Companies like Viacom and Warner Bros. are notoriously unpicky about how they license their characters, but using preschool cartoon characters to unload perfume onto children sinks pretty low. What is the smell that appropriately evokes a four-year-old Hispanic girl? Or an undersea sponge for that matter? When I scratched the SpongeBob sample at the drugstore checkout counter, I half expected the briny scent of the ocean and seaweed. Alas, the people who made these weren’t that thoughtful; all of them had a generic synthetic smell that evoked nothing. My floor wipes have a more sophisticated scent than these sorry excuses for children’s merchandise.
Animation storyman Phil Eastman (1909-1986) worked for Disney, Warner Bros., UPA, even Terrytoons during his career in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. But his biggest claim to fame has to be the series of Beginner Books he wrote and drew beginning in the late 1950s. Sam and The Firefly, Are You My Mother? A Fish Out of Water, and of course Go, Dog, Go! were certainly on my reading list at age 5. They influenced a lot of folks who later went into animation and comic art. I loved those books and still have my original battered copies.
Its purpose is to entertain/inform, and at the same time sell books. There really wasn’t a place where you could see all of his books together, plus we thought a short biography (appropriate for children) and a way to get in touch with his family would be useful. I put together the P.D. caricature on the home page from two self portraits he had done.
Unfortunately we couldn’t include The Cat in The Hat Beginner Book Dictionary “by the Cat himself and P. D. Eastman” on the site because the Dr. Seuss Estate (DSE) – as the owner of the copyright in the forward and owner of trademark rights in the character, would not grant permission for inclusion of this book on the website dedicated to the work of P. D. Eastman.
Also, we couldn’t include A Fish Out Of Water because The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego says it is the copyright holder of Helen Palmer Geisel’s 50% interest and insists that the website show them as such, however, my mother and Geisel are listed as the copyright holders on the US Copyright website and on the copyright page of a recently purchased book. We can’t list the Museum without proof of assignment of the copyright to them.
This website is dedicated to P.D. but, since my books (Fred and Ted Go Camping and Fred and Ted Like To Fly) are sequels to Big Dog… Little Dog, we decided to make them available via a “BD… LD” page. Next summer I will have a new book out, and at that time we will launch a site devoted to my books!
How do you go from being the head assistant director of Snow White, the head of Disney’s personnel department, and the production supervisor of The Mickey Mouse Club to a homeless panhandler living on the streets of Manhattan? That, in a nutshell, is the strange life of Hal Adelquist, who died in 1981 at the age of 66. At the time of his death, he had moved back to Long Beach, California, and was living with his mother.
Animation student Michael Ruocco was browsing eBay when he found a batch of drawings that appear to be a deleted scene animated by Fred Moore from Dumbo. The drawings were carelessly broken up by the seller and being sold as individual drawings, but Michael grabbed all of the preview images and put them together into the sequence above. Then he did further sleuthing:
I noticed the stamped numbers in the bottom left corner of each drawing, “2006 19.2 30.0″. Recalling Hans Perk’s drafts for Dumbo, I remembered what those numbers mean. 2006 is the production number (“Dumbo”), 19.2 is the sequence number (“Dumbo Learns to Fly”) and 30.0 being the shot number. I went over to Hans’ site and checked his drafts. There was the shot, but between when the draft was made and the film’s release, the end of the sequence was changed. There originally was more lines by Timothy and a “confidentiality agreement” between him and the crows. In the final film, this scene was truncated, leaving out all of Timothy’s extra dialogue.
To see all of the individual drawings from the sequence, visit Michael’s blog.
This week Beetle Bailey (8/11) by Mort Walker; Mallard Fillmore (8/9) by Bruce Tinsley; My Cage (8/8) by Ed Powers and Melissa DeJesus; Rubes (8/8) by Leigh Rubin; Strange Brew (8/11) by John Deering; and Reality Check (8/9) by Dave Whammond.
As we mourn the seemingly non-stop multilation of the beloved cartoon characters of our youth, let’s stop to applaud the decision by the fine folks at Quaker Oats, who have just started selling a line of Cap’n Crunch cereals with the original appealing Jay Ward box designs (pictured above right). It’s a limited edition set of Retro Crunch that come with collector cards in each box. They’re out now, I just saw them at the supermarket today. I’m not one to push sugared cereal on anyone, but I admire the guts it took to reverse course and finally do something right. Coincidentally, Mark Evanier just recently posted about the first Cap’n Crunch commercial from 1963.
According to Local 839 business rep Steve Hulett, who visited Disney Feature Animation a few hours ago, “morale is lower than a dachshund’s belly, since most of the artists and technicians were given their notices in July, and layoffs now loom.” He also writes on the union blog that “Disney Feature Animation’s atmosphere, in fact, is a lot like it was in 2001, when hand-drawn animation was imploding and everybody working on Home on the Range knew they had four months before they got to go stand in the unemployment line: Grim.”
This brief animated promo marking Conan O’Brien’s move to TBS this fall is a lot of fun. It’s a clear nod to Terry Gilliam and other Seventies TV show openings. Incorporating more animation into the show would be a great way for Conan to distinguish himself from the crowded late-night field. Was this promo done in-house at TBS? Can somebody provide credits?
UPDATE: In the comments, Amy writes that mOcean created the Conan spot above. Also, here is another animated promo for the show:
Two people doesn’t exactly qualify as a trend, but it’s worth acknowledging that CalArts’s character animation program hired two new teachers this fall who are East Coast-educated. Phil Rynda, the lead character designer of Adventure Time, announced last week on his Twitter that he’ll be teaching character design this fall. Though Phil has worked in LA for most of his career, he is a 2003 graduate of School of Visual Arts. Also joining the faculty is Fran Krause, a 1999 graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. Fran has been a fixture on the East Coast scene for the past decade, and combines a DIY filmmaking style backed with solid industry experience (including Superjail! and two pilots for Cartoon Network). He’ll be teaching intro to digital animation and film workshop classes. Both are unique artists who will surely contribute to the program.
Yesterday, I had a chance to once again plow into Stuart Shostak’s extensive archive of TV Guide back issues. This time I found two parts of a 1961 interview with Walt Disney, (The Latter Day Aesop), mainly discussing moving his programs from ABC to NBC. Walt wasn’t too happy with ABC back then. Of course, today the studio owns the network. To read the stories, click the image above to see the first part, then click the thumbnails below to read the rest.
Animation fans should be aware of the upcoming compilation CD, The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection. Why? Because most of the music (not all) comes from the animated cartoon legacy of DC characters. The compilation begins with Sammy Timberg’s 1941 theme from Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoons, then moves through the decades. Theme songs from the Filmation cartoons of the 1960s, including The Flash and Green Lantern, plus the most recent Justice League themes, Batman Beyond, Plastic Man, Swamp Thing, various Teen Titans cartoons and Super Friends. Other highlights include music from John Williams, Danny Elfman, and Neil Hefti’s 1966 Batman TV show theme. The CD will be available on September 28th, 2010. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting it.
The Holy Grail for many of us cartoon historian-types are the lost RKO Toby The Pup cartoons. Originally released in 1930 and 1931, twelve cartoons were produced by Charles Mintz and directed by Dick Huemer concurrently with Mintz Krazy Kat cartoons for Columbia. Poor Toby’s films were never released as home movies, nor sold to television, and have been considered lost (and forgotten) for decades. The good news: in recent years several rare prints have resurfaced. Historian David Gerstein has just “restored” a large fragment from The Showman (originally released November 22, 1930) and posted it on You Tube. It was missing a few shots and its front title cards, and the original soundtrack is lost. However, David has reconstructed the opening credits, and synched the cartoon to other period musical scores, most from Mintz composer Joe DeNat. He did a great job with it – and here it is, six minutes of pure 1930s cartoon fun: