“Bino and Fino” is Nigeria’s Answer to Nickelodeon

Bino and Fino

Nigerian animator Adamu Waziri is the creator of a new animated series Bino and Fino, an African-produced preschool TV series that aims to show a more acccurate representation of children growing up on the African continent. In the interview below, which is well worth viewing, Waziri talks about how Africa is portrayed by Western entertainment companies: “When Disney does something about Africa, you get singing animals, safari. You don’t see any buildings, you don’t see any people in a house, you don’t see people living a normal urban life, like in Lagos, Abuja, wherever in Africa you are.”

It’s not just misrepresentation by American media conglomerates, but also underrepresentation. Nick and Cartoon Network have African channnels that make no effort to represent their viewership in those regions. In Africa, Nick airs Dora the Explorer, The Mighty B!, and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan but features no African characters in its TV series.

In this recent CNN article, Waziri talks about the challenges of home-grown animation in Nigeria. Sponsors still aren’t used to the slow production time of animation, especially when Nollywood features are produced in a month or less, and many Nigerians still have a “West is best” mentality. But he maintains a positive outlook and recognizes the possibilities for animation in the world’s second most populated continent: “Nigeria and other parts of Africa aren’t poor, you have businessmen, the infrastructure, the ability to link up and make studios, finance it and sponsor it and make the market–stop waiting for Disney to do it, do it yourself.”

Music Video Round-up #6

Easy Way Out by Gotye

Director Darcy Prendergast of Melbourne, Australia-based Oh Yeah Wow had one golden rule for this music video: “Nothing should be created in a computer. All of the elements were created in camera, then masterfully assembled by visual effects wizard Andrew Goldsmith. We animated the plasticine blood, the cat, the flames, the smoke–all in stop motion with a motion control set up. Andrew then composited all these elements together.”

Rock It For Me by Caravan Palace

French artist Ugo Gattoni came up with the concept for this boldly art directed video that was directed by Gattoni, Guillaume Cassuto, and Jeremy Pires.

Love Is Making Its Way Back Home by Josh Ritter

This stop-mo video was created with over 12,000 pieces of construction paper, shown as it was shot, with no effects added in post. A collaboration between director Erez Horovitz and animator Sam Cohen.

Romantic Crap by Some Toir

The animation for the Russian video blends pixel, stop motion, and live action. The director is Yegor Lymarev, and the animation is by Alexei Medvedev.

New Sum (Nous Sommes) by Hey Rosetta!

Using a roto-scoping technique similar to Waking Life or Scanner Darkly, Jesse Davidge directed this video at Blatant Studios, in Vancouver, BC.

Stop Motion Freud by Cesar Coelho and Luciano do Amaral

When done well, the tactile quality of stop motion is one of the true joys of animation. I can’t take my eyes off of this beautifully articulated and brilliantly caricatured stop motion animation of Sigmund Freud created by Rio de Janeiro-based Campo4 Studio. More impressive, Stop Motion Works suggests that the animation was achieved primarily through low-tech means with no jointed facial armature mechanisms, computer printed facial masks, or cable controls. Bear in mind, there’s a few wires and greenscreens in the video above because the animation was later composited into a TV mini-series called Afinal,o que querem as mulheres?, a show that I know absolutely nothing about except that it’s better than anything on American TV.

University of Oklahoma Museum Debuts Disney Cel Animation Exhibition

NORMAN — The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is “all ears” this spring as it premieres a new exhibition of Walt Disney animation cels, including Mickey Mouse and dozens of characters from classic Disney films. The art museum at the University of Oklahoma opens A Century of Magic: The Animation of the Walt Disney Studios, Animation Cels from the Collection of Janis Scaramucci and Domer “Jay” Scaramucci Saturday, March 3.

The animation of the Walt Disney Studios had a profound impact on the American imagination over the course of the 20th century. A Century of Magic surveys many of the major animated films, beginning with the first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), and concluding with Fantasia/2000 (1999). This exhibition, from a private collection, includes more than 80 cels used in the original production of the animated films and offers visitors the opportunity to view
the artistry of the animators’ work.

“We are thrilled to invite the public to share this amazing collection of animation cels from Walt Disney’s classic films,” said Ghislain d’Humières, director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. “Children and adults alike will enjoy this look at Mr. Disney’s magical world of animation. As a matter of fact, we are using this  opportunity to lower the artwork a bit for our younger visitors.”

Additionally, a digital animation station for children will be available in the middle of the gallery using iPod Touch technology to create original drawings and animations. The exhibition opens with a free reception for children and families at 4 p.m. and includes a special live performance of selected songs from Disney films at 5 p.m. by students from the OU School of Musical Theatre, under the direction of professor Gwen Walker.

At 6 p.m., special guest Richard Benefield, founding executive director of The Walt Disney Family Museum, will discuss Walt Disney’s innovations in the art of

From 7 to 9 p.m., adults are invited to free reception that features a special dance choreographed to Hellfire from the Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Under the direction of Walker and Derrick Minter, students from the OU School of Dance and the School of Musical Theatre will present the performance at 8
p.m. The performance is for mature audiences only.

“We would especially like to thank Janis Scaramucci for the opportunity to showcase her private collection of animation cels for our visitors this spring,” said d’Humières. “In addition to a wonderful exhibition, visitors are in for an exciting semester of interdisciplinary university collaborations exploring the Walt Disney Studios, including music, dance, drama, law, business and more.”

Prior to the public reception, paid Museum Association members with Metro Arts Circle benefits are invited to bring one guest to a sneak-peek gallery talk, reception and after party starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 2. Benefield will provide the informal gallery talk and will be available for questions. Following the event, MAC will hold an after party at 9 p.m. at Blackbird Gastropub on Campus Corner.

“This exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful catalogue compiled by Mark White, the Eugene B. Adkins Curator and chief curator at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art,” d’Humières said. “It will serve as both a guide through the exhibition and a great way for visitors to remember their experience at the museum.”

The catalogue is available for purchase in Muse, the museum store.

The exhibition features cels from Disney films including Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp and Pinocchio, as well as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy shorts.

Throughout the spring, the museum will host multiple free programs around the exhibition, including viewings of such films as The Lion King and Robin Hood, as
well as a multimedia concert, a symposium and more. Additional information and a full calendar of events are available on the museum’s website. The exhibition runs through Sept. 16.

Valerie Watts Meraz Joins Turner Broadcasting as Vice President of Program Acquisitions

Valerie Watts Meraz has joined Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. as vice president of program acquisitions for Turner Entertainment Networks (TEN) and the  Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media group (AYAKM). In this capacity, Meraz will negotiate deals for non-sports program acquisitions for TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and truTV, as well as for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. She will also consult with individual networks on program planning in support of network strategy. Meraz is based in Atlanta and reports to Deborah Bradley, senior vice president of program acquisitions for Turner Broadcasting.

Meraz joins the company after serving as vice president of content acquisitions for Showtime Networks, Inc., where she oversaw the evaluation and acquisition of content for Showtime, The Movie Channel, and Flix, including for the on-demand and digital platforms. While at Showtime, Meraz negotiated deals for the acquisition of feature films, documentaries, short films, acquired series and stand-up comedy specials.

Prior to joining Showtime in 2000, Meraz worked in feature film development at Disney’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group. She began her career at 20th Century Fox in the exhibitor services group as a sales trainee and was soon promoted to a position in international theatrical promotions, where she helped develop media and retail promotions for such films as Titanic, The Full Monty and Romeo + Juliet.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Meraz holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of California, Los Angeles and master’s degree in motion picture producing from the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news; entertainment; animation and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Lawsuit Settled in “Yu-Gi-Oh!” Licensing Case

NEW YORK, Mar 01, 2012 — 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. , the global children’s entertainment and merchandise licensing company, and Asatsu-DK Inc. (“ADK”) and TV Tokyo, announced today that they have reached a settlement of the lawsuit brought against 4Kids by ADK and TV Tokyo, the licensors of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property. The settlement agreement recognizes that the Yu-Gi-Oh! agreement among 4Kids, ADK and TV Tokyo is in full force and effect with 4Kids continuing to serve as the exclusive licensing agent for the merchandise licensing, television broadcast and home video rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! property throughout the world outside of Asia.

The settlement agreement does not constitute an admission by any party of any liability or fault but rather reflects the decision by the parties to work together amicably for the continued success of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property.

“We are very pleased that the Yu-Gi-Oh! litigation has been settled,” said Michael Goldstein, interim Chairman of 4Kids. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with our long-standing partners ADK, TV Tokyo, Shueisha and Konami on the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand and on the new Yu-Gi-Oh! television series,Zexal.”

“The settlement of the litigation enables the Yu-Gi-Oh! Consortium and its partner 4Kids to focus all of their energy on the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand,” said Makoto Nakamura, CEO and President of Nihon Ad Systems, a subsidiary of ADK. “We are excited about the future of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property both in the US and worldwide.”

“The Story of Animation” by David Tart

Story of Animation

The Story of Animation is a tongue-in-cheek “cartoon modern”-styled educational short that aims to introduce potential advertising clients to the animation process. The short was written and directed by animation veteran David Tart, and the animation was supervised by Magnus Moller of the Danish animation studio Tumblehead. And if you feel like you already know the animation process inside-out, then check out this short about how greeting cards get made.

(Thanks, @webacion)

“The Lorax” talkback

The Lorax, anyone? I’ll be seeing it an an ASIFA-Hollywood screening next week, so I’ll reserve judgement. I’m not trying to be negative, but the L.A. TimesKenneth Turan says “most of it not very good and not in keeping with the spirit of the Seuss original.” Claudia Puig disagrees in her 3-stars (out of four) write-up in USA Today, saying “it remains faithful to the spirit of Seuss.” A.O. Scott at the NY Times sums it up this way: “The movie is a noisy, useless piece of junk!”

How about you? Per usual, our talkback posts are open to those who have seen the film in a theater, and have a thoughtful opinion–pro or con.

Music Videos Earn Art World Respect in Cincinnati

Spectacle Cincinnati

The music video has evolved vastly over the past decade, and in the Internet age, it seems as if every song is accompanied by a visual counterpart, animated or otherwise. The mass of videos being produced today has paved the way for “Spectacle: The Music Video”, which is, as far as I know, the first major museum show about the art of the music video. The curators are Meg Grey Wells and Jonathan Wells, who created RESFest and currently runs Flux.

The show opens tomorrow evening at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and Dan Deacon will be performing live. “Spectacle” runs through September 3. If you attend, please give your impression of the show in our comments.

A description of “Spectacle”:

Although it has had an enormous influence on pop culture, music, cinema, fashion and advertising–music video as an art form has yet to receive consideration in a museum context. Spectacle changes all that. This is the first time a contemporary art museum has examined the music video format through a diverse exhibition–employing immersive environments, photography, video screenings, objects and interactive installations.

Spectacle features important examples from music video history, from the early pioneers and MTV masters who expertly used the medium to define their public identities, like Devo, Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson and Madonna, to artists like OK Go and Lady Gaga who follow in their footsteps today.

Spectacle also reveals the important contributions music video has made across genres. For example, many new filmmaking techniques prevalent today were first tested in music videos. And some of today’s most innovative cinematic figures–David Fincher, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek and others–developed their signature style through experimentation with music videos.

The exhibition presents the changing landscape of the art of music video, highlighting the genre’s place at the forefront of creative technology, and its role in pushing the boundaries of creative production. With innovation and exploration as hallmarks–from the A-Ha ‘Take on Me’ video, to Chris Milk, Radiohead and others introducing new forms of interactivity and viewer participation–it is apparent that music video as an art form is constantly being redefined.

March 30th in LA: “UPA Day!”

As far as I’m concerned, there can’t be enough praise and recognition for United Productions of America (UPA). They may be long gone and (by some) long forgotten, but their influence is still felt in every nook and cranny of the animation craft.

On March 30th in Los Angeles, I will be curating a special selection of UPA cartoons at LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art) in conjunction with their ongoing exhibit, California Design. We will be celebrating the studio with ten newly restored 35mm prints courtesy of Columbia Pictures/Sony (titles will include ROBIN HOODLUM, ROOTY TOOT TOOT, THE JAYWALKER, GERALD McBOING BOING and others). Not only will I introduce the show, but my colleague Adam Abraham will be on hand to sign copies of his hot-off-the-press UPA history book, When Magoo Flew. We will also have copies of TCM’s new DVD collection, UPA Jolly Frolics on hand for purchase. The event, titled Madcap Modernism: Mid-Century Cartoons from UPA and Beyond will start at 7:30pm on Friday, March 30, 2012, in LACMA’s Bing Theater. General admission is $10. ($7 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID; $5 LACMA Film Club members). Advance tickets are now on sale: call 323 857-6010 or purchase online. For more information visit the LACMA website. Several other surprises are being planned. Mark your calendar now – don’t miss this special cartoon event.

Europe’s Cartoon Movie Forum Announces Tribute Nominations

The European animation industry will pay tribute to the sector’s personalities of the year during the Cartoon Movie Tributes ceremony on 9 March in Lyon, France. Participants of the co-production market Cartoon Movie will vote for the director, producer and distributor who they believe have made an outstanding contribution to the animated feature industry over the past year. The shortlist include nine nominees from Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the UK.

Competing in the category of European Director of the Year are Eric “Bibo” Bergeron for A Monster in Paris, a French film produced by EuropaCorp that has sold more than 1.6 million tickets in its home country and has also been a hit in the UK, Russia and Belgium; Thorbjørn Christoffersen, Philip Einstein Lipski & Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen for Ronal the Barbarian, a stereoscopic 3D Danish parody film already released in 20 countries; and French directors Rémi Bezançon & Jean-Christophe Lie for Zarafa, a 2D film selected for competition at the Berlinale 2012 and inspired by the true story of the first giraffe arrived in France.

Three companies will compete for the European Distributor of the Year award: Cinéart, the independent distributor from Belgium and the Netherlands that has released films like Waltz with Bashir, Persepolis, The Rabbi’s Cat, Eleanor’s Secret and A Town Called Panic ; Pathé Distribution, the film distribution and international sales arm of French giant Pathé with collaborations in France and the UK, which has bought titles such as The Illusionist, Zarafa and Pourquoi j’ai (pas) mangé mon père; and Romania’s Transilvania Film, an active company focusing on arthouse cinema which has distributed Persepolis, The Illusionist and Ronal the Barbarian.

Blue Spirit Animation, Moonscoop and Perro Verde Films will vie for the European Producer of the Year tribute. With a long track record in the animation world, France’s Blue Spirit Animation produced Le Tableau, a film by Jean-François Laguionie selected for Cartoon Movie 2012. Headquartered in Paris with studios in Wales, Luxembourg and Los Angeles, Moonscoop is one of the leading worldwide animation production studios and has recently produced Titeuf which has reached 1.3 million admissions. Rounding up the list of finalists is Perro Verde Films, Spanish production company which has just premiered the Goya award-winning Wrinkles, a film about Alzheimer’s and friendship, selected to open this year’s Cartoon Movie.

A total of 55 new European animation films and projects will be presented at Cartoon Movie 2012 with the aim of speeding up financing and distribution. France, which is behind 40% of the projects, once again stands out at this professional forum, which continues to showcase more and more films developed in stereoscopic 3D and targeting adult audiences. Cartoon Movie 2012 will be held in Lyon, France, from 7-9 March.

Mercury Filmworks Hires Chantal Ling As Producer

Ottawa, March 1, 2012 — Mercury Filmworks is pleased to announce the addition of Chantal Ling to its production team. The former Executive Vice-President of Amberwood Entertainment brings over thirteen years of experience in the entertainment industry and a track record of producing outstanding children’s programming such as The Secret World Benjamin Bear for Family Channel, The Snow Queen for BBC and CBC, Rollbots for YTV and most recently Rob the Robot for TVO. Her productions have garnered 5 Gemini Nominations including a Gemini Award for Best Direction in an Animated Series.

“We’re excited to have Chantal onboard” says Mercury President Clint Eland. “Her combination of management skill, creative instinct, and passion for producing quality kid’s entertainment make her a great fit.”

Chantal will report to Vice President of Production Bryan Popowich and oversee the production of a number of animated television programs. Her special focus will be on pilot projects and international co-productions where she can leverage her extensive professional network and past experiences.

Of her new appointment, Ling says, “I’m thrilled to be joining such a well respected and talented group. I look forward to continuing the Mercury tradition of producing compelling content. It’s what I love to do and I’m honoured to be doing it with Mercury.”

Chantal will work from the Mercury Filmworks’ offices in Ottawa starting March 5, 2012.

The Hub Television Network Unveils 2012-’13 Program Slate

LOS ANGELES, March 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Programs based on iconic names and strong, beloved properties are among the four new original series that will join eight returning popular original series on The Hub TV Network’s 2012-2013 programming lineup.  The announcement was made today by Margaret Loesch, President and CEO of The Hub, a TV network for kids and their families. The new series continue the network’s strategy of building a schedule with programs based on well-known brands.  The Hub launched October 10, 2010, replacing the former Discovery Kids Network.

Among the new original series coming to The Hub are the animated series Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot, Littlest Pet Shop, Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters and the new live-action series Spooksville based on the popular tween book series from Christopher Pike.

In addition, The Hub announced the acquisition of the popular live-action series The Facts of Life, Mork & Mindy and Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

The program announcements were made in advance of The Hub’s advertising upfront events in New York ( March 1), Chicago ( March 8) and Los Angeles ( March 15).

“With the momentum of our successful first year, we’re building a slate of programs for the 2012-’13 season that continues our strategy of presenting series based on well-known names and beloved properties in the kids and family entertainment space,” said Ms. Loesch.  “One of our advantages has always been the built-in strength and recognition of our programming. The success of that is evident in our large number of returning original series and in the exciting new original series. We’re confident that this lineup will further define us as the entertainment destination for kids and their families.”

FX Company Pixomondo Opens Facility in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, LA — International visual effects company Pixomondo announced the opening of its twelfth facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The occasion was marked with a press conference together with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden and Pixomondo Founder Thilo Kuther held at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at the Celtic Media Centre in celebration of the thriving local film, television and advertising production community. This announcement comes on the heels of the Academy Award win by Pixomondo’s Visual Effects Supervisor Ben Grossmann and Digital Effects Supervisor Alex Henning for their work on Hugo, a project featuring over 800 stereo 3D VFX shots created by more than Pixomondo 400 artists worldwide.

“Opening an office in Baton Rouge fits perfectly with our overall company vision. Louisiana offers a very generous production tax rebate that we can pass on to our clients to bolster our project load as well as our growing teams in Los Angeles, London and Germany–not to mention China and Canada,” said Thilo Kuther, Founder, Pixomondo. “Baton Rouge is a beautiful city with a wealth of resources–we’ve already connected with the Louisiana State University science department to help set up remote render farms and virtualization with our other studios.”

Pixomondo plans to open a facility with between 50-70 staff servicing film, television and commercial productions shooting both in Louisiana and around the world as part of the company’s worldwide network. Louisiana has been offering a generous 30-35% tax incentive for film and television production since 2002 and has lured many projects as a result. Several recent productions shot in the state include Battleship, the Twilight series, Battle LA, Green Lantern and many others. The Pixomondo facility will open at Celtic Media Centre adjacent to the Raleigh Studios Louisiana outpost in May of 2012.

Call For Entries: Encounters 18th Short Film and Animation Festival

Submissions are now open for the Encounters 18th Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol UK. Submit your short film or animation by Wednesday 6th June, for a chance to win a prestigious award and an opportunity to showcase your talent on an international stage.

Short films and animations are eligible from all over the world, completed from 1 Jan 2011, under 30 minutes in length from every genre (animation, live action drama, documentary, experimental and music video). There are discounts for multiple submissions

Why submit to Encounters?

  1. It’s the leading UK gateway to the world’s most prestigious short film and animation awards (Academy Awards®, BAFTAs, Cartoon D’Or and European Film Awards)
  2. It’s one of the best-known international competitive showcases of its kind, and is a key meeting point for emerging talent and industry.
  3. If your film doesn’t get selected, it can still be seen by delegates during the festival and for 6 months afterwards via the Online Digital Viewing Library

The 2012 festival will be held between Tuesday 18 — 23 September 2012 in Bristol, one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the UK.

Visit www.encounters-festival.org.uk to see the awards up for grabs, submission criteria and for further information.

Trunk Animation Signs Directing Duo Sebas&Clim

Make it Better from Trunk Animation on Vimeo.

Trunk Animation announced that it has signed directing duo Sebas&Clim to its stable of fine art-based directors. The London-based creative duo are Sebastian Baptista and Climent Canal, originally from Uruguay and Spain.

Trunk met the directorial team from working with Trunk’s Barcelona-based directors Lore&Jun. The duo have more than seven years combined experience working in design and motion graphics, both in Barcelona and London. The guys have worked with clients including Pull and Bear and the Guggenheim museum, among others. Most recently, Baptista worked closely with Trunk’s Layla Atkinson on a recent film for online gaming company TWLV.

Sebas&Clim’s work with typography is a joy to behold, as demonstrated by the short film “Make it Better,” which clearly shows what can be achieved when music, text and inspiration are marshaled by great talent.

Call For Entries: HIROSHIMA 2012 14th Annual International Animation Festival

The 14th International Animation Festival in Japan — HIROSHIMA 2012 — will be held this summer from August 23-27, under the endorsement of ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation), co-organized by the City of Hiroshima and ASIFA-Japan.

Festival organizers are now accepting entries to HIROSHIMA 2012 Competition. The deadline for entry is April 1, 2012.

Regulations, entry forms and shipping labels are downloadable here: http://www.hiroanim.org/en2011/e03compe/3-01e.html

For more information about HIROSHIMA 2012, Bulletin No.1 was recently published and can be downloaded here: http://hiroanim.org/en2012/e01about/1-05e.html

Good News, Bad News for Interns

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that, according to a study by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire 8.5% more interns this year. This data is based on a poll of 280 companies, “most of them large firms that recruit on campuses, between November and January.” While American companies plan to hire more than 40,000 interns this year, the projected average intern wage will fall to $16.20, from $16.70 last year.

If you’re working in animation and have interned at a company recently, share your experiences in the comments. Is your studio paying you at least $16 an hour to intern? We already know that many unpaid internships in animation are illegal, and that some studios pay professional full-time employees less than average intern wages. Knowledge is power, especially in the animation industry.

Books, Books, Books

Time for another round-up of recent reads I can highly recommend (How’s that for alliteration?). First up, a magazine: Disney Twenty Three (Special Issue, Spring 2012), the “exclusive magazine of D23: the official Disney Fan Club”. I have not been tempted to subscribe to this publication, despite it’s lavish production values and occasional in-depth articles – but this latest special edition (sent to me for review) may change my mind. Its theme is “75 Years of Disney Animated Features” and its a must-have for all Disney aficianados. It is 64 oversized pages (in color) and loaded with articles and images by many of my favorite Disney historians: John Canemaker on the milestones of Disney feature animation; David Gerstein on The Six Older Men, the animators (Ub Iwerks, Grim Natwick, Ben Sharpsteen, Fred Moore, Norm Ferguson and Hamilton Luske) who mentored the famous “nine”; Jim Fanning takes a fresh look at the famed story meeting notes; Didier Ghez on Disney’s merchandising man, Kay Kamen (this piece is particularly well illustrated with rare materials); Greg Ehrbar on the music and songs of the great Disney Features; Don Hahn on “The Morgue”, where the studio keeps its original animation art; Max Lark on inspirational artist Tyrus Wong; and much much more. Did I mention the cover contains a removable facsimile Snow White animation cel. This commemorative issue is being sold through Barnes and Noble and other retailers, as well as available through DisneyStore.com.

Stop Motion has certainly made a comeback (with three stop-mo features being released this year alone) and books about the technique keep on coming. The latest is Tom Gasek’s Frame-by-Frame Stop Motion: The Guide to Non-traditional Animation Techniques. Gasek, a professor at R.I.T. and former animator at Laika and Aardman, concentrates his book on alternatives to puppetry and model animation: pixilation, collage, time lapse and other down-shooting techniques. The book is peppered with practical advice by top pros and animation artists like PES, Joan Gratz, Jim Blashfield, William Kentridge, Caroline Leaf, Dave Borthwick and others. An excellent reference and text book. If stop-motion is your thing, you need this book.

Okay, this one really isn’t about animation – but it’s so much fun I know you’ll want it. Author Kirk Demaris (of SecretFunSpot.com) has unearthed the secrets behind ALL those products sold in comic book and monster magazines of the 1960s and 70s. Remember the X-Ray Spex and Amazing Live Sea Monkeys? This book shows you what those products (and about 100 others) really were. The Polaris Nuclear Sub (“Big Enough for Two Kids”) was apparently nothing more than a cardboard box; the 132 piece Roman Soldiers set was actually two thin pieces of plastic; and all that crap in the Johnson-Smith catalog was, well …crap! Who knew? I was fooled too, back in the day – but this book is the real thing: hilarious fun and a rush of nostalgia. Loaded with reprints of the original ads and photographic evidence of their hilarious junkiness. Mail Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads! is highly recommended!

And last but not least, Laurel and Hardy’s Animated Antics. I was informed of an earlier edition (above left) but by the time I tracked this down, a newer version (the “A-Z Edition”, above right) came out and I grabbed it. What is it? Well, it’s a little pocket-sized (4 1/2″ by 7″) paperback, 152 pages that obsessively documents any and all animated cartoons with Laurel and Hardy caricatures. Apparently the authors are members of The Sons of the Desert (the International Laurel and Hardy fan Club) and were determined to screen every appearance of Stan and Ollie as cartoon caricatures. They describe each cartoon and what the comedy duo does in it, illustrated with a frame grab if possible. In addition to all the golden age Hollywood cartoons you can think of, the authors also document all the Larry Harman/Hanna Barbera TV cartoons, all the Family Guy, Darkwing Duck, even Phienas and Ferb references, mentions of the characters in various TV cartoons… with crazy thoroughness. Do I recommend it? Begrudgingly Yes, if you are collecting books on cartoons or Laurel and Hardy; but unquestionably No, if you aren’t as obsessed with L&H as the authors (or I am).