Thursday, May 31, 2007


If you are an animation student on summer vacation and are good at Flash and you need some work and experience for a few weeks, here's what I need you to be able to do:

Flash: You need to be good at the technical aspects of Flash - know symbols, know all the menus and timelines. I will be doing the drawings.

Also some boring office work



Keeping stuff organized

Making it easy for me to just draw and animate.

You need a car and to live near Burbank area.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chicago Report

I reuploaded these images for those folks whose browsers couldn't see them...

The Chicago show was fun.

Lots of people showed up for my show Friday night and Bill's on Saturday night.

FRIDAY NIGHT - my crap

I showed a bunch of my rarer cartoons. Naked Beach Frenzy as usual won over the laps of all the men in the audience. I ended the show with 'WHAT PEE BONERS ARE FOR" for the girls, and then " THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE" which always gets huge laughs and groans of horror.

Bill showed Hair High and a new film that killed me, called Shuteye Hotel.
It was brilliant and a new style for him. It was film noir and filled with amazing drawings, animation, angles, cutting and atmosphere. He made me promise not to show clips because it's up for an academy award. I hope it wins!


The Saturday Matinee had less kids than adults! But I showed a lot of classic cartoons and a 3 Stooges on the big screen and they all looked amazing! That is the way to see cartoons. They take on a whole new dimension.

After the show I asked the kids what cartoons they liked most, and one tiny little girl said "I like the one....with... the Bugs Bunny and the turtle."

That was my favorite too. Holy crap! Seeing Tortoise Wins By A Hair on the big screen was a revelation. This cartoon is a complete phenomenon of humans at the height of their abilities and magic. The direction is masterful. There are so many things happening sat lightning speed and they are all totally controlled and choreographed. Scribner and McKimson seem to be having a contest to see who is the greatest genius in animation history. This is absolutely one of the best cartoons made in history-certainly the best Bugs Bunny film.

I'm gonna do a post later about the scene where Bugs runs into the stone wall and the other rabbits attach him.
On a sobering note, I watched "Nurse Stimpy" on the huge screen too. Yikes!!! No wonder I didn't put my name on it. It's so ugly! My Lord.... I can't believe this show ever caught on. (I remember being so shocked by how primitive the film looked that we spent extra time on the soundtrack to try to tell the story through the music.)

Luckily we improved a few months later and made Space Madness and Stimpy's Invention which looked quite a bit better in Chicago, but still suffered by comparison with the lush and wonderful fully animated classic cartoons in the show.

After each show, Bill and I did drawings for fans. Here are some. If you were at the show too and have a drawing, put a link in the comments!

UPA VS Wally 5 UPA bred worse imitations, amateurism and killed actual animation


I don't blame classic animators for wanting to try to animate different styles. It would get boring to do the same drawing style all the time. But I think it's odd that when they did get the chance to animate something new, they didn't actually animate it. They just inbetweened the stiff key poses. There is no more timing either. Everything just floats at the same rate. No contrasts. The cartoons move in a machine-like automaton sort of way.



This led to the 60s,

when new animators got into the business that weren't classically trained and they animated simplistic designs with no timing or animation. The Cheerios kid had at least a happy though clunky design appeal and some of the commercials had good animation, but many had stiff, evenly inbetweened movements. Ironically, they still had more life in them than UPA cartoons. The characters at least seemed alive.

As the 60s dragged on, the cartoons drifted further and further away from both good design and good animation-in other words against both UPA and Disney.

It just got worse and worse after that.

It got to the point in the 1970s, that if you knew anything at all about animating (or design appeal!) you would get yelled at by your bosses. I remember working at Duck Soup animating on commercials, and if I even used squash and stretch or called for uneven inbetweens they told me to stop doing that " Tex Avery stuff." General classic animation principles were considered radical by the 1980s. 50s Friz cartoons would have been extreme exaggeration.

Here's one of my favorite UPA cartoons by Bobe Cannon. At least I remember it standing out when I first saw a string of UPA cartoons. This seemed less amateurish than many of them to me. I think maybe because it has some simple design balance, whereas there are so many UPA cartoons that have no balance at all. However...and here was the big danger of UPA. Look at the drawings. To the average person, these drawings look like stick figures. They look like anyone could do them. Could an executive tell the difference between this drawing style and your Dad's?

It's drawn by Tee Hee - purposely in a childlike primitive style, to look as if a professional artist didn't do it. Bobe Cannon directed, but I can't figure out what that means. He was a great animator, but there is no animation in it. How could this have been fun for him? This kind of cartoon is anti-animation. All the skills the classic animators developed and polished from 1930 to 1950 have been totally abandoned. Animated cartoons had taken cartoon skills to a new level. Now that UPA subtracted animation principles, it brought animation back down near the level of comic strips and lost the advantages animated cartoons had over still cartoons.


I have to wonder, did Cannon and his cohorts sabotage their own usefulness? Here is a cartoon by Cannon that anyone in the world could have done.

The revolution these great animators started opened the door to non-skilled amateur artists to compete with them and doomed quality animation.

Animation was replaced by stiff cardboard poses, and "trace-backs" …Which are inbetweens that are just tracings of the keys gradually floating into the position of the next key.

No overlapping action,
no squash and stretch,
no line of action,
no contrasts in timing,
no construction,
no nothing.

Just ugliness.

I don't even know what this thing is below, but you can thank the wave of non-animated, merely inbetweened UPA cartoons for it. It's someone obviously trying to bring back general animation principles, but either doesn't fully know what they are, or is not being allowed to use them. I think the animator probably likes old cartoons though. It seems to be a superficial attempt to mimic them. But in the 80s, it really was like trying to revive Greek knowledge in the dark ages from scraps of surviving manuscripts. There was no one to teach the lost techniques to the young animators. And no studio to learn it on the job.

The first time I saw squash and stretch and overlap again (besides some highly degraded nasty looking Disney movies) in the 1980s was in Brad Bird's "Family Dog". It seemed amazing at the time, because no one had seen or done it since classic cartoons. It was a lost art. It had some timing too, but constructed, appealing and fun drawings took longer to make a reappearance in animation - and they didn't stay around long.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Wanna be an assistant?
Wanna be an assistant?

Hiya folks, here's an important message from my assistant Marc.



My name is Marc. Even though I eat McDonalds, listen to 50 Cent and watch "Lost", John continues to keep me on as his production manager.

There is a new project coming up, and I am going to need some help. Wanna be my assistant?

We are looking for someone to help out for the next one or two months. If you are familiar with Photoshop, Flash and/or Illustrator, that's a big plus!

Can you draw? I don't care. That might impress John, but these are the types of duties that are important to me:

1. scanning
2. digital clean-up with Photoshop
3. importing and preparing images in Flash
4. understanding how symbols and libraries and layers work in Flash
5. working with Illustrator
6. using ftp's

If you're interested in assisting on this project, please send me an e-mail at:


Oh, and please don't apply unless you live in or around L.A.!


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Oswald: Snow Use, The Beat Your Girlfriend Dance

Oswald Knows what women really want.

Snow Use, 1929 (Walter Lantz Productions)

Beat her, and she'll come back for more.

Saturday, May 26, 2007



The animators who founded UPA tried a different tact than Disney. Most of them were highly accomplished animators who could do the rounded fully constructed flowing Disney style animation.

Bobe Cannon was a fantastically gifted full animator who did animation for Clampett, Jones and Avery before he went to UPA.

bobe cannon

For some unknown reason, he decided to totally abandon what he was a genius at.

He and John Hubley (a layout man and BG painter)

and the other UPA guys decided to abandon animation, fun and lush movement and instead focus on "design".

And not always good design either. They just wanted to do something that rebelled against the look and more important, the attitudes of both Disney and Warners.


It's funny when we talk about UPA and flat styles, that we refer to it as "design" at all. No one did before UPA. It was just called "cartooning".

The "design" that UPA did was nothing new to cartoons in general, just sort of new to animation. Chuck Jones had experimented with it in animation (with Bobe Cannon) in 1942 with The Dover Boys.

Magazine cartoons though and comic strips, had been done in similar flat styles and many other non-animation styles for decades.

To me,

Gerald McBoingBoing and Milt Gross' comics are very similar graphically.

Milt Gross had been doing highly stylized comics and strips for a long time-only his stuff wasn't meant to be high-class, it was meant to be fun.

So what's the difference between "design" and "cartoon"? I guess if it's fun, it's a cartoon. If it's bland and sterile, it's design.
That was UPA's revolution. They took the life out of animation.


If you don't know cartoon history and you just grew up watching Cartoon Network, you might think that this flat stuff is something new and "hip". It's not. It's much older than UPA and the more graphic styles in cartoons before UPA didn't come with the wimpy trappings.

Because of our association with UPA's beginnings, we assume that when we do something in a graphic style, we have to also carry over all the other attributes that came with UPA's particular cartoon vision-the blandness, the wimpy world view, the snootiness.

People usually don't analyze or break apart the elements that make up something they like. If we like it we assume that every ingredient in it is equally good.

Then when we develop our own styles, we copy the bad with the good.

That's what we need ANALYSIS for!

Like many artists, I have tons of influences. There are lots of things that inspire me. I try to figure out why they do and I break them down into their separate ingredients.

I then decide which ingredients are the ones that are useful and discard the others that might have just come along with it, but don't actually add anything. There are good things about UPA and Disney-Tex Avery combined them and added his own worldview to them and made cartoons more entertaining than either style.Avery was the exception. Most artists copied the bad part of UPA, the lack of animation, simplistic drawings' slow even timing and lifelessness.

What I dislike about trends and imitators is that usually when people copy existing styles, new or classic, they copy the faults, rather than the positive attributes of the styles they love. They copy surface elements and decoration and don't copy the underlying principles.

People do it with Disney all the time.

Animators who love Disney, copy all the worst elements of Disney, his faults-the sappy stories, the simplistic personalities, the terrible "animation-acting". The formulaic character design.

They can't draw and animate the difficult anatomy, perspective and construction, nor control elaborately composed crowd scenes-no one was better at that than Disney. But anyone can do fake pathos and memorize the arm flailing that we've seen in a hundred features.

This happens with everything that makes a splash. Everyone imitates the superficial aspects of the trend, without adding any personal observations or humanity to it.

There are Simpsons imitations, Ren and Stimpy imitations, Warner Bros. imitations and on an on...all without personal points of view, just shallow imitations.

In the 50s, that happened with UPA. And it happened again in the 90s. (My fault that time)

Why do young artists say they like UPA? Because it makes 'em cool. Hipster Emo time. (It's also easy to fake) It's like when teenagers discover communism. They think it's real cool to go against common sense and experience. But then when they meet the real world head on later, they realize it was youthful folly. You're supposed to grow out of it.

I too fell under the UPA spell for the 3 weeks I wanted to be cool. Then I realized I kept falling asleep during the cartoons. Don't wait till you're 30, still drawing flat and it's too late to learn anything else.

Personally I think it's way cooler to have an open mind and lots of drawing skill, so that you can actually make cartoons with your own point of view.

But I still like a lot of the UPA style commercials!

By the way, it's possible to have construction and design at the same time.

to be continued...