Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Genius Of Hollywood - Zombie Bears Haunt Jellystone and Eat Toddlers

What's stranger looking than a man in a cartoon character suit? Or more scary?

Funky Al sent me links to this amazing movie adaptation of a cartoon that was originally intended to be fun.


I'm not making this up.

I'm always astounded by why anyone would want to make "realistic" versions of cartoon characters, and on top of that go out of their way to make them more hideous than they even have to be. Don't Yogi and BooBoo here kind of look like they've been raised from the dead to haunt Jellystone? They pretty much look like mange-ridden corpses. I guess that's what Hollywood thinks kids like.

Another odd thing Hollywood does is use voices that aren't cartoony for cartoon characters. Why make cartoon movies if you hate everything about cartoons and are going to play against all the things that made them popular in the first place? If you think all the essential attributes of Yogi Bear are crap and have to be discarded, why do it in the first place? Just make another zombie movie or something. Someone explain this to me.
From one of the many articles I found online about this movie:
The former 'N Syncer is "lending" his vaunted pipes to an upcoming movie based on Jellystone's favorite ursine picnic snatcher, Yogi Bear. Timberlake would play sidekick to Dan Aykroyd's smarter-than-the-average-bear main character, in the live-action, CGI hybrid
from Warners, Variety reports. Anna Faris would star as a flesh-and-blood filmmaker working on a nature documentary.

They should make a CG character of the pipes and cover them with matted hair.

Summary: Jellystone Park has been losing business, so greedy Mayor Brown decides to shut it down and sell the land. With Yogi and Boo Boo threatened to be tossed out of the only home they know, they join forces with their old nemesis Ranger Smith to find a way to save Jellystone Park.

They should do a movie about greedy WB losing business by destroying all their characters and a band of vigilante cartoonists burn the place down and rescue all the maimed and mangy classic carton stars and set them free to be cute and funny again.

Analysis: A 3-D live-action/CGI film adaptation of the classic Hanna-Barbera series which, much like "Garfield" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks", will mix computer-generated animal characters with humans. It's a mix that often works - the films all cost an economical $60-70 million to make, and even the worst ones generate at least 2-3 times that in box-office revenue alone thanks to brand name recognition and being "toddler-friendly". (Toddlers love the walking dead)


For years they have asking me to make new Yogi cartoons, but I can't get even a half a million to make 1. Probably because I actually like the characters. But 60-70 million $ to make walking corpses is considered economical.

50 years of Decline Through The Medium Of Yogi Bear

If Hollywood has to make hideous versions of beloved cartoon characters, they should at least hire this designer.
I'd watch a movie that looked like this. I'll even make it - for a measley 50 million bucks.

More On Directing


Monday, March 29, 2010

Direction 3: What You Need To Be A Good Director

How do we even know about cartoon directors?

We get our whole notion of cartoon directors from a small handful of famous names, most of whom came from Warner Bros. in the 1930s and 1940s (that should tell you something right there):

The Big 3
Bob Clampett
Tex Avery
Chuck Jones

2nd Most Revered

Friz Freleng
Bob McKimson
Frank Tashlin
Hanna Barbera
Dave Fleischer

These people are the real stars of cartoons. They are far more important than the hordes of characters they created. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tom and Jerry, Betty Boop are all great characters, but no one else but the original directors have ever been able to do anything good with them. You'd think someone in the business would have noticed by now that the treasures in cartoons are the directors, not the characters.

Great - or even good directors are extremely rare in the cartoon business. They were even rare during the 30s and 40s, animation's golden age. Lots of animation studios had directors, but who remembers them?

We don't really think about directors when it comes to Disney, because he himself was the dominant personality in the studio. He had directors for sure, but they didn't normally have a lot of freedom to paint their personal styles and worldviews into the pictures. It was all a matter of second-guessing "What would Walt do?" Even Ward Kimball - who is probably the most distinct of the Disney directors - is still pretty Disneyfied.

Disney was one of the factors in the Warner Bros. directors' revolution. In the 1930s, while most studios were frantically trying to figure out Disney's formula by copying him, the emerging WB directors had to have very strong personalities to go against the imitating hordes. Whenever something is successful, most people think it's because it has hit upon a magic formula. Most folks are afraid to go up against the herd mentality by being themselves - even though every modern cartoon is a lecture on "being yourself". If these cartoons were honest, the moral of the story would be "do what the committee tells you to do".

All real directors share some common attributes:

General Prerequisites:

Unique Viewpoint and Way of Seeing The World ("Voice")

That's hard to define, particularly when almost every young cartoonist thinks he (or she) is unique and has a completely original style.

It's what I hear people calling "voice" these days. It's what makes a Chuck Jones Daffy Duck a different kind of experience than a Bob Clampett one.

It's the difference between the 30s Fleischer Popeyes and the later ones.

There were a number of directors making Terrytoons, but it's much harder to tell their directors apart than it is for us to distinguish Warner Bros. directors. There are of course a couple people who can tell the difference, but they are as rare as good directors are.

This voice is a combination of factors: genetic disposition, upbringing and environment, and the experience of handling the medium itself. Feeling the clay squish around in your fingers and discovering what it is capable of. This is not something you can get just by being named "director" and then shipping all the work out of town.

People with "voice" tend to avoid imitation and formula better than those without. Imitators have no voice and instead copy blindly. Almost every cartoon studio in the 1940s imitated Warner Bros. cartoons - because they lacked their own "voices". Every period has its voices and their accompanying faint echoes.


Even if someone actually does have a unique outlook, it doesn't necessarily follow that it's appealing to a large number of people. The successful directors all have personalities that appeal to a wide audience.

Extreme Talent

The talent should be fairly obvious at least to other artists, if not to the executives. The good director can do a lot of the work himself, and must do so because only he really knows what he wants. Extreme talent commands respect from the crew. Not from everyone of course, but from enough people that a cartoon can get made and that the artists don't all argue with him.Talent is not enough though either. It's just part of the equation- an essential part, but even more is needed.

Clear and Logical Communication Skills:

A good director has to be able to get across his ideas to the audience - in the way he meant them. He needs to be able to control your feelings and make you laugh when he wants you to and grip the seats with tension when he commands it.

If he expects the audience to interpret the message, then he isn't directing. He is shooting craps.

Clear communication skills are not common to many people, especially today.


The director must have those other traits as fundamentals, but on top of those, he needs experience.
The reason the classic cartoons are so much more confidently executed is because the directors all worked their way up. They had experience working in various jobs within a well-structured cartoon studio system and so they learned how everything fit together.


Control isn't just a matter of being able to boss others around. It's having the personal skills to be able to bring your vision to life.

A director who wants his own personality and style to come through in his pictures has to have a great deal of mind-to-pencil control. Without the ability to actually put down on paper how you see and feel, you are going to be frustrated by the inadequate methods of trying to say what you want, while using standard formulaic cliches of drawing, animating, acting etc. You have to be able to break away from second-guessing how someone else would do something, or how "it's supposed to be done".


None of these factors alone are enough to make anyone a good director. These are what I would consider fundamental raw materials a cartoonist needs if he has a chance at becoming a solid director. You need them all - just to start with.

I'm going to put some direction articles on the curriculum blog, so keep checking in if you are interested.


The specific skills and tools at a director's command.

Let Jim Smith Turn You Into A Real Man

Let's face it. Most of us like to just sit on our butts and draw our little funny pictures, and that doesn't add up to a lot of muscle. But we'd all love to be big burly brutes and compete in the UFC.
"Hey, buddy. You look like you've had the Jim Smith Makeover! I bet you think you're pretty tough!"

Well Jim Smith has the solution for you and me! He draws the most manly men of any cartoonist I know and he can transform you in an instant!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Paul Coker's Monsters

Paul Coker was one of my favorite Mad artists in the 60s. I used to try to copy his style but never quite got it.
He's probably most famous for his monsters called "Horrifying Cliches", but he drew all kinds of stuff-even designing animated cartoons.
It's a very 60s style, but very well drawn and fun. The most obvious part of his style is his unique inking. The lines kind of start and stop and blot at each stop. But that's not what makes him good. The drawings underneath the inking are solid, strong and funny. The shapes he uses are as unique and individual as the inking style. Many people imitated his inking style in the 60s, who didn't draw as well. There is only one real Paul Coker.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Original Ranger Smith Story Notes

I always thought Yogi Bear cartoons could benefit from more true-life nature bits. That way the fans could not only enjoy hearty laughs with their favorite forest oaf and his youthful charge, but would also learn about what really goes on behind every innocent looking tree and bush.

"Wake up Kids! This is REAL LIFE!...
OK, now sit down and enjoy some wacky forest antics."

When I was about 11 or 12, I had a friend from the catholic school who was huge, and already had a filmy mustache. He was a year older than me, but 2 years behind in school. My friends at the public school would ask me, "Hey, who's that MAN you hang around with?" The "man" was named "Beaver", but everyone was afraid to ask him why. He used to twist the other kids' arms off and punch you in sacred areas. But I would tell him all the latest jokes, feed him cigarettes and draw funny pictures of him, so he never killed me. Every time the urge to mangle would come over him (and I could see it in his eyes and stiffening mustache fibers) I would have to quickly come up with a crazy joke, or just do something stupid enough to make him laugh. He also took my cowboy hat and rode my tiny mustang bike all over the neighborhood. Beaver basically owned other the material wealth of every other kid in town. Every kid cartoonist should befriend a bully who's body has matured years before its time. It's great training.

Of course the lesser bullies be jealous that I was protected by Beaver, and whenever he was around, then they would start in on me and I had different strategies to stay alive for them.

One thing especially fearsome to us Protestant kids ( who took about 2 more years to reach puberty) was that all the Italian boys had pointy shoes "cockroach kickers". They absolutely hated wearing them - except when soft unformed Public School boys came around. We were easily punctured.

Friday, March 26, 2010

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bud Blake

Bud Blake's style and characters look deceptively simple.
But he can obviously draw really well. Try to take those simply designed characters and draw them on a down shot, walking! I always hated drawing down shots in cartoons-and they are impossible to animate. Bud makes at least the drawing part look easy.
He draws great perspective and composition and would make a killer layout artist if he wasn't a successful cartoon illustrator and comic strip artist. What a beautiful drawing above!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oscar Grillo - Humble Genius

Check out these great sketches by animator, cartoonist and designer Oscar Grillo.
You can see some of his influences and they are from all over the place, from impressionist artists to the Fleischers, Disney, John Held Jr. and humanity itself. Then he mixes it all up and adds a large dose of his own unique look at the world.


I remember first seeing his animation in the 80s and being impressed by how modern and traditional it was at the same time.

Seaside Woman is a music video he did for the McCartneys. In the bleak animation landscape of the 1980s, this stood out like a beacon of light. (Sorry for the crappy cliche, but it really did). It showed animation could still be fresh, fun, stylish and skillfully done without formula.

I wish I could find a clearer copy of it, but here it is:

This influenced and inspired me a lot - although he draws a lot better than I do.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Genius

Cute chicks in the midst of wacky characters

Great Use Of Positive VS Negative Space

Funny Crowds

Dynamic Perspective

Best Use Of Shapes

Interesting Panel Designs
Best Biddy designs
Great poses and drapery
Fantastic layout and composition
Strange Happenings

He's the greatest natural cartoonist ever