Monthly ArchiveDecember 2007

Animation Artifacts &Disney &Story & Storyboards 31 Dec 2007 09:38 am

Pink Elephants

- What better way to issue in the New Year than with models/sketches and drawings from the Pink Elephants on Parade section of Dumbo. Once again, thanks to John Canemaker, I have several photo images to display.

These are rather small images, so by cutting up the large boards and reassembling them I can post them at a higher resolution, making them better seen when clicking each image. It’ll take two days to post them all, so this will be continued later this week.

I’ve interspersed some frame grabs fromt the sequence to give an idea of the coloring.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

Books 30 Dec 2007 09:55 am

Steig at the Jewish Museum

- Yesterday, we went to the Jewish Museum on the upper East Side of Manhattan to see the exhibit of William Steig‘s works. Unfortunately, like most other New York buildings, (pictured on the left) there’s a scaffold surrounding the museum, with some kind of construction going on. On Saturdays, entrance is free, so you’ll note the long line to enter. Within, there’s an overly cautious search of your property to make sure you’re not trying to sneak in with a bomb.

On display were many of his original cartoons as well as original color illustrations for the many children’s books he wrote and illustrated. The exhibit included a lot of roughs as well as dummy copies of several books – including Doctor DeSoto.

They dressed up several rooms with wall-sized images from the books as well as copies of the books to view, and there were people with kids strewn about the floor.

I’m sorry it didn’t occur while Steig was still alive. When I first got out of the Navy in 1970, I came upon a small exhibit of his New Yorker cartoons at a rare-book seller’s shop (no longer there.) I was so taken by the drawings that I used all my money at the time, $75.00, to buy the least expensive (and my favorite) one of the pictures. Years later when I told him about the drawing I’d bought, he knew exactly which one it was. He said that’s the only picture bought at that show.

At the Jewish Museum, I learned early on that I wasn’t allowed to photograph the pictures. I still took a few pictures on the sly and have tried to clean them up for this post.

“Are we too early?”
An early New Yorker cartoon drawn before the arrival of
William Shawn as editor of the magazine.

Steig’s cartoons often depicted brutally honest thoughts
on male/female relationships.

There were a number of Steig’s black & white drawings from his books, The Lonely Ones and Small Fry. These were originally collections of New Yorker cartoons.
The Lonely Ones cartoons reflect the influence of Wilhelm Reich and his unusal psychoterapy. Steig was an ardent follower, and the “Orgone box” appears in many of the illustrations or as subtext to many of the children’s books.

In the first room you entered, there was a beautiful New Yorker image of many faces.
Later in the show, this image was enlarged to wall-size, and several of the faces opened
for kids who wanted to interact with the masks.

Many of his children’s books were well represented. Abel’s Island, above left, and
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, above right, were shown. There were some excellent images from The Amazing Bone. (I almost thought I was looking at artwork from my film;
it was the exact same size.)

There were a couple of images from the stunningly beautiful book, Brave Irene. This is the one book I wish I could’ve animated.

The final room included a number of images from Steig’s book, Shrek. It isn’t one of my favorites of his books, but the paintings still are excellent. On a wall opposite were drawings and sketches by several of the Dreamworks artists and their versions of the character. A table in the center of the room displayed a couple of sculptures of the ugly character from the films.

It’s bad enough that the beautiful illustrations of Steig are trashed for the ugly repre-
sentations in those films, but to complete a retrospective of the man’s art with that left a bad taste in my mouth. Obviously, Dreamworks must have helped finance the exhibit. I didn’t take any more pictures in this final room.

The exhibit is attractive and it’s a good way to see Steig as an artist. The art is small, so if there’s a crowd there can be a small wait. However, it’s worth any troubles. There was a book, The Art of William Steig. It was Saturday, and the bookstore was closed, and I wasn’t able to buy one. Perhaps when I do, I’ll post more of the images from this show.

Animation Artifacts &UPA 29 Dec 2007 08:34 am

The Tell Tale Heart – part 2

- Today I complete the collection of frame grabs I’ve pulled from UPA’s The Tell Tale Heart. If you don’t have the film on dvd, watch it on YouTube. This film is included among the films preserved in the U S National Film Registry.

However, to quote John Kricfalusi, “‘Masterpiece’?? It’s a total boring slow eyesore.” By that, I assume he means the film doesn’t scream at you; it tells a story, and I guess that makes it boring. The fact that the cartoon lifted the Production Designer to the height of this storytelling process is irrelevant. Perhaps, today’s audiences are too impatient. (I once had an intern tell me that she couldn’t watch Citizen Kane because it was too boring. It was in Black and White.)

Regardless, I have to step off of my soapbox; here are the remainder of these beautiful images. I hope they inspire someone the way they once did me when I first saw the film. I offer these up to Paul Julian, who did such brilliant work of design.











Then it was over.

The heart was still.
The eye was dead.

I was free.

But there was still work to be done.

I replaced the planks so carefully no eye . . . not even his
could have found anything wrong.

So soon?
“The neighbors reported a scream. We’re obliged to investigate.”
“A scream? My own, gentlemen. A childish dream.”

“But come in, please. You’ll want to look through the house.”
“That is our duty. Where is the old man?”
“Gone to the city.”

“You’re up very early.”
“The dream I spoke of. It awakened me.”











“When did he leave?”

“The old man? Yesterday.”

“How long will he be away?”

Tw . . . two weeks.”






“Perhaps longer.”
“Nothing out of place, here.”
“There is his bed, his cupboard. All in order?”
“Quite in order.”
“All quite in order.”
“Nothing amiss. You understand that when a complaint is made we have no choice but . . .”

“Stay! It’s such a wretched hour. I was making tea. A hot drink will break the chill.”
“Surely it will surprise such good people how much the night . . .”

“. . .conceals from their eyes. But not yours, to be sure.”

“What? What did you say good sir?

“Yes. Yes, of course. The hot water. It will do no harm to the bare boards.
I’m a little less tidy with the old man away.”












Then I heard it. It might have been a hand. A clock.

But no, louder. Still louder. They must hear it.

But still they talk and talk. They must.

They must. Of course they do. They know. They do. They’re torturing me.

Letting it beat so that I . . . I . . . I

________________________________________STOP IT ! Stop it, you devils !

YES ! I did it. It’s there under the floor. OH, STOP IT !
It is the beating of his hideous heart !

_____________True, I am nervous. Very, very dreadfully nervous.

_____________________________________But why will you say that I am mad?

Animation Artifacts &UPA 28 Dec 2007 09:04 am

The Tell Tale Heart – part 1

- Recently, there have been a number of attacks on the classic
UPA film, The Tell Tale Heart.
A number of voices – all on blogs
and internet chatter – have called the animation for this film poor. Even recently, in a letter to Michael Barrier, Tee Bosustow writes “about the bad animation in Tell Tale Heart.”

Pat Matthews was the film’s sole credited animator, and he was good, having worked at Fleischer’s and Lantz’ studios before arriving at UPA. His work in this film is exactly what was required of him. Rather, The Tell Tale Heart is a tour de force of production design. It is probably one of the first non-war/propaganda animated films, since Baby Weems, to so feature this element of production over everything else – except story. Paul Julian‘s brilliant artwork oozes from the pores of every frame of this film. Together with James Mason‘s narration and Boris Kremenliev‘s strong musical score, the film evocatively tells the strong Edgar Allan Poe story. This tale has not been told on film any better since it was made in 1953. Ted Parmalee directed the film with authority.

It’s odd how I feel as though I have to defend this movie. I think it a brilliant film and have to remind myself that I’m not alone in believing this. It was nominated for the Oscar and for good reason (it lost to Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom. Ah, the irony!)

Here’s the first of two posts, using frame grabs to feature all of the scenes of the film.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

True I’m nervous. Very very dreadfully nervous.

But why will you say that I am mad? See how calmly I tell this story to you. Listen.

It starts with the old man. An old man in an old house. A good man I suppose. He had
never harmed me. I didn’t want his gold. . . if gold there was. Then what was it? I think . . .

I think it was . . . his eye. Yes, that eye . . . the eye.

That. His eye staring. Milky white film. The eye.

Everywhere. Everywhere in everything.

Of course, I had to get rid of the eye.
So I waited. Watched. Waited. I was never so kind to the old man.

I looked after him. Each minute. Each second. And I waited.

But night after night. In the hour of the slowest clock . . . I opened the old man’s door.

The eye was always closed. For seven days, I waited. You think me mad? What mad man would wait . . . could wait so patiently?

So long? In the old house . . . with the old man . . . and the eye.

Then on the eighth night I knew . . . tonight. Still, I waited . . .
. . . while time slowed. Stopped. Ebbed out.

A watch’s hand moved more quickly than mine. Then, what? Yelps.
For an hour, I did not move a muscle. I could feel the earth turn. The eye.
Hear the spider spinning. the grinding crumble of decay.
Then . . . dull and muffled, yet . . . Of course, it was the beating of the old man’s heart.

He knew. So strong for such an old man.
Louder then. And still louder. For all the world to hear. I know.
I had to stop it . . . . . AHHHHHH !

Then it was over.

______________________________________________ To be concluded tomorrow.

Daily post &Photos &SpornFilms 27 Dec 2007 09:03 am

Terminals, Blogs, Free Films & Krazy Kat

- A week ago, I stepped off a train into Grand Central Station to be surprised by the kaleidoscopic carousel of lights that had been arranged in the grand terminal. I tried to take some photos, thinking it’d make a good post for this blog, but wasn’t pleased with the pictures I’d taken. It didn’t do justice to the light show.

Nulla has posted some fine images on her site, Blather from Brooklyn. I urge you to take a look. As a matter of fact, she’s also posted some nice pictures recorded on Christmas Day in NY. You just can’t beat this city for the show they put on. From Grand Central, to the department store windows, to the free ice skating and carousel in Bryant Park, it just gets better each year.


- My favorite Christmas Blog reading this year was the arcana Tom Sito has treated us to on his site. From wasselling to cutting trees for the home to the birth of Santa. I’ve enjoyed reading about it all, and I’ve shared it with plenty of others. Thanks, Tom..


- I’ve just found a free site set up by New Hampshire Public TV
which gives access to a number of Weston Woods films via RealPlayer. Among the many shorts available there are some eight films I’ve done for Weston adapting noted children’s books. If you’d like to see
any of these films:

The Amazing Bone
Doctor DeSoto
Leo The Late Bloomer
The Mysterious Tadpole
Max’s Chocolate Chicken
Max’s Christmas
Morris’s Disappearing Bag
What’s Under My Bed?

They can be found here. You have to scroll down the individual categories until you come to one of these titles. They’re not hard to locate if you’re so inclined.


The Daily Telegraph reworks a piece by Sarah Boxer from The N Y Review of Books to give us this article on Krazy Kat. Herriman: Cartoonist who equalled Cervantes.
It honors Herriman while promoting the Fantagraphics series currently in issue.


Finally, you can tell Christmas is over when Santas start to deflate.

Thanks to Steve Fisher for this picture.
It’s almost an abstraction.

Errol Le Cain &Illustration 26 Dec 2007 08:24 am

Christmas Stockings

- The book by Matthew Price, The Christmas Stockings, is a fun book for kids with large illustrations by Errol Le Cain. Santa has trouble getting around an apartment building in the city, so you have to help him locate a number of doors and windows, which cut out and open, so that he can move from apartment to apartment delivering his goodies.

It’s not a book that I ever loved, but it’s certainly part of the canon. The style is less like the irridescent watercolors of his other books, and more like a cartoon book done with a mix of watercolors and colored pencils.

Each page is a double page spread, so that there are fewer individual illustrations and big is the byword. Not as delicate as some of the others but still it’s the work of an artist.

More to the point, it’s specifically a Christmas book, and when more appropriate to attend to it than now. So here are several of its double page spreads.

Inside front cover; Santa arrives._______(Click any image to enlarge.)

Pages 2-3___Santa arrives on the rooftop.

Pages 4-5___Once inside, he tries to move down the building’s floors, but needs the reader to help him find an exit. There’s a hidden door under the airplane that opens.

Pages 8-9___The door marked “Exit” opens.

Pages 12-13___The door in front of Santa opens.

Pages 16-17___The window opens allowing Santa to escape.

Inside the back cover sits one of the best illustrations in the book.___

As you know, I’ve posted a number of his other books, and you can click any of these links to find those posts.

____Puffin Books_______ ________________Mr. Mistoffelees
____The Snow Queen_______________-____Aladdin
____Growltiger_________________________Thorn Rose
____Pied Piper of Hamelin_______________12 Dancing Princesses
____Have You Seen My Sister____________Hiawatha’s Childhood
_________Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Animation Artifacts 25 Dec 2007 08:24 am

A Grim Christmas

Here’s a rough drawing of Santa that Grim Natwick did back in 1931 while at the Fleischer studio. I’m not sure if this was for a card or a friendly in-studio gag, but it’s definitely Santa and a Natwick cartoon.

_(Click image to enlarge.)

____Merry Christmas

Animation Artifacts &Richard Williams 24 Dec 2007 09:26 am

Christmas is Coming

You’d better watch out.

I posted this cel two years ago. It was from a scene Richard Williams animated for his Christmas Carol. The drawing was done on cel not on paper with a mars omnichrome pencil. Hence, the inking is Dick’s, as well.

David Nethery has posted a cel from Abe Levitow’s sequence – probably my favorite scene in the film comes from this sequence. The scene where Christmas Present moves back his robe to reveal the two children – “ignorance” and “want”. I think I disappointed Dick when I told him this years ago and hadn’t named one of his scenes. Given the way Dick worked on Raggedy Ann, I’d guess he did the cleanup on these scenes as well.

Photos 23 Dec 2007 09:15 am

Snowflakes, Premieres & Glittering Trees

“Let me tell you, there is nothing like
New York at Christmas Time.
“The day we went to the ballet, Jenny’s eyes sparkled like the giant glittering snowflake that greeted us at Fifth Avenue.
She said it was like walking in a life-size pop-up book because lovely thngs kept popping up all around us. She was right.
“There were evergreens shining like jewels high on a tower rooftop; dazzling window displays;
Central Park, looking magical and majestic.”
These are the lines of narration that greeted me when I initially read the “Narration Script” Maxine Fisher had written for my film, The Red Shoes, back in 1989.

The crystal light fixture that had arrived on 57th Street over the center of Fifth Avenue, was relatively new at the time. We did our own version of the piece, which slowly zooms and pans on screen for about four seconds.

This past Wednesday night we were uptown to attend the premiere of Denzel Washington’s new film, The Great Debaters. It was fun attending one of these premieres, having cocktails prior to the film (courtesy of Harvey Weinstein). The best part was seeing a movie on that enormous screen at the Ziegfeld Theater. It really is a treat. The film was a bit sentimental and not as dark as the reality probably was. Uplifting.

There were some celebrities milling about. I said hello to Mark Forester, the director of The Kite Runner and Monster’s Ball. He was talking with movie mogul, Joe Roth. Oprah Winfrey, who produced the film, wasn’t there. John Canemaker and his companion, Joe Kennedy, were the only animation folk we saw there.

The film started late with the entire cast introducing it. Harvey Weinstein introduced
Denzel Washington, who stars and directed, and he introduced the rest of the cast.
Forest Whitaker is on the left of picture 2.

At any rate, when the movie finally let out, we headed to rainy Fifth Avenue to catch a taxi or a bus (whichever came first.)

There was the snowflake! I decided to try shooting it while we waited for a bus to show up. These are the pictures.

_________These are the “evergreens shining like jewels high on a tower rooftop.”

Animation Artifacts &Comic Art 22 Dec 2007 09:03 am

Terry Comix

I have this comic book page from Paul Terry’s Comics – pg 27. I thought I’d post it since I don’t know who drew the page and thought someone out there might have a good idea. I love Gandy Goose, so it’s enough that he’s featured in the strip. That was reason enough to purchase it a couple of years ago.

The magazine was probably published in 1952-3. Jim Tyer was drawing a lot of the strips at the time, though I’m not sure this is his artwork. The eyes look too normal despite the distortion in some of the bodies.

__________(Click the image to view larger.)

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