Ralph Bakshi Interviewed in “BOMB”

Just found out about this great interview with Ralph Bakshi that appeared in BOMB magazine. It’s available to read on-line. Smart questions throughout, like:

Morgan Miller: You seem very attracted to garbage! The Billie Holiday music montage sequence in Fritz the Cat when the camera pans slowly across a trash heap in an abandoned lot in Harlem… at first you see broken bottles, syringes, and then it becomes more personal⎯old photos, then entire old photo albums, people’s memories just sitting in the trash. Later, garbage becomes the introduction of Hey, Good Lookin’ where personified pieces of garbage talk to each other about life after death. Even when you moved into the fantasy realm in Wizards, you maintain bleak futuristic worlds built on garbage, where things are rediscovered, like the Nazi remnants that are in that film. It occurs to me that it’s a metaphor for mortality, but not just that; maybe also a metaphor for what a generation throws away and what might be discovered by the next. Or what might just be forgotten.

Ralph Bakshi: I like that, Miller! I’m dead serious about this: who we are, who we used to be, what we’ve been through, what we’ve become⎯it’s very important. We’re all part of a long trail. The scene in Heavy Traffic where the mother is walking through the photographs looking at her uncles⎯my family’s up there. My ancestors. Faded walls, old wood, old paint⎯every fleck of paint is another story, not to be discarded. Stuff like Kindle is so cold. It’s great for reading I guess, but texture and being able to touch stuff is so important. The past is to be learned from and to respect. Too much of it is thrown away out of shallowness or for things that are new and cheap. That’s the thing about this country: money became God. It doesn’t matter how you get it. It’s the reason for lying, cheating, and stealing. In Hey, Good Lookin’, this poor garbage thinks it’s going to go speak to God, but it’s just going into an incinerator. You know what I’m saying?

The interviewer, Morgan Miller, is also a filmmaker. Here’s his delightfully NSFW Vacuum Attraction:

“Mr. Freeman” Is The Most Popular Russian Cartoon You’ve Never Heard Of

Mr. Freeman is a philosophical Web series from Russia that apparently has been causing quite a stir since it debuted a year and a half ago. Start here for a lengthy explanation of what Mr. Freeman is about and how its influencing Russian youth:

Mr. Freeman cartoons have no political messages. They focus on existential, philosophical issues of everyday life. Mr. Freeman appeals to the spectators, portraying the emptiness of their lives, which consist of consumerism, entertainment and laughing at others. The first part of the movie was entitled “Are you sure about who you are and whether you exist?” “Are you real? Are you unique? You are just a small screw in the system,” says Mr. Freeman. He gradually and consistently deconstructs the world of a typical RuNet user, mocking values, common knowledge, morality and social hierarchies.

Some of the episodes, like the one above, have been translated by fans into English. The show’s creators remain unknown, perhaps due to the subversive nature of the material. What’s clear is that some really talented artists are working on it. While the style is spare, the skill of the animation, drawing, and filmmaking are all of an extremely high caliber.

(Thanks, Yoni Salmon)

“The Deep” by PES

PES‘s latest short, The Deep was created for Showtime’s new “Short Stories” initiative, which should be abundantly clear since Showtime has thoughtlessly plastered their logo over the entire length of the film. If you can move beyond that corporate absurdity, you’ll discover one of PES’s most complex pieces underneath. What really impresses in this piece is how PES is able to discover the organic beauty within rigid, mechanical structures. The sophistication of his timing and movement induce believability of metal tools as organic undersea creatures.

Written, Directed, and Animated by PES
Producer(s): Sarah Phelps, PES
VFX Compositing: Wolfgang Maschin, Demiurge


In the decades before email and the internet, people actually wrote letters on physical pieces of paper. I know it’s hard to believe, but pictured above are a few examples from a new site devoted to them. If you are looking for an addictive way to kill two hours, check out each and every page of Shaun Usher’s Letterheady blog.

For the past year, Usher has been regularly posting rare blank stationary of the rich and famous, with an emphisis on entertainers, animators and comics creators. The letterhead site is a companion to his Letters of Note (P.S. Check out today’s message from John K.). Highlights (for me) include this 1930s Hal Roach Studios piece, and this 1959 Harvey Comics page. Imagine getting a letter from Jay Ward on this letterhead! Those were the days!

(Thanks, Devlin)

“Laufzeit” by David Seidewitz and Florian Tscharf

Laufzeit (Runtime) is a stop-motion short created by David Seidewitz and Florian Tscharf at Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Germany. The film offers a clever depiction of the interdependency between two “hands” of a watch. Although not entirely successful as a film, the message is clear enough, and the filmmakers are ambitious in their use of cutting, staging and sound to get their point across.

Are 200 Episodes of SpongeBob Enough?


A notable accomplishment: SpongeBob SquarePants has been renewed for a ninth season. The order for twenty-six new episodes, due to begin airing in 2012, will push the series past the 200-episode milestone. The only other US animated series that I can think of which have achieved 200 episodes are The Simpsons, King of the Hill and South Park. That’s some elite company.

TONIGHT in LA: “Fantastic Planet” with live score

The first Tuesday of every month I host Animation Tuesdays at the Cinefamily. This month an encore performance of René Laloux’s trippy 1973 animated feature Fantastic Planet with a live soundtrack performed by L.A.’s Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound. This show was performed last month at the Los Angeles Animation Festival to a full house – you get a rough idea of the program in the video below. The show starts at 8pm at The Silent Movie Theatre at 611 N. Fairfax Ave. in Hollywood. If you are interested, I’d advise reserving tickets HERE.

Nickelodeon Announces Ninth Season of Animated Mega-Hit SpongeBob SquarePants, Reaching Series’ Landmark 200th Episode

26 New Episodes of 2010′s Top Animated Kids’ and Tweens’ Program Will Roll Out in 2012

BURBANK, Calif., Jan. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Nickelodeon, the number-one kids’ brand and largest producer of television animation in the world, has picked up a ninth season of the hit animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, it was announced today by Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. The network is adding 26 episodes to the series, which ranks as the top animated program with kids and tweens in 2010, that will roll out in 2012, including the series’ landmark 200th episode. SpongeBob SquarePants has been TV’s number-one animated series with kids 2-11 for 10 consecutive years.

“SpongeBob’s success in reaching over 200 episodes is a testament to creator Stephen Hillenburg’s vision, comedic sensibility and his dynamic, lovable characters,” said Johnson. “The series now joins the club of contemporary classic Nicktoons that have hit this benchmark, so we’re incredibly proud.”

SpongeBob SquarePants will once again cap the year as the number-one animated show among kids 2-11 (followed by The Penguins of Madagascar) and kids 6-11 on broadcast and basic cable. The series is also basic cable’s top animated show with total viewers. SpongeBob SquarePants is seen in 171 markets in 26 languages and is the most widely distributed property in MTV Networks’ history.

The last SpongeBob SquarePants special, “Mystery with a Twistery,” aired Nov. 11 and was the year’s top animated telecast with kids 2-11 on TV and basic cable’s number one animated series with 6.6 million total viewers (+122%). The series’ next special, “Legends of Bikini Bottom,” is an hour-long anthology of brand-new four underwater tales that will premiere Jan. 28, 2011.

SpongeBob SquarePants is executive produced by creator Stephen Hillenburg, who previously worked as a writer, director and creative director on Nickelodeon’s animated series Rocko’s Modern Life. Hillenburg graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with a master’s degree in experimental animation and studied marine biology and art as an undergraduate. Hillenburg created and executive produced The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie which hit theaters in November 2004.

Paul Tibbitt served as a director and writer on SpongeBob SquarePants for its first three seasons and is currently executive producer. He wrote some of the show’s most memorable episodes, such as “Ripped Pants” and “Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy.” Tibbitt was one of the co-writers and storyboard artists on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. SpongeBob SquarePants is a Nicktoons Production and is produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif.

Nickelodeon, now in its 31st year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 16 consecutive years.

“The Art of Drowning” by Diego Maclean

The Art of Drowning, Diego Maclean‘s 2009 graduation film from Emily Carr University, is finally on-line. The short, which had a successful festival run at Sundance, SXSW, Toronto Int’l. Film Festival, Annecy and beyond, explores the lighter side of death through its interpretation of a poem by former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

Stuart Ng Books on MSNBC

Stuart Ng

An MSNBC video segment about my friend Stuart Ng, the proprietor of Stuart Ng Books. In certain animation and illustration circles, his bookstore is as well known as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s THE place you go when you’re looking for self-published, foreign, or out-of-print art books that aren’t stocked by major retailers. The MSNBC segment explores how he’s managed to build his business while catering to a niche community.

Disclosure: Stuart is not only an advertiser on Cartoon Brew, he’s also the exclusive distributor of back issues of Animation Blast. I trust him to sell my stuff, and others do too, which is one good clue as to why his business continues to grow.

“Beauty and The Beast” and “Lion King” coming in 3D

Disney Home Entertainment announced its plans to release 15 movies in 3D Blu-ray in 2011. Among the fifteen are a pair of 3D-conversions of two classic hand drawn films, Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King.

A 3-D version of Beauty and the Beast was announced a year and a half ago (we first mentioned it in 2008) and was expected to be re-released theatrically for its anniversary. A clip of the 3-D version was presented in Hall H at the San Diego Comic Con in 2009. Instead, Beast and Lion King will go straight to video, where the 5% of of the public who have 3D flat screens can enjoy them.

“As our contemporary library of 3D content continues to grow, and the original artists and filmmakers meticulously ‘dimensionalize’ their work for release on the 3D Blu-ray format, we will be offering movie-lovers the most incredible in-home entertainment experience they will ever have,” said Lori MacPherson, EVP and GM, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Word is that Disney is “meticulously dimensionalizing” The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, Cinderella and about six others. I’ll be interested in seeing these. If they work, maybe someday they’ll dig into the vault and convert such titles as The Old Mill, The Three Caballeros and Der Fuehrer’s Face!

“Train of Thought” by Leo Bridle & Ben Thomas

I love films made with paper cut-outs. Here’s a really amazing one by students Leo Bridle & Ben Thomas, Train of Thought – their graduation film from The Arts Institute at Bournemouth.

“Although we used digital compositing software, all the animation and models were done by hand, not with CGI. The film took approximately 9 months to complete, from storyboards through to the final edit.”

Also, don’t forget to check out the “making of” video.

(Thanks, Sean Dicken)

How Jeffrey Katzenberg Convinced Me To Drop Out of CalArts

Jeffrey Katzenberg
Katzenberg (left) speaking at CalArts last October (Photo via 24700 blog)

Good read: a delightfully bizarre blog post from last October by Stephen M. Levinson. He was accepted into CalArts and started attending last fall. After Jeffrey Katzenberg came to speak at the school, he was inspired to drop out of CalArts just four weeks into his freshman year. Nobody but Stephen will know whether it was the right decision, and he probably won’t know himself until many years down the line, but I can appreciate his ballsy, gut-instinct decision making. Best of all, if things don’t pan out, he can always blame Jeffrey:

After his visit, I emailed Jeffrey Katzenberg and thanked him for all of his time, for coming down to CalArts and for speaking to us, telling him how he’s had a huge impact on my life. I sincerely thanked him for his visit. His response, “:-). Best of luck to you.”

Weekend Box Office Report: “Tangled” Will Top “Tarzan”

Mother Gothel

Disney’s Tangled wrapped up its sixth weekend with an FINAL $9.8 million and a grand total of $167.8 million. The film may end up grossing $200 million domestically, if not more. Early next week, it will surpass Tarzan to become the highest-grossing Disney feature in the US since The Lion King. It is a worthwhile accomplishment, however in terms of admissions, the film lags far behind its predecessors:

Tangled: 21,132,075 admissions through January 2, 2011 (approx.)
Tarzan: 33,679,491 admissions (approx.)
The Lion King: 78,598,511 admissions (approx.)

Yogi Bear took in $12.4 million for a three-week total of $65.8 million. The film is no Alvin and the Chipmunks or Stuart Little but it will end up doing performing better than other CG animal pics like Marmaduke, Garfield and Underdog.

DreamWorks’ Megamind added $630,940 boosting its total to $144.2 million. Despite higher 3-D prices, the film lags the US grosses of earlier DreamWorks features like Over the Hedge, Shark Tale, and the Madagascar series. Jeffrey Katzenberg didn’t heed his own advice about 3-D: “If you’re asking people to pay a premium price, you better deliver.”

Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist did even better in its second weekend, picking up $46,416 from just three theaters and boosting its total to $123,476. It had the fifth-highest per theater average of any film in release with $15,472. Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip earned $5,340 from 3 theaters. Its total is now $151,258.

New Year’s Day Open Thread

2011 will be our 8th year of Cartoon Brew. We’re really excited about the site this year and we’ll be spending more time than ever building Cartoon Brew into the Internet’s premier animation destination. How would you like to see Cartoon Brew grow in 2011? What topics would you like us to write more about–industry news, international news, anime, comics, short films, TV, CGI, how-to’s? More episodes of Cartoon Brew TV? More of Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival? Should we start producing original Cartoon Brew animation content? Give us your wishlist. Animation is one of the quickest growing art forms around the world, and we plan to grow along with it.