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Sunday, December 25, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Where do I begin? Well, it's a classic and the first Dr. Seuss adaptation we see. It's wonderful, both in story and design. Chuck Jones' crew was really on their A-game with this short (especially considering the not-so-stellar Tom and Jerry shorts produced by him at this point.). I really enjoy the animation here. Again, this is stellar looking animation for a 1966 television production and you can tell the artists put their damnedest into it. I hear Ben Washam co-directed this with Chuck and I think his drawing style prevails here too, epecially in some of those grimaces the Grinch makes. (He had very unique expressions in Chuck's WB cartoons) That's my guess though. It's probably someone else, but that's my best bet. ;)

Best. Smile. Ever!
The story is sweet, simple, and translates well into the animated medium. The acting and narration by Boris Karloff is admittedly an odd, but fantastic choice. After all, it's the Frankenstein monster reading a kid's book! How cool is that? Dr. Seuss' rhyme scheme is charming, the music is audible candy, and so is the famous song we all know and love! (I don't even need to say it. You know what it is!)

So here's my Christmas gift to all of you: you get to enjoy this Christmas classic here in the best quality I have. Again, Merry Christmas, and may all your New Year dreams come true.

And a bonus, my favorite holiday tune that perfectly describes Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blue Bayou vs. Claire de Lune

Today's post is focused on two versions of a Disney short film. Released as a part of the film Make Mine Music in 1946, Blue Bayou is a short that takes place in a marsh at night with some images of egrets flying and... that's pretty much it. What makes the short work, though, is the backdrop music chosen. Here, it's a popular song (well, back then anyway) named Blue Bayou.

However, another version of it exists. It's the same animation as before, but in tune to Claude Debussy's Claire de Lune. This version was originally intended to be a part of Fantasia, but was cut out of the final movie, probably for time allotment. Six years later, the Disney artists decided to use it in Make Mine Music, but attached the song Blue Bayou to it. This version was lost for a long time until some folks at the studio found an original nitrate of it in 1992 and decided to remaster it. You can find this version in Make Mine Music's DVD features. Which one is better? Well, both are beautiful shorts, but I think Claire de Lune works a lot better.

To give you guys a fair judgement, here's what wound up in Make Mine Music.

Now here's the Fantasia version.

Oh, and FYI, I'm thinking about doing posts starting in January that review every single animated Disney film. If you guys like the idea, give me a shout.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Felix the Cat

Hey folks! I'm sorry I haven't been around in a while (like a few months, it looks like!)  I've been busy with things such as school and work and trying to have a social life. Anyway, if you wish, you can view most of my newest works here.

So, to start things fresh, here's Felix the Cat.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Legend of Rockabye Point

I don't know why, but I've been watching Chilly Willy cartoons lately. And of course, the best were the two directed by the man who designed his current look, the greatest cartoonist that ever lived, Tex Avery.

I find it odd that not a lot of people mention his post MGM stuff, but maybe that's because he didn't last too long in the business after Walter Lantz's studio. It sucks that he had a crap contract with them, because I could see him make one friggin' awesome Woody Woodpecker cartoon!

Anyway, this is my personal favorite during Tex's short 4-cartoon stay at Lantz's studio. Even though Avery kept saying he felt burnt out by this point, this shows that he still had the magic touch he's had since his early WB days. And goddamn, is it hilarious! 

Insert Penn State joke here.

I feel bad that I can't distinguish who animated what scenes, but it's still well animated. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Cuckoo Clock

Another Avery cartoon that gets overlooked a lot, in my opinion. It makes a good Halloween cartoon since it can be interpreted as a psychological horror, like in 1959's The Haunting. (Of course from the cat's point of view. That's a great design, by the way!) There's a lot of neat backgrounds in this one and  some of Grant Simmons' finest animation. I'm pretty sure he did that great scene where the bird shoots himself with a finger-gun. Cracks me up every time. Below are some model sheets from Kevin Langley's great site and a restored version of the cartoon. Happy belated Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tex Avery: Who Killed Who?

Ah, good ol' Tex. Nothing you make ever disappoints me.
Model sheet of Tex.

Now, assuming you didn't know who I'm talking about, Fredric Bean Avery (nicknamed "Tex" by his friends) was an animator from, big surprise here, Texas who completely revolutionized the way we look at cartoons today. To keep it short, here's a passage by Gary Morris who, I think, Best describes Avery's approach:

"Above all, [Avery] steered the Warner Bros. house style away from Disneyesque sentimentality and made cartoons that appealed equally to adults, who appreciated Avery's speed, sarcasm, and irony, and to kids, who liked the nonstop action. Disney's "cute and cuddly" creatures, under Avery's guidance, were transformed into unflappable wits like Bugs Bunny, endearing buffoons like Porky Pig, or dazzling crazies like Daffy Duck. Even the classic fairy tale, a market that Disney had cornered, was appropriated by Avery, who made innocent heroines like Red Riding Hood into sexy jazz babies, more than a match for any Wolf. Avery also endeared himself to intellectuals by constantly breaking through the artifice of the cartoon, having characters leap out of the end credits, loudly object to the plot of the cartoon they were starring in, or speak directly to the audience."

A few examples of what we're talkin' about here. Trust me, there's more. Lots more.  :)

Be sure to find this book! Worth every penny! :D

I think the reason I look up to him is because he and I are actually very similar. Avery was actually a very shy person, but really expressed his true feelings on screen with his films. And while Avery was born in Taylor, I was born in Seabrook (about a 30 min drive from Houston). I think my sense of humor may have come from his cartoons, actually. Tex was wonderful at using sight gags and was just as witty verbally. (See pics above)

If you're interesting in learning more, John Canemaker has written a book all about Avery's best work: at MGM studios. It's a little pricey (from $40 - $130 on, but it's a read that's worth it. It's also chock-fill of model sheets, animation cells and stills, layouts, and more. 

All yours for £ 24.99

It's also a shame that his cartoons aren't restored on a DVD set in America (aside from the Droopy Collection). There's one in France, but I doubt it'sgonna work on a Region 1 DVD player. Oh, and they're censored. I say it's about time those cartoons got the uncensored DVD treatment in the motherland! But if you want it, you can find it here.

Anyway, since it's close to Halloween, I thought I'd post Who Killed Who?, a murder mystery by you-should-know-who-by-now. A great early effort from him, filled with wonderful jokes, fast-pacing, good animation, and Santa!..... Wait, wha?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baseball Bugs

A reenacting of the last Astros game.
With baseball season coming to a close, I figured this would be appropriate. Baseball Bugs is one of my favorite Bugs cartoons because I think Bugs as a single ball team reminds me of many of the underdog teams we all root for and want to see win. In my case, that would be the Houston Astros. Good God, those poor guys had a bad season. 

The last game I went to personally, they lost 13 to 6. The conga scene with the Gashouse Gorillas at bat really reminds me of the way the Astros practically let the Cardinals win that night.. Even the scoreboard looked like it did in this 'toon.

Well I like this cartoon because of that and it's friggin' hilarious! Oh, and look out for some good Virgil Ross animation in this one. Enjoy! ;)


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Plight of the Bumblebee

Today's cartoon is an interesting one to me. I know over the years, Disney's been bound to trash several ideas over the years, like Fantasia sequels during Walt's life time. Before I found this one, I never thought that they would toss out a Mickey Mouse cartoon. (Kind of ironic, when you think about it.) The weirdest part of it is that the animation is 95% complete. A few years ago someone on YouTube found a pencil test of said cartoon and news of the short spread across animation forums like the influenza.

Anyway, it's called Plight of the Bumblebee and was originally directed by Jack Kinney, hands down the best shorts director at Disney.(He mostly handled the Goofy series as well as two Donald Duck cartoons I know of like my favorite one, Duck Pimples.) The story is that Mickey finds a bee named Hector singing bebop (get it?) but sporadically hits an operatic note. Mickey offers to be Hector's manager and he signs Hector a contract. However, he finds out that the insect has a weakness for flowers because whenever he drinks from one, he instantly gets drunk. (I admit, that idea is pretty funny.) So Mickey finds a way around it and Hector becomes a successful singer with his help.

What do I think of it? Well, I think it's very entertaining and would have loved to see it finished. Coming from Kinney's crew, it's top notch over most of the shorts at the time and is far better than anything Mickey appeared in after Mickey and the Beanstalk. There's wonderful, lively animation by John Sibley and Fred Moore (he designed the current Mickey look and I'm sure got dibs on animating in every one of his 40's and 50's shorts. )  Sibley called it the best Mickey short ever and claimed it was shelved because he and Moore looked it over and felt it had an awkward length to it. Kind of an odd way to go really...

Who knows? My hope is that maybe John Lassenter or someone at Disney sees this and gets the idea to try and make this short see the light at last. I can see it happen.

With his talent and my brains, we'll hit the TOPS!!
I posted the cartoon's pencil test on my Facebook account and so far haven't gotten any guff from it. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Oily Bird

I have mixed feelings on the Harveytoons distributed by Paramount studios. On one side, they do have entertaining animation in them and, to be honest, can be kind of fun to watch. On the other hand, and this was the biggest fault, they weren't that original or novel. They ranged from okay to WTF. I also think they had a lot of trouble finding a target audience. My argument is that most of them (which I think was about 70%. I'm just guessing here.) are mild, child-friendly, and aren't really that funny, like with the Casper and Little Audrey series. Then you have Baby Huey and Herman and Katnip (my personal favorites from this group) that were made for movie-going adults in mind and can be really funny.

Today's short is one of the cartoons from the latter argument from 1954 directed by Izzy Sparber. I do love the music and the animation of the little worm when his eyes open in rhythm to the snake-charming music.

There is one thing that bothers me though... the whole thing is about an earthworm in a derby trying to foil his enemy, a brown early bird.

Gee... sound f'n familiar?

Oh, and as if the bird didn't look familiar!

At least they know how to take influence from the good animators (to be polite). The problem is that Harveytoons like this one didn't do it too well.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Looney Tunes Show (Parte Deux)

Several months ago, I made a post about the new Looney Tunes show. Today, it remains as one of my most viewed posts on the blog (I'm a little surprised by that.) You canview the original post here.

A few months have passed since it premiered and about 9 or 10 episodes have aired. I'm sure so
me of you guys are wondering if I saw it and if I did, what do I think? Well, I've seen them all and so far....

I think Bugs said it best in one episode: "I like it"

I really do. I know it's no where near the caliber of the original classics, but it's still an enjoyable show compared with everything else on Cartoon Network now. They even brought back the originals to air thanks to this show. So some good did come out of it after all.

I think I can name some good reasons why this show works. Here we go:

#1.) The show's creators.

I've done a little research and figured out that this show has been made by two animators named Spike Brandit and Tony Cervone. These two are animators with a history at Warner Bros, working there since the 1990's according to their IMDB pages. Their credits include directing a few Animaniacs! episodes and creating Tom and Jerry Tales with the help of Joe Barbera. Now they're in charge of everything T & J related. They were also involved in another Looney Tunes show that's been well received by a lot of Tune-heads like me: a little dity called Duck Dodgers.

So yeah... these guys have experience with these characters.

And that's a good thing. At least WB had the decency to give the show to people who know and care about these characters vs giving them to someone like Seth MacFarlane (thank God he doesn't handle the show!) It shows that the company still does care about the Looney Tunes.

#2.) The animation

I know that it's still kinda TV-ish quality, but again, it's still much better than anything else on CN. The show is traditionally animated and colored with computers. I think that's how it's handled, but I'm just guessing here.

Above is a still from one of the latest episodes. Looking at it alone says (to me, at least) that the quality is still pretty high for a TV cartoon, so give it some slack here. The backgrounds are amazing (I really love the paint-splatter technique for the skies in this show. It's just wonderful to look at.) I'm pretty sure this show has a high budget so it allows for better animation.

Speaking of which, I forgot to mention the designs by Ms. Jessica Borutski. I defended her a lot in my last post, so I'll cut to the chase here. They do look nice and have a refreshing new look our friends. I still can't figure out why Bugs is purple, though...

#3) The Looney Tunes are still more or less the same as they were in the Golden Era.

That is to say without a few adjustments, But very little has changed about they're personalities: Bugs is still a wise-cracking smart-ass, Porky is still a very mild mannered nice guy, Yosemite Sam is still brash and loud, and the gophers are, well, themselves.

Few have changed kind of drastically since the classics. One is Daffy.

God, I still love that design...

Anyway, a few people have described him as a buffoon, even calling him the new Peter Griffin (...that hurt just to say that.) Well, I think Daffy here is more or less based off of his character in the Duck Dodgers show. Here, he's still narcissistic, zealous, obnoxious, slobbish, and oblivious to everyone else's needs or desires from him. He's also completely in over his head, believing that he's the center of the universe, even though he isn't and sort of has a very high opinion of himself.

The persona says Jones-ish, yet the look says Clampett. It's a nice fresh take.

But that's nowhere near the one character that needed an upgrade and benefited from it: Lola from Space Jam.

Again, wonderful design. I think she looks better now than ever...

Err, if you've seen Space Jam, then you'll know Lola. In the movie, she was basically a paper cit-out of a female athlete. Harsh but true. She wasn't funny or fun in the movie and I think she hasn't been seen since then. (except for the baby revival show)

Spike and Tony took her in and actually made her a fun character, even if she can be kind of annoying. Here, she's the very ditsy, clingy, obsessive semi-girlfriend of Bugs. I say semi because Bugs doesn't feel the same way about Lola, calling her crazy on a few occasions.

Then again, can you blame him?

#4.) The main stories are still kind of fun
The stories are sort of a hit-and-miss to be honest. But there's more good ones than mediocre, so it's not so bad.

My favorites, so far are:
  • The Jailbird and Jailbunny: Daffy gets arrested for littering the Grand Canyon and drags Bugs along for disrupting the court. It's kind of funny after the two break out. Bugs wants to go back because he can make fun of the other prisoners and get away with it, calling it a smart-alec's paradise (makes sense).

No resemblance at all...
  • Casa de Calma: Bugs and Daffy go to a spa. Disaster meets Daffy after trying to impress a starlet. This is so far the most like the original classics out of all the ones that aired.

That's an interesting expression. There's lots more from Daffy in this one.

This is just adorable!
  • Devil Dog: The Tasmanian devil escapes from the zoo and makes it to Bugs' house. Taz is really intimidating at the beginning. He acts more like the real animal he's based on and even has red eyes! He's never been more scary. Bugs eventually tames him thanks to Speedy's advice (I'll admit, that killed the mood for a while) and the two become friends.

See? Told ya.

This would have been a interesting short...
  • The Foghorn Leghorn Story: Daffy is offered a lead in Foghorn's new biopic. There's a great fight scene in the end.

It got better later.
  • Eligible Bachelors: Bugs and Daffy get auctioned at a bachelor auction. Lola gets Bugs on a date in Paris and Daffy gets the day with Granny. (She only wanted him to help out with chores. She's 90. Get your mind out of the gutter!) Granny then engages Daffy and the audience in a very gritty WWII story where she saves the artwork at the Louvre. It's actually really cool.
Guess who this is?

So those are my thoughts on The Looney Tunes Show. It's an ok show. It's fun, neat-looking, and worth the thirty minutes.

I know I've listed some good qualities about the show, but it's not perfect. For example, I don't care for the CGI Coyote-Roadrunner shorts, which by the way, why didn't just animate them like the rest of the show? It'd look a lot better to me. And why are they only two minutes? That's about the length of one joke in some of the originals.

But you should check it out. And I'll say it now so it doesn't look like I'm defending the show to death: nothing beats the classics. They brought them back thanks to this show on CN and there's also the DVD's.

Well, th-th-th-th-that's all folks! Hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Old Man of the Mountain & Oogie Boogie's Song

I don't think I've ever talked about a Betty Boop cartoon before, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

This particular one, The Old Man of the Mountain, is one I think I was drawn to because of the music choice. Cab Calloway actually did some songs for the cartoons. I know he also sang for Minnie the Moocher (without a doubt the biggest mindfuck of the animated world).

I have the funny feeling what draws me to the Fliecher's cartoons of this era was simply the animation and the music... that's it! Even though the stories were weak and weird as hell, at least they aren't boring! In fact, I think most of them are really funny simply because of how crazy these cartoons were. (kind of like watching Ren and Stimpy, actually.) Old Man is probably my personal favorite one so far. You can watch it below.

I also wanted to bring up the kind of influence Betty Boop has on animation, even today.

I'm sure someone's gonna read this and think: What does The Nightmare Before Christmas have to do with Betty Boop? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Actually, I want you guys to find this movie (if you have it) and watch it again. Specifically, watch the scene where the main villain Oogie-Boogie enters. That whole song sequence seems to have somewhat been influenced on those Calloway-Beety Boop catoons. From what I've researched, Tim Burton asked the film's composer, Danny Elfman, to listen to Minnie the Moocher as an aid for writting Oogie-Boogie's song. You can really feel the influence in the song. There's even a line from the original cartoon that was homaged in the movie! I'm not saying what it is, though!

The song itself is really damn good. I'd be lying if I didn't say it wasn't one of the best villian songs ever composed! I can tell that Oogie's actor, Ken Page, seemed to really enjoy himself when singing this. He really seems to combine the darkness and sadistic nature of the character with the pure enjoyment of what Oogie plans on doing with Santa. In fact, I think you can learn everything you need to know about Oogie is in this song. (aside from what he's really stuffed with. Again, watch it for yourself!)

Don't believe me? Watch it yourself!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Professor Ludwig von Drake

My God, I love this guy! He always brightens my day with his kooky narrations and wacky inventions. I just think he's one of the most underrated Disney characters out there (Trust me, there's a lot!). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he was created by Bill Justice (Wikipedia now says both Walt and Milt Kahl created him now) as a host for The Wonderful World of Color. As an added bonus, Paul Frees created that wonderful German accent he speaks in. Today, the equally-talented Corey Burton performs him. Below are some videos of his best stuff, including his Academy Award nominated short, A Symposium on Popular Songs (1962), and two of my favorite shorts of his from House of Mouse.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Orville and Other Big News!

This is Orville. He's one of my latest creations. I have lots, o lots more in the future! I'll have to post them whenever I get the chance.

I have big news! I just met a voice actor living in Houston that's very interested in helping me develop my show as well as voice a few characters! I only hope I can make a short with his help in the future.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Wild Hare

Bug's first cartoon and Oscar nod. It's a great, funny short with beautiful animation done by Virgil Ross and Rod Scribner. The backgrounds are just as lovely. I wanted to post this one because today is actually Tex Avery's birthday! If he was still around he'd be 103 today. So happy birthday to the funniest cartoonist ever.

As a bonus, enjoy my favorite Tex Avery cartoon as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Der Fueher's Face

Where do I begin with this one?

Well, it's my favorite Disney cartoon that won an Oscar. It's funny, daring, politically incorrect, friggin' sweet, and it's Donald!

Of course, it was made in WWII, if you couldn't tell by the title. Ol' Uncle Walt was probably one of the most patriotic Americans back then, and he definitely had a hand with the victory on the home front with all those propaganda films he did. This is one of those films, but it's weapon is comedy, not information. It's almost like watching a Daffy cartoon. Key word: almost.
Another nice thing about it is that it doesn't really cram education down your throat like some of the others he and his artists did.

I think that Disney was really right on the money with Donald. In this period, Jack King was the director that handled Donald the best. Dick Lundy did a good job with Donald as well, but Jack Hannah from the late 40's -50's did better. So did Jack Kinney on the few he did.

Geez, there's a lot of Jacks here.

Life With Feathers

Nominated for the 1946 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to the Tom and Jerry cartoon, Quiet, Please! It's funny how it's Freling's cartoons are the ones to get nominated for this award.

Also the first appearance of one of my favorites and also Freling's baby, Sylvester.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Knighty Knight Bugs

So far, the only Bugs Bunny cartoon to win an Oscar. Nice entry, but I think Hare-Way to the Stars would have been a better choice for this year.

And, as a bonus, here's a video of the cartoon actually winning the award.