Tuesday, August 19, 2008

News - 08/19/08...

Artist, Cybersix creator Carlos Meglia dead at 50

Argentinian-Spanish comic book artist Carlos Meglia, whose creation Cybersix became a Japanese anime series, died Friday at 50.

He was admitted to hospital after suffering from complications from an aortic stroke, initial reports said.

With writer Carlos Trillo, he created comics Irish Coffee and Cybersix. The latter was co-produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha, NOA, Telecom and Kid's Station as a 13-episode anime series adapted by director Toshihiko Masuda in 1999. Cybersix first aired on Canada's Teletoon network, and appeared in Latin America and many other regions as well.

The series is about a woman, genetically created as a result of experiments by a former Second World War scientist, who hunts down the scientist's other creations to survive.

One of the few Japanese anime that premiered outside the country, Cybersix was not aired in Japan until late 2000. In the series, Cybersix must drink the green "substance" of an army of mutants to stay alive. The producers assured American networks that this was not blood.

According to one report, a second season was canceled due to a split between two studios and low funding.

Meglia was also a background artist for the half-hour animated TV special The Adventures of the Scrabble People in "A Pumpkin Full of Nonsense", released by Arce Productions in 1985.

Meglia made his first short comic stories for publisher Record in 1983. In the three subsequent years, he adapted such animated series as The Smurfs, The Flintstones and Scooby Doo).

Born in Argentina on December 11, 1957, Meglia professionally debuted in 1974 as an assistant to illustrator Oswal. Two years later, he made science-fiction illustrations for
El Péndulo magazine, as well as record covers.

In 1979, Meglia
illustrated La Bible pour les Enfants and Don Quichotte, along with several books by poet Martin Fierro. In the early 1980s, he contributed to children's magazine Billiken, humorous periodical Satiricón and sports magazine El Gráfico.

Meglia settled in Spain in the late 1990s, when he began working for the United States market. He was an illustrator for such Dark Horse titles as
Star Wars: Underworld and Spyboy, as well as DC's Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle, Crimson, Adventures of Superman and Monster World and, for a short time, Marvel's Elektra.

He co-created such foreign-language strips as (with Crillo)
Irish Coffee, about a detective with supernatural gifts, and (with Crisse in 2005) Canari

Soleil was publishing much of Meglia's recent European work.

When Cybersix aired in the U.S., much of it was heavily edited, and some episodes were just never aired, because of content.

Here, split into 3 parts, you can see an episode of Cybersix, which apparently because of content, never aired in the U.S.:

ELA in Love at First Byte

Co-director Fernando Sarmiento describes
ELA in Love at First Byte to me as, “A weird mix between She Ra, Tron and Flash Gordon.” It also happens to be a fun and graphically appealing piece of computer animation combined with live actors. It was produced by the Argentinian motion graphic studio PepperMelon. Check it out:

cartoon brew)

Making Sense of Cars

Try as he might, illustrator
Jake Parker couldn’t make sense of the world that Pixar created for Cars. He writes:

And that leads me to the one thing that didn’t sit well with me: the strange machine/flesh hybrids Pixar came up with to populate this world. It’s as if a mad scientist enamored with automobiles terraformed Mars and furnished it with cyborg vehicles with engines of steel and minds of flesh. You have these cars, but with actual fleshy eyes, with irises, and mouths of teeth and tongues. Where does the machine end and the flesh begin? So, to make everything piece together a little better in my head I drew up what I think the internal structures of Lightning McQueen might look like.

This amusing illo is what he came up with
(link to larger image).

cartoon brew)

Olivia and I

We don’t often post about Telenovelas, but since Cartoon Network is going live action, here’s one they might consider:
Olivia And I. It sounds like a cross between Ugly Betty and Cool World:

Olivia, a very shy cartoonist, works in an animation studio and falls deeply in love with Pablo, the studio manager. But there is also Pablo’s fiancée, Magdalena.

Olivia designs an animation model, a beautiful young girl who resembles her but has completely different characteristics. This drawn character will slowly become real and will interfere at work but it will also help Pablo and Olivia realize they are in love.

I’d be curious to see if this turns out to be any good. 120 one hour episodes are now in production at
Illusion Studios in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Who knows? If it becomes popular there, it might spawn a U.S. spin-off.

cartoon brew)

NY Times on Seth MacFarlane Ads for Burger King

New York Times notes the unusual ad deal made between Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, the Internet search engine Google, and the Burger King fast-food chain. MacFarlane has created custom animated ads for Burger King, which will be linked with MacFarlane and Google's "Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy" variety show. Ads featuring MacFarlane's animated version of the Burger King mascot will run before each clip, and there will also be a channel dedicated to the ads on YouTube.

LA Times on DreamWorks Animation Expansion for 3-D

Los Angeles Times examines the expansion of DreamWorks Animation's Glendale studio, which will add 100,000 square feet of new production space and 500 new jobs over the next two years at a cost of $85 million. The article details how the expansion will aid in the production of 3-D versions of all upcoming CGI movies, and also streamline production for a CGI animation production pipeline rather than the hand-drawn variety.

A Linkorama August

Fleischer at the ASIFA Animation Archives ...

More links on a sultry August day ...

Director Henry Sellick holds forth on the making of Nightmare Before Christmas

How was your working relationship with Tim Burton?

Henry Selick: Working with Tim was great, he came up with a brilliant idea, designed the main characters, fleshed out the story, got Danny Elfman to write a bunch of great songs.

He got the project on its feet and then stood back and watched us fly with it. Tim, who made two live-action features in L.A. while we were in San Francisco making
Nightmare, was kept in the loop throughout the process, reviewing storyboards and animation. When we completed the film Tim came in with his editor Chris to pace up the film and make a particular story adjust to make Lock, Shock, and Barrel just a touch nicer.

What was the most intricate scene (stop motion wise) to complete?

Henry Selick:
While virtually every bit of the stop motion animation was challenging, there were several particularly difficult scenes to pull off , one began where Jack is shot out of the sky with his Skellington Reindeer flying over head and being shot down and lands in the arms of the angel statue in a graveyard and goes on to sing a song there while the camera continuously circles him.

The opening song of the film "This is Halloween" was monstrously challenging as it introduced all the Halloween Town monsters to the audience.

Overseas, the box office for animated features as bee robust:/p>

Warner's ... opened "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," the feature-length digital animation from the Lucasfilm factory, on 3,200 screens in 22 markets for an estimated $7.6 million. The title finished No. 3 domestically [see below], and its weekend global take stands at $23.1 million ...

"WALL-E" wound up fourth on the weekend with an estimated $13.8 million from 3,824 locations in 29 markets, pushing its overseas cume to $146.2 million. The animated title had six No. 1 openings with a Thailand bow registering $800,000 from 105 sites ... DreamWorks/Paramount"s "Kung Fu Panda" raised its overseas cume to an animated $363.5 million thanks to a $6.3 million weekend from 4,062 screens in 61 markets ...

So. We do a little back-of-the-envelope math and discover that KFP has a global gross of $575.5 million, while the Little Robot Wall-E has taken in $360.2 million.

Animated cartoons are now ... a century old?

On Aug. 17, 1908, Cohl released the cartoon “Fantasmagorie,” which amazed viewers and instituted a new form of art.

As long as we're on the subject of Golden Oldies, ASIFA Hollywood's Animation Archive has a fine overview of the work of the Max Fleischer Studio, circa 1929-1930:

... [W]hen Grim Natwick joined the [Fleischer] studio in early 1930, the look of the Fleischer films changed completely. A full range of gray tones was added to both characters and backgrounds. The animation became much more fluid and well-drawn, thanks in great part to Grim's expert draftsmanship. Along with his crew of kids... Jimmie Culhane, Willard Bowsky and Rudy Zamora, Grim Natwick proceeded to animate things that had never been seen before on the cartoon screen ...

Since we're skimming over "days of yore," we'll end with a Disney flow chart via DIGG. (And where it comes from before that, I've no idea.) But you can see that Walt filled the slot now occupied by Mr. Lasseter ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Relativity Eyes Voltron Movie

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media is in talks to pick up film rights to the giant robot anime series Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which was put into turnaround at 20th Century Fox’s New Regency. According to Daily Variety, Relativity would knock down the budget by shooting the pic on green screen and relying extensively on digital effects a la 300 and Sin City. Mark Gordon and Jordan Wynn are still on board to produce the action-packed sci-fi thriller through The Mark Gordon Co.

The Voltron script is being written by Justin Marks, who is adapting He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and penning the Green Arrow movie, Supermax, for Warner Bros. He has also been tapped to script an adaptation of the Street Fighter video game for Hyde Park and 20th Century Fox. Marks’ Voltron treatment reportedly takes place in post-apocalyptic New York City and Mexico as five survivors of an alien invasion take control of lion-shaped robots in order to strike back at the extraterrestrial threat.

The Mark Gordon Co. recently produced Roland Emmerich’s tepidly received prehistoric action drama 10,000 B.C., which Warner Bros. released over the summer. The company must have higher expectations for Voltron, given the phenomenal success of DreamWorks/Paramount’s Transformers. An other big robot cartoon from the 1980s, Robotech, has been snatched up by Warner Bros.

Cryptozoo Discovered by Hollywood

Cryptozoo Crew from Jerry Carr and Allan Gross is the latest graphic novel series to get a big-screen deal. Daily Variety reports that Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson have acquired movie rights to the NBM comic and will produce the pic through their Warner Bros.-based Alcon Ent. They have also picked up a Cryptozoo screenplay drafted by Joe Gazzam, whose Scared Straight is being adapted by director John Carpenter and star Nicolas Cage for Nu Image/Millennium.

The Cryptozoo Crew comic revolves around Tork and Tara Darwyn, world-renowned cryptozoologists who travel the globe hunting for strange, exotic creatures yet unknown to science. Throughout their journeys’ they encounter yetis, mothmen, water monsters and various other bizarre beings.

Lloyd Phillips and Circle of Confusion are also producing the film, which is sure to feature a generous amount of digital creature animation and other visual effects. Learn more about the Cryptozoo Crew graphic novels at www.cryptozoocrewonline.com.

Polar Express Bound for Disc in 3-D

Stereoscopic animation will come to the home theatre on Oct. 28 when Warner Home Video releases The Polar Express in 3-D on Blu-ray and DVD. The release will include four sets of 3-D glasses, as well as the 2-D version of the popular holiday movie.

Based on the Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji, Zathura), and helmed by Academy Award-winning Forest Gump director Robert Zemeckis, The Polar Express features the voice and likeness of Tom Hanks in multiple roles as a mysterious train takes a doubting young boy on a wild ride to the North Pole and Santa’s headquarters. The family flick suffered a lackluster $23 million opening weekend in 2004, but, fueled by the IMAX 3-D presentations, it has now grossed more than $300 million worldwide.

Bonus feature on the Blu-ray edition will include a “Smokey and Steamer” song not seen in theaters, a look at the many Polar faces of Tom Hanks, a series of five featurettes titled A Genuine Ticket to Ride, a profile of author Chris Van Allsburg, aJosh Groban performance of the theme song “Believe,” a behind-the-scenes peek at five motion-capture sessions and Snow Angels, a featurette presenting the filmmakers’ Christmas memories. The Polar Express Presented in 3-D will carry a suggested retail price of $34.99 on Blu-ray and $20.97 on DVD.

300 Limited Edition Battling to DVD

Director Zack Snyder’s sword-and-sandal epic 300 is being re-issued on DVD with a limited collector’s edition slated for release on Nov. 18. from Warner Home Video. Available only while supplies last, the disc set will include all of the special features offered in the previously released two-disc special edition, plus a bonus disc containing a new documentary titled To The Hot Gates: A Legend Retold. The doc offers a comprehensive look at the process involved in bringing Frank Miller’s graphic novel to the screen.

Much like Robert Rodriguez’s cinematic treatment of Miller’s Sin City, director Snyder’s interpretation of 300 was shot mostly against green screens with digital artists creating the environments and adding animated elements. The film offers an account of the ancient battle of Thermopylae, in which King Leonidas (Gerard Bulter) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Their valor and sacrifice inspired all of Greece to unite and prevent the end of democracy in the Western world.

300 Limited Collector’s Edition will retail for $49.92. Included is a bonus Digital Copy of the film, a 52-page, hardcover art book with a personal message from Snyder, a lucite display with motion film image and six collectible photo cards.

Two animation Emmy Award winners named in advance

Although the 2008 Creative Arts Emmy Awards don't take place until September 13, two people in animation were among the juried Emmy Award winners announced Monday by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Winners of the Individual Achievement in Animation award are character designer Ben Balistreri from Cartoon Network's Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and animator Teresa Drilling from CBS' Creature Comforts America.

Juried Emmy awards will be presented to the winners at the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony. Juried award categories have no nominations.

Other winners announced Monday:

Outstanding costumes for a variety/music program or special: costume designer Shanna Knight and costume supervisor Elizabeth Tagg for Frank TV.

Outstanding voiceover performance: Keith David, narrator of The War, A Necessary War.

The Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony will be held at the Nokia Theatre.

South Park scene vies for most memorable TV moment

Viewers can vote for a scene from the "South Park" episode "Trapped in the Closet," first broadcast on November 16, 2005, as the most memorable comedic moment on television.

Organizers of the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards are asking the public to vote on their favorite moments in United States TV history.

The top five vote-getters in each category -- comedic and dramatic -- will be announced during the Emmy show September 21. The winning comedic and dramatic clips will be screened just before the announcement of this year's best comedy and best drama winners.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has gathered 20 comedic and 20 dramatic contenders. Besides South Park, clips come from such comedies as MASH, Mork & Mindy, The Cosby Show, 30 Rock, The Office and Sex and the City. Dramas include Miami Vice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Moonlighting, Mad Men, Damages and The Sopranos.

"It's a perfect opportunity both to celebrate the history of television and at the same time introduce new generations to some of the medium's most important events," Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the primetime Emmys, said in a statement Monday.

Organizers are posting clips of the 40 semi-finalists online. Fans will have until September 15 to view and vote for their favorites.

WB's Motion to Dismiss Watchmen Lawsuit Denied

Variety reports that a judge has denied a Warner Bros. motion to dismiss 20th Century Fox's lawsuit over the right to make a film based on the graphic novel Watchmen.

The trade says the ruling is potentially a huge victory for Fox, which could wind up being a profit participant in the film, costing Warner Bros. millions considering the film's box office prospects.

The judge appears to conclude that Fox retained distribution rights to the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons through a 1991 claim, and he concludes that under the 1994 turnaround with producer Larry Gordon, Gordon acquired an option to acquire Fox's remaining interest in "Watchmen," which was never exercised, thereby leaving Fox with its rights under the 1994 agreement.

The Zack Snyder-directed film is scheduled for release on March 6, 2009.

World Leaders and Arnold Check Into Econo Lodge

To help rebrand the hotel chain Econo Lodge, World Leaders Entertainment animated this :30 spot, which was overseen by Arnold Worldwide. Mike Foran, the Executive Creative Director at World Leaders, directed the spot, and Ben Stein produced. With Disney teasing their upcoming 2D feature The Princess and the Frog this week, Econo Lodge gets us in the mood with this spot titled Storybook Ending, which you can see HERE, where you can also see a behind-the-scenes vignette of the production process.

Ray Harryhausen Presents The Pit and the Pendulum

Stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen doesn’t animate much himself nowadays, but he has a new production banner “Ray Harryhausen Presents” designed to promote talented filmmakers. The first short made under this banner, an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, was completed a couple years ago and will be released onto DVD this week. The film was directed by stop-motion veteran Marc Lougee, who has also directed episodes of MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch and the BBC/Discovery series Dinosapien.

The DVD release also includes behind-the-scenes video depicting the production of the film, storyboards and concept art gallery, and interviews with director Lougee, writer Matt Taylor, composer Philip Stanger, and animator Mike Weiss.

The DVD will debut this week at the Festival of Fear in Toronto (booth #1216). For more info about the film including how to order the DVD, visit the film’s official website. There’s also a ‘making of’ article at CGSociety.org.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

The Best of The Best!

A heads-up for animation fans stuck in L.A. over Labor Day weekend. Bill Plympton will present The Best of The Best: An Animated Evening of Oscar Qualifying Shorts for three days only in Los Angeles. This special 35mm presentation of outstanding new shorts will screen from August 30th through September 1st at the Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.

The program includes Doxology by Michael Langan, Veterinarian by Signe Baumane, Chainsaw by Dennis Tupicoff (above left), Hot Dog by Bill Plympton, A Letter to Colleen by Carolyn and Andy London (above right) and Berni’s Doll by Yann Jouette. Each film has been recognized as a standout in storytelling and technical expertise, entertaining audiences all over the world and receiving awards. Plympton himself booked the program into the Laemmle theatre to help qualify these films for Oscar consideration. The shorts in this lineup have been seen at festivals such as Slamdance, The Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and many others.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Toon Tuesday : Here's to the real survivors

Disney Legend Floyd Norman pays tribute here to all those animation veterans who have hung in there through the tough times

There's a popular television show called "Survivor." I've never been able to watch this show or even take it seriously. It's difficult to consider the consequences of surviving on a desert island when craft services is located nearby.

However, I did see some real survivors a few weeks ago as I walked down the hallways of Walt Disney Animation Studios. I was delighted to see a number of familiar faces back at work. Nearly five years had passed since I last saw these artists, and now they were back at the drawing boards.

If you're an old guy like me, you're not surprised by the resilience of the artists in the cartoon business. My lessons began back in the 1950s when I was set straight by the old guys at Disney. The animation veterans who had weathered many a storm in their long careers. Truth is, working in animation is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. You can count on the ups and downs, the good times and the bad. Expansion and contraction is simply part of the business. Those smart enough tend to bail out early. However, the rest of us -- the crazy ones who truly love animation -- learn how to survive through the difficult times.

Animation was riding high at Disney during the production of the feature film, "Sleeping Beauty" back in the 1950s. Along with the feature, Walt still maintained his shorts units, and television had entered the picture providing even more work. A young animation artist actually had a medley of artistic choices at the Walt Disney studio. If one gig didn't suit you, there was always another unit more to your liking.

We started on the same day, but Rick Gonzales survived layoffs and cutbacks at Disney. He found a new career as a top layout artist and character designer at Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears. Oddly enough, he ended his career at Disney.

However, the financial failure of "Sleeping Beauty" totally gutted the Disney staff. All us young kids in my Disney "class" thought we had a lifetime job. The pixie dust was suddenly brushed from our eyes as the first round of "pink slips" were handed out. The old timers took it in stride -- but we were devastated.

The survivors of the
"Sleeping Beauty" layoff went on to do "101 Dalmatians" which turned out to be a huge hit. However, the success of "Dalmatians"
didn't prevent the next round of layoffs, and the Disney staff was further decimated. You can imagine how grim this looked to the young artists like myself. What chance did we have of climbing the ladder when Industry veterans who had labored at the drawing boards for decades were suddenly shown the door?

The survivors of Disney and the recently closed MGM Animation / Visual Arts Studios kept on truckin'. Some went to work in small commercial houses, and others joined the new Bob Clampett studio in Hollywood. Most of the artists headed for 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. and the new Hanna-Barbera Studio where television animation launched animation's next boom.

When Filmation's doors closed in the late 1980s, it was just in time for Disney's next animation boom. Scores of artists left their Granada Hills digs and headed for Glendale where they would find employment for another ten years or so.

Dave Michener and I also started the same day back in 1956. Dave survived for years, and topped off his career as an animator, storyman and eventually a director on Disney's "The Great Mouse Detective."

After years of expansion, Disney's animation beast had grown to an unmanageable size. Adding to the chaos was management's wrongheaded perception that traditional animation was dead. Michael Eisner shut down Disney's Orlando facility, and hundreds of the Burbank studio's workers were also sent packing.

The Walt Disney Studio learned the hard way that simply producing your movie in CGI did not guarantee an instant hit. Hardheaded studio bosses who jumped on the digital bandwagon found themselves faced with the necessity of producing a good movie. Could the abandonment of traditional animation been a stupid idea after all?

I confess I'm delighted to see many of my animator friends back at the drawing boards. Many of them have spent the last few years animating on the computer because it was necessary in order to have a job. Now traditional animation is back in the mix. And those who can do both have increased their job security. Something one should consider when it comes to survival.

That's why I love animation professionals. We are indeed survivors. We can take it and keep coming back for more. We can be cut back, downsized, and humiliated by idiot managers who pontificate from balconies like third world potentates. The managers do their thing, and then they move on their next overpaid gig. But long after they're gone and forgotten, the animators will still be around.

Finally, we have this guy getting booted off the island. He's really no "Legend." Just an old survivor.

We're the real survivors -- and damn proud of it!

New Voices for Nickelodeon's "Dora"

Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer will be launching its next season with an entirely new voice cast, according to the New York Daily News. Dora herself will be voiced by 12-year old Caitlin Sanchez, who will be taking over from Kathleen Herles. The new season will begin on September 15, 2008, at 10:30 AM (Eastern).

The Physics of Watchmen

Professor, author, and die-hard comics fan James Kakalios explains here why Dr. Manhattan is blue, how the Owlship can fly, and more...

Cruise and Raimi Team on Sleeper

The Hollywood Reporter says that Tom Cruise and Sam Raimi are setting up Sleeper at Warner Bros. Cruise is loosely attached to star in the adaptation of the DC Comics/Wildstorm comic that Raimi would produce with his Star Road Entertainment partner Josh Donen.

Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips, "Sleeper," which ran from 2003-05, centers on an operative whose fusion with an alien artifact makes him impervious to pain and allows him to pass it on to others through skin contact. He is placed undercover in a villainous organization by an intelligence agency and falls for a member of the group, named Miss Misery.

Sleeper is being eyed not only as a starring vehicle for Cruise but also as a possible franchise for Warner Bros. Pictures.

The trade says that it looks like Cruise's next acting gig will be the Spyglass thriller The Tourist. Cruise is currently appearing in a cameo role in Tropic Thunder and will return to theaters on Dec. 26 in Bryan Singer's Valkyrie.

In addition to Sleeper and The Tourist, a third project Cruise is attached to currently is the Working Title/Universal comedy Food Fight.

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