Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Funny Cars


If you love the history of film, then rush out to see Martin Scorsese's "Hugo." It's a wonderful, imaginative, visual feast. I especially loved the Ben Kingsly (Georges Melies) part.

It's such a wonderful story of a dreamer and an innovator who created the whole world of fantasy film, and how he lost it all during World War I. In fact, his library of films was melted down to make lady's shoes!

The other part of the story is about a young orphan boy hiding out in a Parisian train station clock tower.

That part is not so interesting and unfortunately takes up a majority of the film. He romances and adventures with a young girl and visits a book shop... it just takes up time. I did, however, LOVE the Sacha Baron Cohen character.

In fact, he could have been enlarged because they added an important dose of humor and whimsey.

I give the film a B.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sex on the Brain

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Animation 101: More Thoughts on Story..

Story is the buzzword of the film world. Every Tom Dick and Harry wields it like a un-stoppable creative weapon. How many times have you heard the phrase "You don't have anything if you don't have a good story"..  I submit that story is merely one key element of making a film, it shares the stage with Character, Timing, and Aesthetic. I've been dealing with a lot of "Story", both with my own film "Pull" and with my Tisch students Thesis productions. It's a tricky little subject that all too many people get carried away with. Last month I posted a four part series on the subject, part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
My latest film "Pull" is rolling along, aiming for a March 2012 release.

I believe the fixation on story is a product of not understanding the other three elements. It's also a typical buzz-word because it's often perceived as the first step of the process. The truth is that an "image" is typically the impetus for a film. For example Ridley Scott began the story process of "Gladiator" with the famous painting by Gerome. Read my entry on this topic here.

The famous painting of a Gladiator by Gerome. In an interview, Ridley Scott admitted that this was the inspiration for "Gladiator."

Story is skeletal.. Character is flesh. The flesh covers the bones, not the other way around. It is vital to shroud your story with character, timing, emotion, subtleties, and an aesthetic to unite it all. There should not be a tiny bit of white bone showing. The story is there to serve the Characters, to give them a context, a situation. The Characters will and must exist without the story. This is why "Establishing the Norm" is so important in storytelling.

If we were a walking Short Film:
-Story would be our Skeleton, it's our framework.
-Character is our flesh, consistent and always working.
-Aesthetic is our health, how we present ourselves.
-Timing is our speech, our skill of communication.

Friday, November 25, 2011


It was my good buddy Rick Farmiloe who turned me on to the CTN gathering, or convention or whatever it is. The CTN stands for “Creative Talent Network” – its a broad description for a meeting of great animators, cartoonist, character designers and storyboard artists. Basically, any art-based animation creator.

It is organized by Tina Price, and in fact I've done signings in her booth at the San Diego Comic Con in the past. Well, I've recently returned from the event in Burbank, CA, and I must say it was one of the more fun experiences of my life.

It was held at the Burbank airport Marriot and I was invited to do a lot of events – an interview with the great Bill Kroyer in the Big Room kicked off the weekend. I showed Winsor McCay's “The Flying House” (my version) and the pencil test of “Cheatin'”. I also did an intimate workshop where I talked about my work process. The convention floor was packed with super artists like William Stout, Dean Nagel, and Andrea Deja. Then there were some old friends just cruising the aisles. David Siverman (Simpsons), Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold) Matt Groening, Spike Decker, Jerry Beck, Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, Robert Valley, and the brilliant illustrator Peter DeSeve.

But the highlight for me was reconnecting with the genius Oscar Grillo – I met him a few years ago at the prestigious Annecy Animation Festival, and I've been a subscriber to his “Drawing a Day” service. He was one of the greatest animators ever, but he got tired of the biz and retired about 10 years ago. It was a very sad day, because he was such an original and entertaining illustrator/animator.

If you can track down his stuff, do it! His work is amazing, and you may see a little influence of his genius in my own work.

One of the final events was a gigantic signing of the new Sketchtravel book, people like James Jean (who worked on “Hair High”) and Robert Valley, Peter DeSeve and myself – sponsored by Stuart Ng books. It was the largest in terms of number of artists I've ever been involved with – about 12 different contributors.

I plan on attending next year if I'm invited, and you should go too if you're a fan of great animation – I give the event an A!


Thursday, November 24, 2011


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Flip and Edit

If you saw the trailer I did for Pat Smith and my show called “The Drawn Animation Show”, then you saw the trailer I originally created for the Edit festival.

I've been going to this FX festival based in Frankfurt for a number of years, and even though I'm not exactly an FX specialist, it's always fun to attend. A few years ago I was able to have a cool dinner with Farely Granger (“Stranger on a Train”), and Tippi Hedren (“The Birds”). She was very sweet and we talked about doing a film together.

Anyway, this year the special guest was James Horner (Titanic, Avatar). I was lucky enough to chat with him about music, and he seemed like a very laid back guy who just did it for the love of the music.

Before landing in Frankfurt, I stopped off in Wolverhampton, England for the Flip Animation Film Festival. It's a small but well-attended festival, and they have some great animation programs. I love the spirit of the festival – I recommend you all send your animation to their gem of a festival. I give it a B+.

See you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Monday, November 21, 2011

Big Smile

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Young Adult

Now that it's award season, I've been getting a lot of invitations to film premieres. Since I'm an Academy member, the great and powerful actors and directors are sucking up to me for my valuable Academy vote.

Last week I was invited by Diablo Cody to come witness her newest film, "Young Adult", directed by Jason Reitman (of "Juno" fame). I loved it. It reminded me of "Sideways" - intelligent people making very bad decisions. In fact, the decisions are so bad, the film turns into a black comedy.

It took me a few scenes to recognize the gorgeous Charlize Theron as the star; a "young adult" writer who returns to her old high school stomping grounds to try to win back her ex-boyfriend (played by Patrick Wilson) who is happily married with a newborn. One very interesting side character is one of my favorite comics, Patton Oswalt, who plays a high school nobody that was beaten by a gang of bullies because they thought he was gay. It's a very touching and emotion role that counterpoints wonderfully with Charlize's high school queen-like character.

I give the film an A-!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Red Hair

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Standard Self Portrait

Sragow Gallery Exhibition

I forgot to report on our wonderful art exhibition at the Sragow Gallery opening last month! It was a smashing success; crowds of people. Desirée Stavracos and Ellen Sragow did a masterful job selecting and mounting my artwork.

It's a wonderful sampling of the creme de la creme of my entire career, from "Your Face", "Mutant Aliens", "How to Kiss", my entire "Dog series, to "Idiots & Angels". What's really cool is that they were able to include large complete sequences of very interesting scenes (like "Your Face" and "How to Kiss", for example). They are absolutely fascinating to view.

If that's not enough to entice you to visit, artist Alphonse VanWoerkom created a very large over-size portrait of me that hangs in the gallery alongside my animation art.

So get your friends a rush down to the Sragow Gallery - 153 W 27th Street #505 (5th) floor before it closes December 17th!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life Drawing 9

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leon Keer's 3d Street mural..

The artwork was produced by a group of Dutch street artists, as part of the Saratosa Chalk Festival in Florida. Artist Leon Keer, who led the project, said he was inspired by the iconic image of the 8,000-strong Chinese terracotta army which was first uncovered in 1974 and is now one of China's biggest tourist attractions. Enjoy.


Life Drawing 8

Christmas Time!

Only a month and a half 'till it's Santa time and our studio is planning a super cool animated Christmas Card. It's going to be a big project; we've never done anything on this scale before. It will be an animated extravaganza!

So here's the deal - we are offering my Plymptoons Super Fan Package for the bargain price of $150! That's right! It's almost my entire collection (valued at $210 when sold separately) for a infinitesimal price! You can give the package to your favorite lover, or break it up and give all your friends a single item. OR you can just keep them all yourself to hide away in a special place in your room.

ALSO if you buy the Super Fan Package BEFORE December 25th, we'll throw in a free DVD of our studio-animated Christmas Card, SIGNED by all the artists here including me. How much more collectable can you get than that?!

So go ahead onto the brand spankin' new Plymptoons Store (designed and programmed by Desiree Stavracos), and to everyone Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and have a cool Kwanzaa!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Epic Skethbook: Signe Baumane..

"Your work is your fort. Leaving it for fear, passion or regret is like leaving the fort without army during a war." -Signe Baumane

Life Drawing 7


I didn't really discover the joys of Tintin until I started attending animation festivals in France. Of course, I loved the art – the cool realistic drawings of the planes, boats, and cars – but also the deceptively simple art style that Hergé employed.

So when I was forced by the entire French populace to learn French, I turned to the Tintin books as a simple and fun way to learn French. C'est magnifique!

I've just returned from the screening of the Stephen Spielberg/Peter Jackson version of the eternal boy's adventures. First, I must say I liked the film a lot – it had loads of action scenes and crazy adventures that stayed fairly close to the original books.

However, I do have a few reservations about the film:

One, Tintin didn't really look the same. His eyes were too small and too close together, he looked like a different character. Although I must say, all the other characters, even Snowy the dog, were quite successful.

Two, there was very little humor in the film, and Hergé used a lot of humor in the books. You'd think with Spielberg and Jackson, experts at humorous films, there would be a lot more gags. The full audience I saw it with hardly laughed at all.

Three, the ending was very anti-climactic. SPOILER ALERT----------- They find a hole in the wall that leads to a hatful of old coins. And that's the grand finale! What kind of adventure film ends with a wet rag finish like that?

One final nit-picky complaint – why do all the characters speak with British accents, yet live in France? Are the Brits now taking over France?

I tell you what I would have loved to see in this film, is Tintin (who seems to be eternally in puberty) watching a hot French girl and show a little sexual curiosity.

But it is a wonderful, roller coaster film full of amazing effects and fun characters. I give it a B-.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jana and JS mural, Strasbourg France..

kills it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blu, in Italy..

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life Drawing 5

Another one from Atlanta, Jaz.

epic from Jaz. enjoy.