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Archive for December, 2007


“My hat IS AWESOME” by n8tehbaghead

December 26th, 2007

My hat IS AWESOME by n8tehbaghead

And Adventure Time’s fan art continues. It’ AWESOME!!!

Thanks n8tehbaghead.

Peace.

December 24th, 2007

Peace Sign

Christmastime for Jews.

December 24th, 2007

972

Christmastime for Jews by Robert Smigel. Dedicated to my wife and sons.

A great Christmas gift.

December 20th, 2007


Elliot Cowan was kind enough to give me this wonderful gift.

Happy Holidays everyone.

A question for you.

December 19th, 2007

QUESTION

I’m hoping you could answer a question.

About ten days ago, I mumbled something in of one of the RAW Art Today! posts about starting a magazine featuring great artwork from the art galleries on Channel Frederator RAW (tentatively titled “Cartoon Central on the Internet”). The more we’ve talked about it the cooler the idea seems. Reading an article about the photography magazine JPG the other day sealed the deal. We’re going to start prepping now; maybe we can get it going by March? (Start saving those full resolution files; we’ll be calling).

JPG organizes their magazine around themes posted on their website, and their readers submit their best appropriate photographs: Nostalgia, Geometry, Color Theory, Creepy, Loneliness, etcetera, etcetera; the magazine curates the best of the best. It makes perfect sense, giving each issue an organizing principle and a vibe.

But themes also work against my natural lack of discipline, anarchistic tendencies, and my hopes for the explosion of surprise.

What do you think? Do we ask for thematic submissions? Or is it better for you to keep uploading your latest stuff, or your favorites from your archives?

Let us know, it’ll help us make some early decisions.

Hanna-Barbera Studios, 1997

December 18th, 2007

Hanna-Barbera Studios, December 1997

Artist (and RAW member) Chris Battle posted this photo on RAW the other day with a few folks identified. The Sherlock Holmes in me was intrigued, because not only was this the last all studio portrait ever, but the first (and last) one after my tenure of running the studio. My colleague Eric Homan called upon his community of HB friends*, and between us all we’ve filled in the names of almost 100 of the intrepid. If you know any of the missing faces, please let us know.
…..
This photograph is the last all-studio portrait taken at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. Time Warner had bought Turner Broadcasting (owner of HB) and folded the studio into Warner Bros. Animation. WBA chief Jean MacCurdy made the decision to fold HB. Eventually, it resurrected as Cartoon Network Studios. Luckily, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were able to sit for this last portrait of the company they founded.

1 Jim Hearn
2 Paula LaFond
3 Jim Stenstrum
4 Mark
5
6 Vaughn Tada
7
8 Nora Johnson
9 Vincent Davis
10 Paul McAvoy
11 Maxwell Atoms
12 Chris Bracher
13 Steve Marmel
14 Mike Ryan
15 Robert Alvarez
16 Patricia Gatz
17 Jeff Collins
18 Ed Collins
19 Carlton Clay
20
21 Hugh Saunders
22 Sergio
23 Gilbert Quesada
24
25 Gary Olson
26 Al Gmuer
27 Renaldo Jara Jara
28 Sandy Ojeda
29 Susan DeChristofaro
30 Mimi Magnuson
31 Harry Nicholson
32
33 Louis Cuck
34 Marc Perry
35 Linda Barry
36 Pat Foley
37 Kerry Iverson
38 Paul Douglas
39 Julie Humbert
40 Jim Moore
41 Tim Iverson
42 Van Partible
43 Bodie Chandler
44 Joseph A. Bova
45 I can’t count
46 Keith Copsin
47 Kris Lindquist
48 William Parrish
49 Colette Sunderman
50 Carol Iverson
51 Nancy Grimaldi
52 Davis Doi
53 Melissa Lugar
54 Joanne Halcon
55 Nelda Ridley
56 Diane Kianski
57 Sandy Benenati
58 Barbara Krueger
59 Alison Leopold
60 Linda Moore
61 Diana Stolpe
62 Eleanor Medina
63 Janet Mazzoti
64 Genndy Tartakovsky
65 Craig McCraken
66 Jean MacCurdy
67 Joe Barbera
68 Maggie Roberts
69 Frederick Flintstone
70 Bill Hanna
71 Iwao Takamoto
72 Wanda Smith
73 Paul Rudish
74
75 Andy Bialk
76 Chris Battle
77 Nancy Sue Lark
78 Michael Shapiro
79 Zita Lefebvre
80
81
82 Craig Kellman
83 Luz Leon
84
85 Diana Ritchey
86 John McIntyre
87 Pat Lawrence
88 Amy Wagner
89 Brian Miller
90 Victoria McCollum
91 Rob Romero
92 Sharra Gage
93 Charlie Desrochers
94 Iraj Paran
95 Sami Rank
96 Jason Butler Rote
97 Liza Ann Warren
98 Chris Savino
99 Scott Setterberg
100 Donna Castricone
101 Sue Mondt
102 Martin Ansolabehere
103 Kevin Kaliher
104 Summer Wells
105
106 Ray Garcia

* Photo supplied by Chris Battle,
kindly identified by Chris Battle, Eric Homan, Marc Melocchi, Fred Seibert & Amy Wagner

Frederator postcard series 6.3

December 16th, 2007


Mailed out the week of December 16, 2007

There’s been a vicious rumor for the last couple of years that we’ve done a shorts show for Nickelodeon. We’re sending out this card to put that rumor to rest.

Seriously, it drives us as crazy as you that Nickelodeon has chosen not to air, or even set an airdate for, any of the Random! Cartoons shorts. And, because there’s a significant financial implication with the voice actors’ union, we’ve only been able to air one of the shorts on the web.

Everyone at Frederator is proud of all the creators and their cartoons, so we’re going to continue to promote the series whenever and wherever we can. This postcard is just the smallest way.

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008

The New Golden Age of Animation.

December 13th, 2007

0470048441.jpg

My inspiration and friend Steven Heller has written what seems like his 1000th book on graphic design called Becoming a Digital Designer (with David Womack). He conducted an interview with NNN founder Tim Shey (which was particularly inspirational to Tim, who’s been a Steve fan himself for years) and one with me.
…..
The New Golden Age of Animation
An Interview with Fred Seibert, president of Frederator, New York City

Q: There was a golden age of animation with Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butthead back in the 1990s. Are we still in the golden age?

Fred: I guess I might refer to a “silver age” of animation we’re in; it’s hard for me to believe — as good as the creative period we’re in — anything could be as good as the years that gave us Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Felix, Donald Duck, Pinocchio, and all the others. That being said…

It’s been an amazing fifteen years, and there’s no end in sight. Original cartoons are still on the rise. First The Simpsons, then R&S, B&B, and Rugrats. South Park, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo. And just within the last four years: The Fairly Oddparents, Jimmy Neutron, and the first megastar of the age, the modern Bugs Bunny, SpongeBob. In the wings: My Life as a Teenage Robot, ChalkZone, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. And many people would think I’m narrow-minded if I ignored features like Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

The business of television began a seismic change in the eighties, which really became mature in the nineties, and that maturity created the circumstances that allowed for a revival of animation as a powerful commercial art form. In 1983, the average home in America has four channels of television; by 1988 that same home had twenty-seven channels (and many had fifty or more). Competitive pressures to launch mass-appeal programming forced cable networks to create, and then create some more; the traditional broadcast networks were fiddling while their symbolic Rome burned.

Q: Actually, weren’t new viewers roaming over to an increased number of more interesting stations?

Fred: The broadcasters still had the largest audiences and made the most money, so there was laughter at what they thought were amateur efforts from the upstarts; the loss of audience share the traditional networks were experiencing were considered negligible. Meanwhile, the cables were learning the new craft of show business, saving their money for programming production war chests, and realizing that innovating past the stale network fare was the way to capture the audience attention.

All in all, the ambitions of a creatively pent-up creative community, and the force of new cable-centric capitalism, met in an explosion of innovation we’re still feeling today.

Q: The bar seems to have been pushed higher on TV and film. Kids’ fare is much more adventurous. Does this mean that the market for challenging animation is large?

Fred: The audience isn’t stupid, no matter what executives think. Given the choice between Hanna-Barbera’s The Snorks and Hanna-Barbera’s Dexter’s Laboratory, they can recognize the superior comedy.

That being said, I’m not so sure the market is actually larger than it was before the cable age; the population is marginally larger and still watching the same amount of TV weekly. But the competitive environment — jeez! An average of more than one hundred channels are trying to get a piece of your viewing time. In the past, a network looked forward to a 30 percent share of the audience for a hit; now it’s happy with 5 percent (and 1 percent or 2 percent for cable!). The result is that each program and each channel has to fight harder and harder with every character and every story.

Before 1980, the viewer has no choice; if you wanted to watch cartoons, maybe watching crappy ones was better than nothing. Today the audience must be satisfied, they truly can watch another show, or watch a DVD, or go online and find cartoons there.

Q: You’ve been in the forefront of new animation. How do you find new talent?

Fred: Isn’t that the magic question? Ten years ago I didn’t need to look far. In the trenches of the animation business were hundreds of classically trained animators who were toiling on the Yo Yogi! (the adventures of a teenage Yogi Bear, hangin’ at the mall) or Fish Police. These folks were dying to save the business they had trained their whole lives to join. We would put out the word we were seriously interested in the animator’s stories (for forty years the creative people were merely the hands of management’s ideas); over five thousand pitches were presented for our first set of forty-eight short films. And dozens of world-class hits were launched.

Today, our net has extended significantly wider because our competition has caught on and also scooped up the most available talent. There are many American and international cities with centers of cartooning that haven’t participated in the new hit boom. We’re busy setting up development centers all around the world.

Q: How did the artists of the golden age achieve their successes? And does this open the door even wider for students today?

Fred: As you might imagine, there are lots of parallels, but plenty of differences between the golden age and today.

In the first half of the twentieth century, it was a dog-eat-dog world in animation, though it had a true innocence. Many artists looked to animation as a career because it employed so many more men (it was primarily men, white men at that) than any other cartooning outlet. But there was no formal training, so he had to find a job at a studio that was willing to train him, teach him the rudiments of a new art form (actually, sometimes he needed to invent the steps). He had to figure out how to draw, animate, sure, but also how to tell a story, a funny story, with characters that were better than the competition.

And until the 1940s there was not even any geographic center; New York and California had the most successful studios, with Chicago and Miami weighing in, too. The employment network was fueled by friendships, often started in childhood or nurtured at the entry-level studios, and often an artist friend dragged in a completely untrained, talented friend and helped him become a story man, or a production manager. Additionally, all aspects of an animated film were made on-site, so there was a lot of room to train as an in-betweener, a model or layout artist, or as an animator before debuting as a director, trying to take a shot at the golden ring.

Q: What’s the role of the school today, as opposed to the old apprentice system?

Fred: Now there are schools to do the initial training, so few studios use their scarce resources to start talent. And while we do most of the creative production in the studio, layouts and animation are often done off shore, so there are fewer opportunities for artists than in the day. And we expect even entry-level artists to have a minimum standard of skill.

But the market is more open to more kinds of people than ever before. While it’s still a white man’s world, walk through any major studio and you’ll see men and women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Latinas, Asians, Africans.

Q: What must a student have in his gut to be a great cartoon creator? Is it enough just to have skill?

Fred: You know, then and now, the elements of success are pretty similar in cartoons:

Talent: You’ve got to have “it.” I’ll let biologists and psychologists explain what “it” is.

Skill: Animation is an exacting proposition, commercial animation even more so. If you can’t draw, you can’t play. And if you can’t draw, storytelling and directing in cartoons is all that much harder.

Ambition: The most ephemeral, the most ignored, the most misunderstood element of a great creator. The person who wants commercial success brings an extra oomph to his or her films. Trying to appeal to an audience, communicating with their hopes, dreams, and funny bones, is the magic of the modern world. I’ve always admired the Beatles because they had the desire to create great art that didn’t intrude with their craving to amass great fortunes. Great cartoons are motivated by no less.

Q: What does the future hold for kids who are studying cartooning and animation today?

Fred: Whatever they want.

Jim Mortensen in the house.

December 9th, 2007

Jim Mortensen stopped by to visit Eric and me at Frederator/Burbank with his storyboard for “Suzy Backwards.” It’s always good to see Jim, an early contributor to Channel Frederator and a talented, nice guy.

Jim Mortenson and Fred Seibert
Thanks to Jim for his kind permission to use a frame from his board and this special illustration.

Frederator postcard series 6.19

December 8th, 2007


Mailed out the week of December 10, 2007

This card is the first in our series of “Original Cartoon Inspirations” (I’ve got no idea what the others will be or when we’ll publish them). Because on a few different levels Joseph Barbera & William Hanna fit that description to a tee.

Obviously, Eric and I started our cartoon careers at the Hanna-Barbera Studios, working alongside of Joe and Bill. There really wasn’t any better inspiration than that experience. To be able to have long, first hand, conversatons about making Tom & Jerry, or The Flintstones and The Jetsons gave us insight on everything from the creative process, to setting up the most successful production shop in history, to just the everyday interaction among the very talented and very human characters that populated the building over the decades. Sitting in a car or a plane with Bill for hours at a time, hearing him reminisce about going fishing every year with Tex Avery… there’s really nothing I can say to recreate those moments. And, of course, that’s on top of being glued to the TV set for days at a time when the original HB shows hit the air in the late 50s.

This photograph was taken in 1995 by Jeff Sedlik, as part of my ongoing effort to give Joe and Bill (and the whole studio) the respect they deserved. I knew Jeff as an LA based photographer primarily known for sittings with jazz musicians (I already owned Miles Davis and BB King portraits) and I think he did a fabulous job with the guys. I think the session was their last formal sitting.

PS: Eric scheduled this card because December 14th’s the 50th anniversary of the debut of the first Hanna-Barbera Productions TV series, The Ruff & Reddy Show. It’s worth commemorating.

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008