Saturday, February 6th, animation’s highest honors were handed out at the 37th Annie Awards. This years contenders all had a fair shot at top honors, with Sony, Dreamworks, Pixar, and Disney all repped pretty evenly across the board in major categories. With so many excellent films this year, it’s safe to say that animation is the winner.
Archive for the ‘history’
Thanks to Lou Brooks’ and his Drawger Blog for giving me some advance notice so I can make sure I don’t miss TCM’s airing of the original Artists and Models (1937) on Sunday, February 1, at 2 PM EST. Not only does it pair Jack Benny and Ida Lupino, but cartoonists Rube Goldberg and Peter Arno show up as artists in their only major motion picture appearance. Other now lesser-known illustrators are also featured: pretty girlie artist McClelland Barclay, Russell Patterson, Arthur William Brown, and John Lagatta. Who? Check out the links; I didn’t know who they were either.
For cartoonist cameos in a more recent film (direct-to-DVD), see Comic Book: The Movie! (2004), mostly shot at San Diego Comicon. The cast also includes top animation voice talent like Billy West and Tom Kenny. You will NOT recognize Mark Hamill!
In 1952, the Tex Avery directed a short Rock-A-Bye Bear premiered. The short, written by Heck Allen and Rich Hogan featured a simple premise: Spike has a job running a house for a hibernating bear, who insists on quiet. Tex was strained by the amount of work, so he left MGM shortly after completing the piece (the film was actually completed in 1950, but not released until two years later due to the backlog of cartoon shorts). In Tex’s absence, his unit was directed by former Walter Lantz director, Dick Lundy.
Tex returned to MGM in 1951, where he took back his animation unit. He went on to direct eleven more cartoons. Most of these had a similar look to the UPA cartoons that were gaining popularity at the time. In March 1953, MGM closed down Tex’s unit, believing that 3D films that were quickly taking theaters by storm would end the [Read more…]
In Disney’s 1929 Silly Symphony “The Skeleton Dance”, we see several skeletons dancing around in a graveyard. This cartoon was quite popular, and was the first cartoon to use non-post-sync sound.
The cartoon was so well received that ten years later, Mickey Mouse was trapped in a haunted house, playing music for a group of dancing skeletons. This cartoon was “Haunted House”. It reused many bits from “The Skeleton Dance”, many of which were the exact same drawings, frame for frame.
On this date in 1954, “Lassie” premiered on CBS. The show proved quite popular, and ran for many years. It was predated by both a film, and a successful radio series.
In 1973, Filmation ran a series caled “Lassie’s Rescue Rangers”. In the show, Lassie lived near Thunder Mountain with the Turner family. Head Ranger Ben Turner worked with wife Laura and children Susan, Jackie, and Ben Jr. as “The Forest Force”, a ranger-rescue team that protected Thunder Mountain National Park. Lassie also headed up a group of wild animals that lived within the national park, working with the Turner family to maintain a healthy environment that was ecologically sound, and to create a safe place for tourists to hike and camp. This renegade group of animal heroes was known as “Lassie’s Rescue Rangers”.
The Rescue Rangers were a band of about eight animals, including Groucho the owl, Toothless the mountain lion, [Read more…]
click on image for full photo
Seven years ago, this was the view from Blue Sky Studios in White Plains, NY. From our office on the 17th floor of 44 South Broadway, we could see the Twin Towers on fire. We were 30 miles to the north of Manhattan, looking down the length of the island. In the photo, you can make out both towers smoking in the distance. The building that looks like it is next to them is the Empire State Building, but it’s actually several blocks away, on 5th Ave and 34th street.
It was a chaotic day, with the radio stations being the first way I learned of the disaster in progress on my way to work. At first, DJs seemed to think it was some kind of joke, or perhaps just a small plane. The second plane hit as I was getting in to the parking garage [Read more…]
I just discovered a blog chock full of interviews with animation artists. Fulle Circle Productions is hosted by student Jason E. Anders, who is particularly enamored of the Spumco/John K. crowd, including Katie Rice, Kristy Gordon, Eddie Fitzgerald, Fred Osmond, Kali Fontecchio, and Nick Cross. The interviews are in-depth and there’s a generous smattering of original artwork. Definitely worth adding to any blogroll.
(Artwork above by Katie Rice with original Spumco notes and splats.) [Read more…]
As the park grew, and the public needed more and more in the park to keep them coming back, Walt Disney turned to the artists who he had trusted with his films to help create new experiences for the park. Marc Davis (pictured above) and John Hench are just two of the many artists who started in animation and then found themselves helping Walt with Disneyland. Park staples, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Haunted Mansion all feature work from former animators.
Written By is a magazine published by the Writers Guild of America West. The Summer 2008 issue just came out and the theme is “Age of Animation”. The Cartoon Cover boy is Matt Groening, and you can read an except of his interview here. (One interesting tidbit that I didn’t know is that Bart’s name came from a bad novel that Groening wrote in high school. Bartholemew Simpson was the narrator who was “haunted by the fact that he looked like a beaver.”)
The issue is well worth purchasing: it includes interviews with Seth McFarlane (by Family Guy showrunner, David A. Goodman) and Brad Bird, an opinion piece by Mark Evanier, excerpts from unproduced animation scripts., and of course coverage of the history and present state of animation union organizing (by both the WGA and local 839). [Read more…]