Discovered: Fleischer’s Superman Model Was Karol Krauser

Animation historians can sleep a little easier tonight. We now know that the rotoscope model for Superman in the classic Fleischer Studios shorts was a gentleman by the name of Karol Krauser. According to the Superman Homepage, Krauser was “best known as one of the Kalmikoff Brothers, Mad Russians, in the wrestling world of the 1950s and 1960s.” More info and photos of Krauser can be found on the Superman Homepage.

Here’s an example of the Krauser-inspired Superman:

(Thanks, Brian McKernan)

Disney and Activision Team Up for “Wreck-It Ralph” Video Game

London, UK — Game developer Activision and Disney Interactive announced a collaboration to produce and distribute a Wreck-It Ralph video game. As a story extension to the highly anticipated upcoming blockbuster film of the same name from Walt Disney Animation Studios, the Wreck-It Ralph video game is set to inspire a whole new generation of young gamers as a classic, arcade-style side scroller featuring Ralph — the misunderstood villain of his own arcade game who sets out to prove he can be a hero too. Debuting this autumn to tie into the film release, Wreck-It Ralph will bring all the fun from the big screen right into the living room for the Nintendo Wii system and the Nintendo 3DS and DS hand-held systems.

Wreck-It Ralph, as a brand, is perfectly suited for video game stardom,” said David Oxford, Executive Vice President, Activision Publishing. “With the fantastic characters and creative atmosphere envisioned by Walt Disney Animation Studios, we know fans are going to love seeing their newfound favorite characters embark on an all-new side scrolling adventure.”

From the mind of Director Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Futurama), the film chronicles the journey of Ralph, the bad guy in an arcade game who sets out to prove he can be the hero after all. However Ralph mistakenly reverts to his clumsy nature and “wrecks” everything once again, unleashing a deadly enemy threat onto his video game neighbors. The film hits cinemas on November 2, 2012 and features an all-star voice cast, including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch.

The game picks up where the movie leaves off as Ralph partners with Fix-It Felix and sets out to save their friends and home from a huge Cy-Bug invasion. Pounding through all-new levels in the Wreck-It Ralph universe, like Sugar Rush, Hero’s Duty, and Fix-It Felix, Jr., players will have to use Ralph’s destructive strength to beat by the Cy-Bugs, while switching back to Felix to repair the damage. With story campaign and two-player co-op on the Wii platform, players can switch between Ralph and Felix to solve action-packed puzzles and collect “Hero Medals.”

This game is not yet rated.

Breakthrough Entertainment Licenses “Crash Canyon” Prime Time Animated Series In The U.S. To MAV TV

TORONTO, ONTARIO — Crash Canyon, the original prime time animated series produced by Breakthrough Entertainment in association with Shaw Rocket Fund and TELETOON Canada and developed by The Simpson’s co-executive producer Joel Cohen, has been licensed in the US to MAV TV, a national cable broadcaster reaching 45 million homes through affiliate deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Dish Network, Cablevision, Charter, Verizon FiOS, GCI, the NCTC and NRTC.

MAV TV will debut Crash Canyon in August as part of the network’s prime time comedy line-up.

In addition to Joel Cohen and Producer-Executive Story Editor Greg Lawrence (Kevin Spencer), other contributing Crash Canyon writers include Tim Long (The Simpsons) and Chuck Tatham (How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development).

“MAV TV has successfully created impressive brand recognition for its unique mix of cutting-edge programming.  We are delighted to introduce American audiences to Crash Canyon as part of the network’s prime time line-up,” said Nat Abraham, President of Distribution for Breakthrough Entertainment.

Crash Canyon focuses on the Wendell family whose family vacation turns out to be a disaster — in fact, an actual disaster! After accidentally driving off a cliff, the Wendells plummet two miles straight down into a canyon.  When they stumble out of their van, they are alive and, as they also realize, not alone.

The exact same fate has befallen several others before them and the Wendells are now just the newest residents of a community of everyone that has driven, cycled, sky-dived or even crashed their NASA landing capsule into. Their new neighbors include an astronaut and his chimp companion, an old lady who has domesticated a bear, a has-been British punk rocker, a man in a perpetual coma, a ventriloquist and his dummy, and many more.  The Wendells and all these characters hope to escape, but until they do, these are the citizens of the impromptu, gravity-cursed community of Crash Canyon.

Cartoon Network Announces Comic-Con 2012 Lineup

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Cartoon Network’s amplified Convention Center presence will include a fan-centric booth, buzzing with activity showcasing a life-sized, interactive re-creation of the living room from their hit series Regular Show, where lead characters Mordecai and Rigby spend a majority of their time.

As the network prepares for its 20th Birthday celebration later this year, fans will have an opportunity to be filmed by Cartoon Network cameras in the Regular Show living room or in the Network’s 20th Birthday “confessional room” sharing some of their favorite Cartoon Network memories. Some lucky fans may even be featured on the Network during three upcoming marathon weekends!  For fans and collectors alike, this year’s Comic-Con exclusive giveaways will include five different Regular Show buttons and a sure-to-please Cartoon Network 20th Birthday mini-poster.

With hit animated comedy series Regular Show and Adventure Time taking center stage at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, events will include star-studded panels and signings along with other featured Cartoon Network series Ben 10:Omniverse, Annoying Orange, Dreamworks Dragons: Riders of Berk, Level Up, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, MAD and many more.

Can’t make it the Con? No problem! “Cartoon Network’s Big Fan Weekend” will invite viewers from across the country to tune-in Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 for a first look at new series, sneak peeks of returning series and on-the-scene Comic-Con exclusives.

Below is a schedule of Cartoon Network series panels, fan events and signings at 2012 Comic-Con International in San Diego, CA, Thursday, July 12 — Sunday, July 15, 2012.  All times, dates and locations subject to change.

Thursday, July 12

CARTOON NETWORK: Dreamworks Dragons: Riders of Berk

Picking up where the critically-acclaimed feature film, How to Train Your Dragon, left off, this weekly animated series follows the continuing adventures of master dragon trainer Hiccup, his faithful dragon Toothless and his friends on the island of Berk. Dragon training reaches new heights as our heroes unlock secrets about their dragons, explore wild frontiers and discover new dragon species, all while battling against fierce enemies they never dreamed existed. Come get a first look at the series, which premieres this fall on Cartoon Network, and hear from some of the talented dragon trainers who helped bring it to life. Room 6A

WB: MAD Screening and Q&A

It’s a MAD world, we just laugh in it. The magazine you tried to hide from your parents is now an animated series on Cartoon Network! Currently in its third season, this Warner Bros. Animation series is inspired by the country’s best-selling humor magazine, MAD, and features animated parodies, crazy commercials, pretend promos and classic gags. Take a peek behind the MAD curtain and learn what goes in to bringing the funny to your television every week. Back to bring more laughs this year will be series producers Kevin Shinick (Crank Yankers) and Mark Marek (Robot Chicken) along with Peter Girardi, Senior Vice President of Series and Alternative Animation at Warner Bros. Animation. Room 6DE

Friday, July 13

CARTOON NETWORK: Annoying Orange
Boasting more than 1 billion YouTube views to date, Annoying Orange is the Web sensation transformed into a new Cartoon Network television series that follows Orange and his buddies as they go on a wide range of adventures taking them from the fruit stand to parts unknown and everything in between. Join series creator Dane Boedigheimer (Orange), Toby Turner (Nerville) and others for a delightfully annoying time. Room 6A

CARTOON NETWORK: Regular Show
Yeaaauuhhh! It’s Regular Show at Comic-Con 2012! Join series creator JG Quintel (Mordecai, High Five Ghost), Bill Salyers (Rigby), Sam Marin (Benson, Pops, Muscle Man) and others for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the comedy, drama and tomfoolery that make this Regular Show so jolly good. Come for the merrymaking, stay for songs, sneaks and surprises! Room 6A

Saturday, July 14

CARTOON NETWORK: Adventure Time
Not just any ol’ panel, this is Adventure Time! Join series creator Pendleton Ward (Lumpy Space Princess), Jeremy Shada (Finn), Tom Kenny (Ice King) and others as you experience the all out good time that is Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time! There will be singing, live readings, lots of exclusive clips and other mathematical surprises! Room 6A

LUCAS PANEL: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Onto Season Five
The aftermath of Season Four has left the Star Wars galaxy a very dangerous place: Darth Maul is alive, Asajj Ventress is a bounty hunter, and the Mandalorian Death Watch is deadlier than ever. How will these threads continue in Season Five of Star Wars: The Clone Wars? Find out in this behind-the-scenes panel, which will feature new clips, new insights and more. Join the discussion with Supervising Director Dave Filoni and head writer Matt Michnovetz (who wrote Season Four’s powerful Umbara arc). Moderated by Star Wars author Pablo Hidalgo. Room 6DE

Sunday, July 15

CARTOON NETWORK: Level Up
Huzzah! The Level Up gang is leaving Daventry Hills and heading to San Diego! Fans of Cartoon Network’s hit series about high school friends who battle their online foes IRL won’t want to miss this action packed panel! Peter Murrieta (executive producer) leads the stars of Level Up, Gaelan Connell (Wyatt), Connor del Rio (Dante), Jessie T. Usher (Lyle), Aimee Carrero (Angie) and Lonny Ross (Max Ross) along with executive producers David Schneiderman and Derek Guiley in a lively discussion on the upcoming adventures awaiting the Neverfail clan. The panel will answer fan questions and offer a sneak peak from a never-before-seen episode of Level Up! Room 6A

WB PANEL: DC Nation Screening and Q&A
The Nation is coming to San Diego! DC Nation – Cartoon Network’s one-hour action and comedy programming block starring some of the most beloved and legendary heroes of the DC Universe – will make its first-ever Comic-Con appearance. In addition to exclusive video content for fan-favorite series Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, the panel will also present sneak peeks at two highly anticipated upcoming DC Nation series: Beware The Batman and Teen Titans Go! The panel of super hero goodness will feature top animation producers Glen Murakami (Teen Titans), Mitch Watson (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated), Michael Jelenic (ThunderCats), Aaron Horvath (MAD) and Jeff Prezenkowski, director of series and shorts at Warner Bros. Animation. Room 6BCF

CARTOON NETWORK: Ben 10: Omniverse
It’s hero time in San Diego! You don’t want to miss this chance to see the world premiere exclusive sneak peek of Ben 10: Omniverse. In the brand-new animated series premiering this fall, Ben has a new look, new aliens, a new sidekick and, of course, new bad guys to battle. Yuri Lowenthal (Ben) hosts a panel featuring stars and producers who will give an inside-look at the creation and direction of Ben 10: Omniverse, and you’ll be the first to see animation from this exciting new series! Room 6DE

CARTOON NETWORK BIRTHDAY BOOTH
Friday, July 13 — Sunday, July 15 at 2 p.m.
If you are a big fan, Cartoon Network wants to meet you. Come tell us all those Cartoon Network memories in our 20th Birthday Booth (#3735). You may even be featured on TV during our BIG FAN WEEKEND. All ages welcome.

REGULAR SHOW EXPERIENCE
Friday, July 13 — Sunday, July 15 at 4 p.m.
Do you look like a Racoon? A Blue Jay? No? Come to Cartoon Network’s Regular Show experience anyway, located at the Cartoon Network Booth (#3735) dressed as your favorite Regular Show character. Or just bring your Muscle Man Physique. Either way, we’ll possibly put you on TV. All ages welcome.

VIZ Media Celebrates “Berserk: The Golden Age Arc” Anime Film Trilogy At 2012 Comic-Con International

VIZ Media Welcomes Studio 4ºC Founder, President & Producer Eiko Tanaka, And Plans An All-Day Berserk Celebration With Panel Discussion, Exclusive Film Screening, And Autograph Session

San Francisco, CA, June 25, 2012 — VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, invites fans attending 2012 Comic-Con International to join an exciting all-day celebration of all thingsBerserk on Friday, July 13th as the company announces a special slate of activities to preview the forthcoming release of the Berserk: The Golden Age Arc trilogy of anime feature films this fall.

An appearance by the Founder/CEO of Studio 4ºC, which produced the new films, is scheduled in addition to an informative panel discussion. In addition there will be a very special, advance, on-site screening of Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg Of The King. The film will formally debut later this year.

The VIZ Media Comic-Con booth will be a hub of activity throughout Friday, July 13th as the company welcomes Studio 4ºC Founder, President and CEO Eiko Tanaka to the show. The recent Berserk: The Golden Age Arc film trilogy, based on the bestselling medieval dark fantasy manga (graphic novel) series created by Kentaro Miura, was produced in Japan by Studio 4ºC. Tanaka is a prolific anime producer whose notable credits include work on Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service as well as producing director Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories and Michael Arias’s Tekkonkinkreet, which was awarded the Nipon Academy Award for Best Animated Film and nominated for an Oscar. She also took part in the production of Warner Brothers’ Batman: Gotham Knight, the animated television program, Thundercats, and Microsoft’s Halo Legends. Eiko Tanaka will appear at the VIZ Media booth (# 2813) for a very special signing session at 3PM. Ms. Tanaka will also have a signing at the Dark Horse Comics Booth # 2615 at 2PM.

Comic-Con attendees are further invited to an informative Berserk panel discussion scheduled for Friday, July 13th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in Room 32AB. Tanaka will be joined by VIZ Media staff for a rare interview session to find out what it really takes to transform this stark manga into a gripping animated feature. Fans will not want to miss the very special sneak preview of Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II – The Doldrey War. Come early and receive fun Berserk promo items; additional prizes also will be given away during the panel.

Berserk Day will be capped off with a special Comic-Con exclusive — a live on-site screening of Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of The King, scheduled for 8:30pm to 10:30pm in Room 32AB. The film will be preceded by a special personal introduction by Eiko Tanaka.

Combining a foreboding medieval European-insired setting with fantasy and exquisitely detailed swordsmanship, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg Of The King follows lone mercenary Guts as he travels the land where a hundred-year-old war is taking place. His ferocity and ability to take down enemies attracts the attention of Griffith, leader of the mercenary group “The Band of the Hawk,” and Guts is recruited to the unit. Thanks to their continued victories on the battlefield, the bond between Guts and Griffith deepens, but despite all their success, Guts begins to question his reasons for fighting for Griffith’s dream. Unknown to Guts, this unyielding dream is about to bestow a horrible fate on them both.

The Berserk manga series, by Kentaro Miura, debuted in Japan in 1989 and quickly drew a devoted following, going on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. The series, still ongoing in Japan, has been published in North America and the UK, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Latin America. The Berserk manga has also inspired a popular anime television series and has spawned a variety of related video games, collectable figures and toys, and music soundtracks, as well as the current Berserk: The Golden Age Arc film trilogy.

Pixar’s “Brave” Dominates At Box Office

Animated films ruled the US box office last weekend, capturing the top two places. Brave, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, grossed $66.3 million in its debut. That figure is virtually identical to last summer’s Cars 2, slightly better than WALL•E and slightly lower than Up. The real test will be in the weeks ahead, as we’ll watch to see whether it has box office legs like Toy Story 3 and Up or plummets quickly like Cars 2.

DreamWorks’ Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which debuted with $60.3 million three weekends ago, beat out newcomers like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and captured $19.7 million for a strong second place showing. With $157 million in the bank already, the film is on a pace to beat the domestic grosses of the first two entries in the Madagascar series.

More MGM Model Sheets

More from that cache of vintage MGM model sheets obtained by Mike Van Eaton. I don’t think these have been reprinted, or are on any other websites (though I’m happy to informed otherwise). Above, the warden and the prisoner in Avery’s final MGM short, Cellbound (1955); below from the animation sequence of Gene Kelly’s dance film Invitation To The Dance (1956). Click on images below, and thumbnails below that, to enlarge.


The zany bird from “an Avery epic”, Jerky Turkey (1945)


The Truant Officer from another “Avery epic”, The Screwy Truant (1945)


The tormented cat from The Cuckoo Clock (1950)


Here’s a potpourri of goodies: Butch from the Hanna Barbera Tom & Jerry series; Spike from the Tex Avery cartoons; Barney and the seal from the Mike Lah-Preston Blair film, Goggle Fishing Bear (1949); 1941 vintage Jerry model sheet; and two sheets from the Hugh Harman cartoon, Abdul The Bulbul Ameer (1941).


Genndy Tartakovsky To Direct 3D CG “Popeye”

Apparently, Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Sym-bionic Titan) impressed Sony Pictures Animation with his directing on Hotel Transylvania. Variety reported on Monday afternoon that Sony has enlisted him again to direct a 3D CG Popeye feature. Avi and Ari Arad will produce under their Arad Productions banner with Sony. Brew readers remind us in the comments that Popeye was adapted into CG once before for Mainframe Entertainment’s Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy. Anything Tartakovsky does is guaranteed to be an improvement over that cartoon.

(Photo of Popeye and Olive Oyl at the Mermaid parade on Coney Island via Lev Radin/Shutterstock)

Ryan Woodward Aims To Hit A Home Run In The “Bottom Of The Ninth”

Animation professionals are pushing the limits of the field every day on the big and the small screen, but veteran animator and storyboard artist Ryan Woodward is breaking new ground right in your hands: on phones and tablet devices. Debuting last Friday, Woodward’s Bottom of the Ninth is an iOS app that is both a graphic novel and animated short film, with each comic panel acting as a frame for a short piece of the animated work. Using the skills accumulated from his seventeen years in animation, he’s broken out on his own with a small team of animators, programmers, musicians and voice-over talent to push the boundaries of what people think of as animation. Woodward has created what he calls “the first animated graphic novel,” and not just simple sliding graphics as in many animated comics, but a graphic novel featuring full character animation.

The story of Bottom of the Ninth is set 200 years in the future and revolves around a young girl named Candy gifted with phenomenal talent on the baseball field. Her father, a retired pro baller named Gordy, is training her to harness her raw talent into the skills needed to become a pro in their futuristic version of baseball, dubbed “New Baseball,” that comes complete with artificial gravity and vertical infields. With Candy’s talent she might be a shoe-in, but as anyone who’s parented a teenager or been one themself knows (don’t deny it), work is the last thing on her mind.

Ryan Woodward jumped into the animation field in 1995 fresh out of Brigham Young University, cutting his teeth in the trenches on Space Jam and the film’s polar opposite, The Iron Giant . As a young artist, Woodward apprenticed under a number of notable animators including Michel Gagné. In recent years, Woodward has transferred his talent to the CG realm and worked on this year’s The Avengers and Snow White and the Huntsman. After hours, he has continued to work on personal projects like the award-winning short film Thought of You ,and now, Bottom of the Ninth.

The first chapter of Bottom of the Ninth is available now for $3.99 from the iTunes App Store, with plans to release future chapters as in-app purchases.

Chris Arrant: Ryan, you’ve had an extensive career working in theatrical animation and live-action films, but I was surprised to learn that you’d trained under animator Michel Gagné at Warner Bros., an industry veteran who has similarly pursued his own creative path. How do you balance a busy career working on major feature films while creating ambitious independent projects like Bottom of the Ninth?

Ryan Woodward: Not easy. But guys like Michel and also Acturas Actas taught me to have passion for this art form and they taught me the value of pursuing my own dreams along with supporting great feature productions. In the end it comes down to wanting to feel human. I want to feel like I’m arriving to my potential. The studio system is great and I learned a ton there, but the need for specialists in that industry limit you to how much you want to grow in other areas, and I’ve always wanted to grow and be a much more well-rounded production artist. And when you do your own production, you have to animate, write, design, storyboard, do compositing, learn 3D software, etc. etc. and it’s awesome!

Chris: Both sports themes and female protagonists are rarities in animation. Can you tell us the genesis of the story of Bottom of the Ninth, and did you ever think of producing it as a traditional animated film?

Ryan: The full ten-app script is actually written as a full length feature. Just because that’s how I know how to write best. Then I broke it up into comic books to fit in this new world of apps. The character is a female, primarily because I have three daughters. They are my life and my true source of happiness. (and my wife of course). So it’s much more natural for me to connect with a character that’s a female. I’m not your macho Dad at all. I’ll take a snuggle on the couch any day rather than a football toss. But the sports theme is where I introduce the principle of rewards for hard work. I love great sports legends and their stories. The physical, emotional, and celebrity status problems they have to overcome is incredible and it’s important for a main character to have to learn to do hard things and overcome them. I love baseball, not because I played Little League when I was a kid, but because of that nostalgia, that American dream that it naturally has embedded in it. Also, I really love the early time period of the Twenties and Thirties and the struggles that baseball went through with racism and female rights. Those issues make for great complexities in the story. The story has a little bit of Jackie Robinson’s struggle in it, and a lot of Jackie Mitchell’s (Google her).

Chris: Back in the origins of animation, Winsor McCay’s films were compared to moving comics, but animation quickly evolved into its own medium. The idea of an animated graphic novel–that is mixing the motion of animation with the static panel-to-panel storytelling of comics–is still somewhat of an amorphous medium. As an artist, how do you see it–are we going back or moving forward?

Ryan: Man, I hope we’re moving forward. This was so difficult to achieve, and I hope I did it justice. There are comic purists out there who may feel that what I am doing is blasphemous. That’s okay. I respect their loyalties to the art form and I sincerely strived to hold onto that comic feel though out the creation of this app. There were countless times that really cool gimmicks and tricks were introduced to me, and each time I had to ask myself if it helped to keep us in comic book land or does it take us out. So many tricks weren’t employed for that reason. All the way to the last week of production, I didn’t even have a table of contents, because I wanted the reader to flip through each page. But in the end I was convinced that due to the device’s limited memory, page flipping was really clunky if you wanted to go through fast to show someone a page and that would hurt the word-of-mouth marketing. So I added the table of contents. Also, at one point I had the first five or so animated scenes all together in one clip. But I realized that watching it, the viewer was taken out of the comic book world and put into short film world, so I diced up the animation and spread it out between five new pages. That then allowed me to add in a lot more new character elements and story. The only thing that I’m still trying to figure out is how to keep the nice flow of a film, yet give the viewer the self pacing like a comic. I think I did it the best way I could for now, but I’m sure new ideas will hit me by the second issue.

Chris: You’ve done a great job of capturing the fluid grace of a baseball player’s movement–a pitcher winding up to throw the ball, a batter’s swing. I couldn’t help but think of your breakout animated short Thought of You which explored the rhythms and gestures of contemporary dance. As an animator, did you find any connection between the movement in baseball and dance?

Ryan: Absolutely. I had so much fun studying the energy the flows through a pitcher and a batter. All the way from the foot, through the hips, torso, shoulders and then the arm. Man, it is so beautiful how the human body does that and it’s just like dance. Dance is all about these beautiful lines and rhythms that flow through the body. Baseball does the exact same thing. I had a fun time stretching out the overlapping action of the batter and the pitcher as well. The body is terribly distorted in some frames but it really helps sell the transfer of energy. I really studied the body movements of Tim Lincecum [starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants] when he pitches. His torso is like rubber and it’s absolutely beautiful. With batting, there’s so much personality in there. A great comedian called The Batting Stance Guy characterizes a lot of the players’ different personalities and he was a huge inspiration as to how much personality comes in. In the next few apps coming, I’m gonna go crazy animating more batting personalities.

Chris: What kind of unexpected challenges–artistic or technical–did you face when creating an animated project for the iPad?

Ryan: Everything. When I started this, I didn’t have the slightest idea how an app was made. I just started hoping to figure it out along the way because that seems to be the way I do everything. So I got my developers license from Apple, opened Xcode and spent two full days learning coding before I realized this is not something I can just pick up. Coding is like learning Japanese. So I found a couple great coders that know Objective-C and left the magic up to them. The other big challenge was learning how to limit my ideas. In January, I had a simple idea that was only going to take three weeks. Then one idea after another, and another and another, I couldn’t help myself but do everything that I thought was cool and fun to create. Well, that totally got out of control and the app got so robust for a small team that I almost cracked and went into looney bin land. I would sleep less than 2 hours a night, I even went 3 days with no sleep at one point. Because the ideas were so fun to create, and I couldn’t put a stop to them. Finally, after my wife saw me degenerating slowly, I put a clamp on it and wrapped it up. The next issue will have a lot of these new ideas that are brewing in me.

Chris: Many artists are using Kickstarter nowadays to find funding for unconventional projects, but you self-funded this entire venture, correct? Why did you choose to self-fund instead of reaching out to the public?

Ryan: A ton of people told me to go to Kickstarter for this. And I think if I would have, it could have been really great. But I wanted to present myself to the public as a solid, professional studio structure that plans, finances, and produces totally independently on its own. Something about how I was raised in being totally independent held me to that idea. As a kid, I paid for my own scout camps, I had a paper route that funded my comic collection and quarter video game addictions (Russian Attack!). I put myself through college, and basically learned how to feel good about earning a dollar and spending a dollar. Over the past four years, I’ve done several outside projects and I’ve socked away every dime to fund “some future project” one day. That became Bottom of the Ninth and I dropped every last dime into it–with no regrets (even though it ended up costing 4x more than I anticipated and taking 4x as long). The thought of working hard, saving, and investing in my own beliefs is worth more to me than the Kickstarter cash flow. No disrespect to the Kickstarter guys though. I’ve contributed to some of their projects. I just had the fortune of previous jobs that allowed me to save up and invest in my own dream.

Share Your Cartoon Sightseeing Tips For Paris And Brussels

A brief note: I’ll be visiting Paris and Brussels soon. It’s not a work-related trip, but I’m always interested in animation and cartoon-related sidetrips. I’ll definitely be seeing the R. Crumb retrospective while in Paris. What other cartoon goodies are worth checking out in these two cities right now? Comment below or get in touch privately.

(Photo of French patriot holding poultry via Shutterstock)

Web Roundup: Brave Hair, T. Hee, And Animation’s “Onion”

FX Guide offers an in-depth look at how Pixar created the curly red hair of Brave‘s Merida including a 30-minute audio podcast with Pixar simulation supervisor Claudia Chung.



The new official website of animation legend Thornton (T.) Hee is frustatingly difficult to navigate, but those who make the effort will be rewarded with never-before-seen caricatures of Hee’s Disney colleagues and examples of his Cartoon Modern-styled Christmas cards.



2Day in Animation is an Onion-esque take on the animation industry, and it’s often quite funny. Article highlights include “3,800 Really Cool Animation Jobs Posted in April, Though Only 17 Are For Pay,” “Big Studios Promise to Start Making Films with Cage-Free Animators,” “Digital Domain Creates Holograms of Nine Old Men to Helm New Animated Feature,” and “Teletoon Gives Series to Mediocre Animator Just To Shut Him Up.”

WEDNESDAY: Jerry on Stu’s Show

Several years ago I was invited onto Stuart Shostack’s internet radio program, Stu’s Show, to discuss the history of Terrytoons animation studio. Somehow we never got around to it. It’s been a running joke of my visits there ever since. So this week we’ve decided to cut the listener phone calls, dispense with the news and just concentrate on discussing the story behind the company that brought us Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Hashimoto Mouse, Tom Terrific, Mighty Heroes, Deputy Dawg, Gandy Goose and Farmer Alfalfa. At least, we’re gonna try.

To be clear, we will NOT be accepting any questions regarding DVD news of any kind; if you want to send in a specific question regarding Terrytoons you may do so at comments-at-stusshow.com today only. Oh, and as a side note, don’t miss the first half hour – June Foray will appear in-studio to discuss her reactions to winning her first Emmy Award. Should be a great show. Tune-in live on Wednesday at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific right here!

Amazon Studios Announces the First Four Projects on Its Series Development Slate

A “Hell” of a deal, the end of the world, a magic monkey and a plaid sheep – these are the first projects selected for the Amazon Studios Series Development Slate. One is a children’s show, three are comedies and all four were discovered via the Amazon Studios site. (Learn more about how to submit your own ideas here.) All receive $10,000 option extensions.

The comedy projects are:

The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley
Creator: Angel Castillo
Premise: In this animated comedy, Hell desperately needs new customers. And Mort Grimley, new to the Underworld after accidentally taking his own life, is offered a deal; get Hell’s numbers up and maybe get a transfer out (and up), or face eternity in fire and brimstone alongside the cruel mother he tried to escape.
Why We Like It: Angel has created a world and characters that are imaginative, visual, hilarious and different than anything that’s out there. It’s dark subject material, but handled with a deft and smart comedic hand.

Doomsday
Creator: Nathan Thomas
Premise: This mockumentary follows an ensemble of diverse characters as they ready themselves for the supposed end of the world – including the guru who made the doomsday prediction.
Why We Like It: Nathan’s script is a smart, laugh-out-loud comedy with interesting and compelling characters that you want to follow anywhere, especially as they prepare for what may be their final days.

Magic Monkey Billionaire
Creator: Diana Wright
Premise: When their wealthy magician owner suddenly dies, his two animal assistants – Rabbit and Monkey – are shocked to learn that Monkey alone has been left his billions, soon unleashing the ultimate forces of good and evil as former friends turn to arch enemies.
Why We Like It: The premise of this script and the origin story of Rabbit and Monkey is great and, in the vein of Spy vs. Spy and Itchy & Scratchy, paves the way for an animated comedic series with an epic showdown between two iconic characters.

The children’s project is:

Buck Plaidsheep
Creators: Frank Suarez (artist) and Clark Stubbs (writer)
Premise: Buck Plaidsheep chronicles the adventures of a courageous little critter named Buck. Whenever there’s a problem on Fleecy Farm, Buck races full-speed into action in one of his souped-up vehicles. And although things may not always go as planned, it’s Buck’s “never give up” attitude that makes him the sheep that always saves the day!
Why We Like It: This show features memorable characters (like a plaid sheep and a paisley sheep), strong narrative threads and adventures, and good qualities for young children to emulate, such as perseverance and helping others.

Promising series projects also were added to the Amazon Studios Consider List. Writers with projects on the Consider List are encouraged to get reactions from audiences, get feedback from other writers, or collaborate with a partner to further develop their draft.

Amazon Studios intends to add projects to its Series and Movie Development Slates on a regular basis. If you have an original script that you’d like to see considered, you may submit it privately or publicly. The Amazon Studios team will evaluate each submitted project and in 45 days decide whether or not to pay $10,000 to extend the initial option by 18 months and add the project to the Development Slate. Learn more.

WGA members can learn more about opportunities offered through Amazon Studios’ production affiliate, the People’s Production Company.

South African Animated Film To Close Durban International Film Festival

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCvhOL4clvM

A South African 3D animation, Adventures in Zambezia, has been selected as the closing film for the 33rd Durban International Film Festival.

The festival, which runs from 19 to 29 July, with principal funding by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, will present Adventures in Zambezia on 28 July, immediately following the festival Award evening.

Adventures in Zambezia is a landmark in the history of the South African animation. With a truly African story, world-class 3D animation and an all-star voicing cast that includes names like Samuel L. Jackson and Abigail Breslin, the film is destined for success on a global scale.

Director Wayne Thornhill at Triggerfish Studios in Cape Town says: “This coming of age story was a coming of age for the whole crew, and dare I say, South African animation. Over three gruelling years, it turned many young, talented people into talented veterans of the industry. I am exceptionally proud to present their work to the world. I think it is of a quality not seen before in South African animation, and that it points to a bright future for a small industry that can punch well above its weight.”

The film relates the inspiring tale of an intrepid young falcon, Kai, who seeks out a rumoured bird city called Zambezia, where he hopes to find personal prestige as a talented flyer. But his competitive individualist ways must give way to working together with his fellow feathered friends in order to save the whole community.  The film moves away from the predictable narrative of many international animated children’s films, towards an entirely fresh, distinctively African structure. While on the one hand this is Kai’s story, on the other it is a story about an entire nation – a story of ubuntu.

Adventures in Zambezia
will have its world premiere at the festival, and its uplifting message that a spirit of togetherness will allow us to flourish is an entirely appropriate way to close South Africa’s largest and longest-running film festival.

“Fable” by Daniel Sousa

Daniel Sousa’s beautifully crafted Fable, a subtle tale of two shape shifters, has been on the festival circuit for a few years and is now online. Sousa tells us of his technique:

“Most of the rough animation was prepared in Flash along with the corresponding color fill layers. The drawings were then printed, traced, and cleaned up on paper to achieve a more organic quality. They were then re-scanned and composited in After Effects. Some of the drawings were etched on acetate and rubbed with ink. The backgrounds were a combination of paintings, collages, and photos. The animation was rendered in HD and transfered to 35mm film.”

Sousa works out of Providence, RI, where he’s also an animation teacher at RISD. You can read about his current animated project, Feral, on his production blog.

Disney Brings Favorite Stars And Notable Creative Teams From “Tron: Uprising,” “Phineas And Ferb,” “Fish Hooks,” “Gravity Falls” and “Wander Over Yonder” To Comic-Con International 2012 In San Diego

High-wattage star power and notable creative teams from Disney‘s favorite series for kids and families are the centerpiece of Disney Channel and Disney XD‘s fan meetings at the leading pop culture convention, Comic-Con International 2012, FRIDAY, JULY 13 and SATURDAY, JULY 14 in San Diego. Included in the stellar guest line-up are: Elijah Wood and Bruce Boxleitner with executive producer Charlie Bean and consulting producers Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz from TRON: Uprising; Jason Morgan Ritter, creator Alex Hirsch and creative director Michael Rianda from Gravity Falls, and Fish Hooks creator Noah Z. Jones, executive producer Maxwell Atoms, along with Justin Roiland and Kari Wahlgren. Also, Vincent Martella, Alyson Stoner, Dee Bradley Baker, and co-creators Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh from the Emmy Award-winning Phineas and Ferb will screen a clip of the epic summer episode “Where’s Perry, Part 1;” noted creator and animation producer Craig McCracken will show a sneak peek of his upcoming comedy series for Disney Channel, Wander Over Yonder.

Disney XD will break out exclusive advance clips of new Motorcity episodes and the upcoming series Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja.

Disney Channel and Disney XD Panels at Comic-Con International 2012:

· FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2:15 – 3:15 p.m. (Room 6A) TRON: Uprising: Voice cast Elijah Wood (“Beck”) and Bruce Boxleitner (“Tron”) join executive producer/director Charlie Bean and consulting producers Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz. The panel will also feature never-before-seen clips of Disney XD’s turbo-charged original series Motorcity and a sneak peek of the upcoming animated series Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. The panel will be moderated by Daily Variety film editor Josh Dickey.

· SATURDAY, JULY 14, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. (Room 6A) Phineas and Ferb: Creators/executive producers Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh join cast members Vincent Martella (“Phineas”), Alyson Stoner (“Isabella”) and Dee Bradley Baker (“Perry”). The panel will also include an exclusive sneak peek of this summer’s epic two-part cliffhanger episode “Where’s Perry?” Special guest moderator to be announced at Comic-Con.

· SATURDAY, JULY 14, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. (Room: 5AB) Disney Channel Television Animation: Fans can see exclusive footage and clips from upcoming episodes of Disney Channel’s BAFTA award-winning series Fish Hooks and its newest mystery adventure series Gravity Falls, plus a first look at the upcoming series Wander Over Yonder. Panelists include: Fish Hooks creator/executive producer Noah Z. Jones and executive producer Maxwell Atoms and voice talent Justin Roiland (“Oscar”) and Kari Wahlgren (“Shellsea”); “Gravity Falls” creator Alex Hirsch and creative director Michael Rianda and voice talent Jason Morgan Ritter (“Dipper”), and Wander Over Yonder creator Craig McCracken and co-producer Lauren Faust. The panel will be moderated by Eric Coleman, Senior Vice President, Original Series, Disney Television Animation.

TMC to Exhibit at Anime Expo in Los Angeles: Animated Series Created with Studio4C to Be Screened

TOYOTA, Japan, June 22, 2012 — Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will screen PES: Peace Eco Smile, an animated work produced in collaboration with Studio4C, a leading Japanese animation studio, at the Anime Expo 2012 to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. The expo is scheduled to run from June 29 through July 2.

PES is a story about Pes, an extraterrestrial who comes to discover the value of Earth and its cars through his unique alien perspective. A preview of PES was shown at the Tokyo International Anime Fair held in March 2012, and now the main feature will be screened at the Anime Expo 2012.

PES episodes will also be available for viewing on a special PES page on TMC’s website from June 23. TMC also plans to conduct a variety of programs including screening events in Tokyo and exhibitions at other events in Japan.

Aardman’s “Pirates!” Heads to DVD

Culver City, CA — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment debuts The Pirates! Band of Misfits on Blu-ray 3D/DVD Combo Pack, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and DVD — all with UltraViolet — on August 28. From the Academy Award-winning Aardman (Chicken Run) and Sony Pictures Animation (The Smurfs), comes the all-new, swashbuckling stop-motion animated film that’s sure to entertain families from beginning to end.

This critically acclaimed action-packed comedy adventure follows the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant (About A Boy), in his first animated role, and his band of misfits (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Al Roker, Anton Yelchin and Ashley Jensen) as they frolic on the high seas in an amusing quest to win the coveted “Pirates of the Year” award. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure! The film also stars Jeremy Piven (TV’s “Entourage”) as Black Bellamy.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Aardman’s most ambitious stop-motion film to date, is directed by Peter Lord, a founding partner of Aardman, director of Chicken Run (with Nick Park), and a two-time Academy Award nominee for his short films made with the company. The film is co-directed by Jeff Newitt. The screenplay is by Gideon Defoe, based upon his books. Production Designer is Norman Garwood. Producers are Peter Lord, David Sproxton, and Julie Lockhart. Executive Producer is Carla Shelley.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs and DVD boast hours of kid-friendly extras, including Filmmakers’ Commentary, the exclusive “Mr. Bobo’s Flash Card Challenge” game, and the all-new “So You Want To Be A Pirate!” mini-movie. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is the “Pirate Disguise Dress-Up” game, in which fans can help our swashbuckling pals get past Queen Victoria by disguising them in various silly get-ups. The Blu-ray also exclusively includes two behind-the-scenes featurettes: “From Stop to Motion,” taking fans on a journey through the making of the film, and “Creating the Bath Chase Sequence,” a look at the various stages involved with shooting the bath tub scene. Additionally, two short films with optional commentary from Director Peter Lord are exclusive to the Blu-ray. Viewers can experience The Pirates in 3D with the 3-disc 3D Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

React Entertainment Launches “The Act” Interactive Game

LOS ANGELES, CA — Want to be a hero, and help the nice guy get the girl? You can do just that in The Act, React Entertainment’s new interactive game that uses stunning 2D animation, fun touch controls, and top-notch storytelling to tell the tale of an everyday guy trying to find love. Now available for download via the Apple App Store for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, this app is the only game out there that makes you feel like you are actually playing an animated movie.

In The Act, players guide Edgar — a well-meaning window washer — in his quest to rescue his brother, save his job, and woo Sylvia — the woman of his dreams. As the players move through the scenes, they make nuanced decisions for Edgar with a simple move of their finger. The musical score, sound effects and character animations respond to these movements, giving the user control of characters and their destiny.

The Act was created by a brilliant team of animators, who instilled life and soul into its characters,” said Omar Khudari, original Author and Director of The Act. “We’re thrilled to see how amazing and interactive the game is on these new platforms, and we’re eager to introduce Edgar and Sylvia to the world!”

This introduction launches the next chapter for a game that already has a rich history. Originally designed in 2003 for video arcade systems, React Entertainment has turned what Khudari and his team of professional animators first envisioned into a unique experience for iOS. Working hard to preserve the ethos and interactivity of the game, the team was able to adapt all the original art and audio work — fully preserving the original experience — as they updated it for the new platforms.

“We’re proud to continue the legacy of traditionally-animated 2D games,” said Daniel Kraus, Principal and co-founder of React. “The Act is a great example of how amazing hand-drawn 2D animation can be in a mobile gaming environment.”

Beyond its captivating look and memorable characters, the uniqueness of The Act can also be traced to React’s underlying technology, which gives the game its controllable movie-like feel. This technology, specifically designed to handle 2D character animation sequencing and compositing, was used for both the authoring pipeline and the run-time games engine. With it, 2D character interactions can easily be visually authored and adjusted for animated game titles. The end result is the ability to “play” 2D animation, as if you were participating in the creation of the animation itself.

The Act is available now on Apple’s App Store (iOS) for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. For more information on The Act, its history and production credits, visit: http://www.theactgame.com.

“Shrek’s Fairytale Kingdom” App Lands on iPad, iPhone & iPod touch From Beelineâ„¢ Interactive, Inc. and Dreamworks Animation

LOS ANGELES, CA — 06/22/12 — Beelineâ„¢ Interactive, Inc., a leading developer and publisher of video games, today announced that their new game from DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (NASDAQ: DWA), Shrek’s Fairytale Kingdom, for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is now available on the App Store. In the game, players experience the fairy tale world of everyone’s favorite ogre by undertaking epic quests and building four unique settings from the first film.

At the start of the game, players find the solitude-seeking Shrek attempting to outfit his beloved Swamp with all manner of ogre-ly comforts. When the Fairytale Creatures of Far Far Away start to invade the Swamp, Shrek begins an epic journey across the Kingdom, facing adventure, hilarious encounters, and eventually… True Love.

The game is divided into four domains taken from the first film including Shrek’s Swamp, Duloc, Dragon’s Keep and the Windmill Field. Players progress in the game by building, decorating and customizing the four domains with characters, buildings and items plucked right from the films. In order to gather the resources necessary to build and decorate the domains, players will have to go on quests with Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, Dragon and Lord Farquaad to recover riches and collectible items.

Players also have the option to enlist friends for in-game bonuses as well as play a host of mini games themed around events in the movie including fighting knights and practicing ogre hygiene.

The Shrek’s Fairytale Kingdom App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

“Brave” / “La Luna” talkback

A lot of divided opinion about this film. Manohla Dargis in her review in The New York Times focused on feminist stance of Merida, the heroine of Brave, calling her “a marvel of computer imagineering”. Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times took a little closer look at the film’s story and says it “doesn’t hit the bullseye.”

There’s no doubt Brave is Pixar at its best – visually. The film begins as the kind of forward-thinking original story we’ve come to expect from the studio – something bold, new and different; a tale that hasn’t been told this way before. But alas, the story veers into territory already explored in Brother Bear, The Princess and The Frog — even The Emperors New Groove. Is it entertaining: yes. Is it gorgeous to look at: absolutely. Is it Pixar’s best? Or is this the year the frontrunner joins the rest of the pack? That’s what I want to know from you.

Comments accepted below only by those who have seen Brave in a theatre. Oh, and let us know how you liked Enrico Casarosa’s La Luna, the marvelous short playing along with the film.

Cartoon Dump!

Has it really been five years since Cartoon Dump started its unholy life as a live show in Los Angeles? Our 5th Anniversary is either this month or next month, or maybe August (we’re too depressed to remember for sure), so we’re kicking off our summer-long celebration with a sensational lineup of hilarious talent and a craptational lineup of awful cartoons.

Join us next Monday with our Special Guest Stars: Maria Bamford, Emo Philips, Melissa Villasenor, Ron Lynch, April Hava Shenkman, Hannah Gansen and maybe a few surprises – along with our usual cast of neurotics: Frank Conniff as Moodsy, the Clinically Depressed Owl, Erica Doering as Compost Brite, J. Elvis Weinstein as Dumpster Diver Dan, Kristin Arrigo as Cue Card Goddess and yours truly as “Jerry Beck”.

Showtime is 8pm on Monday June 25th at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood (4773 Hollywood Blvd; two blocks west of Vermont), and tickets can be purchased at the door or online here. Join our FaceBook Event page for more information and updates.

(Drawing above by Thom Foolery)

First Look – “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Trailer

http://vimeo.com/44532172

Nickelodeon invites you to take a sneak peek at the first trailer from the highly anticipated new animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Set to premiere this fall, the series stars the voices of Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Sean Astin (Raphael), Rob Paulsen (Donatello )and Greg Cipes (Michelangelo) as everybody’s favorite turtles.

Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles chronicles the adventures of the teenage turtle brothers as they emerge from their hidden lair in the sewers for the very first time. Ready to confront the wondrous and hostile world of New York City, they face enemies more dangerous and pizza more delicious than anything they could have ever imagined.

The trailer will premiere on Nickelodeon on Saturday, June 23 during the one-hour Season One, Book One finale of The Legend of Korra, beginning at 11:00 a.m. (ET/PT).