“Cecelia and Her Selfhood” by Adrien Merigeau

Adrien Merigeau (co-director of Old Fangs) created this engimatic music video for the Irish band The Villagers and their song “Cecelia and Her Selfhood.” He made the film at his Dublin-based studio andmapsandplans. Merigeau is also the art director of
Cartoon Saloon‘s next feature Song of the Sea. (The studio previously made The Secret of Kells.) The video was animated entirely by Merigeau except for the stop motion sequence with the jackal and dragon that was animated by Eimhin McNamara.

The lyrics are a bit confusing if you take them at face value and appear to suggest murdering petty vandals, but that’s not the case according to the Villagers frontman Conor O’Brien: “I called it ‘Cecilia and Her Selfhood’ because I wanted to show the sister who ends up destroying the statue, I wanted the sister to represent the inner wicked of Cecilia herself, so it’s almost like someone destroying herself…like an analogy of that.”

(Thanks, Tomm Moore)

“Chipwrecked” trailer

While I’m off enjoying a week of the finest animation in the world at the Ottawa Festival, I leave you today with this prime example of CG/hybrid commercial moviemaking at its finest. This trailer was released a few months ago, I think while I was at Comic Con – but I thought it was worth posting here for the record. It’s the trailer for the 3rd sequel to Alvin and The Chipmunks, opening in the US on December 16th: Chipwrecked. Enjoy!

Animated Winners for 2011 Primetime & Creative Emmy Awards

The 2011 Primetime and Creative Emmy Award Winners have been announced by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Animated winners were all in the Creative Emmy Awards:

OUTSTANDING VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE: Maurice LaMarche as Lrrr & Orson Welles in Futurama, “Irreconcilable Differences”
OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORMAT ANIMATED PROGRAM: Disney’s Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa
(HALF-HOUR) AND ANIMATION: Family Guy, “Road to the North Pole”

In addition, the following individuals were recognized for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation:
Drew Hodges, Character Animator, Community, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”
Jill Daniels, Background Painter, Phineas & Ferb, “Wizard of Odd”
Peter Chung, Character Design, Firebreather
Sung Chang, Character Animator, Firebreather
Vanessa Marzaroli, Production Design, Lilac Wine
Philip Bourassa, Character Design, Young Justice, “Independence Day”

Anchor Bay Released Animated Feature “The Littlest Angel” on November 15th

BEVERLY HILLS, Sept. 19, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ – Some Angels soar the skies, and some fall a little short. Anchor Bay Entertainment presents the DVD release of the new animated feature film, The Littlest Angel, heading to retail on Tuesday, November 15th. A colorful adaptation of the fifteenth best-selling children’s book of all time, The Littlest Angel takes us on a rousing adventure with a young, and sometimes mischievous, Angel, who must return to earth and earn his wings, a task that doesn’t prove to be easy. Experience the love, laughter and magic of one of the most popular children’s stories of all time. From the classic book by Charles Tazewell, comes this lively CGI animated version filled with both humor and heart.

The Littlest Angel tells the story of a young boy who arrives in heaven before his time. Home-sick and lonely, he will travel back to earth, with his friendly pup Halo, to retrieve a most selfless and precious gift for The Baby Jesus. First released in book form in 1946, The Littlest Angel became popular for its ornate words and phrases paired with beautifully muted oil paintings. Tazewell’s book was adapted into a TV musical in 1969 starring Johnny Whitaker, and theatrical versions continue to be done by schools and church groups today. The author would follow-up with another childhood favorite, The Littlest Snowman, that would be read annually on the Captain Kangaroo show.

“This is a story that has made so many people happy over the years,” says Lance Thompson, one of the producers of the film. “We’ve added some new elements to this production, but this is still The Littlest Angel everyone remembers from their childhood, and one that parents will enjoy introducing to their kids. I think Tazewell would enjoy knowing his work lives on.”

It’s a modern twist on the timeless tale of an Angel that discovers the greatest gifts in life are faith, friendship and doing the right thing. This new version of The Littlest Angel features wonderful animation and great vocal talent, including Ron Perlman (Beauty and The Beast, Tangled), and is sure to become a holiday favorite, much like the book it’s based on. The Littlest Angel is a motion picture that will put a smile on everyone’s face, and what better gift is there than that.

Jordan Belson, RIP

Jordan Belson

Experimental filmmaker and abstract animator Jordan Belson passed away on September 6 at the age of 85. He created more than thirty films between the 1940s and 2000s, and contributed special effects to the 1983 feature The Right Stuff. More details about his life can be found on his official page at the Center for Visual Music and in this New York Times obit. Unfortunately, Belson explicitly stated that he didn’t want his films to be posted on-line so if you’re unfamiliar with his work, you’ll have to remain unfamiliar with his work.

Film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote this eloquent tribute about Belson on his blog recently:

One of the most influential non-objective filmmakers of the second half of the 20th century, Belson’s work is most like that of John and James Whitney in its vision of a world of abstract harmony and beauty. In these ultracommercial times, the idea of someone dedicating themselves to an art form that costs a lot of money and not expecting to make a lot of money almost seems unthinkable, but yes, there was a time when people made films simply for the creative satisfaction it brought, to share their vision with the world freely. Belson was never a careerist, he was an artist, and while he never achieved notoriety outside of a small circle of enthusiasts, his influence was real and lasting.

[Image at top: From the film Allures. Copyright Jordan Belson, courtesy Center for Visual Music.]

(Thanks, Sterling Sheehy)

PBS Kids Go! Orders More of “Wild Kratts”

Toronto, Canada — September 20, 2011- (Virtual Press Office) — Kratt Brothers Company and 9 Story Entertainment have received a second season order from PBS KIDS GO!® in the U.S. and TVOntario in Canada for an addition 26 x 22’ episodes of the hit animated comedy adventure series Wild Krattsâ„¢. The series was created and developed by real life brothers and zoologists Martin and Chris Kratt, who star in the show as animated versions of themselves.

A co-production between The Kratt Brothers Company and 9 Story Entertainment, Wild Kratts (40 x 22 minutes) is distributed in the US and Canada by Kratt Brothers Company, and internationally by 9 Story Entertainment.

Wild Kratts premiered in January 2011 on PBS KIDS GO! in the U.S., and TVOntario, Knowledge Network and Télé-Québec in Canada. It has also been sold to Discovery Kids Latin America, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (Middle East), NOGA (Israel), TV3 (Spain), SIC (Portugal) and Dublin Films (Ireland).

“An order for a second season from leading children’s broadcasters PBS KIDS GO! and TVOntario underscores the enthusiasm among both programmers and young viewers for this engaging animated series,” said Vince Commisso, President and CEO, 9 Story Entertainment. “We are delighted to be producing new episodes for Wild Kratts’ ever-growing audience of loyal fans round the globe.”

“The reaction to the first season of Wild Kratts‘ has been fantastic,” said Chris Kratt of Kratt Brothers Company. “We’ve been so happy with how quickly the show has caught on, and are delighted to continue the adventure with 26 more fun-filled stories featuring animal characters from around the world!”

Wild Kratts features Chris and Martin Kratt on incredible expeditions to meet wild creatures from the far corners of the earth. Diving into the habitats of these unusual animals with the use of futuristic technology and Creature Powers Suits that allow the brothers to take their funny and exciting adventures to where they’ve never gone before.

Prior to Wild Kratts, Kratt Brothers Company created and produced two PBS children’s series, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning Kratts’ Creatures and the Emmy Award-winning Zoboomafoo. Their third show, Kratt Brothers: Be The Creature for National Geographic Channel, is a primetime family wildlife adventure series that has been broadcast in more than 150 countries around the world.

“The Scarf” by Carla Veldman

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, which gives us the opportunity to share this 2010 stop motion film by Carla Veldman, who made it while attending Sheridan College. The film has played in over a dozen film festivals, including Annecy last June. It explores the topic of Alzheimer’s through the eyes of a young boy who finds it increasingly difficult to communicate with his grandmother, who is dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Warner Home Video to unveil Catwoman animated short, first “Justice League: Doom” footage at New York Comic Con

Warner Home Video, Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation proudly present an action-packed hour of first looks at DC Universe Animated Original Movies properties on Friday, October 14 from 3:00-4:00 p.m. at New York Comic Con.

Central to the panel will be the world premiere of the animated short Catwoman, starring Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse) as the voice of title character. The 15-minute short will be included on the release of Batman: Year One, which streets October 18 on Blu-ray, DVD, for Download and On Demand.

The panel will also include the very first footage to be seen from Justice League: Doom, the highly-anticipated next entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies.

The panelists, which include the ultimate voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, DCU executive producer Bruce Timm and casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano, will offer a glimpse into the 2012 DC Universe Animated Original Movies slate, give away some exclusive prizes to inquisitive audience members, and quite possibly welcome a few surprise guests to the stage.

An autograph session with the panelists will immediately follow the panel.

Winners Announced for TELETOON At Night Pilot Project

(Toronto, ON, September 19, 2011) — TELETOON at Night fans have spoken! The votes are in and Vancouver, BC’s Sheryl Vedamani and Lemoyne, QC’s Philippe Ramsay Gaudreau have 10,000 reasons to gloat today as their animated films have been named the winners of the TELETOON at Night Pilot Project and TÉLÉTOON la Nuit Projet Pilote contests, respectively. As the winners, both Vedamani and Gaudreau have won $10,000 CDN and a trip for two to North America’s largest animation conference and festival, the Television Animation Conference and Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Vedamani, 20, is a Vancouver native and is a student at Vancouver Film School. Gaudreau, 26, grew up in Brossard, Quebec and currently works as a 2D artist at a video game company in Montreal.

The TELETOON at Night Pilot Project is a user-generated contest calling on aspiring and professional animators and animation enthusiasts in general to submit original, funny and unique animation or animation-related short films for a chance to win the grand prize. From February 6 to July 15, contestants submitted their videos to the English and French contests and their work was featured in online video galleries at www.teletoonatnight.com and www.teletoonlanuit.com, respectively. On July 31, a TELETOON jury selected the 10 finalists (five English-language films and five French-language films), then turned to the public to vote for their favourites over the next four weeks.

Over the course of the voting period, more than 11,600 votes were cast for the 10 finalists to determine the two winning submissions.

Vedamani’s zombie-inspired Great Minds Taste Alike and Gaudreau’s superhero story, La Justicière Rose, will be featured along with the eight other finalists’ videos at a late-night screening during the Ottawa International Animation Festival on Saturday, September 23 at 11 p.m. at the Arts Court Theatre.

Great Minds Taste Alike by Sheryl Vedamani

Two friends discuss their preparedness for a variety of potential zombie attack scenarios.

La Justicière Rose by Philippe Ramsay Gaudreau

An unconventional superhero thwarts an attempted robbery without breaking a sweat — or a nail.

The original TELETOON Pilot Project launched in fall 2007, exclusively inviting Canadian producers to submit proposals to produce a pilot in either English or French to be broadcast on TELETOON. Ten projects were selected as finalists from more than 200 submissions, straddling a wide range of topics, animation styles and comedy sensibilities. The first TELETOON Pilot Project winner, Fugget About It, has been officially greenlit for production into a 13-part series in English and French.

Voice Cast Announced for “Postman Pat” Feature-Length Animated Film

LONDON, UK (September 16, 2011) – Classic Media, a media company with a portfolio of some of the world’s leading family entertainment brands, and RGH Entertainment, the animation development and production unit of Rubicon Group Holding (RGH), are proud to announce that Postman Pat will be making his big screen debut in Postman Pat: The Movie — You Know You’re the One. The announcement of the film, which will be released in CG 3-D Stereoscopic, is timed to today’s celebration of Postman Pat’s 30th birthday.

The renowned voice cast will be led by actor Stephen Mangan (Episodes, Green Wing, Dirk Gently) as Postman Pat. Academy Award® and BAFTA® Award Winner Jim Broadbent (Iris, Moulin Rouge!), Rupert Grint, who achieved international fame as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series, and David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter) will join Stephen in bringing the world of Postman Pat to life on the big screen.

The film finds Pat, everyone’s favourite postman, coming face-to-face with the temptations of money, status and a shiny new suit when he enters a national TV talent show competition that threatens to tear him away from his hometown of Greendale and the friends he loves. What happens when kindness meets selfishness? When local fame meets global notoriety? A nice cup of tea is kicked aside by a frappacappucino? Pat is set to find out as he falls for the age old temptation of the grass being greener…

The voice cast, all true Postman Pat fans, commented on working on the film. Stephen Mangan said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be playing the world’s best-known postman in his big screen debut – he’s an iconic British hero and it’s a great script. However when I excitedly told my 3 year old son that I was going to be Postman Pat, he said, ‘No you’re not, dad, don’t be silly.’” Jim Broadbent noted, “I’m delighted and very excited to be involved with such an iconic figure as Postman Pat.” Rupert Grint added, “I used to watch Postman Pat when I was a small boy. My brother and sisters all did at some stage. Postman Pat is one of those British symbols, I suppose – you are totally familiar with him and his cat, Jess even if you have never watched the series. How exciting to be part of the Postman Pat heritage.”

Postman Pat: The Movie — You Know You’re the Onewill be directed by Mike Disa (Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil) from a screenplay co-written by the award-winning Kim Fuller (Spice World, High Heels & Low Lifes) and Annika Bluhm, the long-time Producer of the Postman Pat television series. The film is being produced by RGH’s Robert Anich and Miles Horst and Classic Media’s Ceri Barnes and Annika Bluhm, with Rubicon’s Randa Ayoubi and David Corbett and Classic Media’s Eric Ellenbogen and Doug Schwalbe serving as executive producers.

Postman Pat: The Movie — You Know You’re the One begins production this month and heads to cinemas Spring 2013. Ralph Kamp’s Timeless Films is managing worldwide sales with Icon Film Distribution releasing the film in the UK and Eire.

ASIFA-Hollywood Now Accepting Applications for Nominating Committee Judges of Annie Awards

BURBANK, Calif. (September 16, 2011) — The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood is seeking Individuals interested in serving as judges on nomination committees for the 39th Annual Annie Awards. Nominating committees shall select the Annie Award production nominations and individual achievement nominees. To be considered for a nominating committee, judges must have an established career in animation and exemplary professional credentials in at least one of the Annie Award categories. To apply, please visit http://www.annieawards.org/judging.html. Applications must be received no later than Friday, September 30, 2011.

Judging officially begins in early November and judges may also be required to do some additional judging within the following days, as well as participate in pre-selection activities, via email, prior to the judging sessions. Individuals who are selected to serve on a nomination committee, shall receive a pair of complimentary VIP tickets to the 39th Annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 4, 2012 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

Women In Animation Announces Dynamic Workshop Focused On “You & Your Career”

Los Angeles, Calif. –Is inspiration lacking in your life? Do you feel like you’re in a career rut? Drinking Jolt not doing it for you? We at Women In Animation International know how you’re feeling – and have the antidote!

On Saturday, October 22nd, WIA is offering a unique, not-to-be-missed, one-day event to “inspire” you in your personal life and career. The workshop will feature two celebrated animation stars as keynote speakers: storyboard artist, writer and voice of “Mandy” on Walt Disney Television’s Phineas and Ferb, Aliki Theofilopoulos Grafft; and former child star turned action/comedy writer for The Hub and Hasbro Studios’ Daytime Emmy Award-winning Transformers Prime, Nicole Dubuc.

Sponsored in part by venue host, RGH Entertainment, WIA’s “Day of Inspiration” offers a dynamic life and career workshop with Kamakshi Hart, M.A. Hart, whose clients include such celebrities as Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives) will offer a highly-focused version of her popular “A Brand New View: True Success Aligned With Your True Self”â„¢ to WIA members and friends. During the course of the four-hour workshop, Hart will help attendees create a path to change in their lives and careers. Attendees will learn to see their artistic or business-oriented career goals through a new perspective; essentially “refreshing the screen of their own lives.” Each attendee will leave with new perspectives, new career tools and energetic new inspirations.

Our work together will also include a focus on growing personal careers through community by including the future of Women in Animation as a link to future success.

Please join us for this one-of-a-kind special event.

Location: RGH Entertainment

5901 De Soto Avenue

Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Time: 9:00am – 4:00 pm

Date: October 22nd

Ticket Price:

Early Bird – Before October 7

WIA Members – $40

Non Members – $65

After October 7 and at the door

WIA Members – $50

Non Members – $75

To Purchase Tickets Go To: wiaworkshop.eventbrite.com/

Hart usually charges hundreds of dollars for this kind of event. She is helping WIA with a much-discounted rate. Coffee and pastries, along with a buffet-style lunch are included in the ticket price.

Sign-up early to guarantee your attendance. Hart workshops sell out quickly.

Cartoon Network and Adult Swim Announce Highly-Anticipated Panel and Event Lineup for 2011 New York Comic Con

Cartoon Network and Adult Swim will host nine panels, two screenings and three autograph signings for fan-favorite series at New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Center, Friday, October 14 through Sunday October 16, 2011.  See the full lineup for both networks below; please note all times, dates and locations are subject to change.



ADULT SWIM: The Venture Bros
4:15 p.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Location: IGN Theater
Talent: Jackson Publick (co-creator) and Doc Hammer (co-creator)
The Venture Bros show creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, perennial Comic-Con favorites, will discuss their original series and answer questions that have been submitted by fans on AdultSwimPresents.com/NYCC.  Launched on Adult Swim in August 2004, The Venture Bros. is an inspired spoof of 1960s action cartoon shows such as Johnny Quest. The animated series follows the bizarre misadventures of the Venture family, which includes world-renowned Dr. Venture, his dimwitted sons Hank and Dean as well as Brock Samson, their bodyguard assigned by the government to keep an eye on the family who is then promptly forgotten by the Feds.

ADULT SWIM: Robot Chicken
5:15 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.
Location: IGN Theater
Talent: Seth Green (co-creator), Matt Senreich (co-creator), Zeb Wells (writer) and Doug Goldstein (head writer and co-producer)
Seth Green (co-creator), Matthew Senreich (co-creator), Zeb Wells (writer), and Doug Goldstein (head writer and co-producer) discuss their incredibly-popular and award-winning series Robot Chicken and provide a sneak peek of season 5.5, premiering Oct. 23rd at 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Adult Swim. Created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, the Emmy Award-winning Robot Chicken uses stop-motion animation to bring pop-culture parodies to life in a modern take on the variety/sketch show format.


ADULT SWIM: Superjail!
4:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m.
Location:  Room 1A06
Talent: Christy Karacas (creator and executive producer) , Stephen Warbrick (creator and executive producer), Jackson Publick, Janine DiTullio
Join creators and executive producers Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick with Jackson Publick and Janine DiTullio as they discuss their Adult Swim series Superjail! and preview never-before-seen footage! Fast-paced animation, flying guts, creepy underlings, and plenty of prison fights dominate the Warden’s chaotic prison in Superjail!. The blood flows like wine and the line between criminal and keeper gets blurrier by the minute.  Picture a kaleidoscope of entrails meets Jon Waters meets Shawshank damnation plus a sweaty muscle woman minus primetime sensibility. You are hereby guilty of being given what you asked for.

ADULT SWIM: Eagleheart
4:45 p.m. — 5:15 p.m.
Location:  Room 1A06
Talent: Chris Elliot, Jason Woliner, Andrew Weinberg, Michael Koman, Maria Thayer
Join series star Chris Elliott with Jason Woliner, Andrew Weinberg, Michael Koman, Maria Thayer as they discuss the live-action comedy Eagleheart and show exclusive footage from the upcoming new season.  Produced by Conan O’Brien’s Conaco Productions and Dakota Pictures, the series premiered in February and recently wrapped production of its second season, which is slated to premiere in the spring of 2012. Every episode of Eagleheart promises violence, suspense, intrigue and copious amounts of needless bloodshed as Marshal Chris Monsanto (Elliott) blindly kicks, punches and shoots his way to what may or may not be a legitimate solution to his case.

ADULT SWIM: The Heart, She Holler
5:30 p.m. — 6:15 p.m.
Location:  Room 1A06
Talent: Patton Oswalt, Kristen Schaal, Heather Lawless, Leo Fitzpatrick, Joe Sikora, John Lee (executive producer), Alyson Levy (executive producer)
Adult Swim presents The Heart, She Holler, an original live-action series that explores the dramatic lives of a small community living in a hillbilly town.  Series stars Patton Oswalt (United States of Tara), Kristen Schaal (The Flight of the Conchords), Heather Lawless (Be Kind Rewind), Leo Fitzpatrick (El Camino), and Joe Sikora (Shutter Island) join co-executive producers John Lee and Alyson Levy to show never-before-seen footage of this new original live-action series that will premiere on Adult Swim this fall.

ADULT SWIM: Delocated!
6:30 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.
Location:  Room 1A06
Talent: Jon Glaser (creator and executive producer), Steve Cirbus, Janeane Garofalo, Jacob Kogan, Yung-I Chang, Ali Farahnakian
Delocated! creator/executive producer and star Jon Glaser is on hand along with Steve Cirbus, Janeane Garofalo, Jacob Kogan, Yung-I Chang  and Ali Farahnakian to reveal exclusive footage from the upcoming third season of the show premiering on Adult Swim this fall as well as answer questions about the series.  Delocated! is a live-action series about “Jon,” who after testifying against the Russian Mafia has to live undercover through the witness protection program.  After existing quietly in an anonymous suburb, “Jon” accepts an offer to participate in a reality show based on his life.  In order to protect his identity with television audiences–and more importantly, the Russian mob family the Mirminsky’s–he wears a ski mask and has his voice surgically disguised.

ADULT SWIM: China, IL Exclusive Screening and Q&A
7:15 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Location:  Room 1A06
Talent: Brad Neely (creator) and Daniel Weidenfeld (executive producer)
Adult Swim presents an exclusive screening of a never-before-aired episode of their newest animated comedy China, IL.  Frank and Steve Smith are brothers who teach in the history department of a state university in China, IL.  They also happen to be legends in their own minds who will often sacrifice facts, lessons and syllabi for the sake of being awesome.  Created by Brad Neely and produced by Titmouse, Inc., China, IL is a reverse Animal House where the teachers are crazy and the students just want to learn.  Creator Brad Neely and executive producer Daniel Weidenfeld will be on hand for a lively Q&A.

ADULT SWIM: Black Dynamite
8:15 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
Location:  Room 1A06
Talent: Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Kym Whitley, Carl Jones (executive producer), and Scott Sanders (producer)
Black Dynamite is an exciting new animated series coming to Adult Swim in 2012 and is based on 2009’s critically-acclaimed feature film. The series further chronicles the exploits of Black Dynamite and his crew.  Cast members Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite), Byron Minns (Bullhorn), Kym Whitley (Honeybee), executive producer Carl Jones, and producer Scott Sanders will host a Q&A and show never-before-seen footage!


CARTOON NETWORK: Adventure Time / Regular Show Panel and Q&A
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: 1A06
Talent: Adventure Time – Pendleton Ward (Creator/ Lumpy Space Princess), Jeremy Shada (Finn) and Tom Kenny (Ice King); Regular Show talent includes creator J.G. Quintel (Creator/ Mordecai), Bill Salyers (Rigby) and Sam Marin (Pops, Benson, Muscle Man).
Cartoon Network is dominating Monday nights with the FUNNIEST night on television, and we’re bringing the inside scoop to Comic Con!  Join creators and talent from Adventure Time and Regular Show as they talk about how these two comedy hits came to life, screen upcoming episodes, share what’s in store for your favorite characters this season, answer questions and more!

CARTOON NETWORK: Ben 10 / Generator Rex: Heroes United Screening and Q&A
12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Location: 1A22
Cartoon Network’s top animated action heroes – Ben 10 and Generator Rex – team up for an exciting panel at New York Comic Con…and for an out-of-this-world adventure! In the middle of a battle, Ben Tennyson is drawn into a vortex and lands in an alternate world infected by nanites…the world of Generator Rex!  Ben and Rex will face off before realizing they must unite to battle a common enemy who threatens both of their worlds!

CARTOON NETWORK: Level Up World Premiere Screening
2:00 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Location: 1A22
It’s time to “Level Up” your Comic Con experience with the WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING of Cartoon Network’s funniest original movie for the video game age!  Level Up introduces three high school gamers who unwittingly open a portal from an online game, allowing the in-game creatures and mayhem to escape into the real world!  The trio must put aside their differences and join forces to play the game for real in order to save their neighborhood (and the world!) from ultimate evil! Be among the first to see Level Up before it premieres on Cartoon Network in November, with an explosive TV series to follow in 2012.

Cartoon Network and Adventure Time will take over the registration lobby of the Jacob Javits Center at New York Comic Con from October 13 — 16, with the CARTOON NETWORK LOUNGE.  A fully-immersive experience, the CARTOON NETWORK LOUNGE will be a must-see destination for fans of the network, as they can catch up on their favorite Adventure Time episodes, grab some exclusive giveaways, play their favorite video games and so much more.  In addition to other giveaways, Adventure Time fans should stop by to get their free New York Comic Con exclusive 2″ Finn figure, while supplies last.  The toy is a limited-edition update to one of the figures from Jazwares toy line, which is currently available for sale at Toys”R”Us retailers nationwide.  Additionally, at the CARTOON NETWORK LOUNGE, fans can try their hand at three all-new video games that will be released this fall:  Ben 10 Galactic Racing, Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL and Generator Rex: Agent of Providence.

Going to Ottawa…

I’m en route to Canada right now to attend the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival, which starts tomorrow. (Above image was part of their 2009 ad campaign, which I thought was worth repeating).

New features being shown include Spain’s Chico and Rita, the Estonian Taevalaul (Sky Song), Keiichi Hara’s anime Colorful and Phil Mulloy’s Dead But Not Buried.

The programs and retrospectives look to be some of the finest ever assembled: Panels devoted to the Supinfocom Animation School, special guests Pen Ward and Thurop Van Orman, John Canemaker on Joe Grant and Joe Ranft, a spotlight on Aaron Augenblick, numerous competition screenings, not to mention my very own Cartoon Fight Club, a selection of the most violent Hollywood cartoons ever made. Too much for me to list here. Too much for me to see.

I’m not sure where I’ll be and when, but Friday morning I’ll be hanging out in the Arts Court Studio at 10:30am, available to sign books or just chat. Check the festival website for all the programming details. If you can make it to Ottawa this weekend, please do. It should be a blast!

“Ziggy” Creator Tom Wilson Dies at 80

Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson Sr., the creator of everyone’s favorite clumpy loser Ziggy, passed away last Friday, September 16, at the age of 80. I never knew much about Wilson until last year when I read the book Studio Cards. Wilson actually had a really interesting career in the Sixties and Seventies as the art director of the goofy Hi-Brows division of Cleveland’s American Greetings. Through his position, he helped encourage a lot of artists and writers including a young Robert Crumb.

The most complete obituary about Wilson that I’ve read so far is this one in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I was surprised to see the article directly contradict Wilson’s own version of how he came up with the name Ziggy. It quotes one of Wilson’s former colleagues Tom McGreevey who says that Ziggy’s name was actually inspired by the barber of one of Wilson’s colleagues.

Because of some research I’ve recently done, I feel that I can add a bit to the story. The unnamed colleague was John Gibbons, a prolific greeting card writer who Crumb once called “Cleveland’s funniest person,” and Gibbons did more than suggest Ziggy’s name. He was also the concept person for Wilson’s illustrated book When You’re Not Around, published by American Greetings in 1969 and featuring a proto-Ziggy before he even had a name. Gibbons felt enough ownership as co-creator that he even tried to sell a Ziggy newspaper strip before Wilson sold his in 1971, and he was the strip’s primary writer in the early years. With both Wilson and Gibbons now gone, the true genesis of Ziggy may be lost to history, but it’s safe to assume the strip eventually became Wilson’s baby, and as time passed, came to reflect his personal viewpoint more than anyone else’s.

To bring this back around to animation, here’s the beginning of the delightful 1982 TV special Ziggy’s Gift which was directed by Richard Williams.

Children’s Books by Fucile, Goodrich, Klassen & Vischer

Animation artists have worked in children’s book publishing for almost as long as the animation industry has existed. The trend continues to this day; below are four recently published children’s books that were illustrated by artists who have extensive animation industry experience. And we’ll probably see more of these books for quite some time: in a rare bit of good news for the traditional publishing industry, this Publisher’s Weekly article reports that children’s book sales remain one of print’s strongest markets.

Tony Fucile
Mitchell’s License illustrated by Tony Fucile

Carter Goodrich
Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich

Jon Klassen
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Frans Vischer
Fuddles by Frans Vischer

Earl Kress (1951-2011)

That’s Earl Kress (above left) with me at the Van Eaton Galleries in May 2010.

My friend, animation writer and Hanna-Barbera historian par excellence, Earl Kress passed away early this morning, succumbing to liver cancer. He had just turned 60 years old.

Earl’s credits are so numerous – I don’t know where to begin. For theaters he worked on story for Disney’s The Fox and The Hound, and the great Looney Tunes short Little Go Beep. In comic books, Earl penned many stories for Hanna-Barbera as well as The Simpsons for Bongo Comics and Looney Tunes for DC. The list of his television credits is too large to recount here (check IMDB), but highlights include various episodes of Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Tom & Jerry Tales – not to mention a pilot I produced called Hornswiggle.

He was also a devoted animation historian, and he produced several DVD and CD compilations that are indispensable: His Rhino Records’ Pic-a-nic Basket of Cartoon Classics and Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Sound FX are important preservations of these classic television soundtracks. His expertise made Warner Home Video’s Hanna Barbera DVDs as great as they could be: The Flintstones – Seasons 2, 4, 5 and 6, Top Cat – The Complete Series, Wacky Races, Huckleberry Hound – Volume 1, Yogi Bear – The Complete Series and Magilla Gorilla – The Complete Series. Without Earl, The Flintstones laser disc that John K. organized would not have been half as good.

Earl also served as a Vice President of the Animation Guild and was a founding member of the Writers Guild Animation Caucus.

But of course, Earl was more than a great writer and historian – he was a true friend and a great lunch buddy. He really helped me out on more than one occasion, eagerly sharing his knowledge and film collection when I needed help on several of my books regarding Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera. His work on Hornswiggle and several other projects we did together was top notch, and thoroughly professional. That’s what he was – a top professional and one of the good guys – make that one of the best guys – in the business.

I’ll mourn his loss. This is a very sad day. He will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace, my friend.

POST SCRIPT: Internet radio program Stu’s Show aired a tribute to Earl Kress on Monday with Mark Evanier and I sharing our memories. It is available to download at no cost for the next two weeks. Scroll down near the bottom of Stu’s main page to locate the link.

Hand-Drawn Animation Tops Box Office for 1st Time since 2009

Lion King 3D

Disney’s re-release of The Lion King in 3-D defied both box office expectations and the downward trend of 3-D by taking over the American box office last weekend with a FINAL total of $30.2 million. 3D screenings of the film accounted for an impressive 92% of the gross. The 1994 feature, which remained the highest-grossing hand-drawn feature of all-time even before this re-release, is the first number one hand-drawn animated feature at the American box office since the theatrical run of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which held the top position on December 11-13, 2009 with with $24.2M.

Happy Birthday June Foray

I snapped the photo above earlier this past week. I was on one side of a glass wall, inside the studio on the other side director Mark Evanier (back to camera) is rehearsing lines with actress June Foray prior to taping a new episode of Garfield.

There’s June, still vital and a giving a classic cartoon performance, still a legend and one of the greats in the business. No one can replace what she brings to a character.

Today is her birthday. Happy Birthday June. I look forward to posting this greeting to you for years to come!

“Smile” by Max Xenda

Check out all the eye candy in this music video featuring Ukrainian pop singer Jamala (aka Susana Jamaladinova). “Smile” was directed by top Ukraine video maker Max Xenda, and combines live action with miniatures and stop-mo puppet animation, designed by art director Vlad Ryzhikov.

Click here for behind-the-scenes footage, and some nice photos of Jamala.

(Thanks, Eric Graff)

Kevyn Wallace memorial

Animator/layout artist Kevyn Wallace passed away on September 14th, at 3am, succumbing to the injuries sustained after being hit by a drunk driver on August 9th, 2011. He was 48 years old.

Kevyn was an accomplished Feature Animation Layout Artist having quietly spent much of his career at Disney (Tarzan, Mulan), Universal (Land Before Time series) and Film Roman (The Simpsons Movie). At the time of his death, he was working on his own documentary chronicling the history of African-American Artists in Animation and their invaluable contributions to the industry. We received this information from his family:

Kevyn’s family would like to extend their gratitude for all of the love, the well-wishes, the cards and the positive thoughts sent to Kevyn – and to them – during this very difficult time.

We cordially invite you to join us in honoring Kevyn on his birthday…

A Life Celebration of Kevyn Wallace
Friday, September 23, 2011 at 7pm

Art Center College of Design
1700 Lida Street
Pasadena, CA 91103-1999

We also understand that donations to the LAC+USC Burn Center would be welcome in lieu of flowers.

“This Papaya Tastes Perfect” by Ian Cheng

Mainstream motion capture performances have the paradoxical effect of looking both flawlessly perfect and utterly unconvincing and unnatural. The problem is that the directors who use motion capture aren’t interested in exploring the artistic possibilities of the tool they’re using so much as wanting an off-the-shelf technical solution for recreating something that already exists–human actors. Thankfully, there are artists like Ian Cheng and his fascinating mo-cap experiment This Papaya Tastes Perfect. In it, he explores a more honest form of motion capture that hasn’t yet been cleaned up into a sterile imitation of live-action, and in the process he discovers a more expressive and intimate use of the technology.

Cheng described the film to us as such:

Performed under the influence of whiskey, wrecking the mocap suit. . . .dirty data resulting in 3D animation as drunk and unprofessional as the characters within it. Un-integrated stupidity one-to-one at scale with its form. Note: you might have to tilt your laptop sideways or watch it on your cellphone.

MEMORY: Christian de Vietri & Ian Cheng
CHOREOGRAPHY: Madeline Hollander
THANKS: Mark Bowman, Paul Chan, Clay Deutsch, Pierre Huyghe, Roy Pak, Erik Wysocan