Gallery: The Amazing Character Designs of Ferdinand Horvath

Let us celebrate the final day of 2012 with inspiring visuals in the form of character designs and studies by animation legend Ferdinand Horvath (1891-1973). Horvath was a European émigré who moved to the United States in 1921 after spending much of World War I in Russian prison camps. He worked for six years at Paul Terry’s Aesop’s Fables studio before moving to Los Angeles. On the West Coast, Horvath worked at Disney where he contributed character designs, backgrounds, story ideas and gags to over sixty shorts including Father Noah’s Ark, Mickey’s Circus, The Band Concert, The Old Mill, Woodland Cafe, and The Cookie Carnival. He also made important contributions to the studio’s first feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Later, Horvath worked at Columbia’s Screen Gems studio and George Pal’s Puppetoons studio.

“I Have Your Heart” by Crabapple, Boekbinder, & Batt

I Have Your Heart is a new stop-motion paper animated music video; a delightful collaboration between New York illustrator Molly Crabapple, musician/performer Kim Boekbinder, and Melbourne-based animator Jim Batt (director behind the very cool Want It Back music video for Amanda Palmer).

This video was crowdfunded through Kickstarter – and as for distribution, Batt told us:

“We are going straight to the people with an online premiere, rather than play the politics of the festival circuit. We feel websites like Cartoon Brew are a far more relevant way of our film reaching it’s audience.”

Join the KKK (That’s Krazy Kat Klub, You Racist!)

There’s some ugly stuff that can occasionally be found in the dusty bins of animation history. The Vintage Cinema Ads Facebook page uncovered a wildy inappropriate ad promoting Krazy Kat theatrical animated shorts. The double-meaning of this ad would have been more evident at the time of its publication in 1925 when the Ku Klux Klan claimed millions of Americans as members and exerted significant influence over American culture. Also, whoever made the was likely unaware—and most likely didn’t care—that Krazy Kat creator George Herriman was of mixed-race Creole lineage.

(h/t Charles Brubaker)

In Memoriam: Members of the Animation Community We Lost in 2012

As we approach the end of another year, let us take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the animation community members who we lost in 2012. Some of these people devoted their entire lives to animation while others worked in interrelated fields and only occasionally ventured into frame-by-frame territory. What they all share in common is that they enriched the art form in a unique and meaningful way.

Should you wish to explore the work of these people further, many of the names below are linked to more detailed posts about the life and work of the artist. If we have inadvertently omitted any names of animation community members who passed away in 2012, please let us know in the comments.

ANIMATION COMMUNITY MEMBERS WE LOST IN 2012
* Gerry Anderson
* Frank Andrina
* Takeshi Aono
* Dick Beals
* Iris Beckerman
* Jan Berenstain
* Lucille Bliss
* Ernest Borgnine
* Dave Borthwick
* Jack Bosson
* Ray Bradbury
* Dave Brubeck
* Richard “Kip” Carpenter
* Ernie Chan
* Dick Clark
* Kristine “Casey” Clayton
* John Coates
* Franco Cristofani
* Tissa David
* Josie DeCarlo
* Patricia Disney
* Jim Duffy
* Jake Eberts
* Ethel Falkenberg
* Jean “Moebius” Giraud
* Edd Gould
* Karen Greslie
* Leland Hartman
* Jim Hiltz
* Mike Hopkins
* Daphne Huntington
* Yasuyuki Inoue
* Noboru Ishiguro
* Fyodor Khitruk
* Thomas Kinkade
* Peter Kranjcevich
* Joe Kubert
* Bob Lambert
* Ken Landau
* Nancy McCullough
* Ralph McQuarrie
* Don Markstein
* Rusty Mills
* Sheldon Moldoff
* Eileen Moran
* Conne Morgan
* Keiji Nakazawa
* Mark Nelson
* Margaret Nichols
* Rod Parkes
* Bretislav Pojar
* Buzz Potamkin
* Al Rio
* Geri Rochon
* ‘Sheriff’ John Rovick
* Ken Sansom
* Mary Sarbry
* Maurice Sendak
* Ravi Shankar
* Mel Shaw
* Robert B. Sherman
* José Silverio
* Marcia Sinclair
* Dan Thompson
* Dick Tufeld
* Ginny Tyler
* Gerrit Van Dijk
* Ken Walker
* Manon Washburn
* Bill White
* Thomas Woodington
* Run Wrake

(In memoriam image via Shutterstock)

Keiji Nakazawa, Creator of “Barefoot Gen”, RIP

Keiji Nakazawa, the creator of the manga series Barefoot Gen, passed away on December 19th from lung cancer. He was 73 years old. His comic, which was adapted into animated and live-action features as well as a dramatic TV series, was inspired by his own experiences as a survivor of the American bombing of Hiroshima that killed over 100,000 people including Nakazawa’s father and siblings. For more details, Comic Book Resources offers a nice obituary about Nakazawa’s life.

“Figaro Pho” teaser

Check out this great looking 30-second teaser for a new Australian kids show called The Adventures of Figaro Pho. We first posted about about this show back in April 2011 and it recently made its debut on Australia’s ABC3.

Figaro Pho was created by children’s book illustrator Luke Jurevicius, who introduced the character in 2008 in a series of short interstitials. The series is produced down under by Ambience Entertainment with production designer Deane Taylor (A Nightmare Before Christmas) and animation director David Webster (an animator on Space Jam, Balto). If the series looks as good as this clip, they’ve certainly raised the bar for design for a kids CG show.

“A Pale Blue Dot” by Joel Somerfield

A visualization of Carl Sagan’s famed Pale Blue Dot monologue, where he muses on our planet’s appearance in a photograph taken by the Voyager 1 space probe – the most distant photograph ever taken of Earth. Joel Somerfield of East London-based digital production house, Order, created this film in his free-time, working on it periodically over the last 3 months. Designed and created in After Effects with music from Cosmos and spoken words from Sagan.

(Thanks, Graeme Edgeler)

Saturday in Glendale: The Greatest Cartoons Ever!

Holiday boredom setting in? This will snap you out of it.

This Saturday, December 29th at 2 & 7 pm, The Alex Film Society (of which I am a part of) will be presenting the 3rd annual Greatest Cartoons Ever event at The Alex Theatre in Glendale California (216 N. Brand Boulevard).

Each year we select ten great cartoon shorts from the golden age of animation, then project rare 35mm film prints (some of them in original Technicolor; all of the from the studio vaults) on the large Alex Theatre screen. Great characters, great films and an incredible movie-going experience.

General Admission: $15 general admission; $12.50 seniors/kids & groups of 15 or more. Advance tickets are on sale now online or you can buy them before the show at the box office. Asifa-Hollywood president Frank Gladstone and I will be there to introduce the program.

The Alex Theatre
216 North Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203


“Evoking Spirits” by Ori Toor

Tel Aviv-based Ori Toor takes Flash concepts like looping symbols that other artists use for economic ends and subverts them into original artistic statements. His sinous, psychedelic loops in the video for Kingdom Crumbs’ single “Evoking Spirits” is quite unlike any other Flash animation I’ve ever seen.

“Marvin The Martian” “Hong Kong Phooey” Live/CG Footage Leaked [UPDATED]

You hated Yogi Bear, you despised Underdog, You wonder what-the-hell they’ll do to Hong Hong Phooey. Well, wonder no more.

We reported over a year ago about an in-development Hong Kong Phooey live action movie (with a voice by Eddie Murphy) to be directed by Alex Zamm (Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2) with producer Bob Engelman (Foodfight, The Mask) for Alcon Entertainment. Apparently Zamm has posted test footage from the proposed film (his voice sounds like a Murphy imitator) online – and we’ve found the link.

Additionally, Zamm posted footage from a more-promising, but shelved, Marvin the Martian hybrid movie (we posted about it in 2008). Click here to see that footage. At least the animation on Marvin is a bit more “cartoony” than most of the hybrids produced these days.

Quick! Check these out before they remove them from the internet… and let us know what you think.

(UPDATE): New video link:

(Thanks, Chris Leonido)

Gerry Anderson (1929-2012)

He wasn’t an animator – he was a pioneering television puppeteer – but he influenced everyone who grew up watching his unique TV productions. Gerry Anderson passed away yesterday at the age of 83.

Anderson was the creator of numerous hit sci-fi marionette-puppet shows including Supercar, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, not to mention the entirely live action series Space 1999 with Martin Landau.

Anderson began his career as a photographer, but apparently lucked into British children’s TV production which was emerging in 1956. His first puppet show was The Adventures of Twizzle in 1957. Twizzle was a little boy doll, who could stretch to great lengths to save the day.

Beginning with Supercar in 1961, Anderson’s “Supermarionation” sci-fi shows continued pratically into the 1980s without stop. Personally, I loved these shows as a kid. The opening titles and their jazzy soundtracks were cool. Usually they were syndicated to local channels in the US, but Fireball XL5 was telecast on NBC Saturday Mornings in 1963-65 – the only Anderson show to do so. I loved that show.

Anderson’s puppets were the inspiration for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America: World Police (2004). Below is an excellent British documentary (from 2000) about Anderson’s career with some great clips from his various series:

More Cartoons for Victory!

There are several areas of animation history which still need to be throughly researched – television commercials, industrial and educational films and World War propaganda (entertainment and military, foreign and domestic). Steve Stanchfield – a champion of among animation historians for his archaeological research in locating and restoring lost cartoon prints and forgotten films – is on the front lines of this research. And with this new release, he’s done it again.

Stanchfield, through his Thunderbean Animation label, has just released a second volume of rarely seen (and literally buried) animated films: More Cartoons For Victory! These films weren’t just lost – no one even knew of the existence of some of them until Steve found them!

thunder beanAmong the gems on this set, Steve has restored several of the A Few Quick Facts series, produced as part of the Army Navy Screen Magazine. Let me tell’ya – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Private Snafu in A Few Quick Facts about Diarrhea and Dysentery. Steve has also located rare propaganda animation from Nazi Germany as well as Italy. Most of the films here have been transferred from the original master materials at the United States National Archives, many of these films have never been available in any format to the general public.

The highlight of this collection is the beautifully restored UPA Navy cartoon The Sailor and The Seagull, (1949) directed by John Hubley, which features some of the sexiest female character animation ever created. There are lost films (featuring incredible art) from Disney, MGM, Warner Bros. and the famed First Motion Picture Unit – and in fact there is a terrific 1943 documentary about this Army Air Force unit, included here, showing exactly how our animators did their bit for the war.

Other films included are Dr. Churhkill (Italy, 1942), Did you Buy that Bond Today? (USA, 1945), Tokio Jokio (1943, Warner Brothers), Criminal at Large (USA,1945), Another Chance (Disney, 1945), Six Legged Saboteurs (Cartoon Film Ltd, 1945) – and much much more. Special bonus features include a 4-page liner notes booklet and storyboard-to-film comparisons.

Here’s a link to the Amazon.com listing. And if you haven’t bought Thunderbean’s Private Snafu Classics and Cartoons For Victory Vol. 1 – what are you waiting for. This is must-have material.

Here is a special trailer (below) Steve prepared to show of some scenes from the DVD. This You Tube video does not do the quality of this release justice. The actual DVD looks ten times better:

“Ziggy’s Gift” by Richard Williams

This is the eighth Christmas we’ve celebrated on Cartoon Brew, and in all that time, we’ve never posted the holiday special Ziggy’s Gift. Today marks the end of your Ziggyless holidays. Ziggy’s Gift is quite charming, and the production values are far better than they need to be—especially considering that it was produced in 1982 and it’s…well…Ziggy. No surprise then that the director was Richard Williams and the animation supervisor was a 27-year-old Eric Goldberg.

“The Animation Show of Shows” on DVD

Back in 2007 and again in 2010 I posted about Acme Filmworks’ incredible boxed sets of award winning animated shorts, The Animation Show of Shows. Today, I’m happy to report Acme has released a third set of three boxes (containing 18 more discs, an additional 54 shorts). And here is another unabashed plug:

First the basics: The animated shorts collected here are celebrated works of independent artists, every film carefully curated and lovingly presented – and in the case of several older films, beautifully restored. Each box set contains six DVDs, each disc containing three shorts, held in its own slip case illustrated with still art from the film and a bio of each director. In this day and age of You Tube, digital downloads and micro screens on hand-held devices, I believe it’s important to preserve the great films of our time on physical DVDs, in compilations such as this.

This latest compilation contains new HD restorations of classic films like The Man Who Planted Trees, Crac!, Bitz Butz, Hot Stuff, Every Child, and The Street. There are multiple Academy Award Winners including La Maison en Petite Cubes, Logorama, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Lost Thing.

I am always struck by the the variety of styles included here. From the hand-drawn antics of Bill Plympton (The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger), and Geefwee Boedoe (Let’s Pollute), to the painterly wonders of Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby’s Wild Life and Jason Carpenter’s The Renter; along with the latest CG innovations (Till Nowaks’ The Centrifuge Brain Project, Damian Nenow’s incredible Paths of Hate, among others), there’s style and technique to spare. Unless you’ve attended the competitions at Ottawa or Annecy for the last ten or fifteen years you probably haven’t seen all of these before and I’ll tell ya, there isn’t a bad film in the bunch. Click here to read the entire content list.

To say this is an important compilation is an understatement. These are vital for any serious animation library and required viewing for students and all who want to see some of the best shorts ever made. Owning them on DVD is the way to go. As you can tell, I cannot praise Acme’s Animation Show of Shows DVDs highly enough. For complete contents and ordering information, visit filmporium.com. The dvds are very reasonably priced — 3 films on each DVD for $5 dollars. Each DVD is offered individually or available in the 6-DVD Box Sets for $30 each. Needless to say, I highly recommend.

Andreas Deja Reveals “Mushka” Teaser Trailer

Andreas Deja is a modern-day animation legend. He worked for 30 years at Disney where he was responsible for classic characters such as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, Scar in The Lion King, and Lilo in Lilo and Stitch. He left the studio a couple years ago to focus on personal projects, including producing independent animated films. This morning, Andreas teased audiences with a preview from his short film Mushka, featuring a girl and tiger as the lead characters. The film, which will be animated in a colored pencil style, is “a story of love and sacrifice set in Russia.”

On his blog, which also includes development sketches of the characters, Deja pointed out that he still has a long road ahead of him. He’s been working on story and pre-production this year, and plans to animate the film in 2013.

“Social Satan” by Sculpture

Brace yourself for one of the most creative animation cycles you’ll see this side of the Fleischer brothers. Social Satan was created by UK-based Sculpture, a collaboration between Reuben Sutherland (animation) and Dan Hayhurst (audio). We’ve featured their unique work in the past, which is printed onto picture-discs and then spun like a record at different RPMs.

Happy Holidays from Stan Lee!

A fun holiday greeting from comic legend Stan Lee and his new YouTube channel World of Heroes. Two of the artists involved with the piece—co-director David de Rooij and background artist Jelle Brunt—produced the Cartoon Brew Student Festival winner Slim Pickings Fat Chances.

CREDITS
Written and directed: World of Heroes, Matt Cooper, David de Rooij, Danny Seckel
Music By: Matt Cooper
Animation, Cleanup & Color: David de Rooij, Pedro Vargas, Linda Tijssen
Background: Jelle Brunt
Voices: Stan Lee, Kevin McShane, Matt Cooper
Sound design: Brett Houston, David de Rooij