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Archive for the ‘UPA’


Tex does Tex: Remakes of cartoons

November 26th, 2008

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…]

The Sound of Shorty

October 13th, 2008

This cartoon short is The Interview (1961). The animated interviewee is Shorty Petterstein, a beatnik character/alter ego created by “sound artist” Henry Jacobs. Jacobs is an interesting and still rather obscure character who palled around with Lenny Bruce and Alan Watts, hosted one the world’s first “world music” radio programs, and experimented with audio collages and tape manipulation way back when such things were a time-consuming pain in the butt!

WFMU has posted MP3s of all the tracks from The Wide Weird World of Shorty Petterstein here.

Henry Jacobs has a website where you can purchase an autographed “Best Of” DVD. Listen to Henry’s 2005 interview for NPR here.

Ernest Pintoff directed The Interview; he’s best known in animation circles for his work at UPA, Flebus at Terrytoons, and his direction of Oscar winner The Critic —with voiceover by Mel Brooks. Len Glasser did the designs—he worked on Tom Terrific at Terrytoons.

Henry Jacobs also contributed to an early 70s oddball animated program called The Fine Art of Goofing Off, which used diverse animation techniques to illustrate meandering free association about the philosophy of pointlessness. 60’s counterculture figures including Alan Watts, Victor Moscoso, and comedy troupe The Committee also contributed to this artifact of Public Television’s early and experimental years.

After the jump, some excerpts from The Fine Art of Goofing Off: [Read more…]

Kung Fu Magoo

October 10th, 2008

Kung Fu Magoo

This is a real project.

When supervillain Tan-Gu invites the world’s most notorious bad guys to his island fortress to compete in an Olympic-style tournament of evil, the fate of the free world hangs in the balance. For the Anti-Evil Task Force there’s only one man who can stop Tan-Gu and save mankind: Kung Fu Magoo!

This feature length film stars the beloved Mr. Magoo and his 12 year-old nephew Justin as they dodge giant robotic spiders, ninjas on jet skis, and Tan-Gu’s mutant “Beasteens” (half animal, half teenage girl!) — and that’s before the Evil-lympics even begin! With competitions like the 100-meter Destructive Rampage, Laser Cage Wrestling, and the Evil Egg and Spoon Race, Justin must work double-time to help his uncle stay in the competition and avoid danger at every turn.

I haven’t seen the film, but I can’t imagine Mr Magoo doing Kung Fu. It sounds like someone [Read more…]

Dig That Deitch Family!

September 2nd, 2008

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The Comics Journal (#292) is a Deitch Family Extravaganza. The intro claims that the issue contains 120,000 words about this brilliant and complex family…and I wouldn’t be surprised! The Gene Deitch section is of interest to animation fans as he discusses his time at UPA, Jam Handy, Terrytoons, and his later years producing animation in Prague. There is also an exhaustive interview with undie/indie comcs genius Kim where he covers the far-flung experiences that feed his extensive body of work (a stint as a merchant seaman, underground comics days in San Francisco, interviewing silent film stars and death row inmates for background—not to mention a good story involving Robert Crumb and a pie!) Also featured are chats with lesser-known-but-brilliant-in-their-own-way brothers Simon and Seth. I devoured this issue!

(TCJ has posted some additional material that was cut from the Kim Deitch interview here. About 20,000 more words or so, along with lots of sketches and preliminary artwork. If you just can’t get enough!)

Also, don’t miss the Kim Deitch retrospective that opens this month at MOCCA in NYC.

After the jump, a Gaston LeCrayon cartoon from Gene Deitch days at Terrytoons. (Color shift alert!)

[Read more…]