Favorites of 2008? Cartoon Brew co-editor Amid certainly chose several that could have/would have made the top of my list. However, upon careful reflection, I can truthfully claim that the following alternates are not only my personal favorites of the year – but will remain favorites of mine for years to come.
As Amid pointed out, I loved Sita Sings The Blues. But, as Sita wasn’t widely released this year, nor qualified for 2008 Oscar or Annie recognition, I decided (for this post) to be swayed by traditional commercial releases. Of those, Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda was the most entertaining movie I saw all year. I felt the entire film, from beginning to end, worked perfectly – as an adventure, as comedy, with delightful eye candy art direction, great voice acting and wonderful character animation. The 2D opening sequence was icing on the cake. It’s Dreamworks best film and it revived my hope that Jeffery’s studio can compete aesthetically (as well as commercially) with Pixar.
It’s hard to believe that both Amid and I selected shows from Adult Swim. You haven’t heard me rave about Robot Chicken on the Brew, but I’ve been quietly monitoring the show this year and have concluded its the most consistently funny animated series I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, there have been several killer episodes of The Simpsons and King of The Hill this season, but I’ve been won over by Chicken’s delightfully crude stop motion animation and equally crude humor. The two Star Wars specials were the series personal best. All of it well worth your fifteen minutes.
I saw a lot of shorts this year, but two really stood out. I saw Skhizein (pictured above) in Ottawa and it really blew me away. Jeremy Clapin’s 3D/2D tour-de-force about a man hit by a meteorite and finding himself existing 91 centimeters away from his own body. I’m still thinking about it. Great concept, well done.
Oktapodi was my other big favorite. Created by the students at the French animation school Gobelins, this film has everything: suspense, humor, heart, great design and a hilarious, ridiculous concept – perfect for animation.
Who says print is dead? Collected wisdom in the form of books is still alive and appreciated by those (like me), who prefer to linger over dedicated research and desired images otherwise unattainable in any form. That said, my favorite reads this year were actually several non-animation pop culture references (Mark Evainer’s Kirby, King of Comics, Martin Pasko’s The DC Vault, Grace Bradley Boyd’s Hoplalong Cassidy, An American Legend, among others). But among the animation books, my favorite has to be Jon Gibson and Chris McDonnell’s Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi. An overdue tribute and a stunning visual feast, Gibson and McDonnell deserve kudos for shedding light on Ralph’s many accomplishments, from beginning to end.
I’m also proud of my contributions to the continuing series of Harvey Comics reprints that Leslie Cabarga is compiling for Dark Horse Books. I’m particularly happy with my Introduction in the Baby Huey book featuring quotes from Martin Taras and Dave Tendlar along with several rare Herman & Katnip model sheets. Slowly but surely my master plan to bring recognition and respect to the artists of Famous Studios is coming to fruition.
What can I say? I'm biased. These three DVD sets are my favorite videos of the year. (Full disclosure: I was a consultant and active participant in their creation). If you love classic cartoon shorts, these will give you hours of viewing pleasure. I told you about them in April, July and November and I’ll say it again. In an era of declining DVD sales, your purchase of Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 6, Popeye Vol. 3, and Woody Woodpecker and Friends Vol. 2 do more than give hours of vintage animation goodness – they tell the studios that you want to see more.