Trailer: “Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty”

“It’s the way the world works. Essentially, poverty is what makes the rich rich.”

Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty is a new documentary by Ben Lewis, debuting this week throughout Europe, and on PBS in the United States. The special, will be shown on TV in over 70 countries, is an animated survey of over 10,000 years of poverty. It draws on interviews with economists and historians including Jeffrey Sachs (author, The End of Poverty), Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Esther Duflo (MIT Poverty Lab and author, Poor Economics), Tim Hitchcock (Council of the Royal Historical Society), Emmanuel Akyeampong (Historian of Africa, Harvard) and Oscar Guardiola (Author, What if Latin America Ruled The World).

The animation portions of the film were directed by Fons Schiedon, designed by Cesare Davolio and Maarten Janssens, and animated by São Paulo, Brazil-based Birdo.

The director discusses the film at length on his website. American viewers can watch the entire film on the PBS website. Otherwise, here’s the trailer:

(Thanks, Fraser MacLean)

“Do the Devo” by Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor

Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor’s new music video “Do the Devo” is a frame-by-framer’s delight. Chatfield-Taylor directed the piece for Unstoppable Death Machine during a 22-day residency at the Clocktower Gallery in Manhattan where over 160 people helped him draw frames. To catch all the creative (and NSFW) things happening in the video, make sure to switch the settings to high-def because the compression is awful on the default version.

(via Animal New York)

FRIDAY IN LA: Robert McKimson Tribute with Darrell Van Citters and John K.

Call it “McKimson-palooza!” Next Friday December 7th, in Santa Monica, California, in celebration of the critically acclaimed book, I Say, I Say….Son! A Tribute to Legendary Animators Bob, Chuck, and Tom McKimson, the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre is presenting a tribute the McKimson’s landmark Warner Bros. animation.

The lineup includes these classic cartoons in 35mm: Hillbilly Hare, Devil May Hare, Rabbit’s Kin, Hot Cross Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Bedevilled Rabbit, Bill of Hare, Tabasco Road, The High and the Flighty, Falling Hare and Walky Talky Hawky.

Robert McKimson Jr., John Kricfalusi (Spumco) and Darrell Van Citters (Renegade Animation) will sign copies of the book I Say, I Say….Son! at 6:00PM in the Aero theatre lobby. There will be a discussion following the screening with Kricfalusi, Van Citters and McKimson Jr. moderated by yours truly, Jerry Beck.

Where: Aero Theatre 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
(310) 260-1528

When: Friday, December 7th, at 7:30 p.m. (booksigning begins at 6:00 p.m.)

Disney names Jennifer Lee co-director of “Frozen”

The news today from Disney annoucing the promotion of Jennifer Lee (Screenplay, Wreck-It Ralph) to co-director (with Chris Buck) of Disney’s next major feature, Frozen, has animation people buzzing. After the PR debacle over the replacement of Brenda Chapman on Pixar’s Brave, could this be a sign of trouble – or just business as usual?

All I know is the advance visuals I’ve seen on the film look spectacular and I am prepared for a Frozen treat when Disney releases it next winter. Here’s the studio’s full press release:

BURBANK, Calif. (November 29, 2012) — Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) taps Jennifer Lee to join Chris Buck at the helm of its 53rd full-length animated feature “Frozen,” which is slated for the big screen on Nov. 27, 2013. Lee, who has contributed to the film’s screenplay, is one of the screenplay writers of this year’s hit arcade-hopping adventure “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, “Frozen” is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

“Frozen” producer Peter Del Vecho says the match-up is perfect. “Jenn has a real connection to the film and creates dynamic and relatable characters. Her sense of comedy, adventure and story structure paired with Chris Buck’s vast experience and incredible instincts create an ideal situation for this film.”

Lee’s screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights” is being produced by Troika Pictures. She has an original screenplay in development with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, and her original script “Lucid Dreams” was optioned by Wolfgang Peterson’s Radiant Productions. Lee holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University and a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire.

Buck directed (with Kevin Lima) Disney’s 1999 high-swinging feature “Tarzan,” which won an Oscar® and a Golden Globe® for Best Music/Original Song (Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be in My Heart”). He directed (with Ash Brannon) 2007’s Oscar-nominated “Surf’s Up” for Sony Pictures Animation. His credits within animation also include 1989’s “The Little Mermaid,” “The Rescuers Down Under” (1990) and “Pocahontas” (1995).

With original songs by Tony®-award winner Robert Lopez (“The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q”) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“In Transit”), “Frozen” journeys into theaters Nov. 27, 2013, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters. For more information, like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisneyFrozen.

“The Adventures of Fat Louis” by AJ Smith

Former Cartoon Network animation artist Andy J. Smith has a thriving illustration, children’s book and advertising career in Newburyport Massachusetts. He’s just finished up a series of gorgeous animated spots for Fat Louis Wines. The project was done mostly in Flash, and aided by a handful of super talented artists from the animation world (like former Sesame Street Workshop AD, Dagan Moriarty) and a few kid lit illustrators (like the uber-prolific Kelly Murphy). Here they are collected into a 3-minute compilation:

Bigger and Better: Revised Editions of “Magoo” and “Rankin-Bass”

Just in time for the holidays… I’ve received hard cover revised editions of two essential animation books. Both were must-have’s in their original printings. Now both are even better.

First up, animator Darrell Van Citters has added 40 more pages to his labor of love, Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol: The Making of The First Animated Christmas Special. I first raved about this book back in 2009. This new edition comes in a slipcover, and is a limited edition of 250 copies (I hear he’s got less than 100 left – order it now!). Darrell has expanded every section, with additional text incorporating research he uncovered while writing his companion blog; more rare artwork, recently unearthed; and revised layouts making this a richer experience. Literally the final word on the subject – Van Citters’ Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol Commemorative 50th Anniversary Edition is a must for all UPA fans and vintage TV buffs.


Rick Goldschmidt – the Rankin-Bass expert-of-experts – has gone overboard (in a good way) by expanding his already essential 176-page 1997 labor-of-love, The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass, into a monster 296-page (120 additional pages!) limited edition. This 15th Anniversary Edition is for anyone who worships at the altar of Rudolf, Frosty and Mad Monster Party. It contains 84 new color pages of rare photos and artwork, including original concept sketches and storyboard artwork – and beautiful tribute pieces by Bruce Timm, Mike Fontenelli, Patrick Owsley, Mark Christiansen, Matt Pott and others. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Order it now!

Designer Nelson Lowry on ParaNorman

The producers at Laika created a series of brief behind-the-scenes virals to communicate the handmade production details that went into making ParaNorman – which went on sale on DVD and blu-ray yesterday. Here’s the one I like best, and it was just posted online today: production designer Nelson Lowry walking us through the intricate process of bringing the handmade world of ParaNorman to life, one frame at a time.

The Montreal Animated Film Summit Starts Today

Beginning today in Montreal and continuing through Sunday is the 11th annual Montreal Animated Film Summit (Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation de Montréal, for all you fancy French speakers). This year’s event, the largest yet, takes place at the Cinémathèque québécoise.

The Summit will present over 125 animated shorts as part of competition screenings and panoramas. Special guests include David OReilly, who will present his work on Friday evening, as well as Franck Dion (director of the NFB short Edmond was a Donkey) and experimental filmmaker Steven Woloshen. A range of workshops, exhibitions and discussions accompany the film screenings.

The festival leader was created by Patrick Doyon, the director of last year’s Oscar-nominated short Sunday:

“My Home’s Furniture” by Pedro Eboli

Pedro Eboli directed, designed and animated this kids music video with Brazilian based Birdo Studio. Its being played at live concerts, as an animated backdrop for Brazilian childrens band Little Citizen (aka “Pequeno Cidadão“); the lyrics tell the story of a kid who goes into the living room and sees the furniture dancing.

There´s more info and images over at the Birdo website. Studio founders Paulo Muppet and Luciana Eguti produced the piece.

Also check out this Birdo piece I posted in 2008, one of my favorite bits of retro animation.

“See Jane” by Adrian Garcia

To bring attention to gender inequality and the poor representation of girls and women in children’s media, Newton Massachusetts-based Hero4Hire Creative partnered with actress/advocate Geena Davis to launch See Jane, a national public awareness campaign. This beautiful new PSA uses a combination of traditional hand drawn with computer animation techniques. Adrian Garcia directed based on designs by Lindsay Small-Butera.

CREDITS
Director: Adrian Garcia
Designer: Lindsay Small-Butera
Animators: Dan Flynn, Mike Nordstorm, Adrian Garcia
Writer: Allison Dressler Kramer
Original Score: Daniel Koren
Voiceover Talent: Mira Downie
Sound Design: John Moreland
Executive Producers: Allison Kramer/Joan Meister
Creative Director: Evan Sussman

“Quit Smoking” by MAKE

Minneapolis Minnesota-based studio MAKE created these two Quit Smoking public service announcements, using live action and wonderful hand-drawn character animation.

CREDITS FOR BOTH SPOTS
Creative Director: Danny Robashkin
Writer/Director/Producer/Editor/Sound Design: Mike P. Nelson
DP: Nick Junkersfeld
Production Sound: Tom Colvin
Puppeteers: Justin Weber, Josh Clos, Chang Dai, Alec Mueller
Animators: Andrew Chesworth, Justin Weber, Aaron Quist, Alec Mueller, Michelle Yoon, Josh Schneider, Chang Dai
Assistant Animators: Jordan Hill, Niklas Norman
Compositing/Finishing: Daniel Broadway, Josh Clos
3D artist: Aaron Dabelow
The Interviewer….Kevin Klein
Eric……..Charles Hubbell
Lexi……..Lindsey Dumire


And don’t miss this brief behind-the-scenes video:

The Only Animation Holiday Gift Guide You’ll Ever Need

Looking for the perfect unique gift for that special animation nerd in your life? Or maybe you just want to give yourself a special treat. Either way, you can’t go wrong with any of these hand-picked animation and cartoon-related goodies. For the price conscious, I’ve arranged them by cost, with the lowest-priced items first.

1.


Wreck-It Ralph Little Golden Book illustrated By Lorelay Bove
$3.99 on Amazon

2.


The Perfect American by Peter Stephan Jungk
$10.85 on Amazon
This controversial fictionalized account of Walt Disney’s life will be much talked about in the coming months since it is the basis of a new opera by Philip Glass that will premiere next year.

3.


The Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly
$11.35 on Amazon
Fantastic high-energy artwork by an artist who has done character design on Adult Swim’s Black Dynamite

4.


Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes
$11.55 on Amazon

5.


Life in the Analog Age: A Time Before Volume 2 by Gabe Swarr
$11.99 on his personal website

6.


The Day the Cow Sneezed by James Flora
$13.49 on Amazon
If you don’t want this book, I don’t know what to tell you.

7.


Adventure Time Finn boxers
$13.50-$16.65 on Amazon
Once the ladies see you in these, you’ll never spend another night alone!

8.


Phil Mendez 2013 Year-in-Progress Calendar
$15 on StuartNgBooks.com
Keep track of the year with drawings by animation legend Phil Mendez

9.


Bugs Bunny Superstar
$15.39 on Amazon
This long out-of-print 1975 documentary about Warner Bros. animation is worth it just for the film footage of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and Friz Freleng.

10.


My Little Pony “Brony” Wallet
$16.50 on Amazon
My preferred method for carrying lots of cash around town!

11.


Pixar Short Films Collection 2
$19.96 on Amazon
A collection of twelve recent Pixar shorts including Presto, Day & Night and La Luna. Also includes six CalArts student films by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter.

12.


Skadi volume 1 by Katie Rice and Luke Cormican
$20 on their personal website

13.


Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton
$23.21 on Amazon by Basil Wolverton
Amazing pop art decades before the term existed.

14.


Mighty Mouse: The New AdventuresThe Complete Series
$23.70 on Amazon
A must-have for anyone interested in the history of modern TV animation. 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of this seminal show.

15.


Walt’s People, Vol. 12: edited by Didier Ghez
$23.99 on Amazon
If you’ve missed the first 11 volumes, don’t miss this super-packed twelfth one. More details about the contents HERE

16.


It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump as told to Jeff Heimbuch
$24.95 on Bamboo Forest Publishing or a limited edition, hardcover edition signed by legendary Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump for $59.95 on Bamboo Forest Publishing

17.


Deconstructing Dad: The Music, Machines and Mystery of Raymond Scott DVD
$24.95 on ScottDoc.com
A documentary by the son of and about the experimental music composer Raymond Scott whose music was used by everybody from Jim Henson to Bob Clampett.

18.


Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt
$26.04 on Amazon

19.


Rowland B. Wilson’s Trade Secrets: Notes on Cartooning and Animation by Rowland Wilson with Suzanne Lemieux Wilson
$26.37 on Amazon

20.


Herve Morvan: The Genius of French Poster Art by Veronique Morvan
$27.70 on Amazon

21.


Comics Sketchbooks: The Unseen World of Today’s Most Creative Talents edited by Steven Heller
$29.97 on Amazon

22.


Evoke: The Art of Dave Pimentel
$29.99 on his personal website

23.


Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two video game
$29.99-$59.96 on Amazon

24.


Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat by Caroline Smith
$37.50 on Amazon

25.


Beany and Cecil 2-DVD set
Available for $54.90 on BeanyandCecil.com
Animation history buffs will be delighted by the amazing extras on both volumes. See the contents for Volume 1 and Volume 2

Our Secret Cyber-Monday DVD Contest!

It’s “Cyber Monday” in the US, the Monday after Thanksgiving: the biggest online shopping day of the year. However we at Cartoon Brew have nothing to sell you. In fact, we are giving things away.

Yes it’s another pop quiz – and the first five readers to post the correct answer below (in the Comments section) will win a DVD copy of documentary Adventures in Plymptoons.

Courtesy of our friends at Plymptoons and Cinema Libre Studio Adventures in Plymptoons! goes deep inside the method and madness of America’s most independent animator, creatively incubated in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Interviews with many of Plympton’s collaborators, such as Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob SquarePants), David Silverman (Director, The Simpsons Movie), Terry Gilliam (Director, Monty Python and the Holy Grail), Ed Begley, Jr., Moby and “Weird Al” Yankovic, offer candid and comedic insights into the irreverent man who has become an international success by not selling out.

When we run out of Plymptoons DVDs, the next three correct answers will win a DVD of the Academy Award nominated French animated feature A Cat In Paris.

Courtesy of our friends at GKids and NewVideo, the Academy Award-nominated A Cat In Paris is a beautifully hand-drawn caper set in the shadow-drenched alleyways of Paris; a witty and stylish “animated noir” with a jazzy soundtrack featuring Billie Holiday and a thrilling climax on top of Notre Dame cathedral, featuring the voices of Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River), Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums) and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket).

And the Trivia Question is:

What was the name of Bill Plympton’s first animated feature film?

CONTEST NOW CLOSED!

Winners will be contacted by email and will be required to give their mailing address. If you didn’t win, I still highly recommend you get both videos – both are hugely entertaining and make great Holiday gifts for the animation fan in your family.

Did Guardians “Underperform”?

First the good news: Dreamworks’ Rise of The Guardians opened this holiday weekend, grossing over $32 million dollars in five days, coming in fourth place at the US box-office.

Now comes the bad: industry observers are already declaring it a failure; that it’s “underperforming” compared to previous Dreamworks releases. How can it be that a film grossing over $30 million in a few days is already being written off by Hollywood know-it-alls? The answer: because it’s animated.

If an animated feature doesn’t start out at #1 and go on to gross over $100 million dollars – it’s not only a disaster, but threatens to wipe out studios and halt future production.

But why is animation held to such a higher standard? Guardians did business any live action film would be envious of; but because it’s animated and didn’t achieve #1 status, it’s “underperforming”? Seriously?

I say hold on – let’s give it a chance. Playing in 3,653 screens, Rise of the Guardians is presently the nation’s number-one family film, was the top film with a PG rating (the three films that did better are more adult-oriented fare, rated PG-13) and running ahead of strong competition from The Life Of Pi and Wreck-It Ralph (in its fourth week and doing fine with $149 million already in the till).

Nikki Finke is still scratching her head. “There’s still the chance Guardians might build momentum the same way (How To Train Your) Dragon did as its coveted ‘A’ CinemaScore helps word of mouth,” she writes. “It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong…”. The fact is, nothing is wrong. The film is popular with its target audience, and word-of-mouth may indeed propel it through the holiday season. It’s too early to say where it will go.

I’m not saying the film is perfect (though I dug it), nor am I an expert on the movie business (though I was a film distributor in an earlier life). Guardians may indeed “underperform” ultimately, but I wish industry reporters would at least give paying audiences a chance to see the work before declaring it a disaster – and without basing their opinions on the grosses of this family film’s first playdate (which in this case, last Wednesday, was a school day).

What Does Animation Have To Do With Mobile UX?

Rachel Hinman, a research scientist in the area of mobile user experience, argues in this article for Smashing Magazine that motion has become a significant mobile design element. She uses Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s 12 basic principles of animation as her starting point, and illustrates how each of those principles are relevant to UI elements in a mobile app.

Hinman misses the mark on a few things. She doesn’t understand squash and stretch because it’s not present in either of the examples she uses to illustrate the concept. She also misunderstands straight ahead versus pose-to-pose as meaning full versus limited animation. But the broad arc of her argument—that user experience designers need to pay closer attention to animation—is quite valid. Whenever I use an app, I’m always cognizant of the animation elements, and more than once I’ve been frustated by a clunky use of animation in an app’s interface. It’s safe to say that as motion becomes an increasingly integral part of mobile user experience, the demand for classically trained animators to work in the field should also grow.

(Photo of woman via Shutterstock)

“I’m Not Quite Sure What It Was” by Rickard Bengtsson

This is Swedish director Rickard Bengtsson’s first venture into frame-by-frame animation. Artsy, mysterious and a bit disturbing; all in all, a satisfying little art piece. Bengtsson explains:

“I’ve been a big fan of music by the great composer Ludovico Einaudi for a long time. About 2 years ago I found this great, very different and mysterious track of his. After searching for it I couldn’t find any info on it. Who are the people, where is it from? Which just made me even more interested and right after hearing it for the first time I knew I had to make an animation for it. It was a project that has always been in the back of my mind and hasnt changed a whole lot since day 1. Three months ago I started working on it for real. It was my first real venture into cel animation as well which was a long and painfull process. But so worth the result! I worked on it inbetween real client projects and when I could make time for it. At this point I don’t even know how many hours I’ve put into it.”

Mel Shaw (1914-2012)

The Disney History blog reports that Disney visual development artist Mel Shaw has passed away at the age of 97. He was born Melvin Schwartzman in Brooklyn on December 19, 1914. Shaw was among a handful of artists who worked at Disney both during its Golden Age in the late-1930s as well as during the studio’s resurgence in the 1990s.

Shaw’s first job in motion pictures was at the age of sixteen when he worked a summer job lettering movie titles at Pacific Titles. The studio was owned by Leon Schlesinger, and through him, Shaw was introduced to animation directors Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising. He worked at their studio, Harman-Ising Productions, for “four or five years” before being hired by Disney in 1937. Shaw contributed visual development artwork to films such as Fantasia, Bambi, and The Wind in the Willows, which was later produced as The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

Shaw left Disney in 1941 and rejoined with Hugh Harman at his studio Hugh Harman Productions. There, they worked on military training films, and also spent some time developing a live-action/animated feature adapatation of The Little Prince with Orson Welles.


Little Prince concept art by Mel Shaw

Later, during WWII, Shaw spent two years in India running an animation unit for the US Army Signal Corps, where he helped produce a live-action/animation documentary about the Burma Campaign. After the war, he started a design studio with former Harman-Ising co-worker Bob Allen called Allen-Shaw, where they designed ceramic figurines and toys for Disney. They were also involved in designing the Howdy Doody puppet.


Pastel concept piece for Fox and the Hound by Mel Shaw

Shaw returned to Disney in 1974 and contributed visual development and story ideas to films including The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Great Mouse Detective, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King, among others.


Pastel concept piece for Beauty and the Beast by Mel Shaw. For more of his concept art from this film, visit Hans Bacher’s blog.

For a full accounting of Shaw’s career, there is a fantastic 50-page interview with him in Walt’s People, Vol. 12:. To see more of Mel Shaw’s personal artwork, visit MelShawStudios.com.

(Photo of Mel Shaw from LaughingPlace.com)

Rare Animation Posters at Auction

Okay, this is an unabashed plug, aimed at our more culturally refined readers. Next Thursday and Friday Heritage Auctions is having an incredible movie poster auction featuring some incredibly rare pieces – several of which are from the collection of our pal, Leonard Maltin. Click the images below to see some of the material Leonard has decided to part with: rare one-sheets including Mutt & Jeff in Occultism (1918), Disney’s Donald Applecore and Don’s Fountain Of Youth; the complete set of lobby cards for Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs with a piece of the original brown-paper mailing envelope from RKO; and a three-sheet from Dumbo.

This is the auction that got some press last week due to the inclusion (not Leonard’s) of what is purportedly Disney’s first Mickey Mouse poster. Prepare to drool: Click here to see the complete selection of animation goodies.

“For Baltimore” by Brett Jubinville

Brett Jubinville of Toronto’s Tinman Creative directed this music video for the band All Time Low in a matter of three weeks. MTV is supposedly now running it – whenever/wherever they actually run videos. I love the alt comics aesthetic; check out model sheets and other production art on The Brett Blog.

CREDITS:
Brett Jubinville | Director
Morghan Fortier | Producer
Alex Diochon | BG Layouts
Mathias Horhager | Layout Artist
Christine D. Dupont | Animator (the band stuff)
Christopher Wright | Animator (the monsters & dancing stuff)
Jeremy Bondy | Animator (the weird stuff)
Kevin Williams | Animator (the space stuff)
Omar Al-Hafidh | Animator (the running stuff)

Advance Praise for the Book That Disney Doesn’t Want You To Read

This week was supposed to be the release date of my biography about artist, animator and director Ward Kimball. However, my publisher, Chronicle Books, hasn’t even sent the book to the printer yet. To put it bluntly, the biography has been stonewalled by the Walt Disney Company for the past year.

I paid a heavy price for writing a book about Ward Kimball, the human being. It didn’t please the Disney Company, who has created their own version of Ward Kimball, a character straight out of Fantasyland which the company unloads onto unsuspecting Disney fans at events like D23. In the words of Michael Barrier, doyen of American animation critics, the Disney company has an “approved narrative”. My book simply isn’t a part of the history they’ve concocted.

In the name of protecting their brand’s integrity, the Disney company has also tried to claim ownership over Ward’s personal life. They have gone so far as to insist that I eliminate stories from Ward’s childhood because his experiences as an eleven-year-old weren’t “Disney” enough. Such attempts to edit the private and personal lives of their former employees are absurd and disturbing, to say the least.

There are people on my side, most notably the Kimball children themselves. They have not taken the Disney company’s disrespectful treatment of their father sitting down. They recently filed a complaint with Margaret Adamic, a contracts adminstrator at Disney Publishing whose department is responsible for granting permissions to use Disney artwork. The Kimballs expressed their dissatisfaction with the company’s “incomprehensibly slow process of Disney employees going through it word by word and image by image to cleanse the book of anything that might raise an eyebrow by any Disney representative.” They also wrote about how they were “disheartened by the treatment afforded Amid in this approval process.”

At this point, I don’t know when, or if, the Disney company will decide to do the right thing. [UPDATE: Disney's lawyers succeeded in killing the book.] In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the positive blurbs the book has received from those who have read advance copies: Brad Bird, John Musker, Henry Selick, John Canemaker, Todd Oldham and Sergio Aragones.

Over the years I saw Kimball at various events and talked to him many times, but I can’t say I really got to know him the way I did several of the others . . .until now. Amid Amidi’s book digs deep into the contradictions that drove one of character animation’s most distinctive voices, an artist whose growth was both stunted and fueled under the paternal gaze of Walt Disney, animation’s most influential leader. Amidi’s meticulous research into Kimball’s life and work, aided tremendously by unprecedented access to Kimball’s journals (as well as page after page of fantastic Kimball artwork), gives a first-time glimpse into the life of one of the true kings of character animation, one of a small group of “golden age” artists upon whose sturdy shoulders all contemporary character animators stand.
– Excerpt from the book’s foreword by Brad Bird, director of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles and Ratataouille

Amid Amidi has written a fascinating “Wards and all” biography of the brilliant and iconoclastic animator and designer, Ward Kimball. Amidi details Ward’s amazing ride as one of the men who made Disney “Disney,” but whose constant search for originality and authenticity resulted in tensions between himself and a studio system under Walt Disney, the ultimate producer and self-made man.
– John Musker, director of The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid

I always considered Ward Kimball a genius, and I had the privilege of meeting him on many occasions. His daughter Kelly invited me out to his house for a wonderful, mind-blowing day where he fired up one of his locomotives, showed me his collection of small toys and planes, and displayed an amazing enthusiasm and curiosity for life that belied his age. After reading Amidi’s engrossing book on Ward’s life, I’m convinced that Ward may have been the most talented artist to ever work for Walt Disney.
– Henry Selick, director of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas

Ward Kimball is a national treasure! Having shaped the imaginations of decades of children and adults, his place in design history is beautifully examined and celebrated in Amidi’s elegant love letter. A must read for design, animation and history fans!
– Todd Oldham, designer

Amid Amidi lassoes the electric, essential Ward Kimball in this profusely illustrated, extraordinarily candid biography. Writing with insight, passion and compassion about his mercurial subject, Amidi takes readers directly into the life and private thoughts of a uniquely modern Renaissance man whose contributions continue to resonate in American popular culture.
– John Canemaker, Oscar-winning animation filmmaker, New York University professor, and historian

I knew Ward and I know his work – he has been the creator of my favorite characters, from Jiminy Cricket to The Three Caballeros. I should say, I thought I knew his work until I read Amidi’s Full Steam Ahead! The book thoroughly explores Ward’s beginnings, his unpublished works, and all the behind-the-scenes details that reveal why Ward Kimball was called a genius. Thanks, Amid, for letting me really know Ward.
– Sergio Aragones, MAD cartoonist and creator of Groo the Wanderer

LOWDI Spot by CRCR

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this commercial is selling. But I’ll take ten of whatever it is. Sometimes it’s just as effective to sell the lifestyle as it is the product. The Lowdi spot was created by the French collective CRCR, who continually impress with their fresh take on drawn animation. Their crew on this piece was comprised of Rémi Bastie, Nicolas Dehghani, Paul Lacolley, Nicolas Pegon, and Jérémy Pires.

“Rise of The Guardians” talkback

Critic A.O. Scott in The New York Times had mixed emotions about Dreamworks’ Rise of The Guardians saying, “like so much animated entertainment these days, (it) is by turns silly, maudlin and noisy, with just enough ingenuity to make you wish it were better.”

Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times was rather non-committal, warning the filmmakers (as if it weren’t already too late), “If you’re not careful, edgy can send things right over the cliff”, and “sometimes too much of a good thing can be exhausting.”

Me? I was throughly enchanted with Rise of The Guardians, a modern day holiday classic squarely aimed at the kids – but with enough visual razzle dazzle for adults and a much darker tone than any film featuring an Easter Bunny has ever had. You know the concept – it’s The Avengers with childhood fantasy figures like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. Essentially its Jack Frost versus an evil Pitch Black figure, but its the characters and their back stories that are just as fascinating as the action and adventure. Personally, I could watch a whole film based around the magically mute Sandman character – he totally steals the show. I was particularly grateful that the film felt so fresh, original and different from the rest of the animated films released this year, as well as Wreck-It Ralph, whom the Guardians will be battling at the box-office.

It comes out today and now its your job to review it for us. Let me know your opinion in the comments section below. (Do not post here if you haven’t seen the film – or we’ll put you on Santa’s Naughty list).

“Dumb Ways to Die” by Julian Frost

By popular demand, I am posting this morbidly hilarious PSA on Cartoon Brew. I first posted it four days ago on our wonderful CB Facebook page and have been bombarded by readers to share it further, here on the main site.

A Public Service Announcement for Melbourne Railways, Australia, Dumb Ways To Die was designed and animated by New Zealand-based Julian Frost. The incredibly catchy tune was written by John Mescall and Ollie McGill, and sung by Emily Lubitz. Some very funny gifs based on the short are posted here.