Sunday, December 28, 2008

Imagine Exploiting John Lennon

This is just horrible. The timber of the voice is right but the cadence and diction are nothing like John. It saddens me to think John is being used against his will. People,(Yoko), are now literally putting words in his mouth, something he fought so hard against. I wonder what he would have to say if he were alive today.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Interpreting Krazy Kat

The original 1918 strip used for the Spitting Image Test below, (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

A fatter Krazy from the 40's in color.

The test from Spitting Image Productions

Over the holiday season Cartoon Brew posted a test done in 1996 by Spitting Image Productions for King Features Syndicate. The test was done to see if King Features could create new interest in one of their most eccentric and highly regarded properties: “Krazy Kat” by George Herriman.

Krazy was animated for the silent screen during its earliest appearances as a comic strip around 1914. But the treatment was the same as any silent animated characters at the time and never tried to capture the strips idiosyncrasies. Later in the 60’s, almost twenty years after the strip had stopped and fallen into oblivion, another attempt was made to revise interest with a new animated series with sound and color. The voice casting and limited animation satisfied no one, especially anyone with any familiarity with the strip.

Even as a comic strip cartoon Krazy was an acquired taste and would have been dropped had it not been championed by William Randolph Hearst who owned the paper. So great was Hearst’s admiration that he gave Herriman a guaranteed life time promise that Krazy would always have a home in his paper.

This long term agreement for the life span of Krazy began around 1913 and ended in 1944 with the death of Herriman. The 31 year run saw an evolution in style affecting not only the characters appearance but also the formatting and a transition to color. The early prose of K.K. had a running narrative that was lyrical and poetic. This was dropped during the later strips and became limited to the love triangle of Pup, Kat, and Mouse most associate with today.

So which Krazy is Krazy? The Kat from the 20’s is leaner and has a finer line quality than the Kat from the 40’s with its scratchier loose and thick strokes caused by Herriman’s increasing arthritics and bad health. Add to this the phantasmagorical backgrounds of Coconino County which morphed from panel to panel turning day into night and back again during the same action and conversation.

Although faithful to the original strip this test minimizes the transitional landscapes, wisely going with cuts, and prettifies the designs over what Herriman conceived. The premise comes from a 1918 strip but uses a 1940's Kat. Perhaps stop-motion wasn’t the best choice because it couldn’t carry the graphic nature so essential to the strip. Yet you can't argue the fine animation. The narrative is perhaps the weakest part of this presentation being far too modern and lacking the poetic flavor of the original. Unlike other comic characters like Popeye and Charlie Brown, Krazy Kat has proven to be too unique a vision to bring to the screen so far.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Baby Rose Marie

The cast of "The Dick Van Dyke Show": Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam, and Rose Marie making devil horns.

I have always loved "The Dick Van Dyke Show" created by Carl Reiner. I still think the character Laura Petrie, (Mary Tyler Moore), is incredibly sexy and laugh at the same stuff I've seen hundreds of times before. But I've learned something about the actress who played tough aggressive Sally Rodgers that I didn't know. Sally was played by child star Baby Rose Marie. Yup, check out this amazing YouTube performance and see what a seasoned trooper this gal really was.

Watch "The Dick Van Dyke Show" here:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I saw this on Cartoon Brew and couldn't resist. Of course that's Ward Kimball on the trombone and Frank Thomas on piano. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Most books on animation including Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s, “The Illusion of Life” warn against drawing mirrored poses or having the same timing on body gestures that echo each other. The term is called ‘Twinning' and the argument is that asymmetry is more natural. Perhaps this is true in a still image to prevent stiffness and to give interest, but I find it happening in live performances again and again. I also recall ‘twinning’ in Disney’s “The Wind in the Willows” segment where Mr. Toad goes car crazy. Now John Kricfalusi has posted some images from Disney’s “Song of the South” that sure look like ‘twinning’ to me. I guess when you make the rules you can break them too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

3D Craze Again...

There seems to be a renewed interest in stereoscopic movies these days. The first projected stereoscopic images were done by Charles d'Almeida in 1858 using the red and green lens anaglyphic method. Another form of stereo projection was the use of polarized lights created by John Anderton in 1891. These two methods became the standard formats for all stereoscopic films during the first 3D boom in the fifty's. Hollywood turned to 3D because of the increasing sales of television sets and the threat of audiences staying home. Will this new wave of stereoscopic movies pull crowds into theaters and away from renting films on DVD?

Here is a sample of Warner Bros. one and only attempt to capitalize on the 3D craze. "Lumber Jack-Rabbit" hit theaters in 1954 just as the craze was dying. Although we can't watch it in the 3D format, you can get a sense of what was intended by some of the exaggerated set pieces.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Joe Myers

Once upon a time in a small seeping pustule on the buttock of the universe there lived five little boys who wanted to make a lot of noise. They were bothers of brothers who had once formed a band called The Children. Now two of the brothers were very good and too good to stay in the small seeping pustule. They were smart enough to get out and do something worthwhile.

I say all this as a way of introducing my old band mate Joe Myers who sent me an email not too long ago. Joe who was and is a phenomenal guitarist has rightfully gained some recognition in Phoenix Arizona as a musician/singer/songwriter. he has several albums of original music with his equally talented brother, (my other band mate Matthew), drumming on some of the tracks. He has also written music for the film "Flowers of Madison"

Go here to listen to some of his tunes, ( I love "River To River" myself):

And go here to buy his music:

Happy Holidays Joe & Matte!