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Results 1 - 25 of 77
1. ‘Robotech’ Live-Action Films Finally Set to Take Off

The classic anime space saga may actually get the blockbuster franchise it deserves.

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2. Jesse Eisenberg with a bald head = Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

lex-luthor

Via Entertainment Weekly, here’s your first look at Jesse Eisenberg with a clean shaven dome for his role as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Director Zack Snyder shared a few words on Eisenberg in the role:

He’s not any of the Lexes that you’ve seen, that’s for sure, other than him being a captain of industry and one person to the world and another person to himself. And bald, of course. Our Lex is disarming and he’s not fake. He says what he believes and he says what’s on his mind. If you can unravel the string and decipher what he means, it’s all there.

More importantly, this tips me off to the idea that we’ll be seeing a trailer very soon, as they had been keeping Eisenberg’s head under wraps (literally) for months. Now that this cat is out of the bag, those WonderCon trailer debut rumors don’t seem so unfounded.

0 Comments on Jesse Eisenberg with a bald head = Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as of 1/1/1900
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3. Rumor: Could Shazam get bumped up on WB’s release calendar?

black adam new 52

Shazam!, one of the 2019 entries in Warner Bros’ DC Cinematic Universe slate, has had a tentative date of April 5, 2019 attached to it for a few months now. It seemed like an awfully long time away to have Dwayne Johnson tied up into something that won’t see release for years.

While nothing has officially changed on that front, Johnson himself hinted to MTV that perhaps we may see Shazam! sooner than we think:

Well, you know, it may happen a little earlier than what has been predicted. The script is coming in, it’s great, the support from the studio has been great, and it’s just a great opportunity especially with Black Adam where you can take a guy who starts off as a bad guy, turns into an anti-hero, we can make him vicious, a little bit of winking charm.

Given that Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are both locked in, and Wonder Woman begins shooting this Fall, it’s doubtful that Shazam! can get moved up too far ahead. This goes doubly so for 2017 with both Wonder Woman and Justice League Part 1 headed for release that year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shazam! take over The Flash‘s spot in the 2018 schedule though. With not even a screenwriter announced for the latter as of yet, that might be the most likely development.

0 Comments on Rumor: Could Shazam get bumped up on WB’s release calendar? as of 2/24/2015 4:51:00 PM
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4. Community director Rob Schrab to helm The Lego Movie Sequel

batman lego

Announced today via press release, Rob Schrab will be making his feature film directorial debut on the much-anticipated sequel to last year’s smash hit The Lego Movie.

The new film will be written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are stepping out of their directing duties for The Lego Movie Sequel, but they will be staying on as producers along with Roy Lee and Dan Lin.

Lord and Miller released a joint-statement on Schrab signing aboard:

We are so excited to collaborate with Rob. He is a comedy genius, a visual savant, and we have been stalking him for years. No one works harder than Rob, and his aesthetic, combined with his sense of humor, bring a strong, unique, thoughtful, and passionately nerdy voice to this project. People who know him are slapping their foreheads today and saying, ‘Of course!’

The sequel is one of three feature films that will be spinning out of The Lego Movie along with Ninjago, which hits September 23, 2016 and and an untitled Lego Batman film due out in May 2017. Animation Supervisor for The Lego Movie, Chris McKay, was originally supposed to helm The Lego Movie Sequel, but he instead will be directing the Lego Batman feature.

No date for The Lego Movie Sequel has been announced.

1 Comments on Community director Rob Schrab to helm The Lego Movie Sequel, last added: 2/24/2015
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5. Superman to appear on CBS’ Supergirl after all

superman supergirl

He’s really only alluded to in the series synopsis, but now according to a casting call listed on ProjectCasting, Superman will indeed be putting in some sort of appearance in the new CBS drama Supergirl.

The call appears thusly:

We are looking for BODY DOUBLE for a DC Comic Superhero –
You must be available for an interview this Thursday and if selected will work several day during March.
This is for a CBS pilot. You can be SAG or Non-Union.
You should be 5’11 or taller and be Square Jawed
and have a ripped physique.
You must send a bodyshot, shirtless, sizes, current contact info and your first five to ChrisBSubmissions@centralcasting.com – in the subject line write SUPERMAN




So, if any you gents out there fit the bill, apply away!

There are a number of Superman-based characters appearing in the series such as Cat Grant, Hank Henshaw, the Toyman, and Jimmy Olsen. But this report at least confirms that Kara won’t be the only Kryptonian around doing heroic deeds.

8 Comments on Superman to appear on CBS’ Supergirl after all, last added: 2/26/2015
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6. ‘Adventure Time’ Is Headed To Bigscreen

Finn and Jake are about to get a lot bigger.

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7. Rupert Murdoch wants to team up the Simpsons and Bat-Mite, and here’s why that’s bad

201407171215.jpg

I heard about the Rupert Murdoch putting in a bid for Tim Warner a little while ago and thought it was too astounding to be true, but it is. Why would Mr Burns like to own even more of the known media world? Isn’t ruining the Fantastic Four for comic enough for him? David Carr at the NYT puts it all into perspective — the bigger you are, the bigger you need to be, because someone else might be bigger yet.

The giant market capitalizations and market power residing in Silicon Valley have rippled into the rest of the economy. The people behind this sudden surge of proposed media mergers say they are only going on steroids to avoid getting sand kicked in their face by even bigger bullies in the technology world. Comcast will contend that it is not just competing with Cablevision and Charter Communications, but also with Google, Amazon and Apple. And people who make programming will assert that they are trying to grow just so they do not get pushed around by Comcast.

Like the dragons in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” big new digital players are hovering over the media landscape. You don’t want to be wandering around with a tiny sword if your adversaries are airborne and fire-breathing. Many suggest that the only hedge in a consolidating world is high-quality content.

Content is king again yo!

“Rupert did not try to buy Time Warner because he wants to get to own a bunch of cable networks,” Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research said. “He clearly feels that as other players try to enter the media business, content will be more valuable and he wants to get his hands on as much content as possible.”


Nikki Finke, an iconoclastic moody doomsayer after my own heart, has what they really means for the rest of us—i.e. the 99.9999% who can’t buy giant multi-national conglomerates: Here We Go Again: How Rupert Murdoch/Time Warner Merger Would Fuck You In Hollywood. It’s simple: less competition for that content means it’s easier for the content exploiters to exploit that content, although everyone is excited by the idea of EVEN BIGGER CONGLOMERATES.

For the past 25 years I’ve written story after story warning about the downsides of Big Media mergers. But it’s been like pissing in the wind. Neither the FCC nor the FTC nor the DOJ no matter who’s been in the White House have stopped them because of anti-trust or anti-access concerns.

Put 21st Century Fox and Time Warner together, and they make up 25%-to-30% of the market share for movies being made. The Fox and Warner Brothers TV studios are the #1 and #2 film and TV studios in the entire industry. Merging their significant distribution infrastructures — for international box office, home video distribution, and/or digital distribution — would create both revenue and cost synergies for their outsized businesses. That’s good for the companies. Merge their movie and TV production studios who are now bitter rivals looking to sign the best talent, and suddenly directors and writers and actors and showrunners can’t play off the two companies against each other for bigger deals. That’s bad for you.


Nikki also references the 90s, when “synergy” meant ever bigger horizontals and acquistions, a disastrous era then ended when Time Warner merged with AOL, one of the worst mergers in corporate history. That ended the Bigger is Better era of the 90s, especially as smaller internet start-ups began their disruptive drive to steal the eggs of brick-and-morter dinosaurs.

And now? We have even bigger conglomerates, united by the internet and the Big Five —Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft (not quite as big anymore though).

While I’d like to think thence nimble disrupters are now bloated Jabba the Hutts and equally vulnerable to a new disruption from NEW innovators, older more cynical me looks at this new Gilded Age of income inequality and sees little to stop “even bigger is even better” from continuing for quite some time.

As Finke points out, WB has left itself vulnerable exactly BY spinning off its assets from the 90s: publishing, Time Inc, Time Warner and more. I think a Fox Warner would be a disaster for content producers. But that’s just me. I’m a confirmed rather rule in hell than serve in heaven type. Other people would rather sit in the castle, eating table scraps secure in the knowledge that their liege lord owns all he surveys, as the heavily plated Knights stumble around under their splendidly cumbersome hauberks and caparisons.

PS: there have been a lot of stories imagining Fox’s Marvel superhero team-ups with WB’s DC superheroes and while it’s funny, different licenses. That would be like Harry Potter showing up in a DC movie. I’m sure WB’s movie slate has some direct appeal for Murdoch, but I doubt he has much interest in owning a comics company so that is but a blip on this radar screen.

6 Comments on Rupert Murdoch wants to team up the Simpsons and Bat-Mite, and here’s why that’s bad, last added: 7/18/2014
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8. 2015 Looney Tunes Calendar Is One For The Ages

Some people say Bugs and gang ain't kewl no more, but Warner Bros. got its bizness figured with this hella wicked 2015 Looney Tunes wall calendar.

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9. Warner Bros. Moves Forward with ‘Acme’ Feature

Warner Bros. is moving forward with "Acme," a new Looney Tunes spin-off centered around the fictional weapons supplier Acme Corporation.

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10. Dress Up (Kind of) Like The Looney Tunes This Halloween

Someone, somewhere within Warner Bros. Consumer Products, approved these Halloween costumes for sale to the general public.

0 Comments on Dress Up (Kind of) Like The Looney Tunes This Halloween as of 10/19/2014 6:51:00 AM
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11. Report: The first Batman v Superman trailer will be attached to Jupiter Ascending

Batman v Superman   Dawn of Justice official logo 1000x610 Report: The first Batman v Superman trailer will be attached to Jupiter Ascending

It’s funny how little we know about the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder, which arrives in theaters on March 26, 2016. We know who is in it, we know there have been reports that the mass destruction in Metropolis from the previous film will play a part in the story, and lastly we have a list of films that will spin-out of the events of this forthcoming feature.

That’s more or less it, we don’t even really have a plot summary yet.

We may learn a bit more soon, as Latino Review (usually a pretty good source for superhero movie “scoops”) is reporting, via Twitter, that the first trailer for Batman v Superman will be released in front of the upcoming film by the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending, which opens on February 6th.

We’ll still more than a year away from the release of this major DC movie tentpole, but Snyder and company wrapped shooting about a month ago, so it’s likely there’s some footage ready that goes a good deal deeper than the brief clip that was prepared for last year’s San Diego Comic Con (which basically amounted to Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill staring at one another, but admittedly in a pretty cool way).

Say what you will about Man of Steel and the rest of Snyder’s oeuvre, the man (or WB’s marketing team) knows how to cut a pretty great trailer. Given some of the negative buzz that’s surrounded Jupiter Ascending‘s pushback from last July to this February, typically no man’s land for cinema, having this trailer attached to it will likely give it a decent audience boost…provided it doesn’t show up online first.

0 Comments on Report: The first Batman v Superman trailer will be attached to Jupiter Ascending as of 1/9/2015 3:28:00 PM
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12. Daffy Duck Crazy Laugh Supercut

This supercut of Daffy Duck looniness is a masterclass in how to combine animation and audio to build a great cartoon personality.

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13. Dwayne Johnson dishes a bit about Black Adam

black-adam

While Marvel Studios is making news of fairly unprecedented proportions, its most likely challenger for king of the Superhero Movie mountain, Warner Bros, has been quiet in recent weeks.

Sure, we know that after a three year long absence from the big screen, the studio will be rolling out their two big universe establishing properties in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad in 2016, but what can we expect after that? Other than titles, a few stars, and a director; details are relatively slim.

Dwayne Johnson, star of Shazam! (one of the later films of the DC Comics-based slate), was able to shed a little light on his character, Black Adam, in a recent interview with Total Film (via GamesRadar):

I think Black Adam is going to grow into becoming an anti-hero…It’s all written within the spirit of respecting and paying homage to the comics. As we know, Black Adam started out as a slave. When he’s given the powers, he utilized them. Then in the wake of his powers, tragedy strikes, which turns his sentiment and tone in terms of psychology.

Not surprisingly, it sounds as though scriptwriter Darren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer) is taking some cues from the popular Geoff Johns version of the character.

But what about the actual in-universe continuity between Shazam! and the rest of the DC films? There had been some concern that, since New Line was co-producing, Billy Batson’s first big screen adventure in over 70 years might not even take place in the same universe as Zack Snyder‘s Justice League. Johnson addressed this as well:

It was all agreed that the worlds are all interconnected… One day you will see Black Adam go at it with Superman or Batman or any of the DC characters. But that said, there’s a great independence to Black Adam from the DC world, allowing us to inject, not only viciousness, but also winking humour.

Shazam! is scheduled to open on April 5, 2019.

3 Comments on Dwayne Johnson dishes a bit about Black Adam, last added: 2/12/2015
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14. Jared Leto and Will Smith talk about their roles in Suicide Squad

jared-leto-variety

This is incredibly minor in the wake of today’s Aquaman news, but WB/DC Entertainment’s other big comic-based film, Suicide Squad, got a little bit of press today.

Jared Leto, who gets the unenviable task of following Heath Ledger in the role of the Joker, spoke to Billboard briefly about what drew him to the character:

The opportunity to take on this nearly Shakespearean character…that’s what graphic novels and comic books are becoming, right?…[He’s] this beautiful disaster of a character, what a big challenge.

Leto also let on that he’s bulking up for the part. Now, I realize Leto is a skinny guy, but the Joker is typically fairly thin too. Perhaps they’re going for the Frank Miller/Jim Lee All Star Batman and Robin approach:

Joker All Star

Will Smith, who plays Deadshot (but probably not with Michael Rosenbaum‘s awesome Kevin Spacey impression) spoke with MTV News about being able to make the character his own:

With this character and the DC world, I love that I’m getting the opportunity for the global definition of Deadshot. There’s been Deadshot in little appearances here and there, there’s an idea, but Deadshot isn’t defined, really. I get to be a part of the creation that will be the biggest historical image of Deadshot.

Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, hits theaters on August 5, 2016.

 

0 Comments on Jared Leto and Will Smith talk about their roles in Suicide Squad as of 2/20/2015 7:45:00 PM
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15. Warner Bros. Animation/Hanna-Barbera Scholarship

Calling all students! Warner Bros. Animation is trying to get the word out on an animation scholarship program that the studio is offering to graduating high school students/incoming college Freshman. Below is the basic info along with a link to the application. It’s a great opportunity… don’t be a moroon – go for it!

2013 Warner Bros. Animation/Hanna-Barbera Honorship

Who: Any graduating high school senior enrolling in a college, university, or trade school to study animation.

What: Through the Warner Bros. Reach program, one outstanding student is awarded the Hanna-Barbera/Animation Honorship each year that includes a scholarship and four full-time paid internships at the company during four consecutive summers while enrolled in college. Successful Reach program graduates will be eligible for full-time positions at Warner Bros.

How: Application (w/ instructions) can be downloaded via this link.

When: Application deadline is by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 4, 2013

0 Comments on Warner Bros. Animation/Hanna-Barbera Scholarship as of 1/21/2013 10:12:00 AM
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16. Dallas Opera to Hold the World’s Largest Screening of “What’s Opera, Doc?”

After drawing a crowd of 15,000 attendees to Cowboys Stadium for a live simulcast of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the Dallas Opera aims for repeated success this April with Turnadot. This year’s curtain-raiser, however, will be the world’s largest screening of What’s Opera, Doc?, displayed on the Stadium’s record-breaking 160-foot wide, 72-foot tall HD screens. 

Surprisingly, Cowboys Stadium was planned from the outset to bring high art into the lives of sports fans—Gene Jones, the wife of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is almost solely responsible for the Stadium’s museum-quality collection of contemporary art. This arena-turned-cultural center will provide the setting for the latest chapter in the love-hate relationship between animation and classical music.

With Fantasia, Walt Disney quite literally tried to align animation with the high arts, with ostriches unironically performing ballet pas de deuxs set to the “Dance of the Hours” from the opera La Gioconda. Eventually, animation and classical music became a tongue-in-cheek pairing; during the early 1950s it was commonplace to see Wile E. Coyote assemble a spring-loaded rocket launcher to the sounds of a lilting oboe. By the time Chuck Jones produced What’s Opera, Doc? in 1957, it was a way of saying “Screw ‘em,” to the established arts. “I never made a cartoon that didn’t contain some flick-of-the-wrist at the establishment of the day,” said Jones in Chuck Jones: Conversations.

This April, in a very public arena, Jones and his work will be embraced by the very establishment he parodied. Only now, as opera faces its biggest identity crisis, does it wholeheartedly embrace the exaggerated cultural conventions we’ve established over the years: busty valkyries, lovesick brutes and overdone pageantry. Keith Cerny, the CEO of Dallas Opera acknowledges that What’s Opera Doc? is “still creative, interesting, fresh, plays off the same stereotypes about opera that we’re addressing today.” Proponents of opera have realized that the best chance of fruitful survival is to laugh with us—if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

0 Comments on Dallas Opera to Hold the World’s Largest Screening of “What’s Opera, Doc?” as of 3/6/2013 12:54:00 PM
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17. Bruce Timm Steps Down As Warne Bros. Animation Supervising Producer

From a report on ComicBookResources.com:

Cartoonist Bruce Timm has stepped down as supervising producer at Warner Bros. Animation to develop his own projects. He’s been replaced by James Tucker, a veteran of Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League and, more recently, Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

It’s the end of an era.

(Thanks, Paul Burrows)

0 Comments on Bruce Timm Steps Down As Warne Bros. Animation Supervising Producer as of 3/29/2013 5:11:00 PM
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18. Bruce Timm Steps Down As Warner Bros. Animation Supervising Producer

From a report on ComicBookResources.com:

Cartoonist Bruce Timm has stepped down as supervising producer at Warner Bros. Animation to develop his own projects. He’s been replaced by James Tucker, a veteran of Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League and, more recently, Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

It’s the end of an era.

(Thanks, Paul Burrows)

0 Comments on Bruce Timm Steps Down As Warner Bros. Animation Supervising Producer as of 3/29/2013 6:45:00 PM
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19. WonderCon 2013: Tarzan tells a tale of Tiger at Warner Bros. Pulp TV Panel

A powerful looking Ron Ely, star of the TV’s “Tarzan”(1966-1968) and “Doc Savage: Man of Bronze” (1975) spellbound his audience at WonderCon Friday, relating his fight with a wild tiger.  According to Ely, “The Script read: Tarzan sees tiger, Tarzan fights tiger, Tarzan and tiger walkaway in opposite directions with mutual respect.” Instead of firing the writer and walking off the set as would likely happen these days, the actor concerned himself with how to achieve the scene. Contacting the San Diego Zoo, Ely and his producer’s were able persuade Zoo officials to detour a recently captured tiger from India to the set of “Tarzan” in Burbank.  Gaining the big cat’s trust by his attending every feeding,  Ely and the Tarzan production crew took precautions to insure no one would be hurt.  By forbidding a gun on the set, Ely was also insuring the tiger’s safety.

“When we were set to film I hit him on the nose and he gave me a look like ‘Is that the best you got?’ I hit him again and he ignored me. There was only one other thing I knew to do to rouse him–if I turned my back.” Sure enough, the tiger went flying over Ely’s head to pounce and they wrestled. “To a tiger, its just play,” Ely said with equanimity.  Much to Ely’s own astonishment, the scene came off as written.

You can enjoy Warner Bros. Archive Collection of “Tarzan” and “Doc Savage” available at http://www.wbshop.com/category/wbshop_brands/warner+archive.do.

Also being released by WarnerBros. Archive Collection: “Bomba, the Jungle Boy” (1949) and “The Adventures of Superboy, Season 3″ In coming months there will be additional releases of other Boomer generation Televison shows.  One such is “Maya,” starring Jay North.  The star of “Dennis the Menace”, now a teen, searches the jungles of India for his missing father aboard an Elephant named Maya. The show was a milestone for TV at its time in that it was filmed on location in India.

6 Comments on WonderCon 2013: Tarzan tells a tale of Tiger at Warner Bros. Pulp TV Panel, last added: 4/4/2013
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20. Today Only on Amazon: Over 350 Looney Tunes for $65

Amazon’s Gold Box Deal of the Day—good for today only—is an amazing value for anyone who is even slightly interested in classic Hollywood cartoons. They’re offering all six Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD sets for $65. That’s 24 discs with over 350 cartoons and far too many extras to mention. Go to Amazon by midnight to order.

0 Comments on Today Only on Amazon: Over 350 Looney Tunes for $65 as of 4/9/2013 6:36:00 PM
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21. Bob Clampett Centennial Screening in Zurich

On Thursday, May 30, the Filmpodium Zurich in Switzerland will present a screening of nine Warner Bros. shorts directed by the legendary Bob Clampett. The show is being presented in honor of his centennial, which was earlier this month. Clampett’s work isn’t well known in Switzerland and the film lineup is a solid primer to his work:

  • Porky in Wackyland (1938)
  • A Tale of Two Kitties (1942)
  • A Corny Concerto (1943)
  • Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943)
  • Draftee Daffy (1945)
  • Book Revue (1946)
  • Baby Bottleneck (1946)
  • Kitty Kornered (1946)
  • The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946)

Better yet, each film will be introduced by Swiss animator and historian Oswald Iten, who will discuss different facets of Clampett’s visual style. Iten runs one of my favorite animation blogs Colorful Animation Expressions, where he has recently been writing some fantastically informative posts about Clampett’s art. Ticket and screening details are available on the Filmpodium Zurich website.

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22. Book Review: “The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design”

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and
The Zen of Animation Design

By Tod Polson, based on the notes of Maurice Noble
(Chronicle Books, 176 pages, $40, pre-order for $26.50 on Amazon)

By the modest standards of celebrity in the animation world, Maurice Noble is already a rockstar. Few Golden Age layout artists and background designers, with the exception of Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, and possibly Jules Engel, command Noble’s name recognition. Maurice’s fame is primarily attributable to his long-term association with Warner Bros. director Chuck Jones.

Noble’s collaborations with Jones include such classics as Robin Hood Daffy, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, What’s Opera, Doc?, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Dot and the Line and the long-running Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner series. Thanks to that beloved resume, Noble has been spared the ignoble anonymity of so many other classic animation artists.

With such standing in the animation world, and even an entire book-length biography already devoted to his life, one could reasonably expect that everything that could be said about Noble has already been said. Tod Polson’s The Noble Approach proves that that’s not the case. Polson has put together an irresistible package that fuses biography and art instruction, each of its page filled with invaluable insights and incredible artwork, much of it never-before-published.

Polson is one of the Noble Boys, the informal name given to a group of men (and women) whom Noble trained throughout the 1990s at studios like Chuck Jones Film Productions, Turner Feature Animation and his own company, Noble Tales. The Noble Boys have gone on to big things in the animation industry: Ricky Nierva was the production designer of Pixar’s Up and Monsters University; Don Hall directed Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and is writing and directing the upcoming Big Hero 6; Jorge Gutierrez co-created the Nick series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera and is directing Reel FX’s 2014 feature Book of Life.

Some of the Noble Boys encouraged Maurice to write down his thoughts about design and layout for an eventual book. Polson has adeptly compiled and edited those notes for this book, and has combined them with the remembrances of the other Noble Boys about their interactions with Maurice and lessons learned from him, as well as archival interviews with Noble and original commentary from artists like Susan Goldberg and Michael Giaimo.

Polson devotes thirty-four pages of the book to providing a biography of Noble that follows his path which began professionally at Disney on films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. In spite of its brevity, this biographical section manages to be more revealing and historically well-rounded than the disappointing 2008 book Stepping into the Picture: Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble by Robert J. McKinnon. That well-intentioned book missed the mark—badly. It was understandable that McKinnon’s layperson understanding of the animation process prevented him from providing the kind of process detail that is in Polson’s new book, but his sins of omission made it a letdown as personal biography, too.

Basic and vital details about Noble’s personal and professional relationships that were omitted in that earlier biography are thankfully included in Polson’s book. For example, we learn hat Mary Blair and Maurice Noble were not only classmates at Chouinard Art Institute, but also a romantic couple. That’s a revealing historical tidbit considering that Noble’s giddy use of color is second in animation only to Mary Blair. Polson clearly expresses Noble’s unflattering thoughts about Sleeping Beauty production designer Eyvind Earle, with whom he worked during the production of the industrial film Rhapsody of Steel, whereas the earlier biography only vaguely acknowledged that Noble “may have had some difficulty working with Earle.” Polson also discusses Noble’s more-important-than-acknowledged role on Chuck Jones’ Oscar-winning short The Dot and the Line, an issue that was left untouched in the earlier book.

For all its historical value, the real meat of the Noble Approach follows the biography. In these subsequent sections, we learn Noble’s artistic process step-by-step from the start of a film to its completion. Chapters are devoted to starting a film, story, breaking down the elements, research, design, color, layout, and an oddly ineffectual and anticlimatic two-page chapter devoted to the finished film.

The material covered in these chapters will undoubtedly be familiar to anyone with an art background—values, contrast, simplifying elements, visual hierarchy, compositional grids—but the examples of Maurice’s own work gives us a fresh entry point into these topics. The section on color is particularly fantastic. Color is one of the hardest elements to get right in animated film, and Maurice knew how to walk the thin line between playful and tacky. Polson does a superb job of explaining how Maurice managed to do this by doing a deep analysis of his color palettes.

The section on color, for all its strengths, also represents one of the parts of the book that I wish the author had expanded his scope. Polson makes clear from the outset that this is “Maurice’s book,” but I can’t help but think our appreciation for Noble would have been enhanced further by offering some discussion of his contemporaries at Warner Bros., like layout artist Hawley Pratt and background painter Paul Julian. Contrasting the color theories of Julian, who was the studio’s true master of color in my opinion, would have been an enlightening sidetrip.

A lot of the best information the book isn’t technical, but rather practical advice and the wisdom of experience. This is true of Noble’s thoughts on selling an idea:

To be a successful designer, being able to sell a good idea is just as important as coming up with the idea itself. It’s hard to sell something simply because you think it feels right. You have to be able to logically discuss why it feels right.

—and his thoughts on why the production methods of yesteryear produced better cartoons:

There is more talent working in the industry now than ever before, but sadly the vast majority won’t have the opportunity to work on really good creative stories. The problem isn’t always the type of stories being told; it’s more in the way these stories are being told and developed. There is no room for visual exploration. There is no time for thought and craftsmanship. There isn’t the chance for crews to build trust and synergy.

The production design tips that he offers are applicable to artists today, even if the tools of the trade have changed:

I suggest putting all your research materials away once you start designing and never refer to them again. This may prove difficult at first. But I’ve found that if you are tied too closely to your reference, your designs will tend to look stiff. You will miss out on many fun design opportunities.

or…

Starting rough and not getting specific too early will allow you to keep your design ideas flexible…The more ideas and work you have, the more design possibilities you will have to choose from.

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design ranks among the most unique and delightful animation books in recent memory. It goes without saying that the book’s mix of technical tips and advice makes it a must-buy title for professional artists and students, but it should also appeal to fans of classic of animation who will surely gain a renewed appreciation for the Chuck Jones canon. The book will be released on October 1st. For those who are still in need of convincing, the book’s official blog gives a nice sense of the book’s content.

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23. WonderCon ’14: Warner Bros. Presentation

Into the Storm(Some minor spoiler ahead)

Located in the Arena of this year’s Anaheim Wondercon, Warner Bros. treated us to a sneak peak of three upcoming movies that will be hitting the big screen in the next few months. On June 6th, the 70th anniversary of “D-Day,” Edge of Tomorrow will hit theatres nationwide. Starring Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton, this futuristic world on the edge of ruin has Tom Cruise’s character waking up in handcuffs on what appears to be an army training base. He is then approached by Bill Paxton’s character, an army official. It is explained that Tom Cruises character was charged with impersonating an army officer, and is told he is going to have to join the fray for his punishment. As a surprise guest, Bill Paxton himself emerges on stage of the Anaheim Convention Center’s Arena to outcries of cheers. “My character decides that [Tom Cruise] will be reborn again through battle,” says a grinning Paxton. “It’s his nuts and his life on the line.”

Through the trailer, we are led to believe that Earth has come under an attack from a mechanical alien threat, and that this army base is one of the units brought together to fight them back. “I head a unit called J unit, a rag tag collection of men and women,” says Paxton. Along with some heavy duty weapons, J unit comes complete with exoskeleton like armor suits that the characters run around in for what I imagine is for increased strength. “I had just arrived on set, my first day, and Tom was running around in a prototype of the suit. He yells at me, ‘Hey Bill! Have you been working out? Cause these things are heavy.’” Paxton said that the suits needed to be aided by chains because of how heavy they were for the actors. “It was Brutal.”

But what is the ringer for this movie is that Tom Cruise’s character dies in this movie. A lot. Every time he does, he wakes back up in the past, finding himself again in handcuffs. This Groundhog’s Dayish loop adds an interesting twist to this Sci-Fi flick.

Next up for Warner Bros. they have Into the Storm. Directed by Steven Quale, this New Line Cinema collaboration puts the audience in the middle of a fictitious small town as it is relentlessly hit by what seems like wave after wave of tornados. The film style switches between the use of traditional filming and handheld cameras, creating a more authentic like experience. Some of the actors which were present here at Wondercon were Max Deacon, Jeremy Sumpter, Arlen Escarpeta, and (brace yourselves) Richard Armitage. Yes, Thorin Oakenshield of The Hobbit movies.

After the crowd recovered from their near fainting spells, the director and cast discussed how it was to be on set. “We were in the middle of one hundred-a-mile fans, not to mention strewn debris and falling water,” says Richard. “The water was freezing,” added fellow cast member Max Deacon. Into the Storm will be out this August 8th.

And lastly for this presentation Warner Bros. showed what is undoubtedly one of this year’s most anticipated movies. Ever since the teaser at last year’s San Diego Comic-con, fans of Godzilla have been waiting patiently for its release. As it was announced to the audience, the name elicited cheers from everybody, including this reporter. Director Gareth Edwards was also greeted by equal praise. After showing us about five minutes from the movie where Godzilla meets with an almost equally tall but winged creature, Gareth talked about the overall experience of working on the film.

“I thought that out of everything, designing Godzilla was going to be the easiest part. Cause everyone has an idea of what Godzilla looks like. But it actually was the hardest part, because everyone has an idea of what Godzilla looks like. It took almost a year for his design.” Gareth had the idea to do the designing from silhouette. “Silhouettes are all easily recognizable for what they are supposed to be. I thought we should start with that. We started with a Rubik’s Cube like shape, black on white background. We prodded and pulled each piece, rotating as we went, till we felt we got it.”

Though all three movies do look quite promising, by sheer gauging of the crowd’s reaction I would have to say Godzilla is the most anticipated. The Warner Bros. and Legendary collaboration will be out May 16th of this year. I have faith that director Gareth Edwards with his love of monsters will do it justice, and wash from our collective mouths the bad taste left by its predecessor.

~Nicholas Eskey

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24. Constantine, iZombie and The Flash have all been picked up for series

constantine_pilot.jpg

Wow what a week for DC’s tv properties! iZombie, The Flash and Constantine have ALL been picked up for series commitments! The Flash, which is a spinoff of Arrow, will air on The CW, as will iZombie, based on the Chris Roberson/Mike Allred Vertigo book of the same name. And NBC has ordered Constantine, based on the famed Vertigo comics. Score another one for The Original Writer!

iZombie will be helmed by Veronica Mars Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero. Arrow’s Greg Berlanti is running The Flash as well while Geoff JOhns wrote the pilot, which I’m sure made him very very happy. David Goyer is running Constantine, which stars Matt Ryan as the rumpled demon fighter.

NBC’s also passed along the first still from Constantine which features Ryan and Lucy Griffiths, and doesn’t look stilted or posed at all. Also: trenchcoat rumbledness is wayyyyyy too low. Work on that, Smithers.

Harold Perrineau and Charles Halford are also in the cast.

This is a pretty stunning sweep for Warner’s TV unit, and reinforces why investing in the Vertigo imprint is still a good idea from a development viewpoint. It’s also a nice riposte to Marvel’s dominance in the movie sphere.

This week, everything isn’t coming up MIlhouse, but it is coming up Warner Bros./DC TV.

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25. The Akira Project Crowdfunds Fanboy-Approved ‘Akira’ Trailer

Hell hath no fury like a fanboy spurned, but that usually doesn’t occur until after the film in question has been released to theaters. Tired of having their expectations dashed by disappointing news of the long anticipated live-action "Akira" adaptation, fans completed their own live version of a trailer for the popular manga-turned-anime, one that attempts to “do 'Akira' justice” by following the source material as closely as possible.

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