I almost chose the above pic for this week's "What the heck is this?," but realized it would be too obscure for readers to get. What is it? It's a bloody pair of chewed up shorts, and it's part of the press kit for Discovery Channel's "Shark Week." James Hibberd over at The Hollywood Reporter gives a rundown on what the kit looks like up close. It includes Hibberd's obituary.
I once got a "Shark Week" T-shirt from the network but nothing like this.
Some cool news for fans of Farscape: the series is coming back in the form of ten new webisodes. As of this moment no actors and writers have been attached to the project, nor have any storylines been announced. According to the Post Gazette, if the Web series is successful enough, the series could return to television. I'd say that's quite a long shot (the series went off the air in 2003), but I certainly wouldn't complain if it came back. I was late getting into Farscape, but I thought it was fun and imaginative.
Comedy Central is gearing up for its second "Comedy Central Test Pilots" competition, a contest that allows amateur comedic filmmakers to create their own series for inclusion on Comedy Central's Motherload broadband site, and for the chance to have their series included on the upcoming late night showcase Web Shows.
Submissions will be accepted starting June 1 through July 10. Last year, a sparsely-animated series called "Awesome Friends" won the competition, which I found somewhat surprising since I didn't find that particular series all that funny. Apparently, though, other people did, which completely challenged my theory that everyone thinks exactly the same way I do. I'm just now coming to terms with this.
Anyway, the first round of winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and shown on both Comedy Central's site and on AtomFilms. The final winner, however, will be decided on by regular ol' online viewers like you and me.
Happy Monday, everybody. I've compiled some interesting news and tidbits from the world of animation just for you:
As reported by Brad last February, classic Gumby shorts are now available on YouTube, Google Video, and In2TV (which is run by TV Squad's parent company, AOL). The shorts are being made available through DMGI, which is also releasing a Gumby DVD later this year. I've placed the first Gumby short at the end of this post.
Boomerang, the Cartoon Network spin-off that was once home to old, classic cartoons, is adding two new shows to its line-up that are neither old nor classic: Krypto the Superdog and Gerald McBoing Boing.
My fellow animation nerds are probably saying, "wait a sec, isn't Gerald McBoing Boing from the '50s?"
Yes, the original Gerald McBoing Boing short, based on a recording written by Dr. Seuss, first appeared in theaters in 1951 and won the Academy Award that same year. Boomerang, however, will be airing an updated version that ran on the now-defunct Tickle U block of preschool programming on Cartoon Network. It would seem logical that if you bill your network as featuring old cartoons you'd pick the Gerald from the '50s and not the one from 2005, but I stopped trying to figure out such decisions a long time ago.
Gerald McBoing Boing will debut on Boomerang Monday, February 5 at 6:00pm, followed by Krypto the Superdog at 7:00pm.
I placed the original Gerald McBoing Boing short after the jump.
There's a lot of animation I enjoy, but Disney's output has always been near the bottom of my list. My love for all things Warner Bros. may rival whatever admiration I have for Disney, but I'll admit I've always loved Disney's short-form cartoons, especially anything featuring Donald Duck or Goofy.
Why do I mention this? Well, news is popping up on some corners of the internet where animation nerds like myself hang out, and it seems that Disney has stopped production on its "Walt Disney Treasures" DVD collections. These collections, which the studio has been putting out since 2001, would have eventually collected every Disney short ever made. Much like the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD sets, some purists have found fault with the DVD's production values, but I file such minor glitches under "Beggars Can't Be Choosers."
Awhile back, cartoon historian Jerry Beck mentioned the upcoming book Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman. Beck was able to get his hand on an advanced copy, not a small feat considering the book isn't even available in the United States yet (keep an eye on the Indiana University Press site, though).
As some of you know, I loves me some classic animation, but I've always been more of a fan of Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera than Walt Disney. Nevertheless, I don't think one can ignore that Disney helped open a lot of doors for other animators and studios, many of which went on to carve out their own niche far removed from the Disney aesthetic.
The book covers every "Silly Symphony" created by the studio in great detail, or so says Beck, who, unlike me, has actually seen the book. I've always enjoyed Beck's writing, not to mention his audio commentaries on the "Looney Tunes Golden Collection" DVDs, so when he says this book is a "must have" for animation fans, I take him at his word.
And speaking of "Silly Symphonies," I've placed one of my favorites, "The Skeleton Dance" after the jump. Enjoy.
Called The Department of Acceptable Media, the program is based on a live event that Jack Black, along with Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, have hosted in Hollywood since 2003. At the live event, five-minute "pilots" by aspiring filmmakers are screened and the audience votes on their favorites. The televised program will work in the same way - viewers will vote online at www.acceptable.tv - for their favorite shorts. The winning "pilots" will get to produce a second episode. The losers will be canceled.
I'm just old enough to remember watching Schoolhouse Rock on ABC, and getting all those catchy but educational songs stuck in my head. The series of shorts that popped up between cartoons on Saturday mornings was conceived by Thomas G. Yohe and based on the simple idea that rock lyrics stick in kids' minds easily, so why not make them educational? The series has become one of the defining pop cultural icons of Generation X, and YesButNoButYes has a brief history of the series and the men and women behind it, complete with video clips. The piece mentions Jack Sheldon (the "I'm Just a Bill" guy) lent his voice to an episode of Family Guy, but it forgets to mention he was also the voice of the "Amendment To Be" in an episode of The Simpsons: "There's a lot of flag burners / who have too much freedom / I wanna make it legal for policemen / to beat 'em." It's a great bit of TV history, definitely worth checking out.
Until now, there was no easy way for a person to view those shorts in their entirety (well, I'm sure there were Torrents of the shorts, but those aren't that easy to find). The site Simpson Crazy has taken care of that, though; they have made all 48 shorts available for download. Just looking at the download page is a great illustration of how much the characters changed in the two years' worth of shorts, to the point where they look pretty much like the Simpsons that you saw during the half-hour show's first season.
Two caveats: The videos are in AVI format, and you need the DivX codec in order to play it in Windows Media Player. The site has the link.
Well, perhaps "forgotten" isn't the right word, but for every Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd there's a plethora of one-shot or secondary characters from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies who still had their own unique personalities, even if they weren't quite as popular as their iconic counterparts. So today, we pay tribute to those we haven't forgotten, but should think about more often anyway. Here we go:
The Goofy Gophers: These two gophers, named Mac and Tosh, appeared in eight shorts between 1947 and 1965. The characters were created by Bob Clampett, based on designs from an earlier cartoon. They were, essentially, a sarcastic reply to Disney's cutesy Chip and Dale, speaking to one another in fawning tones, always injecting lines like "please" and "no, you must go first" into the conversation. Their voices were provided by Mel Blanc and Stan Freberg, and based, apparently, on actors Edward Everett Horton and Franklin Pangborn.
While each of the Looney Tunes characters had their own personality, even those personalities would differ depending on which era the cartoon was made, and who was directing. Porky Pig, for example, was often portrayed as the neurotic foil, but in later cartoons with Daffy Duck he was often the calm voice of reason. Daffy also differed greatly in personality from his early days under the supervision of Bob Clampett when he truly lived up to the name "daffy" to his eventual evolution into the selfish but lovable duck most people know him as today. Trying to keep these two sides of Daffy's psyche in mind, I've come up with five of what I think are his best shorts:
Duck Amuck (1953): "And on this farm he had an igloo...." This was one of my favorite cartoons growing up, and still is today. Daffy finds himself at the mercy of an unseen director who erases and paints in new scenery, erases Daffy himself, and even messes with the music soundtrack and Daffy's own voice. Al the while Daffy tries to reason with him, but to no avail. In the end it's revealed that the man with the magic pencil and paintbrush is actually Bugs Bunny.
I suppose I'm a bit too old for this to be on my radar, but I only recently learned of the popular Edgar and Ellen series of children's books by Charles Ogden. They apparently focus on a brother and sister who live in the quiet town of Nod's Limb where they lead a macabre, Addams Family-esque existence. The twins have also been animated for a series of shorts on the Nicktoon Network, and you can check out two of them here and here. A feature film based on the books is also in development.
[via Cold Hard Flash]
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