Monday, April 6, 2009

News - 04/06/09...

'Fast & Furious' accelerates to $72.5M opening

"Fast & Furious" left the competition in the dust with a $72.5 million opening weekend, the best so far this year.

That topped last weekend's $59.3 million debut for DreamWorks Animation's "Monsters vs. Aliens," which slipped to second place with $33.5 million, raising its 10-day total to $105.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Universal's "Fast & Furious" also raced to a record for April debuts, easily passing the previous best of $42.2 million set in 2003 by "Anger Management."

It was a blockbuster opening more customary to summer. But Hollywood has been extending its busy season more and more by placing summer-style flicks earlier in the year.

"It's summer time in April," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers. "We've seen the summer season stretch from what used to be Memorial Day through Labor Day, then the first of May through Labor Day. Now maybe with `Fast & Furious,' it's going to be early April as the beginning of summer."

The weekend's other new wide release, Miramax's 1980s nostalgia comedy "Adventureland," debuted at No. 6 with $6 million.The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as summer workers at a second-rate theme park in the late '80s.

Fox News fires renegade Wolverine reviewer Roger Friedman

Roger Friedman, the freelance columnist who posted a review of the pirated X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has been fired by the news site, Deadline Hollywood reported. The move was not only condemned by other Web sites but also decried by 20th Century Fox, which is releasing the movie, and News Corp., the parent company of both Fox News and 20th Century Fox.

Roger Ailes, who oversees Fox News, deleted the offending post after he was contacted by 20th Century Fox about it and fired Friedman as a freelance Fox News entertainment writer, the site reported.

The site added that the move was done with the full support of News Corp. "He promoted piracy. He basically suggested that viewing a stolen film is OK, which is absolutely intolerable. So we fired him," a source told the site. "Fox News acted promptly on all fronts."

When the site attempted to reach Friedman for comment, he e-mailed back only to say that he was at the Paul McCartney concert.

Disney's Snow White coming to Blu-ray in October

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first Walt Disney animated classic and the first DVD to sell a million copies in a single day, will make its Blu-ray debut on Oct. 6 in a special combo pack ($39.99) that includes a DVD, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A two-disc standard DVD release ($29.99) will follow the combo pack by seven weeks, arriving in stores Nov. 24.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is hoping the early Blu-ray release will drive consumers to the new format. The classic retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale has never before been seen in high definition.

Snow White hasn't been available in any form since its first and only DVD release in 2001. The new release will include several all-new bonus features not included on the original 2001 edition.

WB Animation Resurges

Okay, not exactly a big fat return to its previous level of production, but more than in recent times.

Yesterday Warners staffers told me:

"We've got three series going now. THere's Sccoby, Batman and a third series that I don't think has been announced yet, so I'm not going to tell you the title or any details.

This is more series than we've had in like, two or three years. We've also got two DVD features happening, so we're employing more people. Not as many as we did in the good old days, but more ..."

The new incarnation of the Scoobster is showing up on Cartoon Network. Seems sort of wise, since CN is owned by Time-Warner (just like CN Animation Studio.

What I've never gotten is why Warner Bros. Animation and CN Studios don't like, work together ... acquire a little synergy between them, if you will. Reinforce each other's product lines.

And why Time-Warner doesn't do this is a total mystery. I've brought it up with Nick and Warner Bros. Animation execs for years and years. The answers I get boil down to:

"Yeah, it'd be a good thing to do, but ... Time Warner doesn't work that way" ...

Yeah, guess not.

Your big ungainly conglom at work, brothers and sisters. Coordination of assets to improve efficiency, profitability and market share seems to be off the planning table.

But I thank the ghost of Jack L. Warner for small favors. At least they've got a bit more production going on at the Warner Bros. Animation unit.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

1960s ‘Spider-Man’ Animated Series Launches On Marvel Website

Spider-Man has stormed your local comic shops, movie theaters, television screens and, in about a year, New York’s theater district. Now you can add one more media outlet to the hero’s ever-growing list: the wise-cracking webhead’s heading to the Web!

Riding the success of their re-released Japanese “Spider-Man” series, is reintroducing the world to the “Spider-Man” animated series from 1967.

Yes, that’s the very same television show that engraved the lyrics “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can” into mainstream popular culture. With the re-airing of the old ’60s series, you’ll have plenty of time to reacquaint yourself with that oh-so catchy theme song.

In the animated series, young Peter Parker develops amazing skills and strength after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He decides to use his newfound abilities to fight crime as the red-and-blue clad Spider-Man — all while dealing with the everyday woes of teenage angst.

The first episode, which you can watch here, features two separate stories. In “The Power of Dr. Octopus,” the multi-armed villain kidnaps Spider-Man to hold the city ransom. In “Sub-Zero for Spidey,” the superhero does battle with ice creatures to prevent New York City from freezing.

You can watch new episodes of “Spider-Man” every Thursday on, proving that the internet isn’t entirely evil.

Here's the first episode:

Craig Yoe’s Secret Identity

We endorse everything Craig Yoe does. Even this.

Especially this. His latest book project, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster, is having a launch party this Sunday night. The book collects recently rediscovered X-rated art by the Shuster, done to illustrate erotic magazines in the 1950s, a low point in his professional career. The public is invited to join Craig (”along with assorted BDSM fetishists and comic book enthusiasts” — is there a difference?) Sunday April 5th from 8pm to 2am at ARLO & ESME, 42 E. 1st Street [at 2nd Ave.] in lovely New York City. Come dressed as a superhero and win a prize. For more info go to Yoe’s blog.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Rodney (1956)

Last week Amid posted several Disney industrial films and got quite a nice reaction, so I thought I’d try posting another one - this one not from Disney. Sometimes we dwell too much on the commercial and entertainment films produced by Hollywood and New York’s animation industry, but it was industrial and educational films like these that were the backbone of the business in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Rodney (posted below) is typical of the kind of bread and butter product produced by small studios that kept animators alive between larger assignments. Lee Blair’s New York studio, Film Graphics, produced this one allowing veteran animator Lu Gaurnier a rare chance to direct. Don Towsley, Cliff Auguston and Preston Blair animated. Jack Shaindlin, a well known stock music composer, provides a classic 1950s score.

Cataloging the hundreds (thousands?) of ephemeral films like these is the next great frontier in researching animation. An important part of the history of the medium is contained within these - and many of them are still lost, neglected or forgotten.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Iron Man 2’ Won’t Feature ‘Demon In A Bottle’ Storyline, Reveals Robert Downey, Jr.

With “Iron Man 2” shooting set to begin on Monday, Robert Downey Jr. was rocking the Tony Stark look at the “Soloist” junket today, where he had an update for MTV News about the plot of ol’ Shellhead’s sequel.

Fans were anxious earlier this years when news broke of the films (I kid you not) toilet design, and knowing that the film will open to Iron-vomiting caused many of to speculate that the blockbuster’s follow-up might go for the famous alcoholism storyline, “Demon in a Bottle,” which originally appeared in “Iron Man” issues #120-128 in 1979.

When asked if the film was based on this famous story arc, Downey told MTV News, “Not really.”

“As a matter of fact, I think that’s probably best saved,” said Downey, “ because it’s such its own storyline.”

This matches Jon Favreau’s thoughts last year that, while “Demon in a Bottle” may come one day, it doesn’t need to be in “Iron Man 2”. Hopefully, Downey has quite a few “Iron Man” films ahead of him.

So, what is the storyline, outside major cast additions?

“We’re going for the interim space [between the origin and “Demon”],” explained Downey, “which is more a look behind the mask of someone who says he’s Iron Man and what it really is to become a superhero.”

One, Two, Rorschach's Coming For You. Plus One More Cast For The Nightmare Remake!

Yep, that's right. Jackie Earle Haley, aka raspy-voiced Rorschach in Watchmen, is now in final talks to take over the role of serial killer Freddy Krueger in the 2010 reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. This news comes to us today from Bloody-Disgusting but if it sounds familiar that's because El Mayimbe first broke the Haley-as-Krueger rumor in February. But, much like the parents in the Elm Street movies never believe that their teens are being hunted by a ghoulish looking Freddy, nobody believed El Mayimbe back then.

Now as a long-time fan of the Freddy movies – hell, I dressed as the fem-version for last Halloween – I can say that I'd chose Haley to haunt my dreams any day of the week. Between his history playing crazy and immoral characters (Watchmen, Little Children) and his mastery over the throaty growl, Haley is the perfect choice to slice and dice his way through a new generation of sleeping teens.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Wolverine: F/X shop denies leak, director speaks up, Fox investigates

There have been new developments regarding the theft and posting of a nearly complete workprint of Fox's upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine on Tuesday on the Internet. The FBI and the Motion Picture Association of America were reportedly investigating the source of the leak, and Fox promised to prosecute the offender vigorously.

As speculation mounts around who may have posted the movie and why, director Gavin Hood has spoken up to The Hollywood Reporter's Risky Business blog, denying reports of on-set bad blood between himself and Fox chief Tom Rothman, calling the reports "upsetting" and saying he has "never had a stand-up argument with Tom Rothman" beyond the usual studio-director back-and-forth.

An Australian visual effects company that worked on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, meanwhile, said Thursday it was not responsible for leaking a full-length work print online, though the company's name—Rising Sun Pictures—appears in a caption dated March 2 a few minutes into the high-quality leaked copy, the Associated Press reported.

"As we worked on individual sequences within the film, neither Rising Sun Pictures [nor] its staff members have ever been in possession of a full-length version, so it would have been impossible for the movie to have been leaked from here," Rising Sun Pictures chairman and co-founder Tony Clark said in a statement posted on the company's Web site Thursday.

As fan sites such as Ain't It Cool News decried the early posting of the movie, Fox issued a statement saying, "We are encouraged by the support of fan sites condemning this illegal posting and pointing out that such theft undermines the enormous efforts of the filmmakers and actors, and above all, hurts the fans of the film."

Daily Tech reported that there are growing rumors and speculation that the studio itself intentionally leaked the film to generate buzz or get feedback on the movie—something that seems patently absurd, given the potential loss Fox faces.

Fox reportedly first heard about the breach at about 7 p.m. Tuesday night and began assessing the damage to the movie, which debuts May 1, the site reported. According to Fox's statement: "We forensically mark our content so we can identify sources that make it available or download it. The source of the initial leak and any subsequent postings will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ... The FBI and the MPAA also are actively investigating this crime."

Fox said in a statement Wednesday that it had the original file removed, but copies quickly propagated and continue to appear on several file-sharing Web sites.

FUNimation Entertainment Announces New Digital Partnership with Toei Animation

Via their new blog, FUNimation Entertainment has announced a new digital distribution partnership with Toei Animation to distribute via their online video player seven of Toei's catalogue's classic Anime.

Beginning with Fist of the North Star, one complete series will be added each week for seven weeks. Additional titles include Slam Dunk, Digimon Adventure 02, Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, Pretty Cure, and Air Master.

Each series will be the original Japanese version with English subtitles.

Shigurui: Death Frenzy - Complete Series Box Set Blu-ray - Released by FUNimation

Now available. Two damaged warriors wear the scars of a twisted and violent past. Bitter rivals for the secrets of their masters sword and the right to his daughter, these samurai inflict wounds on each other that would destroy lesser men.

The Anime Business

A recently issued Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) "State of the Content Market in North America 2008-2009" report valued the 2007 anime-related market in North America at US$2.829 billion (about 280 billion yen). According to the white-paper, the North American market peaked in 2003, where it was valued at US$4.84 billion.

Anime News Network has more details here


Gonzo (Hellsing, Samurai 7) parent company GDH announced that as party of their plan to return to profitability they will be devisting themselves of their game development division Gonzo Rosso. After absorbing the Gonzo animation studio, new organized enterprise will be using the "Gonzo" name.

Having failed to improve its financial circumstances in the fiscal year ending March 31, Gonzo is set to be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange this summer.

Gonzo founder and former president announced that he has left Gonzo to launch new studio Lambda Film.

Going Hollywood

The Hollywood Reporter indicates that Paul Bettany is in negotiations to play the title role in the Scott Stewart directed adaptation of the Tokyopop manhwa Priest by Min Woo Hyung. In 2006, Gerard Butler was to star in the role of the demon hunting priest. Cory Goodman (The Brood) penned a script, to be produced by Screen Gems (Legion)


MTV's Movie Blog is reporting that Justin Chatwin has confirmed an already scripted Dragonball Evolution sequel. “I know they’ve written a second one and it’s pretty far out there,” actor Justin Chatwin told MTV News.


The Live Action Anime blog is noting that a Chilean newspapar is claiming the budget for DragonBall Evolution was $45 Million, rather previously reported $100 Million. The veracity of either figure has not been confirmed.


A Blood: The Last Vampire live action UK poster

Digital Distribution

Tom Baker on the Daily Yomiuri records some hope for digital distribution revitalizing the anime industry.

Online anime not only cost less to produce, but can be distributed much more swiftly, which Wang said is key to capturing profits. When something fresh appears online, whether pirated or legitimate, it will receive the greatest number of views in its earliest days. Rights holders who let pirates beat them to the market will lose out, Wang said.

Crunchyroll has announced deals with Aniplex, Pony Canyon, Shueisha, Yomiuri Telecasting Corp. and other firms to distribute anime outside Japan, as soon as one hour after the original Japanese broadcast.

In addition to big-name companies, Wang said the low overhead of the online service levels the playing field for indie anime such as
Time of Eve, which has drawn a profitable online audience overseas.

Crunchyroll claims more than 1.5 million hours of viewing per month by 4.5 million visitors, most of whom are exposed to advertising. But the site has also sold nearly 15,000 paid memberships at 6.95 dollars a month to fans who are able to watch premium content, ad-free.


Sita Sings the Blues can be watched online here

New and Upcoming in Japan

Previews -

Trailers for the Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance is online at various places including
Bandai Channel
Yahoo Japan
Catsuka Player

New scenes from the re-edited Rebuild 1.11 Release

Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen

Nippon Cinema has the trailer for 20th Century Boys: The Final Chapter (20-seiki Shônen: Saishûshô - Bokura no Hata. Lots of the images might be considered spoilers if you're working through the manga.

Shangri La - the Gonzo animated show to stream on Crunchy Roll

From the official description

The anime series is based on the highly acclaimed novel of the same name which was written by Eiichi Ikegami and won the first place in 2005 Japanese Sci-Fi Novel Award.

With character designs by internationally acclaimed artist Range Murata (Last Exile, Blue Submarine No. 6), series structure by Hiroshi Ohnogi (
Kekkaishi, Birdy the Mighty) and directed by Makoto Bessho (animation director of Ah! My Goddess Movie, Brave Story), SHANGRI-LA is set to be another major international hit from legendary anime studio GONZO (Last Exile, Blue Submarine No. 6, Yukikaze, Samurai 7, Witchblade, Afro Samurai).

Guin Saga (English language trailer for the fantasy show)

The TAF trailer for Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai - the Mamoru Oshii written animated biography of revered swordsman Miyamoto Musashi


Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~

Otenba Lulu - Max Weintraub's adaptation of Yves Saint-Laurent's picture book


The Eureka Seven movie

Sengoku Basara - based on the Capcom game

Spice and Wolf II Act 0

TAF 2009: Stills and rubber stamps from “Movie Version Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Episode Lagann”

Anime -

Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea will be released on home video in Japan on July 3rd. DVD and VHS are planned for that date, with a Blu-ray tentatively planned for December. The DVD will feature English subtitles. A special edition will feature a 5 disc production documentary and a DVD of a concert by composer and frequent Miyazaki collaborator Joe Hisaishi.

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has begun re-running in Japan with its episodes in chronological order. Gigazine is reporting that there are indications that the schedule of Haruhi Suzumiya includes twenty eight episodes, double the number in the original series. There has been persisent talk of a second season, but no official concert details. The popular anime follows the relationship between a school girl and his cute but eccentric classmate who introduces herself as person only interested in "ESPers, time travelers and aliens."

Canned Dogs Charts the story

Following the final episode of the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, an announcement revealed that a Gundam 00 is scheduled to hit Japanese TVs in 2010.

NTT Communications announced that a second season of Madhouse produced Lilo & Stitch! spin-off Stitch!

Manga -

via Anime News Network
Hellsing creator Kouta Hirano's new manga, Drifters, will chronicle the activities of a band of adventurers from Japan's pre-unification Era of Warring States. The series will run in Young King Ours starting in the June issue on April 30. The issue also feature the return of Ichiko Ima's (Hyakki Yakou Shou, Game) Yoru to Hoshi no Mukou


Geek comedy Lucky Star's creator Kagami Yoshimizu will launch a manga series in the next issue of Comic Ace. Hiroshi Hiroyama will start the Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Zwei! follow-up to his Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya version of Type-Moon's Fate/stay night visual novel. Kagemaru will also draw a Basquash! Eclipse Stage spinoff based on the upcoming Basquash! anime series from Shoji Kawamori, Thomas Romain, and the Satelight studio.


The next issue of Melody will feature a Hanasakeru Seishonen one-shot sequen by Jyu Oh Sei creator Natsumi Itsuki. ANN notes that "original story focuses on Kajika Louisa Kugami Burnsworth, the product of a Caribbean encounter between the international magnate Harry Burnsworth and a Japanese woman 14 years ago. Kajika has been living in Japan as a middle school girl, until the elder Burnsworth summons her to America to choose a husband from three suitors. Kajika gets involved in international intrigue over oil and wealth in Southeast Asia, France, and America."


A manga adaptation of RPG Tales of the Abyss will be appearing in Asuka magazine starting in the issue set to hit the stand April 24. Ayumi Kano will be producing the Tales of the Abyss -Tsuioku no Jade- (Tale of the Abyss: Jade in My Memories) manga with Takumi Miyajima, the main writer of this game and others in the "Tales of" franchise.


Boys Over Flowers' Yoko Kamio will draw a Matsuri Special SP manga spinoff to her ongoing series, Matsuri Special for the July issue of Deluxe Margaret. Matsuri Special follows an ordinary girl by day, masked professional wrestler by night.

Fellow manga creator Kazune Kawahara is drawing another Enkoi Debut (Eternal Love Debut) followup to her High School Debut manga series in the same July issue of Deluxe Margaret


Blood+'s Asuka Katsura will be launching new manga Shinwa Punch and Bishonen Meigen-Shu in Young Gangan and Manga Erotics F respectively. . Shinwa Punch (Mythic Punch) is a coming-of-age romantic comedy revolves around a subservient young man named Deigo Arigata whose motto is "love servitude, live with servitude." Then one day, some cute but somewhat rowdy Greek goddesses appear before him, and from that day forward, Deigo's once servile life is transformed.

Live Action -

Supposedly not an April Fools, a live action TV drama based on the 60's Daimajin movies, featuring a giant stone god, is now in production. This will be the first new Daimajin in 43 years.


Tokyograph reports NHK will be airing a live action drama based on Futatsu no Spica. aka Twin Space, a sci-fi space academy based manga that was previously adapted into an anime series. Nanami Sakuraba will star as the lead in the show, which will air Thursday nights at 8:00pm, starting on June 11.

Misc -

Ghibli World reports that Iwanami Shoten has released Suishin 5 Hiro, a first ever Japanese translation of Robert Westall's novel Fathom Five with a cover and illustrations by Hayao Miyazaki.

Suishin 5 Hiro's story interestingly fits one of Miyazaki's interests: World War II. The children's book takes place in 1943, at a small pot town called Garmus in northern England. At midnight, the 16 year old Chas McGill sees a U-boat sinking a cargo ship. The next morning, he finds a transmitter at the beach. He and his friends start searching spies for fun, but this results in a serious situation...

Worth Checking Out...

Insight -

Sterling Beaumon (young Ben on Lost) mentions his role in the Imagi Astro Boy

Via Vertical's Blog "Anime Characters: Japanese or Caucasian?"

Viz pitches Battle Angel Alita

Media -

Godzilla: Teruyoshi Nakano, Special Effects Director

Simpsons Gatchaman

Gatchaman pencil art

The site for Imagi Astro Boy has new wallpapers and other goodies

Misc -

The Viz release of Hayao Miyazaki's Starting Point: 1979-1996 is now listed on Amazon. According to the site, the 500 page book will retail for $29.99 July 7, 2009

Pre-order Sword of the Stranger on Blu-ray or DVD from The Anime Corner Store and receive a Sword of the Stranger Japanese collectors movie program along with the DVD

The copyright situation is more than dubious, but DVD sets of 4/5 of Force Five, the syndicated package that brought UFO Robo Grendizer, Getta Robo G, Daikumaryu Gaiking, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace, and Starzinger to parts of America

"Sleeping Betty" wins Genie Award for animation

National Film Board of Canada release "Sleeping Beauty," by Claude Cloutier and Marcel Jean, won the Genie Award for best animated short Saturday night.

The wordless
Sleeping Betty was made with Chinese ink applied with brush on paper. A parody of anachronism and the absurd, this version of Sleeping Beauty stars Prince Charles, Henry VIII, an alien and a Canadian dragon.

The Genie Awards are the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars. Released in 2007, the winning short had received numerous other awards, including the Canadian Film Institute Award For Best Canadian Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Other nominees for best animated short were the NFB's
Drux Flux, by Theodore Ushev and Marc Bertrand, and The Facts In The Case Of Mister Hollow, by Rodrigo Gudiño, Vincent Marcone and Marco Pecota of Someone At The Door Productions.

The 29th Annual Genie Awards took place at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

The big winner at the Genies was First World War sage
Passchendaele, the recipient of six awards, including best picture. Written, directed by and starring Paul Gross, it combines a war story with romance as it follows a Canadian soldier from 1917 Calgary to the trenches of France.

The French-language Inuit tale
Ce Qu'il Faut Pour Vivre (The Necessities of Life) won four awards, including best director honors for Benoît Pilon.

British scriptwriter Ron "Nobby" Clark dead at 85

Comic strip writer Ron "Nobby" Clark, a post-Second World War employee of David Dodd Hand's Gaumont-British Animation studio, died March 21 at 85.

Also known as R.A.G. Clark or even incorrectly credited as "Clarke," he worked with Reg Parlett to write scripts for the 1949 cartoons
It's A Lovely Day, Ginger Nutt's Bee-Bother and The House-Cat, installments of Hand's Animaland series.

He also wrote
The Thames, a 1948 cartoon in G-B's The Musical Paintbox series. Featuring still drawings and limited animation, it was the first entertainment cartoon produced by Hand at Gaumont-British.

Clark returned to cartoons in later years. In 1975, he provided special effects for
Is This A Record, a partly animated advertising cartoon for Arthur Guinness, sponsor of The Guinness Book of Records.

As Ron Clark, he was a storyboard artist for the 1985 French cartoon movie
Astérix et la Surprise de César (Asterix versus Caesar). He worked on the award-winning BBC1 special The Forgotten Toys (1995), featuring the voices of Bob Hoskins and Joanna Lumley, and the 2000 series Percy the Park Keeper, produced by Grand Slamm Children's Films and distributed by HIT Entertainment.

According to one report, Clark moved to Canada to work with Crawley Films in Ottawa and lived in the Canadian capital in his later years.

He worked at Gaumont-British Animation at Moor Hall in Cookham, Berkshire, set up by Hand, the supervising director of Disney feature films
Snow White and Bambi. He worked under Ralph Wright and Reg Parlett until the studio closed in 1949, sending 200 animators to the unemployment line.

About to marry, Clark soon found work as a comic-strip writer with the Amalgamated Press (which became Fleetway).

He created stories for
Our Ernie, Sporty, Billy Bunter and Buster -- the last of which continued for four decades.

Clark created all the characters for
Buster, so he was invited to become its editor. He turned the job down, preferring to remain a writer. An executive at Fleetway, the comic's publisher, persuaded him to travel, where he hired artists Nadal, Gin, Rafart and Schmidt, whose work appeared in British comics for the next 20 years.

Born Ronald Albert George Clark in Battersea, southwest London, on August 28, 1923, he attended art school in Willesden and worked for a while as a junior draftsman at a glassworks.

Joining the Royal Air Force, he trained as a bomb aimer in Oxfords, Ansons and Wellingtons. Clark joined a squadron of Lancasters and was sent to South Africa and India for training. However, his only mission during the Second World War was to drop leaflets over the Netherlands.

Clark's drawings were influenced by his interest in warplanes, as well as his enthusiasm for the work of an unknown German PoW which he had seen at an art exhibition.

"Nobby was a considerable artist as well as a scriptwriter," artist Mike Western told The Guardian. "He produced his scripts in picture form on big sheets of layout paper with the boxes and balloons all written in. Some of his pictures, in free-style pencil, were brilliant, and his aircraft were among the best."

Hired by the Amalgamated Press, he got colleague Eric Bradbury to draw up a few stories. The pair were offered work on Knockout and Sun.

There, Clark wrote comic strips
Blossom, Young Joey and The Adventures of Freddie Frog. Often, these were drawn by Bradbury, Ron Smith and Harry Hargreaves, all former G-B Animation artists. Clark was invited to join the staff within months.

When not writing his usual humourous strips, Clark wrote adventure serials
Captain Phantom (about a wartime spy), Space Family Rollinson (about a family traveling through space) and Lucky Logan, the saga of a wandering cowboy. Other adventure comic strips featured cargo pilot Johnnie Wingco and Crusader boy Ginger Tom. He wrote Circus Ballerina and My Chum Yum Yum for girls.

Until the 1970s, he wrote the weekly stories of
Tony Hancock for Film Fun, Bessie Bunter for June and dozens of other characters.

Seeking a new challenge, Clark accepted a voluntary layoff in 1969. Eiso Toonder, whose father, Marten, was a leading Dutch animator and artist, offered him work.

In the mid-1970s, with work in short supply, Clark went to the local employment office and was offered a job as a van driver. Black ice led to an accident that left him with a damaged leg, thus ending his work. Searching once again for employment, he went back to cartoons.

Ron "Nobby" Clark is survived by Jill Lee, his wife since 1950, and by two sons and two daughters.

Disney, Lantz animator Jack Dunham dies at 98

Jack Dunham, an animator at Disney and Walter Lantz Productions who was homeless three years ago, died March 15 at 98, Amir Amidi wrote Wednesday on the Cartoon Brew site.

Dunham did
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts for Lantz before moving to Disney, where he was an inbetweener on 1937's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. He switched to management, serving as a unit manager until 1947.

At Lantz, he was an animator for the
Oswald cartoons The Fun House and Night Life Of The Bugs (both 1936), along with Duck Hunt and Dumb Cluck (both 1937). As well, he was an animator for 1937's The Country Store, an installment in Lantz's Meany, Miny and Moe series.

Born in Bismarck, North Dakota on September 19, 1910, he moved to Canada in 1955 to manage Associated Screen News (ASN) of Canada in Montreal. Later, he worked in Montreal and Toronto making animated and live-action commercials.

Dunham created the St. Hubert Chicken, the cartoon mascot of St. Hubert Bar B-Q, a chain of Quebec restaurants, and produced its first TV commercials.

A March 2006 Montreal Gazette article stated that he and his wife of 51 years, former New York fashion model Dorothy Stewart, were homeless after giving up their apartment early the previous month. The couple then were taken to St. Luc Hospital to stay.

"Social service agencies are trying to place the couple in a care facility, but that could take awhile," the paper reported at the time.

"I was 6-foot-4 as a teenager and I was still 6-foot-4 when I was 90. But then I started to lose height. I'm about 6 feet, and I weigh 125 pounds, down from 250 when I was 90," Dunham told the newspaper in an interview.

"I told my wife that at this rate, she'll be able to carry me around in her purse," he quipped.

Van Beuren’s Toddle Tales and Rainbow Parade

Steve Stanchfield has done it again. An animator, educator, cartoon historian and film preservationist, Stanchfield has spent the last few years curating several first-class DVD compilations devoted to the long-forgotten New York-based Van Beuren Studios. His previous efforts include sets devoted to their
Aesop’s Fables, Little King and Cubby Bear series. His latest DVD is his best yet: Van Beuren’s Toddle Tales and Rainbow Parade Cartoons. This collection features the best from Van Bueren’s latter years, 1934-1935, when Burt Gillett, Tom Palmer and Ted Eshbaugh were brought in to revitalize the cartoon shorts. They came up with Toddle Tales, which combined live action-and-animation with sometimes disturbing results, and the Rainbow Parade cartoons, which used a limited two-color palette in the most garish ways imaginable. Highlights of the set include the best versions of these cartoons I’ve ever seen (many with long lost original titles). The Sunshine Makers, in particular, never looked so good - it’s worth the price of the set alone. There are rare model sheets, home movie boxes, deleted scenes and more in the Bonus section. Stanchfield puts a lot of TLC into these DVD collections - and it shows. I recommend this highly to anyone, especially those who love 1930s-style animation.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

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