Friday, February 25, 2011

AIEEE!


Because I still love this strip. Somebody uploaded a bunch of Arnold strips on this flickr site.

You can still read the strip here, here, and here.

Sing another song


Sad part is, I actually like the show (the one with Lauren Faust at helm).

Any resemblance to Derpy Hooves is strictly coincidental.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snuffy's Song / The Method and Maw / The Hat

I have to admit that the made-for-TV cartoon adaptations of King Features comics (Beetle Bailey, Krazy Kat, Snuffy Smith) leave alot to be desired. The animation quality varies due to it being contracted out to several places all over the world but they were generally shoddy. And the script-work wasn't exactly the best in the business.

That said, there are interesting things about them. The voice acting were great, with guys like Paul Frees, June Foray, Howie Morris, etc. doing a good job. Visually the Gene Deitch-directed Krazy Kat cartoons remained faithful to the comic (even with Deitch redesigning the characters) although the scripts that producer Al Brodax handled completely misunderstood the Herriman comics.

The Snuffy Smith cartoons is generally agreed to be the weakest, although several of them benefits from being animated by Jim Tyer, the only animator I know of who can make even the lamest of all cartoons look interesting, despite the limited animation.

Then there's this, which I didn't even notice until somebody pointed out at Cartoon Brew. Apparently the first three episodes formed a storyline with Barney, Snuffy, and Loweezy being stuck in the big city after one of Barney's crazy scheme failed. "Snuffy's Song" featured the trio going to the city in order to make Snuffy a singing star, while parts 2 and 3 ("The Method and Maw" and "The Hat" respectively) features them stuck in the city and trying to return home.

While they were created for television Paramount Pictures decided to release them to theaters one year before that, and as a result this ended up being the only time a multi-part storyline was done in theatrically-released animated shorts. Unfortunately there's a reason why most cartoon shorts were stand-alone: they liked to run the cartoons out of order. "Snuffy's Song" and "The Hat", parts 1 and 3, were released in June 1962. The second part, "The Method and Maw", didn't come out until October, four months later.

I presume that some TV stations ran the shorts in correct order, but who knows. Unlike most multi-part cartoon storylines, though, these three were made so that it can work as stand-alone shorts, so this probably didn't matter much.

But whatever's the case here are the three in chronological order:





Saturday, February 19, 2011

Robert McKimson

Of the three Looney Tunes directors working in the 1950s (the other two being Freleng and Jones), Robert McKimson is pretty much the "forgotten" one in the group.

Recently Michael Barrier put up the interview he did with him back in 1971. McKimson died in 1977 so he never got the recognition he deserved when he was still alive.

You can read it here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pyun Pyun Maru

This goes in my list of favorite theme songs of all time: Pyun Pyun Maru (ピュンピュン丸), a Japanese cartoon that aired in the late '60s/early '70s.

"Pyun Pyun Maru" was about a ninja boy and his little brother that works for a private detective that accepts any type of work they come. The show takes place in Samurai-era Japan but there is alot of anachronism in the stories, with the characters having working telephones and often seen watching TV (in the opening credits you can even see the TV antenna sticking out on the building). It was very heavy on slapstick and general cartoon silliness.

These days it's not that unusual for anime to have a "wacky", "zany" style. Heck, one studio, Gainax, runs on this. It was, however, pretty rare back in the '60s. "Pyun Pyun Maru" was Toei Animation's first attempt on this style, and it did very, very poor in ratings.

26 episodes were produced in the same production season, but they were broadcast years apart on NET-TV (a Japanese network now known at TV Asahi). The first 12 aired from July 3 to September 18 of 1967. The sponsor pulled the show, citing poor ratings and the fact that the stories were batshit insane. The remaining 14 remained dormant until it was dusted off the shelves and broadcast from December 29, 1969 to March 30, 1970. Throughout the 1970s to the 1990s the show was rerun, where it got better ratings there.

Unfortunately I've only seen very little of the show. A complete collection DVD was released in Japan few years back. If anyone could help me find it, I'd much appreciate it.

For the time being, here's the opening and closing credits. Don't bother asking for English translations; it wouldn't make as much sense as listening to it in Japanese.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Influence Map


There are many more, but these cartoonists were on top of my head.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mike Kazaleh on "Technological Threat"

Animator Mike Kazaleh sent me this after seeing my post below on Technological Threat, describing how the computer animation and hand-drawn animation were put together. Posted with his permission.
I worked for Bill Kroyer for several months after this film was made. There was a machine that made the drawings. The machine drew the pictures with a technical pen (the kind with a cylindrical nib). The pen was mounted on a bar that could move the pen back and forth, and could also lift it off the paper. The paper, meanwhile was on rollers so that the paper could move back and forth at a 90 degree angle to the pen motion. This way the pen could move anywhere on the paper. The drawings were then used as reference for the hand animation, then xeroxed onto cels. Vector graphics didn't exist yet. The computer images were made by creating reference points in virtual space, and connecting them with straight lines. On a theatre screen the reference points are visible, owing to the fact that the ink from the pen flowed the heaviest at the stop and start of a line, less so in the middle of a line when the pen was moving at its fastest. This resulted in a small blob of ink at all the connection points. There were a few other studios that used this technique. Some of them would have an animation assistant go over the drawings in pencil first so that the line would better match the hand drawn animation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Technological Threat (1988)

This is a 1988 short film directed by Bill Kroyer. In it, a worker constantly tries to keep up as more and more of his co-workers are replaced by robots. Even back then there were worries that computer animation would overtake traditional animation, which eventually became true about 20 years later.

This is an interesting because this gives a clear view of the difference between traditional and CGI animation. The animal characters are all hand-drawn, but the robots were rendered on computer, which was then traced onto cels and photographed.

Friday, February 4, 2011

It gives you wings

I have to say, I really love those animated Red Bull commercials. I'm not fond of the drinks but the animation is nice and charming, and the voices are great.

Does anyone know what studio makes them?