Animation is limitless in its fantastical and imaginative possibilities, but the issues that affect the lives of artists who create the magic are timely and urgent real-world issues – and never was this more evident than 2017.
In a challenging year for many people, Cartoon Brew’s responsibility to cover the industry thoroughly and accurately was more pronounced than ever, and we worked hard to deliver. Our list of most-read stories this year reflects the seriousness of what happened around us, and the strong engagement of our readership reflects this community’s desire for independent coverage that transcends corporate press releases.
Not surprisingly, one-quarter of the 20 most-read Cartoon Brew stories in 2017 were related to the new awareness of workplace sexual harassment and assault. Our most-read story about the issue was an exclusive report we published about Nickelodeon showrunner Chris Savino (The Loud House), who spent more than a decade abusing his position of authority in the industry.
That unfortunate story was followed shortly thereafter by another bombshell – multitudinous reports of wildly inappropriate behavior by Pixar and Disney chief creative officer John Lasseter. It was a cathartic story for many industry artists who have been aware of Lasseter’s behavior for years, but could not speak out for fear of retribution by one of the animation industry’s most powerful men.
As of this writing, the Walt Disney Company has yet to hold Lasseter accountable for his behavior, which means that his story is far from over.
Then there’s the issue of employment and artists’ rights. As entertainment conglomerates consolidate and book record profits, animation workers await the mythical “trickle-down effect” to improve their lives. Perhaps that’s why another one of our most popular stories was about artists winning the wage-theft lawsuit, a decades-long attempt by Hollywood studios to artificially lower the salaries of animation workers. (The ringleader of that operation to hold back artists’ wages: none other than current Disney and Pixar animation president Ed Catmull.) Visual effects workers don’t have it much better, and their plight was documented in the film, Hollywood’s Greatest Trick, another one of our most-viewed posts of 2017.
Another hard dose of 21st century America – race relations – could be found in two of our top 20 stories: “In Her First Act As A Disney Legend, Whoopi Goldberg Tells Disney To Stop Hiding Its History” and “What Are The Cartoons That Jay-Z Is Referencing In His New Video ‘The Story of O.J.’”
But the biggest surprise this year may have been the popularity of our vfx stories that explore the growing tension in Hollywood between what is animation and what is live-action. Our no. 1 most-read story of the year was about the cg animated characters in Logan that were designed to blend in as real humans.
In fact, the work that animators and visual effects artists create is so brilliant and indistinguishable from live-action that some actors are taking advantage of the situation and trying to take credit for work that they didn’t create. Two more of our most-read stories revolved around such issues: “Despite What He Says, Kurt Russell’s De-Aging Effect in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Was Mostly VFX” and “This Award Season, Andy Serkis Has Found New Ways To Disrespect Animators.”
Here’s a look back at the pieces that captivated the animation community in 2017:
- “The CG Actors in Logan You Never Knew Were There”
Digital actors are again in the spotlight, with a cg Hugh Jackman and another character made for key scenes in Logan. Read more.
- In Her First Act As A Disney Legend, Whoopi Goldberg Tells Disney To Stop Hiding Its History
Could Whoopi Goldberg get Song of the South released in the United States? Read more.
- Nickelodeon Suspends Loud House Creator Chris Savino After Numerous Harassment Claims
In the wake of extensive allegations of sexual harassment, Nickelodeon has placed The Loud House creator on an immediate leave of absence. Read more.
- The Artists Win! Disney, Pixar, and Lucasfilm To Pay $100 Million in Wage-Theft Lawsuit
They said it couldn’t be done, but it looks like the animation workers have prevailed over Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. Read more.
- Gorillaz Animated Series Set To Premiere In 2018
New details have emerged about an animated series based on the cartoon band Gorillaz. Read more.
- Watch Hollywood’s Greatest Trick, A 24-Minute Documentary on The Unsustainable VFX Industry
VFX artists: underpaid, overworked, uncredited, and mentally abused. A new documentary exposes the problem. Read more.
- This New Storyboarding Software Is Both Free And Open Source
A new piece of software – both free and open source – wants to upend the market for digital storyboarding applications. Read more.
- John Lasseter Takes Leave Of Absence From Pixar Following Allegations Of ‘Grabbing, Kissing’ And ‘The Lasseter’ Move
Pixar and Disney chief creative officer John Lasseter has taken a leave of absence from Pixar.Read more.
- This Award Season, Andy Serkis Has Found New Ways To Disrespect Animators
Andy Serkis’ newest lie: animators aren’t part of the production process for the characters he performs. Read more.
- The Artists Working On Louis C.K.’s Animated Series Were Laid Off – Read This Open Letter From One Of Them
Louis C.K.’s sexual harassment has had a big impact on the artists who were creating his new animated series: they’re all out of a job now. Read more.
- A First Look at Wolfwalkers, Tomm Moore’s New Feature
Song of the Sea director Tomm Moore is ready to reveal details about his third feature, the “final panel of our Irish folklore triptych.”Read more.
- What Are The Cartoons That Jay-Z Is Referencing In His New Video ‘The Story of O.J.’
The images that Jay-Z uses in his new music video will be familiar to anyone who knows American animation history. Read more.
- Leap! And Ballerina Are The Same Film, But Their Reviews Tell A Different Story
How did this happen: the well-reviewed Ballerina is being released as the poorly-reviewed Leap!Read more.
- Despite What He Says, Kurt Russell’s De-Aging Effect in Guardians of the Galaxy Was Mostly VFX
Old man yells at computer graphics, vfx supervisor corrects him. Read more.
- Chinese Embarrassment: Government Forces Annecy To Remove Have A Nice Day From Competition
The Chinese government doesn’t want you to see this animated feature. Read more.
- New Accusations: Creator Of Nickelodeon’s Loud House Allegedly Offered Animation Work In Exchange For Sexual Favors
Disturbing new details have come to light about the creator of Nickelodeon’s The Loud House. Read more.
- Disney Slammed With Zootopia Theft Lawsuit by Total Recall Screenwriter
Gary Goldman, a screenwriter of Total Recall, alleges Disney’s 2016 hit Zootopia was based on his own project, also titled Zootopia. Read more.
- Rashida Jones Reveals Why She Left Toy Story 4 And It’s Not Good For Disney-Pixar
Rashida Jones explains why she left Pixar. Read more.
- Toy Maker Funko Had The Worst First-Day Return For An IPO In 17 Years
Fans may love their toys, but Wall Street wasn’t impressed. Read more.
- Learn A Valuable Lesson About Storytelling From Hayao Miyazaki
In honor of his 76th birthday, we share a valuable lesson about idea creation from the master filmmaker. Read more.
(John Lasseter photo at top via Shutterstock.com)