Monthly ArchiveMay 2011
- I woke up to a very sad email from Lisa Crafts, this morning. She sent the news that the brilliant and Independent animator, Karen Aqua, had passed away. Here’s Lisa’s note:
- I am sorry to write this in an email, but thought you would want to know.
Karen died peacefully today after a 10 year battle with cancer.
In her last month, Karen managed to finish her film Taxonomy, premiere it at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, and was named a 2011 Fellow in Film & Video by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Her warm and ebullient spirit, dedication to animation, (and wild clothes) will be missed by all.
And with that she attached a letter from Karen’s husband, Ken Field.
- It is with great great sadness that I must report that our dearest Karen died peacefully at Brigham & Women’s Hospital late this afternoon.
She had extreme difficultly breathing Saturday morning at the Cape, and we came back a day early and brought her directly to the emergency room. She had a rapid decline since then, and was on a morphine drip and other pain medications when she died.
She was so happy that we made it to the Cape for a few days, her final wish, and that she got to wiggle her toes in the water on the beach, among a long long list of other accomplishments since her initial cancer diagnosis in 2001.
Karen will be cremated. She has asked that her ashes be distributed to a number of places that were meaningful and dear to us, including New Orleans, Hawaii, Roswell, Italy, and of course Cambridge.
A memorial tribute will be held on Sunday, July 10 at 2pm at Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Avenue in Somerville, MA.
With all best wishes, and with continued gratitude for your wishes and support, and with lots of love,
I don’t have much more to say. Karen was a bright spot shining out of Cambridge. I saw her infrequently, but somehow I felt close to her. Whenever we met up it was all smiles. At the very least, I felt close to her films. This is sad for me.
- In 1980 Portfolio Magazine gave us this article about Edward Hopper. Bill Peckmann sent it to me, and I thought it interesting to post here, especially in that today is Memorial Day, and what better day to celebrate America.
So, I hope you enjoy it.
- Everyone thinks of New York as made of steel, glass and concrete. If you try to add Trees to that mix, people would look at you querulously. Except for the center of the city, from 42nd to 59th Streets, from Park to Eighth Avenues, you’ll find trees.
But, I thinik, the trees pay some kind of price. The plot of ground into which they’re planted is dressed wholly by the owner of the buildings they grace. Let’s take a look at the cages that are built for trees in the city of concrete, glass and steel.
This is a picture of my block taken this week. You can see how lush
it appears to be, and we have to go in closer to see the planters.
They’re only fenced in on the pedestrian’s side of the fence.
But you can see the new growth coming up alongside the tree.
(I think it likes the soil to stretch its roots. I wonder how it deals
with the cigarette butts. Smokers have found a convenient ash tray.)
This is the course the City has taken near Madison Square Park.
They’ve cut into the 23rd Street traffic by constructing a place for
pedestrians to sit – in the middle of traffic. The City tries to make it
habitable by adding plenty of foliage planted in planters that can be moved.
One wonders if the City had regulated what could be constructed about the edges of the trees. Would that have a better designed fencing for the trees? Would that actually be worse, in that there IS the chance that a building owner will do well by the tree? I can’t answer; I can just see what’s there – a grab-bag of fenestration designed to prevent urinating animals away from the trees. But they’re not always the best. I look, again, at what’s outside my building. (#2) The hole left by the City’s planters hasn’t been touched by my building’s owners. Let me say it seems serviceable as compared to the grill in the Village. (#25-26)
In the end, I have to say that I’m just glad to have the tree. Especially at this time of year.
* Steve Fisher also sent this link to the regulations on such plots for trees on the books for NYC.
Daily post 28 May 2011 07:20 am
- Let’s start with me. Thursday night HBO threw a party for my just-completed film, I CAN BE PRESIDENT.
The crowd in the theater just before I was called up to speak.
The party included wine and beer (not for the 100 well-behaved kids), and a lot of children friendly food: hamburger shooters, pigs-in-the-blanket, mini-salads, shrimp, and chicken nuggets. We gathered for an hour and chatted and ate then were moved to one of two theaters (one for the overcrowd showed a video play of what was happening in the big room.) HBO Exec Producer, Jackie Glover introduced the show and my co-Producer, Diane Kolyer. Diane thanked everyone involved in the production (including me) and then introduced me.
I thanked Diane, Sheila Nevins (who pushed the idea on me. I wanted to do an animated documentary about the children of Katrina, but Sheila said she was “Katrinaed out;” she’d just produced the Spike Lee 4-hour doc.) Diane was the original one with an idea about the Presidency so she was attached, and she did a great job with the live-action shoot of the kids. I thanked the kids who were the stars, Geof Bartz was the editor who finally found a form to the 300-plus interviews and the ten or more animatics I did. Then I thanked Katrina Gregorius (I made her stand up) and Matt Clinton (who now lives in Michigan) for the brilliant artistry they brought to the animation.
Finally, I thanked President Obama who was the real reason the show got started. He had just taken office in January of 2009 when the show got the “Go”. I said we’d loved him; then we hated him, and now we love him again. (Though I’m a bit down on Barack this week for renewing the Patriot Act – an excuse to take our civil liberties away in the name of “Terrorism”.)
I also said that I hope we love him in 2012.
Here are some of the key people:
(L to R) me, Diane Kolyer, my co-producer who directed the kid interviews,
Jackie Glover, an Executive Producer working with Sheila Nevins at HBO,
and Geof Bartz, our editor who pulled the whole thing together into some real shape.
The screening was outrageous. The kids kept laughing, and I fell in love with some of the stuff for the first time. There’s no doubt the show is a crowd-pleaser. The very-low-budget animation, which was a real struggle to do (for a million reasons not worth going into), isn’t perfect, but it gets laughs. I have to say it really works, and I have to thank (again) Matt Clinton and Katrina Gregorius for the great and steady work they did.
The show is going to air on June 22nd on HBO at 7:30pm. I’ll point out the date again as we get closer.
- I thought I’d try something new with this post. I have a lot and, at the same time, very little on my mind. None of it, virtually, is worth a post, but I like to express my opinion, so I’m going to do it. I’ll try to focus on things that occurred this week. Or, at least, the things I noticed. Some of them will be more organized than others.
As a matter of fact, I’ll come back a few more times today and add to it, that is, if I come up with anything more to say. So it’s an all improvised day.
My version of twitter, though I’ll use a few more characters.Sorry if I don’t have much of interest to say.
- I’ve seen the GEICO spot with Foghorn Leghorn at least a dozen times this week. It sure moves a lot, and I don’t think I’ve seen swish lines on a character done in the past twenty years. It has to be done on purpose. I don’t like it, but at least there are a lot of drawings there. Not good ones and not anything that would equal any of the Warner animators who worked on the original Foghorn Leghorn shorts.
It’s a problem getting animators with the proper type of training for these spots. I have to admit this is miles above the Elmer Fudd spot done for GEICO over a year ago. And I suppose it does have the same boring feel of Robert McKimson’s animation.
- I’ve been aghast at the images of the Tornado stricken MidWestern part of the Country. One of the NYYankee pitchers, David Robertson, spent his day of in his home town of Tuscaloosa. He was completely in a state of shock, not recognizing any part of his torn up hometown. Robertson has set up a fund and is donating, himself, directly to the victims by giving $100 for each strike out he pulls off this year.
- I’m more a NY Met* detractor than a fan, however the news this week that former NY Met star, Gary Carter, was diagnosed with four brain tumors which after biopsy proved malignant made me have a bit more sympathy for the team. They’re currently in a Bernie Madoff-connected scam with part of the team being sold off to raise money for the Wilpons, who own the team. It doesn’t seem like much will happen with the team in the next few years. They’ve had a bit of a winning streak lately, but that’ll undoubtedly change soon.
* In case you don’t know, the NY Mets is a baseball team in NY.
- I suspect that the blog generations are slipping away to Facebook. The daily traffic on my blog has dipped by a third in the last month. Nothing else has changed, but that’s the way it is. I’m not sure if this is the case with other blogs, but I’ve decided to save some posts that I think I might want to refer back to. Of course, many of the items that Hans Perk posts on his A Film LA and Mike Barrier‘s interviews and reviews on his site are always sent to the My Documents folder. But there are plenty of things on Mark Mayerson‘s blog, as well. For example, Mark’s The Elements of a Scene series is enormously informative, and I’ve copied it off to hold onto. This is just great and informative film writing.
- Thanks to Mark Mayerson for directing me to Jeet Heer‘s very good interview with Bob Blechman. Here. Bob’s an interesting guy and has some things to say (mostly about illustration but a bit about animation in the second half of the interview.) It’s worth a read.
- Ken Priebe sent out an email announcing Bob Godfrey‘s birthday – his 90th birthday. Today Cartoon Brew picked it up in a very nice fashion, by posting several of his short animated pieces. Ken’s connection is that Bob used to be an instructor at VanArts, the school in Vancouver where Ken teaches animation. (He must do a good job. Katrina Gregorius, who has worked for me this past year or two, is one of his graduates.)
I’ve only met Bob Godfrey a couple of times – always in Festival situations. The most vivid in my memory goes back to the Ottawa Animation Festival in 1979, when Bob was only 52. His new short, Dream Doll, was screening at the Festival. This was a film about a man and his blow-up doll and their love affair. At the Ottawa picnic Bob was presented with a helium-filled blow-up doll. This got a few laughs and a couple of angry sneers. Finally, one fellow (not in on the joke that Bob had made a film and this balloon honored it) blew up the full-sized doll, in Bob’s hands. Lots of angry shouts and eventually an apology. Personally, I have to admit I was uncomfortable with the film, the doll and the fuss made about it. The film was ultimately nominated for an Oscar. Talk about sexual liberation – for the males, anyway.
Arnold Roth was born in 1929 in Philadelphia, Pa. He attended public schools and was awarded a scholarship to art school. He started free lancing in 1951 and continues to do so. Mr. Roth has had cartoons published in The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Punch and the NY Times. He’s worked briefly in animation for John Hubley and Phil Kimmelman. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and two sons.
Blessed Bill Peckmann has been feeding me some great scans of this book, and I’m ecstatic to be able to post them. This week, with the second part of the posting, we go out to all cat lovers (that includes me, I must say), and we present the chapter on “Cats”. The material’s pretty funny, and the drawings couldn’t be finer. I hope you enjoy.
And as an additional bonus,
Bill Peckmann had this original ad which
Arnold Roth did for Phil Kimmelman & Ass.
- Here are some more model sheets from Cinderella. #4 through #12 are drawn by Mary Blair. There are a couple by Marc Davis that are in among the remaining group. You can check with Hans Perk‘s resourceful site A Film LA. There you’ll find the drafts for the film, and you can find out who did what.
- Here are some storyboard drawings from Cinderella. A number of them are by Bill Peet (known as “William Peed” on this film
May I suggest that you check with Hans Perk‘s excellent site A Film LA to find the drafts for the film. You can use those to find out who animated what scenes.
- Bill Peckmann sent me this in case I hadn’t already posted it. In fact, I’ve never seen it before so it’s a bit of a treasure to me, a big fan of UPA. Here’s Bill’s note:
- This is a studio brochure/mailer* reprinted from American Artist Magazine Nov. 1955. I remember reading the article in high school, it had a huge impact. I remembered it for many years after because of the scarcity of animation articles at that time. And, because it appeared in an “art” magazine, it seemed to make “cartooning” legit.
Did Disney art ever appear in an “art” magazine around this time?
*This brochure was given to me by Ruth Mane (UPA Alumni) many, years ago.
And now, Bill’s passed it onto us. Many thanks, Bill.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
There’s no doubt this article followed up on the Museum of Modern Art‘s 1955 show of UPA art. Amid Amidi posted an extraordinary piece about this show on his Cartoon Modern site. By the way, this is an exquisite site. It’s just a shame that Amid let it lay after his promotion for his book Cartoon Modern. Take some time and browse around that site when you have some time.
A snap of one of the walls at the 1955 MoMA UPA Exhibit.
(from Amid Amidi’s site, Cartoon Modern.)
- Here are some preliminary drawings from Cinderella. These are pictures of the mice, the cat, the dog, the Prince and the horse. Sorry the low res of some of the images doesn’t allow me to get large enough – particularly with regard to the model sheets.
and The Duke
After viewing these models, take a look at the animator drafts whch are being posted by Hans Perk on his commendable site, A Film LA.
- My friend, Steve Fisher has taken some remarkable photos recently. We start with some falling buds.
Fallen pink-flowering dogwood blossoms
And here are some textures both natural and man-made.