Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
A few months ago I mentioned here on the SJ blog that I'd have a surprise coming. Well here it is! We can now announce that my Junkie partner Pat Smith and I have organized a very cool animation program consisting of only 2D animation.
Are you feeling like a robot after watching too many digital films? Are Pixar and Dreamworks turning you into a machine? How would you like to see some animation that was actually created by a HAND? Imagine that! A film that looks like a piece of art but it moves. We've scoured the world looking for the best to represent the cream de la cream of hand drawn animation and on August 14 at the way cool Nighthawk cinema in Williamsburg Brooklyn we're going to premier their game changing films. Not only that, but a number of the film makers will be there to talk about their films and how they made them.
The Nighthawk cinemas is one of those very cool cinemas where you can eat and drink while watching the films. Check their websites for the time and location. Pat and I will be there along with a few of the film makers. Then we'll party down afterward at the Nighthawk lounge - so be sure to tell your friends and bring them down to the Aug 14 premier of the 2D animated extravaganza.
Also remember this show can be shown in other cities - just contact Pat here at Scribble Junkies.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
As a kid going to college in Portland, Oregon, one of my favorite hangouts was Powell's Bookstore. If you're not familiar with the famous mega-store it's now arguably the largest new and used bookstore in the U.S. (some say the Strand in NYC is larger). Of course it has grown much larger since I was in college in '68, but it was always my dream to one day have one of my books sold in this paragon of bibliophilia. So my childhood dreams have come true! Rizzoli Press, the publishers of "Independently Animated", has scored me a prestigious signing at Powell's.
I'm out in Oregon this summer to present "Idiots and Angels" at the Clinton St. Cinema and also see my family, so it's a perfect opportunity to make an appearance and signing at Powell's. I did a bunch of local publicity for the signing and the "I & A" premier. As I set up for the presentation I was worried no one would show up, but one hour before my start time the seats began to fill up – in fact they had to go to storage to get more seats. Eventually it was standing room only; I think they even turned away a bunch of people. The audience was a great mix of fans, family, book clubs and the curious. I projected 3 of my films: "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger", Weird Al Yankovic's "TMZ" and the pencil test from "Cheatin' ". Then I showed selected pieces of art from the opus book and talked about how these particular drawings were instrumental to my successful career. After the great applause I made drawings in the books and gave every customer a film clip from my feature, "Idiots and Angels". The signing went on until they had to kick me out because the store was closing.
If you ever find yourself in Portland be sure to check out Powell's, the greatest bookstore in the world! You may find a few signed copies of "Independently Animated: Bill Plympton" still on the shelf – but don't delay, the stock won't last long.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Through the magic of Netflix I've been catching up on all the animated features that somehow I've neglected to see. And one of these is the 1986 Disney release "The Great Mouse Detective". Jerry Berks ever-trustworthy guide to Animated features, "The Animated Movie Guide", praises the film to great heights, remarking about the wonderful characters and the first use of computer graphics in an animated feature. Boy was I disappointed!
The first thing that struck me was the terrible design and animation of the characters - its second rate T.V. afternoon show quality. The only character that has any richness and design is Ratigan – the Moriarty character voiced by Vincent Price – he was animated by the genius Glen Keane. Also the music by Henri Mancini was atrocious. They must have had some hack do the music and paid "Mr. Moon River" to put his name on the credits. There were also no real humorous or clever action scenes; nothing new or inventive. And even the production values were terrible. The colors change in the clothing of the characters in the middle of shots, and the backgrounds looked like they were made by high school art students with magic markers.
What's weird is this had some great new generation artists working on the production, Andrea Deja, Rick Farmiloe, Mike Gabriel, Ruben Aquino. My only guess is to why this film is such a turkey is because this was the end of the Ron Miller regime and there were a lot of conflicts and company confusion and there was no leadership or strong creative force.
I give The "Great Mouse Detective" a C-.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
I started my excursion in Portland, Oregon, my hometown, where “Idiots and Angels” is opening at the wonderful Clinton St. Cinema for 3 nights, July 15th-17th. Then on Monday July 18th, I'll be doing a signing of “Independently Animated” at the Portland Landmark, Powell's Book Store from 7:30-9pm.
I'll then jet down to the Great San Diego Comic Con, where I have an “Independently Animated” book panel on Thursday from 2-3 pm. That should be a great event! I hope you all can come and get a free drawing.
Also on Friday July 22nd, I'm doing a signing at the Hustler store in San Diego-- that should be a crazy event.
From there, I move north to San Francisco, where “Idiots and Angels” is having its San Francisco theatrical premiere at the Balboa Cinema, July 25-27.
In between, I'm making an appearance at the Cartoon Art Museum on July 26th at 6-8 pm, to show films and talk about animation.
Oh, and I almost forgot-- on Wednesday July 27th at the Balboa, I'm doing a very special master class on the life of an indie animator – so if you know anyone interested in the Bay Area, please give them the word.
Finally, I travel to Los Angeles, where Thursday, July 28th, Alexia and I are premiering the documentary on me, “Adventures in Plymptoons”. The screening will be at the Woodbury University at 7pm.
And to top it all off, July 30th, Saturday evening, I'm to receive an award from the “Action on Film” festival. So, it's going to be a busy few weeks! I hope I survive. Check back here for updates, and thanks for reading!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
- Winsor McCay
- Milt Kahl
- Preston Blair
- Joanna Quinn
- Hayao Miyazaki
Below is Pat Smith's (Disney heavy) list of the top 5 greatest animators:
1. Glen Keane
2. Bill Tytla
3. Hayao Miyazaki
4. Nick Park
5. Sergio Pablos
Drawing above of Pat Smith at the beach.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
During the 70s and early 80s I had a political cartoon strip called "Plympton". I took it very seriously and read all the new magazines and newspapers to keep up with all the political issues. Quite frankly I was burnt out on politics – it sucked out all my leisure time. I was so happy that my short "Your Face" was a big success and I was able to end my political cartooning career and move into animation. Obviously I still think a lot about politics and now I want to explore an issue that's been bugging me and I'd love to hear the thoughts from other Junkiteers on this issue.
As you probably know when Leni Riefenstahl won the Venice prize for her Land work 1936 documentary "Olympics" she traveled to Los Angeles to meet all the Hollywood bigweights. However they all shunned her because of her association with Adolf Hitler. Then when the great soviet director Sergei Eisenstein made the movie to Hollywood he was wined and dined by all big studios and celebrities.
What I don't understand is Leni was shunned because she was a propagandist for the Nazis, yet wasn't Sergei just as much of a propagandist for the Soviets and Stalin? Just like Leni, Sergei was forced to create various films that promoted a political agenda such as "October", "Potemkin" and "Alexander Nevsky". If he had refused he'd end up in Siberia or shot like many other Soviet artists and by many accounts Soviet Russian under Stalin was far more murderous and evil than the Nazis. There are accounts of Stalin killing up to 20 million Russians.
This is not just ancient history ether; this prejudice for Eisenstein persists today, he's revered as a great stylist innovative and revolutionary despite his role as a propagandist for the evil Stalin regime being well known. Yet Leni Riefenstahl is thought of as a Nazi puppet and many people refuse to acknowledge her great talent.
So please can someone tell me why Sergei Eisenstein is such a big hero and Leni Riefenstahl is not?
Friday, July 8, 2011
The most endearing quality about the festival is that it's truly a family-run one. Jurinko and Sanja run the day-to-day operation, and his 2 daughters Rhinea and Aleta take care of hosting the attendees. Also, other cousins, nieces and uncles take care of other festival duties. Unfortunately, the town is quite small so that audiences are not as massive as Annecy, but the intimacy has its own special charm.
My former producer, Biljana Labovic, has been raving about this town for years, and I am happy to confirm her claims of this special place. I hope to return to this marvelous festival and I urge all of you animators to send your films there. By all means, try to attend; you'll have the time of your life. The hospitality can't be beat.
I give the Neum Animation Film Festival an A-.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
I've been a friend of Donna Dickman, a fellow academy member for a long time. And when she first invited me to the Gold Coast Film Festival I wasn't that excited. But just that night on T.V. there was a story of the demolition of the famed "Great Gatsby House" supposedly the model for F Scott Fitzgerald's famous book. The newscast went on to explain how at one time the northern shore of Long Island was the resort area for Manhattan rich and famous – hence the "Gold Coast." The next time I saw Donna I said count me in! I planned a master class and a film screening but since I was in the middle of two big projects I could only attend for one day.
The highlight was the master class because it took place in the NYIT de Seversky Mansion (he's the guy who helped developed the helicopter). It was quite a juxtaposition, me showing my rude crude animations in the beautiful old 19th century mansion. But the coolest thing was the tour I got after my show. I came to find out that it was on this property that computer animation was born. It was here that the New York institute of technology amassed the first group of people to experiment with CG people like Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith. I also heard that Chris Wedge also learned CGI at NYIT. They should put up a plaque commemorating this hallowed ground. They even talked to me about holding some kind of animation festival here, to bring together all the people who started animation. What a great idea. In any case for the 1st year The Gold Coast Festival was a big success and I hope to return. Thanks Donna!
I give the festival a B-