Jerry @ Comic Con 2010

The San Diego Comic Con has posted its daily schedules – and if you are going to the Con and want to see me you’ll have ample opportunity. Right now I’m set to be at the Insight Editions (booth #2913) on Friday 10:30-11:30am and Saturday from 2:00-3:00pm signing The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons book. This will be the best place to talk to me personally, especially if you have any questions about my various doings, including future DVDs and book projects and if, for some-unknown-reason, you want my autograph.

On Friday afternoon I’ll be moderating a special panel: Peanuts Turns 60 from 2:00-3:00pm in Room 25ABC. Panelists will include Comic-Con special guest Jeannie Schulz (widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz), Andy Beall (fix animation lead for Ratatouille, Wall-E, UP), Stephan Pastis (creator of Pearls Before Swine) and others. We’ll take an in-depth look at the work of Charles M. Schulz and get a sneak peek of an all-new animation project from Warner Premiere.

And on Friday night, I’ll be screening my all-new edition of Worst Cartoons Ever at 9pm in Room 6BCF. In addition to fresh episodes of old favorites like Mighty Mr. Titan, Paddy Pelican and Johnny Cypher In Dimension Zero, I’ll be screening new finds like The Magic Of Oz (the worst Wizard of Oz cartoon you’ve never seen) and Bat Beagle (a newly unearthed Sam Singer monstrosity).

I’ll do another post closer to the Con to plug the various panels I hope to attend (if I can get in) and booths worth checking out in the exhibit hall (if I can squeeze through the aisles). (Note: Attending any panel moderated by Mark Evanier is highly recommended). In the meantime, start setting your convention plans now by consulting the full schedule of events for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Despicable Me talkback

I went in to see Despicable Me with very low expectations… and came out very pleased with the film. It’s not Pixar… but it’s in the same ballpark Sony Animation plays in. The visuals are wonderful (Mac Guff, the Paris-based studio behind the neglected Dragon Hunters did the animation), particularly the layouts and color design, and though the story isn’t important, it is fun. It’s a kid’s film – and a good start for Universal’s new Illumination Entertainment.

But what did you think? The film opens this weekend and now its time for you to have your say. Comments accepted only by those who have seen the film.

New Academy Rules for Animated Features

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has tweaked their rules concerning what qualifies as an animated feature in regards to running time and “motion capture”. According to their press release:

oscar.jpgIn the Animated Feature Film category, the rule governing running time for a motion picture to qualify was changed from at least 70 minutes to greater than 40 minutes, which is consistent with the running time requirements for feature films in all other categories. The running time for a motion picture to qualify as an animated, live action or documentary short film has been and continues to be a maximum of 40 minutes. The previous 70-minute threshold for an animated feature had left a gap for films that ran between 40 and 70 minutes, effectively preventing them from being able to qualify as either features or shorts.

Also in the Animated Feature Film category, a sentence regarding motion capture was added to clarify the definition of an animated film. The language now reads: “An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of greater than 40 minutes, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique. Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique. In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.”

Titmouse comic book

Just in time to debut at the San Diego Comic Con, Titmouse Inc. (the animation studio behind Metalocalypse and Black Panther, among others) has just published one of the best comic anthology’s I’ve ever seen. Titmouse producer Ben Kalina sent us some information:

We’ve recently put together a new project called: “Titmouse: Volume 1″. It is not a cartoon. It is also not a comic book, not a magazine, and it’s not a book–it’s a MOOK, a magazine-book. Like Sushi, MOOK is an addictive Japanese concept that will take the world by storm. It also goes great with saké, with a significantly lower risk of succumbing to the paralyzing effects of mercury poisoning.

We have assembled a team of weirdo artist-types to create this 100 page hardcover anthology and printed it in full color on fancy paper featuring comic strips, paintings, and interviews from some of the art world’s most interesting individuals. It’s 1/3 Heavy Metal, 1/3 Mad Magazine, 1/3 Juxtapose, and 1/3 Ralph Bakshi film-on-paper, fancy paper.

I got a chance to preview it and its really good stuff! It’s also a limited edition, so if you are interested I highly recommend you buying it sooner than later. Artists include Dave Cooper, Dave Johnson, Jon Schnepp, Andy Suriano, Dave Fremont, Jacob Escobedo, Richard Mather, Tommy Blacha, Travis Millard, Israel Sanchez, Kaori Hamura, Otto Tang, Kelsey Mann, Freddy Christy, Paul Harmon and Steven Daily.

Titmouse Volume #1 will be released via titmousestuff.com during the week of Comic Con. They’re also having a launch party and gallery show at Ghetto Gloss in Hollywood on July 16th at 7pm. Details of that event can be found here.

CBTV Student Fest #2: Tiny Hats by Penelope Gazin

Our offering for the second week of Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Festival is Penelope Gazin‘s Tiny Hats. It was made at CalArts during her freshman year. We were attracted to the film for its concise and fresh storytelling, silly visual style, and catchy song (composed by Gazin herself). Questions and comments can be directed to Penelope in the comments. Here are her notes on the film:

Since this was my first animation, I decided that my only goal was to enjoy myself. That way, I could push any expectations or pressures aside, and just learn what I loved most about the animation process. I squeezed in every art form I love: animation, illustration, painting, stop motion, song writing and ukulele playing. I still don’t know if that was the best approach in terms of the finished product, but I had so much fun making this thing that I have no regrets. I was pulling all nighters months before it was due just because I couldn’t stop working on it. I never made a storyboard, a character model sheet, or a script for the film. The song (which narrates the plot) wasn’t written until after I had finished animating. I jumped into this project with very little idea of what I was doing and how to even do any of it not knowing or caring if anything would come together. As a result I ended up learning in a very organic and intuitive way and I am glad I was reckless enough to go about it the way that I did. My goal is to have my own cartoon show with my brothers.

See more of Penelope Gazin’s work on her Flickr page.

Jardim das Delícias (Garden of Delights)

The lead characters (the band members) are a bit dull and the music does nothing for me, but the fantasy creatures and backdrops in this new music video – for the band Sociedade Soul of Florianópolis, Brazil – are nicely conceived. Directors Gustavo Brazzalle and João Pedro Agnoletto Cardoso spent six months producing this piece at the Cafundó Studio. Check out the concept art here.

Written and Directed by
Gustavo Brazzalle
João Pedro Agnoletto Cardoso

Production: Cafundó Estúdio Criativo \ www.cafundo.tv

Design:
João Pedro Agnoletto Cardoso
Pedro Henrique Corrêa
Giovanni Girardi

Animation:
Gustavo Brazzalle
João Pedro Agnoletto Cardoso
Romel Germano Heidi Gonçalves
Giovanni Girardi
Eduardo Santaella Malaguti

Gene Deitch screening followup

A full house of animation fans had a blast at our Tribute to Gene Deitch last night at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood. My thanks to all who attended – Gene especially appreciated the audience reaction to his films. He told me later that he really enjoyed that the crowd got all the gags and laughed right where they were supposed to during Flebus, Munro, Here’s Nudick and Self Defense For Cowards. He was truly touched by all the love he felt at the tribute.

Animator Jeaux Janovsky sent me some of his sketch-notes he took at the show (click below thumbnails to enlarge); next to that is a scan of Charles Solomon’s LA Times story (7/5/10), which was never posted online. Below that Mike Clark snapped this photo (second row, below left) of Gene, his wife Zdenka, me and Terrytoon animator Len Glasser after the show. I myself took a few snaps (center and right) of Gene and Zdenka with my iPhone before the show. Jamie Kezlarian Bolio also took some great photos (like the one above) and posted them in a Facebook Album. Jamie also shot video of our Q&A and has posted it on our Cartoon Brew Facebook page. Thank you everyone – but especially THANK YOU to Gene for making this special appearance and a lifetime of great films.


Women In Animation Annual Meeting: Thriving Indies

Women In Animation International (WIA) has lined up a panel of indie executives, for a discussion titled Thriving Indies, to be presented as part of the organization’s annual meeting on Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6 Point Harness Studios.

Moonscoop’s Nicolas Atlan will moderate the discussion with panelists Brendan Burch from 6 Point Harness, Ashley Postlewaite from Renegade Animation, Chris Hamilton from Oddbot, Chris Prynoski from Titmouse and Marge Dean from Wildbrain. The program will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a networking session, hors d’ oeuvres, and live jazz provided by The Hillmen. At 7pm a presentation by David Corbett, Executive Director of Development & Production of Rubicon Studios, will include a screening of the new Pink Panther & Pals animated series. Following this presentation will be the Indie panel. 6 Point Harness is located at 1627 N. Gower St., Unit 3, in Los Angeles, CA. The event is free for WIA members and $10 for non-members. RSVPs are required by email to wia-at-womeninanimation.org

Cartoon Brew TV: Depth Study

Depth Study

Our special film series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch” continues this week with the rarely seen gem Depth Study which was made during Gene Deitch’s tenure at Terrytoons. The ambitious sales film, designed by Cliff Roberts, was commissioned by CBS Television Head over to Cartoon Brew TV to watch Gene Deitch’s Depth Study.

And for those of you lucky enough to be in LA tonight, Jerry Beck is hosting Gene Deitch at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood (611 N. Fairfax Avenue). The 85-year-old animation legend, who has traveled all the way from the Czech Republic for this rare Los Angeles appearance, will do a Q&A session after the screening. The show begins at 8pm. More details and ticket information at the Cinefamily website.

Cartoon Brew TV #25: Depth Study (1957)

Our special series “The Modern Art of Gene Deitch” continues this week with Depth Study, a 1957 sales film for CBS Television. The film is a rarely seen masterpiece of modern design. Deitch said in the book Cartoon Modern that the film represents, “Cliff Roberts at his absolute peak of film design for me.” The film’s animation director Ray Favata (b. 1924) recalled that many of the old school Terrytoons animators were unable to maintain the sophisticated shapes of Roberts’s designs; the responsibility for fixing the animation fell on Favata’s shoulders. “It was a disaster, believe me, [the anmiators' drawings were] a complete departure,” Favata said. “If they had been close at all, I would have been able to go along with it, but they were crazily off the mark. I started off by taking home just one or two scenes to redraw because it was easier to redraw them than to try and salvage them. After a while, I didn’t even think twice about it; I just took all the scenes home and redrew them.”

Gene Deitch, who was responsible for the film’s creative direction, has shared additional details with us below and will be participating in the comments section:

The double-meaning title sort of goes with the fact that Depth Study was a double-studio amalgam. By this time, I was Creative Director of Terrytoons, owned by CBS Television. CBS had previously commissioned sales promotion films from UPA, but now they owned their own animation studio. As I was a former UPA man, I promised them a UPA-quality film, and was able to get the assignment for CBS-Terrytoons. To ensure the UPA look, I brought in my already long-time designer, Cliff Roberts, and another UPA era colleague, Irwin Bazelon, to compose the music. Actually several of the better Terrytoons animators took to Cliff’s complex characters, and gave me some classy animation.

Because the film’s story was the post war emergence of television as the prime advertising and sales medium, I used the term “Bronze Age” in the story to symbolize the immediate post-war period. For those old enough to remember World War II, we discharged soldiers each received a little bronze eagle honorable discharge lapel pin. So it was just a cute idea to refer to the post-war period as “The Bronze Age.”

Betty Kimball, R.I.P.

Betty Kimball

Betty Lawyer Kimball passed away last Thursday evening at the age of 97. She died from natural causes.

Betty (birth name: Mary Elizabeth Lawyer) was born on October 14, 1912 in Alhambra, California. After high school, she attended Pasadena Junior College and worked on various stage productions at the Alhambra Theater. In the mid-1930s, she directed one-act plays at the Pasadena Playhouse as part of a WPA arts project. In 1935, she was hired at Walt Disney Productions to work in the ink-and-paint department. At Disney, she met animator Ward Kimball whom she married in 1936. Their marriage last 66 years until Ward’s death in 2002.

Betty worked her way up the ranks at Disney and her duties expanded from painting cels to also choosing colors and creating color models to guide the work of other painters. She “did a lot of experimenting for Fantasia,” her husband Ward said. “She developed the dry-brush technique on cels.” She also provided live-action reference modeling for the title character in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when the live-action model, Marjorie Belcher, was unavailable.

She left the studio in mid-1939 to raise a family. Her life as a homemaker was hardly conventional due to the couple’s decision to install full-sized locomotives in their backyard which became known as the Grizzly Flats Railroad. She assumed an integral role in the railroad’s operation as it attracted national media attention and a steady stream of visitors.

Her husband Ward is an undeniable legend, one of Disney’s Nine Old Men and a great artist and director, but Ward’s achievements cannot be explained without some acknowledgment of Betty’s role. Beneath her petite frame was a resilient and strong woman. She was a teammate in many of Ward’s endeavors, and provided encouragement, grounding, and support throughout her lifetime. I had the privilege of getting to know Betty a little bit in the past few years, and she was one of the sweetest people one could hope to meet. It was inspiring to meet someone who maintained a positive outlook and sense of humor throughout their lifetime.

She is survived by three children, Kelly, John, and Chloe, and five grandchildren.

Here are some moments celebrating Betty’s life. All of the photos are from the Kimball Family Collection:

Betty Kimball
Betty as a baby with mother Ida and brother Lewis

Betty Kimball
Betty (center) with brothers Dick (l.) and Lewis (r.)

Betty Kimball
Betty at age 15 in 1927

Betty Kimball
Betty and Ward in 1936

Betty Kimball
Betty working at Disney’s Hyperion Studios ca. 1936

Betty Kimball
Betty and Ward at the Snow White wrap party in 1938

Betty Kimball
1930s drawing by Ward Kimball

Betty Kimball
Betty and Ward at The Three Caballeros wrap party

Betty Kimball
Betty and Ward at a Horseless Carriage Club outing

Betty Kimball
Betty, Ward, and children (l. to r.) Kelly, John and Chloe

Betty Kimball
Late-1940s drawing of Betty by Ward

Betty Kimball
Ward, Betty and daughter Chloe in 1968

Betty Kimball
Drawings of Betty by Ward

Betty Kimball
Dressed up for the 1970 Oscar ceremony

Betty Kimball
Betty posing as reference for a painting by Ward

Michael and Ward
Betty and Ward with Michael Jackson

Betty
1993 restaurant placemat drawing of Betty by Ward

Ilene Woods (1929-2010)

The L.A. Times is reporting the passing of Ilene Woods, the voice of Walt Disney’s Cinderella (1950). She died Thursday at age 81. According to the Times obit:

As a favor to songwriters Mack David and Jerry Livingston, she made demo recordings of Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes and So This is Love in 1948. The songwriters made their pitch to Walt Disney, who had already auditioned more than 300 singers and wasn’t satisfied with any voices. When he heard Woods, he asked her to audition and she got the role.

Woods was declared a Disney Legend in 2003. Without a doubt, her voice will live on forever.

Of Mice And Magic contest

Okay. You’ve lucked out! Sorry! You missed it! This is was the Cartoon Brew/Of Mice and Magic Contest I promised to post today. The first person with the correct answer to the trivia question below wins won a rare hardcover copy of OF MICE AND MAGIC autographed by Leonard Maltin. The first five correct answers to the trivia contest below will win also won a prize. The other four winners will recieve an unrelated animation DVD: Peanuts 1970s Collection Vol. 2 (Courtesy of Warner Home Video). This collection contains six classic Peanuts specials plus a new featurette: You’re Groovy Charlie Brown: a Look at Peanuts in the 1970s. (End of Plug). The trivia question is was: What studio released a cartoon short called Of Mice And Magic — and who starred in that cartoon? The contest is now officially over! We have our winners! Their names and the answer to the question is in the comments below!

Lifestyles of Animation Executives: Adina Pitt

adinapitt

Continuing our lifestyles of animation executives thread, here’s some news about Cartoon Network v-p Adina Pitt and her recent purchase of a four-bedroom condo on the Upper East Side for $1.33 million. As somebody who follows the real estate market closely, that amount is hardly extravagant, but it bears pointing out that few animation artists living in New York City could afford to buy a place in that neighborhood or price bracket. And certainly none of the artists who earn salaries on New York-based Cartoon Network series like Superjail! or Robotomy. In animation, as in most other fields, it pays NOT to be creative.

(Thanks, Aaron Bynum)

TUESDAY in L.A. – Gene Deitch in Person

If you are in Southern California next Tuesday, July 6th, come and meet animator Gene Deitch who will appear in person at a tribute screening at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre.

This is part of my regular monthly animation screenings at the CineFamily. Regular Brew readers know who Deitch is: he’s one of the last living directors of animated cartoons from the golden age; the creator of Tom Terrific, Sick Sick Sidney and Nudnik; and an incredible cartoonist, designer and human being. We will screen an overview of his vast career – including several rarities – and conduct a Q&A.

Seating is limited. Tickets can be ordered in advance HERE. Deitch lives in Prague and rarely ever visits his hometown (Los Angeles!) – Don’t miss this one-time-only public appearance by the Oscar winning Gene Deitch!

Of Mice and Magic – 30th Anniversary

Hard to believe its been thirty years since the publication of Leonard Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic. The book came out sometime in the springtime of 1980 (I don’t recall the exact publication date), originally in hardcover from McGraw-Hill (pictured above left). It was issued as a trade paperback by NAL in October 1980, updated in 1987 (pictured above right) and hasn’t been out of print since.

It was different then… no internet, no DVD collections, and only a handful of serious books on the subject of animation history. Working on this book as Leonard’s research assistant was my college-level crash course on the subject – and I loved every moment of it. I recall it took three years to research, compile and write. The project was, for me, a dream come true and I’ve been proud of its success ever since. I still consult the book often to this day.

Brew reader Derek Tague gave me a extra hardcover copy of the book and suggested I get Leonard to sign it to commemorate the occassion. I have done so and will give it away to one lucky Brew reader tomorrow in a special contest which will appear in a separate post tomorrow (7/2/10). Our server crashes when we pre-determine a contest date and time, so I will not say when the contest will appear. You’ll just have to keep checking in and be lucky.

Below are several souvenirs from my files I thought would be worth posting on this occasion (click thumbnails below to enlarge image): Pete Emslie’s caricature of Leonard; the cover and interior of the Nostalgia Book Club’s offer of the original hardcover; the cover and interior of an industry “blad” which boasts of an ad campaign being planned for the paperback release; and one of those ads, clipped from the October 30, 1980 issue of Rolling Stone.