Monday, April 26, 2010

Natas 1989..

Natas Kaupas changed my life.. I stumbled upon this clip from the 1989 santa cruz vid "streets on fire" and it brought me back to simpler times, before i got into this animation crap, a time of front side wall rides and no complies. It's difficult to explain how revolutionary his style was.. to me it was the beginning of modern street skating. "brave captain" is also an epic song by my old time fav band "firehose". enjoy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dirty Duck

People say that I’m the first one to personally animate every drawing in an animated feature film. I’m not an expert on the history of animation so I can’t confirm the validity of that statement. However, a number of people have mentioned a cartoon feature by Chuck Swenson called “Dirty Duck”.

Legend has it that Roger Corman wanted to do a cheaper version of “Fritz the Cat” by the great Ralph Bakshi. So he hired Chuck Swenson and the animation production company Murakami and Wolf.

I had a hell of a time trying to track down a print of the film, but I finally found an old VHS copy in one of those used DVD shops. The print was a little crude (it’s VHS) but I liked the style- very Push Pin pop.

The music was wonderful by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (aka “Flo and Eddie”, aka “The Turtles”). The plot is very similar to “Fritz the Cat” as the hero is a dweebish Woody Allen type who meets up with the eponymous Duck to search for the meaning of life and sex. Cartoonist Bobby London came up with the original Dirty Duck back in 1970 and apparently Roger Corman just borrowed the name although the character design is quite different.

Checking the credits I noted there were a number of animators that helped Chuck with the film. In any case, it’s a wonder anyone can make an animated feature with such a small crew and low budget. I congratulate Chuck on a wonderful fun animated film. Check it out if you ever get a chance.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Improving your Staging...

Re-post from my old blog, but it's a good way to introduce a continuing discussion on staging here on scribble junkies.. I drew this layout a while back.. and it just didn't sit right with me. I was happy with the drawing, but it didn't help move the characters and the story forward. At this point in the film, the masked men have elevated themselves to predator, and have become a menacing, horrifying force that are gorging themselves on the helpless "little dudes".So I redrew the layout to express this feeling. I placed the little dudes lower in the frame, and I pushed the masked man up high.. utilizing a low camera angle.. a classic and cliche way to make a character more powerful (just look at all the low shots of Darth Vader!). A bonus to the scene now is that I can show some really frightened expressions on the little dude.The re-staging of this shot even influenced the style of drawing.. I drew the masked man in the improved version with a lot more insidiousness and evil.. whereas the previous version, the masked man comes off as cartoonish. the overall composition improved as well. I suppose this is just a reminder to push yourself at every level.. you just never know how you can improve things.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hong Kong Film Festival

The Hong Kong International Film Festival has been showing my films, shorts and features, for about ten years so they finally decided to hold a retrospective of my work. And they generously invited me to attend.

Knowing that China in particular and Asia in general have become large buyers of animation I decided to attend, hoping to do a lot of business and to spread the Plympton brand throughout Asia.

One of the best parts was flying for fifteen hours on Cathay Pacific because they had over 300 feature films to choose from for their individual movie screens. I was in film heaven- literally.
I was also put up in the very fancy W Hotel. The magnificent swimming pool overlooked the Hong Kong harbor from the 70th floor so it was quite a vista when every morning I did my 10 laps.

The festival was very well organized and after 34 years has build up a very large and loyal audience. I was totally shocked when I visited my first screening. It was large and packed full of screaming fans. They knew all about my films and me. I was so excited; I gave all of the attendees a personal drawing that took almost an hour.

I then did another appearance at the Hong Kong University film class and that was packed! I was in China about proper 8years ago and sold some of my DVD’s and my guess is that they’ve been pirated like crazy and so I probably have an underground following all over China.
In fact on my off day I visited the bazaar where they had countless stalls of genre DVD’s, very obscure stuff and Hollywood films. Of course they were all illegal but that’s the norm in China. So I guess I’m one of the pirated directors now.

In any case I was happy for the adulation especially in the home of one of my favorite brands of film Hong Kong cinema.

On the scale of 1-10, I give the Hong Kong International Film Festival a 9. Thanks guys for the great time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Planet 51

I’m on my flight returning from a wonderful festival and the United plane has a wide variety of films available. I see Planet 51 is one of the selections available on the flight entertainment program.

I try to see every animated feature released- even the films made for kids. I believe one can always learn something even from badly made films. Plus, who knows maybe I could discover a lost gem like “Mind Games” from Japan.

I know the airplanes are not the desired screening room for animated films, the picture is small; there are kids screaming and many other annoying distractions like pilot’s announcements and such. But I’m an intrepid cartoon fan.

The film “Planet 51” has a very clever concept of what if we saw an alien invasion from an alien planet point of view and humans were the aliens.

The design is quite good and handsome. They took America in the 50’s as their style format, which is appropriate since in those time there was a preponderance of Martian attack movies and everyone was afraid of invasion from the commies and other aliens.

The problem with the film is the story. The gags just don’t work. They’re very clich├ęd and tame. They didn't really try anything fresh. One reason might be that it’s a Spanish production and even though it’s made in English I don’t believe the it translated very well.

However, I do recommend the film for its wonderful set design and coloring.
I give it a 6 out of 10 on the Plympton scale.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monstra Animation Festival

I’m on an airplane with a very obnoxious kid sitting behind me screaming and kicking my seat back, so it’s comforting to pitch about my wonderful 2 and half days in sunny Portugal.

I was supposed to be there for 4 days but a hurricane hit JFK on the night of my departure and all of the flights were cancelled. Then the next night the entire flight crew was in a bus crush so we left many hours late and I missed my connecting flight. However, all the hassles were worth it.

The Monstra animation fest is a terrific event, set in a wonderful 50s cinema (Sao Gorge) in downtown Lisbao where I was met by the director Fernando Garelito. He was able to invite a very select group of filmmakers to Lisbon: Ratsk Ciric, Olga and Priit Parn, Vladimir Leshir, and animator turned live action director Micheala Paulatova.

My Master Class was a big success as were my screenings, for some reason I’m very popular in Portugal. They had all my DVD’s Portuguese for sale- plus some local work that I did the later for.

But for the best was the city itself, Portugal was neutral during WWII so many of its most beautiful building are gloriously intact. It seems that the architects were high on Baroque and Rococo architecture. It’s almost like an acid trip discovering some amazing decoration building down narrow dark sides streets. The last day was my favorite I got a ride to the show and wandered through ancient village, swum in the mild ocean and had fresh fish at one of the many seaside restaurants.

Then that night Gavelito took us out to a fado music club. Wow, what emotion and sadness, it’s like Portuguese country western music. If Tammy Lynette were from Lisbon she’d be a fado musician. So now Portugal is one of my favorite destinations and I give the Monstra Festival a 9 (out of 10)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

“Battle of The Sexes, Animated”

As you probably know Signe and I are famous for doing animation shows together. Well now we’ve joined forces again for our piece d’resistance.

It’s “The Battle of The Sexes, Animated!” sponsored by the Woodstock film festival and IFC. We’re putting together 5 of our all time sexiest films to show at the IFC on April 12 and having a cartoon smackdown!

“Chirpy” by John Goras one of the sickest animated films ever made and believe me I’ve seen a lot of sick films.

“Roof Sex” by PES, a classic stop motion look at furniture love.

“Cosmic Honeymoon,” a twisted short dealing with perverted space aliens by Ondrej Rudavsky.

And my classic “How to Make Love to a Woman,” an X rated version of “How to Kiss.”

And the kicker is the audience gets to decide who makes the sexiest cartoons, chicks or dudes.

So come on men, lets show the babes that guys really know how to make cartoon raunch. Come on down to IFC at 4th Street and 6th Ave on April 12- 9:00 PM and clap your asses off. Who knows you may even get laid.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

MOCCA arts festival

Mocca, the “Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art” has for the last few years held and an arts festival. I’ve been going for approximately 10 years and I’ve always had a ball.

It used to be in early June but last year it was so hot that one of the exhibitors passed out on the street from heat stroke. So this year they’ve moved it to April 10-11 and instead of the Puck building, it’s now at the 69th Regiment Armory at 25rd St. and Lexington. This is the place I used to spend every Tuesday night marching and drilling for 4 years when I was in the National Guard – to escape going the Vietnam, so I have a lot of bad memories there.

But this year I’ll have a booth and hopefully I’ll be able to cleanse away all those evil spirits.

In any case rush on down there and bring your friends! It’s one of the hot events of the year. All the best alternative comics and animators are there. Last time I went I got to hang out with Artie Spiegelman, Lynda Barry and Charles Burns.

This year they have Kyle Baker, Jamie Hernandez, Gahan Wilson, Bill Plympton and the great Frank Miller!

You can pick up signed copies of the coolest books in the world.

And be sure to stop by my table and see all my new cool stuff and get a free cartoon.