’s Student Animation Festival Deadline

CBTV

A reminder: only TEN days are left to send in submissions for Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival. Visit our festival page for rules and submission information. We have received several dozen entries to date from the US, Canada, and across Europe and Asia, and we are delighted not only by the number of submissions but by the quality of the work. The task of selecting the line-up of films for our inaugural festival will not be easy.

MAD Cartoons coming to Adult Swim

Pssst… I just found out Cartoon Network will be announcing a new animated MAD show at their upfront presentations tomorrow in New York City.

It’s a Warner Brothers production, helmed by Peter Girardi (Funny Garbage) and head writer Kevin Shinick (Robot Chicken), featuring animated cartoons by classic MAD artists like Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, paired with today’s top cartoon animators like Ben Jones (Paperrad), M. Wartella (Village Voice, Wonder Showzen), and Devin Flynn (Vice, Aqua Teen) who will be doing his own twisted take on the Spy vs. Spy franchise.

The show will be airing on Cartoon Network this Fall, part of channel’s plan to roll out a new lineup of Adult Swim-style shows, but fit for prime time.

Suspended Animation Gallery

We are long overdue in giving a plug to the Suspended Animation Gallery, an online art collection of pieces produced by Disney animation artists, done on their own time, reflecting their own personal inspirations and in created in a medium of their choice.

This unique gallery offers the paintings and sculpture for sale. Among the pieces here is work by Walt Stanchfield, George Scribner and Mike Gabriel. Just added this week are paintings by Walt Peregoy, best known for his work on 101 Dalmatians, but also notable for his contributions to Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty.

For more information on this gallery, visit suspendedanimationgallery.com.

Animation Tag Attack

Animation Tag Attack is an ‘exquisite corpse’ animated short being made by artists from around the globe. Thus far, artists from Denmark, New Zealand and Israel have contributed. Each artist is allotted one month to complete their portion of the film, and sequences are posted online as soon as they’re completed.

I’m not familiar with any of the animators who are participating, but the work they’re turning out is remarkably fresh and sophisticated. Here are the four sequences that have been completed to date:

(Thanks, DeK)

Carl Macek (1951-2010)

Mutual friend Bob Cabeen has just informed me of the passing of my former business partner Carl Macek. Carl died of a heart attack on Saturday.

Among his many accomplishments Carl created Robotech, co-founded Spumco with John K. and co-founded Streamline Pictures (Akira, Fist of the North Star, Laputa, etc.) with me.

Carl began his career doing grassroots promotional work on sci-fi films such as Star Wars and Alien, and worked for numerous industry icons including Dino Di Laurentiis and Ivan Reitman. He wrote the book The Art of Heavy Metal (Animation for the Eighties) in 1981. In 1984, Macek began his long association with Japanese animation. He worked with Harmony Gold, U.S.A. to develop the groundbreaking anime series ROBOTECH that has been credited with igniting the anime movement in the US. After his stint at Harmony Gold, Macek moved on to work for D.I.C. and Bill Kroyer’s studio.

In 1988, Macek divided his time between forming Spumco with John K. and partnering with me to create Streamline Pictures. In 1990, after helping sell Ren & Stimpy to Nickelodeon, Macek parted with Spumco to develop Streamline Pictures full time. Streamline imported and dubbed anime features for US movie theaters, for television showings and home video for over a decade. One of his most enduring projects during this period was producing the original English-language dub of the Miyazaki classic My Neighbor Totoro.

In the late 1990’s, Macek returned to original animation production and was instrumental in developing several projects (Heavy Metal 2000 and Lady Death). Most recently, he has adapted, produced and directed English—language versions of Tomino’s classic 49-episode fantasy Aura Battler Dunbine. He also adapted numerous Japanese anime for the North American market including Naruto and Bleach.

Carl had been working on a slate of original projects as well, including War Eagles, a novel and screenplay inspired by Merian C. Cooper’s unproduced film treatment. Some of his recent science fiction short stories can be read at storyleap.com.

Carl had his critics. But one thing is certain: the popularity of anime in the North America would not be where it is today without Macek’s groundbreaking work on Robotech and his efforts on behalf of Streamline Pictures.

The photo above (with Ed Asner) was taken recently on the set of Audrey, where his wife, Svea, was costume supervisor. Below is a video of Carl at a recent anime convention (January 2010) in San Francisco discussing what he’s been up to recently.

Allen Swift (1924-2010)

Gene Deitch just informed us of the passing of his long-time personal friend Allen Swift. Swift (born Ira Stadlen) was best known for voicing numerous cartoon characters including Simon Bar Sinister (in Underdog), Odie on King Leonardo and most of the voices for the 1960′s underwater puppet show Diver Dan. Swift was also well-known for hosting the Popeye cartoon show (September 10, 1956 to September 23, 1960) on WPIX in New York City. Swift did the majority of the voices in Rankin/Bass’s Mad Monster Party, and supplied character voices for the NBC Howdy Doody Show. He was Tooter Turtle and Clint Clobber. He did voices in Richard Williams’ Raggedy Ann and Andy and John Dilworth’s Courage The Cowardly Dog, as well as in Gene Deitch’s 1960-61 group of Tom and Jerry cartoons (especially memorable in Dickie Moe).

In tribute we re-post the Deitch-Pintoff Terrytoon classic Flebus, with all voices by Allen Swift (above) and one of Swift’s Popeye children’s records (as Captain Allen Swift), below.

Gene Deitch writes:

Maxime Stadlen, Allen Swift’s daughter phoned me the terrible news that Allen has died. Allen Swift, who did the voices of Howdy Doody and the other characters, who did all of the voices on PUMP TROUBLE and DEPTH STUDY, which you will soon be showing, and who has been by best personal friend for 58 years, is gone. He was they last of my American buddies. Even though here for 50 years, hardly a year went by without a visit to his 54th Street apartment, nor a day go by without email and most recently Skype visits. It’s a devastating loss. I felt something awful must be happening, because just as the Howdy Doody film was about to go online, I was unable to reach him or his wife or anyone in his family. This even is something we have been talking about for the past few months and weeks, as the story of the film’s recovery evolved. I’m crushed. We were both born in 1924, thus just a few months difference in age, but Allen has been suffering with a series of health calamities for several years, since he fell and broke his hip while walking his dog. From that moment, one thing led to another…

And now, “the man of a thousand voices” who used many, many of them in my films, is silenced. To further the pain, no planes are flying from Europe, and the airports are jammed with people waiting in vain to go where they need to go. So, I must grieve from here…

We grieve with you Gene. We lost one of the greats today.

Dragon Tops Box Office Again

How to Train Your Dragon

Big surprise at the box office this weekend as DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon reclaimed the number one spot in its fourth week of release with an estimated $20 million. The film continues to confound box office analysts with its strong performance and is now all but guaranteed to become the fifth-highest grossing DreamWorks feature at the US box office. Caveat: the film is in a dead heat with Kick-Ass and could possibly lose its #1 rank when final numbers are released on Monday, but regardless, the film has more than proven its staying power with audiences.

UPDATE: Final results show that How To Train Your Dragon came in second place for the weekend with $19.6 million. Kick-Ass led the field with $19.8 million.

Miami World Cinema Center

We try to avoid political commentary here on the Brew, but the above by Miami Herald’s Jim Morin is a fine example of the new wave of animated editorial cartoons that are fast becoming the norm for online newspapers these days (so much so, last week Mark Fiore of the San Francisco Chronicle won the Pulitzer Prize for his animated editorials).

This gives me an excuse to mention Jim Morin’s son, Spencer, who is the head of animation for the Miami World Cinema Center. A non-profit filmmakers co-op, MWCC is dedicated to returning South Florida to its traditional animation roots. Spencer Morin says:

We are currently raising funds to build an animation studio that’ll be about 80-90% traditional, and 10% compositing/(2d3d motion graphics). Currently, we’re working on several no-budget productions featuring hand-drawn animation (character and rotoscope), stop motion animation, claymation, and “Roger Rabbit” compositing. We also hold regular animation workshops for the students attending animation schools in Miami that don’t practice traditional animation techniques.

We’re also looking for more animation projects that can dig our philosophy. We offer a short film incentive of a 25% budget boost to animators that’ll work completely out of South Florida and have a budget of at least $1000. This’ll also guarantee the animator a production office/work space and any hands we’ve got.

If you live and love animation in the Miami-Dade County area contact Spencer Morin, via their blog, for more information on the local activities of the Miami World Cinema Center – and get involved!