There is a huge difference between the two Flintstones drawings above, and not just superficial stylistic differences. Animator Will Finn (Iago in Aladdin, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast) explores the contrast between these drawings in a monumental post on his blog:
For one thing, notice that in the more recent picture, the layout “rakes” the perspective of the floor line a bit, creating a diagonal that forces the composition elements into something of a diamond. Normally, a diagonal can create a sense of dynamism, which is often desirable, but here it is arbitrary. The figures, after all are literally, self-consciously “posed” in static positions to accommodate the idea of the whole family having their picture taken…In the first series, more often than not, the floor line is a relatively straight horizontal line, somewhat irregularly drawn. The irregularity goes with the organic feel of the concept of a largely organic world, and the horizontal quality lends maximum space for the stylized figures to appear in. It also allows props (like the piano) to have a slight diagonal witout being forced into paralell perspective like the couch.
This is a continuation of an earlier post Will wrote about the uppermost Flintstones image. There are some who might say that Will is being too picky, but I commend him for his vigilant eye. Animation has long suffered from the “it’s just a cartoon” mentality, and fundamental drawing principles are routinely ignored. As a result, amateurish and incompetent artwork that wouldn’t pass muster in any other illustrative medium is considered acceptable in our art form and disseminated to an unsuspecting cartoon-loving public. Even still single-frame artwork that is meant to be viewed for extended periods of time, such as the Flintstones image above, is carelessly crafted. Finn’s critique is a timely reminder to all of us that individual animation drawings lie at the heart of this medium, and the least any of us can do is to respect the value of each and every single drawing.
The program will begin at 7:30pm on Friday May 7th at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theatre in Westwood. I will be appearing with Bill Kroyer on a panel discussing how the techniques of creating animation have changed since the earliest days of cinema.
The first half of the show will highlight recent restorations of silent animated shorts (soon to be available online as part of a new website run by the UCLA Archive’s Research and Study Center), while the second half features pioneering digital shorts, such as Peter FoldÃ¨s Hunger (1974) and John Lasseter’s earliest work at Pixar. The silent cartoons will include 35mm prints of: J. Stuart Blackton’s The Enchanted Drawing (1900); Indoor Sports (1920); Joys and Glooms “Her Minute” (1921) Directed by John C. Terry; Animated Hair Cartoon No. 18 (1925) and others. A complete list of the films being screened is posted here.
This week, from the top: Mother Goose and Grimm (4/25 and 4/22) by Mike Peters; Baby Blues (4/21) by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott; Wulffmorgantaler (4/22) by Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler; and Free Range (4/20) by Bill Whitehead.
(Thanks, Jim Lahue, Ed Austin, Uncle Wayne, David Ian White)
Leif Jeffers, an animator at DreamWorks, wrote in to tell us of an auction that went live on ebay today. It’s called Beautiful Grim. Here is the the description of the auction from the website:
“My name is Daarken and I am a concept artist and illustrator working for Mythic Entertainment. My friend Leif Jeffers, an animator at DreamWorks, and I are organizing an art auction fundraiser.
Earlier this year my girlfriend, Cat, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 25. On November 3rd, 2009, she had a bilateral mastectomy after going through 16 weeks of chemotherapy. As you can imagine it has been hard for her, not only mentally and physically, but financially. In order to help alleviate some of her medical bills Leif and I wanted to throw an art auction. The proceeds that are left over after her medical bills have been paid will go to a breast cancer related charity.
We currently have artists contributing that hail from all regions of the industry: concept artists, animators, photographers, sculptors, fine artists, illustrators, you name it. The theme for the auction is “Beautiful Grim.” The interpretation of “Beautiful Grim” has been left up to the artists.”
It’s time for another episode in our special film series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch.” This week, we’re presenting Pump Trouble, an educational film for the American Heart Association that Deitch directed at UPA. This film is so rare that I was unable to find it while I was researching and writing Cartoon Modern, even though we put in a few of Cliff Roberts’ character designs into the book. It’s a real treat that we can now make this historical piece available online for everybody to see. Click over to Brew TV to watch Gene Deitch’s Pump Trouble.
No one admires the work of Mary, Lee and Preston Blair more than we do. Now Mary’s nieces, Maggie and Jeanne, have just sent word of their new Mary Blair website that does the family proud. The site features photos, stories, merchandise and news about Mary, along with a few other surprises. Loads of gorgeous, inspiration pieces. Bookmark.
They were soooo cute and soooo colourful and happy that it sort of made you want to scream at the TV with happiness. It was an anxious, sugar high happiness that made you want to run around the block laughing. The cartoons were also really tight like a well drilled pop rock group. They were fast, dynamic, pulsating with energy and usually had an element of wit or slapstick humour so they never really depressed. You wanted to hug the TV when they came on and you felt like these cartoons were hugging you back and grabbing your hand and pulling you in to play in their world.
As many of you know, every month (on the fourth Monday evening) I co-produce a live comedy/cartoon show, Cartoon Dump, at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. If you are in the area, this month (on 4/26) will be a great one to drop in on. In addition to our regulars, Frank Conniff (MST3K) and Erica Doering, our special comedy guest is Patton Oswalt. I’ll be there, showing an extra helping of really horrible cartoons. Showtime is 8pm. Ticket info is posted here. Check out the new FaceBook page for more information and updates.
New York, N.Y. TEX AVERY CARTOONS at MoMA.
I think this is in conjunction with the massive must-see Tim Burton exhibit, possibly selected by Burton himself! 35mm prints of Swing Shift Cinderella (1945), Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), Little Rural Riding Hood (1949), The Cat That Hated People (1948), The Three Little Pups (1952), Field and Scream (1953) – all good ones! Saturday, April 24, 2010, 4:00 p.m. in Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2). For more information click here.
Los Angeles, CA SITA SINGS THE BLUES at the Laemmle Music Hall
If you haven’t seen it on the big screen – or even if you have – Nina Paley’s masterpiece comes to LA for a 1-week theatrical engagement starting Friday 4/23. Do not miss it in 35mm, it’s a much cooler experience. And sing along with the Annette Hanshaw soundtrack! The film is playing each day at 5:10pm, 7:20pm and 9:30pm at The Laemmle Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, California.
Cleanse thine eyes, brave animation lover. As if anticipating the eyesore that was unveiled yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just announced “Chuck Jones: An Animator’s Life From A to Z-Z-Z-Z.” The show will open May 14 at the Academy’s headquarters (8949 Wilshire Blvd) and will run through August 22. On display will be more than 150 drawings, cels, storyboards and other materials related to Jones’ animated shorts, features and TV specials. Gallery hours are listed on the their website, and best of all, admission is FREE!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.