Eric Power‘s music video for Wiretree’s song “The Shore” is a colorful lo-fi piece made with underlit tissue paper and black cardstock.
Who says print is dead? It’s been about a month since my last batch of book reviews and I’ve come up with four new books worthy of your attention – if not your hard-earned dollars…
The World History of Animation by UK animator Stephen Cavalier fills a void – it’s a perfectly suitable text book for those looking for a general international history of the artform and industry. As an animation history teacher myself, I find Giannalberto Bendazzi’s Cartoons a bit too dense for my students, and my own book, Animation Art, is long out-of-print. Cavalier’s book covers much of the same ground, so if you have the previous two you can skip this one – but if you are looking for a solid general history that covers the basics and then some, this fills the bill nicely. It covers the field right up through 2010′s Toy Story 3 and The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet provides the Foreword), and the Appendix is filled with useful information, including all the Oscar winners, animation books and important websites (nice to see Cartoon Brew among them). Recommended solely for students and novice historians.
Oh Boy! More Craig Yoe books! Yes, Craig is a friend – and yes, I’m a huge fan – but his seemingly endless series of books, for IDW Publishing, are worthy of all the hype. Here’s two more: first up, The Best of Archie’s Mad House. I loved this Archie comic when I was a kid almost as much as I loved Mad and Cracked! I’m grateful this material hasn’t been forgotten. Yoe’s hardcover collects the mag’s funniest stories, including the first appearances of Sabrina the teenage witch, Captain Sprocket and Chester (Cool) and Lester (Square). The reproduction of comics pages is great and as usual, Yoe has a front section that gives the backstory of this oddball comic with rare artwork and a cover gallery. Buy this – its funny!
Amazing 3-D Comics is one amazing comics reprint book. Here, Craig Yoe has selected the best examples of the 3D comics from the 1950s, produced at the height of the first 3D craze. Most of the comics herein are of various adventure comics genres – but Yoe includes a healthy dose of funny stuff from Otto Messmer (Felix), Milt Stein and Norman Maurer (Three Stooges). I love classic 3-D movies and comics – this book satisfies my dimensional needs quite nicely. Joe Kubert contributes a new 3D cover and Introduction and of course, a pair of red-blue 3D glasses are included. Highly recommended!
Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Layout & Background is the latest in the Archive series of large, lavishly illustrated books highlighting a different aspect of the classic production process. Previous entries in this series included Design, Animation and Story. These books showcase the art – there is hardly any text – and that’s as it should be. The large size and perfect reproduction makes it feel as if you are looking at the original pieces. In this case its background paintings and layout sketches by Eyvind Earle, Claude Coats, Walter Peregoy, Maurice Noble, James Coleman, Serge Michaels, Al Dempster, Bill Layne, Art Riley and Brice Mack. Amazing, beautiful stuff. A must-have for anyone with an interest in Disney and classic animation. This book will be released October 25th.
As someone who lives in a Cintiq household, I know well how highly this is anticipated. Wacom made the official announcement today for their Cintiq 24HD. The first thing one notices is the sexy new counterweighted stand that allows for adjustable height and angling of the screen. Here are some of the key under-the-hood specs:
* 1920 x 1200 HD display
* 178Â° viewing angle
* 16:10 aspect ratio
* 550:1 contrast ratio
* 2048 levels of pen pressure and 40Â° of tilt
* Featuring Wacom’s new Tip Sensor
* DVI-I and DisplayPort connectors
* Weight: 63.8 pounds
* Price: $2,499
And here’s a video of a sophisticated and serious artist (clearly not an animator) using the beast:
Publishing isn’t dying, it’s just becoming more animated. Los Angeles-based JibJab sees an opportunity to benefit from the emergence of digital children’s books on tablets like the iPad. They recently launched a new product line called JibJab Jr. Books. Powered by their “Starring You” technology, it allows kids to insert themselves into their storybooks. The app is free to download on the iTunes store, and comes with a starter book. Additional titles can be purchased for $7.99 individually or $3.99 as part of a monthly subscription plan.
The JibJab titles don’t offer the hyper-clickable interactivity or audio narration/sound effects of other recent iPad children’s book efforts like Bill Joyce’s The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, but they have an equally compelling feature in content personalization. Right now, that’s enough to stand out from the pack, although they’ll likely need to add interactivity and sound at some point to stay competitive. Another unique aspect of the books is that JibJab is commissioning a lot of fresh voices, including many from the animation industry, to illustrate their book titles. Among the artists they’ve enlisted so far are Nate Wragg, John Martz, Brigette Barrager and Kai Wu.
(Disclosure: JibJab is a sponsor of Cartoon Brew’s 2011 Student Animation Festival.)
Brew reader Jonathan Sloman spotted this baseball cap for sale on Oxford Sreet in London. Mortimer Mouse wasn’t exactly a cartoon “star”, appearing in just one classic Disney short. Regardless of whether it’s authentic or bootleg, there’s a certain novelty in seeing a minor cartoon character appear on his own piece of merchandise.
UK based Ian Stevenson is a cartoonist disguised as an “artist”. Whatever he calls himself, I like what he does. Here’s one of his groovy music videos from a few years ago. This’ll put you in a good mood:
Written & Directed by Ian Stevenson & Luke Seomore.
Music by Graffiti 6.
Illustrator Ian Stevenson, Animator Alex Dobbin.
In the Gay Purr-ee production photo above is (left to right): Lee Orgel, Judy Garland, Henry G. Saperstein, Robert Goulet, Abe Levitow and Chuck Jones. Who was Lee Orgel you ask? Let Darrell Van Citters tell you.
Animator Van Citters is expanding on his great book about the history ofMr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol with an incredible blog containing additional information on the artists, writers, director and producers of this groundbreaking 1962 TV special.
Perhaps the most unsung of behind-the-scenes latter-day UPA personnel was Orgel – a talented, perhaps visionary, producer who had a successful career in 60s animation, as well as being a writer on the 1966 Batman TV show. Read all about him in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.
I’m sure that after all my incessant musings and ramblings about this guy, some readers have already figured out that something’s up. So I’m excited to officially announce today that I’m working on a biography about the legendary Disney animator and director Ward Kimball.
It’s not always easy to pinpoint where an idea originates, but this one is fairly clear-cut. It happened in the fall of 2000, when I visited Ward at his home for an interview. After we had spoken, he took some time to show me around his place, and when we went to his storage shed, he began pulling out boxes of his artwork. But these weren’t familiar animation drawings of Jiminy, Lucifer or the Mad Hatter as one might expect. He wanted to show me his personal paintings and drawings. Then he pointed to a few of his moving assemblage pieces, which he called “kinetics,” sitting in the corner. They were dusty and had seen better days, but after seeing these pieces, it began to dawn on me that Ward wasn’t just one of the greatest animators of his generation, he was a modern-day Renaissance man.
To make a long story short, nothing happened at the time and Ward passed away a year-and-a-half later. My interest in his work was rekindled when I started writing books a few years later. While researching Cartoon Modern, I encountered Ward’s work again, this time in his role as the rebellious director who was dragging the Disney studio into the thick of the mid-century animation design movement. When Cartoon Modern was done, I determined that my next book would be about him. My friends at Chronicle Books who had placed their trust in me for Cartoon Modern took the plunge again and commissioned the biography.
It’s been almost four years since the book was greenlit. During this period, I’ve been incredibly lucky to collaborate on book projects with the fine folks at Pixar (twice!), as well as with uber-talents Peter de SÃ¨ve and John Kricfalusi. Throughout these projects, I’ve chipped away at the Kimball bio. It’s been more challenging than I ever imagined to explore all the passions in Ward’s life and how they fit together–his music, his trains, his animation, his directorial work, his personal art. . .they all played a role in defining who he was as a person.
My hope is that the book will offer a nuanced portrait of Ward, both as an artist and a person. Besides offering a thorough account of his achievements in the form of a 60,000-word manuscript, the book will be a true visual celebration with hundreds of never-before-seen photos, documents and drawings from his personal collection. The Kimball family has been supportive throughout and has provided access to all of Ward’s personal files, photos and diaries, which I’ve combined with new research and interviews. I also had the privilege of speaking with Ward’s delightful wife Betty on multiple occasions before her death last year. The book, a 240-page hardcover, should be out in the second half of 2012.
Since the book isn’t completely finished yet, I should mention that if any readers have unique Kimball artwork or ephemera in their collections, please get in touch with me. To keep abreast of the project or to just talk Ward, subscribe to the Ward Kimball Facebook fan page or Ward’s Twitter account.
A public memorial service has been set up for Corny Cole, who passed away last month, on August 8.
The Animation Guild had already scheduled an open-to-the-public Fine Art of Corny Cole exhibit and reception for Friday, October 7 at 6 pm. However, an official memorial event has been added for Sunday, October 9, from noon to 6pm in the Guild’s meeting room on the second floor. Both these events will be held at The Animation Guild building, at 1105 N. Hollywood Way, in Burbank, CA.
For the Sunday memorial, attendees are encouraged to bring Corny Cole artwork to display or any video of his work, or of him, on DVD. At 1pm Tom Sito will introduce several friends and guest speakers. Anyone who has a Corny story to share is invited to do so. Contact Sito at tom (at) tomsito (dot) com so he can add you to the list and introduce you. Refreshments will be served.
(photo above via Jon Gomez)
A bunch of rolls of tape and a glass plate don’t sound like the ingredients for a captivating piece of animation. That is, unless you’re Johan Rijpma. Stick with this one (pun intended); it starts out slow, but picks up in the second half. The slow unwinding of the tape combined with its staccato pops off the screen creates a sense of unexpected foreboding that is further amplified by the sound design.
Welcome to Jugmugland, a place that’s a thousand miles from Earth within a world of crayons. If that doesn’t make any sense, neither will the rest of Titlee in Jugmugland, which is a proposal for an animated series by Udaipur, India-based Eden Animation. Frankly, the only reason I clicked on the link was because of the lascivious title, but I got this instead:
Make sure you have tissues handy before you watch these three 9/11 shorts directed by the Brooklyn-based Rauch Brothers Animation. Each story is narrated by someone who lost a relative in the destruction of the towers; the recordings are part of the Storycorps oral history project and the animated shorts were commissioned by the PBS documentary series POV. All three shorts feature painterly backgrounds by Bill Wray that find the sweet spot between cartoon and realism. (Earlier this year, I interviewed the Rauch Brothers at length about their production process. Read our interview here.)
Abstract from one perspective, recognizable as animation icons from another. Check out these cartoon-based perspective sculptures by UK artist James Hopkins. Most of his subjects are recognizable even in their distorted form – either way, they are a lot of fun.
Click on thumbnails below to see even more of these incredible pieces of art:
(Thanks, Kelly Toon)
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured a tour of the swanky Montecito, California home of Ross Bagdasarian Jr., the son of the creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks, and his wife Janice Karman. They’ve been involved with all of the Chipmunk animated projects since the early-1980s, and have apparently made a good chunk of change in the process.
(Thanks, Doug Vitarelli)