Monday, August 23, 2021

Oregon visit & screenings of "Demi's Panic"

A week ago I returned from our annual vacation trip to Oregon. We went to the beautiful Oregon coast and stopped by historic Seaside.  This as about as close to Coney Island as Oregon gets. 

Lucas in front of the Lewis & Clark statue in Seaside OR

They have a statue there, commemorating the end of Lewis and Clark's famous expedition.  As I did some exploring of my own throughout Seaside, down one shopping street I discovered a shop called "Universal Video".  Yes, a video store still in operation!

I entered with the happy excitement that I might discover a large animation section that may even include a bunch of my films.  It was a large, cavernous shop, filled with large racks of DVDs and video-cassettes.  But it was a bit sad, because the VHS packages had all turned blue from aging.  They must have been 30 years old!  And the owner/operator had THOUSANDS of video cassettes, and of course he also had thousands of DVDs.  Now, Seaside, as a resort, gets a lot of tourists who stay at the town's many hotels - and as you probably know, it often rains in Oregon, especially on the coast. 

In fact, I believe the Oregon coast has fewer sunny days that any other area in the U.S., so you might expect a lot of "Hey, kids, let's rent a movie at Universal Video!" Except now the hotels all have PPV or streaming options for kids movies.  Also, I was said to discover that the large animation section offered very little animation for adults, even animé was missing from the tall shelves.  So... no Plymptoons in Seaside, I guess.

I chatted with the owner for a while, he seemed a bit bored - no other customers while I was in the store.  But he was very positive about the future of his video store - though it felt to me like a recreation of a Blockbuster Video that was frozen in time.  

However, there is a wonderful video store located in Portland, OR, called "Movie Madness", that is just as large, but also FILLED with customers.  Why?  Because it's well-stocked with hard-to-find movies, rare anime, and TV shows, like all the episodes of "Twin Peaks".  And they have the entire library of this animator named Bill Plympton!

So, if you're ever on the beautiful Oregon coast, please stop by Universal Video and rent a bunch of DVDs, help make this store owner's dreams come true.  

We've got some festival screenings to announce for "Demi's Panic", the new animated short I directed. about the pandemic, written by Danny Leonard and produced by Lorena Hernández Leonard, with music composed by Daniel Jimenez Afanador.  

The festival premiere will take place at the World Festival of Animated Film in Varna, Bulgaria, which runs September 8-12, 2021.  We're trying to get more details about the screening now, the country of Bulgaria is going through a transitional phase at the government levels, and they're also being hit with the Delta variant of COVID right now, so this may not be an in-person festival, it may be remote - but what better way to screen a film ABOUT the pandemic?  Please check out their web-site for more details:

http://varnafest.org

Next, the film will screen at the Indie-AniFest in Seoul, South Korea, September 9-14.  I'm scheduled to do a MasterClass at this festival, which will take place over Zoom, I believe, on September 11.  Then on September 12, the festival will screen a program of my short films, including "Demi's Panic", along with "Your Face", "How to Kiss", "Guard Dog", "Cop Dog", "The Fan and the Flower", "Santa: The Fascist Years", and "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger".  You can check out the whole festival line-up at:   

http://ianifest.org/

Then more big news, "Demi's Panic" is an Official Selection at the HollyShorts Film Festival, which takes place in Hollywood, CA - September 23 to October 1 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres and also streaming on the Bitpix platform.  This is an Academy qualifying festival, and I'm so excited to have one of my films screened there!  We're waiting to hear more details about the screening dates and times, but you can check out the festival selections here: 

http://www.hollyshorts.com/

That's all the news for now, but that's some great news!  Now here's this installment's cartoon:

--Bill

Monday, July 19, 2021

Space Jam: A New Legacy

As most of you who follow my animation blog may know, I'm proud to be a good buddy of the brilliant animator/designer Mike Smith.  A few years ago, I was visiting his studio and he was in the middle of making artwork for a new "Space Jam" movie.  I guess maybe I was living in a bubble, but I wasn't aware at the time that there was a new "Space Jam" movie, starring LeBron James, in the pipeline.  In any case, yesterday I took my 8-year-old son to see the new version, "Space Jam: A New Legacy".  There didn't seem to be too many people in the audience, although it was a 1 pm show.

The film takes a while to set up the characters and plot.  And to me, it all got bogged down in techno-geek talk - but I guess a lot of young kids are fascinated by that stuff.  As in the previous film, it doesn't really get exciting until the appearance of Bugs Bunny and the "Looney Tunes" crew, and then of course there's the climactic "big game".  

As before, the entire film is a Warner Brothers marketing ploy.  In the final game, the entire audience is made up of WB characters, like Batman, Superman, characters from "The Mask" and "Harry Potter", etc.  I don't blame them for pushing their own brand when they're trying to compete with a mega-studio like Disney.  I give the film a C+ but my son, Lucas, gives it a B+



Also this past weekend, we went to visit the so-called "Little Island" at Pier 55 in Manhattan, a public park built as an artificial island, with funds contributed by Barry Diller and the von Furstenberg family.  This experience felt like I was back in DisneyWorld, or maybe Middle Earth from "the Hobbit".  It's a very cute habitat with a cozy ampitheater, unfortunately we missed that days' musical performance due to scheduling conflicts, but it's a great place just to spend the day in your own little fantasy land.  Plus, it's right in line with the also tourist-friendly High Line - so if you're ever in NYC, be sure to check out those two attractions.  

Later, 

Bill P. 

Friday, July 9, 2021

Heritage Auctions results

I don't know if any of you fans out there followed the results of my big Heritage Auction that took place June 25-27.  Anyway, it's exciting that my artwork is now becoming so collectable. The auction centered on "Cool Animation" so I was happy to be included. 

I've just received the results of the auction and I'm always interested to see what the biggest bidders were interested in.  Of course, there was a lot of interest in any of my "Simpsons" art - whether it was Couch Gag art or the art that was designed for the DVD collection of the 19th season.  

Also, there was hot action for some of my Kanye West art - I read somewhere he's now one of the richest entertainers in the U.S.  I guess his rich fans are collecting anything with his name on it. 

But believe it or not, the items that drew the biggest prices were illustrations and caricatures that I drew before I even became an animator.  Two went for really big money - my illustration of "Fat Elvis" went for $1,400 (as Elvis would say, "Thank you very much...") and a composite illustration of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Debbie Harry and Diana Ross, titled "Heartbreakers of '82" also sold for $1,400.  


Being an independent animator, it's always nice to have alternative sources of income - and I never realized that selling my original art seems to be a great way to help pay my bills and keep my studio open between projects.  

If you're interested in collecting any of my original art, please contact me by e-mail or via Twitter or Instagram, or watch this space to find out about the next Heritage Auction of my art - or be sure to follow me on social media or get on Heritage's newsletter list so you can get some advance notice.  I'll also have a table in Artists Alley at this year's New York Comic-Con, which takes place October 7-10 at the Jacob Javits Center.  Yes, I'll be selling art there too.  

Thank God I never went into computer animation, since I now have boxes of valuable original hand-drawn art on paper that I can share with all you animation fans!  Thanks for watching, now below is this week's gag cartoon.

--Bill P.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Guns on the Clackamas / Luca

How's everyone dealing with the heat?  My poor hometown of Portland, OR is dealing with some very serious triple-digit temperatures right now.  I remember, back when I was growing up, dealing with the record-holding temp of 104 degrees - now it's up to 115 - what the F---?

So, to cheer you all up, we at Plymptoons Studios are releasing my classic Western comedy mockumentary from 1995, "Guns on the Clackamas". In the promos, we called it a cross between "This is Spinal Tap" and "Blazing Saddles", only funnier.  

Most of it was filmed during the summer of 1993 (I think...) in Oregon City.  We later did some supplemental filming back in NYC.  After releasing my animated feature "The Tune" in 1992, I wanted to take a break from animation, so I made two live-action films, "J. Lyle" and "Guns on the Clackamas".  This was a blast to make and I think this shows in the outrageous humor.  In fact, it goes way over the line of good taste, all the way to downright macabre. 

The film had an extremely limited theatrical release - my office manager doesn't even have a record of it, thanks to a computer crash in 2010, but I think it was just in one or two theaters.  And then we released it on DVD back in 2009, but quite honestly, we haven't sold that many copies.  

But now, we've uploaded the whole film to my YouTube channel, and this will be the FIRST time we've released it on the internet.  So I hope if you have a spare 80 minutes you can get to see this film.  It's definitely something unique and VERY different - if you like different, you're in luck.

Visit my YouTube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/Plymptoons

or use this direct link to "Guns on the Clackamas":

https://youtu.be/bdUHRTbDsUM

I also want to comment on the new Disney/Pixar film "Luca" that just got released.  I don't know what's going on at Pixar - there's been a large shake-up among the top talent.  John Lasseter has moved on to another studio, Brad Bird is working on live-action projects, of course Joe Ranft sadly passed away, and Andrew Stanton has also seemingly moved on.  

So, it seems that of the original creative core, only Pete Docter is left.  And maybe this explains the weaknesses seen in "Luca".  The story has a good concept that should allow for humor and emotions, but it never quite cashes in on it.  One of the failures was the bad guy (or kid), Ercole, for me he really didn't work. 

Also, I never figured out why it was so Italian - it could have taken place anywhere, perhaps they wanted to increase tourism to Italy?   And lastly, the whole design was second-rate.  The big anime-style eyes made it look like a grade "B" film.  I wish they could bring back the creative line-up of the classics, that's what made Pixar so unique and popular. 

So, if it's too hot to go outside, be sure to stay indoors and check out my crazy "Guns on the Clackamas" mockumentary - IT'S ON NOW!  

See ya, 

Bill 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Everything Cool at Heritage Auctions

Hello again, Scribble Junkies fans - 

I want to sincerely thank all of you who helped our "Demi's Panic" Kickstarter campaign - as you probably already know, it was a big success - and we're very happy that Danny and Lorena attained their goal.  

However, we still need support to enter the film into festivals and as you probably know, festivals charge entry fees, some of which are now getting close to 100 bucks - and we plan on entering a lot of festivals.  So if you still want to help us get the film out to all the festivals, please check in with the Kickstarter campaign and leave a message for Danny and Lorena if you can still contribute: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/deminyc/demis-panic

Or contact Rock Farm Productions through their Twitter or Instagram.

Another event taking place right now, that I'm very excited about, is the Heritage Auction of a lot of my work.  Heritage is the premiere auction house for cartoons and animation - and this month their catalog is calle "The Art of Anime and Everything Cool" - I'm featured very prominently as one of the "cool" artists.  Also included in that group are Tim Burton, Ralph Bakshi, John K. and Peter Chung.  So it's a fun group.  

What's also interesting is that they selected a very diverse array of my art.  There are some very early caricatures of rock musicians - Prince, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan - that I created back when I was a syndicated cartoonist....and I must say some of those pieces are pretty nice.  Then they included a bunch of art from Kanye's West's music video "Heard 'em Say" that I animated, and also some large art pieces I made inspired by his most famous songs that were used as illustrations in his book "Through the Wire".  

And of course, there's some of my most recent art from the couch gags I made for "The Simpsons" - like "Homer's Face" and very rare artwork drawn for the Season 19 DVD box set.  

The auction has already started online, but the in-house bidding will take place in Dallas, TX on June 25-27.  It's great to see that all of my art has now become collectable.  If you want to see everything that's up for auction in June, follow this link:

https://comics.HA.com/c/search.zx?saleNo=7254&collection=25&FC=0&type=friend-consignorlive-notice

Or watch their YouTube video here:

https://youtu.be/nUNM1pGEoGk

You can also come visit me in Artists Alley at the New York Comic-Con this year, October 7-10 at the Jacob Javits Center - everybody SHOULD be vaccinated by then (if not, what ARE you waiting for?) and they're going to hold a smaller, socially distanced event.  No hugging, no handshakes, no high fives, but who cares - the CON is ON!  Come meet me, get a piece of art or maybe your own caricature drawn by ME!

See you then - this week's gag cartoon is below.

--Bill P.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Demi's Panic - Help support the new short on Kickstarter!

It's been a while since I posted, and I apologize, but I've been crushed by a ton of work.

I'm still pushing hard, trying to finish the animation on "Slide".  I'm now about 3/4 of the way through the drawings - it's gonna be a big film, like a 2-hour epic maybe.  I'm working hard on this film, I want this to be my masterpiece.

Then I'm doing some odds-and-ends work, illustrations, titles, a small commercial.  And I've just finished a new short about the pandemic (written by Danny Leonard and produced by Danny and Lorena Hernández Leonard) called "Demi's Panic".  I believe this short is the best one I've ever made, and I hope and pray it will be a big success.  We've started to enter the 10-minute film into a lot of festivals, so we'll soon see if our dreams come true. 

For me, it's a very unique project.  The art style is quite different from my usual look.  It's a blend of black and white minimal design with some colored-pencil craziness.  Also, it's a film about COVID-19, so there's not a laugh in the whole film, but that's why I think it will do well.  It's totally different than anything else I've done.  



There's still time to support the production of "Demi's Panic" on Kickstarter, Danny and Lorena are running a campaign to raise $10,000 and they're about 60% of the way there.  They have just 13 more days to raise the balance, the campaign ends on June 9.  If you can help support this independently-produced short about a very important subject, please visit:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/deminyc/demis-panic




And watch for "Demi's Panic" this summer or fall in a festival near you.  If you have any leads for cool festivals, please let me know.  Even though we just wrapped production on the short, Danny and I are still in debt for the costs.  So if you can find it in your heart and pocketbook, please check out the campaign and help us pay our bills - we'd greatly appreciate it, and you can stream the film from home, or get signed original artwork from the film or get thanked in the credits!  

Now here's my new gag cartoon for this installment:


Until next time, 

Bill P.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Kickstarter for "Demi's Panic"

Hello, everyone - I know by now you may be tired of hearing about my Kickstarter campaigns - but this one is different.  It's for a short film, "Demi's Panic", concerning the COVID-19 virus and the recent pandemic.  About four months ago the writer sent me a 10-page script that had a great story and was filled with surreal imagery.  Now, I get a lot of unsolicited scripts and projects sent to me, and I prefer to write my own stories.  (In fact, I've been told it's dangerous to read other people's scripts, because then if you make a film similar to the script they sent you, they could sue you!). But this one connected to me, and I really felt that I wanted to try a different style of animation with a different type of story.


So, I said "Yes!"  It's been a blast working with Danny Leonard, the film's writer and producer, and Lorena Hernandez Leonard, the film's co-producer, and creating this 10-minute film.  I got to experiment with some new techniques.  I believe this film will be my most popular on the festival circuit.  It's got a powerful subject matter, great music by composer Daniel Jimenez Afanador, and some very stylized animation from yours truly.  So, see if you can help us out to fund this awesome short film.  

The story is about Demi, a Latina woman in NYC whose nightmares foreshadow an unprecedented storm, one that transforms her city and her life.  What she goes through represents the anxiety and panic that we all have collectively experienced during the COVID quarantines, including the mental health crisis that has hit the world like a tsunami.  

It's worth noting that Danny and Lorena are launching the campaign during Mental Health Awareness Month, and because of the current crisis, with anxiety, depression and suicide at an astronomical high, they're going to donate a portion of the proceeds from the campaign to the Mass Covid-19 Relief Fund, and also organizations that support mental health.  

So here is a link to the campaign: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/deminyc/demis-panic

or use this shortcut link:

http://kck.st/3hsL3pN

There are some great campaign rewards, including original art from the film, getting your name in the credits, and of course, being able to stream the film once it's all finished.  You can even get tickets to attend the Boston premiere of the film, plus the after party - remember attending screenings and parties?  I can't wait until we can all do that again!  So please check out the campaign and donate what you can. 

By the way, "Slide" is also moving along - I work on it mornings and weekends.  I'm almost 3/4 through the animating, and soon we'll start with the coloring.  It's going to be fantastic - thank you all for your continuing support!

--Bill P.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Odds and Ends

Sorry for the long delay between postings - but I've been trying to finish the animation for this new short film in time for the trio of "primo" festival deadlines: Toronto, Venice and Telluride.  I'd tell you the name of the film but unfortunately we haven't been able to land on the best title yet. 

So, dear readers, I ask you to help us out.  If you can think of a cool name within the next week (deadline May 7) for a pandemic-based animated short, then I'll send you a piece of original art from the film, which is currently titled "Demi NYC".  The story is about a young woman working in New York who learns about the contagious virus that is floating around her city.  At night, she dreams of a red wave taking over the city and killing everything in its path.  After a family member is killed by the virus, she turns to her boyfriend, Omar, for support.  Please send me any ideas for titles as soon as possible!

image from "Demi NYC" (working title)

image from "Demi NYC" (working title)

Did anyone watch the Oscars on Monday?  I watched until 9:30, when they announced the animation winners.  "Soul" won for Best Animated Feature, and I'm happy for my friend Pete Docter, but I must admit there have been better Pixar films.  I voted for the hilarious "A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon".  

PIXAR's "Soul", the winner for Best Animated Feature

Aardman's "Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon", my favorite

As for the Best Animated Short award the winner was "If Anything Happens I Love You".  I liked this film, it was very heart-wrenching after all the student shootings in America, but for me I loved "Yes-People" more. 

"If Anything Happens I Love You"


"Yes-People"

But I do believe the Academy handled the pandemic very well.  It must have been weird shuttling all the nominated filmmakers in and out of the train station during the short commercials.  Although I could have used a little less political grandstanding and it would have been nice to have an MC or host.  Maybe Dr. Fauci?  

And some other news, this documentary, "The Brainwashing of My Dad", directed by Jen Senko, which I made some animation for, is now nominated for a Webby Award!  My "Trump Bites" series (a co-production with 110th Street Films) won a Webby two years ago, and now something I worked on is nominated again!  This one's nominated in the category of public service/activism, because it's all about how right-wing media spread a bunch of lies over the last few years, and how this changed public opinions, especially in older people.  

If you can take a few minutes to vote for this project and help us win a Webby, I'd really appreciate it.  Here's the link to vote:

https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2021/video/general-video/public-service-activism

I think you might have to register with the site to vote, but if you could take the time to do that, it would mean a lot!  Voting is open until May 6.  Thanks!

--Bill P. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New Short Film - Demi NYC

As you may have already heard, or maybe not, I've started a new short film.  I was sent a script by the New England writer, Dan Leonard, about the coronavirus pandemic.  I don't usually do political shorts, but this script was a wonderful story, full of visual ideas that I could really have fun with.  Plus, I've never really done a serious film before and I wanted a change of pace.  

Right now, the temporary title is "Demi NYC", but we're considering different titles right now.  Last week, Dan and his wife, Lorena, came to visit my studio and I showed them how I make the animation.  So I'm happy to present to you all that demonstration, and also to alert you that they're about to run a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for production of the short.  I hope you all can help support the new short, it's going to be one of my best films!  Please check it out on Vimeo here - 

https://vimeo.com/534124082



--Bill P.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Alamo Drafthouse, COVID-19 and a new short on the way

I miss those pre-COVID days, when I was able to travel around the world and make appearances at local cinemas.  Back when "Cheatin'" came out, I had a booking agent that arranged for me to visit a bunch of the cinemas that were premiering the film, I think I went to about 13 cities on one trip, and I felt a bit like a rock star on tour.  You know how bands sometimes have t-shirts that list all the cities on their tour?  I should have had a t-shirt made.

But because of the pandemic, one of my favorite venues, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX has closed for financial reasons.  I remember the first time I visited there, it was run by Tim League, a great guy, and I did a two-man show, co-starring the great Don Hertzfeldt. Of course, we had a packed house, because of Don's local fan base there. 

What really surprised me was that they had a kitchen and served food like burgers, salads and hot dogs at the seats.  Wow, what a cool concept, something more than just popcorn and candy - and in fact the idea was such a hit that Alamo Theaters got franchised across America.  

Now, some purists were offended by the idea of eating in front of a classic film.  They said it would disturb concentration and appreciation of the film.  However, the Alamo preferred to show over-the-top, wacky films - comedies, horror and action movies, so drinking and eating complimented the enjoyment of the film.  It made for a perfect date-night event, get the dinner and the movie out of the way in one fell swoop, then you can get on with the romantic portion of the evening....

I hope that after COVID-19 is gone (and I hope this happens soon) they will revive the Drafthouse plan, because it's such a great concept. And it really would be a shot in the arm, so to speak, for the struggling movie houses.  

Speaking of COVID-19, I'm now working on a short film that is about the pandemic.  Here is some art, posted below, and I'll be talking more about this project very soon. 

Thanks, 

Bill P.



     



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Simpsons (again)

Guess what, folks?  Last fall I was asked to do another Couch Gag for "The Simpsons"!! Yeah!!

Now, you've heard my rap before about how I love the Simpsons show, the Simpsons people and the Simpsons audience.  So whenever I get invited to do another opening for their show, I go out and celebrate.

This time, producer Al Jean asked me to send in a storyboard idea - and I thought I'd go really off the deep end and submit a totally off-the-wall, bizarro surreal concept.  It's Homer's head, and his facial features start becoming his family members as they ooze out of his orifices.  I thought, "Those producers at The Simpsons are going to think that I'm taking way too many drugs" - but surprise, surprise, they loved it!  Then I thought, "Oh my God, now I have to animate this totally twisted beast..."

It was a gas making this nightmare come true on my drawing board - and thankfully, they loved the finished version.  The producers called me months ago and said it would be broadcast on their 700th episode on March 7.  But now I heard that because some NASCAR race ran into a rain delay, that it may run on March 14 or even March 21.  But still, it's going to open their 700th episode - what an honor!

So please tell all your friends to tune in to "The Simpsons" and you might want to get a little buzzed first, to really get maxed out on the weirdness factor.  Thanks to all you Plympton and Simpsons fans for following my work and spreading the word!  

Sincerely, 

Bill P.


                                    








Friday, February 19, 2021

Don Hertzfeldt

I met Don Hertzfeldt long ago - I think I was doing a Spike & Mike show, and I believe he was showing "Billy's Balloon" (one of my all-time favorite comedy shorts).  We became good friends, because our senses of humor were very similar, dark and surreal.  

Over the years I've visited him in Austin - he even let me sleep over in his house.  He showed me his monster animation camera stand that he'd had shipped to his house from a long distance away, and he assembled the damn thing all by himself.

And whenever Don was doing a show in NYC, usually at the IFC Center in the Village, he'd always have a standing-room-only crowd, lined up all around the block.  Then after the show, he'd sign autographs and sell DVDs - man, what a rock star!  Then we'd go out for a drink together at a bar next door and talk about animation.

I remember one night while we were a bit high, I was joking about his style.  I was convinced he was actually a great artist but only used the stick figures as a gag.  So I handed him a napkin and asked him to do a realistic portrait of me - and sure enough, he drew me as a stick figure Bill Plympton.


The reason I'm talking about Don is because he's now involved in a Kickstarter campaign to finance his new BluRay of "World of Tomorrow, the First Three Episodes" and it's crazy how popular this is.  He originally asked for $30,000 but with 19 days still to go, he's already raised over $326,000!  And it's growing every day!  He might break $1 million for a BluRay disc!  What the fuck?  That's crazy!!  I had a Kickstarter campaign late last year and it took me three weeks to pull in just $80,000.

One of Don's advantages is that he has a very engaging and funny web-site that he's used to build up his digital audience.  Don has definitely used the internet to create his super-stardom.  Go for it, Don! Also, the copy on his Kickstarter page is hilarious, it's like a question and answer session between two people and by the time you scroll down to the bottom, it's gone completely off topic.  So if you get a chance, you've got to check out his campaign, you'll love it!  And donate if you want to get his BluRay or the other rewards!  

The campaign is here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/worldoftomorrow/world-of-tomorrow-the-first-three-episodes-on-blu-ray

Now, here's this week's gag cartoon!

--Bill

Friday, February 12, 2021

Blue Sky

I've been a fan of Blue Sky Studios for years - I've hung out with Chris Wedge many times.  Once we went to a film festival in Majorca, where he got stung very badly by a school of jellyfish - and I was ready to pee on him if he needed me to, but the pain abated, thankfully.

Also, I'm good friends with writer Karen Disher, designer Peter DeSeve and storyboard artist William Frake, who all work for Blue Sky.  I've admired many of their films, like "Robots", "Ferdinand", "Epic", and of course, "Horton Hears a Who", which is a classic.  Plus they had two money-making franchises, the "Ice Age" series and the "Rio" films. 




I've even lectured up there (Greenwich, CT) and was very impressed by their abundant talent and the joy they take in their craft.  But when Disney bought out Fox, everyone was nervous about the future of Blue Sky, why would they need an East Coast version of Pixar that competes with Disney and Pixar?  That wouldn't make sense.  But Disney let Blue Sky continue to make their films, until "Spies in Disguise" came out and wasn't much of a success.  I think after that, the writing was on the wall, as they say.

Now, a lot of very talented people are going to be out of work, and may be forced to move to L.A. to continue their animation careers.  My hope is that they can write and create remotely, or maybe form another studio here on the East Coast.  Dream on, right? 

Even though my mini-indie studio often has trouble surviving, at least I'm able to continue to produce films without worrying that Disney executives will be pulling the rug out from under me.  That's the biggest benefit of working as an independent.  Although if Disney were to offer me a boatload of money to buy my studio, I might consider it. 

You can read more about the closing of Blue Sky on Cartoon Brew here:


Here's this week's gag cartoon - thanks for listening!

--Bill 


Friday, February 5, 2021

Good news

About a month ago, my office manager, John H., signed me up to get my COVID-19 vaccine, which was very exciting - and he got me a slot at the Javits Center, where we've been many times with a booth at New York Comic Con.  The only problem was, the earliest available appointment there wasn't until the end of March!!!  What?  I've got to walk the NYC streets, day after day, for two more months, blocking the little coronavirus droplets from getting into my nose?  

Fat chance - so, naturally, I committed to staying inside as much as possible, except to walk 5 blocks every day to my studio and occasionally to the store.  A pretty dreary life...but I must say, I've gotten a lot of drawing done for "Slide".  

Meanwhile, my producer, Rachel, was checking for earlier vaccination appointments through various healthcare systems online - you apparently have to start looking for them very early in the morning, because by 10 or 11 am any open slots usually get filled up.  Then, of course, the news broke that Trump lied about the amount of vaccine that was on hand, it turns out there was no reserve, and he didn't order as much for the country as he could have!  So some states, including New York, went through all their doses and had to start cancelling appointments everywhere while they waited for more vaccines from the government.  Suddenly it seemed like a good idea to keep that Mar. 31 appointment, because it was a sure thing, and maybe by then there would be more doses arriving.  

Then, just last Friday, I got a phone call from my buddy, and brilliant animator, Signe Baumane, about open slots at the Armory in Northern Manhattan.  Apparently they had just gotten a big batch of the Pfizer vaccines, and there was nobody showing up to get their shots.  And if I hurried up there (a short subway ride) I might be able to get a shot.  

When I got there, the place was practically empty.  I only had to wait 15 minutes to get registered, and prove that I qualified because of my age, then I got the needle in my arm.  I didn't feel a thing, and in fact it felt very good to get the vaccine.  I was smiling all the way home, now I can sleep peacefully at night.  I'm already booked to get my second shot, in three weeks - and I feel so free and easy now. 

I think there was some controversy about this vaccination site I went to, because at some earlier point people from New Jersey or Connecticut were getting shots there, and there was concern that the local population was being under-served.  By the time I got my shot, I believe they were reserving 60% of the shots for neighborhood residents, and they had added some Spanish-speaking volunteers and hotlines to make the process easier.  The other 40% of their doses were going to other qualified NYC residents, including my age group - so by traveling uptown, I didn't jump the line or take somebody else's dose, I had an appointment and everything I did to get the shot was legal and legit.  Then we cancelled my March 31 appointment to free up my time-slot at the Javits Center for somebody else. 

I know some people might be having a hard time scheduling appointments, especially older people who might not be very good with computers and web-sites - and that's exactly who's qualified to get the vaccines right now!  All I can say is, keep trying, and I feel very lucky, and it's great to know people who ARE good with computers!  

Here's my gag cartoon for today's edition - 


Bill P.