Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lots of films and Spark Animation 2019 in Vancouver

Well, it's Oscar season again and I'm getting a lot of new Oscar-qualified films to see.  Some good, some bad, but way too many for me to watch.  So here are some quickie reviews of the ones I've managed to see.

Last week I rushed out to see "Parasite", Bong Joon Ho's new film, because everyone's been talking about it (that's the best kind of advertising there is...).  First of all, I'm a big fan of his earlier stuff, like "Okja" (which I loved), "Snowpiercer" and "The Host".  "The Parasite is about a scheming poverty-stricken family that gloms on to a wealthy Korean family.  And like a parasite, they bring a whole lot of damage to their host family.  It's quite twisted and graphic, but it could have used more humor - plus it's way too long.

Another film I liked was "Ford v Ferrari", directed by James Mangold.  I really wanted to see this film because in college I became really interested in sports cars (I wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo) and racing.  Then the Caroll Shelby AC Cobra came out and I was in love.  Even though I never rode in one, it became my obsession - and this film's story comes from exactly that era.  So I guess I liked it for nostalgia reasons, but it's also a really well-made film - great drama, characters, humor and racing!  I totally recommend "Ford v Ferrari".

Then last week, I took a 4-day visit to Vancouver, BC, Canada for the up and coming Spark Animation Festival.  I visited Vancouver 20 years ago to visit my animation heroes, Danny Antonucci (of "Lupo the Butcher" fame) and Marv Newland ("Bambi Meets Godzilla") - so it was wonderful to reunite with them and also Oscar winners David Fine and Alison Snowden.  We also competed for the Oscar way back in 1987 - but another Canuck won, Frederic Back for "The Man Who Planted Trees".
With Sylvia and Danny Antonucci
with David Fine and Alison Snowden
After the screening of the "Animation Outlaws" documentary
But the real buzz of the festival was for Sergio Pablos of Disney fame.  He was showing clips of his soon-to-be-released Christmas comedy "Klaus".  And the clips were friggin' amazing.  What talent!! And his storytelling was superb.  I haven't seen the whole film yet by it's definitely #1 on my watch-list.

with Sergio Pablos, director of "Klaus"
I also got to hang out with the great Bonnie Arnold, producer of "Toy Story" and the "How to Train Your Dragon" series, plus I had a long chat with Glen Keane, animator extraordinaire and Oscar-winner for "Dear Basketball", on the need for better draftsmanship and life-drawing among today's young animators.

And finally, on the last day, I watched Robert Valley talk about his short film for "Love, Death & Robots" called "Zima Blue".  Speaking of draftsmanship - his drawings of women blow every other artist out of the water.  Whew!  What a talent!

with Robert Valley

Fortunately,  I also had a few hours to walk around Vancouver and explore the beautiful city - what a joy!  Keep an eye on the Spark Animation Festival.  It's got everything, great artists, great films, great audiences, plus it's in a great city and it has a super director, Keith Blackmore.

See ya,

Bill P.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Updates - October 2019

After a relatively easy summer, fall is the time to start kicking some ass.  I've booked a lot of appearances around the world to both make some money and also spread the word about my animation.

First, I'm going to the SPARK Animation Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, October 24-28, where I hope to "spark" a lot of young folks into getting excited about indie animation.

Then I'm off to Lille, France, November 2-10, where I'm involved in doing some animation on a famous building, it's called "video mapping".  I've been to Lille before, it's a lovely town full of great animation fans, so I'm really looking forward to that trip.

November 14-17, I'll be in Casablanca to do a show of my film "Cheatin'" at L'Uzine and give a master class about indie animation - considering that Morocco is a Muslim country, I hope I don't get kicked out.  If you want to hang out with me, I'll be at "Rick's Cafe Americain" with Humphrey and Lauren...

On November 25, I'll arrive in Bilbao, Spain for a few days, again, lecturing and demonstrating animation at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao.  I'll conduct a Master Class for teenagers on November 27 and then a screening and presentation for the general public on November 28.

I love traveling and talking about animation, but sometimes it gets to be too much.  For one thing, I have a wonderful wife and son that I love to be with, but they can't come along with me on every trip.  Plus I have FOUR big projects that I need to deliver on, so I have to be very wise with my time, and I have to juggle my animation schedule around all of these trips.

The biggest project I'm working on is "Slide", my long-developing animated musical/Western feature.  So far, I'm about 1/4 of the way through the animation, and it's looking terrific.

Then, you may have also heard me mention that I'm working on an animated version of the life story of the great and wonderful Whoopi Goldberg.  Right now, we're only at the pencil-test stage, but so far, it's been a really fun project.

Another project in the works is a very ambitious short that I'm making for a giant Chinese game company.  I can't say much about it because I haven't been giving the go-ahead yet, but I just delivered a storyboard that I'm very excited about.  I'll update you on this when I can.

And, finally, early next year I'll start working on an animated 1950's rock-and-roll sci-fi feature that has tremendous potential.

Actually, I can't believe I have time for all these events and projects - how the hell do I even have time to write this blog?  I must be crazy.  I think it's because I'm so devoted to you folks, my dear readers.  I hope you don't let me down.

Also, I have a new gag cartoon to show you - what do you think?

--Bill P.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Report from New York Comic Con 2019

So I survived the crowds at the New York Comic Con and I'm here to report on the goings-on there.  Because we moved down to Artist Alley, we found that our business had DOUBLED (over 2017's sales from a booth on the main show floor) mostly because of the quality of people who visit Artist Alley, they come there looking for great artists, and to buy from them, not just browse.  And that's what interests me - showing those people my new projects and spreading the word, in addition to just selling books and DVDs.

We had two new items, a "Twisted" sketchbook with designs from my upcoming film "Slide" - that was very popular - and a cool print from my Simpsons couch gag called "Homer's Face".

We had a wonderful group of visitors, like Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Mike Richardson (Dark Horse Comics), Wendy and Richard Pini (Elfquest), Paul Rachman (Slamdance Festival), Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants), Matthew Modine (Revengeance, Full Metal Jacket, Private School, etc.) and of course, Bob Camp, who luckily was sitting at the next table, so I got to chat with him all day long and hear a lot of crazy John K. stories.

It was such a big success that I'm already planning to return to Artist Alley next year!  NY Comic Con and the MoCCA Fest (in April) are now my two favorite comic events.  I hope to see you all at next year's show!

Here are the best photos from fans and celebs who visited my booth, plus a few of the costumed people that my office manager, John H., took photos of.  Enjoy!

--Bill P.

with fans from Madrid, Spain who bought a lot of art!

with Ann Nocenti
with my Friday booth crew, Adam Rackoff and John Holderried

with Matthew Modine, after his "Stranger Things" signing in the Topps booth
with Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics
with Bill Sienkiewicz of "New Mutants" fame
with Peter DeSeve
with Wendy and Richard Pini, creators of Elfquest
with Bob Camp and a couple of fans, Emily and Anthony

Friday, October 4, 2019

New York Comic Con

Well, here I am again at the Comic-Con, or "Con" as they call it.  For many years, I had a booth up on the main show floor, where I was paying top dollar for the space and getting placed between the toys and walls of t-shirts.  It felt like they didn't know where to put me, so I decided I'd had enough of that, and moved downstairs to join Artist Alley, and already, after the first day, I've found lots of benefits:

No. 1 - I'm with other artists, so it's very artistically inspiring.

No. 2 - The table is a lot cheaper - and I mean a LOT cheaper!

No. 3 - I've got a table next to Bob Camp, one of the creators of "Ren & Stimpy", so that's always entertaining.  If people want anything related to animation, this is the place to find us.

No. 4 - The fans that come to Artist Alley are there to collect and buy - whereas the main show-floor seems to be for tourists, people who want freebies or to see what the latest video-game or feature film is. But downstairs in Artist Alley, you'll find the true creators of the upstairs shows!

As you probably all know, I've stopped going out to the San Diego Con (regrettably) because it's too expensive and too much of a hassle for me.  But the New York Comic Con feels just right, and now it's the main convention that I go to.

So if you're around this weekend, please come by and say hello to me at Table D-13 in Hall 1B - I'll give you a free sketch!

with Bob Camp and my Thursday Comic-Con Crew, Rachel & Sandrine

I do custom sketches, like this crazy Batman one, or I could draw one of YOU!