"Dragonheart," released twenty years ago this week, was a live-action film that had one of the first digital characters you could believe in. We talk to the ILM artists who created it.
The post An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Forty-three years after its release, one of the weirdest Japanese animated features is receiving its due recognition in the United States.
The post ‘Belladonna of Sadness,’ 1970s Anime Erotica Masterpiece, Gets A U.S. Theatrical Release, Blu-Ray, and Art Book appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Steven James Petruccio
This is a digital painting I recently finished for "The Little Cookie" coming out later this year.
Here are a couple of princess images I created. One was for a Halloween book and features my daughter with her friends and cousin. The other is a spread from A Little Princess which I stepped in to illustrate for another illustrator when she could not meet the deadline...I'm glad I took the job!
Halloween Counting Fun
A Little Princess
Watercolor Illustrations by
Steven James Petruccio
Sixty years ago on this day — December 31, 1955 — a short masterpiece was released into movie theaters: Chuck Jones’ One Froggy Evening. No one said anything at the time because hardly anyone ever said anything about animation at the time.
Eventually the short gained its due recognition. “The Citizen Kane of animated shorts,” Steven Spielberg once called it, and even if Spielberg had said nothing, this wordless wonder would still qualify as one of the finest of Jones’ couple of hundred Warner Bros. shorts.
Before we proceed any further though, let’s watch the film:
Let me admit: as many times as I’ve watched this film, I still cannot understand how it was made. Technically, I get it, but there’s something else going on that is impenetrable. Every member of Jones’ team is operating at the peak of their craft, a level achieved through decades of toil and refinement, yet their collaboration appears so seamless and absolute that it does not seem possible for the cartoon to have been created by mere mortals. As the skies above us and the ground below us, this cartoon is a perfectly formed natural wonder that cannot be improved upon.
The credit is due to just a couple handfuls of key individuals: Michael Maltese’s story structure reveals just enough but not all of the mystery; Abe Levitow, Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam bring the characters to life through perfectly timed and funny animation (it’s funny because it’s perfectly timed); the layouts of Bob Gribbroek and background paintings of Phil DeGuard drop us into the middle of a believable mid-20th century American metropolis. And let’s not forget the musical stylings of Milt Franklyn, the sound effects of Treg Brown, and certainly not the voice of Michigan J. Frog himself, Bill Roberts.
And consider this: Jones’s crew made a new short every three weeks or so. These guys didn’t labor over this film for years, and they certainly didn’t have time to reflect or be precious about it. They simply churned it out, as they did countless others, over and over again. Lather, rinse, repeat, and eventually retire.
But it is director Jones himself who reminds us why he is considered one of animation’s greats. The presence of Jones, who created more layout drawings per film than almost any other Golden Age theatrical short director, can be felt in every expression and pose of One Froggy Evening. Jones doesn’t rely on pre-existing stock poses or expressions. He is a cartoonist who is a master of his universe, and he effortlessly creates custom poses and expressions for each and every scene, in his inimitable style that can only be described as Jonesian.
Jones’ advantage is that he has something that most comedy animation directors, then or now, don’t have, which is an obsession for detail. When he couldn’t find the proper ragtime tune for his singing frog, he wrote his own from scratch with the help of Maltese, resulting in “The Michigan Rag.” The song sounds so authentic that to this day people wonder which songs in the film were pre-existing and which were created specifically for the film (this site explains it all).
His gift for observation extended to his amphibian star. As a frog owner myself, I’m routinely annoyed when animators don’t take the time to get frogs right. When a frog swallows his food, his eyes sink deep into his head. Few animators seem to notice this. But there is no such laziness in Jones’s work. “I remembered from when I was a kid,” Chuck Jones once explained. “Any boy that’s ever picked up a frog knows how the body sits and the limbs hang down. So we had to be certain, in those first few seconds on the screen, that when [Michigan] appeared he looked like a frog. Even that his eyes blinked upward.”
Perhaps audiences didn’t notice every single directorial choice that Jones made during the course of the production. Eyes blinking upward certainly won’t make or break any cartoon. But those hundreds of directorial choices in an animated film eventually add up. And audiences always notice one thing: does the director care? Jones cared. He obsessed. And in this rare instance, he made all the right choices, resulting in a perfect cartoon gem.
Frankly, I’m content with the fact that I’ll never understand how he and his crew made it.
The post An Appreciation of Chuck Jones’ ‘One Froggy Evening’ On Its 60th Birthday appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Discover five of Cartoon Brew's favorite creepy classics, based upon the literary works of Edgar Allen Poe, Franz Kafka, and more.
55 years ago today: "Rocky & His Friends" premiered.
Today we're thankful for many reasons, including classic animated shorts.
The story of Louis Zamperini, hero of Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," seems far removed from anything animation-related, but he did have a significant, and previously untold, connection to the animation world.
Happy centennial birthday to Bill Peet (1915-2002) who was born in Grandview, Indiana exactly one hundred years ago today.
This supercut of Daffy Duck looniness is a masterclass in how to combine animation and audio to build a great cartoon personality.
What do long-lost sweatbox notes reveal about the creation of one of Disney's finest films?
Desert scene in a minimalistic pixel art style, for a Talk Retro site redesign.
Available as a high quality art print.
More images: MetinSeven.com.
A poignant peek into the mind of a Beatle whose talents extended past creating immortal music.
Some years ago I was asked to step in to illustrate " A Little Princess" for Penguin Books because the original artist commissioned became ill. I had just finished " SHARKSI" for them so this was a pleasant departure.
" And what a party it was."
from A Little Princess
Steven James Petruccio
Now 75, Bugs Bunny remains a towering influence. We look at some of his greatest hits.
Bugs Bunny's life explained by a true animation fan.
The footage is from a 1981 Disney tour to dozens of colleges.
A dedication ceremony, open to the public, will take place on October 1st.