Monday, October 26, 2020

Early Voting and Christmas Gift ideas

I'm happy to say that I just returned to my studio after early voting in NYC.  (I'm not going to tell you who I voted for but you can probably guess...)

I went through the whole process very quickly - it was very well organized, with lots of cops and poll workers around, so I completed the act in about 30 minutes.  And after all the preparation and questions, once I got to filling out my ballot, I got very nervous.  What an ominous moment - I felt like I was the one person who controlled the political future of America - I better not screw it up!

As I exited my early voting site (the famous Madison Square Garden) I felt cleansed, like I'd just saved the United States!  I'm Superman!  I'm an all-American hero!  What a great feeling!

On to a totally different topic - after Halloween, Christmas is just around the corner.  It's that time of year again, and I've got a fabulous idea for the coolest, most unique Christmas gift EVER.  I'm now doing caricatures of fans for the bargain-basement price of $200 (plus shipping).

As some of you may know, I began my career as a political cartoonist and caricature artist.  Before I was animating, my work appeared in many different newspapers and magazines, like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Penthouse and even the (failing?) New York Times.  Well, now you too can have "your face" or the face of somebody you care about, or even your pet drawn by an internationally famous artist - ME!

All I need is three or four photos of you (or your sweetie, relative, friend or whatever) and I'll send you an original colored-pencil caricature drawn by yours truly.  Imagine their joy as they open your package beside the yuletide tree and the crackling fireplace.  They'll be completely delighted to see this masterpiece of art that they will cherish, frame, hang on the wall and show off to their friends throughout their life.

You can find out more about ordering this cool gift in my web-store here:

And I'm including some of my most famous caricatures below to give you an idea...

Also, I'm very excited that my intrepid office manager, John H., tracked down some more copies of my book "Make Toons That Sell...Without Selling Out" and it's BACK IN STOCK in my web-store.  This is a book published a few years ago by Focal Press that details my whole creative process.  So many fans and interviewers were always asking me how (and why) I make independent animated films, that I decided it was easier to just put it all in a book!  

Now YOU can learn all the secrets of animation production, plus I included some great anecdotes from my travels, secrets on getting in to and attending film festivals, and tips on getting animation distributed.  This also makes a great gift for students, designers or anyone who just loves cartoons!

We're trying out this print-on-demand ordering system, so hopefully if (or WHEN) we sell out again, we won't have to wait so long to get the next batch in!  But I suggest ordering NOW while we have books on hand!

OK, sales pitch over, but if I think of any other cool gift ideas, I'll be sure to let you know!  Next we've got to work on getting more DVD's of "The Tune" and "Plymptoons" made! I'm going to steal Trump's acronym if he doesn't need it any more - MAGA: Make Animation Great Again!

--Bill P.

Monday, October 19, 2020

New Animated Features

Now that Oscar season is beginning, I'm starting to receive all the new Oscar-eligible animated feature films that are in the running for nominations.  With this being the year of the COVID virus, I'm expecting to get a smaller group of films, since many cinemas are still essentially closed (at least here in NYC and in L.A.), so in some ways it's a lot more difficult to qualify, but the rules are new and a bit vague.  I think films that have gone directly to streaming services are now eligible, so for some films that might even make it easier to qualify.

Already, I've seen two high-quality contenders:

Two years ago, master animator Glen Keane won an Oscar for a short film he created with the late Kobe Bryant, called "Dear Basketball".  With that Oscar, he was able to attract money and backing for a half-Chinese feature film, called "Over the Moon", co-directed by the wonderfully talented John Kahrs ("Paperman").  I'm not sure how much input they received from their Chinese backers, but the film looks like it was made in China.  My big complaint is that the film is very saccharine - in fact, it's almost too cute for a Disney movie.  The palette is heavy on pastels, with lots of giant eyes - and the fantasy story sort of loses meaning for me halfway through. 

However, there is some beautiful animation and imagery throughout the film.  And it's definitely important to see because of Glen Keane and John Kahrs' involvement. 

The second film I watched online (no more DVD's?) was "Wolfwalkers", made by Cartoon Saloon and directed by the very talented Tomm Moore.  His previous films were Oscar-nominated fan favorites "The Secret of Kells" and "Song of the Sea" - both wonderful tales of Ireland told in a unique and decorative style.  

The new film kind of fills out an Irish trilogy.  According to Tomm, it's apparently an ancient legend about wolves who can become human, and vice versa.  Like his earlier films, it's told with a very decorative and colorful style.  I like the concept and subject matter, but had some trouble with the visuals.   The backgrounds were wonderfully water-colored nature, but the characters themselves were simplified to ultra-basic shapes and designs.  For a while I thought I was watching a Hanna-Barbera film.  I expected Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone to enter the screen.  

And that brings up another issue I have with both films, "Over the Moon" and "Wolfwalkers" - there was very little humor in them.  It's my own prejudice, I know, since I make comedies, but I always like a few laughs in my animation, even if it's a film noir.  That's my own personal taste. 

I believe both films are well-made and very deserving of Oscar nominations, so I wish them both good luck.  

Now here's this week's gag cartoon.  See you next time!

--Bill P.