The first episode aired on ABC on September 30th 1960. Yup, The Flintstones turn the big five-o today. Everyone should sing Happy Anniversary to the tune of The William Tell Overture.
The image above was featured on Google all day. I really respect artist Mike Dutton but they should have gotten Scott Shaw, Pat Owsley, Marc Christiansen, John K… or quite frankly, anybody else to draw this tribute. Someone with some passion for the characters.
There have been many Flintstone articles posted on the web this week to commemorate this event – but the stupidest one I’ve seen was posted by The Christian Science Monitor: The Five Dumbest Moments on The Flintstones.
Here’s what they came up with:
5. The Flintstones Smoked – We know, we know. Everyone did back then.
4. The Great Gazoo – On the one hand I totally understand the hate for Gazoo, on the other hand he was a cool green space man who invented a doomsday machine!
3. Dinosaurs in The Flintstones – They are arguing science? It’s a cartoon!
2. The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show – I actually liked this spin-off. And Sally Struthers and Jay North seemed the right choice for the voices.
1. Sexism in The Flintstones – It was the 60s. The Madmen era. This show was portraying life in the Stone Age. Give me a break.
As usual, there’s the assumption on the writer’s part that cartoons are strictly kids stuff. What they really missed was the fact that The Flintstones was the first primetime animated sitcom, created to appeal adults and kids. And it’s done just that for exactly fifty years on the dot.
Congratulations, Fred and Barney… have a cold one on me:
Above you’ll find the trailer for Nine Nation Animation, a theatrical compilation of nine indie animated shorts that opened yesterday in Manhattan at the IFC Center (323 6th Ave. at West 3rd St). It’ll be playing a one-week engagement with multiple showings a day. The show was reviewed by the NY Times and Slant Magazine. Having seen most of the shorts myself, I concur with the positive reviews and encourage readers to check it out.
The shorts in the program are:
Deconstruction Workers by Kajsa Naess (Norway) Average 40 Matches by Burkay Dogan and M. Sakir Arslan (Turkey) BÃ¢miyÃ¢n by Patrick Pleutin (France) Please Say Something by David O’Reilly (Ireland/Germany) Flatlife by Jonas Geirnaert (Belgium) She Who Measures by Veljko Popovic (Croatia) Home Road Movies by Robert Bradbrook (UK) The Tale of How by The Blackheart Gang (South Africa) Never Like the First Time! by Jonas Odell (Sweden)
The distributor is World According to Shorts, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing short films to broader US audiences. Over the next couple months, Nine Nation Animation will also screen at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence, RI; Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas; Detroit Institute of the Arts; George Eastman House in Rochester, NY; and Cornell Cinema in Ithaca, NY. For a regularly updated list of playdates, visit the film distributor’s website.
Also, on Saturday, October 2, there will be two screenings at MoMA themed around the book. The first screening at 2pm celebrates Ranft’s career and includes the super-rare 1982 Disney short Fun with Mr. Future, as well as Luxo Jr., Tin Toy, and Toy Story. The second screening at 5pm revolves around Grant’s work, and features Mickey’s Gala Premier, Who Killed Cock Robin?, Lorenzo, and Dumbo.
Whenever I’m feeling down about the state of the industry, I only have to remember that there are artists the caliber of Scott Wills working in animation to feel better again. Scott has started a long-overdue blog, Candy Cane Land, at AnimationBGS.blogspot.com to showcase his work, and in addition to some great behind-the-scenes photos, he’s posting artwork from all the projects he’s worked on including Ren & Stimpy, Samurai Jack, Sym-Bionic Titan, and numerous DreamWorks features.
Great animated films can be created anywhere. Case in point: this inventive 13-minute cut-out-style short, animated, illustrated and directed by Iranian Azadeh Moezzi. Azadeh, a professional animator, illustrator and painter, recently created her first film as director, co-producing in collaboration with Tehran’s Documentary and Experimental Film Center, DEFC). The full short is online on animacam.tv (on the “Watch Videos” page of their online animation festival). The trailer is posted the below.
It’s a movie about the life of Spanish cartoonist Manuel Vázquez Gallego (1930-1995), creator of characters like Anacleto, GÃº-GÃº and Las Hermanas Gilda (Gilda Sisters). He also used to caricature himself in his comics. The animated sequences were made by British company Espresso Animation and I think they did a fantastic job capturing the essence of the characters, which have never been animated before even though most of them were created more than fifty years ago.
The animation sequences were directed by Philip Vallentin of London-based Espresso Animation. The film, directed and written by Oscar Aibar, was released in Spain last week. This English review of the film makes me really want to see it–it describes Vázquez as a “roguish comic strip artist for whom life is a series of lies, cons and romantic dalliances.” He apparently even faked his own death in an attempt to earn more money.
Mark Simon, an animation artist with 2,700 productions to his credit, frequently hosts Hit Makers Summits where he charges thousands of dollars to teach participants how to sell their TV concepts. In this clip from his “Thriving Artist” lecture, he shares his inspiring story of beating the odds and getting past the “gatekeepers” at DreamWorks. And even though the gatekeepers he’s talking about are the secretaries who answer the phone at the studio, you’ll find yourself cheering for Mark by the end when he triumphs over those evil phone overlords. The Dreamworks bit begins at 2:45 in the clip.
Now you might be wondering, How could somebody with over twenty years of industry experience not have fostered any professional relationships so that he could simply ask a friend who he should speak with at DreamWorks? You might also be wondering why someone who labels himself a pitch expert and charges thousands of dollars teaching people how to sell their TV concepts not only doesn’t have his own shows on the air but apparently has trouble getting past secretaries at major studios? Personally, I’d be content just knowing where he got his awe-inspiring collared Superman shirt.
Well, actually, they’re not paintings according to Kinkade. He prefers to call them “narrative panoramas” because they’re “a recreation of the entire panorama of the story. It is the narrative all told in one visual form.”
The narrative panoramas–watch the Pinocchio video above to get an idea–form his series called Disney Daydreams. “These are my daydreams of the places and the worlds envisioned by Walt Disney, but reinterpreted as a Thomas Kinkade painting.” Wait a second…he just said they weren’t paintings! What’s he trying to pull here? Whatever he wants to call them, it basically means that he’s reinterpreting Disney’s creativity into “completely worthless collectibles” with no investment value. (Update: Check out these brazen blog posts from Kinkade resellers–here and here–touting the investment value of the Disney pieces.)
Then again, maybe I’m the one who’s missing something. In this video released a few days ago promoting his new Beauty and the Beast piece, Kinkade makes a woman moan in ecstasy simply by describing the characters in the painting. Clearly, the man is doing something right.
Just for kicks, here’s another video about his Snow White painting. Kinkade discusses how he utilized “very specialized techniques” to create the painting, such as making a full-color sketch to lay out the composition. But before you complain, you should know that Kinkade makes his work for a special audience that doesn’t include you: “I always say that my paintings are for real people, people who enjoy life and enjoy beauty. Not necessarily for those who have studied art or know the traditions of painting.”
Here’s the ultimate animation collector’s item: the San Gabriel, California home of animation legend Ward Kimball is currently for sale for $2.2 million. Designed by Robert H. Ainsworth and built for Ward and Betty Kimball in 1939, the home has never been on the market before. It’s been put up for sale by the family after Betty passed away last July at the age of 97.
Sadly, the expectation is that the home itself will be razed, and according to the listing, “Property shall be sold in its present as is condition and mainly for land value only.” There are still some remnants of the legendary backyard railroad, but the trains have been relocated to the Orange Empire Railway Museum, and John Lasseter bought the train station for his own property in northern California. Here’s what the backyard looked like in 2009:
Anybody who is knowledgeable about animation and trains already knows the magical universe that Ward and Betty built on this landmark property. Countless famous people have passed through over the years: Walt Disney and Michael Jackson engineered the train, Wernher von Braun swam in their pool, Rowland Emett slept in the train station, Ray Bradbury shot a TV series in their backyard, Robert Crumb jammed in their living room with his band. Every animation notable from Bruno Bozzetto to Osamu Tezuka to Richard Williams has visited at some point.
I’ve spent innumerable hours at the Kimball home over the past three years, and can attest to what a special site it is. All good things must come to an end however, and after seventy years, it’s sad knowing that the Kimball family will no longer own the place. Their decision is perfectly understandable; the place was Ward and Betty’s creation, and their presence and zest for life is what made 8910 Ardendale so special in the first place. Without them, it’s time to start a new chapter. Here’s to hoping that whoever lives there in the future will appreciate the historical significance of the property.
If you’re interested, the property is repped by Priscilla Yim at Re/Max Premier Properties.
2D is not dead – at least as far as the independent animated features are concerned. Opening in the UK this November is Chico and Rita from Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque). Six years in the making, the film follows a pianist who pursues his true love, a Hollywood-bound nightclub singer, from Havana to New York and beyond. 93-year-old pianist-composer-bandleader Bebo Valdés wrote and performs the music and the film features “musical cameos” from Chano Pozo, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and other jazz greats. Here’s a brief trailer:
The eclectic group of nominees in the animation category is impressive, and made more notable by the fact that the nominees were chosen from the pool of films posted to the video hosting site. They strike me as being far more representative of the current state of short-form animation than this year’s Oscar nominees.
I won’t go so far as to say that the Academy chose poor films, but nominating four (for the most part) generic CG films and yet another Wallace & Gromit short hardly represents the breadth and diversity of today’s animation scene. It also does little to boost the public’s perception of what animation is capable of as a medium. Awards can’t be expected to always honor the best, simply because “best” is such a subjective concept, but they should at the very least make an effort to accurately represent the field they’re celebrating. The Vimeo Awards have done a good job of that in their inaugural edition.