Art Art &Books &Comic Art &Illustration &John Canemaker &T.Hachtman 03 Dec 2011 07:45 am

Paul & Sandra and John and Tom and Bill

- This past Thursday night, Paul and Sandra Fierlinger presented an hour’s worth of their latest project at Parson’s School. The film, Slocum at Sea with Himself, tells the story of the first person to have sailed SOLO around the world.

The film was a work in progress in every sense of the phrase. It started in full color, included scenes over final Bgs that weren’t colored and had other scenes that were pure pencil test. The sound was predominantly music composed and performed by the brilliant Shay Lynch. (You may know his music from the many films he did for Jeff Scher.) Yet, it all stood with a great dignity as a strong piece.

The film was full of potential to be even greater than their last feature, My Dog Tulip. Imagery was stunning and beautifully designed and animated (as usual from this team). It was a real treat seeing the work in progress, and it was easy to fill in the gaps. The movie takes place almost completely on water, and it’s amazing the effects they’ve achieved in animating such a difficult project. I was wholly taken by it.

As monumental as the screening was – truly inspirational, the talk Paul gave in advance was thought provoking. They are making the film with their own money and planning to release it online in short segments. All told the feed would take about six months to receive the entire feature. To buy these feeds, which will be built into a website that would constantly change for each segment, will cost about $30 in total. They’re hoping for a built-in audience of boaters and leisure craft enthusiasts around the world. Slocum is a well-known story to these folk, and the likelihood that they’d have interest in the subject is great.

Theirs is a provocative idea for distributing the film, and the business model Paul presented seemed original and probably a successful one. It will take some time before the feature is finished, but I’ll be watching closely to see how successful they’ll be. I’d bet on them, too.

There is no doubt of the love they’re pouring into this project. Take a look at these stills:


- The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, John Canemaker’s animated short, is now available in a special edition DVD. This powerful and moving film, which has won both the Academy Award and the Emmy Award, explores the difficult emotional terrain of father/son relationships as seen through Canemaker’s own turbulent relationship with his father.

The Moon and the Son combines many different elements from John’s remembered versions of the facts, to the actual evidence of the life on screen: the trial transcripts, audio recordings, home movies, and photos. The original and stylized animation tells the true story of an Italian immigrant’s troubled life and the consequences of his actions on his family. The film features the voices of noted actors Eli Wallach and John Turturro in the roles of father and son.

The DVD includes the complete 28-minute film and the following bonus materials:
- A new documentary detailing the film’s creative evolution, influences and reception, with animation director/designer John Canemaker and producer Peggy Stern.
- The first rough cut (working title: “Confessions of my Father”) with original soundtrack
- A Photo gallery of production sketches, preliminary artwork and storyboards

I enjoyed thumbing through all the extras on this DVD. When the film was being made, John shared its progress with me at several stages. I’m intrigued with how much material was there in the development. As a long time friend with John, I felt I’d known some of the story over the years. But the film, and now the new material, give me larger insight to the full story. Spending time reading the storyboard (one of the extras) again – having seen the film several times – allowed me to see some of the background which shaped John’s quest to tell this story.

The DVD is available now on Amazon.

Some samples of the art work on the new disc.

A somewhat Feiffer-like page within the storyboard.

Smart sketches grow in color.

A very “Canemaker” sketch that reminds me a bit of a Picasso sketch.

There’s lots more on the DVD.


- Tom Hachtman has seen an unusual turn with his Gertrude and Alice characters. You’ll remember that he’d developed a comic strip, Gertrude’s Follies, built around Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. A friend and admirer of the strip, Hans Gallas, has written a children’s book around Tom’s characters, and Tom illustrated the book. Now that book’s been published, and can be purchased from their site. Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom is a charming account of what happens when Gertrude and Alice have to take care of a couple of young boys during their stay in Paris.

Here are some of the book’s exuberant illustrations.

The book’s cover

And here are some of Tom’s original sketches for the book.

Original sketch for the cover.
Très different from the final.

A preliminary sketch for a lot of pages


- Bill Benzon, on his blog New Savannah, has finally completed his treatise on Fantasia and has published it in a PDF form. You can download this here for a great read. 96 pages of intelligent discourse on the feature. This document contains his original, and shorter commentary on the Pastoral sequence. For his longer take on that sequence download this document.

5 Responses to “Paul & Sandra and John and Tom and Bill”

  1. on 03 Dec 2011 at 3:40 pm 1.Bill said …

    Tom Hachtman, no one should be allowed to be that good, terrific stuff, more books please!

  2. on 03 Dec 2011 at 8:40 pm 2.George Griffin said …

    Just gotta say, Michael, the Canemaker sketches of his dad reminded me not so much of Picasso, but more like Lucian Freud. Either way, pretty good, not to mention spooky.

  3. on 05 Dec 2011 at 7:40 am 3.Bill Benzon said …

    Thanks for the links, Michael, and the good word.

    FWIW, Slocum’s voyage is also known to students of altered states of consciousness (ASCs). Slocum published a book about his circumnavigation in which he talks about hallucinated helpers he had. These are regarded as an effect of social deprivation (that is, being alone for so very long).

  4. on 08 Dec 2011 at 4:56 pm 4.Eldon said …

    I understand you’re friends Michael but, Picasso?

  5. on 08 Dec 2011 at 5:55 pm 5.Michael said …

    Yes, Picasso. I’m thinking of a specific drawing, and I \’d have to go searching for it to prove it to you. I’m too lazy for that, so if you don’t want to take my word that the many of at least a dozen different styles drew like that, I don’t care.

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