Vintage “Alice in Wonderland” String Holders

Queen String holder

If you have lots of money and love string, we’ve got the perfect thing for you. We’ve written about string holders before (here and here), and Hake’s Collectibles is currently auctioning holders based on cartoon characters including a lovely set of six from Alice in Wonderland. From an aesthetic standpoint, the whimsical folk-art quality of these objects is very appealing. Unfortunately, with bidding starting at $600 per string holder, should I ever find myself in a string-dispensing situation, I’ll have to use my hands.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Los Angeles Animation Festival 2010 highlight reel

The folks at Parallax Studioworks put together this five minute video wrap-up of the recent Los Angeles Animation Festival. The event actually was as much fun as this video makes it out to be. FYI, they have me labeled as a “Festival Programmer” – Festival Consultant would’ve been more appropriate. I was there, made a few suggestions, I hung around watching films, and did the Q&A with Teddy Newton. John Andrews, Miles Flanagan, Alex McDonald and Hadrian Belove deserve all the credit or blame…

Ghibli’s “Arrietty the Borrower” Headed to US

Add another title to the list of animated features opening in the US in 2011. According to The Ghibli Blog, Arrietty the Borrower (directed by Miyazaki’s key animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi) will open in American movie theaters via Disney later this year. Frank Marshall is once again producing the US translation (as he had with Ponyo in 2008). The borrower sprite Arriety is being voiced by Bridgit Mendler (Disney’s Good Luck Charlie), her parents are being dubbed by Will Arnett and Amy Poehler. David Henrie (Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place) and Carol Burnett will be voicing the human characters, Sho and his Aunt respectively. Based on Mary Norton’s 1952 book, The Borrowers, the Studio Ghibli production was released in Japan last July. It will most likely open in the U.S. during late summer.

“The Illusionist” Gearing Up For Wider Release

This weekend, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist opens in more locations around southern California, as well as San Francisco and Chicago. More dates follow later in January, with the film’s widest release happening on February 4. The film will eventually screen in over 150 theaters over 38 states. Here’s the official release schedule so you can check to see if it’s playing in your neighborhood.

JANUARY 19 IN NYC: Lisa T Retrospective

Lasse Persson

On Wednesday, January 19th, check out “Crossing The Line: Animation Show & Tell”, a retrospective of the works of gender-bending Swedish animator Lisa T. Afterward, Lisa (aka Lasse Persson) will be interviewed by New York filmmaker Signe Baumane. Lisa and Signe will talk about animation, transvestism and closely examine the inspiration behind each one of Lisa’s films. It’s a virtual guarantee that any event with Signe will be entertaining, and I can’t imagine this will be any different. The fun begins at 7pm at the Gershwin Hotel (7 E. 27th St. at 5th Ave, New York). Screening is FREE!

Below is one of Lisa T’s films from 2004 called Bikini:

Rare UPA Recordings by Mel Leven

Here’s another historical curiosity courtesy of animator Mike Kazaleh.

Songwriter Mel Leven (“Cruella de Vil” for 101 Dalmatians) wrote many songs which were turned into mini-musicals for UPA’s Boing Boing Show (1956). Two of his most famous were Three Horned Flink (Fred Crippen animated and directed, above, from a design by Jimmy Murakami) and Fight On For Old (dirty print transfer embed below, directed by Ernest Pintoff, designed and animated by Fred Crippen).

The Boing Boing Show came and went in the late 50s, but Leven apparently felt his songs were worth another shot. In 1959, with UPA’s approval, Verve Records released a single featuring “Fight on for Old” backed-with “Three Horned Flink”. Says Kazaleh:

“These were recorded in 1959 after the “Boing Boing Show” was finished. Notice these are different arrangements from the versions used on the show. While researching UPA and Bobe Cannon, I had several visits with Mel Leven. On one of the visits he loaned me his copy of the 45rpm. I took it home and taped it, now I’ve digitized it for your pleasure.”

Once again, neither song attained mass popularity. In fact, both the films and the record are some of the most obscure productions UPA ever made. They shouldn’t be – Leven’s tunes (and his voice on Flink) are quite charming. You can see the original UPA versions above and can hear both sides of the 1959 single after the jump:
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Animation Mentor offers “Animals & Creatures: Master Class”

Animation Mentor Goes Beyond Character Animation with Animals & Creatures: Master Class

Emeryville, CA -January 11, 2011 – (Animation Mentor), the state-of-the-art online school for character animation founded by animators, for animators, today announces Animals & Creatures: Master Class, an advanced course on animating quadrupeds, flying animals, and fantasy creatures in a realistic animation style. In addition, the course covers how to effectively integrate animation with live-action footage, introducing new visual effects skills and bringing a new dimension to Animation Mentor’s core curriculum.

“Animals & Creatures: Master Class is a super exciting offering for us and one that we have been lovingly handcrafting for a long time,” said Bobby Beck, chief executive officer and cofounder of Animation Mentor. “This course was created after we talked with the largest visual effects studios in the industry about the advanced skills they look for when recruiting new animators and the stand-out shots they want in demo reels.”

“We saw a real opportunity to create something valuable to both aspiring animators and the animation industry,” Beck said. “From there, we brought together some of the world’s top creature animators to help develop the advanced curriculum and bring Animals & Creatures: Master Class to life.”

Animals & Creatures: Master Class is for animators who are passionate about telling a different kind of story — one still based on performance and solid mechanics, but with the addition of a heightened sense of reality and range of characters. Taught over two 12-week classes (24 weeks total), students in the course animate three new advanced character rigs provided by Animation Mentor. In the first class, students learn how to animate four-legged animals and fantasy creatures; in the second class, students focus on animating flying and fantasy creatures as well as integrating their animation into live-action photography.

“The first class is aimed at those seeking to learn the fundamentals of animating quadrupeds, which now star as major characters in many games and animated feature films. The second class focuses on creature animation as seen in visual effects films,” says Beck.

In addition to live mentoring from top visual effects professionals, students in the course have access to a rich curriculum of video lectures. In these lectures, leading visual effects character animators share tricks of the trade by creating original animated scenes using the new Animation Mentor characters, discussing animation theory, and breaking down shots from feature films. Instructors demonstrate how students can apply these theories and workflow tips to their own work using current industry best practices.

“It’s really exciting to see that Animation Mentor is starting this whole new curriculum focused on the creature world of animation,” said Peter Kelly, Animals & Creatures lecturer and mentor who is also a senior animator at Industrial Light & Magic. “Now students can learn both character animation and can now study animals and effects-based animation. It’s going to be amazing!”

“I am really excited about this amazing new course,” said Jean-Denis Haas, Animation Mentor campus mentor and senior animator at Industrial Light & Magic. “Animation Mentor is doing a great job of providing what animators really need to grow while keeping it fun and useful in the real world.”

Enrollment for Animals & Creatures: Master Class is now open for alumni of Animation Mentor’s character animation program. The program will begin accepting new applications from professional animators and non-alumni on April 11, 2011.

Who is a good candidate for Animals & Creatures?
This course is for graduates of Animation Mentor and professional animators. New applicants upon review of demo reel and other animation experience. This class is for animators seeking to tell a different kind of story using animals and creatures and a more realistic form of animation, as well as for those animators seeking to learn how to integrate animation with live action footage.

Who are the instructors? Some of the top visual effects experts in the industry. Here is a list of instructors who host sessions and provide lectures within the course, along with their imdb profiles of work they are known for. Note that all the work highlighted on imdb isn’t necessarily reference in the class with actual clips shown, although some clips of some work will be shown within the context of a session that these folks have worked on. We aren’t marketing the feature film clips used in the course with the launch of Animals & Creatures: Master Class, but I wanted to give you an idea of the expertise and talent of the instructor contributors are to this one of a kind course.

Shawn Kelly, ILM & AM Cofounder:
Brian Mendenhall:
Pete Kelly:
Glen McIntosh
Jim Brown:
Will Groebe
Dovi Anderson
Kevin Freeman:
Marco Marenghi:
Kenny Roy:
Jess Morris:
Tom Gibbons:
Rick O’Connor:
Charles Alleneck:

What Students Gain from Animals &Creatures: Master Class?
Animals & Creatures: Master Class introduces students to the basics of animal and creature animation and explores it deeper in the second part of the series. Each weekly class features a video lecture by industry professional.

· Access to 24 video lectures hosted by industry professionals working at studios with individual instruction and demonstrations.

· Learn different locomotion of animation besides walks. They gain animation skills in transition, behavior, weight and physicality.

· Animate with advanced rigs for three new characters, which were designed by an industry professional.

· Learn how to integrate animation into live action photography, which mean stand-out shots on a demo reel

· Learn the skills that prepare them for animation work at visual effects-focused studios, such as Industrial Light & Magic and Weta Digital, as well as in studios producing games, advertising and TV.

To learn more about Animals & Creatures: Master Class, visit

Register to view a live webcast where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at this course at

Mobil Ads by Ward Kimball

Mobil Ad by Ward Kimball

For nearly thirty years, animation legend Ward Kimball contributed a cartoon page called “Asinine Alley” to the bi-monthly magazine Horseless Carriage Gazette, which was a specialized magazine geared towards collectors of vintage automobiles. For a few issues, he also created ads for Mobil, and someone on Ward’s very active Facebook page has been posting them on-line.

I read an interview with Ward once in which he described how Walt Disney became angry when he saw these ads displayed at a studio show, and told Ward that he couldn’t do them anymore. Ward said he was never paid for the ads and was making them as a favor to the magazine, but nevertheless, he stopped. The last one was created in 1960.

Like the cartoons he created for the Gazette, the ads are created in a diverse range of styles from cartoon drawings to collage paste-ups to photography. A gallery of Ward’s Mobil ads can be seen after the jump:
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“Tous des Monstres” Will Keep You Awake Tonight

Tous des Monstres (All of the Monsters) is a student film from Supinfocom directed by Nicolas Deprez, Laurent Jaffier, Pierre Lippens and Gabrielle Lissot. It’s NSFW, but more than that, the imagery is just plain disturbing. The tight little story they constructed around the visuals, with Pinocchio-esque undertones, is impressive for a student CG short, and shows the value of focusing on story and character as well as technique and animation.

Official film website

Disney Pipes and Pops

Sorry for posting the awful image above – but it was all I could find on a moments notice. I just found out about a one-time-only Disney musical event, this Saturday, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

If you are in the Southern California area you might want to check out Disney Pipes and Pops – a full two hour concert performance featuring Disney music from the 1920s to the 2000s. Classic silent Mickey Mouse cartoons, Plane Crazy and Galloping Gaucho, will be screened accompanied by Rob Richards at the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ – and he’ll be joined by new gospel pianist Alex-Zsolt. Rob Richards tells us:

“We will be playing a tribute to Oliver Wallace, including screening a very rare TV clip of Ollie with Walt, recalling the olden days of the silent movie organist. It is incredible. We will follow the clip performing music written by Wallace.”

It’s this Saturday, January 15th, at 10am. And Disney has approved Cartoon Brew to give away a pair of tickets. The first correct answer to this Disney question, wins the tix CONTEST NOW CLOSED:

Disney composer Oliver Wallace was a famous theatre organist and pioneered the use of the pipe organ to accompany silent films. Can you name the classic Disney animated film for which he was composer and won two Oscars?

For more information and tickets check the El Capitan website.

Jeffrey Katzenberg Defends 3-D …Again

Jeffrey Katzenberg talks about how he plans to sustain the 3-D fad during this interview with The Wall Street Journal. He also discusses how seeing Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express inspired him to bet the farm on 3-D films.

Katzenberg gets testy after one of the reporter’s softball questions about a dip in attendance (around the 4 minute mark). It must be tough work maintaining the facade that 3-D is the savior of theaters, when in fact, 3-D has done absolutely nothing to renew interest amongst moviegoers in the United States nor has it substantially boosted box office grosses.
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“The Sunday Comics” by Stan Freberg

I received several personal emails today from friends who wondered what happened to our weekly Sunday Funnies post. For the benefit of others who are also wondering, as announced in last week’s post, the feature now appears once-a-month, the first Sunday of each. The next one is on February 6th.

Till then, enjoy this Stan Freberg commercial promoting newspaper comic strips from, I believe, the 1980s.

(Thanks, Kirk Taylor)

“Bob’s Burgers” talkback

Starting tonight on Fox, another try at an animated series to compliment The Simpsons and the Seth MacFarlane empire. Created by Loren Bouchard, Bob’s Burgers was greenlit to replace King of the Hill. The animation is produced in Burbank at Bento Box Entertainment, a new studio made up of former Film Roman executives. I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear it’s funny. In the meantime we welcome our readers opinions in the comments below.

Weekend Box Office Report

The Illusionist

No new animated films this week in the US. The quick fading Yogi Bear dropped from fourth to eighth place with an FINAL $6.6 million and a grand total of $75.4 million. Disney’s Tangled took an FINAL $5.1 million in its 7th weekend, good for tenth place. Its total now stands at $175.8 million.

Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist earned an FINAL $34,400 from three theaters. Its three work total is an impressive $180,000. By contrast, Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars took in $13,604 from 11 theaters, and its three-week total is a paltry $33,089. Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip earned a FINAL $13,039 from 4 theaters for a total of $167,939.

(Final numbers will be updated on Monday afternoon.)

Rare Terrytoon Draft for “Indian Pudding”

Here’s one for the historians.

Colleagues like Hans Perk have long celebrated and studied rare animators drafts (aka “dope sheets”) from Disney films. With these documents, one can trace who-animated-what in classic Disney features and shorts. Such records were also kept at Warner Bros., Fleischer and other studios (I posted a sample Fleischer draft here) but, outside of Disney, these were rarely saved or archived.

The Museum of Modern Art’s Film Study Center has some incredible Terrytoon files dating from the early 30s. From there comes this draft from one of the first (the fifth, to be exact) of Paul Terry’s sound cartoons: Indian Pudding (released April 6th, 1930). As noted on the draft below (click thumbnails to enlarge) the animation began January 10th and was finished January 28th – three weeks – and the final film was in theaters ten weeks later.

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“Winnie The Pooh” teaser poster

Disney has released this classy teaser poster for the forthcoming Pooh hand-drawn feature, opening in the US on July 15th, 2011:

Directors: Stephen Anderson, Don Hall
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Narrator: John Cleese
Voice Cast: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Tom Kenny, Travis Oates, Bud Luckey

From the accompanying press release:

Inspired by five stories from A.A. Milne’s books in Disney’s classic, hand-drawn art style, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Winnie the Pooh” reunites audiences with the hunny-loving, philosophical bear and friends Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet and Owl in a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit. “Winnie the Pooh” welcomes a few new voices to the Hundred Acre Wood: Craig Ferguson (“The Late Show with Craig Ferguson”), Tom Kenny (“SpongeBob SquarePants”) and Bud Luckey (director of the Pixar short “Boundin’”). Actress/singer Zooey Deschanel (Indie folk band, “She & Him”) provides the vocals for a special rendition of the beloved “Winnie the Pooh” theme song.

Butler and Messick in “Blooper’s Soap Revisited”

Everyone who loves the classic cartoon vocalizations of Daws Butler, Don Messick and June Foray is in for a real treat. Animator Mike Kazaleh found this rare recording in his collection and gave us the okay to post it online.

Mike says, “This is actually a sequel to another record. The first record took place at a recording studio as an animation director (played by Herschel Bernardi) is attempting to record a line of ad copy with actor “Morey Ziduals” (played by Shepard Menkin) while advertising man “Miltown Jag” (played by Daws Butler) is present. In this, the follow up, Daws Butler reprises his role as Miltown Jag with Don Messick as copywriter “Herb.” Doug Young and June Foray join in the fun.”

Blooper’s Soap Revisited is a 7″ record playing at 33 1/3 rpm. Note the wonderful Tee Hee caricature on the label. Was this released publicly – or (as I suspect) was this meant to be a voice demo for advertising work? It contains too many inside references to be something the general public would appreciate. All I know is, I certainly appreciate hearing this rare recording from the golden era of TV animation. Click the audio player embed after the jump to hear it.
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“Epic Mickey” endings

This is the last post about Epic Mickey from me on Cartoon Brew. As someone with no intention to ever play the game, I think as a Disney fan this material should be archived here for future reference. Here’s both the “good” ending and the alternate “bad” ending to the game. It’s full of spoilers, but has some great Oswald scenes.

The good/nice Mickey ending– The end scenes starts at 6:09.

Here’s the bad/scrapper ending– I almost feel bad for Pete in this one.

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)

“Happiness Is A Warm Blanket”

Last summer I moderated a panel at the San Diego Comic Con for Happiness is a Warm Blanket, the first new Peanuts special in five years. And “special” it is indeed. Produced by Wild Brain with Charles M. Schulz Creative Services, and directed by Andy Beall (Up, Ratatouille, Iron Giant) and Frank Molieri (The Simpsons Movie, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). Craig Schulz, son of the Peanuts creator, served as one the executive producers and writers of the film along with cartoonist Stephen Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), who wrote the special as well. Paige Braddock and Linda M. Steiner (Duck Dodgers, Justice League) co-produced.

Warner Home Video just announced its DVD release date: March 29th, 2011. No television date or channel has been announced yet, but I’m sure it’ll get TV exposure. I’m working on getting a public screening, with director Q&A, for L.A. (details to be announced). I’ve seen the film and it’s terrific – the artists have created a loving tribute to Schulz and Charlie Brown with a story based directly on Peanuts strips from the 1960s, and art direction taken from Schulz’s drawing style circa 1965. It brings back Shermy, Patty, Pigpen and Violet, and will remind you why you loved all the Peanuts characters in the first place. A must see and a must-have. Don’t miss this one.