Your worst nightmare comes true: Zartog Strikes Back!
Opens tomorrow in the UK.
Your worst nightmare comes true: Zartog Strikes Back!
Opens tomorrow in the UK.
I wrote last month about the plan of Rocko’s Modern Life creator Joe Murray to raise $16,800 in 45 days to complete his animation project Frog in a Suit. Using the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Murray reached that goal yesterday, with nine fundraising days to spare.
Murray’s success is significant because he’s the first creator from the established world of TV animation to appeal directly to his fanbase through crowd-funding. The money he raised will be used to produce two three-minute episodes of Frog in a Suit. He then plans to use these shorts to persuade mainstream advertisers to fund a full series on his as yet to be launched online cartoon channel called KaBoingTV.com. In other words, crowd-funding still isn’t a viable solution for funding an entire series if you intend to create the series using a traditional TV production pipeline; it is enough only to make a pilot.
For independent artists who use less traditional and more efficient pipelines, crowd-funding an entire series remains a distinct possibility, especially as more viewers become accustomed to directly supporting the content they want to watch. And there is plenty of room for indies in the crowd-funded marketplace. Even right now, lesser-known artists are reaching their fundraising goals, like Kymia Nawabi who raised $3,000 to make a stop-motion music video for the band Future Islands, and Chris Bishop and Evan Viera who drummed up $11,500 to make their hybrid drawn and CG-short Caldera.
(Thanks, Kelly McNutt)
This is what I’ve always imagined living in a retirement community would be like.
It’s time for another episode in our special film series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch.” This week, we’re presenting Building Friends for Business, an industrial film for Swift & Company. The 1949 film is among the first projects that Deitch ever directed and an example of his early modernist approach to animation design and filmmaking. Click over to Brew TV to watch Gene Deitch’s Building Friends for Business.
It’s time for another episode in our special film series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch.” This week, we’re presenting Building Friends for Business, an industrial film for Swift & Company. The 1949 film is among the first projects that Deitch ever directed. He made it far away from the Hollywood animation hub at Jam Handy Organization in Detroit. We apologize in advance for the poor quality of the print.
As customary, we’re going to let Gene tell you the rest of the story himself:
Getting my start in the mid-1940s with UPA, at that time the most exciting animation studio in America, which to me seemed like Heaven stocked with gods, and was a hot bed of political liberals, Leaving there after less than three years to take up an offer from probably the most boring studio in America, The Jam Handy Organization, a massive Detroit sales film factory and booster of conservative capitalism, was a risk. It had nothing to do with politics, but was purely a career opportunity. My wartime boss at the Lockheed Aircraft Visual Aids department had become a live-action director at Jam Handy, and remembered me. Being stymied by an animation department still grinding out rubber hose retro stuff, he sold the JHO bosses on hiring me, without realizing that I had never actually animated, let alone directed anything!
At UPA in Hollywood, surrounded by titans, I was assured that I could possibly make director within ten years, but here was a chance, in a studio still in the animation stone age, to flash my UPA reflected glory and fake my way into an immediate director’s slot. No sooner had I moved in and managed to learn-by-doing on a short TV commercial, I met the nineteen-year-old Cliff Roberts, who was decorating Detroit restaurant menus with his brilliant graphics. I found him just in time to help me break new ground at the studio. I was handed a stock script, a paean to idealized capitalism, from the JHO story department, along with a recording by one of their typical announcer/narrators, and their typical stock documentary music, leaving the new-boy team of Deitch and Roberts to pep up the hack material with a saucy new look, trying to put into practice some of what I’d learned from Bill Hurtz, John Hubley, and Bobe Cannon. The final film, with its simplified UPAish style, was an internal sensation, and I was launched in 1949 as a genuine animation director and soon to be chief of the JHO animation department. Sixty years later, I’m still doing the same sort of thing.
When I heard the news that Art Linkletter had passed away, I didn’t think that was something to mention on Cartoon Brew. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was wrong. Mr. Linkletter was one of the most popular TV hosts of the 1950s and 60s. He was a personal friend of Walt Disney’s, and co-hosted the opening ceremonies of Disneyland on live TV in 1955. His celebrity was such that he was caricatured in Warner Bros. cartoons, and Universal Pictures used him to introduce the Russian animated feature The Snow Queen in a live action prologue for their 1959 U.S. theatrical release (btw, does this footage still exist?). Charles Schulz illustrated and Walt Disney contributed an introduction to his best-selling book, Kids Say The Darnest Things (click thumbnails below).
So here’s to you, Art Linkletter. Rest in peace. You entertained the public and made many (especially us baby-boomer kids) very happy with all you did.
Don’t even ask about the ingredients in this one:
New Yorkers can enjoy plenty of animation goodness this summer thanks to the Observatory, an arts and event space in Brooklyn (543 Union Street at Nevins, Brooklyn, NY 11215). They’re hosting an awesome-sounding lecture series called “Animators Are God?” Curated by GF Newland and Trilby Schreiber, the series will offer lectures, presentations and screenings by New York animators of all stripes. It kicks off this Saturday with Academy Award-winning animator Jimmy Picker who will discuss and screen his work.
Upcoming speakers include:
Signe Baumane, Animator
Kevin Brownie of Beavis and Butthead, SNL TV Funhouse
Bob Camp of Ren and Stimpy
Jonny Clockworks of the Cosmic Bicycle Theatre
John Dillworth creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog
Ted Enik Children’s book Illustrator
Nina Paley creator of Sita Sings the Blues
Bill Plympton showing his new film The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger
R. Sikoryak, Masterpiece Comic and Cartoon Parodies
Debra Solomon, co-creator of the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire
Mike Zohn on the History of Automata
Additional guests will be announced. Tickets are $5 per show. For more details on the series, visit the Observatory website.
I just received a copy of my latest book, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, directly from the printer and snapped the photo above for you to see (also a few sample spreads below, click thumbnails to enlarge. Forgive the blurriness of my cel phone camera). The pictures make the book look larger than it is. It’s actually a compact 7 inches tall and 9 1/2 inches wide, loaded with 216 pages of information and color images. It retails for $24.95, but amazon.com has it for $16.47.
Next Tuesday, June 1st at 8pm, I’m hosting a screening and book signing party at my usual monthly event at the CineFamily – Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Ave. in Hollywood, CA. I’ll be screening ten 35mm classic Looney Tunes (some in IB Technicolor) and clips from most (if not all) of the other 90 selected for the book. A limited number of books will be flown in from the printer, making this the first place on Earth you can purchase the book and get it with my autograph.
It will start appearing in bookstores and comics shops in the U.S. and Canada sometime during in June. I hope you like it. Buy two – it makes a great gift!
This is a new stop motion video that uses an old wood burning technique called pyrography. It was directed by Sverre Fredriksen, a young animator from Norway who has settled in Amsterdam, who soldered ten tons (or thereabouts) of timber to create the images — averaging five hours of work per second shown. Everything was done analog, nothing digital. You can watch a making-of video here. It was produced by Yellow Submarine, a sister company of SubmarineChannel. The song is by Dutch singer songwriter Tim Knol from his fist album.
(Thanks, Remco Vlaanderen)
I was searching for a Father’s Day card yesterday and although my dad isn’t particularly environmentally conscious, I had to buy this card (click thumbnails below to enlarge).
Apparently, the art staff at Hallmark, just like they did with Looney Tunes cards we reported about in 2006, now have the Hanna Barbera license and are creating cards in the style of Mel Crawford Golden Book art! Naturally, none of this card line is online, but there are some other attractive HB cards out there and several new retro-Looney Tunes that really appealed to me. And if any of the artists involved are reading this: please identify yourself! We love what you are doing!
Mark Evanier has reported the passing of Howard Post. Mark does a great job discussing Post’s prolific career in comics. I, too, was a huge fan of Howard Post’s work, not only in comics, but also of his brief stint as successor to Seymour Kneitel at the Paramount Animation Studio in 1964-1966. I got to interview him several times about that period (photo above is of me and Howard, at right, at the San Diego Comic Con in 2003).
Among the comic books Post drew, his work on Harvey’s Spooky and Hot Stuff in the 1950s and 60s is his most significant, and influential.
But Post did some unique little things during his brief time as the head of Paramount’s animation studio in the 1960s that are worthy of note. I like the Ronald Searle-esque The Itch, his adaptations of Jack Mendelsohn’s child p.o.v. comic strip Jacky’s Wacky World, and his ill-fated attempt to bring Bill Dana’s Jose Jimenez to the screen. He was required to fulfill a pre-existing order of Seymour Kneitel/Eddie Lawrence Swifty and Shorty series. With nothing to lose, in the last S&S cartoon, Post decided to do without Lawrence’s voice, painted the characters all in white and set them against impressionist background paintings. The end result, Les Boys (1965), is quite a treat – and a worthy tribute to a man who was always creative no matter the constraints.
How could Shrek Forever After debut with an actual take of $70.8 million over the weekend, and still be considered a flop? An analysis of its performance can be found at Box Office Guru. According to that site, if the latest Shrek continues at its current trajectory, it may end up grossing less than How to Train Your Dragon.
UPDATE: DreamWorks’ head of worldwide marketing, Anne Globe, said the film’s North American debut “was on the low end for a Shrek film. But we’re very optimistic that it’s on its way to becoming a worldwide hit.” According to the LA Times, the more expensive ticket prices of 3-D and IMAX mask the real story: the audience for Shrek Forever After was less than half of its predecessor.
UPDATE #2: Following Shrek’s weaker-than-expected opening, DreamWorks stock took a pounding on Monday and lost 11% of its value to close at $31.05. Since the opening of How to Train Your Dragon in March, DreamWorks stock has plunged 27.5%. Read more about the company’s recent financial performance at MarketWatch.